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BSFT Chapter 7: Diamond in Disguise
Chapter 7: Diamond in Disguise
“So, how long do you think the shielding will hold?”  A very bored looking Vick asked between yawns.  He was onboard his own ship, Lobo.  It was a smaller ship than Tyrant, though that was to be expected as the latter was the flagship, while the former was a simple battleship.  It didn’t matter for Vick, he liked his ship, for it was his and he had quite a bit of history with this aged vessel.
“Well, considering the technology was stolen from the Walls of Urok, which uses ley lines to generate energy, combined with the fact they might have considerable amounts of Mana Stones capable of acting as batteries to store that energy, combined with about six hundred years of absorbing energy, we are looking at one solid shield.  Not to mention the shield is also layered between sections of the city.  This is going to take some doing.”   A female voice responded over the long range comm device, Nevad
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Chapter 1: The World was very different place than what they would have you believe.
What I am about to tell you could be considered high treason and could get me sealed away for a very long time, since they can’t kill me.  Though I do have some pull despite most of them hating me, skill and knowledge goes a very long way when it comes to what I do.
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Chapter 7: Diamond in Disguise

“So, how long do you think the shielding will hold?”  A very bored looking Vick asked between yawns.  He was onboard his own ship, Lobo.  It was a smaller ship than Tyrant, though that was to be expected as the latter was the flagship, while the former was a simple battleship.  It didn’t matter for Vick, he liked his ship, for it was his and he had quite a bit of history with this aged vessel.

“Well, considering the technology was stolen from the Walls of Urok, which uses ley lines to generate energy, combined with the fact they might have considerable amounts of Mana Stones capable of acting as batteries to store that energy, combined with about six hundred years of absorbing energy, we are looking at one solid shield.  Not to mention the shield is also layered between sections of the city.  This is going to take some doing.”   A female voice responded over the long range comm device, Nevadar.

“I hope they do something reckless soon, I crave a bit of excitement.”  Vick said with a sigh, he hated waiting.  Sure the first half hour of the bombardment was fun, since they could clearly see the people running in terror below their shield, however, they all went into hiding, and the city looked like a ghost town.  He wondered what they were up to.

“Well, judging from past dealings with Dren and his ilk, I doubt anything he will do will be reckless, however it will most likely be brillient, and most definitely exciting.  It is just a matter of time.”  Nevadar responded, almost sounding amused at the very thought.

“I just hope whatever move he makes, that it happens soon.”


________________________________________________________________

Caeci was running along a corridor deep within the mountain beside Ai.  They had been sent off on some mission from Dren that She didn’t know the details of, however Ai seemed to know.  It bothered her that she didn’t know what they were doing, she’d rather be helping to prepare the defenses for when the shield came down, or helping to heal those who were already injured in the wedding ambush.  Caeci also wanted to know what that huge casket shaped container on Ai’s back was for, it also bothered her that she didn’t have time to change out of these ridiculous wedding clothes.

“Exactly where are we going?” Caeci asked as they continued to run, judging by the direction, they might be heading for the underwater docking port where many ships were hidden for a counter ambush.

“We are to meet with a crazy pilot named Duncan, I believe you might know him, or at least his reputation.”  Ai responded, not even looking over her shoulder.

“You can’t be serious!”  Caeci exclaimed, “He is certifiably insane!  Just last month, he got thrown in the dungeon for destroying a prototype Laoch, simply by doing a maneuver that made it fall apart in mid flight!”

“Just the kind of pilot we need to get past that blockade and into the gateway.”  Ai grinned, a hint of madness in her eye.

Caeci got a sick feeling in her stomach.  “Are you sure this is wise, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of ships up there by now, not a one friendly.”

“it will be alright, I have a couple tricks of my own.”  Ai said, grin growing wider.

“What are we doing that requires us to go through the gate anyways?”  Caeci asked.  And what did you mean when you told Dren I was instrumental to your plan?”  She asked.

“I can’t tell you the details just yet, but we are getting reinforcements, the kind that can change the very nature of reality itself as we know it.”  Ai stated, looking slightly worried at the implications.  “Also, we need to get there in time to slip through during Dren’s initial counterattack.”


“You’re absolutely NUTS!”  Pomiel shouted when he heard Dren’s plans.  “You mean to simply waste that many resources just to get Ai and Caeci out of here?  Both of whom are extremely powerful assets we could use?”

Dren had expected some resistance, after all, he was going to simply sacrifice no small amount of resources, which in a siege, became very tight to begin with, He sighed.  “I know it sounds like we are giving up a lot just to see them through the gateway, however, what we are giving up will eventually be found by the enemy anyways, I’d rather see them destroyed than used against us, at least this way, we can not only surprise the hell out of them, but we can also accomplish several goals at once.”

Zyeers was already nodding in approval, even when he heard the original plan, it was wise.  Nothing was worse than having your own weapon turned on yourself.

Potchen was not there, after he saw Ai and Caeci run off, he volunteered to go after them, to watch their backs, he had heard the whole conversation and understood how important their mission was.  

In his seat was one of the newer generals, Galli.  He looked to be in his mid-youth, which to a Utonan, that was about a hundred fifty, he had a clean and neat uniform that lacked many decorations, as he had not actually seen anywhere near as much action as the others, but his few missions on the border planets have been done with sheer brilliance.  He looked a little uncomfortable, obviously unsure if he deserved to be there.  Dren could see it in the boy’s emerald eyes and the very look upon his face, however, Dren handpicked him himself.  He agreed with the plan, the boy showed promise.

Beargalore had agreed simply because he had seen Dren do far crazier sounding things in the past and they worked out well.  He trusted his king’s judgment to a T.

“I still don’t like the idea of sacrificing hundreds of ships, and thousands of lives just for this.” Pomiel stated, knowing he had lost the vote, but still fighting on despite the crushing defeat, a true man of Utona.

Dren arced an eyebrow, and looked somewhat amused.  “who said anything about sacrificing any lives?   I have a grander plan, which I was going to tell you, but you decided to interject.”

Dren’s Generals all were obviously paying attention at that.  This was going to be good.



Caeci and Ai were approaching the dungeon when suddenly the ground heaved under their feet, a couple of seconds afterward, there was a sound like a dragon growling through the underground corridors, loose bits of marble and dust fell to the floor. The girls didn’t have time to slow down and make sure the tunnels wouldn’t come down on their heads, they got right to their feet and continued to make their way with all haste.

“What do you suppose that could have been?” Caeci asked toward her companion.

“I am not too sure, but whatever it was, I am not sure the shield will hold for many impacts like that.” Ai simply said to her. Then she saw their destination ahead, a single guard outside the door, a muffled voice on the other side of the door, obviously making sarcastic remarks through the door.

The guard saw them approach and noting who they were, offered a salute. “How might I serve the Federation?” He asked, with all the discipline of the military.

Ai returned the salute and in the same tone of voice responded with “At ease, soldier.” Then she lightened up to her regular tone of voice and continued with, “I’d like you to release this prisoner into our custody, to serve in the FSF directly under my command.”

The soldier looked at her funny, in fact, the voice on the other side even quieted at this. “Are you certain Milady? Surely there are more….suitable candidates for whatever you have planned for this one.”

“I certainly hope you are not questioning a direct order, good corporal. And I assure you, I can find none more qualified, unless we can cast a spell to remove his vocal chords. “ This last bit she said a little loud, since she already knew that Duncan was listening. “What do you say? Would you like to fly another one of a kind ship, and hopefully not crash it this time?”

There was silence on the other side for a few seconds.

“Hello? I know you are in there.” Ai began to sound a little impatient.

Still nothing.

Caeci’s annoyance levels rose with this and she simply wave her hand, the door suddenly got hit by a wall of wind with enough force, the locking mechanisms and the hinges were torn clean off, and still sat in the doorjamb as the rest of the door slammed against the far wall with enough force to splinter. “Listen up, We don’t have time for your games! You are coming with us!” She stepped into the room and was dumbstruck, there was nobody within the cell, just a dirty plate with equally filthy wooden dinnerware, sitting on a small table, and the bed.

Ai noted the absence of the inmate and turned to the guard, then waved her hand. The guard seemed to shimmer, then vanish; in his place was a man in a dirty striped jumpsuit, about five feet in height. He had green eyes and brown, closely trimmed hair, and he held himself like your typical jester; he even had that sarcastic gleam in his eye, like the entire world was a joke in itself.

Ai showed no surprise at this. “I figured as much, but had to be sure. Let’s move, time is of the essence.”

Caeci shot Duncan a dirty look, to which he smiled sheepishly and shrugged, however that gleam was still in his eye, he probably thought he was hilarious. “What exactly happened to your guard?” She asked, barely keeping the urge to strangle him under control, since he made her look the fool. She decided to let Ai, who was infinitely more patient and wise to handle this most irritating man.

“Something came up, and he was sent to the city to set up defenses. I don’t know a whole lot about what is going on up there, but from the sounds, I’d say you got one hell of a party going up there? Did the Empire decide to send a little wedding present?” He actually sounded amused.

“You could say that. We need your piloting skills, since you are, unfortunately, the best.” She sighed at the end.

“Let me guess, there is a blockade with more guns than there are stars in the sky, and you want me to get you through it, because obviously they blocked communications going out. You want me to get you through it?”

Ai nodded.

“Fine, since you admit I am the best, though a little lacking in enthusiasm, I will help a nice pair of girls like you, however, you are going to have to let me grope the both of you, after all, it is a suicide mission.” He grinned.

Ai began to say something, but suddenly stopped when she noted Caeci’s fist approaching Duncan’s face at an alarming rate. There was the sound of flesh smacking flesh, however, to both ladies’ surprise, Duncan had caught Caeci’s fist.

“Oooooo, I like them feisty.” He then stepped back as Caeci’s foot tried to take out his “little buddy” with enough speed, there was a small sonic boom, she obviously augmented her speed with a spell.

“You Letcher! How Dare you?!  To superior officers?! I’ll execute you myself!” She was clearly not amused.

“Relax, I was only joking. Besides, don’t you think we have to get moving? The fighting sounds intense.” Sure enough, the sound of explosions could be heard all the way down there.

“We’ll finish this later.” Caeci hissed.
_________________________________________________________

Vick was bored.  So far the resistance had been minimal as they began thier assault.   He was tired of looking at the giant shield made of energy, which somehow took enough firepower to level the whole damn mountain, without coming down yet.  He wondered how much longer until it cracked like an egg.   He was also no fool, he was also trying to figure out what the enemy was planning.

"Sir!  We just scanned the skies, and we can report no enemy reinforcements have been detected from above.   Status is still the same as it was the last twenty times you had me check."  The equally annoyed ensign called over from her console.  

"Watch the sarcasm, Ensign Wierdoe.  I'll let it slide on the grounds that i am also equally annoyed.  I'll also let you off if you go to dinner with me when we return to Urok as big heroes."  He said with a grin.

"Sir, I would like to remind you that under Article twelve of the INP, officers are not to be involved anywhere beyond a professional level with common soldiers."  She said, blushing slightly.  She was a pretty girl of average height with black hair and hazle eyes.

"Exactly, after a mission like this, we are bound to all get promoted, so you should be an officer by the time of our date.  See? no problem at all."  He grinned.

"Really? We'll get promoted after we take this little planet?" another one of the several dozens of personnel on the bridge asked.   Vick wondered what an enemy thought when they saw them.   A seemingly infinite number of seemingly close to identical minions that are completely expendable.  only one in every couple thousand are actually worth bumping up, like Wierdoe over there.   The rest were mostly fodder, for the second a real fight between mages began, they generally tended t get slaughtered by the crossfire.

"Of course.  Is the big gun ready yet?"  He asked another private at the comms center.

"It should be operational in about a minute, the engineers are doing the final checks.   However, i believe Nocaurus said not to use that weapon until you have exhausted all other means for breaching their defenses."  

"Silence!  In case you have not noticed, nothing is piercing the shield.  In my book that is exhausting all other means.   Ready the B.I.G. D.O.G.!   I am taking this shield down."   Vick was liking the idea more and more.  

On the bottom side of his ship, Lobo, opened, and out slid a gigantic barrel, made of several bands of metal twisted together, they spaced out to leave gaps around the barrel toward the front, there were glowing runes all along the bands, their brilliant blue glow was both beautiful, and ominous.  An azure light began to build within the barrel.

"Sir, we have enough energy for a single shot, any other shots will require an hour to recharge, or to have a mage power it himself, which will most likely kill the mage, for the energy level is so high."   The Private on the bridge reported to Vick.

No problem, this should only take one shot.  

"Sir, we have an incoming transmission from Nevadar.  She says to stand down and put the B.I.G. D.O.G. away, or face a court martial upon the end of this battle."  

"Tell her she isn't coming through very well, must be some sort of enemy interference with the communications."  

"Sir, if she finds out the truth, she will execute us all."

"Do it, or I'll execute you for disobeying a direct order."

"Very well sir."

"Now that that's taken care of, everyone brace for impact.  FIRE!"

Outside, the cannon shot a beam of pure mana energy in an intensely bright azure beam, as it poured forth the runes on the barrel dimmed and ceased to glow.  the beam hit the shield dead on with a tremendous thunderous report that seemed as if the heavens themselves were tearing apart, along with the entire world seeming to turn bright white. The shockwave was beyond incredible, all the ships in the area were pushed back and tossed aside like toys, some even capsized, while a few of the smaller ones were thrown into either other ships, or the ground, where they exploded, but were completely unnoticeable compared to the blast that just went off.

On the bridge of Lobo alarms were going off everywhere, red lights were flashing from the ceilings, and people were scrambling about to take care of problems all over the ship.

