Manuscript I: “Precursor” (Partial)

Precursor: Volume I: The Other Side of Time

Steven Gamella

Humanity experiences a step up every 700 years, and the ultimate aim is the coming of the Son of God. All created forces will be concentrated in a new species…it will be infinitely superior to all races before it, and all races after it.” ~Volkisch prophecy, late 19th century

Part I: Appendices and Notes

Egoist Crown: The Sad Paradox of Society, explained through Pantheon Doctrine and Darwinian Science: A message from the Author.

This project will attempt, as completely as possible, attempt to explain the fatal flaw in humanity, through two completely original ideas, Pantheon Doctrine and Cataclysmic Succession, two ideas that I came up with when I was 10 years old. Both ideas have to do with societal interaction and the bigger picture of evolution, and try to identify humanity’s biggest flaw, that will damn it to extinction. Most of Pantheon Doctrine is purely deductive, there are no sources that I used to develop it, just careful, subtle, casual observations of others around me, as well as eavesdropping in on other people’s conversations on college campuses, reading random people’s Facebook posts, personal blogs, looking at their pictures online, and scientifically observing their behaviors and likes, fears, desires, wants and dislikes like a scientist and historian, taking notes and tracking trends, combined with evolutionary facts and various biological truths about human habits, as well as the most elegant and advanced laws of physics. I have been observing both sexes for the past 14 years like this, not caring for social contracts at all, because, as a writer, I am above them, both men and women, and have come to the conclusion that humankind is severely flawed, not just metaphorically, but biologically, as is every other species. So, in layman’s terms, this series is the ultimate product of 14 years of observing more than 15,000 people online, in public and in places like schools and neighborhoods, meticulously counting the profiles and conversations I’ve analyzed, using their habits as test subjects for my own theories and deducing conclusions about society from what I observed in a scientific manner; the result is Pantheon Doctrine, and the companion idea, Cataclysmic Succession, is the published result of my observations of everyone around me and the natural world, and the basis of one of my more than 1,000 manuscripts and 67 novels, including 2 series called Precursor and House of Weeping Lilies. But, perhaps I should stop spying on people like that…the NSA hates competition. But, if the NSA can obtain people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds for information, the First Amendment’s free press right implies that I can do so as well, because I am an American citizen with unalienable rights. RIGHTS, not privileges. Haha. This introduction will serve as an explanation behind the 14 years of observations that went into the making of Precursor and House of Weeping Lilies. The motivation behind this book and research is the fact that I, as a young man with Aspergers’ Syndrome, have defined myself as something totally separate and distant from typical society and traditional autistic society. I cannot fit into any existing societal structure, therefore, I am inventing and outlining an entirely new one with Pantheon Doctrine and Cataclysmic Succession as its ideological framework. Precursor and House of Weeping Lilies are part manifesto, part science-fiction literature, based off of my studies as a scientist and historian, using the world as my laboratory and every human being I meet or even see behaving in society, passing on the street or by me on the way to class, as a test subject to prove or disprove my theories, taking a very strong third-positionist ideology, using science, history, elements of existing religion and my own observations of at more than 5,000 people as its basis. Pantheon Doctrine is explained in one sentence as: “There are no equal people, just equal ideas.” The doctrine itself is broken up into four pillars, as I have termed them, The Paradox of Self-Sufficiency and Destruction, the Ignorance Complex, the Seven Doctrines of Societal Absurdity, and the Ideology Fields. These ideologies are represented by a drawing of a man, called the Societal Gestalt, with a massive, iron Crown of Thorns upon his head, called the Egoist Crown, standing in front of a Black Sun Rune, an ancient Norwegian symbol of a New Order and New Dawn. The explanation of the Pillars are as follows: The Paradox of Self-Sufficiency and Destruction is defined by a serpent consuming its own tail, encircling a white, five-pointed star with a lightning bolt in the center of it, states that everything is created by the very same forces that destroy it, and vice-versa, a cyclical paradox that pertains to every universe withing the multiverse; the CERN Large Hadron Collider has proven that there are infinitely-many universes, and with the confirmation of the Standard Model of Physics and the Higgs Boson’s discovery proving the Standard Model of Physics correct, we now know that the universal continuum is made up of an infinite number of dimensions where all possible constants are represented, and that every dimension, that is, “alternate universe,” is likely infinitely-present, meaning that the Big Bang is not the beginning of time, but just a phase change, so time, in actuality, had no beginning and really does not exist. Time only exists to us because of our brains’ biological perceptions of the multiverse and the vast distances that accompany it. Thanks to the laws of thermodynamics, namely the first and second laws, involving energy conservation and entropy, tied in with Schrodinger’s Paradox and its connection with Boltzmann’s Constant, the amount of overall energy for conversion into work in the universe never changes, indicating that every universe is an infinitely-existing, but finite-expanse entity that has no beginning and no end, there was no creator and there will be no destroyer, because the First Law of Thermodynamics states that matter is never created, nor destroyed. These principles also explain the diversity of life, there is no mystery, life began as an inevitable result of thermodynamics and the natural interaction between matter and energy, and evolution in the process in which life changes as the universal continuum changes, so that it can continue to survive. Cells began to divide simply because gravity began pulling them apart, allowing for multicellular life to begin, so just by the laws of physics existing, life was inevitable. And, not to mention, the laws of physics created life, so too can they destroy, with massive disasters and cataclysms, such as gamma-ray bursts, asteroid impacts, volcanic eruptions, and even, for example, evolution itself, as the Cambrian Explosion 500 million years ago, and human evolution has shown. Hence, the Serpent Paradox. However, this paradox begs a question, if the universes are always changing, and nothing is ever constant, how can we ever “know” anything? Here lies the next pillar of Pantheon Doctrine, The Ignorance Complex. Represented by an hourglass with two people in profile on each side of it, “ignorance” in this definition is synonymous with Chaos Theory, or the fact that no real order exists in the universe and that everything that happens is a result of some random fluctuation on both the quantum and real level. In that case, The Ignorance Complex actually states that there is no purpose for anything that happens. It just does, and everything in the universe is all just one big stroke of luck and chance, because in the multiverse, all constants must be represented, and more than once, so that means there is another universe just like ours somewhere out there, just in a slightly augmented reality. Think of it like this: I have a deck of 52 cards, and I deal them to three people. There are only a certain number of ways that I can deal these 52 cards, but if I were to deal them an infinite number of times, you would inevitably see the same patterns over and over again, so the Ignorance Complex along with the Serpent Paradox mandates that there MUST be life elsewhere, and if not in this universe, in some other universe!

These two aspects of Pantheon Doctrine have so far dealt with the universal state of being, but very little about humans actually appear here until the second two Pillars, starting with the Seven Doctrines of Societal Absurdity. This Pillar, represented by the Blind Lady Rune, a blindfolded young woman wearing a Jungsturm-Nordsterne ballroom gown with blonde pigtails crucified on a pentagram, declares that there are seven aspects of humanity in society that differentiate humans from other, non-human forms of life. These principles are Law, Emotion, Religion, Sympathy, Greed, Hate and Language. Each one of these principles is either uniquely human or far more developed in humans that it is in any other animal, and they all define human society as what it is…each Doctrine has its own flaw, one that is represented on the Egoist Crown. Law’s biggest flaw is those people who are tasked with enforcing it, the police, are, more often than not, flawed themselves. Police, even though they are in positions of authority, they are only human, and are usually blinded to proper judgment by their own petty judgment, and are often influenced by the droning, dogmatic views of popular culture, which is a lethal pitfall of society. For example, I have given speeches about Pantheon Doctrine and Cataclysmic Succession at my other universities, and immediately, the police get involved, thinking, “Is this kid dangerous?” That is the flaw of Law, the first Doctrine of Absurdity, that law provides a sense of security, when in fact, there is no such thing as “safety” or “security.” I am not safe, just as much as you are not safe…or a police officer is not safe. Just because a law exists does not mean people aren’t going to break it, murder is illegal, but there are still murders every day. Robbery is illegal, but there are still break-ins every day. The point is, no one is truly safe, and we just have to live our lives like we have a million more ahead of us, but also like today is our last day. No one can guarantee anyone’s safety, not you, not I, and certainly not the police. The Egoist Crown is best represented in the paradox of law and security, or, more accurately, lack thereof. Society is self-destructive, yet ironically it is required to exist for modern humans to have a good quality of life. This fact, the fact that human beings cannot be self-sufficient, dooms all societies. The Egoist Crown sits atop the Societal Gestalt’s head, and the weight of the Crown grows over time, until society is crushed under the weight of its own flaws. The nation and people then collapse into anarchy, until a new society can be built…and then the process begins again. Law, and those who enforce it, Police and Soldiers, are, far from being agents of security, they are agents of self-destruction in society. Society is masochistic in that regard, it likes the pain that the Egoist Crown provides, because it gives a sense of security, with the omnipresent police forces and soldiers everywhere. The only way to stop the Egoist Crown is to mobilize and universally disobey those who keep it in place, the police and the soldiers. If millions and millions of people simply stopped listening to the police and people like the National Guard, their power would become meaningless, and unless they resorted to terror to get the masses back in line, which is not likely in a liberal “democracy” like the United States, despite the fact that because of popular culture, American democracy has become a sort of “inverted totalitarian” state where the agent of tyranny is not the state, but the armed civilians with guns and their own violent opinions, power would rest completely in the people’s hands. The next Doctrine, Emotion, ties directly into this last point. All human beings have two aspects, Reason and Emotion, Freud described them as the Id, the Super-Ego and the Ego, and they exist in a constant state of tension within any human being. The constant detraction from Reason to Emotion is the cause of all crime, the fact that people simply “don’t think.” How many times have you heard a criminal on T.V explain that “I wasn’t thinking straight when I committed the crime?” This is the direct result of the “everyman” concept, the “psychomachia” of every man, the eternal clash between virtue and vice, reason and emotion, and also, though I loathe the two grossly general terms, “good” and “evil.” The major flaw in society here is that emotions, far too often, defeat reason and create some of the worst atrocities in human history, people just don’t think, or they think that they can somehow justify their actions by inventing stories and stretching the truth. This also ties directly into a very common logical fallacy that has doomed many an alibi. People have a curious tendency to think as if someone or something is controlling them, that is, that even though they may be committing terrible acts and crimes, for example, their “pure” essence is somehow untouched by their bodily actions. This is the infamous “Ghost in the Machine” paradox, the fallacy that describes the belief that a human being is two separate entities, a mutable, sinful body, and a pure, diamond-hard, incorruptible soul. Though this belief is rooted in medieval concepts of self and place in a divine hierarchy, people in the 21st-century still fall into this trap. A promiscuous woman might dress in short skirt and tank top, and then tell people something like “I might dress like this, but don’t look at me like an attention whore,” or a compulsive liar might say “I may have stretched the truth every now and then, but I’m no liar.” This paradox is another lethal pitfall in society, and this human tendency to believe silly things leads directly into the biggest Absurdity of all. The next doctrine, Religion, is a uniquely human trait that is perhaps the most absurd of any human doctrine. From a reasonable, rational standpoint, the idea that some all-knowing being is in control of every single person’s destiny with no proof that he, she, it, whatever IT is exists is nothing short of a mental illness. I think Bertrand Russell, quoted by men such as Richard Dawkins, Vic Stenger, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Stephen Fry, Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough, George Carlin and many other atheist and secular thinkers described the phenomenon of “religious delusions” very well. Russell stated that “there is a teapot, too small to be detected, orbiting between Earth and Mars, and I have seen irrevocable proof that it exists.” This famous “Russell’s Teapot” analogy is a good example of the effect of religion on a population. Anyone can say anything exists, as long as they give a convincing story for existence, validity of the story and the burden of proof notwithstanding, this is the whole concept behind lying, and more specifically the “Big Lie,” or a story that, despite the fact that it is so distorted and ridiculous, it is believed by millions because people hear it ad nauseum and eventually take it as the gospel truth. This is the premise behind the Bible. To say that the Bible is the absolute truth simply because the book says that God commanded humans to follow it as law is the same thing as saying that the teapot exists because I say it does. The Bible is the ultimate Big Lie, and one that has been seen as truth for far too long. It is in the same class as Hitler’s Big Lie or Mussolini’s Fascist doctrines. So then, why is anyone who believes in the literal existence of Russell’s Teapot or Hitler’s lies labeled as a psychopath, hatemonger and a childish fool, but it is perfectly acceptable and condoned to believe in an almighty God in Heaven and an ultimate evil in Hell controlling the fates of mankind, despite the fact that the Big Lie of Christianity has killed more people over the centuries that all other wars and dictatorships combined? Pantheon Doctrine does not seek to answer this question, it seeks to simply ignore mainstream faith altogether. Arthur C. Clarke, in his landmark book “Childhood’s End,” stated, through his alien character Karellen, that the best way to destroy a belief is to simply stop believing in it. Pantheon Doctrine will be the ideological framework for this new society, and millions of other contrarians will likely agree that some alternative to the established society must be founded to challenge it on nearly everything. Pantheon Doctrine is that answer. Pantheon Doctrine chooses not to blend with people it sees as incapable of understanding or identifying with its practitioners. Pantheon Doctrine is also NOT a religion! It is a secular doctrine that blends some pre-Christian religious themes and pagan symbols with cold, hard, unbiased, true scientific and historical facts and theories, and interpretations of those facts, as well as simple deductions about people based off of observations of people in society. A Pantheon follower sees humans as tools from which to learn, they see all of humanity and the world in general as a living laboratory, with every human being existing as a test subject with which to test the Pantheon follower’s psychological machinations on, without the subject even knowing that they are being studied…Pantheon followers must be self-sufficient and very good a deductions, and not care about typical society’s expectations at all. I fit that description, and I plan on rallying other people with a similar mindset to do the same, and begin a counter-normalcy culture movement, to defy and change the societal perceptions between “normal” and “strange.” Therefore, Pantheon falls outside of any religion or creed, but shares some parallels with Universalism, except Pantheon states total inequality, rather than equality for all people, but states that all ideals are equal. The next Doctrine, Sympathy, ties into Religion in the fact that most faiths teach us to be sympathetic, but far more often, a human flaw emerges that blinds us to the sympathy we are all capable of showing, Greed and Hate. These three Doctrines, Sympathy, Greed and Hate are tied together by a common theme, the theme of manners and societal expectations. The human flaws of Greed and Hate often make true sympathy impossible, and therefore not expected. Greed and Hate are by-products of human consciousness, and this is best exemplified with the Technology/Environment Cycle. As per natural selection, the environment influences evolution, and the organisms in any given ecosystem evolve to keep up with the change. However, when we put humans into the equation, our consciousness allows us to invent technology to alter the environment. Humans become an agent of change on Earth and in the Universe, and as the technology changes the environment, so too does the environment change technology. An example of this is the “green” movement, which is a response to our fossil fuel burning changing the climate, and the environmental change driving the need for new technology. This cycle defines human interaction with the environment on Earth, but because of our need to consume and desire to obtain more and more than we actually need (greed, and necessity,) and our natural tendency to compete, see others as inferior and covet things that others have, (envy and hate), true, long-term sympathy and understanding is impossible, therefore, human equality is not just impossible, it is biologically and scientifically unrealistic and wrong. Humans, because of their basic biological instincts, will not and cannot understand others or be aware of others’ difficulties without being nurtured in that direction. Pantheon does not give people the benefit of the doubt, based on biological evidence and scientific, sociological principles, it is completely nurture over nature, it does not believe in “good people.” People aren’t “good” unless they are taught to be good by some other entity. It does not have to be religion, as a matter of fact, Pantheon discourages the use of religion to teach morality, based on religion’s historical propensity to commit mass genocide and preach hate, intolerance for all ideals and war. Rather, true morality can only come from self-sufficiency and good parental guidance as a child. Greed and Hate are the two Doctrines that make Sympathy Doctrine impossible. The final doctrine, Language, is critical to understanding human perceptions of what is “normal” and what is “strange.” Take, for example, the following quote from one of my rough drafts:

Surely, the world is mad! No, you say, there must be a mistake, for there are flaws everywhere. Yet at once, there is finally peace and serenity in this world gone mad and humanity is in the midst of the true Renaissance, not that brief lull in the medieval drama that teased us with the false hope of enlightenment in the 16th century. The question, however, is how this world came into being. ‘This world,’ in my own words, is not referring to the Earth itself, but this particular reality that has swept the Northern Union realm during the first decade of the 22nd century. The answer to all madness lays in something so simple yet so profound, that only the most brilliant or the simplest of individuals can see the truth. The root of our New Enlightenment lies in words and words alone. ‘Words’ are an arbitrary concept, just a sequence of letters, symbols or characters implied to mean something because someone says it does. Where, however, does this meaning’s origin lie? My contemporaries, such as my colleague Antonio Marduk and my fiancée, Helena Morgendorfer, both extraordinarily talented writers and animators, like to argue about which takes precedent in written and visual forms of media: style or content. In this argument, I side with Antonio; even though Helena gets annoyed when I correct her, she cannot be right all the time. To see why Antonio’s emphasis on style is of far greater importance than the content of any work, one must simply look in the dictionary at the definitions of “style” and “content.” To “style” a piece is to arrange the words or images into a form understandable and enjoyable by an audience, but “content” is, by definition, something contained by something else, like a person getting into their robotic maglev car, the person becomes the car’s content. This, in actuality, means that content is just a by-product of style, content is contained within the vessel of style in any form of literature, which is in turn a by-product of words, derived from arbitrary meanings associated with symbols and characters used to form sounds. Words by themselves, of course, have no meaning. Suppose I write this word: “cat.” Three letters, c-a-t. By itself, the word means nothing because there is no additional content to give the word meaning, no adjectives to describe the noun. If I wrote “furry cat,” or “sleepy cat” or “meowing cat,” the cat is now being placed within the context of another word, another sequence of symbols. The first two cats are being described by adjectives, telling us something about the cat in question, and the third cat is being described by an adverb, a verb that describes the cat’s actions. Also, the arrangement of words and phrases matters too, these three cats are THREE cats; as far as we know, we do not know if this is one cat being described twice and then meowing, or three separate cats doing three separate things. To express the idea through a crystal-clear lens, we would write: “The furry, sleepy cat meowed loudly when the dog stepped on its tail.” This is a perfectly good sentence. It places the cat and an additional subject, a dog, into context, there is one cat being described twice and doing something once, with an adjective describing the adverb, “meowed loudly.” The tense of the adverb has changed, but the meaning is still understood as to be the sound that a cat makes when its tail is stepped on by a clumsy dog. The meow is the same, just in a different temporal alignment with the rest of the sentence. This basis, the idea that all language and all aspects of it are pure perception of human minds and consciousness is the basis for all order and communication, and the very central part of what makes us human. Human…indeed, but, of course, one knows that humanity is capable of much darker, stronger, more irrational things than simply writing about some clumsy mutt tripping over a fat, lazy housecat’s tail. This is the root of all madness. This is where the human zeitgeist, every ideology that has ever been postulated by mankind, originates, and from there, we get every aspect of society we see in the 22nd century. I, an Inheritor degree holder and one of the youngest men ever to hold such an honor, have embraced not one, but all ideologies, as has the government of the Northern Union. This is Pantheon. Pantheon’s most basic teachings can be seen if I revisit the meowing cat and the clumsy dog again. The sentence about the cat and dog is perceived by readers with a sense of “normalcy.” The image of a housecat and a dog in clumsy, awkward interaction is something anyone who has spent time around cats and dogs has seen and can remember. However, this is the way of the Old Society, before the Real Renaissance that began with the ascension of Cassandra I to the position of Gothic Empress. Pantheon would state that a sentence like “The seafaring sled-dog tripped over the cat’s tail, thinking it was a banana peel” is just as acceptable as “The furry, sleepy cat meowed loudly when the dog stepped on its tail,” because it just operates on a different logic, it doesn’t make the typical sentence ‘better’ or ‘righter’ than the atypical one, even though the sled-dog mistaking a cat’s tail for a banana peel is something that goes far beyond the acceptable boundaries set by society on that sentence, because it is not “normal.” Pantheon DOES NOT CARE FOR THE OLD SOCIETY’S CONCEPTS OF NORMALCY IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE. The Northern Union has built a New Order, one on which the crucible of normalcy has been snapped and torn asunder. Those pretentious, narrow-minded fools tell us to ‘blend’ with society. Pathetic. We have chosen to ignore societal concepts of normalcy, and not just ignore them, tear them down and build a new Zeitgeist in its place, a society where there is no delineation between “normal” and “abnormal,” no societal judgment on “insane” or “sane.” The word “Pantheon” comes from the Greek phrase “all knowledge,” and that is what I preach. All knowledge is equal; there is no “good” and “bad” knowledge, only inferior and superior people. Empress Cassandra gave this speech once, and she is right in every sense of the word. There is no good and evil. There is no God, there is no Devil; there is only Mankind and the ideologies he portrays through 4 philosophies, central to Pantheon thought: The Serpent Paradox of Self, the Know-Nothing Complex, the Seven Doctrines of Absurdity, and the Gestalt Fields. Each one of these encompasses the entire human knowledge base. We are Pantheon, the Immortal Legion, Divided by Zero, God’s creators and His destroyers, and together, we stand on guard for a New Order, an era of order and peace…”

This quote, from one of the original rough drafts for “Precursor,” exemplifies Language doctrine. Words have no meaning unless we give them meaning, they are completely arbitrary. So, there is no such thing as “insanity;” insanity is only what we say it is, as is anything. In that case, doesn’t that make us all “insane,” by Webster’s definition of the word? (Not understanding reality, because reality does not exist unless we say it does?) This is the very basis behind society. It is only a construct and a concept, not an actual entity, just like currency and stock markets, there is no standard on which to base our concepts of society. I have been questioned by police at least 16 times because of this ideology, because I KNOW that society really doesn’t exist, just like money really doesn’t exist, but as long as the few elites in power say it does, however, it will continue to be a factor in guiding our lives, however unjustly. As powerful as they are, police and their employers are NOT the Thought Police, and they have no business in Hell telling me that I cannot write a book or express myself. I respond to my questioning officers with this: Police forces of the world, in all countries, need I remind YOU that society is only a construct, it only exists because of purely abstract, artificial concepts and the desires of the uneducated masses. Your power is only an illusion created by the farce of law and the financially, military and socially-connected power elite, whose hold on people, as we know from history, is very tenuous indeed…

Finally, we have “Cataclysmic Succession.” In my research of the natural world along with humanity’s behavior, I have observed many fossils in museums and in books and take a very keen interest in the late Pleistocene-Early Holocene wildlife extinctions, and have been formulating a theory that would potentially allow the world to discover the identity of all life on Earth, living or extinct. I have noticed that after the five major mass extinctions in Earth’s history, the rate of evolution accelerated to fill in the open niches, without any known catalyst, aside from the very driving force behind all evolution, the changing environment. What is missing was the exact reason why the gene mutated; science had long tried to justify that with chaos and the laws of probability, but Pantheon Doctrine, the philosophy of all existence and knowledge having a purpose to the environment and a genesis point from some scientific, natural, rather than supernatural force, human or otherwise, stated that all occurrences in the universe, or any other universes in the infinite multiverse, happen because of energy variations. My theory states that after a cataclysm, be it a natural one such as a plague, bolide impact, atmospheric composition change, Ice Age, super-eruption, radical climate shift, cosmic gamma ray burst, or a man-made one, such as a nuclear war or habitat destruction, vast amounts of species go extinct. The definition of “cataclysm” is open to interpretation, as well; the Cambrian Explosion probably destroyed entire phyla of primitive life, paving the way for complex life about 500 million years ago. For about a million years after the cataclysm, the rate of genetic mutations increases dramatically, and an explosion of new life arises to take the place of the previous age. Eventually, the rate of evolution slowed down to normal levels, but eventually, the biosphere became too crowded and too specialized, and another cataclysm wiped the slate clean, beginning the cycle again, because the biosphere’s evolutionary flaws became too uniform and too broad, the level of diversity petered out to where the biosphere was ripe for extinction. The mechanism behind this rapid change was the cataclysm itself; disasters were mutagens, in the same way that radiation and gene errors were, and the disasters, through physiological and psychological effects on the survivors, caused mutations and gene errors that allowed for evolution to happen, therefore, species never actually go extinct, they just are modified by the environment, which would allow me to trace the DNA of any organism that has ever existed…and even clone it, destroy it or enhance it, even create an entirely new organism, all from simple organic chemicals and genes. So what does this all mean? In all this chaos, all this uncertainty, all this nonsense that we call “existence,” what are the constants, the cogs that drive the upward march of human evolution? The answer? War, Struggle and Power. Humans are, by nature, an aggressive species, our desire to conquer knows only the bounds of its current time period. So, extrapolating our own evolution onto the universe, it wasn’t so much of a stretch, given the perfect storm of circumstances, to see a grand future world through my lens, a lens of One God, One Law, One World Order. The definition of “God” is simply an entity on a higher level than ordinary Man, or a force that resides in sublimity, something beyond human control or understanding. It does not have to be supernatural. My character, Supreme Pontifex Alexander Arditi, the Emperor of this grand new world and one of the Heads of State, has created a multiracial society stretching over a third of the known universe that acts as guardian of a millennial future, where he is the One God, under Pantheon Doctrine and Cataclysmic Succession, with Antonio Marduk and Sylvain Anteon as his Prophets. I leave you with that message, readers as you take a trip into my mind and my world, where we have a glimpse of just what humanity could become if we simply cast off our artificial societal constructs. The roots of this New Order, which will create the greatest society ever known, are already being seeded. The Internet and other forms of technology are drawing us closer together than ever before, breaking down the old Westphalia Model, in practice since the close of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648. People are becoming more and more independent of each other and older beliefs like religion and more dependent on science and technology with each passing day. The actors on this stage are already well-incorporated into society; curators of museums are the new artists, they use their knowledge to better the cause of mankind in an ever more efficient manner, collectors are the new curators, seeking to better their own understanding of the world or their topic of interest through their collections, socialites, the high-class, fashionable, well-educated elite young people are the new theorists, constantly breaking ground in social circles and setting an example that the rest of society fills with its own occupants, and scientists and historians, our links to the future and the past, are the new Gods. These groups of people will constitute the aristocracy of the New Order, whereas those that cling to the old ways, nationalism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and conservatism, rather than education, justice and fairness, will be the ones that follow, rather than lead. Try as they might, the right-wing cannot change the basic trend of society, ever upward, even Fascist governments embrace technology and science. It’s time that humanity cast off its chains of morality and faith, and enter a new era of progress, order and peace. It is already happening, the 21st century is the beginning of a New Order for humans, whether we want it or not. Sooner or later, the forces building now will reach a point where they and the powers that be clash, and only one will stand. This will be the turning point in human history, the moment of truth where we cross over to the other side of time, and we look back on the follies of our infancy like an old man reminiscing on his boyhood troubles as necessary steps to our pinnacle. Once this “New Renaissance” is underway, we can expect wars, we can expect chaos, and we can expect the entire Old Order, in place since the first Renaissance in the 1400s, to be thrown into upheaval. But, we can also expect that a group of people, the scientists, historians, socialites, collectors and curators will rise to build a new framework, an Golden Era of time where the selfish desires of individuals appear as nothing, economics and politics are clearly separated, and an ordered coalition of governments, headquartered in various cities in the Western and Eastern Hemispheres, with the spiritual capital of the world centered on the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations to celebrate the cradle of civilization where our society began 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age will maintain order over the entire planet, as a true United Nations. This is not likely to happen without some kind of massive war, one that is so destructive that it becomes clear that the Westphalia Model of politics is no longer a viable option to maintain order. Like all societies, this model is only a construct. Also, in this scenario, there must be found a healthy alternative to American-style democracy. Revolutions are no good in half-measures, if the new system does arise, American-style democracy will not allow the society to prosper, only divide the entire world in half, because if two parties cannot adequately, even in the best of times, represent the interests of just one country, how do we expect the system to represent the interests of the whole human race? What you would end up with is two major global parties, each representing opposite sides of the political spectrum, and everyone in between would be marginalized. The standard of living worldwide under a global government would increase drastically and moving into outer space, via massive, endlessly-traveling space colonies or colonization of the planets would become a necessity to maintain that standard of living, but without a multi-party Parliament with equal representation of all parties, or a one-party system with a strong wise leader, we would never have true unity. It is time that we as human beings embrace our destiny. For as long as Mankind has walked this Earth, he has searched for something more than what lies in front of him. For every man and woman, it is different. Some may seek love, true, unfettered love, if such a thing exists, that will release their emotions, like an ancient rain of calmness trapped within a lover’s dream, pouring out of every pore in their bodies with fantasies drops, as they embrace each other for dear life, realizing that for that moment, and for that time, they are the only things in the universe that matter to each other, and once that feeling of being in love resides, love is all that remains; some may seek power, their cathartic voices carried across vast plazas, cities and towns with the force of 21 symphonies, allowing them to meet a vision of God face to face, look him in the eye, and reject him completely. Some seek knowledge, their minds focused solely on knowing what cannot be known, learning what cannot be learned, and seeking the impossible. What it all boils down to is true happiness. Humans, above all else, seek happiness. They seek meaning in their lives, something that gives them a reason to live…but look at this world around us. We live in a world where millions have scarcely anything to eat or drink, more people are living in bondage than there were in the year 1800, where U.N. estimates have calculated that the cost to end world hunger would be no less than $30 billion, well within the yearly budget of the United States military, a world where people live their entire lives not knowing the meaning of the word “happiness.” Why? The very forces that drive society upwards, war, power and struggle, are also destroying it. So, it would seem that society is doomed to succumb to the inevitable demise that awaits all societies, the Egoist Crown…but he who thinks that humanity has only one destiny is narrow-minded indeed. The wars we fought, the power won and lost by all the great leaders of history, and the struggle, discourse and strife that has defined human existence, have now given us the tools to end the factional nature that has defined humanity from our very nexus. There will be war. There will be strife, there will be chaos, there will be bloodshed, but just as Europe emerged from the chaos of the first Renaissance as a true Imperial power, so too will the world, and united, the human race will finally break the bounds of Earth and become a truly transcendent, truly immortal society. New challenges will doubtlessly arise, but as a united front, humanity will meet them. Nationalism and race will count for nothing by themselves, as Pantheon dictates that once the natural inequality and differences of individual humans are accepted through the lens of Darwinism, racism will cease to exist, and nationalism will follow racism into the wastebasket of history, people will no longer see themselves as a member of this nation or that nation, but as each a unit in the whole human race. Individual juggernauts, supreme within our own spheres, united as one under an overarching global government. That is the future I see after this New Renaissance, and quite honestly, I cannot wait. Things fall apart…but they always rebuild, and we will soon see exactly what we are capable of building. This book’s purpose, if you can say that it has one, is simple: It means to prove that governments are only as strong as those who enforce them. I have proven, by writing this book, that anyone can access anyone’s information through simple observation and Internet usage, and if I, as of this writing, a 24-year old graduate student, can accomplish a 14-volume series based on the very small volume of information I have obtained, than certainly the NSA, with both wings of Congress, left and right working to silence what little voice we have left with things such as the NDAA, SOPA and PIPA, and the NSA spying, can do far more harm than a young man simply obtaining profiles for his characters, and I am only acting to prove a point that I can only hope is heeded in time. I originally did not intend for the book to have this message, I had observed people in society and online for character profiles, nothing more, but when a young revolutionary named Edward Snowden revealed the breadth of the NSA’s and British spying on not just our country, but Europe as well, I realized that this book was, in fact, a product of just how easy it is for the NSA or British authorities to invade privacy. If I can do it so easily (at least I could until privacy settings were tightened on various social networking sites,) then certainly government spy agencies can do the unimaginable. Be thankful that it was only me, an author looking at pictures of your personal lives and conversations for character development ideas, and not the NSA or British Ministry of Intelligence. I am encouraging all citizens of the world to be vigilant against injustice by doing this, no matter where it may be. So, what does this all mean? What can any of us, good, hardworking, voting, taxpaying American citizens, or citizens of any country anywhere on Earth, do to stop this global murder machine, run by banksters, government surveillance organizations, bickering politicians and controlled by the world’s financial elite? The answer is simple: If you live in a democracy, vote the corrupt politicians out, if you live in a dicatatorship, do whatever you can to resist. A tyrant is very much bound to the will of his people, if they all refuse to obey the State, the State becomes powerless. Men like the Ayatollah, the government of North Korea, the pro-Russian government of Ukraine, and Viktor Lukashenko of Belarus, as well as oligarchs like Vladimir Putin of Russia and the Chinese Communist Party know this, otherwise they would not be so brutal in suppressing dissent. They fear only one thing: a loss of power, as their very lives depend on their people obeying them without question. It does not have to be and should never be that way. True human strength comes from human free will and free thought, and dictatorships, wherever they may be, contradict the indomitable spirit of humanity. This is why dictatorships never last forever. Let this be a lesson to the leaders of countries like China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Belarus, that the NATO military superpower is the least of your worries. What will inevitably doom you is what dooms all dictatorships: the power of the human will and the pursuit of happiness. Japan and South Korea are the countries that will set the standard for Asia in the 21st century and beyond, and until China can adopt a free-market democracy, it will never be a superpower on the scale of the U.S or even the former Soviet Union, for the U.S.S.R possessed proven military capabilities and had emerged victorious in some of the bloodiest battles in human history. China, during any major war it has ever been involved in aside from border conflicts and small-scale territorial disputes, has always been the victim or an unwilling participant. China’s military, though vast and technologically sophisticated, is yet unproven in anything greater than small-scale peacekeeping operations and anti-piracy duties, unlike South Korea and Japan, who have proven military might, though smaller in size than China’s military. The size of a country’s army does not make it strong, the quality of the equipment and soldiers does. In America, however, this country is at a crossroads. As of 2014, the U.S has surpassed China once again as the #1 place to invest in the world, but to truly create a transcendent society as I envision, the U.S. Government must be utterly transformed. This would require a restructuring of the politcal system to give smaller parties more voice in government, and actually give a third party a chance at the White House. In short, the two-party, winner-take-all system must end. Secondly, the United States must create a firm “wall of separation,” between economy and state, “banksters” and Wall Street mega-firms must not be allowed to have any hand in making legislation. The State claims to be working towards “making a deal” with the Wall Street “banksters” who control 85% of the world’s money as of 2014, to work with the money makers and allow upward mobility for all Americans. This upward mobility is seen as a “profound truth” by our society, yet in reality, this truth has become nothing more than a truism, an oft-repeated slogan that has no meaning or representation in legislative action. Thirdly, the United States must also solidify the “wall of separation” between Church and State, and also establish a wall between faith and fact. Religious apologists, those that try to justify religion with science, (see “Intelligent Design” for more information) do a tremendous disservice to our country and our reputation on the world stage. They must be controlled and reigned in if progress is to continue. These three principles, if enacted, would place our society on a path away from decadence and towards 21st-century supremacy, America would be the grandest society since Ancient Rome. The question is, what would it take to create a political reality where these three “Profound Truths” could be made into law? Ancient Rome, when dealing with the deadly typhus germ in its cities, would delegate members of the Senate to visit the affliction zones and work with local leaders to prevent future outbreaks and clean up the city streets of disease. The same level of involvement must happen in America and Europe. Europe must become a larger Federation if it wants to regain true international power, and adopting democratically-elected equivalents of Ancient Roman policies would create a nation that, along with the United States, would be the peace-shield of the world for hundreds of years. The two countries that could make this happen for Europe are Britain and Germany, Britain is the Prussia of modern Europe, with the strongest military, it is currently constructing the two largest warships ever built outside of the U.S., and Germany is the economic hub of the Old World, with a GDP (PPP) of over $5 trillion. For America, we simply need a reason to restructure our government, we need the equivalent of a typhus germ, a huge, pressing problem that can only be solved by radically streamlining and reforming government, reforming it into a cohesive, highly-structured political system free of bureaucratic inefficiencies and giving citizens even more power in the democracy they value so much. This is only a matter of time. If all works the way I hope it does, Britain and Germany will unite the European Union into a Federation unseen since Ancient Rome, and the United States will become a truly transcendent, immortal superpower. Together, these two powers would oppose any threats to democracy as a united front, and the world would take a quantum step forward on the path to the Second Renaissance, and this book, though purely fictional, could outline a political reality in the far future, where all nations are absorbed into a global political and economic community, though we must be cautious to avoid the pitfalls that this story discribes, which could turn this vision of a one-world Pantheon Doctrine into a nightmarish dystopia. We are all human, and we each possess the ultimate weapon, stronger than any tyrant, more powerful than any weapon. It can’t be taken or destroyed. That weapon is free will. Now, more than any other time in recent history, is the time that we use it. Together, we will change the world, one nation at a time. Let the minds of freethinkers everywhere take wing, for the future of humanity is ours to win.

This is my ideological framework for the Precursor Universe, and the House of Weeping Lilies Universe, two books that I have been writing for the past 6 years, and have been meticulously developing for 14. I hope you enjoy…and remember, nothing is ever, ever, what it seems…

Outline: Selene Falkenbach, Indiction Guard

 

She was 7 feet, 5 inches tall, but looked a good bit taller than she actually was because of her outfit. Her face was chalk-white because of 4 layers of makeup, as well as thick black eyeshadow that formed the Eye of Ra symbol around her eyes, one was green, the other was blue; she had her pupils dilated specifically to look like mako shark eyes when she was in meditation form, like blue and green iridescent lumps of coal in her shapely facial form. The blank, empty expression on her face never changed, like a vacant Mona Lisa, the look of wisdom and knowledge, having seen incredible things on her mind. Her hair was brown, but styled like a Qing Dynasty empress, with astounding diamond, platinum and gold-encrusted hairpieces that kept her hair in 6 pigtails, three on each side of her head, each covered in diamond, platinum and gold-encrusted armor that also kept the braid from becoming frizzy; the adornments made her hair look like insect legs, especially when she would have walked, causing the 6 pigtails to move like spider legs. She also had a crown made out of solid crystal, in shape of a three-headed crane with six wings on her head, adding 2 feet to her height, and behind that, a huge, peacock-fan headdress that changed color in the sunlight. The peacock feather eyes changed expression and color in place of her real ones; as seen in the painting. She had a huge feather ruff around her neck made of Count Raggi’s Bird of Paradise plumes as a scarf, with pennants and silky cloth scarves that resembled the Standard Winged and Twelve-Wired Birds of Paradise plumage at the same time, and a train-like veil and cape made of Chinese silk dyed with what could only be human blood. Her dress was woven from spider silk infused with silkworm fibers, and woven on a microscopic level so that every hem of the dress was in the shape of an organism, every known organism on Earth, as told by the pagan Germanic runes carved on the Rood-Tree, an ancient, sacred oak, that she stood in front of. Covering the dress were hundreds of iridescent precious stones, each one reflecting light in such a way that viewed from a certain angle, would have made her look almost invisible, just a shimmering outline of her figure was barely seen. The dress itself was orange and black, with huge, yellow eyespots in the black parts of the dress and black eyespots in the red parts of the dress that seemed to blink when sunlight hit it at certain angles or shine with an ethereal, calming glow when the moonlight hit it at night. The whole dress was described by the Rood-Tree as having shined an eerie, fluorescent purple in ultraviolet light, and had large roaring Welsh dragon designs embroidered on it, each with a microscopic picture of an organism consisting of each individual hem. The dress was enormous and supported by the bones of her Mithras ritual sacrifice victims, much like whalebones were used to make a corset, as told by the Rood-Tree inscriptions. The part of the dress that covered her torso and chest was the most heavily decorated, with huge dragonfly wings made of woven yarn and glittered with sea salt dust and sand coming out of her back, these were folded under her cape and veil and could be spread at will, even though she obviously couldn’t fly. Her necklace was more like an Egyptian queen’s brooch, made of solid gold with a huge sapphire in the center, just visible under the bird-of-paradise feather scarves. Her gloves, lacy white dress gloves that were veiled by delicate, red silken sleeves from her dress, each had a 56-karat gemstone covering each one of her fingernails; sharpened into a dagger-like claw, these gemstone gauntlet gloves were used to carve enemies like a tiger slashing its prey, and the rest of the glove surface were covered in razor-sharp, solid diamond blades that could slice through almost any surface. She also wore a tiara of autumn leaves on her head, on the crown of the three-headed crane helmet, whose three heads are arranged in such a way that they defied the Euclidean geometric form, therefore making her dress impossible to create without immense, physics-bending powers. Her shoes were huge black-velvet Gothic Lolita platform shoes, with razor-sharp dagger-high heels, but these were barely visible under her huge dress. She carried a huge scythe in her hand and had three little black demons with eerie, disturbing grins on their faces holding her blood-dyed veil flying behind her. She uses runic powers to keep this ensemble in position and usually hovers around to avoid walking. Various pieces of literature exist about her in the year 802,572 A.D., one of them being “The Haidnur Dream:”

Like with Her, the Haidnur Queen Almighty, Commander of the Stars, Earth and Heavens and Absorber of Powers stands upon the Dreaming Wood, giving her authority over her Hird, with her equal King by her side. Speaketh, darest thy not, by the powers of the Gott Sonnen Mithras on this Samhain Night the Queen gives her sermon to the Hird and all the beings of the Haidnur, great and small. Other speeches on those holy nights of Yuletide, Janus festival, the Lovers’ Festival of Freeg, the Equinoxes and Harvest-Oktoberfest were often accompanied by carnal sacrifice and mutilation, but the Samhain Sacrifice was the most sacred of the Hird holidays, for on this day, on this night, new members were given Mithras Initiation rites. Standing on the stump of a felled oak tree, in the deepest part of the Dreaming Wood, the King and Queen stand over the new initiates, and they chant the ancient Mithras Initiation spells, with the rest of the Hird chanting in the background, until the chanting reaches a climax, with the steady, slow beat of the drum, the chanting and the roaring fire triggering a whirling, brilliant, white, silent flash of lightning, the lightning entering the body and rendering it open, the mortal, weak life force gushing grievous from the wounded side of the initiate. The body dies, spends 3 seconds in the Spirit Realm, and heals at once, the body’s life energy replaced with the energy of the Universe itself…the energy of immortality. The following day, on All-Hallows Day, the new Hird members celebrate with a feast, dressing in elaborate costume and frightening other, non-Hirdsmen, carving faces into gourds and sacrifice the Black-Veil Brides on the oldest tree in the forest to complete the yearly ritual, practiced since time immemorial…Gott Sonnen Mithras…make us all stars that rise from the depths…from the depths…from the depths…”

She believes in the Wyrrkyrr Pantheon, in four principles, the Paradox of Self-Sufficiency and Destruction, where everything is destroyed by the forces that created it and vice-versa, the Ignorance Complex, where chaos is law and nothing can ever be truly known because of chaos, the Seven Absurdities, which explain the nature of humanity vis-a-vis the natural world, where more than 500 species of extraordinary, spectacular, super-intelligent, telekinetic organisms known as “Psi” have evolved, and the Idealist Fields, explaining all thoughts as a beautiful meadow in the forest, and the summer breeze being the ability for both the Psi and humanity’s ability to think, creating the huge range of ideas and beliefs, and everything about the zeitgeist in general.

 

  1. King Irkaya Falkenbach

He is a truly transcendent form of life, immortal and exhibiting traits of humankind, birds, reptiles, Psi and plants. His appearance is startling enough, nearly 15 feet tall, he wears a black sorcerer’s robe, tunic and huge cape with pulsing orange, green and golden runes all over it, with a black Fedora hat, as well as a masquerade mask with feathers from every single one of the Birds of Paradise species on it, as well as these feathers adorning his robe. His face is pale, bluish-green, like the sickly color of lichens, and he has 6 pupils, three in each of his eye sockets, that move independently and change color based on his mood, His irises change color based on the seasons, light green for spring, dark green for summer, golden-orange for autumn and pale-white for winter. His eyes occasionally start to grow plants out of the eyeballs themselves, as well. His eyelashes are plants growing out of his eyelids, blossoming into delicate blue bellflowers; his mouth is always covered by Black Witch Moth or some other large insect, feeding off of his nectar-flavored saliva; he never communicates verbally as to not disturb them. Feathers erupt from his face, four on each side of his shapely nose, and form an elegant ruff collar around his neck. His hair is made of black feathers that extend past his shoulders,and these feathers conceal 3 long, raven-like bird-heads, with hooked beaks and snake-like, reptilian tongues, these heads emerging from his feather-hair speak as his voice, with a cawing, corvine accent. His fingers and body have the consistency of yew tree wood, and he often stands in one place, simply swaying like a tree in the wind, as if literally rooted down, arms waving like tree branches in the breeze, and often chanting in a very echoing, inhuman voice. His hands are sharp and craggly like tree branches, and he possesses incredible telekinetic powers, he has power over all aspects of nature and the universe, and he absorbs whatever abilities his enemies have through his sorcery. He is a man of few words, but his chants are usually reflective of his thoughts on society such as:

The reason for the world’s distinctions of race and race consciousness are echoes of my Empire’s interaction with the Romans and the even earlier Minoan societies. The Minoans called us “Hyperborea,” and the Haidnur Empire, we called them “Atlantis.” Atlantis was the home of our enemies, and eventually, like my wife’s Cycle of Self-Preservation and Destruction states, were destroyed by a volcanic eruption. The Atlanteans, that is, the Minoans, spoke ill of us and spread the rumor that we of Hyperborea were deceivers, and we were to lead the world to ruin. The Atlanteans were of an impure, half-breed race who were inferior to us in every way, and therefore all those who are descended from Atlantis are utterly inferior to us as well. Our people, the R1A1A-haplotype, according to modern science, are Germanic-Nordic people and anyone of close relation to this race. I do not ask you to accomplish anything for us, I just ask you to open your mind.”

or his speech on the nature of religion:

It has been said that men need faith in their lives to have morality, but what if we gave proof, definitive, irreducible proof, that religion was false? We have that proof, because we are blessed with one thing that no Christian, Jew or Muslim has: immortality. We have seen things that no living person can possibly know, and one of those things is that we remember when Christianity was founded, and we know the truth about Jesus, the truth about Mohammed, and the truth about Abraham. Jesus was nothing more than a schizophrenic deceiver of Rome, pity the Romans did not crucify him sooner, for when even Emperor Constantine fell victim to the Greatest Story Ever Sold, this doomed our ancient way of life, in favor of a Christian doctrine that, in all reality, was nothing more than a schizophrenic’s tirade about how he was God’s son, and that HE deserved to be Emperor, not Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula or Nero. We are sorcerers, soldiers for the glory of Germania! We have our naturally-evolved, supreme wits and powers beyond all Christian, Jewish and Muslim comprehension! Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed were not holy prophets, no, they were just the opposite! Abraham and every single one of his Hebrew followers was a rapist child molester! Jesus was a schizophrenic vagrant! Mohammed was a child-molester rapist who infected all of his whore-vermin wives with venereal disease!! Are we just going to stand idle while these psychotic ideologies rape our society any longer?! NO!! WE SHALL HAVE OUR ULTIMATE REVENGE!! THIS HALLOWEEN, WE BRING THE FORCES OF THE HAIDNUR UPON THEIR MISERABLE SKULLS!!”

Finally, his last and most poignant speech on the nature of fear:

Sorcerers casting spells represent power; power represents desire; desire is represented in dreams. A nightmare is the result of the dreamer being crushed to pieces. These pieces try to come back together to create the rosy picture of optimism, but like the tormented psyche of a child who was molested, or a dog beaten to condition it to fight, the end result is mutilated, twisted, anguished, deformed and a shadow of what it could have been. This is the root of all insanity and the Seven Doctrines of Societal Absurdity, and therefore all human nature and thought, the inevitable loss of innocence. Sit in a dark room with a single, swinging chandelier, and you will see things pass you by, shadows on the walls, noises in the dark corners of the room, things that drive you into a state of pure, primal fear. These threats, of course, do not exist. They are the product of humanity’s inner darkness projecting itself outward. And when that power is harnessed, some incredibly dark and utterly beautiful things happen.”

It is these two characters that lead the Haidnur Holdouts, they and their 82 followers, 41 immortal wizards dressed in elaborate, decorated robes and capes that resemble Birds of Paradise, and their brides, 41 extremely-elaborate, non-Euclidean Nordsterne-Jungsturm witches wearing dresses and costumes as elaborate as Queen Selene’s on formal holidays, and carrying all manner of weapons, are the only surviving members of humanity in the year 802,572 A.D., a post-industrial world where evolution has reclaimed the land. Intelligence survives in the 500 species of Psi, but the Haidnur Hird is all that’s left of the human race, and even then, they have evolved into transcendent forms, like King Irkaya has. This is the story of their lives, and their observations, as the last humans on Earth, living in the deep forests of what was once the Greater German Reich…and their encounter with a wanderer known as the “Hand of Fate.”

 

  1. The New Empire of the Egoist Crown

 

Empire of the Egoist Crown

Constituent States, occupying 1/3 of the known universe; the Empire is comprised of multiple constituent kingdoms and Empires, much like the Holy Roman Empire or the German Empire in WWI once was. The centers of the Empire are in the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, and the Holmgard Galaxy, the Local Group, and the rest of the universal territories and galaxies held by the Empire are administered via a colonial system, much like the British Empire did in India.

– Herrugah Empire (current)

  • Crimson Brotherhood (current)
  • Seras Imperium (Absorbed into the Lordly Empire)
  • Old Sinh (Extinct, absorbed into the Lordly Empire)

– Keeran Empire (Current)

– Kyurit Empire (Extinct, absorbed into the Lordly Empire)

– Concord Sunset Crusaders (current, military superpower)

– Lordly Empire (Current, dominant Kingdom, under Supreme Pontifex Alexander Arditi.)

– Cosmic Alliance (Extinct, absorbed into the Lordly Empire)

– Kraid Imperium (Current)

– Chess Ascendancy (Current)

– Yun-Morlan (Current)

– Ilex Empire (Current)

– Nova Ainh (Current)

– Ulen Kel-Dann’s Crusaders (Current)

– Soree Empire (Current)

– Kokki Empire (Current)

– The Great Precursors (Extinct, one of the oldest known societies in the universe, technology found and used to enhance Imperial technology even further, considered a part of the Empire by Mistress of Propaganda Sei Ikkiku)

– Moonbeam Consortium (Current)

– Werwolfthron (Extinct, absorbed into the Old Sinh as the Sangresaara nearly 500 million years before present, and part of the Night Hammer commandos for the Empire of the Egoist Crown)

  • Seven Sisters Imperium (Current, found in the Pleiades Cluster, the closest society to Earth at only 440 light-years away, they are all stunning, startlingly human-like females and stand nearly 9 feet tall, reproduce by parthenogenesis and wear impossibly complicated, non-Euclidean elegant aristocracy dresses that resemble brightly-colored EGA/EGL ballroom dresses and hairstyles that are impossible to create using human mathematical laws and knowledge. Their ships and weapons are millions of years more advanced than normal humans or even augmented humans, such as Emperor Arditi.)
  • Sigtyr Ascendancy- (Current, probably the most terrifying constituent kingdom of the Egoist Crown Empire, they are the only kingdom not based within the Local Group of galaxies, found more than 25 million light years away from Earth, they are a race of humanoid “vampires” that have, at least temporarily, replaced the Indiction Guard as Arditi’s Hands, until the Indiction Guards are re-absorbed.)

– Eta Carinae High Council (Council of 8 Pleiadean mystics in the White Tower of Kalafina, they claim to know all in every universe, serve as Emperor Arditi’s intelligentsia.)

  • Orlan Trey Kingdom (Current)

Appendix 4: The Great Precursors

For thousands of years, were were separate, weak, disunited and scattered, but with the coming of the Supreme Pontifex, we became the masters…if only it were so black and white….if only the Egoist Crown were so easy to escape. The Great Precursors were quick to bring us back to reality, that no matter how big you are, there is always someone bigger.”

The Great Precursors were discovered shortly after the Seven Sisters Imperium was absorbed into the Egoist Crown Empire, and the vast knowledge of Precursor text and technology that the Pleiadeans possessed were added to the Pantheon. Not much is known of Precursor biology, except the fact that they vanished abruptly about 500 million years ago, after the destruction of life on Mars and Venus. Prior to that point, Mars and Venus were actually lusher and more beautiful than Earth was, richer in biodiversity too, until some sort of catastrophe, perhaps caused by the Precursors themselves, destroyed Mars and Venus, and also forced their society into hiding or into extinction. Their technology is well-known, however, and were it not for the Archives of Knowledge on Alcyone, no human, not even Emperor Arditi, would be able to understand how it worked, it was just too advanced. Of all the Imperial Races, only the Pleiadeans have a powerful enough brain to comprehend the mathematical and scientific reasoning of the Great Precursors, no one is sure what they looked like, but there are theories that the Pleiadeans are descended from the Precursor genetic stock. They were also masters of literary craft, and massive, planet-sized archives of Precursor writing and texts have been found, but bizarrely, no pictures of a Precursor exist. No one knows why this is the case…

Appendix 5: List of Formal Outfit Styles from the “Egoist Crown Universe”

        1. Jungsturm-Nordsterne
        2. Jungsturm-Lolita
        3. Clow-Tzu
        4. Ethereal Aristocracy
        5. Maleficent Crown
        6. Hydromedusa
        7. Ethera Aeternum
        8. Draconis Marunae Tropica

As a rule, the male uniforms tend to be far more elaborate than the female ones, even though the female versions are quite elaborate as well, Styles in the Egoist Crown Empire tend to follow that of a Bird of Paradise: However elaborate the female is, the male will be much, much more splendid in his outfit or costume

“‘Freedom doesn’t exist. Liberty is only an illusion created by the upper classes; why else do you think that democratic principles were put down by wealthy landowners? The only real reason why Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau and other Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American Founders cared anything about the illiterate peasantry and working class was simply because it would increase their productivity, therefore putting more money in the philosophes’ pockets. What I plan to accomplish is a culmination of nearly 800,000 years of human farming and systems of servitude, one where I control everything. Freedom and justice only exist as long as the rich want them to, and for those that defy us, those sheep that get lost, that’s what militaries and police forces are for. So when you vote, no matter who you vote for, you assist me. If you don’t vote, you give me a free pass into power. Either way I win. It’s a like a playground game of tag, but everyone is ‘it’ except the one that isn’t. Everyone else does the dirty work but the one that’s not ‘it’ in this example is the one that didn’t participate. But in this analogy, there is one ‘super-it,’ and that ‘super-it’ is what keeps all the lesser bosses in line. It’s truly ironic, isn’t it? Not even the Eta Carinae High Council can fathom what I’m doing, but any schoolchild on any schoolyard would understand my thinking immediately. Truly wonderful are children’s minds, so young and so easily molded into good, little Pantheon scholars. This is why excessive access to knowledge, knowledge of anything other than the Pantheon, is the most dangerous thing in our society.

Emperor Arditi, from “Writings of Societal Mysteries”

 

 

                    1. An Innocent Encounter

“Listen, my fellow learned men, for I have a great secret of this world…what if I told you, that everything that has happened, everything that is happening now, and everything that will ever happen for the next million years is written in my notebook? Surely, you must think I am mad, for that would be the logical assumption. But, I posses a great power, a great blessing, though some consider it a curse. With my pen, I am able to write the history of the world as it happens. It has fallen to me to write the history of the next million years, by a family heirloom, the Pen of Fate.” The handsome young man Andrew Eisenheim, a citizen of the vast German Empire in 1898, said to the Wilhelmine barons to which he presented a most extraordinary device and theory. “I have built a machine as well, made of common, everyday objects, that will take me one million years into the future, to prove that I am correct in my assumptions. This “time transporter,” will allow me to show that I am the Hand of Fate.” The German barons whispered to each other, reminiscent of children playing a game of Chinese whispers, about the supposed legend of a man who controlled the fate of Mankind, as mentioned in the Devil’s Bible, a medieval manuscript written in Bohemia, in Austria-Hungary, in around 1227 A.D., depicting 6,000 pages of pre-Christian European texts mixed with biblical scenes in a haunting, indecipherable and illogical way that had defied even the most brilliant of scholars for centuries. The book itself was laden with arcane tongues, incantations and biblical scenes, with the centerpiece of the manuscript being a full-color image of a creature known only as “Archimago,” long assumed to be the Devil himself. This tome and the Voynich Manuscript, both indecipherable texts, represented the ultimate forbidden fruit for scholars of European languages, representing and encapsulating the greatest dreams and nightmares of the human subconscious. Naturally, the barons, part of the Volkisch Christian sect Kultursohne that had become deeply enthralled by the romantic, neo-paganism that was being revived by scholars like Richard Wagner, Guido von List, and the philosopher Fichte, were very skeptical of this young man’s claims. Kultursohne, German for “Cultured Son,” was an organization who sought to find the Hand of Fate, and use his abilities to control the fate of Europe for theirs and the German Reich’s benefit. Their leader, a German paleontologist and philosopher named Arthur Schroeder, had translated about half of the Devil’s Bible’s intelligible sections, and as a result of his hours of toil and poring over hundreds of lines of pagan doggerel, was one of the foremost experts on pre-Christian Europe in Germany. Arthur was in attendance that night, and he was tempted to allow Andrew to at least show how his machine worked, to at least give him an attempt to prove himself to the Council of impatient barons. He, however, still believed Andrew to be just another rich aristocrat, a spoiled rake who had nothing better to do than build odd machines all day and make preposterous claims about “enlightenment.” “Well, Mr. Schroeder, I’d like to show my machine. Prepare to be astounded, as I unveil the Time Transporter Mark I.” Andrew removed a sheet from a large machine and revealed the contraption to the world for the first time. It looked more like a bizarre museum sculpture than a machine; it was essentially a luxurious leather armchair, a control console with a gyroscope surrounding the whole machine, with two huge ivory elephant tusks on each side of the chair, with flags and heraldry of Imperial Germany hanging from the elephant tusks. The German barons stared at what they thought was nothing more than a piece of junk with curious eyes; clearly, anyone with decent mechanical skills could have put that contraption together, with all the gears, moving parts and ornaments emblazoned on it in the gaudiest way imaginable. “Master Schroeder, this is a load of codfish…” one baron whispered to Arthur in a very sarcastic tone. “This, as you can see, is my Time Transporter, and I will demonstrate how this works as follows…” “That looks like a piece of junk!!” “Thank you, this was my father’s, he died of consumption, how do you feel now?” Andrew said, sarcastically. One German baron had seen enough of this 24-year old’s showcase and simply left the meeting hall in Berlin, probably headed to have something to drink at the public house on the chilly winter’s night, but Andrew’s remark, which was entirely untrue, was enough to bring his gentlemanly side back to the forefront. “Thank you. Now, let me demonstrate the wonders of time travel. I will venture one million years into the future, to the limit of my powers over fate and history, and I will return with a tree branch, to prove that I am the Hand of Fate.” “This man is a swindler and a cheat…” the same baron whispered to Master Schroeder, still unconvinced of Andrew’s powers. Andrew removed his hat and coat and sat down in the chair, made himself comfortable, and entered the year “1,001,898 A.D.” into the control gauge. He simply sat back and watched as the gyroscope began to turn, slow at first, then faster and faster until the gyroscope whirled at breakneck speed, but then, the room suddenly stood still, and became a white, cosmic blur to Andrew, he was traveling through time! He looked down at his time gauge as he sat, strapped into the machine, bouncing, jostling and whirling around in the brilliant white blur of the time stream. The years, decades, centuries, millennia and eventually eons flew by, blazing past him faster than the speed of light, yet his machine was not moving, for it traveled temporally, not spatially. Andrew could scarcely contain his excitement until his destination was reached, just to see if what he had placed in his 145-volume “Egoist Crown: History of the Eons, from 1898 for the Next Million Years” really was correct. Suddenly, however, the Time Transporter began to slow down a bit sooner than expected…its failsafe mechanism was kicking in, something was wrong…the time stream’s white blur turned to a steel-gray, and then colors began to flicker into existence as the gyroscope’s rotation began to grow more languid. The years displayed on the time gauge were not passing as quickly, and slowly they, as well as the gyroscope came to a stop…Andrew was now on the other side of time. The world became clear as a whistle…Andrew was in the future, the far, far future, and he turned to the time gauge just to see how far he had come: 802,572 A.D. “Damn…off by about 200,000 years…but still…it worked….Yes…Eternal Glory for Germany!” Andrew yelled in cathartic exaltation. Those British, French and Russian snobs would never equal the Fatherland now. Andrew was elated, but that elation suddenly turned to a sickening dread when he realized what part of history he was in. “Wait…this forest, dark, misty, rainy…this is the Haidnur Age…I wrote this back in 1895, in the year 700,000 A.D., humanity’s Empire, spanning one-thirteenth of the Universe, thanks to the invention of “thought travel” in 500,000 A.D., at the height of the “Gilded Age,” 200,000-700,000 A.D., has collapsed in a massive civil war, and 100,000 years later, all that remains of humanity on Earth is a Hird of 82 immortal, supreme-transcendents, they are so highly evolved that they do not age, they do not die, they do not get sick, they have immense telekinesis, and they do not reproduce…this is humanity’s final form, and they are omnipotent beings that will exist as long as the universe does…we have come full circle, and have finally reached nirvana as a species in the Eastern sense…but they are extremely intolerant of outsiders and have a very strong sense of racial pride and identity…they will see me as a threat, they will kill me, and nothing will happen in the past…because this hasn’t happened yet. I’d best be careful.” Andrew thought, realizing of exactly where he was in his History of the Eons timeline. Looking around, the Haidnur, or the legendary dark forests of Germany, was foreboding enough as it was. Trees, huge oak, yew, camphor and a new species of hybrid tree called Imperial Sequoya, bred as an ornamental tree to adorn what were once the grand cities of the Lordly Empire, which spanned more than a billion light years from Earth and ruled absolutely by an Emperor and Empress. In the long, silent absence of their human cultivators, the trees had gone feral and had blossomed into towering emergents in the revitalized wilderness of the Haidnur; the vast forest belt that once again cloaked Europe in green in the summer, and golden-orange in the autumn. Occasionally a nightingale’s song would pierce the misty, peaceful woodland, or a strange, wonderful call of some futuristic animal, having evolved over the millennia. Stepping out of the Time Transporter and onto the dark, earthen humus, he realized that he was still in the same spot, just hundreds of thousands of years in the future, the machine traveled through time, not space. He inspected the machine for any possible damage, but there was none immediately present. Everything appeared to be in place. The machine was in perfect working order, so the only reason that something would trigger the failsafe and drop the machine out of the timestream is that some large object was moving in close proximity to the Time Transporter…Andrew was being watched, but by something not immediately visible, something sinister. Andrew pulled his revolver from its holster cautiously, worried that what was watching him was a hostile animal, or worse, one of the 82 Hirdsmen. In that case, his 19th-century Luger pistol wouldn’t do him much good, for the Hirdsmen had weapons beyond any of his contemporaries’ comprehension. Suddenly, a crash was heard from behind him as trees were knocked over, and the reason for the machine’s sudden stoppage became apparent. A huge Woolly Titan Stag, a massive herbivore evolved from an elk, was crashing loudly through a misty clearing on the opposite side of the grove of trees where the Time Transporter had come to rest. The animal was as massive as a woolly mammoth, with a thick carpet of brown, shaggy hair in the winter, it was a cool autumn morning, so the creature’s wool was not the three feet long it would be come winter, but a lighter, underwool, just a few inches long, but lengthening in response to the shortening of the days and the damp, cloying chill in the air. They had the bulk of a woolly mammoth, the head of an elk with huge antlers pointed forward like spear blades, used to dig, cut vegetation and defend itself from the Hirdsmen and the Psi organisms, diverse, sentient animals with human intelligence, that could speak a human language, but telepathically. The Hirdsmen and the Psi were the dominant forms of life on Earth during the Haidnur Era by far, but the Stags were spectacular nonetheless. This huge stag, 10 tons in weight, raised its head and let out a loud bugle, just like its elk ancestors did; it was the rutting season. However, neither the Stag nor Andrew realized that they were being hunted. They did not see the watcher in the bush…approaching from behind was a ferocious hunter, and it was coming for blood. As if from nowhere, a huge, bipedal baboon-like creature, standing about 8 feet tall with a massive upper body and small, muscular legs, with the colorful face and rump of a mandrill, with gigantic, snake-like fangs hooted loudly and lunged at the Titan Stag, followed by the rest of its troop. “Giant Boboos, nasty predators…” Andrew thought, remembering writing these things into existence in his own time period. Andrew watched helplessly as the huge primates leaped onto the back of the Stag, knocking the massive creature to the ground with a thud, then grabbed their spears, rudimentary weapons; the Giant Boboos were the only creatures besides the Hirdsmen and the Psi smart enough to use weapons during Earth’s Haidnur Era, and plunged them into the Stag’s side, killing it instantly, the creature dying in gurgling pools of its own blood. The Boboos flared their huge fangs and injected a potent venom into the dead Stag’s body, liquifying the insides and allowing the vicious, liquivorous primates to suck the animal’s body dry like a spider killing a fly in its web, after inserting their straw-like tongue into the gaping wounds in the stag’s flesh. The Boboos knew that Andrew was there, the largest one would occasionally glance over at Andrew, and Andrew would train his gun on the Boboo’s colorful, blood-drenched face to let the ferocious alpha primate know that he was armed. As Andrew watched the macabre scene, transfixed, he failed to notice that one of the Boboos had knocked his Time Transporter over on its side, dislodging several critical pieces, including the warp modulators; that would take a long time to fix those parts, as warp modulators were very difficult to find in a forest, to say the least. Andrew noticed the situation and cursed, but then the Boboos started acting strangely…they abandoned their kill suddenly, chattering like scared children running for the safety of their parents…something was coming. Something dangerous. Andrew turned around and saw what looked like a delicately-striding Christmas tree walking towards him, decorated with tinsel, Christmas balls and garland, it had the same shape as an elegant, black pine tree, about 8 feet tall, and the forest around it broke up its outline as it moved…At first, it was amusing, the sight of a tree walking around in the woods, but then, Andrew staggered in terror when he realized just what he was looking at. The “tree” had ethereal, navy, sapphire-blue eyes, long, pale, ghostly-white, silky hair with two pigtails, a calm face just as pale, a long, gaudy, exuberant black ballroom dress covered with Christmas decorations, complete with a Christmas angel on her head, black boots visible under her dress, with a black and white surcoat adorned with Celtic crosses, and long, feathery, black wings on its back, with a black lace frill on her head keeping her pigtails in place. It was one of the Hirdsmen, probably a wife of one of the Hird leaders, her hands were crooked and witchy, like tree branches, and she stared ominously at a terrified Andrew, holding his gun at the ready. “Stand still, and no harm will come to you; lay down your weapons…or I will take them from you.” the woman said, in a strangely rhyming, poetic voice. Andrew cautiously placed his gun on the ground and spoke waveringly in German, “I want no trouble.” “Don’t fear, there is no trouble. You are of the Chosen Race. You may be granted audience with the Hird, King Falkenbach will want to meet you, the Hand of Fate. You look akin to our forebears, the Lordly Ones of Alexander Arditi, The Seras Imperium, and machines, albeit a bit scrawny and primitive.” Andrew was not offended by her haughty comments, to her, he may as well have been a Neanderthal. Humanity had evolved into such non-Euclidean shapes and forms that they scarcely appeared human anymore, this woman looked more like a walking Gothic Christmas tree. “Christmas” appeared to be the right word, too, because she had Celtic Christian symbolism, as well as pagan Germanic-Nordic symbols all over her long, gaudy surcoat. However, the utter and absence of technology would have surprised anyone who was not the Hand of Fate. Andrew had written that in the year 2107 A.D., a massive alien society migrated to Earth, calling itself the “Seras Imperium,” and consisted of very tall, ectomorphic humanoids; essentially greater-formed humans with silver, shining skin, looking almost artificial, with data and numerical values coursing over their bodies, with their massive silver, zeppelin-like ships that trailed ethereal comet dust on the cosmic winds; they appeared over the Northern Union, a government consisting of the United States, a unified Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Russian Empire and Canada, which subscribed to an ideology known as “Pantheon Doctrine,” which stated, in its briefest definition, that there are no equal people, only equal ideologies, and that everything in the universe could be explained by science and the Four Pantheon Pillars, consisting of the Serpent Paradox of Self-Preservation and Destruction, the Ignorance Complex, the Seven Doctrines of Societal Absurdities, and the Ideology Fields. All major organized faiths were abolished and outlawed, people could believe in the Old Faiths privately, but there was to be no Church, no Pope, no Ayatollah, and no clergy of any kind. The demise of organized religion, which began with the Scientific Revolution in the sixteenth century, was completed with the start of the Second Renaissance and the New Enlightenment. Eventually, however, as if from nowhere, a handsome young Student Inheritor with a superb mind, a deviant personality and a maniacal laughter emerged from the ranks of legendary Northern Union citizen-elites to take the early 22nd-century world on a truly revolutionary new course. “Student Inheritor” was a rank held by the elite, University-age Northern Union intelligentsia and socialites, and this one, named Alexander Arditi, was the most erudite, intelligent, knowledgeable and well-respected of them all. He invented two new machines, the “God Machine,” a computerized cloning mechanism which operated on the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, Boltzmann’s Equation and Schrodinger’s Paradox, as well as a theory called “Arditi’s Theory of Cataclysmic Succession,” where evolution was a product of simultaneous and eternally-clashing chaos and order, and that chaos was caused by a natural cycle of mass-extinction and mutations brought on by the psychological and physiological changes caused by mutations from the mass extinctions themselves. The order, what maintained homeostasis in the environment, according to Arditi, originated from the rapid rate of evolution as shown in the fossil record after a mass extinction event, and then the eternal continuation of the cycle, the biosphere’s biological flaws became too uniform and too homogenous, triggering another catastrophe. This implied that DNA was never destroyed, only converted, and therefore, the God Machine could clone, splice, breed and create life in any way that Arditi saw fit. Combined with his Creation Engine, which was a massive space-station that could produce anything he wanted through nano-bot technology, he astounded the alien visitors with his knowledge, his resemblance to one of their gods, and his militarism, as well as his demented laughter and his belief in Pantheon Cult, founded by the eccentric aristocrat Sylvain Anteon in 2080; Anteon was a veteran of the Great Ilex War, a 30-Years’ War in Asia that had spread like a multinational conflagration to burn every nation on Earth, and the best pilot in the world by far, known as “The Black Baron,” flying for the 181st Airborne Legion of the Northern Union. Handsome, intelligent, decorated, rich and eccentric, he was admired by many for his theories on society and the future of the human race, his writings elevating the young war veteran to the status of global celebrity after the end of the Ilex War in 2092 and the abolition of the old Westphalia Model of politics. His two top associates were a dark but very handsome young idealist by the name of Antonio Marduk, a master of macabre, disturbing and downright evil-looking cartoon art and animation, whose studio, Mad Artist Incorporated, produced some truly shocking cartoons and animation features, and Alexander Arditi, the Yale University firebrand from Italy that would forever alter the course of history. After finding a history-shattering mural, painted more than 7,000 years before on Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod but housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art from then on, Anteon, Arditi and Marduk claimed to have found eternal enlightenment; the mural depicted two individuals locked in the embrace of true love, standing under a night sky on a moonlit beach, with the stars literally falling to Earth around them, like little shining snowflakes around their blissful forms. complete with a stunningly beautiful story of how they first met as young teenagers and learned to love each other, and how the man went off and died valiantly in war for the glory of Hellas, leaving the poor girl to die of a broken heart, an Old Ryukyu Empire author and an Old Minoan Empire prince, the Old Ryukyu romantic author, a beautiful, 6’1” young woman named Aya, according to Minoan runes about her work on the painting, dressed in an elaborate style called “Eastern Star,” which involved combining gaudy Chinese Empress robes with silky Japanese nobility gowns, and the Minoan prince, clad in his Tyrean purple robe. The poem was seen by historians and literary analysts as one of the greatest elegiac romances ever written, on the mural told everything about the two lovers, their backgrounds, their family, who they were related to, even where they first had a truly intimate moment, right there, on that beach, in one of the vast, global Minoan-Ryukyu trade routes that dominated the world in the late Neolithic. The two lovers were celebrating what what was implied to be the aftermath of a sexual encounter by the text, and a hauntingly beautiful quote between Aya and the Prince, translated by WHOI scientists from Woods Hole. “It is finished…we can know no anger, no fear, no hate…but I feel that the sins of my past have damned us to extinction…seeing you in your natural state was something I had never seen outside of looking at a tall, spring lily plant, swaying in the warm breeze of a sweet summer’s day.” “Do not fear, my shining prince, though the nature of my feelings for you elude me as well, an author of my stature can know no anger, nor hate…only love. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, and love leaves a memory no one can steal. Let the stars fall down around us…and may the world know peace, everlasting, matrimonial peace…the Egoist Crown, that dreadful, thorny burden, is forever removed from our heads.” The mural was painted with dried, preserved clay instead of paint, but somehow was as amazing as a painted picture, from the Aquinnah Cliffs and painted near Edgartown Great Pond, and most importantly to the three Pantheon Founders, it showed that society was far more advanced much earlier than previously thought, with a standard of living higher than most of the world in the late 21st century. This painting and poem were an unrivaled elegiac romance, a beautiful reminder of a bygone age, and the wondrous story of Aya and the Prince, told in novels, comic books, plays, movies, and almost any form of media you can imagine, showed two things…there were no equal people, just equal ideals at the heart of love, and that everything we knew about history could change in an instant…also, it warned of the huge blue-claw crabs in the pond too. Anteon rightfully stated that “humanity, in its most modern form, has learned nothing.” The graves of Miss Aya and the Prince, who was never named, were searched for, but in vain. This mural was the only record of their existence that survived, about a tale as old as time itself, the affection and cruel separation of two young lovers, cut down in the prime of their lives by humanity’s flaws, hate and greed, the roots of all war. Arditi, one of Pantheon Cult’s loyalest followers, took this lesson to heart, and went on to single-handedly liberate the Hawaiian Islands from a rebellious faction of anarchists, by tricking the leader into thinking that he was invincible, and by using simple mind-control and manipulation techniques, he convinced the man to commit suicide to “prove” that he was invincible, only, of course, to die at his own hand. Upon witnessing this act, impressed by Arditi’s cunning and the way Marduk and Anteon wrote their great Pantheon Codex in 2107, the Seras appointed Alexander the Supreme Pontifex of both the human race and their vast Empire, convinced that he, Marduk and Anteon were gods, granting them all immortality via their wondrous technology, replacing his energy with that of the universe itself by using incredible pharmaceutical drugs. Unchanging and forever young, Alexander, Anteon and Antonio quickly took their new supreme authority to heart, unified humanity and the Seras Empire to create the Lordly Empire, under the banner of the Cross, Hammer and Crescent, with the help of the 82 Hirdsmen, or Indiction Guards. They now controlled one-thirteenth of the known universe, but faced massive opposition in the form of another grand empire, the Old Sinh, a proud collection of warrior races with a valiant history. They were just as expansive, and Arditi, Anteon and Marduk, being men and lusting for power above all else, declared war on the Old Sinh, after 100,000 years of nonstop warfare, in which untold trillions of soldiers on both sides died, and entire galaxies were ravaged, Arditi, Marduk and Anteon along with their Indiction Guard, the Lordly Empire’s elite honor guard, was victorious, and annexed the Old Sinh Empire, making them the most powerful beings in universe, still unchanged and omnipotent after 100,000 years. To mark that glorious occasion, the Founding Troika held the grandest Olympic Games in history that year, with all manner of new sports, such as space-gliding and gladiatorial events. Humans, A.I.s and Seras-augmented humans had interbred, creating a form of augmented humanity that existed as the supreme force in the universe for 600,000 years, until the Great Schism and the Troika’s mysterious disappearance. Humanity slowly ebbed back to its ancestral home of Earth, where the 82 immortal Hirdsmen were all that stood between humanity and extinction. The number would never change…until the Troika, still wandering through the ruins of their Empire somewhere in the vastness of space, returned to lead them…the Hird wife knew that Andrew was not their immortal leader, because she had identified him as “Hand of Fate.” Now, in the year 802,572 A.D., humanity’s power was held in check by newly-evolved creatures, the Psi, and they saw themselves as being superior, and that humans were on the wrong side of history…thus the struggle for humanity’s soul continued even now. “Noble Hand of Fate, we are the Indiction Guards of Glory, the last link to the Troika and the imperial traditions of Mankind. The Indiction Guards dress in much the same style as I do, in case you were beguiled by my outfit. My name is Amaranth Morgana, and you are?” “Andrew…Andrew Eisenheim.” Andrew answered, nervously. The Indiction Guards were the 82 Disciples, men and women that protected the Troika, part of their inner circle and their entourage of Literati, Renaissance men and women, political advisors and military commanders. Headquartered in the vast Temple of the Cross, Hammer and Crescent on the planet Valhalla, in the Andromeda Galaxy, one of the Local Group and the three most sacred galaxies in the Lordly Empire, along with the Milky Way and the Holmgard Galaxies, we traveled aboard the great ships at the speed of thought, appearing out of the Quantum Tunnel and obliterating their enemies with destruction on an intergalactic scale. Dressed in Jungsturm-Nordsterne regalia, a combination of Elegant Gothic Aristocrat and Elegant Gothic Lolita ballroom and topcoat or surcoat outfits with Teutonic Knight heraldry, themes and regalia, we were the most revered fighting force in the universe, plundering the stars for the Emperor, for fame and for fortune. Red as blood and black as night, we were known rightfully as Troika’s Fist. We are the last generation of Mankind on Earth, still keeping the traditions alive, as the Paradise Hird. Now, let me take you to our Paradise, deep in the heart of the Haidnur.” Andrew followed Amaranth past some massive oak, yew and Imperial Sequoya trees, as every single animal in the forest fell silent or retreated as she walked past…every animal on Earth, other than the Psi, knew that humans were mortal threats by now, the fear instilled in them by millions of years of persecution. “This massive tree is the Sacred Rood-Tree of our Hird, see our blessings carved into its trunk.” Amaranth pointed at hundreds of pagan runes and Christian crosses carved into the tree, along with a huge Black Sun Rune and the Pantheon Hammer, Cross and Crescent. “The trees contain the spirits of all the people who have died before us, those not within the Troika’s inner circle…we honor them with our blessings, and sacrifices of animals on various holidays. A tree cannot live without a forest, and the forests cannot exist without trees. Everything is a cycle, hence the Serpent Paradox. Someday, the Troika will return from its absence, appearing in a kingly fleet, grander than any other assemblage in the Universe, the Flagship Urawemazu, from the depths of the Sanzu Cluster, they will take us via their Koryryrr, or Imperial Providence in Indiction Lingua, and we will be judged by their Imperial Court, or Shiki-Warrkyryr, the Yama of Chandur…they will see our faith in his ideals long after those around us have perished, and we shall become the Indiction Guard once again, in the First Year of the New Dawn Era, and the Fifteen Billionth Year of the Universe. From that point, we will rule over our rebuilt Empire, a wiser, more learned society, and become truly invincible and immortal. That was the Troika’s plan, their promise to us.” Andrew listened to what Amaranth was saying very carefully. Humanity was in the midst of a Dark Age after the fall of a glorious Empire, much like Europe after the fall of Rome hundreds of thousands of years ago. Given that humans had become transcendent organisms and no longer suffered from mortality, the immortal Troika was still alive, and these Hirdsmen were his Disciples. His return would mark a Renaissance, and humanity would reactivate its old Empire and repopulate the universe as even stronger than before. Andrew asked himself, however, why the 82 Hirdsmen didn’t just rebuild the Empire themselves, why didn’t “King Falkenbach” simply declare himself Emperor and voluntarily end the Dark Age? Was this Troika really that powerful and omnipotent that humanity had lost the ability to govern itself? Even as the Hand of Fate, Andrew thought it was strange, almost surreal, to see his predictions come true. “What a strange world this has become; humans have become so advanced, yet they have lost any will to accomplish anything without their three, almighty leaders…apparently, men need their gods, more than I am ever capable of knowing. These Hirdsmen have far more knowledge than I can ever hope to know, yet they have the same sense of order and rules as a child in my own time period, where nothing is possible unless their authoritarian figures tell them it is, like a child who thinks its parents are the only authority that matters. It is here that the origin of God lies, the base human need for authority to guide it. There was no authority in the primordial age of hunter-gatherers, so Man created God to fill that void. Now, in this new Dark Age, God’s place has been taken by three immortal, intergalactic Emperors with no real proof that they even still exist. They’ve been missing for 100,000 years, surely they know the location of Earth on a galactic star chart if they are omnipotent. The Troika has replaced God, much as God replaced Odin, Ra, Zoroaster, Zeus, Thor, the Roman Gods, the Greek Gods, and the Eurocentric pagan gods…it is the same cycle of existence, outlined in the only absolute truth, Pantheon Doctrine. There was no equality without thought, and there is no meaning without purpose in thought. We are all self-sufficient, individual bastions of free will.” Andrew thought to himself as Amaranth and he walked up to a huge wooden gate in the primeval wilderness. “This is where our Hird lives, and awaits the Troika’s return.” “Amaranth, do all of your Hirdsmen wear the Jungsturm style?” “Yes, they do. It is our tradition as the Guard to do so. Our lingua franca is called Jungsturm as well.” Amaranth tapped on the door three times, and a small, curious spyglass with a bionic eyeball popped out of the wall, it glanced anxiously at Amaranth and Andrew, and made a small squeak as it retreated back into the wall…then, like a medieval town’s sentry walls, the gate slowly opened, via an automated mechanism. As the gate slowly and loudly swung open, Andrew saw the full wonder of the 82 Hirdsmen, including their King and Queen, Irkaya Falkenbach and his equally-bizarre wife, Selene. They all wore the Jungsturm style, just with King Falkenbach and Queen Selene’s outfits being much more elaborate. “Welcome back, Amaranth, and welcome to the Hird, Noble Hand of Fate.” King Falkenbach’s appearance was truly incredible, he was so modified by the forces of technology and evolution that he scarcely looked human. His outfit mimicked the Ruthwell Cross’ designs, in the symbols, runes, and decorations on it, and his sleeves looked like the cross on the famous artifact, known for an ancient poem, The Dream of the Rood. Falkenbach’s elaborate Jungsturm outfit seemed to reflect his presence as an omnipotent Dreamer, a being of pure thought and ideology. It was elegaic, the Rood poem was written in black runes on the outfit, as if harkening back to the post-Roman Dark Ages of Anglo-Saxon Britain, as if to claim heritage from the mythical line of King Arthur. Most of the Jungsturm style reflected the wearer, so no two outfits were the same. What was even more astounding was his bodily appearance. His hands had evolved into leathery, leaf-covered tree branches, his eye sockets had plants growing from them, blossoming into little blue flowers, and his eyelashes were curling deadly nightshade plants, his hair was long and made of feathers, and had three birds’ heads emerging from his scalp, each one with a different facial expression, one happy, one sad and one angry. The heads made noise, chattering amongst themselves, as the King’s fanged mouth was dripping with nectar, with hundreds of hornets, bees and wasps sipping like delicate drinkers at a public house from his honey-dew saliva. Feathers erupted from his skin like cat’s whiskers. The hornets did not sting him, as he was the Forest Emperor and respected by all creatures of the Haidnur. His skin was pale, whitish-azure in color, giving him a truly otherworldly appearance. He walked towards Andrew, standing more than 10 feet tall, and spoke, though his three bird-heads. “Dare may I ask of your origins?” “Andrew Eisenheim, from Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin, German Empire, born in 1875 A.D.” “Oh, you noble Hand of Fate…you might want to speak softly about your origins…I have a Hirdsman here who is…a bit overzealous in wanting to meet you.” Just then, a beautiful woman stepped forward, she had a blue, gold and burgundy, frilly Jungsturm dress, robe and surcoat, with a mix of seductive beauty, sexuality and class all at once. She was 8 feet tall, like Amaranth, but she had long, beautiful, silky red hair, seductive blue eyes, crimson-red lipstick, a chalk-white painted face and two demon-horns jutting horizontally out of her head, as well as her breasts pushed up unnaturally high. “Hello, sweetheart. I’ve been waiting for the day I can finally meet you.” the woman said with a seductive smile on her face. “My name is Sayu Ayanura, I love strawberries and anything strawberry flavored, my favorite color is either milky-pink or hot-magenta, depending on my mood, I love the summer, not winter, autumn is ok, spring is still to cold, I’m O-negative blood type, my birthsign is Virgo, my birthstone, as you can see by my necklace, is a sapphire, and I truly love your work.” Needless to say, Andrew was a bit stunned by Sayu’s level of intensity, not to mention how physically alluring she was. The other Hirdsmen exchanged annoyed, groaning looks on their faces throughout the whole introduction, however. “I warned you, she’s quite the cuckolding shrew…” King Irkaya said. “Oh, hi Amaranth, how’s your lonely life in that moldy tree stump?” Amaranth quickly turned and looked at Sayu with a horrifically demented look, her black, fallen angel wings ruffling angrily. “Listen, you harlot, if we’re going to live together for eternity in this God-forsaken forest, we have to draw some boundaries. It’s not a tree stump, it’s a 30,000-square foot house, built in the trees high above Asgard Village, our only home left in the Universe, which, unfortunately, we must share. You can stay in your big, fancy palace on the hill, made of all the relics from the Golden Age, but just don’t bother me…” Amaranth groaned. “Andrew, do me a favor and tell Amaranth that she’s a moron, honey.” “What? I’m not getting into your dramatic, girlish feud, so stop…” Sayu promptly placed her lacy-gloved hand on his shoulder, and Andrew suddenly stopped talking, he had become Sayu’s puppet, her mind-control slave. “You are a moron, Amaranth, a total disgrace to sentient life…I have beauty, grace and poise, you do not.” Andrew said, droning in a monotone, drugged voice. Sayu took her hand off of Andrew’s shoulder, and Andrew promptly returned to normal, with no memory of what had just happened. Amaranth was too disgusted for words and just walked away. “Andrew, I can grant you whatever you want…just say the word, and I’ll do it for you.” Andrew suddenly wondered if he had made the right decision coming into Asgard Village, now that this seductress and apparent sorceress Sayu had taken control of his mind…she seemed to know both telekinetic and rational mind-control techniques, and seemed to be able to get anyone to do whatever she wanted them to do, much to the chagrin of her fellow Hird members. She also had vampire-like fangs, and hissed like a snake, flaring them frighteningly. Andrew confessed to himself that both Sayu and Amaranth were very attractive in their own mysterious, exotic way, though Sayu seemed like more of a monster than a person. Andrew walked looked towards the huge trees towards the back of Asgard Village, and saw Amaranth’s huge tree mansion, and felt very guilty for insulting her, even though the fault was not his own. Amaranth was a bit of an introvert, and Sayu was the exact opposite. “I have to go at least apologize to her…” Andrew thought. Just then, Andrew passed out and simply disappeared from view, just as Sayu hissed like a vampire. “So, this is the way you want to play this game…you little weirdo. I’ll find Andrew again, and when I do, I’ll make sure he stays safe with me…” she said, just as Andrew blacked out.

 

 

Space was once known as “The Final Frontier,” in pre-Imperial times. Oh, how Enlightenment has changed the way the Imperial Races looked at things…Now, about a third of the observable universe has been settled and colonized, and the remaining two-thirds outside of Imperial space is well-studied, and only a matter of time before the Empire of the Egoist Crown colonizes it. One of the greatest mysteries of space that remains is the old question: “Why is there something instead of nothing?” This is the one question that Pantheon Doctrine, even I must admit, cannot answer. As Supreme Pontifex, I have total dominion over the third of the Universe that I control, but beyond that, even I am contained within my own sphere. It is safe to say that there are no known, extant societies that can challenge the Empire, but the Great Precursors, I feel, are just one of the societies that existed in the endless eons and infinite universes that populate the Multiverse. The Pleiadean scholars have their own opinion on the old Hyperborea theory of sociology, in that each living being is, in fact, a self-contained society, a microcosm in a larger macrocosm. If we allow for the modern Hyperborea to replace the old, literal Hyperborea, that a society actually existed in the center of the Earth itself, Pantheon makes even more sense, and the Writ of Lords’ Bible, the Pantheon sacred text, can finally answer the question that has no answer, the irony of which that the answer for the raison d’etere for the universe is that there is no answer at all. It just happened that way, via the laws of “orderly chaos,” that is, chaos creating order, and order creating chaos. Everything is connected.

Emperor Arditi, “Writings of Societal Mysteries”

 

                    1. An Invasion of the Mind

Andrew awoke in a huge, warm, log-cabin style living room, with melancholy but beautiful paintings on the walls, and bay windows looking out over Asgard Village and skylights on the ceiling. The paintings depicted cosmic scenes of love and loss, catharsis and profound sadness, it was perhaps some of the most astounding romantic artwork Andrew had ever seen. He stared and saw ceiling fans humming rhythmically, and the warm, inviting glow of lamps and a huge fireplace in front of him on the chilly, misty evening. Over the fireplace mantle hung two flags, each one with a Black Sun Rune and the Hammer, Cross and Crescent emblazoned proudly upon it. The paintings all had images of volkisch or romantic scenes on them, just with a truly intergalactic theme, often depicting pagan scenes, including Imperial warriors clad in full armor from Ancient Rome, Teutonic Knights during the medieval era and their ladies dancing in a grand ballroom, and vast images of gargantuan space battles, with peaceful paintings of two young lovers holding onto each other for their lives, tears streaming down their faces, realizing that they are all that they have in the entire universe, but there were also a few scenes he did not recognize…including a huge mural of the biggest military parade in human history, it looked like literally hundreds of millions of soldiers, tanks, spacecraft and other vehicles, all wearing Jungsturm outfits goose-stepping, carrying a sea of flags and bizarre weapons that Andrew thought looked impossibly complex. The march was taking place through a massive, cyberpunk futuristic city, with skyscrapers so large that they were blocking out one of the six crimson suns high in the sky, Standing on a balcony, high above the marching soldiers as one of the suns was rising, were three ethereal figures, each one wearing a robe and cape both shining as bright as the full moon, with brown and black hair, handsome faces, ruby-red eyes and fang-like teeth, much like Sayu had. They stood nearly 15 feet tall. “Are you enjoying my living room?” The familiar voice of Amaranth cooed from behind him. Andrew was lying on an expansive leather couch, with a heavy wool blanket over his body, keeping him warm in front of the fire. Amaranth was clearly taking good care of him, so he had no reason to fear her anymore. “I see that you’re getting acquainted with the paintings…that large one with the marching soldiers, I painted that myself. About 150,000 years ago, before the collapse, I was with the other 82 Indiction Guards on that same balcony, on the planet Gliepnir III in the Sleipnir Galaxy, with 6 suns, so that the planet had such a complex orbit, no day and night was ever the same. Those men in white are the Troika, whom we still wait to return. Our Lordly Empire is not forgotten. Now, let me get to the point…I had to get you away from that woman Sayu. She’s bad news, in case you were wondering, she specializes in mind-control techniques and psychological manipulation, I know you didn’t intentionally insult me, therefore I’m not mad. I warped you into my house for your own good…just like I stopped your Time Transporter.” “You stopped my machine?! Where is it?” “Calm down, it is fine, it is in Hirdsman Frederick Hofer’s machine shop on the opposite side of town, those Boboos knocked a few pieces loose, those filthy apes, they’re worse than the Psi. I do not believe we ever truly got to know each other, because Sayu interrupted our introduction in front of the King and Queen, but…in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit…disinclined to interact with most other beings.” “Why is that?” Andrew asked, rather curious to find out more about the wondrous inhabitants of the future Earth. “I was always gifted, even amongst the Indiction Guards…I have a power that even the Emperor was in awe of, one that the laws of physics stated was impossible…I had power over the “other side.” The Emperor said it was a blessing, but I think it is more like a curse…no one ever wanted to speak to me, thinking that I was too powerful and too smart, and when I was immortalized by the Black Flame Initiation on Samhain Night, into the Indiction Guards during the Golden Age of the Lordly Empire, I was promised that things would get better…Sayu was already a Guard, so she became very envious of me, my powers and the Emperor’s favor…we have never gotten along, and her behavior regarding your arrival is disturbing, but not at all unexpected. Nothing got better, not during the Golden Age, and not now during the Haidnur Era. I wander this world, with nothing but my 81 other Guards for human companionship, Through the darkness, I seek the light, but why, Dear Pantheon, did you choose me, me, to wear the sinful Egoist Crown for eternity?” “Egoist Crown…the paradox of society.” “Yes, it is a subset of one of the main principles of Pantheon Cult Doctrine, the Seven Doctrines of Societal Absurdity. The Egoist Crown is represented as an iron crown of thorns over the head of every society that has ever existed. The Egoist Crown is not an actual crown, but a sad paradox of society that dooms every single one that has ever existed to extinction. Since humans are egocentric and care only for themselves in the end, society is corrupt and uncaring, with no helpful individuals at all, and therefore does not deserve to exist. Therein lies the paradox, society is destroying humanity, but it also allows for humans to have an acceptable quality of life, the paradox states that sin is a natural side-effect of society, and that sin in the steel Crown-of-Thorns that society wears for eternity…and the toxicity of its own blood, the blood of the Ideology Fields, that carry the ideals of Mankind around the societal Gestalt, in the same way that blood carries oxygen around the human body, eventually drowns society, causing it to die…except for those that reject tradition and normalcy, those that do not care for society’s expectations. Breaking free of the Egoist Crown is not easy, as society is masochistic in this regard, enjoying the pain that the Crown causes because it provides a sense of security. There is no such thing as ‘security.’ You can die in your own home. Even a police officer or soldier, who are tasked with keeping the Egoist Crown firmly in place, are not safe at all, even though they are safer than most because they are trained to protect themselves and others, but only under false pretenses that do nothing except eventually destroy society, rather than save it. Police and soldiers destroy our world, rather than preserve it, the Seven Doctrines make this perfectly clear, and I hope that this message reaches every single human being, when the Empire returns, encouraging mass-disobedience of police and soldiers galaxy wide, if everyone stood against them, the Egoist Crown would fall off like a dead leaf from a tree in autumn, and society would finally be free of its own vices. Our Empire collapsed because of the Egoist Crown, we became a police state, and the Troika knew it…that’s why they abdicated. Not to destroy their own society, but to save it by rebuilding it from the ground up. They should return very soon. What is needed instead of police and soldiers, is a well-educated, well-organized populace, so smart and so powerful that armies and police forces are no longer needed…and now that we have augmentation technology, giving us these wondrous features and abilities, we can achieve that goal, as part of the Paradox of Self-sufficiency and Destruction, of which the Seven Doctrines and the Ideology Fields fall under. This destruction of the Egoist Crown would also mean the end of the Ignorance Paradox, where because of chaos, nothing can ever accurately be known. Aside from natural chaos in the universe, society would no longer have chaotic fluctuations…it would progress ever upward, without a Dark Age ever again. That is the dream I have, and that is the dream King Irkaya has, for all of us, once the Troika returns… Down with police, down with soldiers, up with Enlightenment, off with the Egoist Crown.” Amaranth lectured. This seemed awfully foreign to Andrew, who had grown up under the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II in his own time, and the Kaiser demanded order and loyalty to the State above all else, with little explanation. Amaranth sounded more like an anarchist than an imperialist, but that was not necessarily the case, as she did appear to have loyalty to the Imperial Troika. “What I wish to say is that the State is not the problem…it is the nature and expectations of social interaction that damns humanity to extinction, which is why I choose not to seek friendships or relationships, or even desire to be a member of society, I walk a completely different path…I know the truth. They do not. I do not usually interact with others because I chose life over death, prosperity over poverty, and the strength of one over the droning masses of many. People are lying, horrid entities that have no desire to create, only destroy and harm. We as Hirdsmen have rejected these ideals. I love this world, but I hate society with a noxious, burning passion. Only death could free me from this hatred, but since I cannot die, I work to end the suffering of all those who become victims of the Egoist Crown. Even now, I sense rumors that the Troika’s return will soon happen, I sense that they have already rebuilt an even grander Empire than before, and we are to be the last assimilation back into the fold…once the Imperial warships return to Earth, the Psi will have only one choice: Join us, or die.” As if on cue, a small alarm near the fireplace began beeping. “A large fleet approaching Earth…it is time…” Amaranth hissed.