"Fire detected on decks twelve through sixteen!"

"Hull integrity compromised in sectors nine through twenty-eight under the bow!"
"Breach in sector thirty-three A!"

"Reports showing at least two hundred thirty onboard crew injured, opening up secondary sickbay in cantina!"

"Sir!  Incoming transmissions from Nevader and Noctaurus!"

Vick was still amazed at the sheer destructive power he just unleashed.  his monitor still showed white smoke where before had been a shield.  there was no way there could be a mountain left after a blast like that.  Just no way.  He regained senses enough to hear the commotion going on around him.  Though his crew were well trained to handle all these minor inconveniences to the ship, after all, these were problems that happened in any good battle, though they usually weren't friendly fire.  Which brings him to the matter of Nevadar and Noctaurus .   Ah shit, guess i will have to listen to this sooner or later.

"Patch both through the same channel."  Vick Commanded, with a hint of dread in his voice.

_________________________________________________________

"So, where is this ship you need for me to pilot?"   Duncan asked once He, Ai, and Caeci were in the hangar.   It was massive, a room several miles in length, holding warships and single man craft, as well as many smaller and medium sized ships, of every make and model in the Federation.  The truly amazing thing was the fact that this building was all completely under the water down at the port at the base of the mountain.

"Yes, can we hurry so i stop getting looks from everyone?"  Caeci asked, trying to cover herself up, since she still had the traditional honor guard outfit with all of its skimpy glory on.  And despite the fact alarms were going off and orders were being said out of loudspeakers by Dren for preparations for a counterstrike, making the massive hangar like hornet's nest in activity with people running every which way, some of the men still managed to find time to leer at the beautiful lady.  

"It is just a bit further."  Ai shouted over the commotion.

They were approaching one of the single fastest, and most agile ships ever devised by the Utonan Deep Space Travel Commission.   A Type 9500 FJXR, commonly referred to as the Unicorn, for the fact it is seemingly uncatchable.  This ship won several deep space races days ahead of the competition, and it could fly at top speed through an asteroid field with a top-notch pilot connected to the flight assist program.   It was amazing not only in its reputation and specs, but also to behold, it was a smaller ship, designed with curves for added beauty, it was the perfect streamline shape to have almost zero resistance in any atmosphere.  the hull was coated with a film that made it even more frictionless.   However, this one had several guns and launchers attached to it, retrofitted to go into combat.  

Duncan would bet any money if he would get a shot at flying it, he could take out half the enemy armada, despite not seeing them yet.

"Please tell me that is the ship we are taking!"  Duncan said excitedly as he indicated the Unicorn with a gesture of his hand.  His mouth was beginning to water, just thinking about it.   He was picturing himself basting his way through the enemy blockade in such a way, the enemy will be confused for the next year.

"No, that isn't my ship.  I have the one behind it."  Ai answered, still seemingly agitated.

Duncan peered around the side of his dream ship and his jaw hit the floor in utter disbelief.  What he beheld was the single most run-down, hunk of crap, flying death trap he had ever seen.  It was leaking fluids, which were in alarmingly sizable puddles under the hull, it had rust everywhere in patches, it looked to be missing hull panels, and one of the rear thrusters appeared to be missing.  “You can’t possibly be fucking serious!”

“Oh, but I am.  This is my pride and joy, the Foxy Girl.”  Ai explained with a hint of pride.

“Um, Ai, I am with Duncan on this one, there is no way that thing can make it past a swarm of Imperial ships.  That thing isn’t even fit for a kamikaze attack.”  

“Exactly!  And just look at the absurd size of it!  It is twice the size a blockade breaking ship should be, the overall design tells me it wasn’t even built for speed, and it is missing an eng-“  Duncan was in the middle of complaining, but he was suddenly cut off by the very ground beneath his feet lurching violently along with the loudest boom he had ever heard.  It knocked him right ff his feet and his rear landed right in one of the sizable puddles of oil coming out from under the ship.  A few of the ships in the hangar were knocked off their landing gears.  There were more alarms than before going ff and everyone had the same sentiment as him.  “What the bloody hell was that?!”  

“Proof we don’t have time for your arrogance to argue with me, get on the ship, and relax, it has a few hidden……surprises.”   Ai said calmly, despite the calamity around them.

“Fine!  But if I pull this off, I get to sleep with one of you!”   He shouted loudly as he boarded the ship.

“It’s a deal!”   Ai shot back.

“You don’t really intend to sleep with him, do you?”  Caeci asked her mentor.

“You know I hold up my bargains, however, not how everyone ever really expects.   I’d like to see the looks on his face when he comes into my room to behold a frost wyrm.”   Ai smirked.

“Oh, that’s evil.”  Caeci replied as she ducked into the hatch.

Ai started in after her, and heard the alarms that meant they were going to flood the hangar.   Here we go, time to cast the dice.  She thought as the hatch closed behind her.  The interior of the ship didn’t match the outside at all.  In fact, it was a completely different style of craftsmanship than the exterior.   Like she said, it has a few surprises.
BSFT Chapter 7: Diamond in Disguise
After a couple of weeks, i got chapter 7 finished being edited for uploading, been working yet more overtime at work, ugh.
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Chapter 6: I Write Sins, Not Tradgedies, Part 2


The sun was shining bright, as it always does in Paradiso.  The palace and the city that surrounded it shimmered pleasantly in the afternoon light .   Outside the walls the scenery was absolutely breath taking as there were pristine fields and mountains in the distance, as well as a crystal clear lake.  It all looked so perfect, much like a portrait.

By the lake, there were two figures sitting on lawn chairs, with a fold out poker table.  They were both staring intensely at the game of chess that was laid out before them, they were both pressing each other hard in the game to get the one up on the other.  The player in charge of the white pieces was Jack, still in his ridiculous Hawaiian shirt.  The other was a seductive looking woman with fiery red hair and blazing crimson eyes that made lesser beings feel as if their very soul was being scorched when they gazed into them.  She was the very picture of perfection as her body curved just right in the right places, and it easily showed as she wore a skimpy red dress that exposed entirely too much leg and cleavage.  She leaned forward, giving Jack a good look of what was under the dress as she moved her black rook into position to check the white king.

Jack simply ignored her as he moved his bishop and swiftly took the rook out.  “You know, every time we have played this since the beginning of time, it has ended as a stalemate.  Also, you have tried the trick of distracting me for the past four hundred years in a manner similar to what you are doing now.  Lucifer, if it didn’t work the first time, it surely won’t work the second, third, or even the millionth time, you dipshit.”  Jack simply mumbled as he searched for possible strategies on the board.

The woman, Lucifer simply leaned closer and had a look that could crumble a man’s fortitude on her face.  “Oh, it has been long, and it shall be long still, but I will win one day.”  Then, her demeanor suddenly changed and she suddenly struck a pose worthy of a model.  “Besides, in this form, Lucifer doesn’t fit as a name, call me Lucy.”  Then, she took out the bishop with a simple pawn.

“Fine, LUCY, if you want to try-“  Jack suddenly cut off as he and Lucy both sensed something horrible, far worse than either predicted was happening back on Utona.  

“No fucking way!   I thought there were no more left, except Lucien and Gilgamesh….”  Lucy spat, completely in shock.

“This is bad, I say we call this a draw and get Lucien, we have to let him know what he is up against.” Jack snapped his fingers, an instant later, the chessboard vanished into thin air.

They both began running toward Lucien’s current location.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Dren was knocked off his feet by the ground shaking under the hailstorm of  Missiles, artillery fire, and spells.  The city still stood as there was a defensive shield set up, however he wasn’t sure how long it would hold up to this.  The day he knew was coming arrived swifter than he expected, though his people were not unprepared for their current plight.  Even now as he was rising to his feet, noting his daughter was safe and being guarded by Lexus and all the elite guard. His civilians were heading toward the shelters deep within the mountain, his troops were getting ready for their counter offensive, he needed to get things under control here and get to his command post.

“Sir!  We confirmed Catlanditopian ships in the assault!”  A soldier said as he came running into the temple’s doors.

Dren looked over toward Shell, trying to figure out why she would be here, unarmed, in the midst of her newly made enemies, if she planned to assault at the same time, it made no sense.  He strode through the crowd, most of them were rushing toward the doors, where his soldiers and guards outside were directing them toward the shelters.  “Shell!  Just what the hell are you pulling?”  He roared at the woman.

She turned toward him when she heard him and smiled that “you are so screwed” smile as he got within ten feet of her.  Her eyes began to glow red

Dren suddenly realized what kind of trap he walked right into.  He could only stare in horror as Shell exploded seemingly in slow motion before him, his life flashed before his eyes, all the fighting he has done to keep his people safe, suddenly gone down the drain as they were under a sudden heavy siege.  His daughter, whom he raised to be a better leader than he thought he could ever be, his wife, who died giving birth to his son, he thought about how he would see her soon and if she would be proud of him, though at this moment, he doubted it.  His son, who died saving his life.  He saw all his friends and comrades he still had, or lost over the years all within a split second, then there was just an intense flash.

_______________________________________________________________________________________
Zyeers managed to stay on his feet through the intial shockwaves through the ground as he followed Cake.  “Halt!  Just what do you think you are doing?”  He said in a very commanding voice.  

Cake turned around and grinned from ear to ear.  “It’s a damn shame that the poor groom’s bride is a whore.”  He began weaving a spell as his hand lit in green fire.

“You have your powers back?  But…how?  You were permanently drained…”  Zyeers was trying to figure out how that could happen when suddenly Cake let loose a green ball of fire.  Despite his old age, Zyeers nimbly evaded the flame, which hit the statue behind him, and melted it as if it was actually acid.  He saw Cake readying more spells and decided to take out the mage before he could finish them.  He drew his sword out of the scabbard at his side and rushed headlong at Cake.

Cake saw the warrior bum-rushing him and immediately stopped casting with one hand, and quickly producing a triangular shaped dagger with the other hand, blocking the sword blow and parrying it, he brought the other hand around and unleashed his spell point blank on Zyeers’ breastplate, sending the warrior, hurtling backwards to slide across the floor.

The parry and point blank spell had taken zyeers off guard, however, he recovered quickly, and noticing the fire eating through his breastplate, quickly unstrapped it, sending it clattering to the floor, where the fire continued to eat past the breastplate and into the floor.  “Not bad you little wretch, however, I will kill you.  I’ve been waiting years for this.”  Zyeers smiled and got a strange look in his eye, that sort of battle crazed gleam.  He charged Cake once more and at the very last moment before impact leap clean over Cake’s head, and sliced down his back as he nimbly landed behind the mage.  The mage’s wound sprayed blood into Zyeers’ face, much to his amusement.  However, the wound shut rapidly as the mage began to laugh histarically.

Cake took off his shirt and turned around, good as new.  He enjoyed that almost shocked look on the old man’s face as he swung the dagger around in a high arc, aiming for the neck.  However Zyeers blocked with the side of his arm and brought his sword down, cleaving Cake from the shoulder to the stomach, then he twisted his sword, stuck his boot on the dead mages gut and shoved the broken body off his sword.  It hit the ground with a sound that was somewhere between a squishing and a meaty thud.


Looking to the situation at the front of the temple, Zyeers began to walk toward the princess, she clearly saw him approaching.  He should get her to safety, however, he also caught sight of Dren approaching the Empress of Catlanditopia, then he saw Dren get consumed in light and flames as she Exploded.

“DRENNNNNNNN!”  He shouted, hoping his disciple, and oldest surviving friend didn’t perish in that blast, despite the fact that many others were also consumed in that inferno.  He began to run toward the explosion as the flames suddenly began to get sucked toward a point near the center and he knew Dren was fine, when he suddenly felt something cold on his neck.

“Word of advice, old man, if you kill someone, make sure the job is actually done.  Otherwise, it could come back to bite you in the ass, or in this case, right in the jugular!”  Cake remarked, then sliced across Zyeers’ neck.

Zyeers couldn’t believe it, his sword cut through the bastard’s lung, heart and most of his digestive system, so how was he still alive.  He grabbed feebly onto the mage as the mage walked in front of him, toward Cesya. Zyeers used everything he had left to plunge his sword into Cake’s back as darkness took him.  He felt so very tired.
________________________________________________________________


Caeci was knocked off balance as the mountain beneath her feet trembled at the barrage, landing firmly on her tailbone, forcing her to yelp.  She looked about while she was down and saw absolute chaos all about her.  

“I thought we had a week!”  She overheard Potchen shouting as he took his mighty Gae Bolg of his back and held it defensively as he took a position in front of the newlywed couple.

“It could have been a distortion of time in subspace, such things are extremely rare, but not unheard of when a ship arrives at a destination through a gateway before it leaves on the other side.”  Ai was quick to point out.  “Looks like we simply got unlucky.”  She helped Caeci to her feet, then turned to the generals, who looked to each other before Pomiel and Beargalore darted out the back door of the temple, most likely going to organize the counteroffensive.

There was a massive explosion toward the front of the temple where the panicked and otherwise mindless mob were stampeding for the exit.  

“What the hell was that?”  Caeci shouted to be heard over the screaming crowd, so the kitsune’s keen ears could actually hear her.

“No worries, Dren has it under control, so not as many people got char broiled as those damned Catlandtopians hoped.”  Ai remarked, pointing at the charred head that looked at one point in time like Shell of Catlantopia’s but clearly was a machine, a badly damaged one at that.  She then indicated the swirling flames seeming to be sucked into a single point, which revealed itself to be Luhn, the Broken Spear of the Gods.  It sensed it’s master’s need and saved him at the last possible second, shielding him from the blast and devouring the flames.