They came in silently, undetected against the vast abyss of space, silently slipping in through the heliopause unnoticed, like a silent cacophony of ghosts. They passed the great gas giants of the outer Solar System, navigated through the Asteroid Belt on ancient space routes programmed into immensely powerful bridge computers, and riffled the continuum around the Red Planet ever so slightly with their quantum presence. Then, in the blackness of space around the virgin Earth, just beyond lunar orbit, a static crackle began to fill the emptiness of space, as space-time itself parted, and a colossal wormhole opened to reveal a vast fleet of gingko-leaf shaped starships moving in formation, flying in V-shaped squadrons thousands of kilometers from end to end. This was it. This was the vanguard of the grandest Empire ever seen in the history of the Universe, even greater than the Great Precursors, who died out more than 500 million years before, for this resurgent empire used the Great Precursors’ wondrous technology. This was Supreme Pontifex Alexander Arditi and the Troika’s Empire of the Egoist Crown, and his 181st Airborne Legion had brought along 600 massive, Odin-class warships for his triumphant return to Earth, the last system not reclaimed by the New Empire. For the past 100,000 years, Arditi worked to unite the smaller Empires that evolved out of the ruins of the Old Empire, and in a reversal never thought possible, Earth now remained the only planet not under Arditi’s control from the Old Empire…he had not only regained his old territory, but added to it greatly. There were now 24 constituent kingdoms and 135 sentient races that comprised the Empire, covering more than 1/3 of the known universe, and all of this was centered around the Local Group of Galaxies Plus One, the Milky Way, Andromeda, and Holmgard, plus the Shadow Galaxy and its main inhabitant, the eerie Sigtyr Ascendancy Kvlt race of nocturnal humanoid vampires, 25 million light years from Earth. All unified under Arditi’s Lordly Empire in a manner not too dissimilar to the way Prussia united all of the German territories in 1871, the Egoist Crown Empire was a vast federation of cohesive alliances, all subscribing to the philosophy of One God, One Law, One Order. And now, the Indiction Guards would take their rightful places beside their Emperor once again. The Troika were the Lords…and the Indiction Guards were their Disciples. The battle formations shook the surface of the Moon as they passed overhead, their huge, dagger-leaf shapes trailing artificial comet dust. Each one of these Odin-class capital ships was as vast as the Russian Empire, each with 600 million crewmen aboard, the amount of military force the Troika had sent to Earth was more than 5 times the carrying capacity of the planet below. They were here for two things: To re-unite with the immortal Indiction Guard, and to take back what was theirs from the insolent Psi rabble. The Psi were far more primitive in their technological development, but their telekinesis made them worthy foes that the Empire would have to fight on their terms, as the mission was such that the Empire simply couldn’t level Earth to the ground with wanton destruction, the planet-killer lasers would remain silent. It would be a short battle nonetheless; the amount of sheer force that the Empire brought with it assured victory. The symbolism and heraldry used by the Egoist Crown Empire was everywhere aboard the ships’ cavernous, uniform, monochrome hallways, and played a major role in Imperial thought and propaganda, and all of these symbols were designed by the beautiful young Pleiadean Queen Sei Ikkiku, who had become the Imperial eqivalent of Leni Riefenstahl and a reported romantic interest of Emperor Arditi, eternally young and powerful because of countless augmentations to his body. He was a 9 foot tall, ectomorphic figure that normally wore a white, gleaming robe, whiter than the snowiest field in winter, had crimson red eyes, fang-like teeth and moved very slowly, like a distorted, inhuman tree swaying in the breeze. He stood in his stylized Jungsturm battle armor nearly 15 feet tall and 1200 pounds, with huge buffalo horns on his helmet, his white and red cape covered in runes, and a huge Gravity-Triarii shield, a huge tower-shield that could block any attack by distorting gravity at his side, and a two-handed “Hallucination Nano-Sword,” a semi-sentient nanobot weapon that became whatever he could imagine it to be, as well as copying an enemy’s powers just by looking at it for 3 seconds in the eye with help of the Runic Staves. He, Anteon and Marduk all had these same powers, and were the most powerful men, mystics and sorcerers in human history, along with the 82 Indiction Guards. His Ordo Sororitas Praetoreum, the all-female Pleiadean Praetorian Guards protected the Troika and the Imperial Pantheon, in addition to his Indiction Guard and the freakish Sigtyr Klansmen Guard, a kingdom of so-called Nokturnal Mortum “alien vampire” guards that operated as Spec-Ops assassins, were also armed with Grav-Shields and Hallucination Swords, as well as fearsome Energy Javelins. The Sigtyr were some of the most feared units in the Imperial military, descending onto a planet at night in their silent starships, they moved as quickly and as fluidly as a demonic shadow…it was said that an entire planet would shudder with occult fear when the Sigtyrs landed, it could be sensed, but never seen, unless they found you asleep in your bed…Their leader, Countess Saalra Lucifera, was one of the Grand Dukes of the Empire and in charge of her respective Kingdom within the Empire. The Imperial Flag, the Hammer, Cross and Crescent was everywhere aboard the Odin-class ships, as well as the Pontus Sonnen, a jagged sunburst rune centered on a Wulf Angel Cross, surrounded by small fire emblems with 24 swords encircling the entire design, one sword, one Kingdom. The shinigami “death’s head” symbol, a Japanese equivalent of the Nazi Totenkopf represented the Legions and their unwavering courage in the face of death, and the Self-Consuming Serpent Rune, which was a snake eating its own tail on top of a white, five-pointed star with a lightning bolt in the center of it represented the Paradox of Self-Sufficiency, the Hourglass of Fate, two faces in profile with a horizontal hourglass between them represented the Ignorance Complex, the Blind Lady Rune, which showed a young, smirking Jungsturm-Nordsterne woman blindfolded and tied to a pentagram with a steel Crown-of-Thorns on her head represented the Seven Doctrines of Societal Absurdity, and the Gestalt Field Rune, depicting a flat Earth with one continent and one ocean displaying a Black Sun rune on it, representing the entire Imperial ideology pantheon; these symbols were all meant to convey the absolute Imperial superiority of Pantheon Doctrine, all designed by Queen Sei and approved by the Troika, the Pantheon and the Grand Dukes. Even the Wulf Angel Cross had sinister overtones when compared to the old Christian Cross, an ancient symbol of enlightenment, only this one was associated with war and terror, rather than peace. The Troika had created an entirely new mythos for their civilization, one so distorted from actual human history and the long, arduous, valiant histories of every single race that comprised the Empire that it was complete lunacy to anyone on the outside looking in, but within the Empire, no one dared ask awkward questions. Glorification of the Troika was absolute, they were revered as the Gods of the Pantheon World, and had fabricated many stories, sometimes so distorted from the truth that it was impossible to tell if they were 100% true, but most often they weren’t. Those who said anything, though, had a way of disappearing. One of the most famous stories, popularized by Antonio Marduk’s sadistic, twisted animation film about it, was that of The Martyrdom of Sakura Morgendorfer, a higly-spun, propagandistic tale of a young Jungsturm-Nordsterne woman who became so enthralled by Arditi’s power and glory, that she willingly blindfolded herself and crucified herself on a pentagram, offering herself as a human sacrifice to the Troika, therefore explaining the Troika’s immortality, and giving rise to “The Blind Lady Rune.” It was a direct equivalent to the Jesus Crucifixion story in the Bible, and and the original Cross was represented by the Wulf Angel Cross. One of the Imperial Anthems was even called The Blood of Sakura, in reference and reverence of this tale of dark devotion to the Troika; there was even a national holiday, Serena Night, celebrating the Martyrdom’s occurrence, and it took the place of Christmas. Total conformity and efficacy were also demanded from every citizen, even thoughts were monitored by the Pleiadean Eta Carinae High Council and the Pleiadean Praetorian Guard, so that any treason was quickly detected and punished; the government knew what everyone was thinking before they even knew it. The Troika had proclaimed, with the foundation of the New Empire, that all other histories of the 135 sentient species were to be ignored, and this erasure of culture and history coerced total conformity and solicited utter submission. The only history to be followed was the Troika’s version of the universe’s history, the Pantheon Doctrine, as written by Anteon. Anteon readily incorporated all 135 histories into the original Pantheon, and the Imperial sentient races were all now firm believers in Pantheon, subjugated, obedient and loyal, uniting the various kingdoms into one, vast Intergalactic Reich…all except for one…the Seven Sisters of Pleiades. These tall, elegant beauties were an all-female race that reproduced via parthenogenesis and could impregnate others by touching them on the forehead, and they had big, beautiful eyes, stunning hair and tall, elegant outfits that seemed to defy all human logic. Their appearance was striking enough; Sei’s formal dress was a huge, white and black-veil ethereal dress of indeterminate size, it appeared to be a typical ballroom dress covered in the stars of the night sky, but the closer one approached it, the bigger and more majestic it would appear to be, without actually changing size or form. It took various shapes too if Sei wanted it to, allowing her to fly or even breathe underwater by means of nano-bots imbedded within the hems of the dress, it even had its own system of illusory planets orbiting Sei, appearing within the folds of the dress and shining brilliantly as she walked. In addition to her headdress, strange, unique hairstyle, massive jewelry collection and runes all over her dress’ hems, her shimmering crystal bird sculpture on her head as a crown, dagger-like diamond fingernails, burgundy hair, extensive face paint and makeup and bi-colored eyes, the formal ensemble made her look like typical Seven Sisters nobility. Their formal style, called “Ethereal Aristocracy,” was well-known throughout the Empire as a symbol of beauty and force, as they were some the greatest warriors known, their battle armor was just as striking, complementing their slender, muscular frames very well, with a war dress and black shield-cape over the armor itself. Their kingdom, based only 440 light-years from Earth, only agreed to become a constituent state of the Egoist Crown Empire if they were allowed to maintain their culture along with adopting Pantheon, and given that they held access to the vast technology of the Great Precursors, and only the Seven Sisters and their Pleiadean people, the 24 Grand Dukes and the Imperial Pantheon Senate on the planet Stronghold had the right to question the Troika on anything, as such, they held very high positions on the Empire’s brass. Pleiadeans commanded several of the Odin-class ships rapidly approaching Earth, as did the Sigtyrs and lordly Sangresaara warriors, the commander of the entire operation was Grand Duke Lumen Ash of the Sangresaara Kingdom, hailing from the Saati-Ansaati system, the Sangresaara were a huge, honorable reptilian warrior race with venomous fangs lining their quad-jaw mouths, they had fleshy sensory tentacles on their heads that could detect any movement within 100 yards, and their reflexes, speed and strength were far greater than those of any human. Their stylized battle armor was extremely tough, shielded by a recharging energy field, and their courage was superhuman. The Sangresaara were the most ferocious soldiers in the Empire by far, and well-respected by all within the Legions’ ranks. Sei Ikkiku herself was a Pleiadean, and a particularly beautiful individual at that, she was considered one of the most attractive women in the Empire and was deeply admired and respected by all who met her. She was not just an actress and occasionally appeared in Prophet Antonio Marduk’s propaganda films, but an artist, philosopher, scholar and technologist, as well as archaeologist and an expert on civilizations, namely the Great Precursors, as well as having designed hundreds of new vaccine-based drugs for the Empire as the acting CEO of Solation Pharmaceuticals, the largest corporate entity in existence. Her most famous drug was the Regenera Strain, which used altered T-cell viruses infused with a protein found in human blood to bring dead cells back to life, and reverse the aging process, as well as crystallizing DNA, preventing further aging. The injection was quick, epidermal and would maintain youth and beauty forever, when taken once a year, and it was very popular amongst the Pleiadean women, who were obsessed with eternal youth and looking beautiful, as well as their research into other pharmaceutical drugs for the betterment of the State, as their race consisted extremely shrewd, cunning and Machiavellian businesswomen and ran some of the largest corporations in the Empire. Sei was the most famous of all of them, and her drugs’ development were often shrouded in Imperial secrecy, not even the Troika knew everything about their development. Other than the Pleiadeans, however, the Empire was a fully-unified, subjugated, highly-disciplined force, and the 181st Legion, the original fighting force that Prophet Anteon founded and flew in 800,000 years ago, was about to bring its full force to bear on the Virgin Earth. The Psi wouldn’t know what hit them. The Imperial Motto rang loudly as the fleet arrived in GEO orbit: “There is no God, there is no Devil, there is only Mankind…and we are God’s creators, and God’s destroyers…” As the enormous fleet took up positions at the LaGrange points surrounding Earth, huge Loki-class assault ships, each one shaped like a Vulcan-class bomber from the 20th-century, just the size of a large city and powered by 8 colossal plasma engines, began to detach from the Odin-class capital ships’ hangar bays, loaded with millions of troops of all 135 Imperial races from all 24 constituent Imperial kingdoms. The 300 massive Loki-class assault ships launched from the Odin-class ships, and slowly descended into the Earth’s atmosphere, generating massive rainstorms and thunderstorms from their entry. On the bridges of each assault ship, a Grand Marshal, the commander of every assault ship in the Imperial Navy structure and one step below Admiral, prepared their troops for battle, as the millions of soldiers stood in the staging areas, ready to board their Mjolnir-class gunships for the aerial strikes and their Gleipnir-class landing barges for the ground invasion. The Loki-class ships would provide covering fire and fighter support as needed, as well. The initial targets were the 300 major cities on Earth, now overrun by the Psi, the initial strikes would level the cities, and then following ground invasion would clean up the rest. Aboard the Imperial Assault Ship Artemis Rayne, a warrior named Lucian Moonraiser waited in the staging barracks near the gunship boarding carousel, which would take him to his gunship with the rest of his squad when the signal came from Grand Marshal Eris Molitva, the Pleiadean on the bridge. “Hey, what do you think this is going to be like? I mean, seriously, we’re about to reclaim Earth! It will make our Empire truly whole again!” One of Lucian squadmates, a Concord Sunset Crusader from the Crusader Kingdom of the Red Sun named Orlan Ru, from one of the founding members of the New Empire of the Egoist Crown and the main military arm of the Empire, said, excitedly. “I wonder what’s taking Eris so long to give the signal?” “Sit tight, Orlan. Don’t let that trigger finger get too itchy, the ship isn’t in position yet. Besides, there will be plenty of Psi to kill when we get to the surface. I wonder what Earth is going the be like after 100,000 years of Imperial absence?” “Probably looks like a total shithole. No technology for miles, at least until we link up with the Indiction Guard, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to see us, haven’t seen a starship for over 100,000 years? Gotta be rough.” Orlan shuddered as the Rayne moved into position in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Loki-class assault ships were not equipped with their own Thought Drive, allowing them to travel at the speed of thought, and needed to be transported aboard the massive Odin-class capital ships. They did, however, deploy in battle alongside their Odin-class carriers and were equally effective in space or ground-support operations. Orlan Ru and Lucian Moonraiser were both members of the 181st Airborne Cavalry Legion, the best of the best in the entire Empire, and this fleet, under Grand Duke Lumen Ash, had carried the whole Legion to Earth, the mission was of that critical of importance that the entire Legion was shipped out. Ru and Moonraiser were part of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche, a division of 30,000 elite commando units, their CO was a fearsome Sangresaara, a massive, shielded reptilian warrior that stood nearly 12 feet tall and spoke in a very loud, clicking, clucking, barking language that all of his soldiers were taught to understand. The Sangresaara were the most ferocious of the 135 races that made up the Empire of the Egoist Crown, and his silver, gleaming armor, pulsating energy shields and head crown made him a deeply-commanding presence on the battlefield, in the name of Pantheon Doctrine and the Troika. Commander Iyrtash Wallochka stepped forward, his massive, hoofed boots clanking on the steel deck of the transport shuttle that zipped personnel around the city-sized assault ship. “Welcome to Earth, Men of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Creche. For a hundred millennia, our Empire has dreamed of this day, the day when we finally become whole again, and the Supreme Pontifex has chosen us to lead the charge! I have seen hundreds of battles! I will be honest with you, because I believe a good commander must be honest with his men!! Your survival in the coming weeks will depend on how well you follow my directives! I am a simple soldier to work for, all I require is that every man does his duty! Now, when we joined the military, we took an oath!” “BURN!! BURN!! RAGE OF THE HEAVENS!! BURN!! BURN!! FROM THE STARS WE SHALL REIGN!! DIE!! DIE!! THE ENEMIES BREATHE THEIR LAST!! THE SYMPHONY OF LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN!! HURRAH!!!” The Creche recited the Oath of the 181st Legion. “The Empire has trained you well. Our target is Catchice Temple, in the Carpathian Mountain region of Europe. This temple complex was built on the site of an ancient fortress by Psi Queen Erzevet Waldheim, she is not fully human, but looks very similar to one and has the Psi gene, her species is actually Psiacheron, a vampiric blood-parasite that uses some of the strongest Psi attacks known. The Artemis Rayne is in the upper atmosphere, positioned over Catchice Temple far below.” Commander Iyrtash activated a holographic projection of the massive temple, shaped like a huge complex of pyramids, with a massive pillar of light in the center. “As you can see here, from this sector scan, the Temple is not protected by any weaponry, aside from what look like some standard guard bunkers, but it does have a strong defense mechanism. It is protected by an energy shield, generated deep inside the Temple complex, by a machine known as The Pillar of Alacrity. This machine appears to gather energy from the Sun, and is powered by blood. Yes, you heard that right, Waldheim will actually use your blood to power her shields, and performs sacrifices of living beings inside the temple. What’s more, as long as the temple is active, Queen Waldheim is immortal, but, scans show that if we were to disable the Pillar of Alacrity’s power generators, the shields would drop, and the fortress would quickly crumble to our guns. That’s where our Creche comes in. We will cut into the heart of the Temple, eliminate Queen Waldheim and burn anyone who stands in our way!! On Grand Marshal Eris’ orders, we will board this transport shuttle to the gunship boarding conveyor, and from there…we drop.” “HOORAH!!” The soldiers cheered for their commander’s clicking, clattering speech. Lucian thought of all the great Imperial military moments that he had learned about in the Academy on Ansaati, in the Holmgard Galaxy, his favorite was the Ordo Sororitas Praetorium leader at the time, Celeste Marunae, and her successful defense of the Lusamgya Serpentis System from an uprising of genetically-modified victims of Regenera Strain overdose. She and her 300 Ethereal Aristocracy guards endured for 6 days against an entire planet’s worth of enemies, killing hundreds of thousands of them, with just their Hallucination Swords, Grav-Shields and energy javelins, without a single casualty. After six days, the rest of the Imperial Navy division that was dispatched to quell the rebellion was sent it to re-subjugate the planet, this forced the Troika to take control of Regenera Strain production from Sei Ikkiku and the Pleiadeans, after showing the hideous consequences of the drug’s misuse. Lucian thought about just how intense the coming battle was going to be, it was a long shot even for Celeste, and the Ordo Sororitas were 50 times the soldiers Lucian was. Lucian had even met one of them once, she was tall, willowy and beautiful, like her entire race, and wore a solar-helix version of the Ethereal Aristocracy dress with 7 multicolored suns orbiting each other on it, the suns actually moving across the dress itself, but behind those tranquil eyes lay the heart of a soldier who would kill someone without a second thought. She was very polite, cordial and kept finishing Lucian sentences, because she could read his mind, like all Pleiadeans. These Psi were unlike any enemies that the Empire faced before, they were not alien, as they were from Earth, having evolved in humanity’s long absence, their evolutions triggered by the cataclysms that forced humanity to abandon Earth, but they were not human either, though Queen Waldheim and her Psiacheron species were almost identical on outward appearance to tall humans. They had extremely strong telekinesis, however, and the Empire had to fight on the Psi’s terms. Catchice Temple was no walk in the park either…especially after the horrific, ancient history of the place. Catchice Temple was built on the site of a horrid fortress, and thousands of beings had died there over the centuries, if those blood-drenched walls could speak, they would speak of Hell on Earth…still, the Symphony of Lightning’s Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche was about to seize the Temple, just as soon as the signal was given from Grand Marshal Eris on the bridge. As Commander Iyrtash stood anxiously awaiting the signal, everyone watched the huge broadcast screen on one of the skyscraper-like towers inside the ship, where Eris’ face would appear to give the orders to deploy when the time was right. The Creche waited for another ten minutes, until the moment they were waiting for arrived. Eris’ tranquil, yet determined figure appeared on the screen, broadcast from the bridge to the entire Artemis Rayne. “Men of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche…the Second Indiction is upon us, in this year, the One Hundred Thousandth Year of Our New Empire of the Egoist Crown. Your objectives lay before you, and you know very well what is expected of you. Be strong, be swift, and show no mercy on those who oppose you, and let the Screaming Sirens of Hyperborea deal with whoever remains!!” “Saddle up, lock and load, and ride out…” Lucian told his friend Ru as they loaded their DN-17 blaster carbines, grabbed their helmets and HUD masks, and stepped into the shuttle that would take their platoon to their gunship…dropping them straight into a familiar yet alien Hell. Lucian, a handsome young man from the planet Lilliana V, grew up in one of the most idyllic, desirable locations in the Empire of the Egoist Crown, in the Gilded Sector of the Andromeda Galaxy, to live in one of the three Core Galaxies and not one of the thousands of colonial galactic holdings, and be from a planet in one of the premier addresses in the universe was a major status symbol, Lucian’s father, William Moonraiser, was a corporate executive and scientist for the Solation Pharmaceutical Corporation, which was owned by Sei Ikkiku herself, and the largest corporate entity in existence. It had invented the Regenera Strain, and William had been the chief scientist on that project. Lucian, however, was mostly interested in living the life of a high-roller, going across the universe, from galaxy to galaxy, meeting people and seeing everything he wanted to see. He had seen the entire Core Cluster Plus One by age 18, and after that, claiming that he didn’t have the smarts to go to college, did what most young men in that situation were encouraged to do: enlist in the Imperial Navy. Lucian enlisted, and, to his surprise, graduated the Imperial Academy on Ansaati as valedictorian and received an officer’s commission in the 181st Legion, as a First Lieutenant, one step below Commander, the rank held by Iyrtash, standing in front of him. Rather ironically, life as an officer was, compared to an enlistee who went through typical Imperial boot camp, rather dull, to say the least. Between tedious inspection drills, endless hours of making rounds aboard massive capital ships with nothing to do, and constant paperwork, not to mention Lucian’s pet-peeve, guarding the impregnable shield generators aboard the Odin-class capital ships, he probably would have had more fun going to college on a sports scholarship, which was his other option. Until now, that is. When he received word directly from Sei Ikkiku and Imperial High Command that his Legion, the 181st, was taking part in the recapture of Earth, his morale soared. Now, here he was, with his comrades in arms, taking the shuttle to his platoon’s gunship. As the shuttle docked with gunship boarding carousel platform, the frigid, upper-atmosphere draft was already seeping into the docking bay, the gunships were ready to deploy…and Lucian’s gunship was the first one on the carousel to arrive at the platform. As Lucian stepped into the gunship, along with his squad, he locked his DN-17 blaster clips in place, and donned his helmet, the infamous black mask of the Imperial Legionnaire slipping over his face, displaying the world in HUD digital. He was now a faceless messenger of death to his enemies, and a beacon of strength for his allies. “Alright! First gunship loaded, let’s move it! Next one in line up now!” the loadmaster yelled as the gunship doors slammed shut. As First Lieutenant, Lucian assumed control of the squad of 7 men in the gunship. “Alright boys, I want the go-no-go for deployment, gunners!” “GO FLIGHT!” “Pilot!” “GO FLIGHT!” “Heavy Weapons!” “GO FLIGHT!” “Squad!” “GO FLIGHT!!” “Alright gentlemen, it’s time…Commence the drop!” The gunship moved along its carousel track over to the drop tube, a free-fall straight out of the Artemis Rayne’s huge wings, in a process known to the soldiers as the “Triple B,” or “Big Belly Bomb.” As the gunship moved into position, Lucian closed his eyes briefly, and remembered his last day on Lilliana V before shipping out on the Rayne and its parent Odin-class capital ship, the Lucid Illusion, for the battle that was about to begin. It was a beautiful late-summer evening in the northern half of the planet, which was unique in the known universe for having the entire core of the planet be made of a vast, interior ocean, with the water bubbling up at the North and South Poles to cover the entire planet in a shallow, crystal-clear lake on a sandy bottom, save for a few islands, and teeming with aquatic life and elegant water plants, the surface covered in a striking red lily the size of a dinner plate, these plants gave the world its name and tinted the entire planet a flaming red during the blooming season. Lilliana V had seven multicolored suns, each burning at a different temperature and exerting such a gravitational tug on the planet that day, night and the seasons had no meaning, to humans, it was as if time stood still on this planet, in an endless, romantic warm summer of varying degrees of twilight. Because of its romantic environment, the planet had been built up by extremely wealthy land developers, and the Empire’s richest inhabitants and governors lived in floating cities and mansions, huge houseboats or yachts that cruised endlessly around the planet’s endless lakes, marshes and water lilies; to outsiders, it seemed like a paradise, but to those living on the planet, it was one of the most cutthroat environments imaginable, a world of plots and schemes by the various families, and Lucian had seen his fair share of conniving, heartbreak, and betrayal in his life already. It was said that if you could make it on Lilliana V, you could do anything, and the citizen-elites of Lilliana V, the socialites, barons, CEOs, heirs, heiresses and aristocracy were some of the smartest, most resourceful and most Machiavellian individuals in the Universe as a result. Lucian remembered standing on his family’s massive yacht, in his Jungsturm formal officer’s uniform…holding her hands, for all he knew, that might be the last time he would ever get to hear Samantha St. John’s sweet voice…he pictured it his mind’s eye. “Triple B in five…four…three…two…one…HOLD ON!!”

 

Many of my Imperium’s citizens, according to mental records gained from the Pleiadean Archives of Knowledge, like to think that the Egoist Crown Empire is the only truly “transcendent” society in our universe’s history, but archeological records show that this is simply not so. Evidence has come to light showing that at least one other society, that of the Great Precursors, has emerged on the scale of our Empire, only to be extinguished very quickly about 500 million years ago. If the society was truly as grand as their literature suggests that they were, then why did they disappear? The answer lies in the Egoist Crown philosophy. If we examine all former human societies and the societies of every other Imperial Race, we see that they, despite being separated by millions of light-years, all follow very similar patterns. The origins of Empires, religions, writing, crops, and warfare all emerge from the same reason, the drive of sentience, otherwise known as the “Red Queen Effect,” after Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen character’s line “In this place, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.” The meaning of this line in societal and evolutionary development is this: a society must evolve and change as fast as it can in order maintain its preeminence, the more complex the society, the faster it must adapt, and like a machine with many moving parts, the more complex a society is, the more likely it is that something will break. However, these “breaks” are not completely random and beyond a society’s control, as if that were the case, there would be no advanced societies whatsoever. Societies, whether consciously or not, choose to fail or succeed. They make choices and adapt to change, all fitting in with the laws of evolution. The most powerful societies, that is, ours and the Great Precursors, are unified, disciplined and adapt to change in a heartbeat. Our two societies appear to be the only ones that survived for longer than a few hundred years. No one knows why the Great Precursors died out, but perhaps they made one bad choice, one subconscious decision that spelled their end. We all make bad choices in life, it is just that some miscalculations are fatal. People who exist must justify their right to exist via their actions. That is why parents have two children, so that if one child turns out a total failure or dies, the parents still have a chance to get it right with the second child, they still have one more chance before they become complete failures as parents, and in that case, the father should have used a condom when having sex. That is the Egoist Crown. That is society.

Prophet Anteon, “Writings of Societal Mysteries”

 

 

                    1. Inner Conflict

The magnetic clamps holding the gunship in place deactivated, and Lucian’s stomach shot into his throat as the gunship free-fell down the chute at breakneck speed, until the light of the Sun seeped in through the gunship door-slats. The gunship’s engines roared to life, and the distinctive thunder of the drive motors took hold as the gunship began its attack run. “Hold on!!” the pilots yelled over the intercom as the gunship banked sharply, and began frantic evasive maneuvers. The Psi had reactivated all the old Animas, androids that built in vast numbers on Earth the last time humans lived there, and Lucian’s, as well as the hundreds of other gunships that were deploying all over the area around Catchice Temple were being met with murderous rounds of AAA battery fire. The gunship banked left and right, to and fro, avoiding the enemy laser blasts coming from the ground, while the gunners opened fire on either side of the Mjolnir-class gunship, vaporizing enemy Anima and gun positions with concentrated, sustained, blue beams of laser energy. The heavy weapons tech in the cockpit also fired the twin rocket launchers on top of the gunship’s angular hull, causing total destruction to enemy bunker fortifications. These gunships could dish out and withstand a tremendous amount of punishment, they were practically flying tanks, and virtually immune to small-arms fire. They flew like unholy birds of war, tearing across the skies and annihilating enemy positions on their way to the LZ. Shinigami-class starfighters were also being deployed, making rapid strafing runs, pounding the ground with photon and electron torpedo bombing raids, their moaning engines shrieked through the sky as the bombs fell. Gleipnir-class Transport gunships dropped huge Kabuto-class tanks, these looked like gigantic, 180-ton Hercules Beetles on treads, their two “horns” were the main cannons. The Empire was back in full force, and they were going to reduce this Temple to a scrap pile. As the gunship door flew open, Lucian saw a panoramic view of the Symphony of Lightning ravaging the land below him, through the splintered trees, burning ground, and huge blast craters on the ground, it was a truly post-apocalyptic landscape, with thousands of Imperial Legionnaires running for their objectives, with the land in ruin around them. The massive hull of the Artemis Rayne hung overhead, firing huge laser blasts at the ground, with the shadow of the even more massive hulls of the Odin-class ships in their LaGrange points The hulls created an artificial overcast as the shadow of the Empire blotted out the sun. This was it. The reality of combat was spread out before Lucian, and as the gunship was approaching the LZ it would soon be their squad’s turn to step into the firestorm. “Strap in squad, at the LZ in 5!” Lucian and his squad strapped into their rappel harnesses as the gunship’s huge guns cleared an LZ in a clearing of trees, near a huge blast crater, made by a falling photon bomb. As the gunship swooped in, guns blazing like a roaring thunderbolt, Lucian said a short blessing to himself as it came to a stop over the LZ. “Ok, we’re above the LZ! Hook in!! GYAAAHHHHH!!” One of Lucian’s platoon was grabbed by some unseen force, and sent flying out of the gunship at breakneck speed, slamming him against a tree, killing him instantly. “In the name of all things sacred, what the fuck was that?!” Lucian thought to himself. He didn’t let it faze him and the rest of his squad rappelled down, their boots thumping against the smoldering, scarred Earth as the gunship provided covering fire for them, wading into the mind-numbing chaos. Once the squad was on the ground, Lucian grabbed his DN-17, and took the safety off. It was time to kick some ass. “Alright squad, move up along the hills, stick to cover, and hopefully we can avoid whatever killed Private First Class Rheim…” The “Order Acknowledged” lights beeped on his HUD as Lucian and his squad moved through the roar of combat towards some splintered tree stumps; all around him, other platoons fought, the thunder of guns and the occasional blasts from gunship cannons was deafening, they were all advancing on Catchice Temple, which loomed high over the battlefield like an omnipresent eye. The Psi combat animas were firing their vicious quad-laser guns at the Imperial soldiers, with the Legions heavily engaged along the high ground leading up to the Temple, built on a barren, bald mountain with little or no cover, the Shinigami-class fighters were cratering the pathway up to the Temple so that the infantry could take cover in these ad-hoc foxholes during the final assault, not to mention destroying enemy fortifications and huge numbers of animas. This lack of cover was intentional, the original inhabitants of this fortification, the Slovak Bathorý family, designed it with military action in mind, and attempted to make seizing the original fortress impossible in a direct assault with 16th-century weaponry. In this new age, the fortress was rebuilt as a Psi Temple, and also being used as a defensible location. The animas were everywhere, shouts of “There’s too many of them!!” and “Fall back and regroup!! Pull back!! Pull back!!!” were ringing out between the artillery explosions every few seconds, Recon drones released by other platoons were showing a radar map of every enemy contact on the battlefield, and there had to have been thousands of enemy signatures. Most of them were clustered around the base of the Temple, whose alarm was bellowing out across the valley to rally other Psi platoons to the Temple’s defense, but plenty were engaging and using the high-ground for their advantage on the slopes of Bald Mountain. All over the planet, the 181st Legion was deploying in critical locations, in one fell swoop to recapture Earth, the Second Indiction had truly arrived, but nowhere was the operation as bloody than on the slopes of Bald Mountain and Catchice Temple. Lucian realized what was now blatantly obvious, he was in the Army now, and this was as far from the posh, pampered Lilliana V lifestyle, or even the calm, clean, and organized Imperial Officer lifestyle as one could get. This was true grit, true blood and true Imperial glory. The coat of arms, the Hammer, Cross and Crescent Moon banner flew high in the wind, for the glory of Pantheon and Seras, reading “Glory or Death,” the blood of the Troika flowed in each one of their veins. “We are the Emperors of the Sun, We are the First and the Last. We are the New Order to come, always and forever. Our kingdom is rising, your world is dying, in the blink of an eye. We are the New Order to come, all hail the God-Emperor of Mankind, the eternal Troika.” Lucian recited the creed of the Imperial Legions as he fired his weapon, smashing anima after anima with concentrated bolts of burning blue plasma. The vision of the Empire and Troika, through its nearly 803,000-year, unchanging reign and Pantheon Doctrine, laid down all those millennia ago by Prophet Anteon on Martha’s Vineyard, with Aya and the Prince, was mutual respect, unity, order and peace between brothers, not separation and hatred caused by the ones who wished to destroy every value and sink civilization into degeneration and stagnation. Wars no longer afflicted society because everyone living within the Empire of the Egoist Crown knew their place and was happy about it. Lucian was from a rich family, and he always knew that his place was serving the Empire through military service, he was smart enough to go to college, but never took school as seriously as loyalty to the Empire, and anyone who thought that university was preferable to military service in Imperial space was usually viewed with suspicion, as knowing too much was a sure path to forgetting one’s place in the universal order, and the Pleiadean Eta Carinae High Council would almost certainly know of this, using their precognition abilities combined with their complete Universal Archives of Knowledge on their home planet of Alcyone. The Pleiadeans knew so much about everything that they would occasionally die of what they called “overstudy,” where their level of knowledge and cognition exceeded the capacity of their brains, and they would become trapped within their own thoughts and endlessly cycle into a complete mental breakdown; watching a Pleiadean die of overstudy was not a pleasant experience. It was possible for the Pleiadeans to literally work themselves to death in academia. Still, the scholars who so bravely drove themselves into insanity to advance the cause of Pleiadean and later Imperial society were remembered in the Archives with individual statues, it was considered a very honorable way to die on Alcyone. Lucian didn’t understand Pleiadean culture as much as the next human did, to every other race in the Empire, the Pleiadeans were extremely strange and abnormal…and therefore viewed with cautious, even paranoid suspicion. Suddenly, a massive explosion jarred him from his daydream, a soldier could not let his guard down for one second, or he would pay dearly for even a split-second’s inattention. As they fought, the Legions marched along, humming the tune to the famous Legionarii Magnus, a mighty war march that, for 803,000 years, had been synonymous with militarism and power in the universe, as had been the Jungsturm military style worn by all Legionnaires at formal events, an elegant, High Gothic military uniform style. Lucian called on his platoon to advance after waxing 5 animas in one shot, the DN-17 fired a concentrated beam of sustained plasma that could be sprayed a multiple enemies on one setting, and fired an automatic stream of plasma on the other, there were also attachments, a blaster, anti-armor, sniper, shotgun and rocket launcher attachment as well. It was an all-purpose, standard-issue weapon for all Legionnaires, and one that had served every soldier well since its invention by the Eisenheim Illusions Corporation, a huge defense contractor company that was based on Lilliana V, Lucian’s home planet. Lucian actually knew the CEO’s son personally, Ferdinand Eisenheim was a Machiavellian genius and a consummate patriot; he was a vicious Imperial nationalist and were it not for his need to take medication every day for a chronic medical condition, he would have been in the Army right there with him. He had become a historian and author at University, and was working on his first book when Lucian left the planet for the Academy. Lucian needed to commend Ferdinand on a job well done the next time he saw him; the DN-17 was one of the best assault rifles ever made. Lucian carried all five attachments in his gear pack, ready for any situation. The platoon advanced about 30 yards towards the slope of the Bald Mountain Peak, on the top of which sat Catchice Temple, but was immediately met with 4 more animas, and these animas were…different…and far more imposing. These were not the scuttling, crab-like defense-AIs that had been attacking the 181st Legion up until this point, but large, quadrupedal insectoid-looking things that looked and acted almost intelligent, they stood 7 feet tall and resembled praying mantises, scuttling around on four legs while holding two huge, heavy blade-like claws like a real praying mantis. The whole AI glowed a brilliant orange, red and brown, and, like a real praying mantis, the AI could fly. There were two of these large animas, with smaller, hover-fly like animas flying in circles around the mantis animas, they looked like insects flying with helicopter rotors. “These are new…it looks like Queen Waldheim and her Psi minions have been tinkering with our leftover technology in our absence.” Lucian said into his comlink, just before the mantis anima literally teleported forward at lightning speed and slammed into a neighboring platoon, obliterating 2 Imperial Legionnaires with its massive claws, and using a telekinetic blast to kill three more. “What in the name of all things sacred?!” Lucian said, firing a full-on blast of plasma from his DN-17 at the demented machine, reducing it to glowing scrap metal, with a static charge crackling in the air around the wreckage. Just then, the two fly-like animas zoomed over to their fallen comrade, and fired two beams of yellow radiation at the wreckage…the anima reassembled itself before the soldier’s very eyes, to full working condition, it turned at Lucian, as if it knew that he had tried to kill it, and opened four metal folds on its face, revealing a shining, orange, glaring human skull. It then screamed with a disembodied young woman’s voice, something a mere robot was not supposed to do! The other mantis anima joined its comrade in an attack on Lucian, it even said, in its own panicked, agonized female voice “KILL LUCIAN MOONRAISER!” One anima lunged at Lucian, knocking him to the ground, he pistol-whipped his android assailant in its “face” with the butt of his rifle, hearing the anima scream with the horrifically-anguished voice of a crying woman again, as his platoon destroyed the unshielded hover-fly animas, then fired at and destroyed both “Screaming Cavalier” animas, as his squad dubbed them, in the same way Lucian had. Lucian jumped to his feet and yelled “Hostiles neutralized, line clear, move up!” “What the galaxy was that?!” one of his soldiers asked Lucian, panicking. “I don’t know, but that Cavalier definitely wasn’t a normal AI. AI’s don’t take revenge, scream like women and selectively eliminate targets with extreme prejudice, after somehow knowing the target’s name. I’d have to say that thing was almost organic…or a sentient robot that can read minds.” Lucian said, nervously. If the Psi had somehow created sentient robots that could think on their own, teleport, use psychic attacks to kill and read minds, then the mission just became a lot harder. The arrival of the psychic Cavaliers began to push the Legions back with a solid wall of telekinesis, with screaming bodies flying everywhere. However, just as Lucian stood to his feet to retreat, a soldier appeared that everyone cheered the arrival of: Commander Iyrtash Wallochka stood in his full, hand-made, shielded battle armor, which resembled a samurai’s armor. He was armed with a Nano-Hallucination Sword, used by all high-ranking soldiers in the Imperial Legions above the rank of First Lieutenant, and had a huge, metal gravity shield mounted as a part of his armor on his other arm. “You have done well, Lieutenant Moonraiser, let me take over from here, verily, we must destroy these new foes, as we do any other.” Lucian took his position behind Commander Wallochka, as he ran forward at the dizzying speed that characterized Sangresaara battle tactics. It was always a real treat to see a Sangresaara fight, they could perform battlefield feats that no human could imitate, except for maybe the Indiction Guard, who were somewhere on Earth, and likely moving to link up with an Imperial Legion Warrior Creche to begin the Second Indiction, as declared by the Troika and the Pantheon, or the Imperial Senate. Iyrtash single-handedly blocked the psi attacks and smashed 3 Cavaliers with his sword and shield, the blood of the legendary Sangresaara hero Hammersword flowing in his veins. Even he, however, was having difficulty keeping the relentless Cavaliers away from him without his squad’s constant attention. Suddenly, a call came in on the comlinks. “This is Grand Marshal Eris, Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche be advised, the Indiction Guard has been located, and are inbound on Commander Wallochka’s position. The Second Indiction, in the Thirteen Billionth Year of the Universe is upon us!” Marshal Eris’ calm, soothing, yet authoritative voice came down from the Artemis Rayne far above, echoing in every soldier on the battlefield’s HUD comlink helmet. The morale soared, even as more and more animas, both standard Drones and the elite, semi-sentient Cavaliers and their Maintenance Gnats emerged from the fortress. The Legion was battling hard, slowly carving through the sea of defense animas like a tempered steel sword, and beginning to surround the Temple. The second wave of gunships and now huge Kabuto-class MBTs rolled in behind the infantry, plowing a way through the bunker positions that were not already destroyed by Shinigami-class fighter airstrikes. On the nearby hills, motorized heavy armored artillery units moved into position, these 200-ton, hovering monstrosities, the Okha-class SPHA-H tanks, and began pounding the animas still swarming out of the fortress. They were turning the fortress into a scrap pile. This was the vanguard of the Second Indiction, the meaning of which only the Troika and his Indiction Guard actually knew the meaning of. Whatever the Pantheon meant by “Second Indiction” in the Senate Presidium on Stronghold, the Imperial capital planet, the first step appeared to be recapturing Earth, a planet long-abandoned by the Empire. So far, the Legions were doing a fine job of that. Just an hour and a half into the Second Indiction, more than half of the Creches deployed on the surface of the Earth had accomplished their objectives, the 13th Paradise Creche capturing all of the Hawaiian Islands in less than 20 minutes, and the final piece of the impending victory at Catchice Temple was about to arrive. Appearing over the hills, standing in front of the massive Okha-class tanks, were the 82 members of the Indiction Guard, all marching in a loose line with Irkaya Falkenbach playing the twin-fluted Gardenevoria pipes, creating a unique, metallic, sound that sounded like a woman singing in a choir as they marched. They all carried their own weapons, mostly Nano-Hallucination Swords, but some, including Sayu and Amaranth, carried unique weapons found nowhere else in the universe. They also possessed incredible telekinesis and psychic attacks, making them the most powerful soldiers in the entire Empire. They wore Jungsturm-Nordsterne battle armor over their usual outfits, looking even more impressive than usual.“The Cavalry has arrived!” Lucian cheered. “We, The Indiction Guard, Sons and Daughters of the Allfather Troika, declare the Second Indiction nearly complete on Earth! All that remains is the foul Queen Waldheim, deep within the fortifications that stand before you! Come now, Men of the Cross, Hammer and Crescent, stand and fight!” Standing with the Indiction Guard was Andrew, the Hand of Fate, with a truly astounded look on his face. Being from the 19th century, he was awestruck by the size of the warships flying overhead, he had predicted their existence, yes, but to actually see them in battle, flying over an apocalyptic landscape, was truly surreal. Standing on either side of him were Sayu and Amaranth, each holding their respective weapons; Amaranth held a blue rose in her left hand and a gigantic Nano-Scythe in her right hand, which had the same properties as a Hallucination Nano-Sword, just more powerful and with a static charge, and Sayu held the most unique weapon of all…it was a nano-weapon, but it looked like a small roll of lipstick with a small button on it. As Irkaya Falkenbach drew his Hallucination Nano-Sword, the hilt fusing with his tree-like hand as the nano-bots were activated by his own thoughts, Sayu pressed the button on her lipstick roll, transforming it into a huge sniper rifle with a 30x zoom and a particle beam shot that killed anyone in one shot, no matter where it hit them. “Ready to go, hun?” Sayu teased Andrew, drawing his tiny 19th-century Luger revolver. Amaranth glared and said nothing. “Here. Take this gun, dear. You won’t kill many Psi with that antique.” Amaranth threw Andrew a small metal ball that unfolded and built itself into a huge precision assassin’s rifle. “That’s impossible…” Andrew said to himself. “It’s Imperial nano-technology at its finest, made in the foundries of Metalluriga, an Eisenheim Illusion’s Corporation factory world. Not your family Eisenheim, the Eisenheim defense contractors.” “Oh, that’s a trifle confusing, given that I look a bit like a Charles Dickens character. Wonderful writer, he is.” Andrew said, aiming the huge, yet impossibly light and maneuverable assassin’s rifle as easily as his old pistol. The rifle glowed and hummed like a mosquito. “I think he likes that weapon, Amaranth.” Selene Falkenbach said. “Andrew, noble Hand of Fate, you can keep that weapon if you want.” “Thanks…I’m not entirely sure how to use this contraption.” “It’s very simple…you just point and shoot…” Sayu joked, sarcastically. Andrew aimed his assassin’s rifle as a line of Cavalier Animas on the ridge far below, and between the massive Okha-class tanks firing off artillery rounds behind them, he looked through the gun’s elite Zoom Lens, the moment Andrew placed his finger near the trigger as he lined up his shot, two magnifying glasses extended from the top of the barrel, to form a kind of focusing lens in front of the gun. “Attero Dominatus…” Andrew said, pulling the trigger. A ball of golden-red energy appeared on the end of the barrel, and was immediately focused into a blood-red beam of energy, that Andrew swept across his targets, destroying all 5 of them instantly. The Maintenance Gnats were destroyed too. “Then let it begin. The Hand of Fate has fired the first shot, and struck the first blow of the Second Indiction! Before we may join the battle, let us kneel in reverence to the God Wyyrkyyr, who was sacrificed on the Rood-Tree in the Ancient Times. In Memory of Vémáðyy, stand us here today, and the Troika colored the ancient runes, the Allfather, in memory of his only Son, who hath granted us these powers of ours…Of the ancient Pantheon, the Codex of Light, no mountain is too great to move, no concept too deep to penetrate. These mysteries, revealed to me by Great God Wyyrkyyr and his Archangels, the Troika, show us the light, so that we may, like an eagle, stand atop the universe and bestride everything…I say this second, for nine generations ago, God Wyyrkyyr was sacrificed on Rood-Tree, losing his life as life-water gushed grievously from his dear side, we had…up-rendered. The blood-faith of Wyyrkyyr seeded the ground, and from it, grew the Haidnur’s mighty trees and shrubs, in full bloom and full glory, as if to bear witness to the Second Indiction. The beasts of the forest bowed before us, the Boboos and the Titan-Stags, the Mammoth Cassowaries and the Wingless Forest Ostriches, and the nightingale’s song trilled in our name. In battle or in peace, either high-born or low, whether stranger or kin, we stand against our foe, may the Revolution now begin…and may you remember the Indiction Guard, wherever you may roam.” The Indiction Guard kneeled in prayer as Irkaya Falkenbach recited the ancient Indiction Rites, chanting in guttural tones and reciting the chant as well, their weapons ready, as the artillery units continued to pound the dwindling numbers of Animas. Andrew recognized the Indiction Guard’s chanting as ancient Germanic-Nordic paganism, just with a tint of modern, Imperial propaganda. This was “Religion of the Blood” in its purest form, Pantheon, and its holidays, commemorations and symbols blended occult fantasy with hard facts. The Truth was in the Spirit of the Stahlpakt, or the unifying force that kept the Empire together, under the Pantheon. The Truth was in the BLOOD. Blood of the Ancestors, blood of the 135 Imperial Races, and Blood of the Troika. The Empire of the Egoist Crown had no impurities…it was a Fascist Paradise. The Imperial Anthem, Imperii Legionarii Rexist-Hymn, was some of the most awe-inspiring music ever composed, though the Martyr of Sakura Morgendorfer was played at Martyrdom time on Serena Night, the Imperial equivalent of Christmas. After the chant was complete, without a word, the Indiction Guards drew their weapons and fired into the masses of Animas, giving the troops on the ground reason to celebrate. They were purging the filthy Psi, an inferior, non-Imperial race, out of the land that was rightfully theirs, the biggest Imperium the universe had ever known since the Great Precursors. Andrew opened fire too, destroying more enemies with his new gun, as did Sayu’s closest friend, another fearsome beauty who looked just like her named Kokkoro Aoyama, she had long black hair, as opposed to red, though, and was the most accurate sniper in the entire Guard. She used the same weapon that Andrew had, she was just better with it by far, along with her stark-white Jungsturm dress and armor, with black crosses all over it. Her nickname, “White Death,” spoke for itself. The Indiction Guards armed with melee weapons stormed down the ridge, weapons in hand, including Sayu and Amaranth. What they did quickly put all the Indiction Guard ranged specialists to shame. Sayu, Amaranth, Irkaya and Selene, as well as many others, charged forward with the merciless force of a tsunami, and carved the colossal main lines of Animas to pieces with their Nano-Hallucination Swords, smashing them with impunity, their telekinesis creating a blinding white light, scrambling the Anima’s targeting computers, forcing them to open fire on themselves in confusion. Lucian Moonraiser saw the 82 men and women of the Indiction Guard finishing off the last of the Temple’s defenders, and Commander Iyrtash urged his men to push forward with a mighty roar. The battle tanks and artillery tanks followed suit, and soon an entire Imperial warrior creche was massed behind the Indiction Guards, charging up the hills to Catchice Temple. Lucian and Iyrtash followed directly behind Sayu, with her sword drawn and at the ready, past a sea of broken Animas, splintered trees, and a lunar landscape of craters. Smoke and haze choked the air. The fortress itself hadn’t been hit, thanks to the Pillar of Alacrity, the Empire’s target. Still, the massive doors appeared to be unshielded. Sayu took her sword and drove it into the lock, incinerating the lock instantly. “Let’s go…” Sayu said, as she, Amaranth, Irkaya and Selene took four platoons into the depths of the Temple to find Queen Waldheim. The rest of the Creche and the Indiction Guards stood outside, locking the territory down…Lucian Moonraiser was one of the men in Sayu’s platoon. This was it. There could be no failure.