Just then a shadow loomed over the ladies as they figured out where to best help the situation.  “You ladies al-“ is as far as Potchen got when suddenly a force sent him flying clean over Dren, he landed and skidded to an abrupt halt, head first into the golden door.

“Huh?!”  is all Caeci could say as she noticed Cake, with fireballs in hand approaching Lexus and Cesya, who were making sure each other were alright.

“Come!  We must stop him!”  Ai said as she drew pulled a bracelet off of one of her tails and slipped it on over her wrist, she pushed an almost unperceivable button on it and a blue light appeared, followed by the hilt of her sword, which she grabbed and seemingly pulled from the palm of her hand, revealing a sakabatou.  She charged straight at Cake and slammed the blade down on his wrist just as he was releasing a ball of flame.  The ball missed Lexus’s head, which was the target, to slam into his chest, causing him to go sailing toward the back of the temple and through a wooden door toward the priestess chambers.   Cesya, never having seen battle so close passed out from the shock of it all.

Cake was stunned and somewhat sore from the sudden smack that snapped the bones in his wrist, however, he recovered quickly enough to divert the ball of flame in his other hand to blast at Ai nearly point blank, the problem was, she wasn’t there anymore and her sword was falling, to where it impaled his foot into the tile, her clothes hit the ground right where she stood.  Before he could scream about the pain in his foot, suddenly a hawk was gouging his eyes out.  He managed to rip the hawk away, and hurl it, where it shifted in midflight into a red panther-like cat and pushed off the pillar it neatly landed against to come straight back at his face, he couldn’t evade because his foot was stuck in the ground and something hit him solidly in the back, as if it was pushing him into the sharp claws and teeth of the big cat.  He screamed.

The panther ripped out his throat while he was just another screaming voice amongst hundreds, making a huge mess all over the temple floors.  When he stopped twitching, the panther dropped the mage and picked up the pile of clothes in it’s jaws, noted Caeci with her bow ready from a bracelet similar to her own, ready to shoot, and the arrow sticking out of Cake’s back.  It winked at the girl and went to where nobody was looking.

Lexus wasn’t quite sure he was alive at first, he saw a bright flash, followed by a tremendous amount of force throwing him through the air as if he was weightless, despite the heavy armor he wore, easily doubling his weight.  Before his mind could process what was happening, he felt something strike him on the back of his head and shoulders, making a splintering sound as if a large tree was struck by lightning, then he hit the ground, the sound of scraping metal and other objects exploding all around his ears.  The sounds of absolute chaos all around slowly tuned out as it all faded to black.

________________________________________________________________

Dren couldn’t believe he was saved.  He thought for what seemed a lifetime that he would be seeing his wife and son sooner than he had expected.  However, when his eyesight returned, a sword he thoroughly loathed stuck in the marble before him.  
Pick me up, you know you want to.  And I am very hungry.  It has been years since I fed last.  You can only keep me restrained so long.  The sword’s thoughts echoed in Dren’s head as the blade began to tremble in anticipation and it began to light ablaze.  

Dren had his doubts as this was a wild blade that somehow had gotten a soul of it’s own and an insatiable hunger.  It was once a spear, but the shaft broke millennia ago and has been lost.  It was always pissed about that, which made it even more wild in a fight, but it did get the job done.  The only trick was keeping your sanity while the sword shared it’s thoughts.  Dren began to reach his hand out to clasp the hilt, the motion making the sword shake itself almost loose of the marble, when suddenly Potchen went sailing over his shoulder.  Naturally, he turned to look and saw his daughter in danger.  This made the decision for him.  Without even thinking again about it, he took the sword in hand, brought it over his head like it weighed nothing and charged ahead, fire blazing in his eyes.  He heard the sword shouting for joy in the back of his skull.

__________________________________________________________________________________________
Zyeers regained consciousness though with an incredibly sore throat.  He reached a hand slowly up there to check the damage.  It felt wet and nasty, but he was still ticking.  He wasn’t sure if he was alive by luck, or if it was the curse that was placed upon him so many years ago.  He didn’t have much time to think about it for Dren was fast approaching, most likely to utterly try to destroy Cake.  

He could barely move from the blood loss as Dren thundered past, madness in his eyes, which was a definite sign of him fighting not just his opponent, but the blade in his hand as well.  

Zyeers chanced a look toward Dren’s destination and saw Caeci and Ai fighting the mage, Lexus nowhere in sight.  He decided to try struggling to his feet.  No way he was going to let Cake get the last laugh.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Caeci saw Dren approach.  “He’s already dead, Ai tore him a new one, if you happen to know what I mean.”

Dren was glaring intensely at the corpse.  “I see…..”  He then saw his daughter on the ground and he simply dropped the blade with a loud clang on the ground as he dropped to his knees.

“Relax, she passed out, she’ll be fine, the gore of the scene just made her queasy.”  Ai stated calmly as she walked back out after redressing.  “I’m more worried about how Potchen and Lexus are doing.  They got hit pretty hard.”

“Agreed, I am sure Potchen is fine, most likely stunned.  I have known him for a long time, and the bastard is far too stubborn to die from a surprise attack.”  Dren stated with a reassuring smirk, though he woundered, those golden doors were pretty solid.  “Let’s check Lexus first, it wouldn’t do too well for relations if he died now, would it?”   Dren started off in the direction Lexus went sailing in, the pair of ladies followed.

On the floor, the seemingly dead Mage’s face contorted into a psychotic grin.
The party of three followed the path of destruction the Pope of Cingeta’s heavily clad body made as it boldly went where no man was allowed, the Priestess’s chambers.   They found him nestled almost peacefully on a pile of broken wood and sacred robes from the former wardrobe he happened to take out.  Save for the blackened markings on his no longer shining breastplate, and still smoldering tabard.

“Is he still alive?”   Caeci asked as she surveyed the scraped in the marble floor from ridges in the armor leading to the resting place of Lexus.

Ai was already checking his pulse.  “Yeah, this ridiculous armor most likely saved his life.  Though we won’t know just how bad he is injured until we wake him.”  She stated as she surveyed the body.  “On the bright side all his limbs are accounted for, attached, and not twisted into any bizarre angles.  Can someone hand me that vase on the mantle?”

Dren looked at the vase, full of bright yellow and violet flowers that looked like a hybrid between a hibiscus and an orchid though were highly dangerous if they were still attached to the rest of the plant, he had horrible memories of friends stumbling upon some of these in the wild and he hesitated as the image of what they were capable of filled his mind.  These flowers may look pretty, but they were venomous, and tended to attack wild animals that strayed within their vines much like a pack of piranhas, the vines ensnaring the prey so it can’t escape.  These plants were called Bloody Dryads, in reference to the nature spirits and the coating of blood found on them in nature just after a meal.  One of the marks of a true priestess of Danu was the ability to simply walk into a patch of these ferocious flowers and be able to clip a bushel to keep in the temple.

Ai shot him an insisting look that snapped him out of it, he promptly grabbed the vase and handed it to her.  She simply grabbed the dead, and not yet wilted flowers and tossed them aside, then proceeded to dump the water within on Lexus’s face.

“What in God’s name is wrong with you people?!”  Lexus shouted between coughs as he struggled to get his breath.  “You could have drowned me!  God does not look kindly upon murder I will have you know!”

“Relax friend, How do you feel, aside from that nasty lump on yer noggin?”  Dren inquired while pointing at the bloody spot in Lexus’s hair.

Lexus reached behind his head and touched it.  He grimaced and winced.  “Could do with a quick hit of healing magic, I think the bone is cracked.”

Ai was already casting before he finished the sentence, holding her hand over the wound, a bright flash of white light shown between her fingers.  Lexus visibly looked less pained when she finished.  He was just about to thank her when there was the sound of an uneven board being stepped on just outside the camber.  Everyone in the room drew their weapons, the heat rose in the room noticeably when Dren unsheathed his massive blade.

They were all watching intently, ready for an enemy ambush when suddenly Potchen appeared in the doorway.  He walked with a bit of a limp, and his right shoulder sagged a bit like it was injured, but other than that, he was fine, he was also using Gae Bolg as a makeshift walking stick to keep the weight off his right leg.  “Dren, do you remember when I said those doors were too big when they were finishing this temple?”

Dren smiled at Potchen’s wise assed remark.  ”Yes my friend, you may just be right about that.”  He looked around and noticed he was missing someone.  “Has anyone seen Zyeers?

________________________________________________________________________________________
Cake had fully regenerated by the time the group exited the Priestesses chambers.  His mission was to assassinate both Cesya and Lexus, however, from his hiding spot, he could see Lexus was still very much alive.   The fighting outside was thundering and echoing throughout the dome shaped temple, even shaking it at points, however, none of the impacts from the barrage had actually hit the ground yet, a telltale sign the shielding over the city still held under the heavy bombardment.  He was to try to sabotage that as well, if he survived.  He had wanted to do it before the wedding, but he couldn’t get any alone time.  He was, after all disguised as a prisoner for the past two decades for this mission.

He saw the group coming out of the chambers from his hiding spot and used the noise outside to mask sounds of his moving to get a better vantage point from which to run a straight line from his current position, past Lexus and Cesya and still traveling in a straight line, manage to get through the door before anyone knew what had just happened.  He grinned as his prediction that Dren was going to get his daughter before heading out to lead his armies was accurate, if they all moved that way it would be so much easier.  He readied his knife and the spell he planned to use to make the stab and run successful.  The spell would make his reaction time, speed, and agility fast enough it would seem like he was time bending, however, this spell put a large amount of stress on the body, tearing nerves, muscles, ligaments and even bones in some cases from the performance a body isn’t meant to endure.  This is part of the reason he wanted to make it a straight line he moved in, to minimize the time and the amount of movement he needed to do.  He figured he’d run straight at Lexus, slicing his head off from behind as he passed, then leave the knife embedded in the princess’s chest as he zipped on his way to the door, never looking back and hopefully making a clean getaway before anyone even knew he was present.  He made one final note that Zyeers was laying on the floor between him and his targets as well as some debris, which concealed him from Dren’s view.  He’d have to jump Zyeers and the debris like a couple of hurtles, which shouldn’t be a problem.  It also explained why the group seemed to be looking around, most likely for poor dead Zyeers on the ground.  Suddenly the alignment was right.  He released the spell and went for it.

_______________________________________________________________________________________-
Dren and his party were looking around to see if there was sign of Zyeers, except for Ai, who as an established medic was tending to the unconscious Casya.  “I don’t see him anywhere.  I could have sworn he slipped back this way just before all Hell broke loose.”  Dren sounded concerned, and rightly so.

“Maybe he is already out and helping to lead our forces against our enemies.”  Caeci chimed in, hopeful, especially since the grizzled old man was like a grandfather to her.

“Well, I hate to even suggest this, but he did slip out just before the attack.  You think he may have been one of their agents?”  Lexus asked, quite serious and gloomy, only to reel back and duck for cover as Dren’s eyes seemed to be ablaze with rage at the thought.

“NEVER!   Listen, Son in Law, I want to make this abundantly clear to you.  HE WOULD NEVER DO THAT!”  Dren spat each syllable at Lexus with an almost physical force, like he was trying to drive nails in the man’s skull.  It didn’t help his temper one bit that Luhn, his sword was egging him to do it.

The tension was suddenly released when Cake tripped over something in his blurring burst of speed, and came skidding to a halt right in front of Dren.  The look of sheer horror on the mage’s face said it all for Dren.

“I’m not going to ask how you are still alive, since I am glad that I can now kill you myself for trying to lay your damned hands on my daughter.”  Dren said in an eerily pleased tone of voice that made Cake’s already seemingly frozen blood curdle in his veins.  He was sure he was totally boned.  And the sad thing was, his regenerative ability wouldn’t heal enough muscles to let him escape in time.  The only things he could do at that point in time was to whimper, soil himself, and try to feebly crawl away.  He took all those options.  The last thing on his mind before Drens massive sword impaled him to the marble floor was trying to determine if the thing that tripped him up was a hand that snagged his ankle in his passing.  Suddenly he burst into flame intense enough his entire body save for the head was ashes and embers in a matter of seconds. Dren simply glared as he watched, seeming to take pleasure in this.  Cake should have known not to mess with the papa bear’s young one.  What a fool.  He had no body and consciousness was fading fast for him, and he knew it would be the last time, he couldn’t regenerate from this.  His last sight was a boot heel stomping down upon his face.

Dren looked at the owner of the boot, too surprised to care about the sudden splatter on his own boots and fancy clothes. After a few seconds he managed to speak. “You are late Zyeers.  And you look like you fell down a flight of stairs.”  He noted the nasty scar across Zyeer’s neck and the dried bloodstains on the side of the old man’s face, beard and clothes.  “By Danu, what happened to you?”

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Chapter 5: I Write Sins not, Tragedies part 1

There was no way something as big as the transport could not be noticed as it approached the docking bay to the Gate’s control system. Normally that was restricted flight space unless all the proper clearances were made, however, earlier today the men aboard received orders from the top brass to let it dock without blowing it out of the sky via the atomic powered fusion cannons mounted all about the Gateway.

These things could fire a projectile that can farce everything within a 200 foot wide circle  to be compressed and molecularly fused together into a super dense ball of varying size, then the second blast that follows less than 5 milliseconds after the fusion blast uses some a powerful concentrated magneto wave that forces the ball of matter to turn into a point blank projectile that then smashes right into the inside of whatever just got a huge hole taken out of it. This projectile’s size depended on how much matter was in that blast zone, Needless to say, a few shots in the right places can turn any enemy vehicle to be useless in no time, and a troop transport of this size needed only a single shot to take it out as it was designed to be small, fast and to carry only a platoon of men. Heck, the thing couldn’t even leave the atmosphere.

After the transport docked and the boarding tunnel extended from the dock to the hatch of the transport, Carth walked out into the tunnel and pulled out his military ID as he made the few steps to the opposite hatch. He swiped his card into the reader beside the hatch. A panel slid open and there was a retinal scanner. Sighing, he put his chin on the chin rest and looked into the laser than scanned across his eye. After a few seconds of processing, the hatch slid open. He motioned for his men to come, as they had yet to exit the transport. Upon going inside, a uniformed man as well as a small team of security guards were waiting just inside for him. For a split second, he thought he walked into a trap.

The man in charge, a skinny man wearing glasses and a plain security guard uniform, with a shiny little brass badge hanging out of the breast pocket, and an old gun that might as well be a toy compared to newer models at his waist stepped forward and saluted Carth. The rest of the “welcoming committee” also saluted him. In a somewhat squirrelly sounding voice, the man began to speak “Hello, you must be Lieutenant Carth Onasi of the Federation Guard.” This man seemed most definitely more suited to watching computer monitors all day like he did that for shooting that little toy at his waist. Hell, the guy probably never even lost his virginity or never would Carth mused to himself and had to supress a chuckle.

“Yes, I am.” Carth answered like nothing was out of the ordinary. “I also brought with a small squad of my own men to also help with overseeing the increased security for today’s event.” He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb indicating the group of shady-looking privates and corporals.

The small man looked doubtfully at the small group of men approaching and actually recognized a few from the news. The ones he recognized were decent mages of about upper C class and would be higher in rank than they were, if only they could stay out of trouble. His tone sounded unsure as he looked back at Carth. “Um, I know some of those men from the news, they have some behavior issues. Are you certain they should be on such an assignment?”

Carth looked at him with a smile, though his eyes blazed with fury, the effect made the small man and his team shrink back a bit, though his voice was quiet and controlled.  “Are you questioning me? Might I remind you that I do outrank the lot of you even though you security guards are part of the Federation military.”

  “N-no, it it’s just that the Gate is what keeps unwanted invaders out and men with their performance records shouldn’t be allowed to …..” The man’s shaky voiced explanation of himself was never finished because Carth had put his saber right through the man’s forehead with a speed nobody in the room could see.

“Now then, anyone else going to question orders?” Carth asked with a sadistic look in his eye, despite the emotionless tone of his voice. Nobody said anything as he wiped his blade on the dead man’s coat. “Now then, I need details, how many of you are onboard and who know how to operate the Gateway?”

One of the men still pale and shocked from watching his boss get killed before his eyes raised his hand. “I am he second in command here, there are about twenty total and I know how to run everything.” He barely managed to say all that he was so scared that he was next for speaking up.

  “Good, I have a use for you. You may live, for now” Carth said to him with a smile as he waved his hand and all the other security guards in the room burst into flames except the corpse and the second in command. “All right guys, let’s split up and kill everyone else. And be quick about it as there isn’t much time.” He grabbed the second in command by the shoulder as the man was turning to make a run for it. “And where do you think you are going? I do believe I have a task for you, now show me to the controls.”
________________________________________________________________________________________

Back within the dome that was the Temple of Dana, everyone who was attending took their seats, most of them were high ranking officials from every planet within the Federation, as well as embassadors and of course people who were invited.  Most of the people present were humanoid in basic appearance with variations to the basic form.  For example, the Utonans had mainly red, or reddish tinted hair (most of them anyways) and they had slightly pointed ears, though not as well pronounced as the elven looking people from Strathore.  

Then you had the feline-humanoid hybrids from Catlandatopia, of which Empress Shell was attending, her yellow slit-pupiled eyes kept darting at Dren with animosity every now and again (it was well known in the Federation she hated him), her cat-like ears twitched in various directions, hearing things, normal people wouldn’t.  She kept shifting in her seat, made of a hard, glossy and smooth stone, in order to not crush her tail.  

Another easy to spot race were the Vampiric Noddans from Nod, obviously.  They had almost deathly pale skin, and sharp fangs that showed when they smiled.  They also shared more than a few traits with the Vampires of old Earth legend, which makes many whose ancestry fled Earth believe that the legends originated with this species visiting our planet as well as several dozen other species throughout the universe.

Suddenly The sound of the massive pipe organ on the floor below, thouht the echoes in the dome made it seem like it was coming from all directions, the sound of bagpipes also sprang up as the giant golden doors creaked open and two lines of soldiers marched up both sides of the main isle.

The row of soldiers was made up of Utonan soldiers carrying spears in their right arm, and circular shields in the other with the Green Mountain of Utona engraved on it’s face, they were fully armored in matching ceremoinal, and lavishly decorated suits of armor that left their joints completely free to move, though voulerable, but then again, Utonans always did like mobility over tankability on the field of battle.

The other row was a line of Cingetan soldiers with tower shileds in their left hands with a black eagle encirled with golden laurels on their faces, that matched the emblem on the tabards covering their shining silver armor, which looked very much like a normal knight’s armor.  They also had spears in their right hands.

When both lines were in position, they came to a halt, and turned in unison to face each other.  Then the next group to come up through were the Generals of both groups of soldiers.  On the Utonan side were Zyeers, Pomiel, Beargalorel, and Potchen, in their formal military attire showing off various badges and medals for past deeds of heroism and valor and such.  The Cingetan side had A female officer in front by the name of Pres, followed by Kyno, Zubor and Kial, all wearing their equivalent uniforms to the Utonans, almost like they were trying to compete with who had the most awards, though nobody came close to Zyeers, who actually had to leave many medals behind in his quarters, since there was a lack of room.

When both lines of Generals got to the alter, they went to either side in opposite directions, and then stood at attention.  Both Zyeers and Pres simultaneously ordered their troops to present arms, at which point the soldiers down the aisle picked up their spears and angled them so they crossed overhead, making a kind of corridor out of the aisle.

The next to walk through the doorway was Dren himslef in his golden armor, with a priestess of Danu on one side wearing flowing green robes with a celtic cross on the back in an ivory color, and on his other side was a priest from Lexus’s religion, known as Catholicism,   something that survived in a couple places since Earth was left behind.  The man wore a plain black suit with a white colloar with a silver cross with a little figure nailed to it of a man.   Dren seen it on Cingeta a few times, but never bothered asking, as religious discussions were usually trouble waiting to happen.

After the three stood in front of the alter,  the music changed to something different as out came Caeci, looking irritated at all the eyes on her in such garb.  Behind her was Cesya, looking every bit like royalty in both mannerisms and appearance.  Some in the crowd even remarked at how regal she looked.  Behind her was Ai, garbed similarly to Cesya, and looking determined, though anyone who knew her better could see the mischief gleaming in her eye, indicating she had a few tricks up her sleeve if worse came to worse.  Upon reaching the alter, Caeci moved off to the side, while Cesya knelt at the foot of the alter while Ai got to the side with Cesya.

The Music’s tone changed once again and out came A tall, muscular man who looked to be n his early twenties.  He wore a heavy looking suit of armor, without a helmet, as upon his head was the Crown of Thorns, which any Pope on Cingeta had to wear as part of the position, though it no longer had thorns on the side that touched the scalp.  It was made of what looked almost like golden razor wire, arranged in a wreath, which sat atop his golden blonde hair.  He had a Cross engraved into his breastplate, though it was hard to tell as he seemed to radiate white light to the point it bothered some people due to the temple being relatively dimly lit.  In his hand, was a tall golden staff with a Cross atop it, which he used like a walking stick.  Draped over his shoulders and flaring out behind him as he walked, was a red cape with the emblem of Cingeta neatly embroidered into it.  Behind Lexus were two guards in highly decorative armor, one really old, and one really young.  His father and brother.

Cesya whispered over to Ai as she watched them approach “It isn’t fair, we have to come out wearing almost nothing, and they get to be fully clothed.”

Ai fought back a snicker as she whispered back “Yeah, I noticed.  Though it has to be really warm in that armor, almost uncomfortably so.”

Dren over heard them and whispered over. “Shush!  Their traditions are their own.  We are trying to honor both sets here.  So be quiet or I’ll make you two have to dance at the feast afterward without changing.”

At this, the girls were quiet as they watched Lexus Kneel at the alter and his guards parted to the side.

Dren raised his hands and the music died down.  “Welcome Friends to the union of my Daughter Cesya with Pope Lexus X of Cingeta!  As traditions decree, the negotiations are to be made here and now.  So Girls,” He gestured to Caeci and Ai, and they knew all eyes were on them. “If you would be so kind.”
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Aboard the Gateway, Carth’s men had completely finished sweeping the entire thing, leaving the only creatures breathing to be all traitors and one hostage.  After the last shots clacked through the corridors, the entire place was quiet, except for the usual hum of the engines, and now in some places there was the sound of dripping blood.  
Carth relished the deathly silence and the horrid scene of gore before him as he escorted the hostage to the Control Room.  The sight that awaited in there made him smile.  There were at least a dozen corpses maybe a few more, it was hard to tell as some of the bodies were blown to pieces, and the scene looked like someone was practicing some sort of macabre fung shuey.

The hostage doubled over and vomited at the sight.  The only thing worse than the sight was the smell, the horrible smell of death combined with whatever was in some bowels spewed across the walls, ceiling and floor.  “H-how could you do this?  They were just simple security guards, most of them never even fired a gun outside basic training.”  The man choked up after losing all of his lunch.

Carth grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and picked him up so their faces were inches apart.  “You wanna know why?   Simply because I can and I happen to enjoy it.  There is nothing more to it.  Welcome to the world, it is a sick and twisted place full of people like me.  You Don’t have to worry, because the second you become useless, you’ll be departing this rotten world.   If you intend to stay here longer, I would recommend being as useful as possible, wouldn’t you say?”  After the speech, Carth reached his other hand around and tore off the Guard’s outer uniform shirt and tossed it on the control panel, then shoved the captive toward the control panel after the shirt.  “Clean off the equipment and get this thing open.  If you don’t have it operational in a few moments, you are going to die far more horribly than your friends did.”

The man grew pale and swallowed more bile that was rising in his throat and started wiping like a madman while Carth pulled out a communication device and put it up to his ear.
“Hey Shell, do you copy?”  there was a pause.  “Good, so None of the elite Utonans realize that the ‘you’ at the ceremony is a fake?”.  He waited for a response.  “Nice, well done……..you’re welcome……….Yes, Gilgamesh agreed to let you have a kingdom spanning the entire western sector of the Federation, however, how is your end?”  He waited for several moments listening to the status report.  “so you will be ready to move out in…. I dunno, about ten minutes?.........Of course We’ll be ready by then, we are about to open up the gateway right now.  As soon as you see it open, have all of your ships throughout Utona start aiming indiscriminately at everything that can possibly explode………Yeah………OK, see you after the battle.”  

Carth hung up the communicator device and looked at the hostage who stopped wiping for a second to look at him in disbelief at what he was hearing.  Carth shrugged while rolling his eyes. “Pfft, women!  Ya know what I mean?   Now get your ass back to work, as you may have heard, your dead line is ten minutes!”

Next, Carth flicked an eyeball off the control panel, which sprang to life as the hostage began running back and forth to flip various switches and buttons.  Carth found what he was looking for at the far end of the panel, and luckily for him, the headset wasn’t covered in gore.  He put it on and tuned the device to the frequency the Imperial warships used.  “Hello, anyone hear me, particularly, anyone looking for their welcoming party?”  He asked.  A few seconds came and went, then he voice of Vick came through.
“Affirmative, Schwartz 14, We are ready when you are.”  

“We should have the gateway open in about five more minutes, Shell is ready to act.  And the Utonans have no clue what is about to hit them.  Though watch when you attack Falias, I wasn’t able to get the codes to disarm that damn shield, so we may have to siege the place for a while before the shield runs out of juice.”  Carth informed his new allies.
“Copy that.  We can handle that, otherwise good work Schwartz, Noctaurus and Nevader just arrived, would you like to speak to them?” Vick asked.


“Certainly.  Relay the information I just told you first.”  Carth answered, then
waited a bit as they were informed.  He tapped his finger impatiently, then Noctaurus came on the headset.

“Excellent work, you next set of instructions is to keep that control ship from falling back into Utonan hands, once we are through, we’ll have a dropship deliver more soldiers, directly under your command to help keep it.”  He said in an official tone.
“Understood.”
____________________________________________________________________________________

Inside the temple, the negotiations had been finished, then the ceremonial scriptures of Lexus’s religion were read to commemorate their marriage and lastly the Scriptures of Dana were to be read.  

After the Priest got back into position, the Priestess pulled out a book from with the sleeve of her robe, It was huge, so much so, anyone wondered how it fit in there without being conspicuous.  It was an ancient book, bound with some leather from a sea beast and printed with that beast’s blood as ink.  The pages were made of a sort of fabric, that felt much like paper,  though it didn’t turn frail after many years of use like paper would.  The priestess opened to a premarked page and began reading in an ancient tongue none but the Utonans could possibly understand.

Potchen was bored as he hated these sort of things, though he didn’t mind the meade after the ceremony.  He loved the sweet taste of that wine made from fermented honey.  He happened to glance over his shoulder toward the back of the temple where the feast was being set up by the caterers and couldn’t help but to have his mouth water at the sight of it all.  Dren certainly didn’t cut any costs for his little girl.  His eyes scanned through the various dishes being laid out for eating as this was almost over.  Then he saw him.

Cake was dressed in a slightly better than usual jester’s motley costume for the occasion, but he was walking away from the massive cake Lexus brought with him.  Potchen whispered over to Zyeers. “We have a potential problem.”