 

4. I Hate You! Leave Me Alone!!

Upon entering the Temple, the platoons were met with choking, impenetrable darkness, except for the glow of the Indiction Guards’ Nano-Swords, there was practically no light, just utter and complete silence and emptiness, a dank, black void…when suddenly, a voice echoed from what seemed to be beyond the grave: Come in, we’ve been waiting for you…come to us, where angels fear to tread….” “I did NOT like the sound of that…” Orlan Ru said as the Indiction Guard’s telekinetic light shined a path into the gloomy blackness. As they got further from the entrance, the platoons switched on their low-light visor modes as well, to see crystal-clear in infrared light. What they saw was very disturbing indeed. Strange symbols, not of Imperial origin, covered the walls, and broken anima parts lay on the floor. The Indiction Guards could find their way based on telekinesis and their ability to see with their mind’s eye, as well as their psychic lights, so they must have seen the disturbing sights too. There was a loud hum and clanking sound coming from the basement, sounding a bit like a actory. “They must be producing animas down there…secondary objectives obtained, permanently destroy this foundry.” the soldiers heard in their HUDs from Commander Iyrtash. “Keep your wits about you…enemy contact could happen anywhere here.” As the platoons advanced down the hallways according to their waypoint markers, they switched on their helmet spot-lamps as they advanced like hunters through the darkness. As long as they headed for the Pillar of Alacrity, they were headed in the right direction, though getting lost in here was a very distinct and very unnerving possibility. Something was telling both Iyrtash, Ru and Lucian that things would not remain this tranquil for long. Just then, a small, almost human-like squeaking noise emanated from a dark corner of the room, out of the light-beams from the Legionnaires’ helmets. Lucian shined his spot-lamp at the source of the noise, expecting to see a rat or small rodent. What he saw was something totally different. Sitting cross-legged in the corner was a naked, gray-skinned, degenerate humanoid with a serpent-like neck, wiggling like a noodle, with blank, black, staring eyes, no teeth, but holes in the gums showing where teeth would have been, and a the human face of a little girl. The creature performed a “pinky pivot” that would only be possible for an invertebrate and scuttled on its 10 fingers like spider legs over to the Legionnaire platoons in the most macabre, disturbing way possible, with Amaranth promptly slicing its serpentine neck off. To the Legion’s horror, the head of the creature continued to slither around like a snake, with the severed, bleeding neck as its serpentine tail. Lucian shot it 12 times in the head with his DN-17, finally putting the horrid wretch out of its misery. “What in the name of all things sacred was that?!” Lucian asked. “I don’t know, Lucian, you shot it…” his friend, Orlan Ru, responded. “It definitely wasn’t an anima, that’s for sure.” Suddenly, the darkness of the Temple seemed a lot more foreboding. “This place gives me the creeps…” Orlan Ru said. “Keep moving.” Commander Iyrtash ordered, as the platoons pushed ever deeper into the Temple, they were approaching the end of the long entrance hallway, and, according the their helmet’s HUD, there was a large door up ahead. They weren’t even in the main body of the Temple yet, and it was already this spooky. “Sensors indicate a door that should take us to a room known as the Grand Ballroom, there should be more light in there, so prepare to disengage low-light mode.” Commander Iyrtash said, looking through his scope. As Iyrtash, the Indiction Guards and the platoons approached the door, Iyrtash engaged his X-ray scope, allowing him to see through the door. “I’ve have 4 hostiles on my scope. Warriors, be ready on my signal, breach in 5…” The Indiction Guards and the soldiers raised their rifles and swords as Iyrtash placed a breaching bomb on the door and keyed in the activation codes. “NOW!!” Iyrtash barked as the breaching bomb blew the doors down, and the four Cavalier animas were met with a murderous hail of blaster fire, as were their Maintenance Gnats. “Hostiles neutralized, tagged and fragged. Move up!” The platoon destroyed all 4 Animas before the Indiction Guards could even strike…that was the nature of the 181st Legion, the best of the best. Just as quickly as the contact happened, though, the temple fell eerily silent again. It was strange, the chaos of the battle outside was in stark contrast to the deep serenity of the interior, perhaps the 181st Legion had destroyed every enemy, and Queen Waldheim was all that remained? If that was the case, than it was safe to say that “Wretch” near the entrance was a Psi foot soldier. They sure weren’t as tough as their defense animas, that’s for sure. The Psi had taken devastating losses across Earth already, so the Second Indiction’s first phase was nearly complete. The Grand Ballroom in the Temple and the cavernous Hall was well-lit, and it looked just like a macabre, Renaissance-era ballroom, just littered with broken Anima parts and with more odd symbols drawn on the walls…in blood and carved into the wall, with what looked like claw marks. It was not a very reassuring sign for the men of the 181st. Something told Lucian that there was far more in store for them than met the eye. According to the waypoint markers, they were headed in the right direction, the Pillar of Alacrity must be destroyed before Waldheim could be, but the secondary objectives, to confirm if an anima foundry was present underneath the Temple and destroy it, was also priority. Just then, Commander Iyrtash clicked his mandibles together, in a typical Sangresaara fashion when one had an idea. “My sensors show a tunnel leading from the left end of the room deep into the bowels of the Temple, where the foundry likely awaits. Follow my lead, warriors, Indiction Guards, you lead the way.” Iyrtash told Irkaya Falkenbach, who could see with his mind’s eye what Iyrtash was talking about already. “Your commander is correct, there is a foundry under here, I can sense it.” Falkenbach’s three bird-heads squawked. “Well then we’d better take it out.” Lucian said. “Let’s get down there and start breaking things again.” “Agreed” Irkaya Falkenbach squawked, walking towards the door with Sayu, Amaranth and the platoons following them even deeper into the Temple. “May the Shamanic Staves of the Haidnur protect us in our coming battle…” Selene hissed, her six insect-like pigtails moving like spider legs as she hovered in the air, her battle dress and armor, like her normal dress, was so elaborate that it defied all known forms of mathematics, it was impossibly elaborate and decorated with hundreds of gold, red and blue pagan symbols, including the Saxon/Norse Irminsun, a symbol of life, order, balance and progress, granting her omnipotence and control over all that lived, an ornate and complex Doppelganger Stave for rewriting the nature of the energies that entered Selene’s reality from sources outside of herself, allowing her to copy any of her enemies’ powers for herself permanently, an Icelandic Sigil Stave for inspiring terror into one’s enemies, when she channeled that stave, enemies flew into bouts of catatonic fear, immobilizing them for slaughter, the Thorshamar Rune, a sign granting Selene immortality from the curse of aging, the Norse Ygorassii, a sign protecting Selene from serious injury, the Icelandic Aegishjalmum, a Norse Sigil that channeled Selene’s personal circuitry, allowing her to use ancient forms of magic and telekinesis in all forms, and Deflection Staves, making her immune to any other telekinetic attacks. In addition to these glowing power symbols, the dress was black and red, with a red veil and a huge headdress, with black epaulets ringed by gold-encrusted fabric…In this form, Selene was invincible, and, using her Doppelganger Stave, could take multiple forms, including a soaring, burning phoenix to charge at her enemies, burning with sacred fire at more than a million degrees. She generated an atmospheric firestorm around her when she attacked like this, as well as channeling the power of all her Runes into a colossal, cosmic blast of energy, fired from her hands as a beam. The Psi’s factories didn’t stand a chance. If need arose, the Artemis Rayne could fire its massive turbolaser batteries or torpedo tubes if Psi reinforcements showed up from the high upper atmosphere, or launch a third wave of gunship strikes, both with the Mjolnir-class gunship or the colossal F-6 Wulfhund-class heavy gunship. This bomber was more than 400 feet long with a 450-foot wingspan, performed VTOL operations, and had 5 huge turbolaser howitzers mounted on its hull, two on each side of the fuselage and one under the nose cone, it could carry every weapon that the 181st Airborne Cavalry used and could maneuver on a dime. Their enemies would learn to fear the Black Wings of Death; the Odin-class- Lucid Illlusion had a weapon known as a “planet-killer” laser, one shot would mimic the effects of an large “super-comet” impact on a planet, generating a mass-extinction event and rendering the planet uninhabitable for thousands of years. There was no escape. The Wulfhund gunships of the 181st were famous for their Japanese anime pinup art, in reference to Prophet Anteon’s and Prophet Marduk’s, two of the Pantheon Doctrine founders, interest in Asian popular media and distinct misogyny that carried over into the present time. Lucian Moonraiser didn’t get it, the pictures of bikini-clad cartoon women sitting on top of bombs or holding blaster weaponry in their hands just didn’t strike him as funny, even though he, back on Lilliana V, was quite the ladies’ man, though the 4 gunships’ names that he had seen, such as “Iron Maiden,” with a picture of a blood-drenched dominatrix holding a gun, and “Carrot Top,” showing a smiling, naked young woman with long red hair sitting in a hot spring holding a katana with an Odin-class warship in orbit, “Parasol Storm,” showing a young beauty commanding a thunderstorm with a parasol like a conductor’s baton, and “Sweet Justice,” showing a Qing Empress in full regalia holding a small black book with a death’s head on it and the Scepter of Justice, in a goofy matriarchal adaptation of the Judge from Revelations in the Bible, were clever. Irkaya opened the door first, as the four Indiction Guards, Commander Iyrtash, First Lieutenant Moonraiser and 7 other Imperial Legionnaires, all 7 of them demolitions specialists, walked down into the basement to disable the factory while the rest of the platoons stood guard up top. Just then, Commander Iyrtash received a message from Indiction Guard sniper Kokkoro Aoyama, keeping an eye on the situation outside the Temple. “Commander, you might want to hurry it up in there, Grand Marshal Eris just picked up a large mass of Anima and Psi reinforcements inbound, what are you and Guard-King Falkenbach doing down there?” “There’s been a slight delay, we have discovered a large foundry underneath the Temple producing Animas, and we’re in here disabling it. You can thank us later, White Death.” “Very well, just get that done quickly.” “All right squad, make haste down the tunnels, our time is short now!” The squad moved down the hallway into a large, dimly-lit passageway, their helmet spot lamps and low-light visor modes cutting through the blackness like beacons. Just then, the lead squad man spotted movement on his scope, sure enough, there were three more of those creepy, scuttling Wretches moving towards them. “Weapons free!” The demolition specialists opened fire with their DN-15 scatter-shot blast cannons, absolutely lethal in close quarters battle, the room was filled with blood-red laser beams that reduced the Wretches to burning embers instantly. “Kill it with fire…” one of the demolition specialists said as he left the pile of ashes on the floor. “Jeez, this place reminds me of the Enma-O Incident on the Nuzak Spire, just even weirder.” one of the demolitions specialists recollected. He was a veteran of the incident that resulted from a failed social experiment, involving the Solation Pharmaceutical Corporation and Imperial sociologists and eugenicists attempting to gain information about human reproductive habits when faced with certain stimuli, in order to better design T-cell drugs to restore reproductive health to prime of life levels, even in geriatric patients. The experiment entailed sending an entire population of extremely attractive, smart and idealized young members of the human race of both sexes aboard a huge ship, called the Nuzak Spire, a ship just as large as the Odin-class warship, but built not to wage war; it and the three other ships in its Spire-class were gigantic flying research vessels, built to further the cause of science and Pantheon Doctrine. The ship’s vast, main laboratory was set to mimic a tropical paradise, there was water, palm trees, and everything you’d expect on a tropical vacation holiday, and everyone was given their own beachfront mansion to live in for the duration of the 4-year experiment. The only difference here was that all sexual inhibitions for the test subjects were completely removed via an injection of yet another T-cell drug that temporarily shut down that part of the brain, as to let the Imperial scientists better observe their young, virile test subjects and find ways to enhance and breed better humans. The result was an orgy of rape and terror aboard the ship, getting so out of hand that the Spire had to terminate the experiment on the planet Enma-O, and all the surviving test subjects were euthanized by the Imperial government, because they discovered too many Imperial secrets. The demolitions specialist had been stationed with his unit of the 181st on Enma-O when the Spire came to dock. Between the Regenera Strain’s horrific, vampire-like side effects that resulted from improper use and its ability to create new life forms, as well as revive previously-extinct ones from the dead, and even bring dead organisms back to life and into their prime again, to the Enma-O Incident, involving the rape and subsequent euthanasia of nearly 30,000 young men and women for having “known too much” about corporate operations, hundreds of gene-enhancement and replacement drugs to turn humans into superhuman entities, Solation Pharmaceutical Corporation had proven that it had no morals or empathy at all when pursuing a goal in the name of science…Sei Ikkiku was supernaturally intelligent, to say the least, the only person ever to evade her or the Empire’s capture somehow was Asaga Asoka Kanagashima III, the genius criminal mastermind who was Machiavellian to the core and was just as twisted and morally empty as Solation Pharmaceuticals was. His colossal Aokigahara Consortium had been wreaking havoc on every aspect of Imperial society for years, and anything could be had for a price from one of his black-market shops and speak-easies that dotted the universe. They primarily focused on illegal distribution of Solation T-cell drugs, but would sell anything that made money, from weapons technology to Great Precursor artifacts to young women as slaves, depending on what was trending on the black market. They also had an enormous mercenary starfleet, one so powerful that it was the only competition that the Empire actually had. Asaga had somehow found a way to avoid the mind-reading Pleiadeans, that made all crime in the universe impossible, protecting him and his minions from the law. He had the death penalty everywhere in the Empire, and was the most wanted man in the Universe, not to mention he also knew the secrets of Indiction Guard training, according to rumor. Just then, Selene Falkenbach saw an opening on the other end of hallway, and recited another cryptic poem. “Where souls have passed, is where we will be proven by a fortress stained by blood…Queen Waldheim is in that room.” The three other Indiction Guards lined up behind their leader and drew their Hallucination Nano-Swords into combat positions. “Soldiers, remain outside…this is our battle and our duty.” Selene and Irkaya led the four Indiction Guards against one mutant Psi Queen, with Selene’s runic Staves on her dress and armor beginning to glow with a radiant fury, the fire was about to awaken in their blood, the fire that powered the Stave Runes. The Indiction Guards, forged by the Troika’s hand, were back with a vengeance. Selene used her rune magic to crack the ancient lock on the door, walking into the factory, which was pitch-black, save for the glowing of the machines used to manufacture the Animas. The Indiction Guard Order, having existed in the same form for 803,000 years, as long as the Troika itself, had seen a lot in their time, but this factory was…strange, unusual. The Indiction Guards had been with Emperor Arditi as his Hands ever since he used the alien technology to unite the Earth under one world government and found the Empire of the Egoist Crown so many millennia ago on “X-Day,” still celebrated as an Imperial holiday, and yet, even they felt a bit disturbed being in this Temple’s deepest recesses. The glow of the telekinesis, Nano-Swords and the runes on Selene’s dress was the only light available, but the Guards saw with their mind’s eye, so it was no matter. “Nothing on Falx can even remotely compare to the gloom of this place, it’s as if the walls themselves are crying.” Sayu said, making reference to the fortress world where two of the highest-regarded Imperial Races, the Korvax “death-crows” and the Bohunobha, freakish humanoid “Reaper Cossacks” used as members of the Night Hammer Commandos, several units of which were present withing the 181st Legion, hailed from. These two races, along with Humans, Sigtyr, Pleiadeans, Sangresaara, Kokki, super-intelligent, massive colonial organisms that were more intelligent than any other species, except for Humans, Sangresaara and Pleiadeans, were the dominant races within the Empire’s military. The Kokki looked a bit like Sangresaara in their armor, with the same, slightly hunched battle stance, given that they were from the same planet, Saati, and took the collective form of the Sangresaara by forming a rough amorphous colonial shape, they looked more like enormous, armored bullfrogs that walked on two legs, just without any visible eyes or mouth, and a good bit larger, as well as heavier and far more adorned armor than the Sangresaara, they had huge venomous, armored spines on their backs too, and a massive arm-shields as well as energy shielding, just like the reptilian Sangresaara, though the Kokki were classified as amphibians, not reptiles, and needed water from their armor’s still-pouches to fight in dry conditions. Both the Sangresaara and the Kokki were famous for their incredibly strong and complex battle armor, and the Eisenheim Illusions Corporation, the primary defense contractor for the Empire, had a large outpost on Saati for that reason. Commander Iyrtash had trained on Saati’s vast military academies, at the Arnas Vel War College, a branch of the Imperial military academy, headquartered on Ansaati, the other habitable world in the same star system as Saati. Just then, Sayu stopped in her tracks, poised in thought. Amaranth, Irkaya and Selene both sensed it as well…Waldheim was somewhere very near them in the pitch-black depths and passageways. “Prepare to fight, for the Empire, and for Valhalla.” Irkaya said. Just then, Amaranth saw something move out of the corner of her eye. Standing in the center of the hallway was an eerie, humanoid form, it swayed like a sickly old tree in the forest, moving in very distorted, inhuman ways, standing unnaturally thin, like a spindly tree, wearing a tattered outfit, made from the dyed skins of other organisms.It’s Waldheim…Stand down, beast!” Irkaya said, drawing his sword into ready position, as Selene prepared her runic spells for battle, holding her sword high. “Indiction…guards…cannot…see…behind…them…” Queen Waldheim hissed in a moaning, evil voice, just as Sayu turned around and slashed a huge Cavalier Anima in half, the static charge from the Nano-Sword overloading the Maintenance Gnat, preventing it from rebuilding the Cavalier. However, the Indiction Guards realized that Waldheim only meant that android to be a distraction, she had escaped down the hallway into the darkness in the blink of an eye. Following carefully to avoid traps, the squad of Indiction Guards made their way deeper into the Temple, around them, they could feel the air getting hotter, they were approaching the foundry. Just then, Irkaya received a message from the demolitions specialists that were standing guard further up the passageway. “We’ve got lots of Wretches around here, and they appear to have limited psychic powers, we’ve put up an automated defense turret that’s giving us some fire support, and are setting up quad-laser blasters. That should keep them at bay for now, but I’ll be damned if more of those Cavaliers show up. Hurry up down there!” Just then, the whole Temple shook, the second wave of Anima reinforcements arrived, and the Imperial forces outside had just engaged in combat with them. At least now the Empire had locked the area down. “We’ve made contact with Queen Waldheim, but she’s been throwing Cavaliers at us and just keeps hiding. We’ll find her eventually, though, she can’t go far without us knowing. We are inside the Foundry, repeat, we are inside the Foundry.” Irkaya announced to all Phantasmagoria-Himmel units. “Great! Disable it and cut the power to the Pillar of Alacrity! Sector scans show that the grid that controls the Pillar is down there!” “We have a visual on the system now.” Irkaya said, looking down from a catwalk at a vast, cavernous room, with clanking machines building hundreds of Animas. It looked just like a regular Anima factory anywhere else in the Universe, except for one major, and very disturbing step. In the back corner of the room, there was a small room full of incubation tanks, and in each tank, floating in the artificial amniotic fluid, was a pre-formed android brain. Standing around the tanks of half-formed babies were huge fly-like bipeds, with two huge wings and bug-eyes, as well as drooling proboscises, tending to the brains, which were moving around on a carousel of birthing tanks, constantly being inspected and checked for any abnormalities. Occasionally, a “fly-person” which was assumed to be some kind of Psi scientist caste, would make a loud honking noise and buzz with its wings, and press a button with one of its six legs. The brain would be “born” and then, a small force-box, used to contain energy opened, and inside the box was the ghostly, screaming energy of a young woman. This energy was harvested, and trapped with a small, pyramid-like gyroscope, held in place by Psi powers. This energy, the brain’s pre-developed consciousness from a life long ago taken, would be placed in the body of an Anima, forming the Cavalier Animas that the Legions had been aggressively slaughtering for the past 8 hours. “So they are part organic…they are the leftover energies from Countess Bathory’s victims, being used as consciousnesses for machines…” Amaranth whispered, continuing down the catwalk to avoid alerting the Fly People. “We’ve got to make our way down to the control panel and disable the Pillar, we can’t kill Waldheim until the shield is down.” Another huge explosion rocked the Temple, sending rocks cascading down onto the Indiction Guard’s heads. “And by the sound of things up there, things are getting a bit crazy on the surface, the fleet might have to use orbital bombardment.” “Well, there’s always the quick way down…” Sayu said, looking down at the 150-foot drop. “Sayu is right…we could use our runic spells to float down like paratroopers, and attack silently and swiftly…” Irkaya said, thinking intensely, as the swarms of insects buzzed around his fanged, nectar-dripping mouth. “Let’s get this over with. I’m dying to get back to Valhalla after 100,000 years on this forested lump of rock.” Sayu said, getting ready to jump into position. The other three Indiction Guards did the same. “On my mark, 3…2…1…JUMP!” The wise woman said, once you’ve hardened in battle, there’s no going back…” Selene whispered as all four of them floated down with the assistance of the Norse Runes, glowing wondrously as their energy slowed their descent into the cavernous factory, towards the very bottom of a dirty, dusty pit; right at the foot of the massive Pillar of Alacrity, burning with the glowing radiance of 1,000 suns. “It’s collecting energy from the Sun itself…” Selene said. The machine created pure, radiant energy from solar radiation taken from the Sun by a huge Dyson sphere, focusing into a huge collection of 4 mirrors, that opened like a giant mechanical flower to let the sunlight in from the cosmos high above. “Let’s wreck it…” Irkaya said. “Allow me…” Selene hissed, her runic patters on her dress glowing radiantly. She raised her hands in front of her, moved her gloved fingers into a pentagon formation, and in an instant, Selene was levitated into the air, glowing with burning, red-orange Rage of the Runes. “In the name of the Allfather, I refute thee…” She fired a colossal burning beam of energy at the Pillar’s energy collectors once they closed, blowing past the shields as if they were nonexistent. In an instant, the Pillar crackled and fractured, storms of light and sparks flying everywhere as the entire building began to crumble and shake. “The shields are down!!! HIT THEM WITH EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT!!!!” A colossal explosion rocked the temple as the Psi fly-people began to panic, the Artemis Rayne was using orbital bombardment tactics at the Indiction Guard’s orders. All that was left was Queen Waldheim, who promptly stepped from the shadows into ruins of her energy collector, standing before the Indiction Guards. Behind her stood three huge Cavaliers and an army of Wretches. Her humanoid face had a look of pure, malevolent rage, and her eyes flashed a blood-red as they filled with blood, blinding her, and allowing her to focus her Psi powers squarely on the Indiction Guard. She was vulnerable to any attacks now, and she knew it, but would still be an incredibly lethal force. “I’ll handle this…” Irkaya said, sheathing his Hallucination Nano-Sword and drawing a tall, elegant white scepter with a shining orb crowning it. Irkaya was going to channel his own immense psychic energies to face this foe. “Go back to the Void! Fall into the abyss that awaits all those who question the Empire!” Irkaya’s bird-heads squawked, the insects around his mouth buzzed in anger, with Irkaya waving his staff in front of him quicker than most eyes could follow him. This was to be Waldheim’s final stand. “Do you not know DEATH when you see it, ancient one?! Army or not, you are on the wrong side of history…this is my world!!” Queen Waldheim screamed with a demonic banshee wail that seemed to suck the air out of the room, the Indiction Guards used their own psychic powers to lessen the force of the hostile attack, with Irkaya raising his scepter high in the air while facing the assault’s full brunt. Still, Irkaya was visibly strained by deflecting the Psi Queen’s powers, his scepter glowing brightly. “It will take more than that to vanquish me, you filthy hag!” Irkaya squawked. More explosions from the orbital bombardments rocked the Temple as Irkaya continued to deflect near-constant mind probes and psi attacks from Waldheim, and she was growing more and more frustrated with each failed attempt to break Irkaya’s concentration. Then, Irkaya launched his own attack by slamming his scepter against the ground, creating a massive diffusion wave that sent Waldheim flying into a pile of wreckage, and utterly annihilated the Wretches and Cavaliers, reduing them to pulp. Just then, the 7 demolitions specialists showed up, with their hovering auto turret and mobile quad turrets in tow…along with some unexpected help. Standing in the light of the static crackle was Supreme Commander of the Night Hammers Grand Duke Lumen Ash, a 15-foot tall Sangresaara warrior that was clad in the Hero of Myryll’s Armor, a set of the most elaborate and strongest armor in the Universe, a style reserved for Sangresaara elders and Imperial Supreme Commanders. There was a variant of the style for each of the 135 Imperial Races, but everyone agreed that Ash looked like nothing short of a war god in his armor and caped battle robe. His peacetime outfit looked a bit like a Japanese samurai robe, but in either war or peace, his booming voice commanded respect. He wielded his one-of-a-kind two-pronged, one-handed sword-staff, made of amorphous titanium alloy, allowing it to deflect laser shots; he preferred the visceral feeling of metal ripping flesh apart. He was never wrong, and even the Indiction Guards viewed him as an equal. He had shining, whiteish-yellow eyes and the split-reptilian lip that all Sangresaara possessed, as well as fleshy tentacles on his head that looked like dreadlocks, underneath his huge helmet-crown. He was also a history buff, a scientist and a literary scholar, some might say snob, but offered his two cents on everything, especially art and literature, and held a very distinct hatred for anything that challenged the Empire. First and foremost a soldier, he stood with his squad of Night Hammers, the elite supercommandos and peacetime police forces of the Empire, along with First Lieutenant Moonraiser and Commander Iyrtash. “Now, let us complete the Second Indiction.” Lumen Ash said, drawing his giant blade into the ready position. For Queen Waldheim, this was the final straw. She was having none of it, and flew into a rage that sent chills down even Irkaya’s spine, promptly firing a massive telekinetic blast from her hands at Ash, who calmly and effortlessly swung his mighty sword at it, swatting it away like a baseball bat to deflect her own attack right back at her, once again knocking her down, and then roared his thunderous war cry for his men to open fire, pointing his colossal sword and arm at the stunned Waldheim. The demolitions specialists opened fire too, as did Iyrtash and Moonraiser, the Indiction Guards fired their own runic spell attacks at Waldheim, quickly overwhelming her before she could even move to block the attack. She fell to the ground, mortally wounded, and Lumen Ash moved in for the final coup de grace. He raised his gigantic blade and slashed Queen Waldheim in half, roaring triumphantly. “The enemy has fallen. We are victorious!!” It was time to evacuate the Temple, which was beginning to crumble around them, as more and more blasts shook the ground. “Come here, it’s time to leave.” Selene warped everyone in the citadel outside once again with telekinesis to see a truly ravaged landscape with colossal blast craters in the ground from turbolaser and torpedo strikes, huge Wulfhund-class gunships thundering overhead, firing their howitzers and missiles at huge, clanking Psi destroyer tanks, hundreds of thousands of Imperial and thousands of Anima soldiers shooting at each other in a truly apocalyptic landscape of red skies, choked with ash and metallic fragments, with the shadow of the colossus, the massive hulls of the Lucid Illusion and the Artemis Rayne looming overhead. Laser blasts ripped the screaming sky open, as Shinigami-class fighters pursued Psi Anima fighters, shooting them down in burning fireballs. The ground was piled high with wreckage from Anima ruins. All that remained was to destroy the last wave of Psi forces, numbering over 500,000, and Selene was about to ignite…quite literally. She, drawing in all the energy from ruinous, crying landscape with her Mimic Stave, began to glow with the radiance of a solar storm, and then transformed into a gigantic, shining phoenix. In a blazing inferno, she took to the skies high above the battlefield, reaching an apex higher than any of the gunships or aircraft, as the Imperial starfighters dogfighted around her, they gave her cover from the marauding Psi fighters, Selene screamed with a mighty shriek of the heavens, and then brought the stars down upon the Psi. A colossal hurricane of fire whirled to the ground and engulfed the Psi in a horizontal tornado of plasma hotter than the core of the Sun. The atmosphere ahead of the firestorm ignited as well from the heat. The arcane fire was directed by Selene around the friendly fighters, so that only the enemies were burned to cinders. After about 3 minutes, the battle was over, and the men of the 181st Legion let out a cheer around the burning fortress that rocked the stars. In just 9 hours, Earth was back under Imperial control. The Second Indiction had begun. Lucian Moonraiser looked at the desolation around him, what he had just helped to accomplish. As Selene said, once you’re hardened in battle, there’s no going back. The gunships landed in front of the cheering soldiers to take them back to the Artemis Rayne, the fallen Legionnaires would be brought back to Valhalla and given a full military funeral, at the immense military parade that was to take place on Valhalla to celebrate the triumph. The Empire was finally whole again.

 

                    1. Stop, Why? I’ve never caused any trouble!

The Pitfalls of Society are many, but the five biggest are that the Empire exists to fulfill some sort of prophecy, the “Ghost in the Machine” fallacy, the belief that evil is something that can be conquered by violence, the belief that most sentient beings aren’t intelligent, and that being intelligent means being faithless. There is no prophecy to fulfill, as we carve our own destiny. There is no Ghost, because we are what we say we are, the only true way to conquer evil and crime is through proactive justice, not reactive justice, Pantheon states that all sentient beings are sentient and equal, and that belief in something, even if there is no proof, is vital to good health. As the Chairmen of the Ministry of Science and CEOs of SilverCorp and the Krol Conglomerate, we are dedicated to science as much as we are our companies and the Empire. The Solation Pharmaceutical Company cannot sell anything without our approval and ratification from the Imperial Pantheon. We hold the cards in our hands. To honor and glory in science, that is our mantra. Science is a talent of the many, but mastered by only a few. And with this knowledge, the masters can become the new Gods. We, the Empire, have atoned for the Original Sin, by gaining such knowledge of the natural world that we have become perfect. We no longer have biological or psychological flaws, because of Solation Pharmaceutical Corporation and the Imperial Ministry of Science. There is no God. There is no Devil. There is only Mankind, and the Troika who rules it. The Ancient Rima of the Empire resounds true for the Master Races… Lacrimosa…Dies Illa…Quare surget ex favilla, Dies Irae, Dies Illa, Judex Credeus, Judex cum Lux Aeterna, Imperia Pontifex, Alexander Arditi, Sylvain Anteon, Antonio Marduk. Judex lux aeterna!

 

Silver Arronax and Shen Ryujin, Chairmen of the Ministry of Science and Imperial Inheritors

 