Zyeers glanced his way quick, since the generals were glancing in various directions to
keep eyes out, nobody really noticed anything out of place.  “What do you see?”  he asked cautiously.

“I just saw Cake poking around back there, he did something to the cake Lexus brought, I think.  If he did, it can be an interplanetary war if it was malicious enough.”  Potchen whispered quietly back.

Zyeers thought for a moment.  “Yeah, that could be pretty bad.  Though he could just be pulling a bad prank.”

“I’m going to head back and look.” Potchen whispered back.

“No, I’ll take a look.  Remember, that little shit fears me.  Besides, it is less inconspicuous since I am way off to the side.  Hardly anyone will notice if I slip back there.”  He assured Potchen.

“OK, if you say so.  But hurry old timer, cuzz they’ll be done up here soon and it will be too late then.”  By the time Potchen looked back at Zyeers, he was gone.
The Priestess had finished reading the sacred texts, she folded the book closed and slipped it impossibly back up her sleeve, and then took a step back.  
Dren took a step forward.  “Now then ladies and gentlemen, under both the God of Cingeta, and our Goddess of Utona’s view, these two are officially wed.  May they both find happiness and have a good long life together.”

Everyone in attendance stood up and applauded as Cesya and Lexus’s lips made contact.

Just then, there was a whistling sound far off and approaching and getting louder rapidly.  Most people were confused.  However, anyone who ever saw any battlefield experience knew it was a missile.

Dren’s eyes got wide as he suddenly shouted “Take cover!”.

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Chapter 4: Welcome to my Nightmare


Lucien was looking out of a window in the Palazzo del Paradiso.  He saw the seemingly impossible hanging gardens, much like old Babylon was supposed to have, in the courtyard.  The walls were made of some sort of stone that he had never seen before that resembled a pearl in both appearance and texture, but was one solid piece that made all the walls, floors, statues, and some of the furnishings.  Lucien looked many times and could not find a crack to indicate there was more than one block the palace was carved out of, it absolutely baffled him.  This wasn’t possible, though it was beautiful, even with the almost realistic plants and vines carved along the walls, yet still the same colors as the rest, various shades of pinks, ivories and whites.

“I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.” An aged, yet incredibly sagely man’s voice said behind him.

Lucien didn’t even have to turn around to know that it was Jack. Lucien could never get over that despite the long, white hair, kept back in a ponytail -because jack thought it made him look hip with the kids these days-, and the ZZ Top beard, also snowy white to match, this strange being who claimed to be the ruler and creator of the universe liked to wear a bright silk shirt with some sort of tropical related plants or surfboards on along with a pair of khakis.  It always seemed eccentric to Lucien, then there is the strange way Jack behaves, sure there was usually an underlying point to his weirdness, but it was sometimes hard to find in the so called mountain of shit he hid it in.  Besides, you can see some sort of unparalleled wisdom in his eyes.

“You know you left me here for a half an hour.  And to skip right to the point, I know why you called me here.  It is almost time, which means I soon am going to leave and be free of your torment for at least a while.  I been aching for a vacation from this.” Lucien said in a dry, not amused voice as he turned around to face Jack.

“You know, I always told you that you were too serious and that you needed to lighten up, it isn’t like the fate of the universe rests on your shoulders.”  Jack stopped for a second, then obviously realizing, though it could have easily been an act with how exaggerated his sudden surprise was as he corrected himself “Wait, yeah, it does!  Still, without a sense of humor you will almost certainly fail.”

“I won’t fail!”  Lucien had put up with this man nagging him for almost an entire millennium, he was thoroughly annoyed. “You picked me because I am the third strongest sorcerer in the universe.  You can’t do it yourself due to that ancient treaty you claim prevents you from directly affecting anything.  Besides, I want Gilgamesh’s head more than anything.  And you know that I will do whatever it takes to get it. “

“There you go pretending like you don’t care again to try to cover your true feelings.  You should know by now that we can read you like a wide open book.  We all know what you really think despite the façade you put up.  For instance, I know what you want the most is to be with Shardara once more.  I also know that your priority is protecting her, though you might not know it.  I know you’d instinctively dive in the way of an attack aimed at her even if you have Gilgamesh on his knees and you are halfway through the swing of the final stroke.  I told you at least a million times that love isn’t a weakness.  I know they did a number when they brainwashed you during your upbringing, and you have realized that about 98 percent of that was  pure bullshit, but that damn subconscious engraving still affects you sometimes…”  Jack went on, Lucien’s face getting redder and redder from humiliation the whole time.

“Will you just shut up and tell me where I have to go to meet them?”  Lucien managed to get out despite all his desire to throw the  GebrocheneFlügel at Jack.

“Well, you are not going to meet them anywhere, as your body is still comatose.  You have to wait for them for the most part.  Also, I may want to warn you, you are missing an arm, though I’m sure you will figure something out for that, besides, I am sure your old friends Uke and Anto figured something out for that without realizing it. It should be in the ‘care package’ Ai has with her.  If I am not mistaken you will like it.”  Jack gave a sarcastic toothy grin, the same one that he knew got on Lucien’s nerves.  He loved pushing Lucien’s buttons and this was his last time for quite a while.

Lucien growled for a moment as he knew despite all his wanting to attack Jack, he couldn’t.  Jack had a million tricks to subdue him up his sleeves.  Anything from simply freezing every muscle below Lucien’s neck, to making the floor itself open up and close on him at the shoulders as he fell through to having the ceiling suddenly grow a pillar straight down to pin him to the floor, and no matter how unrealistically strong Lucien could make himself with his sorcery, he couldn’t move or break any of these things.  He noticed a throne grew out of the floor which Jack was lounging in.  Just then Lucien realized that there was something fun for him coming with Ai.  He couldn’t wait to see what advancements one thousand years gave to weaponry, probably not much since much fighting was done with the ultimate weapon these days: Magic.  Though one still saw weaponry on the battlefield as not everyone could use magic, so there were small advances made from year to year despite the bulk of the attention focused on how to exactly blend fire and air elements to make the hottest flame and such.  “Anything good in the ‘care package’?”  He asked.

“I’m not telling, but I know you’ll like it.  You will almost forget this I am sure.” A look of mischief came into his eyes as he snapped his fingers and GebrocheneFlügel was swallowed into the floor.

“What the hell?!”  Lucien screamed in disbelief.  “How am I supposed to defeat a self-made god without that?!”  He was practically blowing flames from his nostrils.

Jack simply sat there completely not phased at all by Lucien’s bellowing.  “Now you don’t actually think I would let something like THAT loose, do you?”  He asked, with an almost sadistic ring to his voice.  “It was just a cheap trick thought up by Michael to get you to take your training seriously.  Sure, he can’t lie, being an archangel and all, but he can come up with some nasty tricks, and good news is your questions always gave him a way to make you believe what you wanted while him never speaking a word that wasn’t true.  Yes, he can make truth dance a mighty fine samba.  Besides, I am sure you’ll manage fine without that thing.”

“Oh, I seriously hope getting my ass handed to me isn’t your idea of managing fine!”  Lucien shouted.  

“It isn’t, I am sure of it, the calculations tell me so.  Besides, I can tell you are sure this is one massive coma induced nightmare and that we are all just figments of your screwed up psyche.  I mean, if that will make you feel better.”  Jack was amused.

“Yeah, first thing I am doing when I get to a bit of civilization is looking for a hospital and getting a brain scan and hope you are just the side affect of a minor spell shard or something.”  Lucien joked, though he really did hope, because if this was the afterlife, he’d probably be irritated for all eternity.

“Anyways, I got to go head up a meeting about getting a bigger water park put in here, so I am going to let Azreal entertain you until it is time.  I‘ll be back when it is almost time for I have a single remaining test for you, so see ya later!”  Jack waved and began walking out the door without waiting.

“Hold up!” Lucien called  “So, you are really just a bad dream right?”

Jack thought for a second. “I think I’ll let you figure it out when you wake up.  I think you might actually be surprised.”  He grinned and walked out the door, which slid shut behind him.

Lucien opened the door not even three seconds later and there was a cute eighteen year old looking girl in a black cloak and short gothic black dress that showed an impressive amount of pale cleavage and smooth legs.  Her eyes were white where a normal pair is black and black where a normal pair was white.  She leaned on a scythe as tall as she was.  Lucien stuck his head out quick and looked down both sides of the hallway, which stretched a quarter of a mile in each direction and no sign of Jack.  One of these days he’d figure out just how Jack could do that.

“Um, excuse me Lucien?” Azreal said, sounding unnaturally cute for a reaper of souls, then again, she didn’t exactly look the part either.

“Hello Azreal.  I’m guessing you asked for our little time together?”  Lucien liked Azreal, she was seemingly all knowing, cute and generally fun, and reminded him very much of his friend Ai.  They hit it off right away.

“You guessed it. You know I’d be pissed if I didn’t get to say goodbye.” She answered.

________________________________________________________________


Subspace, a chaotic parallel dimension of sorts that lays beneath our own fabric of reality.  The only way to pass through it is by means of a Gateway, which instantaneously bores a “tunnel”  through it.  There have been many attempts to make a ship that can pass through without the tunnels or the gateways, however, they have all been failures except for three ships, and they are all listed as destroyed beyond repair, and unfortunately, the research data to recreated them had been destroyed.  

The vacuum of subspace isn’t a black void like space in our universe, it is a swirling red and yellow that can make someone go mad if they stare too long.  Stars come in only one color here: pitch black, however, in the “tunnels“, they appear as black streaks against the swirling yellow and red.  The “tunnels” are necessary as they ease up the sheer pressure of the environment.  A normal ship that wanders beyond the border of these paths would be completely crushed like an aluminum can.  However, trips through the tunnels of Subspace take only a fraction of a fraction of the normal time it would take to reach a destination in our universe.  Spans of hundreds of light years can be traversed in a matter of days.  Nobody quite knows where the Gateways came from, or how they can sustain the “tunnels”.  However, common theory suggests that they were left behind by a race known to many as the Gefallt, and to others, whose ancestors came from Mythical Earth, they know them as the Atlantians.

Usually the “tunnels” were fairly scarcely populated and quiet, however, not this day, for there was an entire armada of Urukian ships of different shapes and sizes, but all armed to the teeth and bearing the Tiger of Gilgamesh on the flags flapping on poles on the decks of the ships.  Many of the ships were sleek and obviously built for speed, with long, wing-like blades sticking out their sides.  Others were massive and packing huge guns and pods for other weaponry as well as a launching hangar for other various manned weapons to deploy from.  

Then, there was the largest ship in the fleet in the front, the flagship, The Tyrant.  It was twice the size of the next largest in the fleet, and heavily armed.  It looked like a machine straight from someone’s twisted nightmare, sharp edges and blades hung at all angles and there was a figurehead of a skeleton in a tattered dress.  There was a launching hangar on Tyrant, though it was obvious it was designed to launch Colossi, giant suits of robotic armor.  

Inside the briefing room of Tyrant, there were only two figures, as the rest of the soldiers were down in the mess hall getting food, and the AI could take care of navigating through the “tunnel” outside.  The one man was tall, and had hair that ranged from shades of silver to hues of white, though he was far from elderly in appearance.  He wore a black military uniform with the sleeves ripped off and with various decorations and indications of rank.  A silver overcoat hung over a seat nearby.  His eyes were a deep green and he had a seemingly permanent arrogant expression on his face.

The other had a very similar uniform with very much the same decorations, though he was of equal rank.  He had his shirt half unbuttoned.  And he had spiky black hair and orange eyes with a scar on his left cheek.  He had an impressive great sword about six feet long and about a foot wide with a tiger engraved in the blade and a fearsome tiger head for a pommel strapped to his back, he never goes anywhere without it.

“We should be arriving shortly and then the operation shall commence.  We may have been on the ropes for a while, but after today, the Federation will regret ever defying Lord Gilgamesh, blessed be his name.” Said the black haired man.  

“They’ll never know what hit them, it is like catching them with their pants around their ankles.”  The silver haired man responded with a malicious grin.

“Hopefully Schwartz14 can perform his mission so the advance force, the tip of the spear, that’s us, can get first dibs on vengeance.”  The black haired one was saying enthusiastically.  One could tell he couldn’t wait to spill blood by the gallons.  Then again, his sanity was….questionable.

The door to the bridge slid open and a woman in what one could almost take for a black leather Gothic-styled dress walked in.  Upon further inspection, one would notice it wasn’t a dress at all, but two pairs of bat-like, leathery wings wrapped around her body to cover her mostly up from bust to just above her knee, though a crimson corset shown through a gap in her abdomen, and she had a matching crimson choker on her neck. Her eyes were a bright scarlet, and shown with excitement and malice.  She had long, curly black hair and a gorgeous figure with the face of a doll.  Any man who beheld her would be putty in her hands, even without her abilities.  “You boys and your waging war.  We are the commanders here, and we shouldn’t have to confront anyone ourselves unless the Federation suddenly gets some sort of super powerful SS class or better mage we don’t know about.”  The woman said with a touch of scolding in her voice.  

“Sorry Nev.  You know it’s been far too long since I had a good fight.  The thought there might just be a worthy opponent or two there really makes my blood boil with excitement.”   The silver haired man said.  

“Vick, you know better than to call me Nev!  It’s Nev-a-dar. Nevadar!  Do you get it?”  The woman definitely was scolding Vick, who winced at each syllable, he knew he’d pay for angering her later, as not only was she a superior officer, but she had far too much power for his liking.  She wouldn’t kill him, but the pain would be excruciating to be sure, and most likely it would be humiliating as she would most likely make an example of him.

“Like I’d be afraid of a woman most likely not wearing underwear, ya damned succubus…” Vick said under his breath, earning sharp glares from both Nevadar and the black haired man.  Vick could tell he hit the nail on the head with that comment by the way she reacted.  At the very least, if she did try to kill him, which is a feat that is not as easy as she may suspect, he might get to see something.  He smirked at that thought.

“You insolent Whelp!” The black haired man shouted as he drew his sword halfway out of it’s sheath.  “You should watch your mouth around your superiors!”

“You want some Noc?  I’ll rip you open and feng-shuey the walls with your innards!”  Vick’s hands were growing hairier and his fingernails were turning into claws.  At the same time, his face was becoming more beastly as well as the rest of his body, as there were strange sounds of flesh moving and bones moving and popping into new places.

“I order you both to stand down!” Nevadar commanded with every bit of command she had.  Vick’s wolf-like ears pressed flat against his head and if he had a tail by this point, it would have went between his legs.  He began rapidly reverting back to a human-like form while Noc simply shrugged and slid his sword back in the sheath.  “Noctaurus, you should know better than to fight in a ship in subspace.  Vick, I didn’t want you in our squad, but the Emporer, blessed be his name commanded me to take you because nobody else can keep your arrogance in check.  I hope they do have a mage capable of putting your werewolf ass down like the dog you are.”  She glared and seeing they were both properly chastised, she composed herself and continued in a manner that had they not been there a few seconds earlier, they wouldn’t have believed she snapped at them.  “Now remember, we are on point.  Our objective is to shock and awe them until the other forces arrive.  Their capital city Falias, as intel states, a shield of considerable strength.  If it is as strong as our informant thinks it is, we may have to lay a siege for the most part, however, if we can find a way around it, or through it, we have a good chance of taking the center of the Federation in a day, at the latest two.  Mortemis and his squad are going to set up the blockade and maintain that nothing enters or leaves Utona that isn’t Imperial.  Dante and his squad will take the other three cities, which are nowhere near as heavily defended as Falias, especially considering the event we are striking during.”  She stopped to catch a breath for a second.

“Ya know, isn’t it kind of a dick move to do an all out invasion during a wedding? I mean I get the tactical fact they certainly won’t see it coming, but still…” Vick was in the middle of trying to explain himself when Noctaurus cut in.

“That is precisely why we are going to hit them during that wedding.  Any security they have will be watching for assassination attempts and civil unrest at best, not an invasion force.  Besides, it sends a distict message to the rest of those opposing us.”  He said, all too calmly, that kind of unnerving calm that makes a man wonder how he is going to kill you in your sleep.  The sad thing was, until he was ready to fight, in which case his sanity warps, he always speaks like that.  It creeped Vick out.

“Anyways, I am going to check on Lobo before the attack commences.  See you when it is a go.”  He got up and exited the room as fast as he could, while trying to appear leisurely about it.  He didn’t like the vibe he was getting off of Noc and wanted to distance himself before his animalistic instincts kicked in and something went down.  

Back in the briefing room, Noctaurus locked the door.  “That fool finally left.  Now we are alone my dear.”  He turned around with a perverted smile, which only grew wider as her wings unwrapped from around her otherwise perfect body, revealing that she was indeed not wearing undergarments, and also her corset didn’t cover as much as it should.

Nevadar struck a seductive pose.  “Come my sweet, if you dare.”  She gave him a nefarious smile.
________________________________________________________________


The Temple of Danu was a dome shaped building, made of emerald colored marble like the rest of the city and had fancy celtic-like carvings and statues on both the  inside and outside.  The outside looked ancient and mystical despite the architecture being finished less than three centuries ago.  There were vines with brightly colored flowers growing up the sides of the dome that only enhanced the overall enchanted feel the very sight of the temple gave off.  

   Thousands of people of every race in the Federation were making the long walk up the hundreds of stairs toward the temple’s giant golden doors, which were inset with emeralds to make a symbol that very much resembled a celtic cross.  And never failed to impress as the doors stood well over a hundred feet tall and were about three feet thick, solid gold.  

   The inside was quite different from most places of worship as there were  two circles carved into the floor  with various markers in the form of stones with symbols on them.  There was a great circle in between the two ditches made of monolithic stones connected by other stone slabs laid across the top of them.  In the center was a giant statue of a beautiful woman in flowing robes, whose eyes, though carved seemed to follow a man with an all knowing, appraising gaze.  At the woman’s feet was an alter, carved in ancient runes.  The statue and alter were surrounded by rows upon rows of curved benches.  There were arcs made out of green glass that happened to follow the arcs of the moon and sun at certain points of the year, overall, if one paid close enough attention, they’d realize the markings all throughout the stones and the walls could be used as a massive, simple, yet complex calendar.  

   The side behind the statue had been  cleared out and had several small changing rooms built in, as well as many tables set up for the feast to come afterward.  There was a massive cake brought by Lexus himself to help show his traditions on Cingeta.  There was enough food being prepared to serve an army, the smell of the food being cooked in the kitchens in another, smaller building nearby could be smelled blowing in the great doors.

   In one of the changing rooms, there was a young, regal woman, with flowing red locks with a small crown nestled within and a veil hanging down over her freckled, yet rather cute face.  Her green eyes looked full of anxiousness as she tried to do up the chords to the front of her corset that went over top of her beautiful, white, and well tailored dress.  There were green vines with leaves that almost seemed real embroidered down the detached sleeves, that looked almost real, until one looked close enough and saw the threads.  Each one held a pristine pearl on it’s leaf, and completely matched the embroidering on the corset and the outer skirt.  The outer skirt was huge, a good 4 foot radius, with ribbons and frills. She was glad that after the ceremony, she could remove the larger skirt and have the smaller, more practical inner skirt on. She finished up tying the ribbon-like chord to the corset, with a knot that made the chord look like an elegant bow of sorts, which she fastened with a broach that looked like a leaf made of tiny emeralds with a pearl in the middle to match the rest of the dress.  

   There were two other women in the changing room with her, helping her out.  The one head fox-like ears and twin fox-like tails, a kitsune.  The other, had fuchsia eyes and tattoos of dragonfly wings on her back, a fey, but that fact wasn’t know to most, as the fey are one of the more dangerous races that are a part of the Empire, and well hated on Utona, though there are select exceptions from any race, they still meet with racism for the sins of their people.  

   They were both wearing the traditional Utonan Honor Guard regalia, which was purely ceremonial, as there were plenty of real guards in attendance.  It was just one thing that was traditional.  The bride brought two women, and the groom brought 2 men to be their honor guard.  The honor guard then not only protected them, but negotiated the terms of the marriage right there without either groom nor bride speaking.  The terms were already decided, once again, this was just tradition, so it is really just for show.  The female honor guard regalia consisted of a boiled leather breast plate that left the midriff exposed, a black loincloth, and leather boots that came up to the thigh as well as leather gauntlets, all black and decorated by gold to look kind of like flames.  The reason for such a costume was established in the ancient days to show the other party that there was nothing that could be hidden on their bodies that could harm the other party, instead they had traditional bows, slung over their shoulders, each having a quiver at their waist full of arrows with rubber tips, but they did have daggers that were centuries old and mostly for decoration on the other side of their hips from the quivers.  Neither looked too thrilled to have to go into public dressed like that, but it was tradition, and they were chosen.  They’d get even with a prank later at the party.

   “I still can’t believe I agreed to this Cesya.” Caeci said, slightly bothered by how cold it was in the temple without proper attire.  

   Cesya turned around and grinned at her friends.  “Aww, you two look quite lovely.  I’m sure you’ll be asked to dance at the feast afterwards enough that you’ll have blisters on your feet by the end of the night.  The boys probably won’t even pay attention to the wedding as they’ll be drooling over the pair of you.  I’m slightly jealous.” She was joking, though she knew they’d get a good bit of attention later on.

   Ai grimaced at the thought.  “Well, at least if all else fails, I can turn into a bird and get out of here.  Though I suppose it could have been worse.  I remember a long time ago, the bride and the groom had to come completely nude to the wedding, and that it took place outdoors in a place the entire city could see from, however, that was done away with some time ago.”   It was hard to remember this girl who looked no older than twenty was actually more thaqn a thousand years old.  That is, until you get a look deep into her eyes.

   Cesya blushed at the thought and was glad it wasn’t like that anymore.  Her grandfather abolished that tradition to make her grandmother feel more comfortable at their wedding.  “Anyways, I still can’t believe I am actually getting married today.  I’m so nervous!”  She sounded it too.

   “Relax, you’ll be just fine, the two of us might not look it, but we could take a whole army between us.  We have your back no matter what.” Cesya said in a comforting voice.  “All you have to do is just walk in without falling, kneel at the alter next to Lexus while we do all the talking, and then kiss him when we reach our agreement., then let him carry you to your seat at the head of the main table by his.  It is that easy.  And if anything wild happens, like an assassin…” These things have happened before which is part of the reason Dren also recommended those two for the honor guard positions. Cesya pulled out her bow, but didn’t pull out an arrow, instead she grabbed the string, and pulled back, a glowing blue arrow shaped energy beam appeared where an arrow should have been, giving off a strange mist.  “…I can blow him away before he can even ruin the day.”  She let the arrow vanish and then slung the bow back into place.

   “Oh yeah, I have to speak to my father quick, he said to meet him by the alter before the ceremony starts.  I’ll meet you two outside.”  Cesya said as she bolted upright and ran out of the changing room.  

   Ai sighed.  “That girl is still as forgetful as ever.  Though she will make a decent queen for this planet as she has the one most important things needed.”

   “What might that be?” Caeci asked, pretty sure she knew the answer, but knew kitsune liked to teach by being tricky, and she was sure this was one of her lessons by her tone of voice.

   “And you are still overly cautious, then again, when I was teaching you, I did trick you often enough to teach you to expect anything, I suppose that is partially my fault.  Anyways, she genuinely cares for her people.  You can’t be a great and well respected ruler unless you do.”  Ai started out the door and turned to Caeci and gestured for her to follow. “Come child, if I have to bee seen like this, so do you.  So we might as well just get it over with.”  She said with a hint of disgust she had been hiding and with impatience.

   “Fine, but we need to come up with something good to get even with Dren for making us do this.”  Caeci said with a mischievous grin.  “I know my accessory in this conspiracy is one of the most masterful pranksters of all time, so this should be both easy and fun.”  

   Ai sighed.  She did have way to many legends and stories being told about her many adventures and how she tricked her way out of more than a few tight spaces over her long life.

   They headed outside, sticking to the shadows and trying to avoid being seen as they went out the back exit, though they knew the fact they would be seen eventually by all these people, they still wanted to postpone the inevitable a bit longer.
________________________________________________________________
   
   Dren was looking at the four great treasures brought forth from Earth, the home of their ancestors, and then from their old world, their original Utona, which had been destroyed during his grandfather’s time one thousand Federal years ago.  There was enough warning that most of the population managed to evacuate, then they settled on this planet and gave it the same name to make it seem more homely.  There was a sword as big as he was in a sheath full of opium to quell the blade inside for it was an ancient, and powerful living blade.  There was another sword, though of normal size, which could cut the tops off of three hills in a single swing, and finally, a large gem.  These four items only ever left during times of war.  Dren had wielded them all in his long line as they only responded to royal blood, though he never actually enjoyed it quite like he thought he would when he was a lad.

   “How are you holding up dear?” Dren asked without even turning around, startling Cesya.  It really creeps her out how he knows she is coming, despite her best attempts to catch him off guard for a change.

   “I’m a little nervous.” She lied, she honestly thought she was going to hyperventilate soon.

   “Well, that’s to be expected.  Are you sure you want to go through with this?”  He asked, concern in his voice.  

   Cesya was slightly annoyed, she thought he was questioning her decision for a husband, she let him know with her tone of voice. “Why yes, Father.  I am sure. Lexus is a great man, he is good to me and his people.”

   Dren sensed her annoyance, he never could talk to her long without stepping on a proverbial non-negotiable big landmine.  “No, dear, don’t get me wrong.  I think that too, he is a fine choice for you.  I’m just worried as your father as you are all I’ve got left.  Your brother died twenty years ago as a hero, he saved my life as well as the lives of half our forces.  I am proud of him as I am of you today.  And you know your mother got really sick and passed away shortly after you were born.  I did the best I knew how.  Really I have.  I am just sad to see you leaving the nest so to speak.”  He thought he covered all angles, maybe she won’t get angrier, as he knows women can do on the dime.  He’d never be able to figure them out quite as well as he would like.

   Cesya sighed, she knew it was just him worrying about her.  “I know dad, I’m just nervous and it is getting to me. So what did you really ask me to meet you here for?”

   “Well, I am going to make an announcement, which is going to make history at the feast when I toast you two.  I didn’t want you to be surprised, though I just decided this this morning after thinking it over for a few hours.  I am going to step down as the ruler and let you be the first ruling queen of Utona.  I received reports that the Empire is going to attack full force and I can’t lead the army and care for the people properly, so I am putting you in charge, and I am becoming the highest ranked general of the Federation Army.  It is all I can do these days to make sure they are safe, you need to make sure they are happy.”

Dren managed to get it all out mainly because Cesya was in such shock she couldn’t speak.

   “I-I don’t think I am ready yet.  Are you sure?”  She could barely say.

   “The fact you don’t think you are ready lets me know you are.  You will do fine.  My advisors will help you out.  They know just about anything you would want to know.”  Dren put his hand on her cheek reassuringly. “Anyways, reports said I got a week to get our army together, I’ll teach you as much as I can between strategy meetings.  Also, I am sure your Mother and Brother are proud of you as well.  You should get going, the event is starting soon.”