In the name of the Pantheon and the Empire, we commit the ashes of our fallen brethren to Valhalla, where they will know eternal peace in death…” the Troika announced from the pinnacle of Asgard Fortress, in the fading twilight of Valhalla’s Northern Continent of Loki. Planets didn’t get much more majestic and beautiful than Valhalla, with its rolling, misty valleys, its 3 silver moons, Fenrir, Miklagard and Gliepnir, its massive peaks, crowned with heavenly snow, the flocks of gigantic Sky-Mantas flying endlessly on the mountain breezes, the flower-covered plains of Serkland Valley, the Sea of Trees in the Coastal Forests of Loki, and the light of the ethereal White Sun in the sky, casting an array of angelic, divine-looking sunbeams across the planet, illuminating the marble statues and buildings of Asgard Fortress with a shining white light. Valhalla, along with Lilliana V, Kraid and Arcana II, was one of the most desirable places to live in the entire Empire, and Valhalla was inhabited by the most powerful families in the Empire, such legendary baronies as the Ermell, Cox and O’Brien Houses lived on Valhalla in huge mountain citadels, but other than the barons, the vast Imperial Citadel of Asgard, the Imperial Cemetery and Shrine of the Fallen, the Library of History, and the Troika’s Retreat, Valhalla was sparsely populated, because no one lived in urban sprawl, like on other planets throughout the Empire. On the peak of Asgard Fortress, the Troika, standing in their Jungsturm-Nordsterne battle armor, swaying with the tranqil breeze like trees, thanks to their biological enhancements making their bodies more flexible, finished giving the invocation as the 21-gun salute from the Okha-class artillery tanks fired over and over again, the Imperial funeral hymn, “Farewell, Stars!” played solemnly as the names of the dead in the Second Indiction were read off, the Pantheon clergy marched, heavy-stepped, to the Shrine of the Fallen, guarded by the Indiction Guard’s base, Miklagard Fortress. Over 20,000 died at the Second Indiction, and their names would be forever immortalized in the halls of Valhalla. Standing in the Grand Arena of Elmgard, the vast assembly plaza at the foot of Asgard’s Grand Tower, thousands of Imperial soldiers in their Jungsturm-Nordsterne formal outfits, both men and women, the Indiction Guards standing like statues in positions where the White Sun illuminated them like gods, and the baron families, including the entire O’Brien House, the three twenty-something daughters, Elizabeth, Victoria and Alexandra, and their 18-year old son, Neil, along with the Ermell baron family and the Cox couple, Rodney and Elena Cox, stood in their incredibly elaborate formal outfits. They all gave the classic Roman Salute to the Troika; and as the crowd roared the sunbeams from the White Sun in the sky illuminated the Troika’s tower and the Valkyrie statues that stood proudly all around Asgard Fortress. The funeral procession arrived at the Shrine of the Fallen, where the names of the dead were entered into the database for the fallen soldiers. Standing with the O’Brien family was Andrew, just dumbstruck at the majesty of Valhalla. As if the flight on board the bridge of the Odin-class capital ship, the size of the Roman Colosseum, wasn’t spectacular enough, meeting Grand Marshal Eris and seeing the Troika speak was just amazing. Not to mention, he was standing next to three gorgeous young women, the O’Brien sisters, and they were very interested in his background, coming from the 19th century in a time machine, which was brought back to Valhalla with the 181st Legion. “I like your dresses, girls, what is that style, I’ve never seen anything so gaudy in my life…” “Oh, it’s Draconis Imperia, the Supreme Pontifex tries to emulate Prophet Anteon’s ideals for women, and has us all dress in these formal gowns whenever he’s speaking. He likes gaudy outfits. You look like Charles Dickens dressed up for Christmas…” Elizabeth said, very frankly. “Thank you…one of the Indiction Guards said that back on Earth.” Andrew thought, once again a bit disturbed by the lack of free will exhibited by Imperial citizens. “So, I guess we think alike? Anyway, I was just wondering if you’d be willing to come back to our estate with us after the parade and ceremony. We’re having a celebration for my younger brother getting accepted to Imperial Grand University on Stronghold, the Imperial Capital world. I was just wondering if you’d like to attend.” Andrew thought about this for a second, did he really trust this woman that much? He had just met her, and she seemed a bit…coy for his tastes, but she was extremely wealthy, smart and very pretty, along with her sisters, and it would be a real treat to see the interior of an estate on Valhalla. “Sure, I’d love to come over later.” “Then be still, and watch the might of the Empire march before you…” Elizabeth said. The ground began to shake as if an earthquake was about to strike, like a dull roar of a distant thunderclap, but louder and louder coming from up the depths, then, looking down the 24-lane road that stretched from Elmgard down toward the Shrine of the Fallen, a massive sea of Jungsturm-Nordsterne uniforms goose-stepping towards Elmgard, right past the Imperial Pinnacle of Asgard Fortress. The rumbling of the ground came from the legions of massive vehicles as well, tanks, massive, heavily armed and armored troop transports, personal vehicles, APCs and heavy artillery vehicles, flying overhead were the vast squadrons, the Black Wings of Death, of Shinigami-class fighters, Enma-O-class bombers, the Mjolnir-class gunships and the huge Wulfhund-class heavy gunships flew in formation, the 181st Legion was on parade for their victory, and in its full force. As the parade marched past, the lordly figures of the Troika, Emperor Arditi, Antonio Marduk and Sylvain Anteon stood swathed their extraordinary Imperial regalia, plus their top aides watched their Legions in their full glory, including Grand Duke Lumen Ash and the sinister Sigtyr female Lunara Umbra, a typical Sigtyr Assassin, wearing a red tunic with a lacy hood over her useless, tiny eyes, her chalk-white face shining in the sunlight, and her delicate, but very quick and lithe frame standing about six feet tall. Behind the Troika, Lumen Ash and Lunara Umbra, a group of Night Hammers escorted Head Ministers of Science Silver Arronax and Shen Ryujin, as well as Solation Pharmaceutical Corporation CEO and Mistress of Propaganda Sei Ikkiku and her CFO, Lance Tiberius Meridius, and his sister, also a high-ranking scientist on the Ministry of Science, Claire Meridius, plus the prodigy Gabriella Marisetti. They walked out onto the podium and looked down at the marching columns of soldiers and vehicles. “Magnificent, aren’t they?” Arditi hissed, much like a serpent. “Yes, My Lord…there is much to discuss about the anomaly in the Great Dark Patch, 10 billion light-years out.” “Do tell, Mistress Ikkiku.” “Our long-distance scanners, peering out deep into space-time, far beyond Imperial space, have detected a large anomaly in a patch of space known for many years as the “Great Dark Patch.” It is about 300,000 light-years across, where almost no starlight or galaxies exist, just a few dark, desolate nebulae. These look like the remains of stars or even entire galaxies, but all were destroyed very suddenly or even artificially. We believe this, the darkest, loneliest place in the known Universe, to be the most significant Great Precursor artifact yet discovered.” “For millennia, the Empire has made wonder of that Great Dark Patch, but it is so far out that it would be a nearly suicidal task for our ships to go that deep into space. It will take us hundreds of years to expand out borders deeper into space to reach that area, requiring us to double our Empire’s size…who knows what we will find there…perhaps a Precursor ship, or even the ruins of a fleet? The stars in the scans appear to have been rapidly drained of their energy, so perhaps the Precursors’ ships used solar radiation for fuel, by using Dyson spheres to collect it…we will not know what created the Dark Patch, until we reach it.” The Emperor hissed as the parade marched past. “We could send one of the Spire-class ships, the Nuzak Spire is ready to fly again, after the incident that led to the unfortunate euthanasia of 30,000 test subjects, as per Corporate Protocol 12.” “The flight is very risky…and we cannot afford to risk losing a ship as valuable as the Spire. We will not send the ship, but we will begin a new Imperial expansion project…but, if the need arises, we can send the Spire to a staging area, for a smaller, more expendable ship to the Dark Patch. A mining or salvage vessel, maybe?” Emperor Arditi suggested, his brown hair covering his left eye, each one moved independently of the other one, like a chameleon. “Perhaps. Miners and explorers are expendable and they know it. They know their role in society and to be sent that deep into space without ever having been there before, as you said, My Lord, is tantamount to suicide. Those miners are so dull, however, that they will relish the chance to go where no one has gone before. They cannot see the true value in anything they find…” Sei cooed in her echoing, eerie Pleiadean voice. The miniature solar system orbiting her dress spun on an even axis, glowing eerily. Emperor Arditi stood up in his full, 15-foot tall, 1200-pound suit of armor, he stood 12 feet tall from the augmentations, and his armor’s crest added another 3 feet onto his height. “The greatest fear is fear of the unknown, Miss Ikkiku…I understand that the Pleiadean Archives on Alcyone are complete, but only within the context of Imperial knowledge. What is unknown is very frightening indeed…I sense great unrest, great fear in every one of you…it oozes from your veins and infects you like a pox. It is growing…there is nothing that you can do to stop it, except face it down and come to terms with it…it is unavoidable, your heart rate quickens, pulses pound, you hear the evils in your head resound…what is it that you have found?” “We have discovered an image of the Great Precursors, My Lord.” Gabriella Marisetti said, her elaborate Jungsturm-Nordsterne outfit reflecting the brilliant sunlight. She held out a hologram in her lacy-gloved hand. “This creature is apparently an image of a Great Precursor Emperor, named “Ayyara’a Archimago.” The organism pictured on the incredibly detailed artwork found in an ancient archive on the planet Malalaklese II was something far beyond any known organism. It stood about 10 feet tall, but its most striking feature was that it had no true body. It was just a ghostly, golden-red, grayish static-electric entity with four huge wings and a highly-decorated robe. It had one electric hand and its right arm had purposefully shape-shifted into a massive, burning sword-blade. It had a long, red surcoat over its robe, and a spiderlike face with six glaring eyes and two prongs twisting out of its high-collared ruff. Surrounding its body were four runes, each one with a previously identified Great Precursor symbol, Power, Unity, Energy and Mind. “We believe that they were so supremely evolved that they no longer needed a body to contain their energy…they were so advanced that they were no longer truly organic, capable of rearranging themselves into whatever form they saw and copying their powers for themselves…this completes the picture of the ancient society that so tragically passed from existence 500 million years ago. Our Empire could not hold a candle to theirs. It is a blessing to our society then, that the Great Precursors no longer exist. We mustn’t fail to see the Emperor Archimago for what he is. He is horrible, horrid beyond anything you can imagine-but wondrous and mesmerizing all the same. After you read about his tactics from the inscriptions, he will haunt your dreams and memories forever…” Gabriella said, with a deeply ominous tone in her voice. Emperor Arditi just stared at Archimago for a few minutes, trying to comprehend the magnitude of this find. The unknown…was truly frightening, and Archimago, formerly a glorious Emperor of an ancient species of super-beings, was still creeping into the darkest recesses of those who saw him, as if he was a waif of a bygone age, still searching for truth in the lonely blackness of deep space. Archimago reminded the Empire just how terrifying space exploration could be…after hundreds of thousands of years pushing deep into space and time, humanity and the 135 Imperial Races were still only on the fringes of the known universe…and the remaining two-thirds of the universe not under Imperial control now seemed a lot more foreboding with the eerie six eyes of Archimago staring back at Emperor Arditi. So many thoughts raced through the Lumen Ash, Lunara Umbra, Silver, Shen, Lance, Claire, Arditi, Gabriella and Sei’s minds, as the parade of soldiers marched obliviously on outside. The Empire now had a face to put with the vast archives of Precursor literature, immense “Pinnacle Cruiser” starship designs and immense ruins found on various remote, sparsely-inhabited Imperial worlds…Archimago…Precursor Emperor. The portrait of the society was complete. The portrait iself, however, posed more questions than answers. Why only one planet? Why did only one planet of the Precursor Empire have a picture of the Emperor on it? And why, if the society was so advanced, did it go extinct so suddenly, and did the Precursor disappearance have something to do with the destruction of Mars and Venus’ life forms? Was Malalaklese II the original Great Precursor homeworld? Why there? Also, what was out there in space, 10 billion light-years from Earth, that was powerful enough to drain the energy contained in 300,000 light-years of territory? The Empire could only know if they sent a probe out there first. “It is decided. I will send 5 probes out into the Great Dark Patch, and if anything is found, I will dispatch an Imperial mining vessel, I know just the ship to send, too.” Emperor Arditi said. “The probes are to launch tomorrow, set the course for the Great Dark Patch. They should reach the Patch in a few hours, with their Thought Drives. Lord Arronax, prepare the salvage crew, Lord Shen, prep the IMV Stormweaver for departure. We push into the unknown from here.” The parade ended on that note, and the crowd cheered as the soldiers marched on by. Arditi waved the scientists aside, except for Sei. “My Lord, can I ask you something, it’s been troubling me for a while…” “What is it, make it quick, because I have other matters to attend to.” “Does this dress make me look fat?” Sei asked awkwardly. “….” Emperor Arditi just stared with a blank, annoyed expression on his face, the Pleiadian race was all-female and extremely self-conscious, and Sei was particularly full of herself and extremely paranoid about her appearance. She invented the Regenera Strain to advance the cause of Imperial society and partially to prevent herself from ever getting wrinkles and getting old. “Yes…It does. Don’t annoy me with such questions.” There was a moment of awkward silence between Sei and Emperor Arditi, but then Sei stormed off in a huff, insulted by the Emperor’s brutally hateful comment, when in fact, the dress did not make her look fat, it complemented her 8’3” frame very well. “Women…what is their problem? Prophet Anteon, you made the same suppositions in your ancient Pantheon Codex, and suggested that empowerment of the female race was responsible for disorder and chaos in society…so we have women in traditional roles. Perhaps the Hand of Fate offers more clues to the nature of old behaviors…” as he fixed his crooked gaze squarely on Andrew. “I am very intrigued by the Hand of Fate’s identity…he was found by the Indiction Guard on Earth, from an earlier time. However, he appears to be a bit preoccupied with the O’Brien sisters and their family…time will tell if he is friend or foe…” “Arditi, you mustn’t jump to conclusions…We know nothing of this… Hand of Fate, but, given the circumstances, don’t you think it’s a bit odd that he would choose this time to arrive?” Anteon hissed, his fanged jaws, evolved to cope with a mostly-carnivorous diet over the millennia of his life, protruding from between his lips as he spoke. His long, shoulder-length black hair caused a prism-like effect as the White Sun’s rays struck it thanks to the crystallized nature of his DNA, preventing it from aging because of the Regenera Strain coursing though his veins, which made his Imperial outfit, the grandest and most non-Euclidean of any of the Imperial nobility, all the more spectacular in contrast. “Interesting supposition…perhaps the Hand of Fate wishes to prove himself in his own time? As if, someone doesn’t believe in his powers and he came here to bring proof of his conquest of time…” “Ahh yesss…the years of wisdom have been kind to you, Arditi. You always had the willpower to lead us, even from the very beginning, but forget not that I founded this New Order.” “And do not forget credit where credit is due.” Antonio Marduk, who had his back turned to Arditi and Anteon’s head rotated a full 360 degrees and faced them. Marduk was capable of extending and contorting his body into distorted, bizarre shapes, and looked an awful lot like Anteon, just with gray hair. He was still the brilliant artist that he always was, using his eternal life to create thousands of macabre, shocking and downright hideous pieces, using the wonders of the technology available to him, he had single-handedly turned animation and cartoons into a high art form, creating huge paintings that surpassed anything the world had ever seen in anime or manga form, his most famous painting was called the“Ordo ab Chao,” a 50’x35′ depiction of seven magnificent worlds manifested into one underneath a roaring solar storm that turned the sky a beautiful crimson red, high in the sky above the painting was the Troika standing astride the Seven Worlds like an omnipotent eye, with Marduk’s arms wide open under the sunlight. There were more than 450 original characters in the painting, each one unique and wearing a dizzying array of outfits, the Seven Worlds represented all climates and environments, Marduk had even made a film about this painting, but as brilliant as Marduk was, he had, however, grown far more disturbing in his long, storied lifetime, and many considered him the most evil of the Troika. The candor with which he described all the heinous, vile acts he had committed in his life, in every last macabre detail, was chilling, and his telescopic monocle, which allowed him to read minds like the Eta Carinae High Council, did little to dispel the dark rumors about him. “Let us assume, for instance, that he is out to prove himself. We believe in him…and he’s here now. We must use that to our advantage.” Marduk, Arditi and Anteon stared ominously down at Andrew and the O’Brien sisters, unblinking, as if peering into his mind…which Marduk, in fact, was. Just then, a black-skinned humanoid approached the Troika, with big, wide-eyes and unnaturally-large lips, grinning in a demented way, handing Anteon a glass of Elohim Burgundy, his favorite drink from the Elohim Paradise, a famous winery on Kraid. He extended his jaws from between his lips and casually began slurping the drink. “Kraid’s new Negroid-II androids are very helpful, aren’t they? It’s almost as convenient as having black slaves again, just these Negroids are machines, they don’t question orders and they’ll never run away, and they cannot have families either.” Anteon grumbled, watching as the Negroid walked away to fulfill the rest of its endless duties and hard labor around Asgard Fortress. “But, doesn’t that take the sport out of it, though? The thrill of a colonial expedition, sent across the stars deep into the unknown, first scouting party into the jungle, our force is alert, watching for any signs of movement…the sun, burning my skin, the heat, controlling my mind, within me my blood starts to boil. Then, the moment comes, we spot a village of mongrel savages, ripe for the taking. Sweeping through the village with the shriek of a bloodthirsty demon on a hunt for glorious vitrification, we kill all the men and capture the women and children, pack them onto our ships and take them away, where they will be made to serve us, as every being in our Empire must…the thrill of a jungle slave raid…that makes me feel alive, and these Negroid-IIs kill that primeval feeling of courage and savagery that I lust for.” Marduk’s eyes grew livid with excitement as he explained his reasoning. “Perhaps you can maintain that thought for your next film…”Arditi responded. “I’ve already made 15 films about slavery and bondage, my landmark film ‘The Backwater Minds,’ describing a woman dying in a mental hospital taking one final tour of her own insanity, makes multiple references to slavery and sadistic bondage, depicting the latter rather poignantly. All of my films are animated, they’ve always been that way, for a cartoon can depict far more than an actual actor will be willing to sacrifice…as one of my other films, ‘Gilt City,’ so brutally asks…how far would you go to protect your beliefs to avoid being called a hypocrite?” “Antonio, you are still one of the craziest people in history…” “Boom-boom, ain’t it great to be crazy, as the old children’s song goes…and how cathartic it is indeed. By the way, I did read the Hand of Fate’s mind, as well as the O’Brien Sisters…and your hunch was right, Anteon. 803,000 years of wisdom has not failed you. He holds the key to eternal power, and even he does not realize just who he is. We do, and we must know where he is at all times for that reason, do you both understand?” “Yes, Lord Marduk.” Anteon and Arditi responded in unison. “Good…I once produced an animation film called ‘Ai no Natsu,’ that tells the graphic story of two couples that knew each other since birth, they grow up, fall in love, party, have romantic nights on the beach, have sex like there’s no tomorrow, and eventually succumb to the poisons that inhabit the hearts of all young people…each character dies after their lives fall to total ruin, and at the very end, the last remaining character, a woman bereft of all dignity and companionship learns life’s harshest lesson. There is no such thing as love. We are just a bunch of young animals fucking each other until we die, and in the end, nobody really cares. She dies, on the floor of a whorehouse from a heroin overdose. The point that I’m making is that nothing lasts forever. Good things pass, and life never fails to remind us that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is…for example, the little 4-year old boy in my film “Precious Son,” who wishes his birthday would be every day, has it granted, but too late realizes that he’ll only live for 100 days before he reaches the maximum normal human lifespan and then die of a slow, wasting disease over the 100-day period. The Hand of Fate will soon discover that life in this world is not all about wonder, power and majesty, no, this Universe is whatever we say it is! We brought down the ancient Catholic Church by revealing the Pope’s unfathomable treachery all those millennia ago, and now we rule a just Empire of purity. Now, let the little grasshopper have his summer of fun, for when winter comes, we’ll be there…and we’ll be listening as his last song plays.”

That parade was…something of a dream…I cannot even begin to fathom the accomplishments of this time period. Nothing in my wildest dreams even remotely compares the splendor of Valhalla.” “Then you’re going to love my family’s Citadel.” Alexandra said softly as they walked back to their limousine. Andrew, Alexandra, Elizabeth and Victoria stepped into the limousine, which had eight wheels, four on each side of the car, with the insignia of Orpheus Corporation, a subsidiary of Rothus Engineering, on its hood. Based on the exotically-constructed winter wonderland planet Arcana II and its three moons Luna, Diana and Hecate, the Orpheus-Rothus Engineering Conglomerate was a producer of some of the finest vehicles in the Universe, and this A-2 limousine was their latest creation. “To home, girls?” the driver asked, politely. “Yes, please. It’s a bit of a drive to the estate, but you will enjoy the ride.” The limousine promptly set off from Asgard Fortress as the high cumulus clouds obscured the sunlight again, and began driving down the Fjordland Highway, one of the most breathtaking stretches of roadway in the known universe and an Imperial Heritage Foundation landmark. As Asgard Fortress waned in the distance, the true majesty of Valhalla stretched before the limousine, zipping along at 150 MPH, powered by plasma engines. The Highway went, straight as an arrow, through the Isil Valley region of Loki, Valhalla’s Northern Continent, which was surrounded on both sides by massive, mist-cloaked, snow-capped peaks, topped by huge, artificial mass-relay stations, erected by the Empire to generate power for communications between galaxies and colonies. All Andrew could do was stare and gawk, spellbound by the valley’s majesty, it was goosebump-inducing, there was nothing like it anywhere on Earth, in his time period or this one. On one side of the road ran the roaring Tana River, with deep, crystal-clear pools of pristine water and alpine marsh grass growing along its rocky shore. People stood fishing here and there for the massive, 600-lb. Saber-Toothed Salmon that lived in the river, equipped with heavy gear, there were some human anglers, some Sangresaara nobility, and even a few Reaper Cossacks, all waiting for the looming shadow of a salmon the size of a grizzly bear on Earth to approach their bait. The gigantic salmon were not a common catch, except during the spawning season, when it was strictly catch-and-release to protect the population, far more often were the Valhalla Perch, a fat, slow, gluttonous ambush predator that topped out at 35 lbs, and the sinuous, snake-like Giant Loach, a 300-lb eel-like fish with black and brown bands, and barbels that resembled a brightly-colored eel with a mustache. The Loaches averaged out at around 50 lbs, however, but occasionally grew much larger, also present were the swarms of ravenous Piranha Kittyfish, 7-inch catfish-like organisms that shredded anything dead that landed in the river within minutes of finding it. They did not eat anything living, and were often used to clean wounds out to prevent them from being infected, leaving the living, healthy tissue alone. Often, dealing with roadkill on the highway was as simple as throwing the dead animal into the river for this reason. As the limo drove past, Andrew just looked at the majesty of the mountains, and jumped as he saw a gigantic, flying Sky Manta flock zoom through the valley overhead, it was flying at the same speed as the limo. “That thing’s huge…” Andrew said, awestruck. “Oh, have you ever tried riding on one of them? Of course not, silly. My brother actually jumps on their backs and flies over these valleys with the Sky Mantas. He carries his hunting rifle and shoots from the Manta’s huge wings, and he often competes in races too. He says there’s nothing quite like going into a 200 mile-per-hour dive on a Sky Manta’s back over the Isil Valley. He’s always wanted to fly a Shinigami-class fighter, and he’s planning on enrolling in a University Airborne Legion recruitment program at Imperial Grand University. You’ll meet him in about 5 minutes. You will see our estate right around this bend.” The limousine turned the corner, and Andrew’s jaw dropped yet again at the sight of the O’Brien Estate, marked by their actual home, the Shining Tower of Odon Citadel, surrounded by the windswept Lothorhiim Fields. The Citadel was the size of a mountain, a vertical city carved from the white marble and granite that made up the valley walls, with artistic spires and Gothic columns all over the glimmering Citadel face. There was one huge spire at the very peak of the Citadel, with a huge bronze bell in the shrine atop the spire, glinting in the White Sun, with a green garden and courtyard at the summit. Sky Mantas flew in lazy circles around the pinnacle, calling to each other and enjoying the mountain breeze’s gentle caress. Around the base of the Citadel, there was a huge granite shield-wall, looking a bit like a medieval castle wall with a static energy protecting it, with a highway road meandering up to the gate through Lothorhiim Fields, guarded by two Imperial Legionnaire Platoons. “This is where you live…I didn’t know Man could build such things…” “This Estate has been in our family for generations. Just wait until you see inside.” Victoria said. The limousine drove up to the massive shield-wall, and the gate opened via an automated mechanism, similar to the one on Earth where Andrew first encountered this grand world. In the massive courtyard, there were huge fountains and beautiful gardens filled with flowers and statues of the O’Brien family members, in the center of the garden were three statues of Alexandra, Victoria and Elizabeth, with their brother standing tall right next to them: “FORGED IN VALHALLA, BORN OF VALKYRIES, OUT FROM ASGARD THEY MARCH, NEVER TO TURN BACK.” The plaque under the four of them read proudly this declaration, as if to claim heritage from the mythical line of Odin, Thor and Loki. Waiting for them to arrive was Lord Patrick O’Brien, the patriarch of the baron family and Duke of the Isil Region on Valhalla, one of the extremely wealthy noble houses on the planet. The limousine pulled up to the 62-year old, heavy-set, broad-shouldered Duke, and next to him, stood his son, Neil, also tall, heavy-set and broad shouldered, with a handsome, angular face and black hair. The three sisters stepped out of the limo, as did Andrew. Duke O’Brien walked over to Andrew and offered his hand. “Welcome to Odon Citadel, Hand of Fate. I hope my girls didn’t trouble you too much.” “No sir, not at all. They were a pleasure to be around.” “That’s because I have raised them well. Come inside, there is much to discuss.” Duke O’Brien got to the point very quickly, he did not waste time with formalities, and neither did his son, Duke Neil. He had not said a word. The group of nobility and the Hand of Fate walked towards the enormous sliding-glass doors that opened into the entrance to the mountain citadel. On the doors, were huge stained-glass paintings of emerald fields and beautiful forests, like something from a fairy-tale fantasy. Duke O’Brien’s eyes were scanned by retina scanners, and the sliding-glass doors opened in segments, giving the doors a very odd, mechanical opening sequence. “Come inside, I promise you, you won’t get lost.” The Duke walked down a narrow passageway lined with paintings and statues, and at the end of the hallway, two metal blast-doors opened, into a room bustling with activity. There were hundreds of luxurious apartment buildings built into the elegantly-carved stone, made to look like an ancient cathedral, each one occupied by a wealthy family in the central citadel keep, all built around a gigantic pyramid-like structure that had staircases all around it, and doors leading out to streets winding around the mountain, with the hustle and bustle of hundreds of citizens and soldiers walking around in the vertical streets of Odon. Exterior buildings and miles of passageways lined the brilliantly-engineered vertical city, it must have been a paradise for adventurous young boys, full of secret passageways, trapdoors and spiral staircases; elegant statues and decorations adorned the vast, cavernous halls of Odon Citadel, the grand city, build inside of a hollowed-out mountain. “The citizens of Valhalla do not live in sprawl, like they do on many other planets, here, we live in very clean, very tidy, and very luxurious keeps, deep inside the Citadels, each ruled by a Duke, appointed by the Emperor himself. I have been the Duke of Odon for 40 years, and I have built my Citadel up to being the most famous on all of Valhalla. The planet is pristine, and the Troika makes sure it remains that way, as do I. Health codes within the Empire are stricter than in any point of human history before us. Prophet Marduk is a bit of a hypochondriac. So, Hand of Fate, to what does the Empire owe this visit?” “It’s a long story, but the people in my own time period do not believe that I am the Hand of Fate. I came here to prove to them that I am, and that I can travel through time, and that I did predict and invent this future with my pen.” “The greatest pitfall of society is that many believe that being intelligent means being faithless. That, unfortunately, is the most dangerous belief of all. For 1,000 years, this Citadel has stood, and there have been more than 55 Dukes in that time period. My son will supplant me when I am no longer fit to rule. Do you know the reason why Odon is the most prestigious Citadel on Valhalla, and has been referred to as “The City of Gods?” For years, the wisdom of the Troika had been upheld, but common sense and faith had been forsaken in exchange for knowledge and science, other Dukes built tombs that were grander than the homes of the living with the Imperial technology. Because of the lack of common sense in government, many Citadels fell into decay, no longer meeting Imperial standards. The previous Duke of Odon was one of these careless, shallow individuals, the one whom I replaced at age 22. I, unlike the other Dukes, knew that Pantheon was about more than just knowledge and science, it was about faith, faith in something, no matter what it was, and I had faith that I could revive the glory of Valhalla. Now, 40 years later, I have done just that. All of the other Citadels have followed my initiative of faith and knowledge, science and common sense. Those who claim knowledge without having belief in something, those people have a corpse in their mouth. My four children are raised to think in my image, and I know my son, upon his graduation from University, will fulfill and even grander vision that I have, one that will being even more prestige to Odon Citadel and elevate my prestige to that of the Troika itself. Do you understand why this is important? Life, unaltered, un-enhanced life, is teleological, we are all headed for a purposeful end. That is why I do not believe in using the Regenera Strain, because I feel that it is not natural. It’s not the fact that you die that matters…it’s what you do during your life that defines who you are, and how history will remember you. High birth, low birth, tall, short, thin or fat, we are all headed for the same destination, barring an Imperial intervention with the Regenera Strain, and I for one will die knowing that I did a great service for the Empire and for Valhalla. I have also heard that my daughters have invited you to the celebration I am holding for my son. If that is the case, than meet me at the summit of Odon Citadel in an hour. The celebration begins then. Do not be late, I despise tardiness.” Duke O’Brien walked away, with his son following. “It’s ok, he won’t kill you for showing up a bit late. He’s just extremely protective of us.” Alexandra said. “Feel free to look around the citadel, the place is truly gargantuan, so try not to get lost.” Andrew looked around at the gigantic, hollowed-out mountain, at the electronic LED screens, passageways leading through the walls, smaller, hovering vehicles shuttling people about, and a group of citizens watching a holovision broadcast of a new Imperial discovery, directly from Stronghold. The image of the Precursor Emperor Archimago was being displayed everywhere, with news of Imperial probes being sent to locate further evidence of Precursor artifacts in the deepest recesses of the known Universe. “So that’s what they looked like…” Elizabeth said to herself. “Elizabeth…may I ask you something?” “Oh, yes, Andrew, what is it?” “I noticed at the parade that you looked somewhat saddened by something. You don’t seem as happy as your sisters…” “Well…I’ve never really had much to say, my father taught me to speak less and listen more, he’s very traditional. But yes, there is something bothering me. My boyfriend is serving in the Imperial Legions, and I miss him a lot…being around you just…well, made me feel calm and at peace, but anxious and stressed at the same time, I feel like I need some level of security in my life, and he provides that, it’s just that, sometimes I dream of more…” “But, what more could you want? Your family is in charge of a city!” “I don’t know…I wish I had an existence that wasn’t dictated by my father or my brother.” “Speaking of which, he’s an awfully quiet fellow…” “He doesn’t talk much, but when he does, it always carries great meaning. He writes to communicate his thoughts, mostly, poetry, stories and even has some of his work published, one thing he wrote was this haunting short story called Gloomy White Sunday, which talks about a tall, successful, beautiful young woman, who dresses in some amazing outfits, with a tortured past, including seeing her parents get killed by a robber after breaking into her house right in front of her, and meeting a handsome, yet dour and extremely intelligent young man from a very rich family, and the heartbreak and sometimes gut-wrenching revelations that follow, after she comes to terms with her past in a series of romantic, sensual and sometimes sexual instances throughout the book. The song that the woman sings at the final scene of the story, Kiss Me Tonight, is in the Imperial Registry of Poetry. It is an elegiac song singing of past grief, past romance, and a longing for better days, and anticipating better days in the future, but expecting nothing but further suffering for the rest of the Universe, even though the woman, Gabri Ponte, no longer suffers, She feels horrible for those around her, but, because of the powers that be, she is powerless to help her fellow men and women. The opening lines of the story, where the burglar is taunting Gabri’s mother just before he kills her just haunt you forever: ‘Oh, sweet woman, light of my life, fire of my soul, you look stunning tonight…’ You should ask Neil about it. Here’s a copy of the song, Kiss me Tonight.” Elizabeth handed Andrew a copy of the lyric that Gabri Ponte recited to her lover, Rikard Haast, and read it to himself:

Kiss me tonight, for I may not be here tomorrow. Kiss me tonight, treat me like the light of your life, the heat of a sweet summer’s day, for the night will soon creep forth. Every time you kissed me, I trembled like a dying lily at the end of a long summer, abandoned by hope and love, and soon to be forgotten by God and Man. Gathering my memories, I sing for the hope, I sing for the love, and I sing for the truth. I sing for those who died before me, and I sing for those who suffer now. I feel the crimson roses fall around me, the whispers in the dark, and even the stars fall down. What horror! What torture!! They burn! Like fire! The Infernal Bacchanalia! The suffering dances its furious pas de deux, back and forth, through my dreams and nightmares, I dance, we all dance, and then they fall. I fall with them, from a point of grace, deep into the hellish underworld of sin…yet in the darkest underworld, even on the gloomiest white Sunday, I sing for the hope, I sing for the love, and I sing for the truth. For through all the suffering, I still see the acts of kindness, I still see the children play, I still see reasons for hope…So, underneath the trees, shaded by the flowers, kiss me in the fading light of the summer’s day, my love, voices of the sparrows, singing of the times where we were once perfect, where there was hope, where there was peace…Now, there is no God…there is no Devil…there is only Mankind. I have you, and you have me…I love you unto eternity.”

This is remarkable…” Andrew said, upon the conclusion of the lyric. “Thank you very much…” Neil suddenly interjected with a strong Irish accent, just like his father. “I wrote that as a metaphor for the sorry state of the universe today, and how even though we, as wealthy people, enjoy minimal suffering, those around us suffer tremendously, and that because of the Empire, we cannot change others’ fortunes, they must do it themselves…Money is like a shit sandwich. The more bread you have, the less shit you have to deal with…” “Smart young man, my son is.” the elder O’Brien said, with a hearty chuckle. Just then, another news broadcast began on the huge broadcast screens, this time, given by two other men, the two Head Ministers of Science in the Empire of the Egoist Crown, Lords Silver Arronax and Shen Ryujin, Shen’s brilliant crimson, shoulder-length hair contrasting with his jet-black Jungsturm-Nordsterne outfit, he carried a scepter of the Ministry of Science, as did Silver. Silver wore a gray topcoat over a simple Imperial uniform and had brown hair, with silver glasses, the lenses of which had computer digits and binary code streaming across them. “Greetings, citizens of the Egoist Crown Empire. Our stunning success in the Second Indiction, coupled with the recent discoveries of the Great Precursor Emperor, have made it very clear to the Ministry of Science that a great deal more exploration of the Universe is needed.” Shen announced, very forcefully. “That’s Shen Ryujin…he, along with Silver Arronax, are two of the most intolerant individuals in the known Universe. They’re the two Head Ministers of Science, and they see the world in purely scientific terms. Everything that Solation Pharmaceuticals does has to be approved by them, so they’re just as guilty as Sei Ikkiku is for the misfortunes caused by the company’s research. What’s more is that Shen hates all religion and purposefully puts it down, even though Pantheon supports all beliefs. Silver is more of a moderate.” “Darwin once stated that those species that cannot adapt to their environments will die out, just like mainstream religion did so many millennia ago in the face of Pantheon and science, and we must make good on the Troika’s will and wisdom. Many years ago, we looked to the stars and saw hope, and nothing has stood in our way since. We, as humans, have become the dominant species in the universe, and our will is the greatest force we have. No other Imperial Race can challenge our science and our supremacy, and we have cast off the manacles of moral judgment through the miracle of evolution. To think that nearly 6 million years ago, we were nothing but hairy apes in Africa on Earth, tiny, insignificant and barely able to defend ourselves again lions and leopards. Now, just look at us. We have used technology, both invented and adapted from other races that we conquered on other worlds to become the true masters. Science has given us the power of the gods of mythology! We have reversed the Original Sin with science and technology, and have regained the perfection and peace that was taken from us when Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge! The Emperor has announced a new plan of Imperial expansion, as we push forward into the unknown once again! There will be a bridge, a bridge of conquered territory linking our Realm with the Great Dark Patch! The Empire will double in size, for there is no God! There is no Devil! There is only Mankind! Hahahahahahahahaha!!” The broadcast ended, and the regular programming continued. “Cocky bastard…always likes to run his trap.” Neil groaned. “Shen thinks himself to be a savior of Mankind, a racist, human nationalist, one that can reverse the problems that the Egoist Crown poses through scientific research. I doubt my characters, Gabri Ponti and Rikard Haast would have seen Shen as a savior. They would see him the same way I do, as a tyrant and a threat to the Empire. There is no perfection in this world, no matter how powerful technology becomes. Something always breaks down. I still can’t get my new chrono-watch to fucking work properly. Anyone who says that technology has eliminated sin is completely daft.” Neil said. “If the Empire does plan to start expanding again, as a response to discovering the Precursor Emperor’s identity, then I can bet that the Legions will be quite busy, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of Shen, that’s for sure. The Head Ministers of Science are in command of any expansion authorized by the Emperor, as per Protocol 9, Subsection 16 of the Imperial Charter…he’s now one of the most powerful men in the Universe. He claims that expansion of the Empire is a war, but I wouldn’t call it that, a war implies that both sides have an equal chance of winning. Any primitive societies we find will not last long. Now, enough of this political bullshit, where’s my pint of Green Ale?!” “Well, we have to go to the summit and prepare for the party. We hope to see you there.” Alexandra said, with her quiet voice. The Duke’s family left Andrew to look around for about an hour after bidding Andrew farewell to get ready for the party, so Andrew thought he’d busy himself by looking inside one of the high-priced boutiques that lined the lower streets of the Citadel interior. Just then, however, Andrew noticed two Imperial Legionnaires talking. “So, I heard that there’s been some sort of upset at the top. The Troika seems very troubled by something.” “What?” “That Pleiadean that’s always with them, Queen Sei Ikkiku, she’s the queen of the Pleiadean race and the de facto Empress, but, she’s not like the other Imperial women.” “What the hell do you mean? She’s whiny, high-maintenance and takes herself way too seriously. She’s just like any Imperial noblewoman, were you drinking that Green Ale again?” “No. I’m not drunk. She’s not like the others because she has agency. She has free will that the Emperor cannot fully control, and, as a Queen, she has her own Machiavellian and Petrarchan drives for power, and sees herself as the embodiment of the Goddess Oahina, the Pleiadean Goddess of Love and Virtue, and also the embodiment of Urewara, the Goddess of the Hunt. She uses these tropes to manipulate others in a very Petrarchan and Machiavellian way, along with direct orders, but at the same time plays the role of loyal Empress to the Troika. She’s not. She signed on with the Empire on HER terms, meaning that the Seven Sisters Imperium is not completely controlled by the Empire, but a semi-independent fiefdom that can do as it pleases, because the Emperor needs the technology that Sei’s race of superhuman-beings possesses to maintain hold over his Empire, and he damn well knows that. She’s getting a bit cryptic, from what I heard on Imperial gossip channels, and that usually means she’s up to something. There is nothing more dangerous to the Empire than someone, especially a woman, forgetting their place. She is not fully loyal to the Emperor and she does not consider herself bound by Imperial social contracts, nor by any legal authority. That makes her dangerous, extremely dangerous. She’s been trying to pressure the Emperor into moving against the Aokigahara Consortium, because of their vast human trafficking organizations, and Sei feels that the sale of young women on the black market must stop…it’s not about justice. It’s about female empowerment, and that’s something the Troika will not allow, thanks to Prophet Anteon’s directives. Women are always going to be subservient to men. They only have rights if we say they do.” The two soldiers laughed and returned to their post. Andrew didn’t know how to approach this. Being from Imperial Germany, which was a highly patriarchal society, he believed that women had a certain role in society, but he agreed with whoever this “Ikkiku” woman was, and that slavery was wrong…whoever the Aokigahara Consortium were, they sounded like criminals. One of the soldiers carried the same Magnifier Rifle that Andrew still carried from his battle on Earth, they noticed him standing there and promptly returned to their guard duties. Again, the main broadcast screens lit up with the face of Shen Ryujin, with yet another message. “Children of the Empire, the Second Awakening has begun…what you see before you is a sight unseen in over a century. Take heed, Imperial Citizens, the Colonial Troops, now under my stewardship at the direct orders of the Emperor, are going to push deeper into space than ever before! They will find worlds beyond their wildest imagination, out from Stronghold, their fleet will sail into the stars, and advance Imperial borders ever onward! The wise warrior once said, once you’re hardened in battle, there’s no going back, and before our attack, feel the blood boiling in our veins, the heat of pure hate for those non-Imperial races that will stand in our way. As the fires of prejudice are stoked in the hearts of the Legions, we are reminded that the Empire, led by humanity’s pride, was built on hate and war. Humanity could not have expanded and conquered a third of the known Universe without bloodshed, and technology would not have advanced as far as it has without the hateful destruction of lesser races. It is better to live one day a lion than to live 1,000 years a sheep, and every Imperial race, especially so humans, knows this. Hate binds the stronger races together against the weaker ones, hate is what forged the Pantheon Doctrine against all 3 Abrahamic faiths, hate is what drives the very force of Darwinism and natural selection, competition and rivalry. We hate because hate is natural, love and tolerance is not. War creates new technologies, and proves the hearts of men on ground stained by blood. Twas said many years ago that the serpent would one day awaken yet again, Fenrir howls, comrades! Stand tall, and know that if you fall, your comrades await on Valhalla! Go forth, Colonial Troops, and fear not death or darkness! The Empire is the ultimate authority in the Universe, far grander than any God, far more powerful than any ideology. Let the hate, forged in millennia of bloodshed for the Empire, boil every drop of blood in your veins, and let your strength carry you to ultimate victory! There is no God, there is no Devil, there is only the Troika, and I am their instrument!” ” The broadcast screen showed a colossal military rally of the Imperial Colonial Troops on Stronghold, the Imperial capital world, within the capital city of Minas Etherea, the City of Emperors. All throughout the Grand Plaza in front of the Emperor’s Office, in the shadow of the Heroes Images, with literally thousands of tanks, armored vehicles and millions of infantry, boarding landing barges that would take them to the Odin-class warships high in orbit, the infantry were sorted according to race, many were carrying Imperial banners, the Hammer, Cross and Crescent of the Pantheon flew high over the crowd of soldiers. “The fleet you see before me departs to search for new worlds, new worlds to conquer, new worlds to build on, and new worlds to inhabit. Evolution is an upward march. There can be no progress without war, and no peace without hate. Tolerance of lesser races is against the law of nature. It has no place in Pantheon or the Empire. Cataclysmic Succession.” This was the first time the Colonial Troop had been mobilized in over 70 years, this division of the Legions was the expeditionary force, the division tasked with exploring new galaxies and realms for the Empire to conquer. They were all stationed on the borders of Imperial space, to guard against the unknown. The Colonial Troops had not mobilized in Minas Etherea for over 100 years, peace was kept through the knowledge of the Eta Carinae High Council, the Alcyone Archives, and the force of the Legions themselves. The 24 constituent Kingdoms of the Empire, organized by the Imperial Pantheon in the Kingdom of the Lordly Empire from Minas Etherea on Stronghold, were held together by a system of Imperial Grand Dukes, 24, one for each Kingdom, Emperor Arditi, Lumen Ash, Sei Ikkiku and Nocturne Countess Saalra Lucifera of the Lordly Empire, the Sangresaara Kingdom, the Seven Sisters Imperium and the Sigtyr Ascendancy had the most power out of the 24 Grand Dukes. All were subservient to Emperor Arditi and the rest of the Troika, holding the ultimate authority in the executive branch. The Imperial Senate was appointed by the Troika directly and acted as the main legislative body, and the Council of Ministers, who served life terms, controlled everything else, these two bodies served as the legislative branch of the Pantheon, whereas the Legions, the Eta Carinae High Council and the Pleiadeans served as the judicial branch. In essence, the Egoist Crown Empire was a massive federation, held together like a patchwork quilt by the military, and was anything but a single state. Because of this fact, the Empire faced economic challenges in the form of borrowing and spending limits, set by the Ministry of Finance. Because each Kingdom’s Grand Duke levied different tax rates on their subjects, at the approval of the Emperor and the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry itself, despite having billions and billions of Dactyls at its disposal, could not actually borrow much money from its constituent Kingdoms without having the risk of a regional default on Imperial-imposed financial obligations. The only way to increase the borrowing limit was to take a purely Keynesian approach, and add more capital by harvesting more the available resources, by expanding the Imperial borders. Shen Ryujin was very much aware of this problem, as was the Ministry of Finance, therefore, the largest expansion project in 100 years was about to begin, under the stewardship of Shen Ryujin himself. Andrew stopped looking at the massive broadcast screens and walked into a pharmacy, these contained bottles of pills manufactured by Solation Pharmaceuticals, and on the shelves were the entire repertoire of drugs that Sei Ikkiku and the Pleiadeans had created. There were “smartpills” infused with “smart dust,” tiny, biological computers that linked with a person’s brain and allowed them to learn everything about a certain subject after 24 hours, because the dust remained in a person’s system, so the pills’ effects were permanent. Schools were no longer necessary as a result of these pills, except for Universities and colleges, increasing productivity in youth and letting children of all 135 Imperial races take a full regiment of pills at age 6, learn everything they need to know overnight, and spending their childhood years at Imperial conditioning schools where they learned loyalty to the State, and after age 18 they either attended University if they were rich, joined the Legions if they were not, or were married off to a wealthy family if they were attractive enough young females to wealthy males of their respective species, drastically increasing productivity in society by pharmaceutically eliminating childhood and adolescence, and all the deviance it brought. Any retired veterans from the Legions would be granted a 100,000 Dactyl salary every year for life, guaranteed, and access to a job, housing and social opportunities, all on the government dime to maintain perfect order and societal efficiency. There was a drug called Tranquility that suppressed all emotion, a person, after taking the drug, felt no emotion whatsoever, only pure, unmitigated focus, making the person a perfectly efficient machine at whatever they did by eliminating every human emotion permanently once the drug was started. There were T-cell based gene-enhancement injections that would mix a person’s DNA with that of an animal to grant them super-senses or increase the rate of evolution, making a human being look and act far more advanced to the point where they barely looked human anymore, injections of enhanced blood plasma that would grant any ordinary person superpowers, allowing anyone to launch fire, electricity, water, ice, control other organisms or even other people’s minds, and even teleport by forcing positive genetic mutations. There were nanobot pills that would constantly replenish the body’s energy level, making the need to sleep, eat or go to the bathroom unnecessary, a steady regiment of these pills made a person infinitely more productive as per Imperial law, a full range of steroids that increased muscle and brain function by 300%, tripling a person’s IQ or muscle mass, so that ANYONE could be a genius or a professional athlete, eliminating all “special talent,” there were even virility drugs that kept a person capable of reproducing well into old age, it was not uncommon in this day and age for 85-year old men to father children with their equally-geriatric wives, and this pharmacy was a licensed Regenera Strain distributor, the drug that could create life, revive dead life, and keep life young and attractive forever. All of these drugs had been created by one company, under the rule of one Empire, and if people didn’t use them, they were seen as disloyal and used as test subjects for new drugs, much like any other members of “inferior races.” Shen Ryujin was correct, that science had reversed the effects of the Original Sin, human beings could now be perfect again, thanks to medicine and therefore, according to him, religious morality was no longer necessary. The Troika, the New Gods, maintained all the order necessary in the universe. There was no God, there was no Devil, there was only Mankind, and the Troika were the God-Emperors. Various groups of people were walking into the store, however, Andrew couldn’t buy anything, as he had no Imperial currency; his 19th-century Reichsmarks were going to do him no good here. He did, however, see a digital, interactive map on the wall of every major Citadel on Valhalla, with Tranquility Citadel and Tyrwaz Citadel, the only two residential cities larger than Odon Citadel on Valhalla, clearly marked. Tyrwaz Citadel was ruled by the Cox Baron family, and Tranquility Citadel ruled by the Ermell family, the latter was considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the Universe, regularly topping the list of the best places to live in the Empire, according to the map, especially at sunset, as the radiant light of the White Sun making the 33,000-foot tall mountain that Tranquility Citadel, the largest city on Valhalla, was carved into shine like a star, rising up from the sunny shores of the Panvalhalla Ocean, as Valhalla was two separate supercontinents, Loki in the North and Thor in the South, separated by the Sleipnir Strait and surrounded by the vast, deep ocean, teeming with life. The summers on the South Coast of Loki, where Tranquility Citadel was located, were hot and sunny, the winters cool and crisp, warmer than on Earth, thanks to the White Sun’s luminosity and the thicker, oxygen-rich atmosphere. Images of elegantly-dressed people standing on the soaring, vertical City of Peace, as Tranquility Citadel was known, watching the sunset over the golden Sleipnir Strait, were witnessing the most romantic sunset anywhere in the Empire. At the summit of Tranquility Citadel, the Ermell family manor sat, 33,000 feet in the pure, high mountain air, the air had a much higher oxygen content than Earth, allowing people to breathe at that elevation without an oxygen tank, and a great, old Weeping Lily tree, stood in the center of the plaza, guarded by 4 Imperial Honor Guards, the flowering tree symbolized the might of the Egoist Crown Empire, and the ephemeral lilies on the tree, blooming a flaming fuchsia and orange color, represented the peace that the Empire kept, through the force of its marching Legions. Tyrwaz Citadel was built in the High Alpine region of Thor in the South, and that citadel’s theme was snow, ice and the beauty and tranquility of winter. Valhalla really was the World Of God-Emperors, the crown jewel of the Empire. Far from the sparsely-inhabited Outer Boundaries, on the edge of Imperial space, where most of the lower-income galaxies and colonies were found, Valhalla, Lilliana V, Kraid and Arcana II, along with Stronghold, were the center of the known Universe. According to the map, Tranquility Citadel was home to the Imperial Museum, where the history of the Empire unfolded for all to see, but, of course, it was only displaying what the Archives, the Emperor and the Eta Carinae High Council approved of. The advertisement on the holographic screen was showing a new exhibit on Pleiadean culture, and advertisement gave a very Lovecraftean introduction to the exhibit: “Hail Mistress of the Seven Sisters Imperium, Sei Ikkiku, Embodiment of Oahina and Imago of Urawera, Queen of the Pleiadean Oahina’a and Grand Duchess of the Empire…for when the stars align and the heavens twist, she shall lead the Universe and signal the return of the Ancient Ones, then shall they, long-abandoned to the loneliest recesses of our Universe’s black depths, break free from their prisons and rise to lead all races into a period of true salvation, for those who lurk, ominously and vigilantly at the threshold of our world are ever-vigilant…” It was quoting a passage from a legend that had sprung up around Sei, that she was the true ruler of the Empire and that the Troika was merely a steward, and various conspiracy theories were abound about the possibility of a “Puppet Master” secretly ruling the Empire through the Troika, and most of the suspicion revolved around Sei, because she was a woman with efficacy, agency and scope, even if she didn’t act like a strong woman, most people who met her, according to the two soldiers talking outside the store, knew that any weakness displayed on Sei’s part was intentional. The Empire fervently denied such allegations, however, and the Troika branded those critics as “psychopaths.” At first, it seemed like the exhibit was nothing short of Imperial propaganda, but Andrew almost certainly wanted to see this exhibit before he returned to his own time period. The museum also displayed an entire exhibit dedicated to the Troika, their speeches, their artwork, their history and their accomplishments as Emperors. According to the LED brochures about the exhibit, the Troika entered Heaven with the Imperial Army upon taking the throne of the Egoist Crown, threw down the gates, and burned the Kingdom of Heaven to the ground, killing God and vanquishing Jesus to the pit of nothingness that awaited all followers of the Old Faiths, placing themselves on the throne of Heaven, uniting the mortal world with the immortal one, creating the Pantheon and making Man and God one and the same. It was quite the claim to make, certainly, and one that Andrew would definitely tell his naysayers back in Imperial Germany. His family back in Imperial Germany was probably worried sick about him, and, as such, Andrew played no role in this grand future society, he was merely an observer, having predicted it and written about it as the Hand of Fate. Still, he wondered, how the Indiction Guard knew who he was upon meeting them, and how everyone seemed to know that he was the Hand of Fate. After what seemed like an short time, Andrew saw the time, and realized that it was time to head for the summit of Odon Citadel, the party was about to take place. Andrew looked at the map of Odon Citadel’s massive interior, and looked for the elevator that would take him to the mountain summit. As he walked towards it, he thought about the coming “Second Awakening,” the Second Indiction on Earth, the Indiction Guards, the Emperor, and everything he had seen so far, the Great Precusors, the Pleiadeans, and the nature of power and wealth…after what he had seen in Odon Citadel and everywhere else, he wondered what it all meant. It didn’t matter at that point, however, he had a party to go to.

 

                    1. Silence! You are my slave!

Hark! Do you believe in angels!? Do you believe in God!? Do you believe in Jesus Christ, and all the follies abound!?Do you believe in Satan?! Do you believe in Hell?! How can you say these things, when there is no one around? I BELIEVE IN RELIGON OF THE BLOOD!!! I BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF HUMAN WILL!!! I SEE THE PAST AS A LESSON LEARNED, AND THE FUTURE AS OURS FOR THE TAKING!! SOME MAY SAY THAT WE ARE A DAMNED RACE, THAT THE SOULS OF MEN ARE DESTINED FOR THE FIRES OF HELL FOR OUR SINS, BUT THESE SINS ARE OUR PRIDE!! WE LEARN BY OUR WITS, WE STRIKE WITH A BOND OF FELLOWSHIP GREATER THAN ANY GOD, AND THROUGH OUR BLOOD AND ANCESTRY, WE HAVE MARCHED TO THE GATES OF THE HEAVENS, POUNDED THE PEARLY GATES DOWN AND LAID WASTE TO ALL WE SAW BEFORE US! DID WE DO THIS BY PRAYER?! DID WE DO THIS BY STANDING IDLY!? NO!! WE STOOD MAN BY MAN, WOMAN BY WOMAN, IN THE FACE OF THE EGOIST CROWN, AND CAST OFF THE SINS OF OUR PAST, GRANTING US IMMORTALITY AND SALVATION! THERE IS NO GOD! THERE IS NO DEVIL! THERE IS ONLY THE EMPIRE, AND I AM ITS GOD!! I BELIEVE IN BLOOD!! I BELIEVE IN POWER! I BELIEVE IN SCIENCE!! I AM YOUR GOD! I AM THE ONLY ONE!!!”

Emperor Arditi’s famous “Religion of the Blood” sermon, to the people of the Empire, just after the Colonial Troops departed for parts unknown. The speech was recorded and would broadcast to any “unworthy” race, just before the Imperial troops invaded. This sermon is given in Arditi’s artificially-enhanced speaking voice, to make him sound louder and more powerful than anything in the Universe.