   Cesya was still at a loss for words, in almost a trance, she turned and walked out the doors without saying a word.  She saw her Honor Guard waiting off to the side and behind some bushes so only their heads showed.
Chapter 4: Welcome to my Nightmare
Sorry it has taken so long to post another chapter, been working every day for a few weeks (for the record, the taxes make working a seventh day straight absolutely a waste of time and effort).  Anyways, here is the next offering in BSFT.
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Chapter 3: Prepare for War

Falias, Capital of Utona. The fortress city built over the last eight hundred years after the Exile as a defense against Urok and the Empire, as well as any and all threats. The city was built along a sea on a five mile high and twenty mile wide, round shield shaped mountain with twelve tiers separated by seven hundred foot tall walls manned by soldiers on patrol and various anti-siege weaponry with spells engraved in the very stone to make them virtually indestructible. Most of the city had been built from the stone brought out when the mountain was hollowed out.

The bottom eight tiers were residential areas where various peoples of the Federation lived and did business in the many markets and businesses. Most of the buildings were small, traditional looking buildings as Utonans liked keeping things seemingly simple, however, there were still various types of architecture throughout the residential districts built by various races and cultures. There were a few skyscraper-like buildings here and there, domes and some buildings that without spells worked into the very materials, would never stand up on their own, making some interesting feats of architecture.
The next two tiers were reserved strictly for the military; Utona's largest garrison was here. Soldiers moved in formation on the various parade grounds, there were tools of war ranging from ten foot tall suits of mechanized armor to massive ships sitting in their respective places about the place. There were also massive sets of doors that opened up and led shafts down into the hollowed out mountain, big enough for a ship to pass through. Utona had enough firepower in Falias to shatter one of its own moons and still have firepower to spare, with three other city fortresses- Gorias, Murias and Finias- just as well defended.

The second to top tier was reserved for embassies of the Federation. There were aristocrats and ambassadors living here in buildings built in the style of their home world to make them feel comfortable as they spend time here consulting with Dren, the king of Utona, and one of the members of the Federation that has helped forge and keep it together over the centuries, after his grandfather and father. The ambassadors were permitted to visit any place of the city except the military tiers, though they were allowed to pass through to get to the other areas, under escort.

Finally, the top tier was where Dren's Castle, Ardara, stood at the crest of the hill. It was massive, with yet another seven hundred foot wall surrounding it, making a nice death trap between that one and the wall separating the tiers. The Keep itself towered another five hundred feet above that with arrow slits poking all throughout the sides as well as various windows and balconies. Aside from the main keep, within the compound were various other structures of towers and domes. The flag of Utona, with its green, snow-capped mountain flew on banners on all the high points.

On one of the southern balconies, there was a figure in plate armor gilded Gold with various engravings and celtic-looking patterns all over. He wore a long, red fur cloak, which blew in the wind. He looked to be middle aged, yet was three centuries old according to Federation Standard Time. His shoulder length salt and pepper hair kept blowing in front of his vision, but he could still make out what he was watching, with a hard, angular face that had seen years of things to have to worry about. He idly thought he needed a vacation after his daughter's wedding, which happened to be just a few hours away.

Dren looked out onto his great city, watching as people were already lining the street that led in from the main gate to the south of the city, which had guarded roadblocks all they way up to the Temple of Dana on the top tier of the Residential District. They were hanging decorations on balconies and anywhere else they could find to hang them for the occasion. He smiled at how his people seemed comfortable, despite him being the father of the bride, marrying his daughter off to one of his long time rivals, Pope Lexus X of Cingeta.

Idly, Dren's eye darted around to the various fortifications, which appeared to still be manned by his fierce soldiers-at least on the side of the city he could see from this balcony, to check to see if they were not going lax just because they haven't had a fight in years, the Empire could show up literally any minute, at least according to the troubling report Ai gave him the night before upon her arrival. He knew what he had to do, but didn't like it one bit. He also scanned an eye over the outer wall of the lower district, easily seeable at this altitude, and saw the field towers were all still in place.

He then gazed out at the port and saw various ships docked in the harbor from every civilization in the Federation, some were merchants, some belonged to his people, and most today, which were anchored out as far as he could see were visitors to see the wedding. He had a strict, no fly rule in effect over the city, only military craft were allowed to, since he had to keep his security tight after hearing the news from Ai, normally various craft would be zipping all over the sky, though he had to admit he liked the serenity and quiet that temporary rule granted him. It was hard to sleep when an old ship came within even two miles of the palace, loud enough it make the walls shake.

The last thing he looked at was the Gateway, a massive, silver colored metal halo that had various layers that all spun in opposite directions except the stationary outside layer when it was activated in the control room, which was a ship that was literally fused to the ring. Since it was deactivated-a further security precaution, he could see the moon behind it like a pupil for a massive eye in the sky, hanging above the ocean several miles out to sea, but clearly visible.

Yeah, everything looked so peaceful right now; he wished it was like this all the time, however, he had only one daughter and a son, Sreng who had died in the last skirmish with the Empire twenty years passed. He had died a hero however and Dren was proud of that, though he missed his son, usually in spells, and today was one of those days. He thought about that last fight against the Empire, their mighty ship Dreadnought was raining death down upon the planet Strathore, and still had plenty of assault batteries onboard to gun down anything that even got close to it. Dren had seriously thought he wasn't going to get out of this alive, especially after casting an S rank fire spell that engulfed the ship from the ground, and did absolutely nothing but give away his position. He watched in horror as all the batteries he could see began turning toward him to blast him and any of his troops to charred bits of meat, when seemingly out of nowhere, his Sreng's one man fighter ship came zipping between two half ruined buildings and kamikaze attacked the bridge of the dreadnought, right through the force field that served as a front view port, parts of his fighter managed to hit something vital because the Dreadnought began exploding all over and then crashed into some deserted buildings, and still sat their to this day, a rusted ruined husk of a battleship that remained as a monument of sorts.

"Are you listening to us Your Highness?" A Utonan Man's Voice said behind him.

Dren turned around and sighed on the inside. He really hated dealing with meetings sometimes, but that was part of being a leader of men. "Yes, I know we need to talk to the council on the Colony to strengthen the numbers of soldiers on the border planets. You know I do what I can, but I have to talk to them to convince them to go and convince their planet's leaders. It isn't easy, and there are way too many 'ifs' for my liking. It would help greatly if any of you can also put in a few words with your leaders." He was looking toward the end of the massive table in the meeting room, at some of the ambassadors and delegates of the other worlds in the Federation, who under the treaty were allowed in meetings that discussed actions that would affect the entire Federation. However, Dren had a good deal of Military meetings planned that he would make damn sure they wouldn't find out about.

He Looked at the men sitting on his end of the table, his generals of the Green Legion. The first was his right hand, an old man who looked almost like he was carved from stone he was so muscular and rigid. His face was all angles and bore scars on both cheeks and across the brow. He wore the formal dark green that almost seemed black uniform of the Legion displaying his many medals of various acts of valor and surviving battles. Of all the men in the Federation, Zyeers had seen the most battles. He had been around for centuries and had been just a recruit when Dren's Grandfather, Luhn was the king, before there was a Federation, when it was just Utona. He had seen things that no man should ever have to see and survived things that nobody thought possible, earning him the nickname Bithbheo, which means unkillable in the old language.

The next man he looked to was still wearing his armor's jumpsuit from morning drills. His hair was cut short on top and went into a fine braid that went about halfway down his back and had a sharp spike on the end. He had turquoise eyes that shown with the fire of youth despite being only a year younger than Dren. He had his trusty spear Gae Bolg next to him, which had been passed down the family for generations, ever since according to story his ancestor during the ancient days of the mythical planet of Earth had carved it from the bones of some sea beast. It could pierce the hearts of thirty men at the same time, which was a site to behold. He never let that spear out of his site. He also looked like he'd rather be anywhere else but in his room, with these "damned foolish politicians" as he liked to call them. This was Potchen.

Moving on, Dren shot a glance on his other side and saw Pomiel, another old vet from his father's time. Slim, but agile, he was wearing on of the formal uniforms, though his looked somewhat…deprived in comparison to Zyeer's. He was staring blankly off into space, most likely astral projecting into the women's public baths again. That old coot was always like that, but his knowledge of war was second only to Dren's and Zyeer's.
Finally, there was Beargalore, or Bearg for short. He had been recently promoted after taking charge of a small unit on the border planet Conquest after their commanding officer was imploded before his eyes. Despite being vastly outnumbered and cut off from help for months, he turned the odds around using the terrain and hot and run guerilla techniques and held out until the calvary could arrive. He was still somewhat young, his one cheek had a nasty scar from a bolt going in his mouth and out the side of his face in a bout of dumb luck. He also wore a formal uniform, with only a sparse amount of honors, but everyone at the table knew they were among the highest despite being the fewest among the generals. Besides, he was still young and had potential. If he survives, and continues to perform as he had.

They all knew what the serious look in Dren's eye. They all tapped their fingers on the table three times softly one at a time as he looked at each one in turn, with enough interval between as to not let the ambassadors notice. They all thought it was time to end this useless dribble and get to the real business. Besides, Caeci and Ai should be along any moment. Dren wasn't even paying attention to whatever the representative from Europea was talking about.

He looked in the corner at Cake, the court jester dressed in motley and holding a scepter. Cake was originally an Imperial Inquisitor who was stripped of his abilities to use magik due to a spell shard. A spell shard is an extremely rare thing that happens when two massively powerful spells collide, the results of the shards that are formed in space full of concentrated and chaotic sorcery can be completely random. The more powerful the spells used, the higher the risk a shard will form. Of course Cake wasn't his real name, it is something Dren's men came up with to shame him further. After what he did in his life, death was simply too good for him. He was once proud and strong, now he was meek and skinny, and not for lack of food. Dren meant to see he lived for some time like this.
"Gentlemen, may I have your attention?" Dren raised his voice high enough to be heard. It is only a few hours until the event everyone in the Federation has been talking about for months. The wedding of my Daughter Cesya to Lexus of Cingeta. I'm thinking you all might like a bit of rest until then. These matters can surely wait until this evening after we all had our fill at the feast afterward. I'm sure we'll all be in better moods by then. Why don't you follow Cake to the entertainment room where he can do something to entertain you for a while." Dren hoped they'd all leave, he needed this meeting to be secret. His men knew the drill.

Potchen stood up and stretched and took his spear in his hand and slung it on the sheath on his back, since he can't sit with it in the sheath. He gave a tired groan with some yawn mixed in, putting his hand to his mouth for added effect. "Yeah, I need a shower after morning drills and to get changed. A nap wouldn't hurt either. I think I might have overexerted myself in armor training. I beg your leave, my Lord." He looked to Dren and with the eye none of them could see from their angles gave Dren a sly wink.

Not bad Potchen. Not bad at all. "Yes you may go Potchen, I want you looking presentable, after all you are to represent our planet before the whole of the Federation this afternoon." Dren said with fake sternness along with a dismissing wave.

"Thank you my Lord, I shall do just as you say." Potchen bowed and exited the room through the ornately vine carved doors, leaving them open as if to invite anyone at all to follow his example.

Dren's other Generals came up with other false excuses and headed on out afterwards, a few ambassadors leaving between each one until Dren sat alone in the room. He waited about a minute. "You all can come out now." He said in an amused tone of voice as he took his seat.

His generals were all approaching the table as well as Ai and Caeci by the time he sat down, Ai and Caeci shutting the door quietly on their way in.

"One of these days you are going to have to tell me how you time that out so perfectly." Ai mused, her fox-like ears twitching as she took her seat, being careful of her twin bushy tails.

"That's my secret. Maybe I'll tell you on my deathbed if you are around." Dren Joked.

When they were all seated, Dren opened up a small compartment on his end of the table, there were sever switches, and buttons, some of which Dren toggled, closing the drapes to the windows and dimming down the spheres of light glowing overhead to absolute darkness. There was a mechanical whirling sound as a circular panel on the ceiling slid open and a semi domed device descended from the hole and clinked as it locked into place. Dren then threw another switch and the device activated, producing a three dimensional star map throughout the room complete with territorial boxes and names of objects in the great void. The faint light of the star map allowed everyone to see each other clearly enough in the dim light.

"Ai, are you ready to give your report of your last mission to my generals?" Dren asked in a tone that should have been used to command her to tell them, but she understood how dire the situation was to become.

Ai stood up and walked over to a star out on a branch of the galaxy and pointed at it. "Please zoom in to show this system in it's entirety." Anyone sitting in the room and unaccustomed to these star maps would suddenly feel sick ass all the stars seemed to warp past at a speed that made them seem beams of light as the map automatically adjusted to reveal the system Ai pointed out. It had ten planets revolving around a yellow star. The ones to the inside of the field of asteroids were small in comparison to the massive objects to the outside, which were gaseous planets, except the furthest planet. There was an even more massive one moving at an eclipse that was perpendicular to the others, as to pass right through where the asteroid field was, each of it's moons were about the size of one of the inner planets.

"Where is this?" Potchen asked with a bit of interest.