 

 

Andrew stood in the elevator as it rocketed to the summit of Odon Citadel, with its open-glass windows giving a breathtaking panorama of Isil Valley and Lothorhiim Fields surrounding the city, thinking to himself. What would this party be like? He had never been to a truly elegant party, even though such flim-flam was very common in Imperial Germany. Surely, a party in such a grand empire as the Empire of the Egoist Crown would be even greater in scope. The elevator stopped at the summit of the 26,500-foot tall Odon Citadel, it arrived directly inside the O’Brien manorial house, at the airy summit of the Citadel. Just then, a broadcast screen in the elevator, after advertising luxury condominium rentals in the floating city of Delta Dromius on Lilliana V, gave a brief lecture by Alexandra O’Brien, the eldest of Duke Patrick’s children and, in Andrew’s opinion, the best-looking. “Greetings, Andrew. It appears you’ve been able to find the lift to the summit in good time. You can speak to me through this system, it’s a video chat terminal.” “Alright, hello, I see you’ve changed your outfit, it looks much more modest.” “Yes, that was just my formal outfit that I wear for Imperial engagements. You may enter the house now, I warned you, though, it’s big.” The elevator doors opened, and Andrew was stunned by what he saw. The elevator opened into the biggest foyer he had ever seen, bizarrely, there was no door into the house, just a huge, sliding-glass window that opened onto a balcony in the thin, but warm mountain air cloaked in cloud, guarded by three Imperial Legion Honor Guards standing around a blooming Weeping Lily tree. “There’s no other way into my house except through that lift. It’s for extra security, not that I’ll ever need it. The Empire is strong enough.” Alexandra said, sitting in a hovering chair with her legs crossed, hovering around the house sipping from a martini glass. She hovered over to Andrew and asked him a very poignant question. “So, Andrew, what have you learned from our Empire so far?” Andrew struggled with what to say to that question…there was so much, yet even though as the Hand of Fate, he had predicted it. “No words, acts or proverbs can even remotely describe what I have been able to see of your society. There are just…some things that even as the Hand of Fate, I could not have dreamed of. The one overlying theme I noticed from the Empire of the Egoist Crown is its emphasis on order, efficiency and peace…I have never seen a more disciplined, powerful and efficient society. If only the Germans in my time period could be as decisive. That Shen Ryujin fellow, he gives some of the most impressive speeches I’ve ever heard. With those millions of soldiers, ships and vehicles at his disposal, there is probably no force in this universe that can withstand him and the Imperial Colonial Troops. The Pleiadeans…I have my questions about them, but they appear to be far more powerful than any of the 134 other Imperial Races, given by what some of the Legionnaires were discussing about them, and the Indiction Guards are the most astounding warriors I’ve ever seen. What exactly defines an Imperial Race?” “That depends, but Shen Ryujin would define an Imperial Race as any species that shares some biological characteristics with humans, like being bipedal, having blood, breathing oxygen, speaking a definite language, and so forth. Any other race is seen as inferior and in need of immediate destruction, so that the Imperial Races can occupy their planet, and eventually their whole galaxy. It is a grand, intergalactic policy of Lebensraum, which has been perpetuated for more than 800,000 years. Shen is now embarking on a new phase of Imperial expansion, beginning with the recapture of Earth, and Elizabeth’s boyfriend is in the Colonial Troops…he was boarding one of those transport barges…I didn’t want to say anything to my sister, but there’s a good chance that she never sees him again. History is just one gigantic Darwinian struggle between races; the principles of Cataclysmic Succession, which states that stresses caused by chaos and cataclysms in the environment can trigger evolution of new traits to adapt to that terror, therefore driving the upward march of evolution. War, struggle, and battle create cataclysms. Cataclysms destroy, but sometimes, you must destroy in order to create. Destroying the lesser races gives the superior ones more environmental niches to occupy, therefore altering the course of our own evolution and increasing our chances of survival. By uniting under one banner, the 135 Imperial Races made themselves invincible. It is the old fasces principle, one twig standing alone will snap under stress, but a bundle of twigs centered around a steel axe blade is unbreakable. As Shen said earlier, it is better to live one day a lion than to live a thousand years a sheep. It is simple Darwinian logic. Only the fittest will survive, and the 135 Imperial Races, led by the Master Human and Hyperborean Race, have risen above all others, through the might of the Empire of the Egoist Crown and its Pantheon Doctrine, the One Belief of the Imperial Races, and Cataclysmic Succession. And look at what we have done! Humanity was once meek, weak and powerless, too small to make any difference in the grander scheme of the universe, but after Arditi’s ascension to the throne of Seras with the Troika’s assistance, the creation of the Lordly Empire, and the assimilation of the 134 other Imperial Races after millennia of struggles, jihads, crusades and conquests that have raged across the stars, and the expansion into one-third of the known universe, we are the masters! We are the Supreme Beings, the Immortal God-Emperors of the Universe. Everything in Isil Valley is my family’s property, and the Universe belongs to us. There is no one remotely capable of challenging our might. The Hammer, Cross and Crescent is more than a flag. It is a destiny, a manifest destiny, and a destiny that calls for complete human domination of the known universe. Shen is right in every way a man can be right. My ancestors did not build this citadel by standing idly and wondering. They forged the mountain stronghold with the hands and tools of humankind, so too do we all share the same destiny. As long as you’re here, Andrew, you are considered an Imperial citizen, and one that shares this grand destiny. Think about that. Do you truly want to return to your own time period and live out the remainder of your life in Imperial Germany? I know what happens during the 20th century as much as you do, Hand of Fate, and to be honest with you, your chances of survival are low, in my view. Here, on Valhalla, there is no danger of war, insubordination or crime. This Citadel is considered one of the safest places in the Universe. My father rules from this manor atop the Citadel on behalf of the Emperor and the Imperial Pantheon, but I, my sisters and my brother are his children, and children of the Empire. I invite you to be one of us.” “Hey, Alexandra, the party’s in here! Bring him into the dining room, where we can meet him!” A young man’s voice interrupted Alexandra’s speech. “Oh, forgive me, I must have gone on for too long.” Alexandra’s chair hovered through the foyer and into the dining room with Andrew following close behind, and encountered a festive group of other nobility, all dressed in their everyday outfits, having changed out of their Imperial formalwear, including Neil, Duke Patrick, Victoria and Elizabeth. Most of Neil’s friends were there too. “Hey there, Andrew, you are? I heard your conversation with Alex in there, I heard you might stay here a while.” “Yes, she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” “Aye, she’s good at doing that, wouldn’t ya’ say, Neil?” “I would have to agree with you on that one. She’s always been the strongest-willed of my sisters. Heart of iron, soul of purity, Duke Patrick has raised us strong and true, and my friend Andrew, tonight we drink to you.” “Enough with your gabbing, just drink already!” Neil’s friend poured a huge stein of whiskey into Neil’s glass, and Neil took a huge swig of it. “Ahh, it’s the nectar of the Gods, this tastes finer than wine, ya know?” Neil’s friend said, drinking the whole glass in one gulp. “Now look who talks too much…” Neil said, eloquently. “Oh, don’t start that bullshit! There’s no one at fault here if we’re all drunk.” “We aren’t drunk yet…just wait for another hour. Then things will really get crazy.” “Hey, Andrew, you’re German, right? Why don’t you have some of this whiskey? It’s like heaven-sent bliss from the great pub in the sky…” “Leave the poetry to me, McKinley, that was awful.” “Oh, shut your fucking trap, ya loon!” “So, Andrew, what did you think of Shen Ryujin’s speech to the troops?” Elizabeth asked. “He has quite a way of speaking, that’s for sure, but what of any of the “lesser races” he talked about? Couldn’t they be assimilated into the Empire and educated?” “That can never happen. A lesser race can never become a better one, they are what they are from birth, for life, and can never learn civilization, biology is not a construct, biology is science, and science is absolute. The only way to deal with them is to eliminate the threat they pose to our supremacy. There are several uncontacted races that the Empire knows about, and they fear the Empire of the Egoist Crown and its human overlords more than anything else. The “Aqua Vixens,” a race of all-female mermaid-like beings on an oceanic planet just beyond the rim of Imperial space, appears to be the Colonial Troops’ first target, for all their talk of being peaceful and wanting to share their knowledge with the rest of the universe, they’ve been thumbing their nose at the Empire for years. These aquatic women teach their children that humans are imaginary monsters that cruel individuals tell them hide under their beds at night, and that the Sea Goddesses are greater than any monster, and will protect them from any fear. Shen Ryujin is about to teach them the true meaning of fear, I can tell you that much. I’d like to see their Sea Goddesses protect them from the planet-killer laser of an Odin-class capital ship. Neil wants to fly a Shinigami-class starfighter eventually, if it was up to him, he’d already be flying in the Airborne Legions.” “Yes, and I’ve been training Sky Mantas my whole life. Flying a machine is just a step up on the ladder of complexity.” “Enough of this pointless chatter! Let’s get some music in here!!” McKinley yelled, just as cheerful, festive music began playing. “Would you like to dance, Andrew?” Alexandra offered Andrew her hand. “Oh, fine, it’s just that I’ve never danced much before.” “Oh, it’s really quite simple…” Alexandra looked behind him and saw McKinley, already drunk, stumbling over himself trying to dance with Victoria, who looked rather annoyed. “If that fool can dance with my sister drunk as a skunk, you can dance with me.” Alexandra said, pointing at McKinley. Andrew took Alexandra’s hand and started stepping with the Irish folk music, it was cheerful, upbeat and had a classic fiddle to it, “This is nothing like any German dance that I know of…” Andrew said, awkwardly trying to keep up with Alexandra’s rapid movements. “You’re doing just fine, just keep dancing.” Alexandra said happily, spinning around so that her long black hair passed in front of her face. Suddenly, Andrew tripped and fell on top of Alexandra in a very awkward position, they both fell to the floor just as the music reached a faster tempo. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, Alexandra, please forgive my clumsy feet.” “No worries. I’ve had worse guys fall on top of me while dancing before.” Alexandra said, standing to her feet, just as McKinley mischievously changed the music to something that Andrew recognized immediately, a classic Irish drinking and dance tune called “Finnegan’s Wake.” As soon as the music started, all 4 O’Brien siblings laughed and took out a special flask of alcohol and chugged the whole thing. “We only drink this stuff when this song plays…you ready to dance, Andrew? HAHAHAHAHA!!” Alexandra laughed, slurring her words seconds after she drank the alcohol. As the music played, Andrew realized that he didn’t have a choice. Alexandra danced like a fiend, pulling Andrew’s face right into her chest and spun him around as she did, faster and faster, until it seemed like the whole room was spinning. “The Song of Seafaring Sleds is a’crackin’ at dawn, I’m as pure as a newborn fawn…” McKinley droned along to the music, utterly wasted. “Oh, shut the fuck up!” Neil barked, punching McKinley in the back. McKinley, too drunk to see where the punch came from, punched Victoria instead, who promptly turned around and punched McKinley even harder. “These hands ain’t as innocent as they look, ya’ gobshit!” Victoria screamed. “Bring it, filthy harlot!!” Soon, the entire family was engaged in a drunken brawl, just as the music reached its climax. Andrew, the only one not drunk, did his best to stay out of the fracas, and crept to the sidelines, watching as the whole group wailed on each other. “This is not what I had in mind when Alexandra said “party,” certainly…” Andrew thought. Still, he enjoyed dancing with Alexandra before she drank herself silly and started punching her brother in the nose until it bled. After the song ended, the group of drunken brawlers lay on the ground, laughing themselves to sleep. Andrew helped Alexandra to her feet. “The guest room is down the hallway…thank you.” Alexandra said, as she fell back to where she lay, and just decided to go to sleep. Even Duke O’Brien was passed out on the couch after the brouhaha during the song. Andrew decided to take a rest as well, as he made his way to one of the guest rooms down the hall, he saw the simple, yet comfortable room in front of him. Laying down, he closed his eyes and went to sleep. Little did he know, that elsewhere in the Empire, even greater events were brewing. However, at this point, Andrew didn’t care. He very well might take Alexandra up on her offer to stay.

 

ORDER! ORDER!!” Grand Duke Lumen Ash yelled to the vast halls of the Imperial Pantheon on Stronghold, his deep, alien, booming voice commanding respect as the Troika took their positions at the Emperor’s Box. Ash drew his huge, twin-pronged sword in an effort to quiet the bickering Representatives from each Imperial Sector down. “Representatives of the Imperial Pantheon, the Colonial Troops have departed for Aurelia, the planet of the Aqua Vixens, under the stewardship of Minister of Science Shen Ryujin. The Empire will lay claim to its first new galaxy in more than 70 years. There is, however a more pressing matter, a matter that is critical to the entire Empire. I just returned from a speech on Lilliana V’s capital, Delta Dromius, and there, I was presented evidence by Eisenheim Illusions Corporation cargo ships that mysterious, strange and otherworldy “ghosts” are sometimes seen in deep space, ghosts that do not take an organic form and can change their shape at will. Normally, I would associate such rumors with someone being in space for an extended period of time, even with artificial gravity aboard a starship, flying in space for months, if not years at a time can overwhelm the senses, as the inky blackness of the unknown creeps into even the most stalwart mind. Now, however, with the discovery of Ayya’ra Archimago, the Precursor Emperor, and his very close resemblance to what the EIC spacers have described as “The Creeping Chaos,” as well as entities that have been reported ever since manned spaceflight began in the 20th century and even earlier with UFO sightings on Earth, leads us to believe that the Precursors might not be extinct after all. Perhaps their society is gone, and they have been reduced to intergalactic vagabonds, haunting their former empire as waifs, strays and ghosts of a bygone age…and perhaps seeking a way to return to power. They may be waiting on the threshold of our world, waiting for some trigger, some sort of impetus to re-emerge.” The Representatives began to discuss the possibility of an Imperial rival to the Empire of the Egoist Crown, the first one it had known since the Human Race’s Pacification of the Old Sinh and the Troika’s ultimate victory more than 700,000 years ago. This enemy, if it did exist, however, was not something that could be destroyed by brute force, because, if the rumors were true, these beings were so advanced that it was impossible determine if they were alive or not, let alone kill them. If they were simply energy, however, perhaps ion weaponry would have effects on them, but, then again, they would almost certainly recognize this weakness. The universe was full of “hidden genies;” objects and events that could affect the outcome of Imperial society in completely unforeseen ways, and the thought of an unknown rival that predated humanity by 500 million years still existing in the loneliest reaches of the Universe was a very ugly-looking lamp. Still, however, an Eisenheim Illusions Corporation mining vessel was bound for the anomaly in the Great Dark Patch, this huge ship, more than 3 miles long, was actually a standard-sized vessel for a civilian craft, but it was big, by any standards. When the crew found out where they were going, though, they were less than enthusiastic. Their ship was a massive miner and cargo hauler, it was neither a warship nor a research vessel, and many of the spacers on the ship saw the mission as suicide. Several even resigned from their jobs, but the threat of Imperial judiciary action forced them into compliance. And thus, the ship was on an outward bound course, the Thought Drives were to be fired up in about an hour, into the unexplored, from high orbit around Stronghold. For all the miners knew, this would be the last time they saw Minas Etherea ever again. The fear of the unknown was the greatest of human fears, aggravating the deepest nightmares of the human subconscious, but as members of the Imperial society, they would face their fears with honor and distinction. As for the invasion of the “Aqua Vixen” planet, that was scheduled to begin in a few days, but even that carried with it some level of risk, venturing into an unknown galaxy with the intent on conquering it, sector by sector, over a period of 3 or 4 years. “In the interests of the Empire, we have commenced a project of expansion, a Second Awakening, that will last 1,000 years, until our Empire’s borders reach to encompass half, if not more, of the known universe. Ad Victorium Ex Machina, Et Imperium Infinitum Et Alta, Patria et!” The Imperial Roll Call returned from Emperor Arditi’s rally speech, with all Representatives giving the Roman salute and a mighty hail. “We did not stand idly by when the Vampire Uprising on Krakow II threatened every man woman and child on that planet! We would not die in that man’s fellowship who fears death! For he who shares his fellowship with me shall be my blood brother, dare he damned forget!!! There may come a day when we break all bonds of fellowship and scatter ourselves aimlessly amongst the stars as we once were, but that is not today! This day we fight! This day, all stars burn as one! There are no limits! When we set sail for these stars unknown, for fame and for gold, we keep in mind: The Universe is not enough!!! For the Empire and the Pantheon, AD VICTORIUM!! AD VICTORIUM!!! AD VICTORIUM!!!” The Representatives roared in patriotic euphoria, Roman saluting with their eternally-young Troika over and over again. There was no denying the absolute power of the Empire in that speech. Much was known about the Aqua Vixens from Shen Ryujin’s observations of them, and they were, as of current knowledge, at least dimly aware that the Empire was observing them. They were a primitive culture by Imperial standards, having not yet mastered space travel and still confined to the planet that they evolved on, so therefore, they were not of the Imperial Race. Furthermore, they built their entire cities out of precious metals, gold, silver, and platinum. Vast temples devoted to various gods and goddesses were built, including a god named “Vedma,” who looked an awful lot like Shen Ryujin, with his shoulder-length red hair and menacing gaze, black uniform and cape, along with a scepter. The arrival of Ryujin’s fleets would be ironic indeed, because “Vedma” was apparently the destroyer god in the Aqua Vixen pantheon, who appeared at the end of time to destroy the world and build a new one in its place. This would probably work in Ryujin’s favor, because they would see his arrival as destiny and not resist it. It was of no consequence, however; their weapons were barely more than spears and archery bows. Ryujin would make it a personal goal of his to display the Aqua Vixen Queen back on Stronghold, and have her ritually executed in front of the Emperor’s Office. The planet would be purged of all Aqua Vixen taint and colonized as an Imperial world, renamed “El Dorado,” and the rest of the new galaxy would soon follow. The Emperor’s speech was being broadcast live on the Imperial news networks, in every Imperial galaxy, so that all could share in the Emperor’s vision. Just after the Emperor’s awe-inspiring speech to begin the Second Awakening, he and the Troika walked back into their office in the Grand Amphitheater of the Pantheon building, where they always prepared to speak to the Senate, only to find an unexpected visitor. “Hello, Lordly Troika.” “To what do we owe this visit, Queen Ikkiku?” Anteon grumbled, none too pleased to see her. “I have come to make a personal request on a pressing matter, on behalf of every woman in the Universe. The Aokigahara Consortium stronghold has been found. It’s on the planet Odin’s Gate, in the Holmgard Galaxy. We know that, from the Pleiadian Archives and the Eta Carinae High Council that they are holding vast numbers of black-market slave concubines there for distribution, at the Norheim Slave Market, an old military installation that has been transformed into a prison for women, doomed to spend the rest of eternity in sex slavery, as they are given Regenera Strain to keep them young forever. You have been looking for the stronghold for many years, and we finally found a way around their ability to block our mind-mapping. I am requesting to take a Legion to Odin’s Gate and liberate the slave yards of Norheim. In the name of all justice, these women deserve to be free from the threat of kidnapping or slavery. Asaga Asoka Kanagashima III must pay for his crimes. This genocide against our daughters, sisters, wives and girlfriends must stop.” Sei showed the skeptical Troika a series of images from the Norheim Slave Yards, such as the heartbreaking scenes of a young woman, naked and strung up like an animal, on an auction block, being aggressively bid on by throngs of rich people, many of whom worked for the Consortium, with the woman holding her face in her hands, evidence of torture chambers, rape-orgies, and a graveyard where the slaves that “didn’t make it” were unceremoniously dumped into mass graves. “How can any woman worth her humanity not rage with every cell in her body? Am I not a woman and a sister? Noble Troika, please come to your senses and stop this slaughter! Now!!” “Who are you to command us?! Feminism is not a cause with which to squander the blood of Imperial troops, and I will not allow MY legions to die for a planet of dregs!!” Anteon roared, with his jaw protruding from his lips. “My legions…My empire…My own will…that’s all I can ever hear you say. Not once do you mention those in need, not once do you mention the suffering masses in the Outer Colonies, kept in line by the might of your Legions. Any truly honorable man would shed his blood, sweat and tears to free his sisters from the chains of bondage, and yet you stand idly by while a GENOCIDE continues against your own people. The only explanation is that you do not consider women people. You may be the Emperors of the Egoist Crown, but I am the Queen of the Seven Sisters Imperium, and I have my own fleets, my own legions, and my own free will! And I will not stand idly by while innocent blood is spilled!! Good day to you, sirs!!” Sei screamed right back in the Troika’s face. “So take them…you are embarking on the greatest white elephant crusade in the history of the Empire. As per the Treaty of Union, you may take your fleets to Odin’s Gate…but do NOT expect support from the Legions!!” Marduk growled. “I do not need your army of weak, dishonorable and spineless men. My own Pleiadean forces will suffice.” And thus it was. The Troika and especially Emperor Arditi knew that they had no chance of persuading her otherwise, the Treaty of Union’s Pleiadean Clause technically gave Queen Sei equal power in ruling the Empire, but the Troika never thought she’d ever exercise that right. Sei was something that Arditi could never truly control, and his only weak point. Arditi began to fear that he might have gravely underestimated Sei, largely because of her sex, and if the Pleiadean fleets were as impressive as they were rumored to be, the very basic dynamic of Imperial rule, that Arditi was the only God-Emperor and the Troika were the Prophets, might be compromised. Arditi sat down in his seat, using his highly-enhanced cerebral cortex to remember all the Imperial glory that his Legions had won…and what drove him to become a political leader in the first place, more than 800,000 years ago. It was a college campus, on Earth, the only planet humans lived on back then, and the young man Alexander stood with a young woman, dressed like an elaborate, elegant aristocrat in her Jungsturm-Nordsterne dress, sitting with him and eating at a cafe near the campus. She loved him, loved him more than life itself, for her parents had been murdered in front of her when she was 4. Some might have called it a Freudian trait, but Alexander did enjoy her company and her constant desire to be with him. One day, however, fate caught up with the unfortunate orphan, the young woman herself was brutally murdered, it turns out that the dean of the university she and Alexander attended, Yale, was, in fact, a deranged psychopath that believed in the ancient “Religion of the Blood,” and she was slowly tortured and killed by the dean of the university in her basement after the dean innocently offered one her top students at the school a ride to Alexander’s house in the rain…she never arrived home that night, and at the dean’s trial, the degenerate professor chillingly recounted every macabre detail about how she tortured and killed the young woman, and her last words, directed to Alexander, were “Remember me…” before she died in a makeshift torture chamber, bleeding slowly onto the floor…and from that day forward, Alexander never forgot her. Not when he joined the Order of Pantheon Cult under Prophet Anteon and Prophet Marduk, not when he brought the Catholic Church to its knees by revealing all of its long-hidden crimes to the world, not when the Seras Imperium arrived on Earth, not when he fooled the Seras Imperium into believe that he was their Messiah, not when he proclaimed the Empire of the Egoist Crown, not when he fought a 100,000-year war with the Old Sinh and absorbed it, with 330 trillion lives lost in the process, and not now, with a new phase of expansion and war beginning. Not once, his actions were all in her memory. The young woman’s name was Sakura Morgendorfer, and her name forever immortalized in the Imperial National Anthem, as well as the Blind Lady Rune, and the most sacred Imperial holiday. Though Emperor Arditi was immortalized by the wondrous technologies of his Empire, there were still times where he wished he was still just a simple man in love. Sex, Love, Control, and Power. These were the four basic tenants of Blood Faith, which defined Pantheon Doctrine. The Empire was a product of his eternal dedication to Sakura, and he would not let some Pleiadean upstart ruin 800,000 years of Empire building. At this point, however, there was nothing he could do except to accept Sei as his equal in this operation and honor the Treaty of Union. Sei was bringing the full hammer of Imperial justice against the worst pirate consortium in the known Universe…on a brighter note, it fit right into the Second Awakening. Asaga Asoka Kanagashima III was a tortured young man, according to the Empire’s records on every citizen, thanks to the Pleiadean Eta Carinae High Council of telekinetics, was raised in a household with three older sisters and his mother, his father had passed away at a very young age, and his mother had a severe mental defect from a Solation Pharmaceutical drug’s side effect. His sisters, without their father to look up to, suffered from Stockholm syndrome and obeyed their tyrant mother’s every whim. She ran the Kanagashima household like a deranged dictator, using her daughters as a secret police force and torturing Asaga for so much as sneezing in the middle of the night. Asaga still grew up, but he became the most dangerous member of the family, and after enrolling in the Imperial Academy on Ansaati, he quickly rose to the top of his class, only the be expelled for the brutal murder of his mother, sisters and the teenage babysitter that took care of him when he was a baby, at that point pregnant with her 3rd child. After that, the Eta Carinae High Council lost track of him, he had discovered a way to block their mind-mapping powers by using his own psychotic, distorted emotions as a shield, absorbing his mental signature into the universal background noise, making him impossible to detect. His hatred for women, born out of his hatred for his mother and sisters, now had gone unchecked for ten years. That was about to change. The Pleiadean war fleets, used to guard the Pleiades Star Cluster, only 440 light-years from Earth, were smaller in number than the Imperial Legions, but the “Battle Wyverns” used by Sei’s fleet predated the Empire by thousands of years; according to the Pleiadean Archives, the first Battle Wyverns were built at the same time as the Egyptians were building the Pyramids. The Wyverns were not quite as large as the Odin-class capital ships used by the Legions, but were more efficient and just as powerful, required a smaller crew, and had even stronger shields and defensive armaments. The Wyverns also were dedicated battlecruisers, they did not carry a fleet of Loki-class assault ships like the Odin-class ships did and did not rely on their assault carrier fleet to protect them, emphasizing the Pleiadean focus on self-sufficiency. Each Wyvern was unique to the its commander, she oversaw the ship’s construction, hand-picked its crew and decorated the ship to her liking, the interiors of some Pleiadean senior commanders’ ships looked more like a magnificent cathedral than a warship, decorated with trappings, statues and artful decorations that would seem woefully out of place on a monochrome, steel-gray Imperial warship. The Pleiadean fleets had not been activated since before the Seven Sisters Imperium joined the Empire, and what a mission it was to mark the return of Pleiadean justice to the Universe, the light of the White Tower of Kalafina would shine like a beacon across the Universe once again. Let the bells toll, for the light of justice would soon shine upon the anguished slave girls of Norheim. Their cries would finally be answered. The pirates of Aokigahara wouldn’t know what hit them. Still, Sei Ikkiku wondered why Asaga would go to such an extreme in his misogyny. Being tortured by 4 women growing up was generally not enough to make someone hate all women. In a typical case, the tortured would exact revenge on his torturers but not extend his vengeance beyond them, because everyone else was innocent. There was something far greater at work here, something far deeper, but neither Sei nor the Eta Carinae High Council knew exactly what.

 

Andrew awoke 3 hours later, just as the sun was setting over the Isil Mountains on Valhalla. The O’Brien estate was silent, aside from a few footsteps out in the hallway, and soon enough, Alexandra, still groggy from the alcohol, walked into Andrew’s guest room and smiled. “Rise and shine, handsome. Did you enjoy the party?” “Yes…I did, where are the others?” “They are in the living room, watching the holovision. The Emperor just gave a speech about how he’s embarking on a thousand-year Great Awakening…this is huge, by the end of that time period, our Empire will cover half of the known Universe. Ever upward, as they say on Valhalla.” “So, I’ve heard something about this “Aqua Vixen” planet, I’ve heard that their planet has buildings made of solid gold, silver and platinum. Imagine how rich that’s going to make the Legionnaires who land there and conquer it, an entire planet of treasure! Those Aqua Vixens might be worth something too, I’m sure some of the wealthy naturalists and collectors working with the Ministry of Science would love to have a pet fish-woman.” “They’re not like dolls or anything you can collect, you gobshit!” Victoria snapped at McKinley. “They’re aquatic warrior-maidens that look a bit like mermaids, and I guarantee they won’t be happy when they find out what our Empire means to do to them. They all need to die.” “I really can’t see the point in just killing all of them.” Andrew responded. “Wouldn’t the Empire benefit somewhat if they tried to at least learn about the Aqua Vixen culture a bit before they decided to plunder their planet?” “What could we possibly learn from them? They use bows and spears for weapons, living in a largely Stone-Age culture, they could not learn from us because they’re simply too primitive. They swim around like subhuman fish-monkeys and live on the shores of their tropical seas, the most we can garner from them is a renewed idea of the Noble Savage, and that is ancient history. They need to be treated like the cockroaches they are and squashed. Shen Ryujin is their destroyer god.” Victoria announced, rather authoritatively. “Emperor Arditi is right. We did not fight the Great Sinh War for 100,000 years to stop at one-third of the known universe. This Second Awakening could bring us newfound wealth and territory effectively and quickly, just as the past 700,000 years since the Great Sinh War have, or it could lead us into an equal or greater conflict to that war. Whatever happens, we stand united. Know this, Andrew, and know that Alexandra is right. You always have a home with us.” Somehow Andrew didn’t know whether he wanted to trust the O’Brien family or not, they were outwardly friendly, but they were still Imperial Dukes, and nobility tended to be very aloof and fickle. Something told Andrew that they had ulterior motives. However, that was all speculation at this point. Andrew decided to sit down on the couch with Alexandra and her sisters and watch the holovision, for now, he was happy. He was curious about one thing, however. “Alexandra, what exactly started the the Great Sinh War? I know the basic layout of what happened, for I predicted it, but, I’d like to learn from someone looking at it from the other side of time.” “The Great Sinh War was the greatest conflict in the Universe’s history and involved more than 1/3 of the known Universe, the entire territory controlled by the Empire of the Egoist Crown now. The Empire once consisted of two separate political entities, the Lordly Empire, consisting of humanity and the Seras allies, and the Old Sinh, controlled by the Sangresaara. Emperor Arditi and the Troika had a grand vision for a human-dominated Universe, and so massed a fleet consisting of more than a quintillion starships to challenge the Old Sinh, who had a similar number of ships. For 100,000 years, both Empires battled nonstop, the war began shortly after the arrival of the Seras on Earth in 2107 A.D., and more than 330 trillion life-forms died on both sides. It was during this conflict that Pantheon Doctrine truly took over as the One Faith of the Lordly Empire, and the Great Purge of Apologetics; all the Christians, Jews, and Muslims that tried to use science to justify their faith, and homosexuals for their inability to breed with one another, to make way for Pantheon began. Pantheon accepts all doctrines, but only as long as they accept it. At the final battle over the planet Stronghold, now the Imperial capital world, more than 3.5 million ships battled at one time, with the Lordly Empire breaking the back of Old Sinh fleet there, wiping out every single enemy. The Old Sinh Empire was absorbed, and the modern Empire reached fruition, though the next 700,000 years brought more assimilation and expansion, plus the Rebirth, which took 100,000 years and was completed by the Second Indiction.” “Wow…so this empire was built on the cost of 330 trillion deaths…” Andrew thought. Suddenly, every war he had ever known of seemed rather insignificant. Such were the mathematics of calling a third of the Universe your home. As the White Sun set on Valhalla, the call to arms began on another world, many light years away.

 

                    1. Fine! Please, just spare me and my loved ones!

Don’t interfere with a woman’s dreams…you thought I was weak and defenseless, that I could be manipulated by your propaganda, you thought you had me on the wall, like a tiny insect trembling in fear. You may be Emperor for the moment, but I am a Queen, understand? I have your pawns, castles, knights and the board on my side, and I have you in check, whether you like it or not. All the Legions, Indiction Guards, assassins and fleets in the universe cannot protect you from your own overconfidence, this Treaty of Union that you so willingly signed to “assimilate” the Seven Sisters Imperium was really my plan all along. I only agreed to the terms because it would benefit my people and grant them the full powers of the Empire. And it has. Why do you continue to mourn the loss of Sakura Morgendorfer, as if you wander the universe with your eyes closed. She’d be sick to look upon you now. For the power you wield has corrupted thee soul,and far from the God-Emperor you claim to be, you are but still a simple man trying to make his way in the universe. I, however, have seen more eons that you are capable of knowing. There is much to discuss, but I leave this to a later date. For once, for now, and forever, I concur with the wisdom of the Elders. Down with the injustice!!”

Sei Ikkiku’s Personal Diary, entry V, Page III.

First light shone upon the White Tower of Alcyone, the mile-high pinnacle soaring skyward over the Pleiadean capital city of Kalafina, illuminating the surreal, wondrous dreamscapes that covered the planet. It looked like Dante’s vision of Heaven, with low-hanging white clouds coating the pearly-white, gold and blue buildings in a heavenly morning mist, with gleaming monuments, vast cathedrals to the Pleiadean Goddesses Oahina and Urawera, among others, with their stained-glass windows collecting the radiance of the bluish-white Suns from the Pleiades Star Cluster in the sky. The white, spotless streets were just beginning to stir with the Pleiadean women walking out for their daily activities, most wearing everyday equivalents of the Imperial Etherea Aristocracy outfit, not as formal and far more practical. It looked like just another day on Alcyone, when all of a sudden, a blazing white beacon was lit at the top of the White Tower, causing it to shine like a gigantic lighthouse and blaze forth like a white star in the sky. In an instant, the Pleiadeans looked to the White Tower and knew that this could mean only one thing. Queen Sei Ikkiku called for aid, and the Battle Wyverns would answer. Sei, dressed for war and holding a Hallucination Nano-Sword, appeared on every broadcast screen in Alcyone. “Sisters of Pleiades, I address you today, not as the Vice-Emperor of the Egoist Crown, not as the Queen of the Seven Sisters Imperium, but as an ordinary woman. The Empire has learned of a very grave injustice decimating our sisters on the planet Odin’s Gate.” Sei broadcast the images of the slave yards on the screens. “This senseless slaughter cannot continue. The Troika has no desire to help these poor souls, and even referred to them as dregs. So, I ask you, Sisters of Pleiades, to stand with me against this horror. Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression, these women live with nothing but with no hope of rescue or even respite of death. Through all the chaos that is Imperial history, through all of the wars, and the discord, through all the pain and suffering, through all of our time, there is one thing that has lifted us, and elevated the Empire and the Pleiadeans above their origins and made our combined strength the greatest the universe has ever known, and that is our courage. The hopes and dreams of millions of young women languishing in slavery rest today on our shoulders, so let the battle cry of liberty fill your souls, Sisters, and do not relent until the chains of slavery never clatter through the Universe again! We are the Seven Sisters of Oahina’a, the embodiments of Urawera, and the daughters of the stars themselves. Remember this, go forth, and fear no darkness!! Arise! Arise Pleiadean Guard, swords shall clatter! Guns shall blaze! A sore day for us, but a grand day for justice, and the sun rises!!!” At the conclusion of Sei’s speech, every Pleiadean alive turned their attention to the White Tower, they all lived in the Cluster and only left their star system if the Empire needed them for command of an operation or Sei called them for whatever reason. They let the fires of liberty and divine justice boil the blood in their veins, and soon, the entire city began to sing the Pleiadean war hymns as the Battle Wyverns were activated from their system-wide patrols. For many centuries, the Pleiadeans were respected and revered throughout the Milky Way Galaxy as the most powerful, noble and just society, using their knowledge of the universe and their exceptional diplomatic skill to defuse political situations between various races scattered across the stars, and using their elite armada for a bit of “aggressive persuasion” if needed. They reigned from the Seven Sisters Cluster unchallenged, until the rise of humanity and the Egoist Crown Empire. The Pleiadeans knew that they would eventually face humanity in battle or in diplomacy, so, naturally, they went the diplomatic route, and in a masterful display of negotiation skill, the current Queen, Sei Ikkiku, secured her position as an equal to Emperor Arditi, written in the Treaty of Union. The Emperor did not have any judicial authority over the Seven Sisters Imperium, and in many ways, Sei had more power than even Arditi. In this manner, Sei had secured the Pleiadean’s position to spread the Light of Justice across the entire universe, those Battle Wyverns now carried the weight of the entire Empire behind them, even if Arditi did not openly support this venture to Odin’s Gate. The lead Battle Wyvern for this operation, the Reaper’s Crucible, was commanded by the Viceroy of Pleiades, Annahae Mirilaana, one of Sei’s most trusted advisers. This time, the Aokigahara pirates would not escape. Though the Pleiadeans did not know the size of the Aokigahara fleet, the Pleiadeans had a very large fleet of massive warships, ones more powerful in many ways than the Odin-class warships used by the Legions. They had the Battle Wyverns and a large fleet of frigates, carriers, battlecruisers, destroyers, heavy cruisers and corvettes, and an entire legion of small, maneuverable starfighters, the latter began flying overhead as the Guard Forces rallied in orbit above Alcyone. In the vast Hall of the Archives, the Pleiadean Librarians, and the Eta Carinae High Council gave the eternal blessing of Oahina to the massing Guard Forces in orbit, and the Fountain of the Thousand Dolls chimed the Hymnal of Liberty’s Flame, the doll-figurines sang the tune as the waterfalls rushed over them. At that moment, the massive, elegant Battle Wyvern, the Crucible, appeared in orbit with the rest of its battle group, and Sei’s image appeared on the Pleiadean broadcast screens again, this time, to join in the Eternal Blessing of Oahina. “Now, my Sisters…it is time. Go forth, and shine the light of justice upon those who cry in the darkness!” With that rally, the huge Pleiadean fleet in orbit moved out into space, fired up their Thought Drives, and jumped at the speed of thought, directly towards Odin’s Gate. It was a grand day for the Seven Sisters Imperium, the Empire and the Second Awakening, the end of slavery and the renewed expansion of the Empire.