"well, it has been many millennia since the war that drove mankind from their ancient homeland and into the stars, but this is your origin, Earth now called Neo Urok. The center of the Empire." She pointed at the blue and white ball that was third from the star." This is the place I snuck into to gather intelligence for the past ten years, which was about thirty-five years on Urok. As you know, your year system in the Federation is the average time for the original eight colonies of the Federation to circle their star once. As you know, right after that battle on Strathore, the Empire seemed to withdraw for almost no apparent reason after centuries of fighting the Federation to bring us under it's heel and strip us of all our emotions and thoughts that make us who we are and turn us all into just another cog in their war machine. My mission was to go in and investigate. What I found is troubling. They plan to attack Utona, the dead center of the Federation, and the proverbial "glue" that keeps the Federation together. I managed to get here about a week before the attack, which gives us about six and a half days to prepare if they didn't bump up their schedule. I did make a pretty big commotion when I escaped into the Gateway. I would have used sub-space communications, however they blew off the dish. The troubling thing was it was done by a mage with a gun….in orbit. I fear he might be another one of the breed along which the High Inquisitors of Gilgamesh were from a thousand years ago. If that is the case, we may need to gather as many sorcerers, druids, mages, and any other person skilled in the arcane arts to defend this place, let alone the whole Federation. I have seen and felt some seriously powerful magicians on that planet alone."

"I'm just curious, what is that thing orbiting Earth, i mean Urok? Legend said it had only one massive, silver moon, which looked like a man's face if you looked closely enough at it." Beargalore asked in an almost confused voice, he was pointing at the huge ring made of metal and some sort of crystal that the entire planet could fit through.

"I'm glad you are all sitting down for this, but that is their Gateway. That is actually the one the ancient Atlantians left disguised for them to find to make their way out into the universe, since as you all know, the laws of physics make interstellar travel impossible, unless you cheat and defy these laws through arcane means, that is what the Atlantians left in their legendary Library of Alexandria on Earth, however I doubt they expected their ancient enemies to make use of it when Gilgamesh, the last true Urokian, was freed from his prison on Nibiru, that planet with the really strange orbit in comparison to the others."

Zyeers, Dren, and Pomiel all had the same serious expression of contemplating on their faces. Beargalore was simply shocked. Potchen was gawking at that massive Gateway. It was Caeci to actually speak up. "Do you have any idea how many troops they can move through a gateway that size and just how fast? They can send a formidable force to half the Federation in a matter of days…" She said with sheer awe at the realization.

"Well, if we can keep the gateways locked down, they will be trapped in subspace and be forced to turn back, since it is unlikely we will just open the doors. After all, only two and a half ships were ever built that could survive the forces within subspace itself without a tunnel that the gateways bore between themselves, like wormholes of sorts. One of those ships was destroyed during a battle in my grandfather's time, another my son destroyed, and the last…moving on, However, they will most likely put all their forces to the border planets and then advance from there trying to either sneak past our patrols, or fight their way through on several fronts, slowly boxing us in and leaving us nowhere to go. At least, that's what I figure." Dren simply stated as if he was explaining his strategy if he was in the Empire's shoes. His generals all nodded agreement.

"Even if we block the Gateways, you do realize a magician powerful enough can tear it open from the inside, though unless they are as strong as Exanimus, or Thanatos from a millennium ago, it will be a suicidal attempt, since even if they succeed, it will drain them dry enough of energy they will simply perish. I used to think nobody would be willing to just throw their lives away like that, but I seen what fanaticism and the desire for glory can do to a person. We may be in trouble." Ai stated. "Besides, I picked up on the fact they found some sort of new species of insect on a planet that seems to adapt to just about anything, though I didn't see them or get any better details except rumors in the streets. I hope they are just rumors, I'd hate to be throwing fire at a swarm of insects and suddenly it didn't faze them…." She honestly looked scared, her ears folded flat on her head and her tails slumped down between her legs, like a scared canine.

"Yeah, fanaticism is a real problem when it is used against you, but when it is in your favor it is great. Your men don't tire as fast and they fight much fiercer, still standing after they receive wounds that would cripple or kill them normally. It is a strange thing." Pomiel put in with a tone that made him sound almost sagely.

"I'd recommend we put our troops on the border planets on high alert and close all the Gateways along the border. We should also keep a strong magician of sorts at each Gateway in case they break through. Even if they can't hold out, they will buy us time to get reinforcements there in time. We should also call in the reserves to watch the space around each planet, especially ours and the border in case they try taking the long way around and forget using Gates altogether. Dammit, I was hoping I could relax in my old age. I guess it is true what they say. There is no rest for the weary." Zyeers put in, sounding truly disappointed at the end of his retirement plans, which Dren had been trying to talk him out of.

"Good call Zyeers, So we have almost a week to prepare. We should evacuate the planet of any non combatant and lock down this city. We will get right on this after the wedding. You will all come with me to avoid letting people knowing something is up until I want them to know, we don't need any mass panic. We should get someone on the Gate with a platoon at the controls to guard them, and preferably headed by a magician." Dren stated, the generals nodded.

"Well, It has been a while since me and my spear reminded the Empire why they ran in the first place, guess it was only a matter of time until they forgot. I shall increase the intensity of training to get our troops ready. They have been getting lazy and fat with nobody to fight, unless we put them on the borders or to quell down a civil dispute." Potchen actually sounded amused at the idea of getting to abuse his men a bit to toughen them up.

"Dren, may I make a suggestion?" Ai asked.

"Go ahead lass." Dren nodded to her.

"I'd like to take Caeci with me to search for Valhalla before the Empire gets here." She said, with a hint of doubt Dren would agree, though she knew he'd like to know why someone with her wisdom from living so long, despite looking young, would even ask to do something that would be such a waste of time at first glace.

Dren raised an eyebrow, confused. "May I ask why?"

"I received a prophesy last time I visited the Spirit Plane. 'The Damned One who seeks Redemption, the Dreamer and the Fallen shall soon awaken. In the darkest hour he will bring the only ember of light. If it is to extinguish or blaze bright, the Fey he once loved is the key.'"

Caeci's eyes went wide, remembering her dream. "Wait, you want to find Exanimus, the Fallen. But he died fighting and defeating the strongest of the Empire's men, ending the stalemate of the war and allowing the newly formed Federation to push back the invading empire. It is in the history books. Besides, Valhalla is a frozen wasteland now, only scientists go there to study the after effects of all the spell shards those two created with their terribly strong attacks. For crying out loud, there are icebergs floating in air miles off the ground because of the massive amount of mana released there by those two. Not to mention, I've never met Exanimus, I simply am not old enough." She almost pleaded. She didn't like the idea of having the fate of the known universe resting on her shoulders. Not to mention what it would mean if Exanimus loved her. That would mean….

"Yes, you are right. You are not exactly who you think you are Caeci. Though you suspected sometimes, such as the other day when you remarked about how much you look like the Statue of Shardara in the Hero's Hall in the fortress." Ai explained. "Just before that last battle Exanimus went into, which he didn't even plan out or prepare for, he was simply out for vengeance at that point. The stubbornly kind-hearted man, though he'll never admit it, that you pulled out from that monstrosity sunk back into his soul when Thanatos appeared and struck you down. He expended a massive amount of his own energy reserves to bring you back to life, but he failed. Stricken with a shattered heart and an insatiable thirst for blood, he put you in my care, frozen until I could bring you around. Honestly, I am surprised his sanity held out long enough to do that. He bid me farewell, though he didn't ask the odds of recovering you, he knew they were slim at best. He was still drained of energy and planned to take on Thanatos, who was slightly more powerful than him even when he was at full strength. He went alone with his ship Orpheus to do what I thought was to seek death. It was later I learned he ripped out the source of power for the ship, the macht-stein and used it's raw power as his own. I went there after the battle and found his tomb. He still breath's though he seemed to be an empty husk, leading me to believe his soul was dead, so I left him and worked over the course of the next few centuries to do the task he had given me. Alas, I finally succeeded, but you had no memories, so I had to reeducate you, which is where your memories begin. Your childhood memories you fabricated yourself to fill in the hole in your memory. I believe your memories will return in time of being near him. One more thing, after he defected from all he knew for you, he went by the name Lucien Mitternacht, which ironically translates to He who brings the light in the darkest hour in various old Earth languages. So there you have it Dren, that is why I think I should go." Ai finished, out of breath from he long speech, she was panting a bit, since she spoke fast as to get to finish.

Before Dren could answer, Caeci slumped out of her chair, a completely betrayed look in her eyes, she was breaking into a cold sweat. "Lies…..YOU LIE!" She grabbed her hair with both hands and tugged as she sprang to her feet and attempted to flee the room, unable to accept what had been laid at her feet so to speak. However, she didn't get far. Ai used wind magic to knock her legs out from under her and to catch her and set her down in a chair gently, then she used more wind to hold her down and gag Caeci.

The men in the room were stunned at the treatment their allies were giving each other, however, the older generals were wise enough to stay out of this, but Bearg, the youngest spoke up. "Ai please tell her it is just a bad jo-"

Ai shot him a dark look that sent a shiver down his spine and silenced him on the spot, her golden fox-like eyes almost seeming to glow in the dull light and her ears at full alert, standing up rigidly. "She knows this is truth, and she has to accept it and soon before we all perish! Stay out of this!" She turned back to Caeci, who was trying to get free. "That dream you had last night. That was him calling to you. We need to get Lucien if we are to survive, and I can read you like a book before you even try to deny that name doesn't ring a few bells in that voided part of your mind!"

Funny thing is, a few memories had returned to her in he past few minutes, most likely loosed from her dream, and now being forcibly dug out by Ai, who was mentally probing her and reminding her of things that happened in the past, forcing her to accept. After what seemed weeks, with only a few hours worth of memories forcibly recovered, she stopped trying to get loose, acceptance that she wasn't who or what she thought came over her. She calmed down and realized the only real way to recover her past was to embrace her destiny, which seemed to entwine with this man from the past.

Seeing Caeci calm down visibly, Ai let the restraints loose. "So, you feel better now?"

"Yes, and no at the same time, I realize there is much about myself I don't know. And I wish to know it, so I guess I have no choice. Dren, may I?" She asked in a collected, though barely restrained tone of voice, because one of those memories recovered was of her and Ex, Lucien and her stranded alone on a planet and he was fending off a massive beast with his bare hands, since he was drained of his mana reserves. He could have died, but he lunged in without hesitation. This in fact was the event that made Shardara fall in love with Exanimus, whom she would rename Lucien later, and he would accept her gift of a new name with pride. This was also the first actual decent act he had ever committed, but she didn't remember that part yet. She did remember falling for him though when he risked his life at that time however.

"You may, but please stick around long enough for the wedding. Cesya will be most upset if one of her closest friends suddenly ran off just before one of the biggest days of her life." Dren said, smiling, but inside he was hoping he and his people could hold out if two of his most powerful mages took off just before a battle. "Just be sure to hurry back, if you would." He added, hinting at his concern, since he learned years ago to control his features, making him unreadable, after all, men didn't follow an obviously fearful leader, they followed someone who seemed arrogant and sure of himself who never flinched no matter how great the temptation. "We shall talk more of this later, but for now, let us put some of our plans in place, and figure out more details later, we only have a couple hours left.

All the men got up and left the room to get ready for the evening. Caeci Still sat where she was. Ai expected this. "You do realize this path is going to be dangerous and much more difficult than you realize. But it must be traveled. I shall be right along side you to make sure you make it to the end." Ai said, her voice full of that warmth that only really old, close friends are capable of giving each other.

"Thanks, and I know you are usually right. Ya know what they say, Kitsunes may look young, but they possess wisdom beyond their many years, and also more tricks than one thinks capable of." Caeci joked, which was definitely a good sign. "Now let's get down to the Temple. Cesya is going to be angry if we are late. By now there's got to be a massive crowd to get through."

"Actually, I got a nice shortcut, after all, I did help design this fortress." Ai winked and led Caeci out the door.
________________________________________________________________

Down in the barracks, deep within the mountain, there were literally thousands of beds lined up with trunks at the end of each one. It was clean and orderly. Glowing orbs every few yards kept the massive underground chamber lit fairly bright. Everything looked ordinary, there were even a few platoons worth soldiers sleeping in the beds, the men on the third watch.

One of the men, a lieutenant, was getting into his formal Legion uniform, complete with a few medals for his adventures on a couple of the border planets, skirmishes at best, nothing like the battles back in the day Pomiel thought, but he'd have to do since he was a B ranked magician, stronger than the average C rank.

The man was about 5 feet in height, well groomed, with a close trimmed beard and moustache. He wore his service saber at his side and his few medals proudly. He saw Pomiel approach and stood at attention.

"At ease, lieutenant. I got an assignment for you, a very important one." Pomiel said in a grave tone of voice. Since not only was it a monumentally important mission, but the young lad was obviously getting ready to head up to the celebration, however, he didn't react how Pomiel expected.

The man's face beamed as if this is exactly what he wanted to hear. "Sir, I am ready for any mission you send me to embark upon." The man said, rather enthusiastically.

"I need you to take a platoon of men up to the Gate controls and see it stays shut down, now matter the cost, if someone forcibly opens the gate from the inside, you are to hold the culprit or culprits off as long as you can to buy valuable time for help to arrive. This is not a drill or a bad joke mind you. You may die doing this. Are you ready?" Pomiel said just as grim as before.

The strange man only continued grinning as Pomiel went on, definitely a strange one, probably hasn't seen anything dangerous enough to put real fear of death in him yet is what Pomiel figured. "I accept your orders and you can count on me. I take it I can pick my own platoon?" The man asked.

"Yes. Men you know you can trust." Pomiel stated. "Remember Carth Onasi, this is extremely important." Pomiel was already walking away on to his next piece of bussiness to be taken care of before the ceremony.

Carth Onasi beamed until Pomiel was gone from sight, then grinned with what one could only call malice.
So, before anyone goes claiming i'm ripping off Orpheus68. I am the same person, just made a profile for my blog.  so, i'm transferring copies of all my stories here.

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