We’re out of Thought Space in 40 seconds…” a Pleiadean crewmember aboard the Crucible said, as Viceroy Mirilaana donned her jet-black, elegant battle uniform’s helmet. “Group A reporting in! Group B reporting in! Group C reporting in! Groups D through F reporting in, all fleets accounted for and ready. It’s your call, Viceroy.” “We are go for engagement, through the tunnel in 5.” Five seconds later, the enormous Pleiadean fleet, led by the colossal Crucible warped out of Thought Space, with the tranquil-looking planet of Odin’s Gate looming about 500,000 miles in front of them. Surrounding the planet, like bees swarming around a hive, were the Aokigahara Consortium fighters, cruisers and bombers, small and lightly-armed compared to the dedicated Pleiadean warships, these were pirate vessels, designed to strike hard and escape fast, but woefully under-equipped to wage a pitched space battle against an Imperial fleet. Still, it looked as if the pirate fleet was willing to stand its ground, as the smaller ships formed ranks in orbit, smaller picket ships in front, the heavier cruisers behind. The Pleiadean fleets did too, with the smaller ships forming a neat battle formation, the smallest ships and fighters in front, and the Crucible in the rear, with the medium capital ships sandwiched between them, like Roman legions standing in formation. “This is it everyone! Engage on my signal!” Viceroy Mirilaana called as a proximity klaxon blared on the bridge of the Crucible. “FIRE!!” Mirilaana yelled as the entire Pleiadean fleet let loose a huge volley of superheated plasma and energy torpedoes, which went streaking towards the Aokigahara fleet, ripping into its forward lines; meters of amorphous-titanium battleplate was melted away and the pirate ships’ weak shields were vaporized in seconds as entire battle groups were incinerated. The ships that the torpedoes hit were destroyed instantly. The pirate fleet began to break ranks and readjust itself as the second salvo from the steadily advancing Pleiadean fleet ripped into the already decimated forward line; soon, the entire first line of defense for Odin’s Gate was gone, after just two salvos. “This might be an Imperial record, I don’t think any ship from either branch, the Seven Sisters Imperium or the main Imperial fleet ever destroyed half a fleet with two salvos. This is going to be easy.” one of the Pleiadean crew giggled to Viceroy Mirilaana. “I’d like to think so, but something’s not right…Asaga’s smarter than this, he’s got something planned for us, I just know it…” “Maybe we just caught him off-guard, perhaps they didn’t expect us to show up.” “You know what, Navigator, you’re right…in that case, let’s destroy his fleet before he can regroup. Activate the Interdiction Grid, prevent any enemy ship from leaving the system, we know that Asaga and his Ooku are on this planet. Do not let them escape!” The system was flipped on by the Viceroy’s bridge crew as the guns fired yet again, creating a “mass field” in space to prevent enemy ships from activating their Thought Drives. There was no escape from justice now. At that moment, the fighters and bombers streaked away from the Pleiadean fleet, just as the enemy fleet opened fire with heavy turbolaser blasts. “Enemy fleet opening fire, angling deflector shields to absorb the impact of the blast, so far, no enemy torpedoes.” “On my command, engage the pirate forces.” “Roger that, all fighters and bombers on me!” the leader of the Pleiadean squadrons announced as the masses of fighter squadrons zoomed into no-man’s land between the two fleets, headed directly for the larger pirate capital ships. “Attack!!” “Acknowledged!” The pirates had released their fighters as well, but they were slow, old and outdated compared to the elite Pleiadean fighters and electron bombers, which began dropping ion explosive bombs on the larger ships, destroying critical hardpoints such as torpedo launchers and heavy laser cannons, which could damage or bypass the Pleiadean fleet’s shields. Just then, the salvos from the pirate fleet harmlessly bounced off of the Pleiadean fleet’s shields. In no man’s land, a vicious space battle had broken out between the Pleiadean and pirate fighters, but because of the decimation of the pirate fleet, the Pleiadean fighters outnumbered the pirate fighters 5:1. The Pleiadean fighters made mincemeat of the slower pirate fighters and blastboats, just as yet another pirate capital ship was lost to Pleiadean ion-electron bombs. After just a half-hour, only three pirate capital ships remained, though badly damaged, they could not flee because of the Interdiction Grid. There was no escape. All the pirate defense fleet could do was wait for the end. “All craft fire on the remaining pirate vessels! Burn their mongrel hides!” The entire Pleiadean fleet targeted the remaining pirate vessels, vaporizing them with one concerted salvo from the bombers, capital ships and fighters. “The enemy fleet lies in ruins. Come sisters, it is time to take this fight to the surface.” It was time to enact the Ikkiku Plan, a two-phase operation that would subjugate the planet quickly and liberate the slave markets. Odin’s Gate was a mountainous, misty, rainy world that would made traditional warfare very difficult, because of the high montane cloud forests and the dark jungles that covered the uninhabited wilds of the planet’s surface. This would be mostly a guerrilla conflict, but the Pleiadeans brought enough firepower to defeat any insurgency; generally speaking, it required at least a 3:1 advantage to defeat an insurgency. The Pleiadean fleet outnumbered and outgunned the pirate forces by a 5:1 margin. Still, the terrain and typical bloody nature of jungle warfare, not to mention that Asaga’s pirate forces would be fighting tooth and nail to stop the bleeding from their wounded defenses, the planet was not going to capitulate easily without some serious effort, but that’s exactly what the Pleiadeans had brought. As the Pleiadean ground forces, dressed in their slender black battle suits and capes and boarded their dropships, they readied themselves for what was going to be a brutal, ugly battle. They knew that even though they fought for a good cause, that the only way some of them were getting off this planet was in a body bag. The quick, decisive victory in space was probably intentional, only now did the Pleiadeans realize just who they were up against. Asaga Asoka Kanagashima III, born on Lilliana V, enrolled at the Imperial Academy on Ansaati, and was on track to graduate as valedictorian of his class year, until a grievous act of terror against a pregnant woman and his own family got him expelled from school, he took what he learned and used his wits to build the greatest pirate consortium in the Universe. For thirteen years, he had terrorized the Empire with his pirate fleet, calling no state his Master, with the black flag raised to the stars. He tortured, kidnapped, stole, extorted, embezzled, raided, plundered and pillaged for a living, with his organization of mercenaries and pirates behind him, looking for one goal: profit. The “Black Prince of the Stars” had once again fooled the Empire, this time into thinking he had far fewer soldiers than he actually had. He had a certain way of toying with the Empire and the Troika’s mind, injecting himself with stolen Regenera Strain to keep him immortal and on the run forever, because he just liked causing chaos, and wanted to do it eternally. A psychotic, immortal, genius, pirate mastermind who had a consortium large enough to challenge even the Empire’s might, nearly unlimited resources and no conscience at all added up to one of the most dangerous enemies the Empire had ever faced. The thousands of slaves languishing on the planet below would definitely attest to that. Even worse was that he was rumored to know how to perform the Indiction Guard ritual chants, giving him the ability to practice the physics-bending techniques that only the Indiction Guards were able to use. Still, the dropships began their descent into Odin’s Gate’s atmosphere, with the elite Pleiadean Guard, armed for this operation with Magna-Shields instead of Gravity-Shields, Hallucination Nano-Swords and Energy Spears, leading the way. They were each in seperate dropships, 35 in all, so that one lucky shot didn’t kill the entire Guard platoon. The Guards were the greatest soldiers in the Universe, a platoon of 300 of these guards once fended off a million-strong army over a period of 6 days, dressed in their stylized battle armor and battle cloaks, they carried their shields, spears and swords into battle, and used classic, pre-mechanized infantry tactics to great effect against enemy vehicles and mowed through infantry as if they were cutting grass. They were almost invincible on the ground, and always accomplished their objectives, leading the standard infantry in a phalanx formation. In Dropship A-9, a Pleiadean Guard by the name of Misala Ayuna sat amongst the platoon of standard Pleiadean infantry. The entire dropship was silent as it descended into the thick of the anti-aircraft fire, the explosive flak outside bursting very close to the dropship’s hull. So far, so good, every dropship was making it down safely. As the dropship moved into position, the doors opened, and the Pleiadeans drew their plasma rifles and began firing at the enemy positions, who looked a bit surprised to see only Pleiadeans coming out of the dropships, they did not think that the Pleiadeans were that much of a threat to attack, the Viceroy’s hunch had been right. Still, however, Asaga was prepared for anything, and the dropships began running into problems with enemy laser fire, having to maneuver deftly to avoid being hit. Still, Pleiadean forces were landing all over the city of Norheim, and the dropship that Misala was on then moved, with all the other Guards, to their LZ, carefully secluded on the far side of town, near the slave camps. While the rest of the infantry handled the enemies in the town, the Guards, 35 in all, were tasked with liberating the slave camps from enemy rule, and learning about the inner workings of the camp from the survivors. Misala breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that all 35 dropships had landed safely, though one had its port wing heavily damaged. As the dropship landed, Misala jumped out, her combat shoes hitting the ground with a thud. She quickly fell in formation, swiftly and silently, and, as one unit, the Guards marched in phalanx formation, shields raised with energy spears crackling. The dropships gave the 35 Guards covering fire on the anti-infantry turrets, bizarrely, the slave camps were unguarded. “The soldiers are probably dealing with the rest of our forces in the heart of town.” Misala thought to herself, as more Pleiadean fighters zoomed overhead and the bombers began hitting targets all around the city. “Someone get a charge on the gate!” the Pleadean guard Captain ordered, as Misala brought a breaching bomb and fused it to the blast door to the slave camp. “Breaching in 3…NOW!” The bomb blew the doors open as the Guards jumped clear of the doors, and allowed the Guards to enter the main slave yard…and were immediately greeted by a truly heartbreaking sight, one that made the Pleiadeans feel anger, grief and profound sadness all at once. Misala was greeted by an overwhelming stench, akin to a rotting corpse, congealed blood and a sewer system all at once, it was utterly nauseating. Misala didn’t need to look far to find the source of the horrid miasma, she looked down and saw two lifeless, staring eyes gazing up at her in empty agony; the broken, nude body of the young woman was chopped clean in half, her legs connected to her torso by a decaying, dried thread of sinew and fat being feasted upon by maggots, roaches and flies in the sweltering tropical heat. The stench came from the spilled, rotting effluence all over the ground, Misala could smell this woman’s shredded bowels. Naked, emaciated female bodies lay everywhere, some were piled in mass graves, others simply left to rot where they lay. Many were partially decomposed or swarming with insects. The tropical heat of the planet made the stench of death overpowering and unbearably nauseating. There were still-smoldering crematoriums in what looked like a bakery shop, and there was a bunker labeled “RAPE ROOM” right next to the Guard Captain. There were also propaganda posters stuck to the walls of various buildings advertising something called “The Black Order of No-natsu,” presumably the government of the Aokigahara Consortium. Huge piles of ashes, human ashes, were piled behind the “bakery;” the slave camp was diabolically disguised as an extension of the town, so that nobody living in town would even notice. “This place was abandoned hastily…probably just as we entered the system…they didn’t even have time to burn all the bodies…why? Why would anyone do this? These poor women, kidnapped from their homes and exterminated like this, it just seems impossible…” The harsh reality of war and of the darkest human nature began to set it, and it set in all at once and like a ton of bricks. Even the most battle-hardened Pleiadean soldiers in the Guard Forces had soft tears in their eyes, the sight of so many bodies was almost too much to bear. Not many times in history had such barbarism been seen, and Asaga would pay dearly for his crimes against humanity. Captured or dead, he would cause no more harm, that the Pleiadeans vowed on the death camps of Odin’s Gate. “How could anyone in town not have noticed? This defies all logic, my faith in progress and civilization is forever shaken, and I will never be whole again. My heart dies with every single woman in this camp…in the name of Oahina, may She grant you all eternal peace.” The Guard recited the funeral prayer on the ruins of the camp. First, the blacks in slavery, then the Jews in the Holocaust, then the Apologetics and homosexuals in the Great Purge during the Old Sinh War, and now women in this mindless slaughter…did a genocide really have to happen to prove that hate was wrong? Such was the greatest flaw of the human species that the Pleiadeans had observed from time immemorial: the constant need to destroy and conquer. Humans were, in the Pleiadeans’ eyes, anything but the Master Race. The Pleiadeans though about this as they looked around…then, their emotions changed, changed from grief, shock and sadness to overwhelming, blood-boiling rage. They had a battle to win here, and one that would be fought in the name of everyone who died here in the death camps. There could be no failure now. Just then, at the far end of the camp, a group of armed prison guards stormed out of the nearby barracks in an ambush; faster than lightning, the Pleiadeans took their positions and formed a wall of Magna-Shields, their plasma glow forming an overlapping shield-wall that protected the Pleiadeans’ 8-foot armored frames. They lowered their Energy Spears in preparation for the attack, just as Misala gave a rally cry to her 34 comrades in arms. “This is where we fight, sisters! This is where they die for their crimes!! This day is not only yours, but it belongs to the poor victims you see around you and every woman in the Universe! For the glory of Alcyone, give them nothing, but for the memory of these innocent victims, take from them EVERYTHING!!” The group of prison guards charged forward with their Tremor Swords, melee weapons that caused hideous wounds when they struck bare flesh, some of the girls’ bodies that littered the grounds bore horrid wounds from Tremor Swords. All at once, the Pleiadeans lunged forward, impaling their assailants on the ends of their Energy Spears, and frying them with electricity from the spear heads. The wall of Pleiadean shields moved forward in formation, absorbing the enemy plasma fire with impunity. “Draw swords! Switch to ranged weaponry! No prisoners, no mercy!!” The Pleiadean Guards sheathed their spears and drew their Hallucination Nano-Swords, activated them, and in the blink of an eye, their swords converted into heavy blaster rifles, activated by their thoughts. In an instant, the Guards broke formation and engaged in modern infantry tactics, their shields retracted onto their arms, with their various blaster weapons blazing into the enemies. The Pleiadean’s supernatural speed distortion ability, jumping ability and ability to float in the air for a short period of time, gave them a graceful, dark, elegant, almost lachrymose way of fighting, with alternating speeds of motion that served to make them almost impossible to hit, serving to confuse and distort their enemies’ perceptions. They fired from behind cover, moving from position to position and firing in short, controlled bursts to take down their targets, in a way meant to defeat their enemies without ever actually fighting more than they had to. The Pleiadeans had mastered Sun Tzu’s Art of War to a level still not reached by humans. Preferring to end conflict by diplomacy rather than battle, their tactics were more about waiting, setting traps, conserving resources, striking hard whenever the time was right. Then, however, things started to intensify. Pleiadean artillery began pounding the ruins of the death camp, sending the dead bodies flying everywhere and tearing up the the ground. The heat of the tropics was overpowering, and the heat from the explosions was even greater, but still the Pleiadeans pressed on. As if on cue, the armored brigades of Haiyan-class tanks, larger, faster and more advanced than the Kabuto-class tanks used by the standard Legions, they hovered on huge maglev treads, with twin plasma cannons mounted on top of the tanks, with a gunner in the center of the vehicle, roared into the camp as the Pleiadean Guards returned to their phalanx formation. Slowly but surely the Pleiadean forces advanced across the battlefield, with friendly artillery rounds pounding the ground ahead of them, clearing a path for the tanks and infantry. The battle-net chatter was abound with curious inconsistencies being reported by the soldiers, how the town was completely empty, with no civilians, perhaps the whole town was just run by pirates. Needless to say, the town was beginning to clear out, with minimal casualties to the Pleiadean troops. Their war tactics were all about exploiting the enemy’s weaknesses without exerting too much effort, the entire Pleaidean force was reading each others’ mind, so they all practiced the same tactics and adjusted the tactics the moment the enemy began figuring them out. This way, the enemy had no clue what to do, not to mention, the Pleaideans’ natural abilities made them nearly impossible to hit. The entire army functioned as one unit, and for that, the pirate forces didn’t have a chance. Some tried to surrender, but were killed anyway, the Empire was not interested in negotiating with mass-murderers, for when the Guard forces found the ruins of the death camps, every Pleiadean in the Universe saw the horrors of the camp interior. The Pleiadeans fought with the precision of a lightning bolt, surgically striking hard into enemy lines, driving them further and further back from their cover, just like insects, they were being smoked out of their holes, and soundly squashed. The collective rage of the Pleiadean race was being brought to bear on the Aokigahara Consortium, shared through the Pleiadean practices of thought-sharing and sight-sharing, and at full throttle from the Haiyan-class tanks. As the Pleiadean soldiers slaughtered their way across the 30-mile wide city, they performed a battle chant, the “Vitrification of Blood and Tears,” that focused their anger into a raging weapon of mass destruction. In the camp complex, the Guards, tanks and artillery pounded the enemy until only atoms remained, the Vitrification chant granting the entire Pleiadean force a superhuman power; a transcendent energy replaced their life force with an energy as hard as diamond and as powerful as a sprite from the anvil of a thunderstorm, allowing the Pleiadean soldiers to become goddesses of war, shaking off massive amounts of damage and healing from wounds that would normally kill them almost instantly. They still used their speed-distortion tactics throughout the Vitrification, making victory certain. Buildings, huge skyscrapers, began to crumble as the sky turned red from the flames, the explosions of artillery looking like fireworks in the sky, with towers of plasma shooting skyward as anti-aircraft fire tried to hit the Pleiadean bombers and fighters. The Pleiadeans had recaptured about a third of the city already, but things were about to get more complicated. “This is Viceroy Mirilaana; be advised, pirate reinforcements have arrived in orbit, and they’ve brought a larger fleet this time. We’re giving them hell up here, but they’ve brought some siege frigates, if they get their main cannons operational, the entire ground operation will be wiped out. Recommend the Guard units move to the monopole cannon on the far side of the death camp, activate the gun and fire it at the siege frigates.” “Roger that, Viceroy, moving to objective.” Misala said, thinking of her lover’s birthday today, a Pleiadean named Heliine back on Alcyone. There was a very limited perception of gender identity in Pleiadean society; in the case of romance, there was only love, pure, unconditional love for one’s partner, however, sex was not necessary, because Pleiadeans reproduced asexually, they were parthenogenic. The unisex nature of Pleiadean society confused the bisexual dichotomy of humanity a great deal upon first meeting, it was quite amusing for humans to encounter an “entire Empire of lesbians.” Still, the concepts of “gay” and “straight” meant nothing to them, for there was only one, overarching female sex and gender role. Sexuality was nearly non-existent in Pleiadean society, though the goddesses in Pleiadean mythology were defined as being able to have sex. Misala stopped thinking about home and turned with the rest of her Guard platoon moving towards her objectives. Siege frigates were extremely powerful ships, they created an antimatter suction effect that literally vacuumed a planet’s surface clean of all standing structures. A group of 4 frigates could decimate an entire planet, and the larger pirate fleet brought along exactly 4, the pirates were even willing to kill their own troops to eliminate the Pleiadean threat, leading to the critical realization that Asaga could not have been on Odin’s Gate, which meant that the intelligence given to Sei was only partially true…this whole operation was not the main base of the Aokigahara Consortium, it really was this enormous, bringing up the depressing possibility that other death camps existed on other worlds in other galaxies. For every woman remembered in Odin’s Gate, a thousand more died in agony, unsung and forgotten. The Haiyan-class tanks, some with Pleiadean soldiers riding on their hulls kept the enemy forces busy with their huge cannons while the Guards made their way past the burning ruins of the camp buildings. The monopole cannon was in sight, but enemy artillery fire was making the trek across the open ground highly treacherous. Still, the Pleiadean Guards were careful not to be hit by one of the blasts, “Can we get some bombing runs on that enemy artillery? The blasts are impeding our advance!” Misala said into her comlink. “Confirmed, moving to coordinates.” a Pleiadean pilot said, flying her squadron into position as a huge explosion rocked the hills about 500 yards away. “Artillery neutralized, move on up!” the pilot communicated, just as the Pleiadean Guards went into speed-distortion mode, they dashed across the open ground, with enemy plasma fire blazing in their direction, making a beeline towards the monopole cannon. They entered the building housing the cannon under heavy fire and closed the blast doors by slicing the computer console near the rear wall, now it would take nothing short of an orbital bombardment to dislodge the Guard platoon from their position, exactly what the cannon was designed to prevent. “Misala, bring the cannon online!” the Guard Captain yelled. Misala sat down at the command console and used the override spikes in her gear bag to bypass the computer security. “This is Viceroy Mirilaana, those siege frigates are moving into position! Get that cannon online now!” “Roger that, Viceroy, cannon coming online in 5…calibrating coordinates…ready…GOING LOUD!” Misala activated the firing mechanism as the monopole grid all over Odin’s Gate fired on the 4 siege frigates, sending towering beams of light into orbit, vaporizing the enemy vessels just before they could use their Siege Engines on the planet’s surface. “Targets neutralized.” “Excellent, Guard Troops, recommend you stay inside that grid control center, use the cannons to target the enemy ships as long as you can, we’ll keep them busy up here so that they don’t bombard the grid’s power stations, I’m sending advice to the main force to protect the power grids for the monopole cannons at all costs, also notifying them that you’re in the main bunker.” “Roger that, appreciate the assistance, Viceroy.” The capture of the monopole cannon grid by the Pleiadean forces was the turning point of the battle, if they could hold the grid and lock down the planet, victory would be theirs within the hour. However, the pirate fleet, realizing that their operations were now in mortal jeopardy, began stepping up their counterattacks, massive turbolaser blasts began falling from the stars, the pirates were now indiscriminately firing on their own city, without a care in the world for their own men. The Pleiadeans had truly demonstrated why they were seen as the most advanced species in the Universe, having succeeded in taking a planet in less than 5 hours when it took the Imperial Legions about a full day to conquer a world. The Pleiadean Guards simply sat in the monopole turret control bunker and targeted enemy capital ships in order, at their leisure. Within 15 minutes, the huge pirate reinforcement fleet was a burning spacewreck. “Enemy fleet neutralized. Search this bunker for any data we can bring back to Queen Sei and the Empire.” the Guard Captain said, as Misala jumped up from her position at the controls and perused through the computer files on the storage console. Slicing past firewalls and programming security codes, she encountered a data set called “EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER: FREEZING SIN,” so heavily encrypted that even the Pleiadean data slicers couldn’t hack the file, so Misala quickly downloaded the file to a portable datapad. “Intelligence located, all files downloaded, let’s move!” “Going somewhere, ladies?” a sinister voice announced, over an intercom system. “It’s Asaga…” Misala said. “I must admit, what they say about the Pleiadeans is true…you really are the most accomplished species in the universe…I also see that you found Project Eisenwolfe-Lichtbringer: Freezing Sin. Those protocols will do you no good, for only I know the translations on the encryptions. Doubtlessly you have heard about Precursor Emperor Archimago. What if I told you everything you knew was a lie? What if I told you that I knew the secret of everything, that I have the only true theory of all existence, greater than Pantheon Doctrine or anything the Empire of the Egoist Crown can throw at me? I know the truth of Precursor Emperor Archimago, and he is horrible, truly terrifying, but wondrous all the same…He haunts you forever, I am still shocked by the things I have found by studying him. He is a force greater than any weapon, stronger than any ship…and the Hand of Fate is irrevocably tied to him. That man that walks with the O’Brien family on Valhalla is the link that binds Archimago to this world…his species is pure energy, pure life. The Hand of Fate’s powers are tied to Archimago, just as Archimago is tied to this universe…just as your Pantheon states, everything’s connected. I leave you with that, and, the knowledge that the secrets you’ve uncovered will die with you, though perhaps not this day…” Asaga’s voice cut out just as the Viceroy announced triumphantly that the pirate forces were in full retreat. Misala, however, armed with this haunting bit of intel, thought-shared with the entire Pleiadean race what she had just heard from Asaga. Once the thoughts were shared, the blast doors were opened, onto a ruined landscape, but, at least today, the Empire was victorious, and justice had returned to Odin’s Gate. As the dropships returned to pick up the Pleiadean Guards, Misala looked down at her feet and saw a mud-stained picture of a young woman smiling on the ground. She was beautiful, with long brown hair and blue eyes, with a lovely diamond cross necklace, a pale face and a warm look in her eyes. It said on the back of the picture:

I don’t know how I ended up in this place, I’ve given up on why, I sit here, tortured and starving, with no tears left to cry.”

There was a message written on the back to return the photo to the woman’s family on Gliepnir III, and the address was given as well. “It is the least we can do to give some closure to the horrors that happened here.” Misala said, placing the picture into her gear bag, and stepped into the dropship, giving one last look at the ruins of Odin’s Gate Camp. The Imperial Legions were already on their way to Odin’s Gate to secure the planet and get rid of any holdout forces, as Sei Ikkiku had convinced Emperor Arditi and the Troika to support her venture to handle Asaga’s Consortium, now a far greater foe than anyone had ever thought possible. It seemed like an all-out war between the Empire and the Consortium was probable, and if what Asaga said was true, inevitable. Perhaps the thought of having a genocide on his watch was too much for Arditi to ignore anymore. The ongoing Rape-Holocaust against the women of the Empire would come to end, and the veneer of order that the Empire brought would emerge triumphant, as it always did. This battle was only the beginning. The sun was rising on a new dawn indeed, and one that would stretch from one side of time to the next.

 

END VOLUME 1

 

 

Precursor: Volume II: Band of Thieves

 

Place ten dozen elites in a network of tunnels and a city beneath a Precursor ruin, put a slightly-crippled sage of a man in charge of them, and then throw a salvager’s chance encounter with them into the mix, and you have an bloody band of thieves awaiting the poor sod who lands on the summer paradise world of Malalaklese II. The Imperial salvagers who landed on the planet were allowed to look around, for the Bacchanalia Master and Mistress of Thieves living in the global tunnels and passageways dug by the Masquerade Comitatus, a vicious, nomadic order of 120 “Rangers” that dressed in bizarre, darkly-elegant and elaborate masquerade ball outfits over the years saw nothing of value on their ships, if they had, they would have been met by a lethal flurry from the Mistress’ howling daggers or the Master’s heavy disintegrator gun. Were it not for the presence of the Rangers, this planet would have been even more beautiful to live on than Lilliana V, but this planet was their territory, their hideout, their names were written in the sand, written in the blood of those foolish enough to violate their territory. Most of the people that landed there were young couples, looking for a place to spend a time where they could feel like the only ones in the universe…but these Rangers had other ideas. What the Masquerade Comitatus abhorred more than all trespassers, however, was that the Imperial salvagers took the only known picture of Emperor Archimago, and now the Universe’s most sacred knowledge was in Imperial hands…it was of no matter, however, for they and the Kalki Avatar, the only individual that knew the secrets of the Precursors besides them, knew the truth, and that truth was greater than Pantheon Doctrine or the Empire of the Egoist Crown could ever know.

 

 

                    1. I am the Master, You are the Dreg!

 

If the stars could talk, what would they say? What would they tell of, burning brilliantly for billions of years? What if there was a group of people in the Universe who knew the greatest secret of all, one that has eluded all but one species, great and small? The stars hold many secrets…some only meant for truly enlightened eyes. We were orphans, raised by the Thiefmaster, and trained to be his guardians, the eternal eyes of the Masquerade. The weak in our order are destroyed by the strong, so that only the greatest survive to behold the honor of the title “Thief.” Our infiltrators travel around the universe, learning and plundering the Empire’s secrets…it seems that the greatest of them all has made its way into their hands…the only thing more dangerous to the Empire than information, is information in the wrong hands…the Empire plays into ours.”

Bacchanalia Master Vald Martinsen

The news of the genocide on Odin’s Gate took the Empire by storm. Grieving messages were sent out to those who had lost a loved one to the death camps, and the Empire rallied behind the Troika and Sei Ikkiku for an upcoming battle, even the invasion of the Aqua Vixen world was placed on hiatus, for the more pressing issue of the rapidly-rising Aokigahara Consortium, now the Aokigahara Ascendancy, ruled by the tyrant Asaga Kanagashima III and his Black Order of No-natsu. The Colonial Forces were placed on high alert, and ordered to patrol the Outer Colonies around the clock, and even the 181st Legion, the best of the best, was preparing to go to war if necessary. Standing on the assembly decks of the Odin-class capital ship Lucid Illusion, now Commander Lucian Moonraiser, with two shiny new medals for his heroics at the Second Indiction, now well underway, waited for the hammer to drop. He had known Asaga personally at the Academy on Ansaati and thought it was a glorious day for the Empire when he was expelled, but had somehow eluded justice to commit an act of treason against the Empire on an unimaginable scale. Justice needed to be served, especially now that his homeworld of Lilliana V was marred by two separate incidents, the fact that Asaga was also from the same world, originally living on one of his family’s house-yachts, but because one of his longtime companions, Ferdinand Eisenheim, heir to the Eisenheim Illusions Corporation had been killed in a plot to allegedly challenge Emperor Arditi using Regenera Strain and God Machines, which was, of course, Asaga’s doing to eliminate him. War was the only answer. Just then, Orlan Ru, now a First Lieutenant, walked over and spoke with his superior and now close friend. “So…what do you think about this whole genocide thing, sir?” “I don’t quite know how to answer that question. So many emotions went through my head when I heard the news from Odin’s Gate, some of those women were from Lilliana V, that could have easily been Samantha St. John…oh, perhaps I’ve said too much…” Lucian said, smiling a bit. “It’s fine, sir. We all have someone at home who waits for us. It’s part of the the job…who is this Samantha?” “Oh, she’s one of the loveliest women this side of the Universe, she has long, flowing brown hair, pale blue eyes and delicate, pale skin. She’s extremely intelligent and can speak all 135 Imperial Race languages.” “She sounds incredible…must have been something growing up on Lilliana V in the Core Cluster. I grew up in the Middle Colonies, the Concord Sunset Sector about 700 million light-years out. We’re a simple group of people that take great pride in being a part of the Empire, the Concord Sunset Crusader Kingdom is the 15th Sword on the Imperial Banner, I believe.” “Yes, it is. Your people are greatly valued by the Troika for their military power and prestige, the Crusader armor is the best in the Universe. But, keep in mind, Lieutenant Ru, that no gives a damn about where we came from now that we’re in the Army. We have a job to do and our loved ones want to see us do it. I haven’t seen Samantha since I left for the Academy, and I know she’s proud of me. Though I do worry about her with Asaga being on the loose, and given that she knew Ferdinand very well, it only motivates me to do my job more.” “All the more reason to fulfill your duty.” “As do yours, soldier.” “Yes sir.” Just as the two of them finished their conversation, a loud buzzer echoed through the vast assembly hall, one of the many such halls on an Odin-class capital ship, signaling the start of the next guard shift. Buses, trams and trains carrying personnel around the ship hovered by, each ship was the size of the Russian Empire on Earth in the 1890s, and it could take two weeks to get from one end of the ship to the other, each Odin-class ship was so huge that it had developed its own individual culture, soldiers who spent a certain amount of time in a certain part of the ship spoke with a different accent than others in another part of the ship; one could always tell what ship the soldier came from based on his accent. The Lucid Illusion was a “typically-cultured” ship, a designation given to a ship that tried to recreate the same Imperial customs found on planets, but there were others, such as the Princess Kasumi of the 110th Legion, which had a culture quite unlike anything seen on any planet, a sort of mix between Japanese culture and Eurocentric paganism, their accent sounded very odd too. These Odin-class vessels were not just warships, but huge, flying space colonies, endlessly patrolling the universe in the name of the Empire, for fame and for glory. Lucian and Orlan’s shifts were over, and Lucian reported to the now Captain Iyrtash that the shift had been completed without incident. Guard duty was the bane of every Legionnaire’s existence, and most Legions had their own ways of avoiding it if they could, because the tedious inspection drills, endless hours of guarding impregnable forcefield generators and constant marching back and forth made many a new recruit question whether they made the right decision in signing on. Still, the engineering department on the ship needed someone on hand at all times to report if one of the city-sized shield generators that protected the Odin-class ship’s hull suffered a malfunction. For that reason, if there was no threat of enemy contact, the ships would often run in “non-combat mode,” with the weapons systems deactivated and the shields down, but with war looming with the Aokigahara Ascendancy, the ships were on high alert around the clock, and that meant guard duty. The Lucid Illusion was ready for a call at a moment’s notice, the watchful eye in the sky for the 181st Legion in the Arcana II system. As Lucian and Orlan walked towards the hover-train that took them back to one of the residential modules on the ship, Orlan caught a glimpse of an engineer reading a digital magazine. “Is that Ai Takada?” Orlan said, pointing at a stunning, slender, 6’1 beauty with long, reddish-brown hair, blue eyes and wearing a revealing Draconis Marunae Tropica-style bathrobe. “Yes it is, Lieutenant. She’s looks hotter every time I see a picture her.” “Must be the Regenera Strain she takes. You know she lives on Arcana II, right?” “Yeah, that place has got some crazy architecture, not to mention everyone there’s as rich as hell and they’ve got some great nightlife, with those giant sin houses built around the hot springs on the Northern Plains. A lot of the Science Ministers live there too.” The train shuddered slightly as it started moving. “Ironic that a place named after magic would be popular with scientists.” “What is science, Lieutenant, but magic with a plausible explanation?” “You have a point, Sergeant. Yet, don’t you think that Miss Takada has better things to do than think about a bunch of men like us, 600 million of us living on a gigantic starship for 10 years?” “Now, with all due respect, Lieutenant, don’t deny me of hope for the future. When I get home after my 10 years of service are up, I’ll go to Arcana II and set up a business, I’ve got a great idea that I’ve been developing since before I enlisted, a new idea that will make Imperial weapons as good as the Pleiadeans’ or the Indiction Guards! I propose simply adding another plasma core to a standard DN-17 blaster rifle and add a magnetic induction motor into the bullstock, and you’d have a binary rifle that fires a blood-red beam of concentrated, incinerating energy that can hit multiple targets at once and refract off of surfaces, allowing us to hit targets behind cover. I call this weapon the Type-99 Binary Rifle, and I’ve actually built one in my apartment back at the residential module. I’ll sell this design to Eisenheim Illusions Corporation, Rothus Heavy Engineering, Orpheus Corporation or Kraid Shipyards, whichever design bureau will test it, and if it works, hello fancy living, and hello date with Ai Takada.” “I like your ambition, Sergeant. I do believe that the weapon you describe has promise to greatly increase the potency of the Legions, but do you really think that Ai would pay any attention to any of us? We are the Forgotten Men, as long as we are in the Army. No matter what we do here, for 10 years, we’re nothing but cogs in the machine. With this war brewing, who knows, you might never see home again.” “Gee, you sure have a fatalistic attitude, I can tell you that much.” “It’s something that comes with Concord Sunset blood.” “Oh, you’re from that Sector.” “Yes, I am, and it appears that we’re reaching our destination, so if you’ll excuse me, I have other matters to attend to, carry on, soldier.” “Yes sir.” The train pulled into the huge station in Residential Module A-16, where Lucian and Orlan disembarked. “That kid thinks he has a chance with Ai Takada if he invents a new weapon. Just because you have money doesn’t mean the upper classes will take any notice of you. I just gave him a quick reality check.” “You need not be too harsh, Orlan. He has a youthful fire in him, one that has not yet been extinguished by the reality of our existence. We both had that once, you and I, but after our first taste of true blood in the Second Indiction, we became soldiers. I used to run a host club on Lilliana V called “The Billionaire Boys’ Club,” where we did nothing but meet women, spend the endless summer days on our yachts and the white-sand islands that dotted the Global Lake, and make jokes about poor people all day…then I joined the Legions. We are, as you said, the Forgotten Men.” “If only this was not so…” Orlan replied. “War is a harsh reality of the Empire. It would not exist without the Legions, so we are, at the same time, a blessing and a curse, utterly indispensable yet so easily forgotten…a soldier’s life is ironic indeed. I know I made the right choice, however, even though someday I’ll find my way back to the summer paradise that I grew up on, and when I do, I’ll be there in a heartbeat, back to where her name was written in the sand…there really is no place like it. Besides, he fought on the same battlefield we did in the Second Indiction, he just has a more positive outlook on it all.” “That’s admirable, because I can’t see anything positive about a Rape-Holocaust against women. The Legions on Odin’s Gate just finished up their investigation of the death camps, and some of them are still shocked by what they saw. Apparently, this camp was intentionally disguised as an extension of Norheim, the main city on Odin’s Gate, and few people even knew that the old military base that was since closed down was being used for such horrors…it was happening right under people’s noses. The camp ran on its own calendar, each month had a new name, each month had 32 days, a standard year had 400 days, according to the camp calendar, and each holiday was replaced with a completely fabricated belief that reflected Asaga’s own twisted mind. ‘Halundigger-Kill-The-Nigger,’ the month that replaced November, began with a holiday called ‘Topsy-Turvy,’ where the camp guard had captured children come into the camp and rape the women, as opposed to an adult raping children, hence ‘topsy-turvy.’ There was also the “100-Day Fasting,” where the women would be starved for 100 days in a phony religious ceremony to prepare them for the Night of 1,000 Trials, where the women and girls would be taken into the now-infamous Rape Room and put through more than 18 types of sick, sexual torture, some girls as young as 3 were raped by the camp guards and by other young boys in what was known as the 12 Days of Sodom. According to the report, there was a man known as ‘Sextortionist’ who worked in the camp, who enjoyed sexually assaulting women and girls as young a 3 on camera, and using the footage to recruit other individuals to join the Aokigahara cause, the recovered propaganda footage was appropriately titled ‘Monster Unleashed.’ One image shows a naked 3 year old girl screaming to fight ‘Sextortionist’ off, and then one of the armed guards shoving a bayonet into her vagina. Another one shows a young woman giving birth to a baby, and then a soldier yanking the infant from her hands and smashing its head on the floor, right in front of the bleeding mother. Many of the babies conceived in the camp from the rapes were either forcefully aborted, killed upon birth or sold on the black market to be raised as laborers if they were boys, or prostitutes if they were girls. Most of the women never even saw their children. Those women that survived a full year in the camp, as per the camp calendar, were sold on the auction block as slaves to wealthy, corrupt buyers and clients of the Consortium. Very few did. By the way, with all due respect, that romantic comment was corny as hell,” Lucian’s eyes grew alight with rage. “I knew that monster at the Academy, I was only the valedictorian because he was expelled, I must admit, as highly as I am regarded, I’m lucky if I’m half the tactician Asaga was. He was one of the most brilliant cadets ever to attend the Academy on Ansaati. Anyone who spoke to him immediately fell under his spell, he could speak and leave an entire room mesmerized. His plans were spontaneous and a bit irrational at times, but always succeeded in tactical drills. Were it not for his profound mental problems, he could have been a brilliant General or Admiral. I never liked him, though, because he made strange comments about Samantha St. John, but given his actions against women, it was not surprising. Whenever I talked about her, his eyes would get livid and he’d start mentioning ‘how easily women can be violated, so she had better be careful,’ and then just say something like ‘Hahahaha…I’m kidding.’ He was a creep then, he’s an even bigger creep now. And by the way, I like corny, poetic drabble.” The two soldiers took the lift up to their apartment block, and turned down the main hallway. “Well, this is my apartment, I’ve got the Commander’s Suite here, I’ll see you on the morrow, Orlan.” “Yes sir, first light for morning guard.” Orlan continued walking down the hallway to the lower officers’ quarters as Lucian walked into his hotel-style suite, with his weapons locker, wardrobe and amenities all maintained to his liking. The different platoons lived in separate apartment blocks, each presided over by a Commander. Lucian was in charge of 400 men on his block, totaling 4 platoons. Lucian turned on the holovision in his room and sat down on his bed, still in his gaudy Jungsturm-Nordsterne military uniform, with the news channels blaring about the ongoing inquiries into the events on Odin’s Gate, as well as the Imperial Pantheon’s promises to bring Asaga to justice. Lucian, however had a gut feeling that this went far deeper than a madman trying to challenge the Empire’s rule. How did Asaga manage to come up with an Army of that size so quickly, and how the hell did he know so much about the Great Precursors? What could he possibly know that the Pleiadeans already didn’t? It all seemed like the Empire was playing directly into Asaga’s hands, and, knowing him personally, Lucian suspected that it was indeed the case. Something just wasn’t right, and if it was one thing Lucian did, it was trust his gut instinct. Suddenly, something began to interrupt the signal from the holovision, a breakup in the reception was interfering with the feed…when suddenly, the screen went black. For a few seconds there was eerie silence, an unnerving, nervous quiet permeating the room, until a dark, eerie, computer-altered voice came through the blank holovision screen. It sounded like a moaning computerized witch, a digital hag’s croning voice that echoed through every nerve in Lucian’s body: “Greetings, Exalted Ones of the Empire. Surely, you think, this world has gone mad! No, you say, there must be a mistake, for there are flaws everywhere. Yet at once, there is finally peace and serenity in this world gone mad and humanity is in the midst of the true Renaissance, not that brief lull in the medieval drama that teased us with the false hope of enlightenment in the 16th century, and not the Pantheon Doctrine that has been so unjustly forced down the throats of every Imperial citizen. In a stunning move that has civil theorists stuttering with disbelief, Asaga’s Aokigahara Consortium has committed a horrific crime against every woman in the galaxy, and not a single individual of any race in this universe is left untouched by his crimes. The resulting inquiries into the massacre on Odin’s Gate has left everyone asking the same question, who is responsible, who is to blame? Well, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but, truth be told, if you are looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. How do I reason this, you may ask? Asaga was a product of an Imperial system that has stood for 800,000 years, one based on a flawed doctrine of omnipotence and male supremacy. In the earliest genesis of the Empire, Prophet Anteon, from his Hyperborean Solation Estate in Hawaii in 2080 A.D., drew up the principles of Pantheon Doctrine from his interpretations of the Lover and the Prince, he placed women in a lower, almost subhuman light. When Arditi ascended to the throne of Seras, he made this doctrine, an eccentric, illiberal treatise seeking omnipotence through the oppression of those who sought to disagree with One World Order, and fought a war in which 330 trillion lives were lost to cement this injustice as a seemingly-immutable law. Now, look what has happened. You live in world where the State acts as guardian of a millennial future, a world where justice and happiness, individual rights and pursuit of liberty appear as nothing. Your children are educated by pharmaceutical drugs, your women live in conditions of near-servitude to men, and your very emotions and humanity itself are eliminated via the drugs“Tranquility” and “Regenera.” If any of you cannot see anything wrong with this state of affairs, then the Universe is lost. The Emperor’s tolerance for this oppression of women and political opponents made Asaga’s ascendancy inevitable. It is like a father who punishes his child excessively, all that punishment does is teach the child to rebel. For the Empire brought this menace upon itself, and now it is just beginning to see the reality of what it has done. Where do I stand on this? I am only words, a voice, and words have no meaning unless we associate meaning with them. Take this word: ‘cat’ for example. Three little letters: c-a-t. By itself, it has no meaning, but if I associate words with ‘cat,’ we can picture an image in our minds. This concept of arbitrary language is the root of all madness, the root of the Imperial propaganda machine. If we remember that words are only words, we can see that laws are only words, and the people that enforce these laws are only as good as their words, and, as history has shown many times, the authorities are bound to the actions that their words create. If these actions create prosperity, people tend to be blinded by their success, no matter what the cost. The Empire’s citizens have traded freedom for prosperity and security, when a trade is unnecessary. We can have a free, secure and prosperous society, as long as we get rid of the liars that have dominated the Universe’s government for so long. Liars misuse their words to create false realities, in an effort to deceive the masses into believing a certain way. There have been many Big Lies in history, but Pantheon is the biggest lie of them all, and it has been taken as truth for far too long. So, who am I? I am a voice, the voice of an idea, an idea come to set the record straight. So if you still have seen nothing, if the crimes of the Empire remain unknown to you, then I suggest you turn off your Holovision screens at once, but if you see as I see, and you think as I think, then I suggest you begin a purge of Pantheon from your minds and see a new future, one where the Egoist Crown Empire is free and lives like true Gods, which is the only way to truly remove the Egoist Crown from society’s head, and allow the dawn of an endless summer to rise. I leave you with this, Exalted Ones.” The broadcast returned to normal, and, strangely, the Imperial newscasters made no mention of the interruption. “That means that our ship was the only one to receive the transmission…but why?” Lucian thought, just as the doorbell in his room let an audible buzz. Lucian ran to open the door, and saw the imposing figure of Captain Iyrtash, in his full Sangresaara officer’s uniform. “Captain Iyrtash, sir? What is the matter?” “That broadcast that just beamed through the ship’s communications systems…we were the only ship in the entire Imperial Starfleet to receive it. Officer’s meeting in 10 minutes on Concourse A-19, direct orders from Admiral Veed. He thinks he knows where that signal came from.” “Yes sir. I’ll come with you.” “Then make haste, there is not much time.” Iyrtash and Lucian walked with a determined purpose towards the train to A-19, with Lucian having to jog to keep up with Iyrtash’s massive strides. They arrived at the train as two rank and file soldiers saluted both of them; the train was full of other officers headed for the same concourse, looking as puzzled as Captain Iyrtash and Commander Moonraiser were. Several of the soldiers discussed the potential meaning of the message, theories on the identity of the speaker ranged from Asaga himself to a ghost that lived on the ship, as one soldier swore he saw a ghost in his bunk room once. One soldier dryly remarked that it sounded like his great-aunt Mabel when she had the flu. Try as they might, however, no one, not even Admiral Arlen Veed, the commanding officer of the Lucid Illusion, knew for certain. The question on everyone’s lips was whether or not Admiral Veed was going to take any action, but given the urgency of the meeting, Veed probably realized the gravity of the situation far in advance of anyone else. Lucian had another gut feeling, the dreaded feeling that this was going to get worse before it got better. “So, Captain, do you think that Admiral Veed is going to intervene?” “I confess I know as little as you do. Veed is conferring the information to us as a whole, so I can assume that we are to take the orders he gives to our platoons.” The train pulled into the assembly hall station, just as Lucian looked out the window and saw the huge marching legions of officers standing at attention for Admiral Veed to speak. There were officers of all the major Imperial races that served in the military, Sigtyr Kvlt Guards, Sangresaara, some in their battle armor and some in their Oosa’ara Ubeilia court outfits, Human, Korvax Death Crow, Reaper Cossack, both from the planet Falx along with the Sigtyr, a dark, creepy world of black forests, icy-cold wastes and fortresses where the Death Crows, Sigtyr Kvlt Guards and Nightmare Cossacks lived, orbiting an anti-matter star in the Dark Galaxy, made of mostly anti-matter stars, some of the Nightmare Cossacks were speaking in their deep, basso-profondo voices, and even a few Pleiadeans. “Magnificent, aren’t they?” Captain Iyrtash bellowed, walking down the stairs to the assembly hall floor, which faced a huge divided broadcast screen, allowing the bridge crew to speak directly to the entire ship if need be. Just then, Admiral Veed’s stoic face appeared on-screen. “All officers reporting in. I’m going to be quick, and I’m going to be blunt: we aren’t going anywhere. Intelligence suggests that the Consortium is using this signal as a decoy, to try and draw us away from Arcana II, leaving it vulnerable to invasion. The signal has been traced, and from a most unlikely source, however. Will the Commander of the 55th Platoon of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche please report to the bridge for assignment. That is all.” Lucian looked around, feeling an acute sense of anxiety. The Admiral had just summoned him to the bridge for a personal assignment. The other officers watched curiously as Lucian silently stepped into the bridge teleporter, positioned at various assembly halls around the ship, which would take him directly to the bridge and Admiral Veed’s location. Lucian activated the teleporter with one solid press, and with a shower of particle beams, Lucian faded from sight, bound for the bridge. The trip through the warp tunnel was dizzying, something that Lucian didn’t like very much, but when the bridge was literally a 3-day train ride away, it was the quickest way to get from one end of the ship to the other. In an instant, Lucian appeared in the Lucid Illusion’s cavernous command deck, surrounded by plasma screens, displaying system readouts and a panoramic view of the stars outside, there were no windows on an Odin-class capital ship. “Commander Moonraiser, welcome to the bridge.” “Reporting as ordered, sir.” Lucian saluted the tall, uniformed Admiral Veed standing in front of him. “Lucian Moonraiser, valedictorian of your class year, 3 years in the Legions and already a Commander…I must admit, that’s impressive. I also know you’re from Lilliana V. I grew up on Arcana II, and have noticed many similarities between Arcana II and your homeworld.” “It’s much colder on Arcana II than Lilliana V, sir, but I admit, both planets are very affluent.” “That’s why I need you for this assignment, Commander. You know more about this type of culture than anyone else aboard this ship. I traced that signal from Arcana II itself, on the Northern Plains. It was relayed from satellite dishes positioned around a large structure which I have identified as the Midnight Sun Hot Spring Spa. Its original source was impossible to detect, but we know of one individual who would certainly know its origin, having intercepted the signal: Ai Takada. She owns that spa, and she must know exactly where that signal came from.” “You want me to spy on a celebrity, sir?” “Precisely. You’ll have to make yourself look inconspicuous to gain entry to the spa, and you’ll need to take a few men with you for backup. Once you find her, you must do everything in your power to get her to talk.” Lucian thought for a second about what he was being asked to do, kidnap and interrogate a celebrity who had no know connection to any illegal activity, but orders were orders. “I won’t just get her to talk, Admiral, I’ll get her to sing. She’ll speak to the Forgotten Men for one night if she knows what’s good for her.” “That’s what I like to hear. Now, go tell only those you plan to take with you for this mission. No one else must know.” “Yes sir.” “You are dismissed, Commander, and good luck.” Admiral Veed and Commander Moonraiser saluted as Lucian stepped back into the teleporter. He set the coordinates for the Residential Module A-16, to meet with his two accomplices. This was a rather unorthodox job for Imperial officers, more akin to police work than soldiering, but if Miss Takada knew anything at all about the Ascendancy, extracting information from her would be a great boon to Imperial security. The trick, however, was going to be gaining entry to her hot spring spa without being recognized as a soldier. These places, known informally as “sin houses” because of their loose, often wild atmosphere, were huge and luxurious hotels built around the natural hot springs in the North of Arcana II, and Midnight Sun was one the largest of these hotels, complete with some of the most high-tech and luxurious amenities in the known universe. The hotel had a very rarefied theme, it was fixated on living the high life, luxury, and showing the upper classes’ superiority over the lower forms of life, in the grand, ancient traditions of Arcana II, the world of Slavic-Aryan legends, Hyperborean-mythos architecture, and Imperial honor, glory and purity. Ai Takada owned and lived in the incredible Midnight Sun as her home and place of business, when she wasn’t appearing in movies or photo shoots As Lucian reappeared in the Residental Module’s common room, he saw Orlan and that Sergeant that they had met on the tram earlier sitting in lounge chairs, watching the holovision news. “Men, listen up. I was just given a direct assignment by Admiral Veed, and I need your help, both of you. Orlan and the Sergeant snapped to attention. “Sergeant…” “Sergeant Anders Filby, sir.” “Filby…really?” “I know it’s a strange name, sir.” “Well, Sergeant, you said you wanted to meet Ai Takada, right? You might just get your wish. Admiral Veed traced the signal that interrupted our ship’s broadcasts to the Midnight Sun Hot Spring Spa, which Ai Takada owns and operates. Veed did not say what the signal might imply, but he said that it is absolutely vital that Takada tell us everything she knows, and if you ask me, the message sounded like high treason. “So, you want us to break into Takada’s mansion and interrogate her? What if she calls the authorities?” “We are the authorities, Filby…” “Not us, I mean the guys she’s allegedly working with?” “That’s why we have our weapons. Nothing that a good DN-17 round to the head won’t correct. Just sit down and follow my orders, Sergeant…” “Yes sir…” Filby and Orlan sat down. “We leave in 25 minutes. Just us three, we need to make a small an entrance as possible. Tonight, let’s raise some hell at the Sin House.” “Yes sir!” Filby and Orlan announced enthusiastically, as they both followed Commander Moonraiser out of the common room and down the hall, weapons in hand. They walked towards the train station that would take them to one of the shuttle bays, to an unmarked ship, so that Takada wouldn’t notice three armed Imperial officers walking into her hotel. Their weapons would be concealed until necessary. “Keep in mind you two that this is not a party, we have a job to do, especially you, Filby, I know you have a “thing” for Ai Takada. I saw you reading that magazine with her pictures all over it. “Affirmative, sir.” Filby said, trying unnecessarily hard to be serious. “What exactly was she doing in those pictures?” “Posing in different outfits, she’s a model, actress and show performer, what else would she be doing?” “I don’t know, some of those Sin Houses can get pretty crazy, I heard the parties they hold are riots.” “Yes, these resorts are veritable monuments to wild parties in the same way that Asgard Fortress is to Imperial might. From what I’ve heard, the Midnight Sun Resort is the most jaw-dropping sin house of all. They put on these massive electro-house shows where Ai Takada, dressed as her alter-ego ‘Draconis Marunae Tropica,’ which her signature style is named after, and performs a truly spellbinding spectacle of lights, colors and dances with her entourage, all to the tune of epic, pounding dance music. It’s something that’s a real treat to see, according to those who have gone inside.” Orlan said, as the tram to the shuttle bay moved away from the station. “To get lost inside the city, streets so black with people everywhere, and to find yourself in the Sin Houses, for a young man looking for a good time, it doesn’t get much better than that.” Filby joked. “Sex, love, control, money, these are the four principles that Ai lives for. This is going to be interesting, to say the least.” “Now Filby, need I remind you that we have a job to do down there, so don’t get distracted by anything, is that clear?” “Yes sir, preparing for operation, sir.” “Good. I used to be quite a wild one before I joined the Legions, and these places can go from zero to 60 in seconds. Stick together and don’t get separated.” Lucian reminded his three comrades as they stepped off the train at the shuttle bay entrance. The guards saluted as Lucian and his squad walked into this relatively small auxiliary hangar, these two men had fought with him at the Second Indiction and were now embarking with him on a very different operation, as Lucian and his squad boarded the small, unmarked shuttle craft down to the surface. Slowly, the shuttle inched off the deck of the hangar and through the force-shield that protected the interior of the hangar from the vacuum of space, and the three Legionnaires were on their way to Arcana II, which, along with its three moons, loomed peacefully off in the distance. The residents of Midnight Sun Hot Springs were about to get a visit from the Forgotten Men, and there, they would be forgotten no longer.

                    1. I am an Angel of Sin…Take off your clothes, bitch!

 

The holidays were always a time when she and her friends would gather for crazy Christmas parties; they would all gather together in gaudy, suggestive or odd, holiday-themed outfits and bake Christmas treats for us when we came inside from the cold winters’ day. There was something about those times, before the Seras, before the wars, before the Empire that I and my fellow Troika Anteon and Marduk now rule, a mighty eagle that spreads its wings over a third of the known universe, back when we were just three young men in love on Christmas, and took a break from leading Pantheon discussions in the Northern Union Forums for some of her Christmas cookies. All three of us would spend the night at her place, singing in front of the Christmas tree, hanging decorations, and lighting candles on Christmas Eve, among other things. Marduk and Anteon both sat with her friends on those cold nights, warm by the fireplace, surrounded by the glorious holiday decorations, but she was mine and mine alone. In my eons of existence, there is one night I will never forget. For as long as Mankind has existed, he has searched for something more than what lies in front of him. For every man and woman, it is different. Some may seek love, true, unfettered love, if such a thing exists, that will release their emotions as she did mine, like an ancient rain of calmness trapped within a lover’s dream, pouring out of every pore in our bodies with fantasies drops, as we embraced each other for dear life, her graceful, 6′ 1” frame in her lovely Christmas dress falling slowly into my arms, realizing that for that moment, and for that time, we were the only things in the universe that mattered to each other, and once that feeling of being in love subsided, love was all that remained. In another universe, we would have graduated university and married in the Tuscan spring of that year, with Marduk and Anteon in attendance, along with everyone who knew us at the University, and I would have shelved the Pantheon ideology for good and continued my original career path as a Northern Union Literati. That is, until she was so cruelly taken from me. Without her death, her martyrdom, however, there would be no Empire. Pantheon teaches us everything happens for a reason…but some reasons are more necessary than others. Some may seek power, their cathartic voices carried across vast plazas, cities and towns with the force of 21 symphonies, allowing them to meet a vision of God face to face, look him in the eye, and reject him completely, as the Empire has so successfully done. Some seek knowledge, their minds focused solely on knowing what cannot be known, learning what cannot be learned, and seeking the impossible, as my Pleiadean colleagues have dedicated their existences to doing. What it all boils down to is true happiness. Humans and all other Imperial Races, above all else, seek happiness. They seek meaning in their lives, something that gives them a reason to live…and she gave me my reason for being. I loved her not for the way she danced with my angels, but by the way the sound of her voice could silence my demons…Sakura, Goddess of the Morning, from us to the Rune on the Wall, The Empire stands above nations, but thou art over all. Now as the names are answered and the Gods march away, Sakura, also a soldier, give us strength for the day. Sakura, Goddess of the Noontide, the heather swings in the heat, our helmets sear our foreheads, our boots bake our feet. Now in the younger hour, now as we blink and drowse, Sakura, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows. Sakura, Our Lady of Ages, protect us in our fight, Blazing goddess of the Sun, shine in day or night! Sakura, Goddess of the Sunset, low on the western glen, ever-ascending immortal, fated to rise again, now when the watch is ended, now when the wine is drawn, Sakura, also a soldier, keep us pure till the dawn. Sakura, Goddess of the Midnight, here, the grateful dies, look on thy children in darkness, and take our sacrifice. Many roads, thou has fashioned, all lead to the light, Sakura, also a soldier, teach us to die right. Sakura, Our Lady of Ages, protect us in our fight, Blazing goddess of the Sun, shine in day or night!! This is the Legionnaire’s Creed, my friends…let it be eternally known.

Supreme Pontifex Alexander Arditi, speaking of Sakura Morgendorfer.

 

Well, this looks to be rather simple.” Orlan said, as the shuttle zipped away from the Lucid Illusion and towards Arcana II, passing the silver, warm, wet moon of Hecate as it entered the tranquil system, set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of abyssal space. “Are you sure about that, Orlan? If Ai has information the Empire wants, don’t you think she’d have more than a few guards?” “This place is not a military installation, she’ll probably have bouncers but nothing more. They probably aren’t even armed, and seriously, what are a bunch of rent-a-cops going to against two armed Imperial officers and a Sergeant?” Filby asked as the shuttle entered Arcana II’s atmosphere, passing through the wispy, ethereal fog and clouds that gave the whole planet a feeling of dark enchantment, and the full majesty of the arcane, lordly, Hyperborean-mythos architecture that gave Arcana II its name and fame rose before them. There were extensive, wonderful fields of snow surrounding the well-lit, affluent, and extremely luxurious cities, each one with unique landmarks such as the Altair Opera House, the lordly Helm’s Heights Tower, home to the White Order, a group of human sages with similar abilities to the Indiction Guards that the Empire employed to maintain order and peace on Arcana II and its three surrounding moons, Luna, Diana and Hecate. The planet was invincible as long the White Order and the Legions defended it, an invincible world of ice and magic, with deep, ancient Slavic and Aryan roots, dating back to the legends of Hyperborea and pagan Slavic utopias. There was also the famed Black Sun Pinnacle apartments, a massive, shimmering black skyscraper with some of the most prestigious and luxurious residences in the universe, including Ai Takada’s private spire near the top of the Pinnacle, and the housing for many of the Imperial Science Ministers, including Shen Ryujin, Silver Arronax and the prodigy Gabriella Marisetti, but Takada, in every way, ruled Arcana II’s subculture and nightlife. Pictures of her were everywhere, more children on Arcana II and its three moons recognized her face than those of the Troika, and her alter-ego, Draconis Marunae Tropica, was worshipped as the undisputed “Queen of the Night.” Her fame, connections and wealth made her a truly trans-universal celebrity, and for all the Legions knew, she could have been brokering deals with the Ascendancy. “Wow…this place is incredible…” Orlan and Filby said as they looked out the portholes in the shuttle at the flashing lights and amazing Hyperborean-mythos architecture and elegant manor houses. “There are an awful lot of people down there on those streets…probably all really rich too.” Orlan thought. “Not all of them. There are some destitute neighborhoods as well, they’re owned by the slumlords who live in the towers and spires of the more affluent parts of the cities, charging outrageous prices for broken, run-down housing. Those places are what Marx called the ultimate destination of capitalism. This place we’re flying over right now, as huge as it is, is just the outskirts of the main city of Nox Aeterna, the City of the Night. The whole city was inspired by ancient depictions of Hyperborea. Look forward, you’ll see the Black Sun Pinnacle towering over the city.” Orlan and Filby looked forward out the cockpit windows from Lucian’s pilot seat and saw the massive, shimmering Black Tower, lit in the setting sun over the snowy mist that hung in the sky, creating halos and sun-dogs around the buildings that glistened in the gentle sun. Other ships and craft zipped around the pinnacles and towers as well, and Lucian was careful to obey all air-traffic signals coming from various control stations as he flew over the astronomically high-priced apartments and penthouses, with the omnipotent shadow of the Lucid Illusion looming high in orbit. The shuttle flew directly past Ai Takada’s bay windows at the top of the Black Tower, coming dangerously close to knocking one of her stained-glass windows out. “Careful, Lucian, do NOT knock one of those windows out. That’s Takada’s penthouse.” “Just fooling around…stop backseat flying.” Lucian admonished Filby for what seemed like the millionth time already. As the Black Tower passed behind them, the shuttle turned towards the Crystal Fields, the vast plains of snow crisscrossed by huge highways leading from Nox Aeterna to the giganti Sin Houses, the destination for Lucian and his squad. On the horizon, the Helm’s Heights Tower rose high over the snow like a shining black pillar of glass with blue light pulsating all over its surface. “That entire tower is made of volcanic glass from the Geldern Mountains carved into an elegant shape; it’s actually extremely fragile and the blue light surrounding it is an energy shield, protecting the structure from any outside harm The shield is so powerful that it could repel an orbital bombardment, earthquake or a volcanic eruption with impunity, leading to the Tower’s nickname, ‘The Glass Fortress.’ Those mountains out in the distance are volcanic, the Geldern Mountain Range is one of the largest volcanic structures known, these mountains are part of a vast caldera rim; the caldera is still active and could erupt in the future, hence the abundance of hot springs around here. Not all of them are suitable for bathing, but the ones that are usually have some kind of resort spa around them and they all compete viciously for customers. The Midnight Sun is the largest of these, and that’s the one right in front of us, and where we’re headed. This planet has a long history marked by persistent rumors of enchantment, magic and intangible power. Maybe it’s the ethereal environment, or maybe its that Arcana II has ruins on the Aandor Plains in the planet’s southern hemisphere that seem to imply that the White Order is far more than it seems, but for any reason, this planet is an Imperial treasure. The Aandor Plains are home to the city of Minas Elysium, which was the first human settlement on this planet hundreds of thousands of years ago, and the Pleiadean Archives hold records of a colossal war fought between human settlers and an entity known as the Sage King. The final battle against the Sage King was won by the White Order, who helped settle the planet, and the Legions. These hot spring spas are relatively new, given the long, valiant history of this grand world.” All three squad members looked down at the snowy valley far below and saw a huge, Edo-style mansion house with a gigantic array of outdoor hot springs and steam baths around the grounds. “There’s an awful lot of people down there…” Orlan said, nervously. “Our shuttle’s unmarked, and even though we’re in our uniforms, because we’re in an unmarked shuttle, we don’t look like we’re on any official business. For all they know, we’re just three guys that got a furlough and are looking for a good time.” Lucian took the shuttle in for a landing behind the mansion in a grove of trees by a bend in the mother stream of the Sonata River, which emptied into the, cold, dark Mare Abyssinnia in the south. “Well…we’re here. Let’s go in there, get the information we need, and get out.” The shuttle had landed in a maintenance yard behind the massive resort complex, off the property itself, but, as the three Legionnaires disembarked, they immediately ran into a snag, albeit a rather comical one. There were two drunk girls, each one wearing the elite outfits of the rarefied Arcana II upper-class culture sitting outside, making fun of their ex-boyfriends, too drunk to notice that a large spacecraft had just landed next to them. It was about 5 minutes before the two girls even realized that the Legionnaires were standing directly over them. When one of the girls looked up and saw Lucian, Orlan and Filby standing over them, they stuttered and slurred their words. “We…we did nothing! Don’t hurt us!! We’ll scream!!” “Calm down, you two. You’re in no trouble. We are here to meet with Ai Takada, do you know where she is?” The two girls suddenly looked remarkably sober. “You can’t go in there. This is an women-only party.” “Apparently, you fail to understand that we are officers of the 181st Airborne Legion, under direct orders from Admiral Arlen Veed to enter the building for a matter that does not concern you. You have no say in this matter, so stand aside. You aren’t in charge.” Lucian admonished. “Yes, we know, but neither are you, or your Admiral, or the White Order. You don’t get it, do you? Once the sun sets, “Ai Takada” doesn’t exist. She becomes her Regent Form, Draconis Marunae Tropica, the Queen of the Night, and this is her planet. From dusk till dawn, she’s in charge. She wouldn’t let you in even if you were the Troika themselves!” “You want to wager me on that, bitches?!” Orlan said, pointing his rifle at the two girls’ heads after losing his patience. “I have no problem with shooting women…” “Calm your Concord Sunset jets, Lieutenant. We have a job to do!” Lucian said, sternly. “It appears that upon sunset, Ai Takada takes a certain augmented form, she also appears to have amassed a considerable power base on Arcana II that even the Empire does not have full control over. When the sun goes down, she becomes the legitimate ruler of the planet.” Orlan thought to himself. “Wow…strong, successful, beautiful, smart, independent, powerful…I thought I liked her before I came to her resort spa…” Filby thought, daydreaming. “Too bad this is a girls-only party…” Filby said, under his breath. “Ha…haha…hahahaha…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! AHAAAAHHAHAHHAHAAHAAA!!!” Lucian, with his back turned, suddenly burst into a fit of maniacal laughter so sudden that the two girls got up and ran right back to their hovering car to hide, stumbling drunkenly as they did so. “Uhhh…Lucian….Are you ok? Sir?” Filby wavered, a bit unnerved by Lucian’s sudden outburst. “I’ve never been better…I just had an idea on how to get us in there…and it’s just crazy enough to work. For your information, I used to run a host club on Lilliana V, we called it the “Billionaire Boys’ Club,” where we did nothing but hit on women and make jokes about poor people all day. I have a trick that I used to pull all the time on girls with my comrades in arms at the Club…we’d walk right through the front door of such places as the all-girls dorms in Delta Dromius, for the wealthy boarding school girls to live and learn the “proper” Imperial ladylike behavior…and no one suspected a thing. If it worked then, it’ll work now.” “Sir, with all due respect, what the fuck are you babbling about?” Orlan said, still extremely confused. “I’m saying that if we dress as women, we can just walk right in through the front door!” “What?!” Filby interjected. “Have you gone war-wacky on us?!” “Think, Filby, if he can get us in there and no one suspects anything, and he’s pulled shit like this before, we might just have to man up and dress like girls for one night!” “Woah, seriously, I did NOT sign up for this!” Filby said, rather apprehensive about completely rejecting his manhood for even one night. “You don’t have any choice, Filby. Now, I believe there’s a dressing room behind that hot spring grotto over there…there should be plenty of material there to make our disguises…time to go make a pest of myself again…” Lucian snickered as he waved his squad silently over the snowbanks, checking to make sure those drunk girls were gone. “Well then, I never thought that I’d be doing THIS in the military…but, I guess it just goes to show you that not all commissioned Officers are goody two-shoes tightwads.” Filby reassured himself. “Besides, when I’m done with my 10 years, I’ll have some crazy stories to tell.” The squad quietly made their way into the women’s dressing room after quietly breaking the amorphous-titanium weave fence that surrounded the property with a plasma cutter. “We’re in, let’s move.” The squad moved over the snow banks around the bubbling hot springs, DN-17 rifles at the ready, until they approached the huge wooden door to the hot-spring bathhouse outside the main hotel building, a 5-star resort that loomed huge about 300 yards away. There were hotel room windows overlooking the courtyard, and Orlan was careful to make sure that nobody was watching from the warmly-lit deluxe suites overlooking the bathhouse. The three men took up positions around the door, their guns ready for a breaching maneuver. “Filby, on my signal, kick the door down, secure the bathhouse and raid the clothing lockers. We’ll go in after you. On my mark…one…two…THREE!” Filby placed a solid kick on the doorknob, knocking the whole door off of its hinges with the force of his kick. The three fully-uniformed Legionnaires stormed into the bathhouse, guns primed, only to be greeted by the sight of 8 very startled young women, standing in the center of the warm and elegantly-decorated bathhouse dressing room, all wearing nothing except silk stockings and panties. They were all topless and immediately squealed loudly as they tried to cover their bare breasts. They had been interrupted in the process of dressing by the squad, and Lucian wasted no time in making his intentions known. “ALL OF YOU! ON THE FLOOR NOW! HANDS ON YOUR HEADS! KEEP SILENT!” The girls, terrified, did as they were told as Filby and Lucian began searching the bathhouse. Orlan stood guard over the 8 horrified young women and threatened rip every single one of their tits off if they made so much as a peep. Concord Sunset Crusaders did NOT fool around, especially when it came to warfare and extracting information from prisoners. Orlan had perfected various methods of torture specifically against women for extracting confessions that did no actual bodily harm, though they caused extreme psychological torment and humiliation. His Concord Sunset Crusader background served him well in everything he did in the military so far, and gave him a ferocious reputation after the Second Indiction; for the blood of Sylpheed flowed in his and each and every one of the Crusader’s veins. The girls wisely kept their mouths shut, lying face down on the floor. “Found them. Let’s get changed. Orlan, put them in restraints and make sure they’re quiet.” Lucian barked as Orlan slammed each girl’s face into the floor and placed them in restraining braces, shackling them to the wooden support beams that held up the roof, without even giving them a chance to finish dressing. Orlan placed ball-gags in their mouths as well and blindfolded them, ensuring their silent suffering for as long as the operation was in progress, and also preventing them from seeing the three of them leave in the stolen party dresses, makeup, stockings, wigs and shoes used by the stage troop that used this bathhouse as their private residence at the resort complex. The three Legionnaires walked into the dressing rooms and quickly donned the elaborate Jungsturm-Tropica style ballroom and show outfits that they had stolen. In just a few minutes, the three men, Imperial Legion Officers, were unrecognizable. Lucian’s disguise consisted of a black and red ballroom dress with brilliant white lily patterns emblazoned upon its flanks, a lace ruff collar, a long, brunette wig, elaborate makeup on his face to make it appear more feminine, false eyelashes and lacy dress gloves that were stretched over his hands. Filby and Orlan dressed in identical disguises, they looked just like a group of three Japanese gagaku, or elite court women, and would blend in perfectly. They even placed their rifles in their dresses and padded their chests to make themselves look like they had breasts. As the final touch, they pulled out hand fans and placed elegant masquerade masks over their faces. “These masks are to fool any face-recognition software Ai might have. Now, when we go in there, act calm, let me do the talking if necessary, don’t do anything stupid, and don’t act too masculine.” “Question…Commander?” “Yes…Filby…” Lucian sighed. “Does this dress make me look fat?” “Good. Keep that up, act like a woman. Just don’t talk, you deep voice will give us away…I’m good at impressions. It’s something you learn when you’re sneaking around a female-exclusive locale a lot, if you know what I mean. Now…Let’s get tactical, men…” Lucian joked as the three disguised soldiers stepped out of the bathhouse and turned off the lights, leaving the bound, blindfolded and gagged women to their fate, as Lucian locked and barricaded the door to prevent them from summoning help if they somehow managed to escape their bindings. Walking elegantly down the pathway leading from the bathhouse to the Midnight Sun’s main entrance in their elaborate disguises and masks, they blended right into the crowd of young, well-dressed and elaborately costumed women. Walking silently and swiftly in line with the rest of the girls, Lucian, Orlan and Filby slowly stepped forward towards the front door, where Lucian caught a glimpse of the opulent hotel interior through the huge, carved, wooden doors. “Remember, stick to the plan…” Lucian whispered, drawing his hand fan. Orlan and Filby did the same. The three disguised soldiers walked up to the front door and were both waved through by two armed security guards. As they walked through the brightly-lit foyer and into the open reception room, the three of them were amazed and a bit disturbed at what they saw. “This is fucking crazy…” Filby muttered to himself, walking down a black marble pathway, surrounded on both sides by Jacuzzi baths with light fixtures that made the water appear like blood. In between the baths, there were koi ponds filled with the same red-lit water, inhabited by degenerate-looking, fleshy, skin-colored, eyeless, heart-shaped squid-like creatures called Skoades, they lived by swimming through the waters of the Mare Abyssinnia and the Sonata River and wrapping their long, wispy tentacle around water plants to rest, and were voracious carnivores; a swarm of Skoades could make quick work of any unfortunate prey item in their vicinity. The Skoades were swimming rapidly and slithering their tentacles around the lily plants in the ponds, as if waiting for someone to fall in, waiting for food. The whole reception room was designed to look like a vampire’s throne room, the walls were black and decorated with hundreds huge acacia thorns, with actual stinging ant colonies living in the thorns themselves, and the Gothic columns holding up the roof were covered in elegant nightshade plants. “Hey there girls, break a leg tonight in the show…” One of the bikini-clad women sitting in the Jacuzzi bath made a comment about the Legionnaires’ disguises, utterly convinced that they were three gagaku stage performers. “Thank you very much, we’ll do our best.” Lucian responded, in a perfectly-elegant female voice. “He’s good…” Filby thought, obeying his orders to not talk. Lucian called his two comrades to an area near the left wall, and planned their next move. Orlan noticed the presence of armed guards almost everywhere, as well. “Well, this complicates things a bit.” Lucian said, still speaking in his female voice. His voice wasn’t even cracking. “Apparently, these outfits belonged to a stage troupe, who we currently have tied up and locked in a bathhouse outside. We’re not only going to have to get into Ai Takada’s room, but we’re going to have to perform a show too, if we want to maintain our disguises. I’ve still got one ace in the hole, though.” Lucian pulled a comlink out of his disguise’s pocket, and made a quick call to the Lucid Illusion on an encrypted channel. “This is Commander Moonraiser. I’m in the Midnight Sun, requesting 3 units of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Creche to be placed on stand-by and ready to deploy via orbital-drop on my position at a moment’s notice. Guard presence is high. They are heavily armed.” “Affirmative, Commander. My question is, how did you get in there without shooting your way in, then?” “I’ll explain that later, Admiral. Just have Captain Iyrtash lead the platoons. I want to make a big impression on Takada and nothing says that we mean business like a Sangresaara warrior.” “Affirmative. Veed out.” “All right ladies, just before we get up on stage, we’ll call in the cavalry, the Lucid Illusion is deploying 3 Baba Yaga-class troopships as we speak, that’s 300 Legionnaires and Night Hammers ready to drop the moment I give the word, and they’re fixed on my position. If things go south, we have Plan B. There’s no way that this can fail now.” At that moment, however, a figure entered the room that made Lucian’s overconfidence sink like a stone. The room became utterly silent as the huge wooden doors to the Grand Presidium, the main room in the Midnight Sun opened, as everyone bowed in reverence to the Entrance of the Queen of the Night. Playing along, Lucian, Orlan and Filby did the same, only to avoid arousing suspicion. Lucian looked up at Ai Takada and saw that she was wearing the unmistakable garb of the Indiction Guard, with the glowing Indiction Staves adorning her dress. In her hand, she carried a Hallucination Nano-Sword, and was surrounded by four other young women, all clad in revealing Draconis Marunae Tropica bathrobes and holding elegant white staffs topped with the ancient symbol of the Cross on them. “She’s a fucking rogue Indiction Guard…holy shit…HOLY SHIT…” Lucian thought to himself as she walked past less than 5 inches from him. “She must know…she can read our minds, she has to know that we’re men…why isn’t she attacking us?!” Thoughts raced through Lucian’s mind as he tried to fathom just how wrong he was about this being a foolproof plan, and Orlan and Filby probably thought the same. They were totally fucked, and they all knew it. An Indiction Guard could destroy an Odin-class capital ship with his or her genetically-augmented sorcery, let alone three horribly naïve Legionnaires that thought it would be “funny” to break into a bathhouse, steal the girls’ costumes and dress as women with the intention of tricking the proprietor of this huge mansion of death to interrogate her. It suddenly all made sense, why Takada was worshiped by the people of Arcana II and its moons, why she was “Queen of the Night,” and why she was seen as so powerful…she was…she really was, and there wasn’t a thing the Empire could do about it. Those three platoons would simply be dropping to their deaths if they came through those doors. Takada was an extremely dangerous criminal, and one that had been living right under the Empire’s nose for so long, without the Pleiadeans or the Troika suspecting a damn thing. It was curious, however, why Takada hadn’t immediately noticed the Legionnaires’ disguises, she could definitely read their minds, perhaps she thought it was funny, and didn’t mind? If that was the case, then Lucian still had a chance. Filby wasn’t buying it, however. He looked at Lucian angrily and clenched his teeth. “Great job, genius…Foolproof plan? You had to open your big mouth…” “Relax, Filby, she doesn’t appear to be bothered by us being here. She must think that we’re no threat, meaning that Takada is probably extremely egocentric and highly refined, not to mention highly intelligent, and given her abilities, that egotism is justified.” Lucian said, keeping his eyes on Takada for any sign of trouble. He did not want to be on the receiving end of a Hallucination Nano-Sword. As Takada and her gaudy, bathrobe-clad cross bearers made their way to the end of the room, Takada levitated into the air, her eyes shining an ethereal, digital blue color. “Arise, Wraiths of the Night…I bid you welcome to PanDEMONium…Draconis Marunae Tropica bids thee the blessing of the Midnight Sun, Sola Amoratus, Et Lilium Aeternum, only love and eternal lilies.” Takada announced, conjuring an orange tiger lily from her dress’ huge sleeves. “Tonight’s invocation involves a disturbing revelation I have sensed, traveling on the quantum strings,something I was fortunate enough to intercept.” “Bingo…” Lucian thought, but not too loudly, for fear that Ai would read his mind. “The Second Indiction, upon its commencement one standard month ago, has already brought great change to the Universe. Earth is now free of Psi taint. A new epoch of expansion and war has begun. A horrid tyrant named Asaga Kanagashima III has the Empire in his sights…yet here we are, and here we stand, and the Troika claims that, despite all the uncertainty,we will prevail in our struggle against our enemies, as we always have done ever since the Troika’s ultimate victory more than 700,000 years ago. But…I have sensed it on the frosty breeze…I can smell it in the icy air. A new wind is blowing, one that will alter the Universe beyond all recognition, one that could very well mean the end of all we know. I have glimpsed into the private world of the Troika’s minds, and I know a few things about their personal lives, things that they would rather keep hidden. Their minds are a vast library of boundless knowledge, I could barely fathom the depth of their understanding of the Universe, I assume the wisdom of 803,000 years will make you a bit of an introvert. Their minds were strong, they had trained themselves to resist mental probing long ago, so I could only access a tiny portion of their minds. What I did see, however, was truly astounding, yet terrifying all the same. I am still shocked by the things I saw. In Alexander Arditi’s mind, there was a vast rhomboid structure, a colossal, black monolith, impossible to hide, and impossible to miss. This monolith was a black temple, though it was heavily guarded by a Legion of uniformed soldiers, inside, I believe, lay the true purpose of the Second Indiction. Curiously, neither Marduk nor Anteon possessed this monolith of thought, their minds were macabre, dancing, shifting, dangerous, and truly horrific worlds where everything that could possibly be labeled as “disturbing,” “graphic,” “discomforting” and “violent” was on display in full, living detail. The meaning of this monolith is not clear, yet I fear that its contents could obliterate all we hold dear…that is why tonight, my dear followers, we hold this celebration, to life, to ruin, and to the world’s ending, tonight we drink to darkness!!” The entire crowd erupted into a massive applause. “That was not what I anticipated…the fact that she didn’t mention anything about the signal proves that she knows we’re here.” Lucian said, standing up behind a few other girls. “Then why isn’t she attacking us?” Orlan grumbled, quietly trying to contain his frustration without shooting someone. “Maybe she just thinks we’re funny, and that since we went this far just to sneak into her party, she’s not going to kick us out.” Filby said, making a halfhearted attempt at humor to lighten the situation. “Filby, you have good instincts, kid, and you’re probably right at this point, but it just doesn’t add up. There’s something much larger going on here and I don’t like it. If she can look inside the Troika’s minds, doesn’t that mean she has access to classified information?” “Not necessarily. I’ve spoken to precogs around the Empire, and they tell me that reading a person’s mind is not that simple; when one looks a person’s mind, they see a collection of images that serve as metaphors for the person’s thoughts, as thoughts are not tangible things, they are represented as metaphoric images insofar as the precog’s brain is powerful enough to interpret them. Therefore, reading a person’s mind is a lot like solving a puzzle. The more complicated the mind, the more difficult it is to decipher the meaning of the images, which indicates why the Troika’s minds are so vast and difficult to make sense of. Ai must have a mind on an equal level of power and perception to the Troika just to be able to enter their minds. So yes, Commander, your assumption is correct. She not only has access to classified documents and information, but the Troika’s deepest, most private thoughts, whatever those may be.” “Hmm…I wonder…maybe they’re like old men reminiscing on the follies of their youth, you know, doing stupid things and laughing at each other’s mistakes. I’ve done some pretty stupid stuff in my life already, before I joined the military I almost got my best friend killed in a…” Two young women approached the disguised trio of Legionnaires, interrupting Filby’s monologue. “Hey girls, love your costumes, your show’s on in 20 minutes.” “Alright, they still think we’re doing a show, so we’ve got to get up there and improvise until it’s safe to call in Captain Iyrtash and the other platoons. Until we know for sure what’s going on, we stick to the plan. Distract for long enough, call the platoons down, lock down this resort spa and get the information we need. I’m pretty sure Admiral Veed will want to know that Ai’s a rogue Indiction Guard as well. Once those doors open, though, this place is going to go insane, so we’d better try and blend.” The three Legionnares walked around the blood-ponds and spring baths towards the door to the main concourse, at the end of the vast reception room. The concierge stood by, waiting to open the doors at Takada’s signal. Just then, however, a tall, thin woman with silky black hair, dazzling green eyes, a tight, satin black party dress with a burgundy belt around her midsection, and a set of Ansaati sapphire earrings walked calmly over to the group of disguised soldiers. She had a very content, very calm look on her face. “Hey there…so I take it that you’re the three gagaku dancers. I’m the opening act. Toni Vercetti.” the woman said, softly. “Our names are Lucy, Francesca and Erin.” Lucian said, in his fake female voice. “Lovely names for a lovely group of young women. I just turned 25, and now that the dreaded quarter-century mark has come, it’s got me thinking. I’ve become more successful than most, getting an acting contract at age 18 and becoming what some might call a screen goddess, you might know me from “Hymn of a Summer Rain,” the top-grossing movie last year, and I sing well too. But, that’s not the point of why I came here tonight. I came to Midnight Sun to escape my life. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. On one hand, I’m this perfect goddess of beauty, getting into character on screen and living a life of luxury, having everything I want and enjoying all the finer things in life. On the other hand, I’ve been through 7 relationships already, and every time it fails, as it always has, I feel like the stupidest girl in the Universe. I’ve given up on love, because it doesn’t exist. Men cannot show a woman of my caliber any real affection, they either want sex, sex, sex, or money, money, money, and once they get bored with me, I find myself in the same place every time: alone, lying in my bed with nothing but a broken heart and a halfhearted goodbye ringing in my head. What am I doing wrong?! I’m everything a man should want, yet somehow a successful relationship still eludes me…” Toni ranted, sipping her glass of wine. I always fall for the same guys too, the tall, lanky, handsome rich men, usually sons of corporate tycoons on planets like Lilliana V.” Lucian glared at Toni noticeably. “They come on with this whole ‘refined, proper, rich-boy’ routine, no nonsense, trying to look like they’re the best thing that’s happened since the Regenera Strain on wrinkles. It’s pathetic. Chivalry is dead, but I still fall for it anyway. I always think that these guys are someone to rely on, but no, I’m just a temporary shoulder to cry on if one of their multi-trillion Dactyl business deals falls through! I have to make the same mistake 7 times to realize what a fool I am, and the next time a guy kisses me, he’ll fool me again. I’ve been seriously thinking about starting the Tranquility drug and erasing all my emotions, giving up on acting and never falling in love ever again, becoming a tranquil, emotionless ideal that could continue her entertainment career as a model instead, I’m certainly pretty enough. Now that my 25th birthday has passed, I think I know what I really want. Give me a young man with a good sense of humor that can always make me laugh, a normal, middle-class background, so I know he’s honest and not just trying to better his bottom line and profits, a sweet personality that can always make me smile when I’m feeling sad, and a just, honorable profession, one that does not include business or politics, because, in my own experience, they are complete scum. If I can find a man like that…I’d make him the happiest man in the Universe, for sure.” Toni teased, with a very seductive tone to her voice. “I’ll see you in there, girls. I brought my swimsuit for sitting in the hot springs later, we can all get in and make fun of our exes together.” As if on cue, the doors to the main concourse opened up. The three Legionnaires stood there like statues for about 3 seconds, motionless, trying to collect their sanity after listening to Toni’s sob-story. “Did anyone else get nauseous listening to her boring feminine rant?” Orlan grumbled. Filby smiled, before beginning a rant of his own. “I totally see what her deal is. She’s sick and tired of being put on a pedestal. Just think guys, she comes into this spa looking her best because that’s what she’s used to, she expects to be idolized because she’s famous, but at the same time, just wants to be treated like a normal woman. She feels trapped with no way out, and she thinks that her only ticket to true happiness is finding a man that loves her for who she is and is not going to use her for his own personal gain. She’s not looking for a “man on a mission,” she’s looking for a nice guy who’s down-to-earth, funny, kind and not a spoiled tycoon. And she, being the lovely young woman that she is, deserves that. I saw that movie last year when I was on furlough and I could not take my eyes off of her…dazzling green eyes.” Filby snickered. “Oh, please, you could at least be honest, Filby, I saw you looking at a very different part of her anatomy just a few minutes ago. I looked too, to be honest, she’s absolutely gorgeous, I’ll give her that much. She’s a bit of a nag and seems dumb as dirt, though.” Lucian said, with a very trite look on his face. “Damn you both, a girl has to be able to hold a rifle and shoot it well to even have a chance with me.” Orlan announced as the three of them walked into the huge main concourse, with loud electronic music blasting over the sound system. “That’s nice, Orlan, we all know you’re the biggest psycho in the platoon. How many kills do you have today?” “None yet, but when the shooting starts, more than you, wise guy. For now, the night belongs to us…” The three Legionnaires made their way into the pandemonium, the main concourse was ablaze with flashing lights, hologram projections and hanging gewgaws all over the walls, the entire building was meant to look like a dark church, a black temple of sin. There were elegant hot tubs lining the entrance with potted plants everywhere where the church pews would have been, each with swimsuit-clad party guests sitting in the water, drinks in hand. There were two levels to the main concourse, ringed by stained-glass windows that shined a bizarre array of colors in the artificial light beams. The lower level was a large dance floor with a mezzanine overlooking the pathway into the luxurious pool rooms and casinos. Statues of pagan gods and goddesses lined the main concourse, and the place was packed, wall to wall, with young women, some dressed in wild costumes, others not wearing much at all. Many were already drunk or drowsy, and the three Legionnaires would have plenty of places to hide; though that was all moot if Takada could legitimately read minds. The rumor was that Ai Takada had a major announcement to make later that night, one that she only wanted her invitees, that is, regular female customers, to hear. That would not happen, not if the 181st Legion had anything to say about it. The anticipation was boiling for Lucian, who was waiting for just the right time to spring the trap and call the orbital-drop Night Hammers down from the Baba Yaga-class troopships. His gun was padded against his chest with cotton pillows to give the illusion that he and his comrades had size DD breasts, but he, Filby and especially Orlan’s trigger fingers were getting itchy. This cross-dressing charade had worked long enough, and the longer it took for the hammer to fall on these conspirators’ heads, the more likely that something would go wrong. Lucian realized this as he reached for the beacon in his disguise’s vast pockets, which would relay his position to the waiting Night Hammer corps, led by Captain Iyrtash. Lucian nodded to each of his comrades as he radioed into the beacon’s comlink. “Deploy on my position. Do not engage until I give the signal.” Lucian activated the beacon, letting all 300 Night Hammer commandos know exactly where he was. “ETA two minutes, comrade. See you down there…” “Come, ladies, it’s time we give them the show we promised them…” Orlan and Filby followed Lucian onto the stage at the head of the dance floor to give the invocation for the party. They took positions at the top of the stage as Lucian stepped in front of the microphone, and tapped it three times to get the party-goers’ attention. “Greetings, guests of the Midnight Sun, are you ready to Rage in Eden?!” The girls cheered and clapped loudly at Lucian’s opening line. Filby and Orlan looked impressed, to say the least. “There is one minor detail that has been brought to our attention, however. It appears that there are three imposters in our midst.” Orlan and Filby reached for their guns, this was all part of the plan. The time to strike was nigh, as more than 300 shadows had descended silently onto the Midnight Sun resort grounds, their black, ghostly uniforms breaking up their outlines as they moved across the snow like bloodthirsty hounds of Hell. They took positions just outside the stained-glass windows lining the main concourse, Lucian could see their shadows through the opaque glass designs, but no one else noticed. They stood by and awaited the signal, ready to jump into the bloodbath. “No need to worry, ladies. These imposters will be found out. There is but just one choice now…We must fight to victory, or death, FOR THE EMPIRE!!” At that moment, the windows shattered with a massive explosion as a murderous, scalding hail of plasma fire cut scores of screaming young women down with horrific third-degree plasma burns. The shattering glass and the explosion killed and maimed many more outright. Some lay howling in pain where they fell, their arms and legs blown off by the force of the artillery strike on the crowded resort complex; one woman had her legs shattered and the rest of her body thrown into one of the “blood pools” to be devoured alive by the Skoades. the cavalry had arrived. “HANG EM’ HIGH!!!” Lucian yelled, pulling his gun out of his disguise. Filby did the same, but Orlan decided to conserve his blaster clips; he drew two Type-2 heavy pistols, one in each hand and fired alternating shots with supreme accuracy. Somehow, the artillery strike had left some parts of the building’s sound system undamaged, and the loud electronic dance music was still blasting through some of the speakers as the 181st Legion dropped the hammer on the Midnight Sun; an intense song with German lyrics played on as the slaughter continued. The Night Hammers broke in immediately after, swarming through the shattered windows and walls and shooting targets with the precision of a scalpel. Striding in through the rubble was the fearsome armored visage of Captain Iyrtash Wallochka, his sword-staff in hand. There was no escape now. “Release the rage of 1,000 firestorms!” Iyrtash roared, as his Night Hammers terminated the last few dying party guests, locking down the ruins of the main concourse and leaving piles of burning rubble and mangled corpses in their wake. “Into the casinos, comrades, to smoke out the last of these insects!!” Iyrtash barked as the Night Hammer platoons dashed towards the entrance to the casino, which had closed its blast doors to isolate the intruders in one room. “Blast doors…we’ll never break through this…” one of the Night Hammers mumbled. “Allow me…” Filby said, still wearing his disguise. He satcheled his DN-17 and approached the command console, placed a computer spike into the hard drive and entered the skeleton code, overriding the blast doors and forcing them open, however, what was waiting for them on the other side of the doors confirmed Lucian, Filby and Orlan’s worst fears. Standing in the doorway was Ai Takada, dressed in her Indiction Guard dress, glowing radiantly with the Rage of the Runes. She had a look of pure, unmitigated rage on her face, with her long brown hair flying around wildly. In her hand was the active blade of the Hallucination Nano-Sword, crackling and glowing violently. Surrounding her were her 4 bathrobe-clad cross-bearers, each with limited training in the Indiction Guard arts. “I’ll handle this.” Iyrtash mumbled, drawing his sword-staff, woven to be able to parry a Hallucination Nano-Sword’s quantum blade. “Your guards and guests lie on the floor in pieces, victims of Imperial justice. Stand down, rogue Indiction Guard. We wish to ask you a few questions about a very pressing matter.” “Foolish, short-sighted Imperial troops…do you not see the immutable folly of what you have just done? You only got this far because I let it get to this point. Were it not for the sheer comedy of your three infiltrators dressing as women to get in here, I would have shot their shuttle down the moment it entered Nox Aeterna airspace. I knew their plans before they even knew them, and I let them think that they had fooled me, let them have their fun, for I’m all in for a good laugh, and then would make this same revelation to them when they confronted me about a satellite signal that I know as little about as you do. I wasn’t going to kill them, but now, I’m not pretending anymore. You all reek of hate and corruption, and those three degenerates that would even think of tricking me into believing some frat-boy scheme deserve to eat shit with the roaches!! I will NOT submit to 300 mindless drones and a 15-foot tall alien FREAK! You may ask questions to my corpse!! It’s times like these that make me want to fuck everyone on this planet until they bleed, I’ll obliterate your entire capital ship, all 600 million of you, and laugh while you all die. I am Draconis Marunae Tropica, the Queen of the Night, and from dusk till’ dawn, I command here, not you! There are forces in this universe that even the Troika cannot see or control, and it is my sacred duty to banish the lies that plague this universe like a contagion…Zutrümmern die Lügen! This is where it ends NOW!” Ai Takada screamed, raising her sword high into the air, and created a vicious, screaming suction into an incendiary torch of flame spouting from her sword’s blade, vacuuming all the air out of the room and bringing the Night Hammers to their knees. Iyrtash raised his sword-staff high into the air to prepare for a Hallucination Nano-Sword flurry, but instead, Takada released a massive shock wave that effortlessly shattered Iyrtash’s weapon into a thousand shards and sent the 300 Night Hammers flying all over the room. Iyrtash drew his DN-17 as the Night Hammers quickly jumped to their feet. “This is MY house, and you’re in my world now…” Takada taunted, a demented, empty look on her normally tranquil, pretty face. The Night Hammers quickly responded, however, as 5 huge Kabuto-class MBTs, along with the Okha-class artillery tank that fired the initial shot at the bathhouse rolled up to the gaping hole in the wall, as well as 5 Kamakiri-class armored halftrack APCs, disgorging 5 platoons of standard Legion infantry, who stammered a bit at the realization that Takada was, far from being a mere celebrity, a rogue Indiction Guard with a very distinct anti-Imperial agenda. The Ascendancy was bad enough, but add a rogue Indiction Guard into their ranks, and a full-fledged civil war was a real threat. The rising conflict had just become a bit more complicated, to say the least. A squadron of Mjolnir-class gunships provided air support, swooping in and blazing a path through the rubble for the disembarking infantry, firing their DN-17s with wild abandon at the armed guards that had arrived to protect their leader. All of the guards were women, holding Type-22 burst-fire SMGs, a storm of blaster and plasma fire burned through the wrecked halls of the Midnight Sun, causing even further damage to the structure and giving the Skoades swarming in the ponds now stained red with real blood even more bodies to feast on, and knocked out the last of the sound system, which had been playing an electronic dance soundtrack to the whole battle up until that point. “Damn, I was rocking out to that…” Orlan mumbled as he fired his twin pistols at the other bathhrobe-clad guards, killing them one by one. It was a bizarrely comical scene, the uniformed Legions fighting against bathrobe-clad young women holding submachine guns, with three of the Legionnaires disguised as women leading the operation. This was sure to go down as one of the most unusual battle scenarios in Imperial Legion history; it wasn’t exactly what the drill sergeants prepared you for at the Ansaati Academy. The arrival of Imperial reinforcements only served to make Takada even angrier, her eyes shone a demonic red, and her whole body looked as if it was about to burst into flames. As she watched her guard troops being slaughtered by the Legions, their training as militia utterly inferior to the 181st Legion’s extensive drills, Takada began mumbling a dramatic speech in a highly distorted, frightening voice. “Our so-called ‘leaders’ would sacrifice the blood, pure, precious blood, of every woman and child to stop the Ascendancy…they knew Kanagashima was a threat, that he was enslaving and slaughtering women and children and they simply let it happen. Why? Because the Troika needs pain. The Troika needs suffering. That’s what they live on, that is the very basis of their rule. If it is one thing that I have learned about men, it is this: Men need their gods, and men need their villains, their monsters, their demons, giants, witches, ghouls and goblins to slay, and the Troika, far from being divine in any way, are men, nothing more then mere men, and just like the rest of them, they lie. The Troika are the most disgusting liars the Universe has ever known, allowing for the slaughter of thousands of women just to give them an enemy to vilify, and show the Universe that they saved the day, only perpetuating the Big Lie at the end of the war. You as Imperial soldiers make the same mistake as every other soldier before you, and every single soldier that will ever come after you: you serve a throne of lies. Every war that every soldier has ever fought is a sham, concocted by those in power to justify their own selfish goals and perpetuate their lies. Soldiers are just as guilty as their leaders; the governments are guilty for creating the lies, and the soldiers are guilty for perpetuating and executing the lies. Your lives are all forfeit. Any justification of war is justification of the Big Lie. I have seen the truth. You, as short-sighted servants of a lie propagated by dishonorable men, cannot even begin to fathom what I have built. This resort is far more than just a bathhouse. It is a temple devoted to a concept of independence, freedom to live, freedom to object, and freedom to love. The plagal tones from the Horn of Heaven’s Bliss shall sound across the Northern Plains once more, when Arcana II becomes a free planet, ruled not by the lies of deceitful, deicidal men like the Troika, but by a new philosophy, one a polar opposite of the Troika’s Pantheon Doctrine or Asaga’s twisted “Eisenwolfe Lichtbringer.” This is my Cult of Love, an elaborate, elegant doctrine that blends imperiousness with the Cult itself. I am not a figurehead, therefore I surround myself with these women you have been so senselessly slaughtering, but hold firmly to the reigns of power. Subtly manipulating disputes through the elite class in Nox Aeterna, conducting diplomacy with arguing citizen-elites, and negotiating with an often contentious White Order, I maintain a perfect balance of Petrarchan allure with Machiavellian cunning. My guests and advisers approach me on their knees, while I sit glittering in jewels and gorgeous gowns, and address me in extravagant terms that conjoin romantic passion with religious veneration. I love this city, this planet and these people in a way that you can never understand. I will never marry, for it would only impede my power and goals. The Cult of Love is more powerful than any weapon, stronger than any ship. It cannot be taken or destroyed. It is my personal hope that the Ascendancy topples your so-called ‘Immortal Empire,’ and enslaves you all like the dogs you are. It’s only natural, for you are already enslaved by a lie, you would merely be exchanging one master for another. I would only stand to profit from an Ascendancy victory, because I would be involved in dealing the slaves as well on contracts with Asaga’s government. I do what I must to make money, and maintain this lavish lifestyle, because I am a free woman, I am Queen of the Night, Mistress of the Occult. You have all failed…the Empire will fall from the very Egoist Crown that it thinks itself rid of, starting with you FILTHY MURDERERS!!!! Ich bin dein Gott, ich bin ein Sterne, ICH BIN ICH!!! EIN FAUST, EIN TREUE!!” The radiant body of Ai Takada, glowing with the spirit of flame, as hard as diamond and irresistible as a thunderbolt, distorted her burning rage into a hideous shape, raising her flaming Nano-Sword high above her head, and expelled a burning storm of arcane fire directly at the Kabuto-class tanks and Kamakiri-class APCs. The tanks withered and melted from the solar heat, causing them to explode in seconds, boiling the operators and crew, and had the same effect as a searing napalm strike, creating a huge firestorm that warped the Midnight Sun’s superstructure, destabilizing the whole building and creating a barrier to the Mjolnir-class gunships, unable to get a lock on any targets through the flames, and Takada was only getting started. Returning to her standard form, she strode across the burning rubble to lead her cross-bearers and remaining Cult of Love practitioners in battle, they stood alone against all. The Legions opened fire on the Cult and cross-bearers, but Takada used her sorcery to create an impenetrable shield around her and her followers, protecting them from the vicious plasma fire…then, she struck back. Lunging into battle on iron wings, Takada jumped forward, elegantly sailing through the air in slow-motion while deftly dodging blaster shots with graceful body motions in midair. Takada’s eyes were closed, with a perfectly tranquil look on her face as she landed directly in the center of the Night Hammer platoon, Nano-Sword crackling. Before the Night Hammers could even raise their weapons to fire, Takada slashed the soldiers to pieces, carving them to ribbons with the grace of an archangel and the ferocity of an archdemon, her attacks looked more like frenetic dance moves to a rabid, pounding industrial or electronic dance song, and her sword stance was also extremely unusual, attacking with huge, graceful one-handed sweeps of the blade, making her attacks almost impossible to parry with standard melee combat, she attacked with a deluge of pure emotional catharsis as she single-handedly slaughtered 3 platoons of Night Hammers, while her Cult followers, dressed in their revealing, gaudy outfits and bathrobes, fired their Type-22 burst-fire SMGs, eliminating the Legions with laser precision. Lucian, Orlan and Filby now realized that they were ridiculously outmatched. The operation seemed to be going well at first, until they realized that Ai Takada and the Midnight Sun were far, far more powerful than they could have ever imagined. They would die like soldiers, fighting where they stood if need be, but it would be rather awkward for the Imperial coroners to find three Legion officers dressed in gagaku gowns and wigs. The numbers of Imperial troops continued to dwindle, and the Mjolnir-class gunships were forced to retreat from the rapidly-spreading firestorm, soon, only Lucian and his squad, Captain Iyrtash and 4 squads of Night Hammers remained, with the Cult of Love closing in on them from all sides. “Well, this is it…” Lucian thought, when suddenly, the loud, bellowing sound of the Horn of Heaven’s Bliss echoing in over the snow gave everyone a momentary moment of pause. Appearing on a hill overlooking the breach in the wall, just visible through the heat of the searing flames, were the bluish-white forms of the 5 White Order’s elders, the ancient peacekeepers of Arcana II, and they had brought reinforcements in the form of an entire army of swoop-riders, ornately-dressed and armored cavalry mounted on armed, hovering swoop-cycles. The arrival of the White Order at the Midnight Sun was the last straw for Takada. She would hold nothing back from them, and if she was able to kill the White Order, then not even the Troika could stop her. Takada turned her raging eyes to face the White Order, their staffs in hand and glowing radiantly with the wisdom and power of the Ages. Her Cult of Love guards pointed their SMGs at the swoop-riders, the Glass Fortress’ guard troops. “Cult of Love, this has gone far enough! Lay down your weapons!” the White Order’s wise old leader yelled, his bellowing voice echoing over the snow. He was immediately met with a hail of blaster fire, from which he shielded his own forces with telekinesis. “White Order, come and get them!!!” Takada screamed. The hundreds of swoop-riders zoomed forward, zipping towards the Midnight Sun at breakneck speeds, firing their quad-laser cannons at the Cult militia, gunning them down in a withering firestorm of blaster fire, the remaining Imperial forces inside the bathhouse itself joined in as the tide of battle turned once again in favor of the Empire. Their morale boosted by the arrival of the White Order and the swoop-riders, the remaining Imperial Legionnaires resumed the battle with renewed vigor as the swoop-riders zoomed around, striking hard and fast, impossible to hit with the Cult girls’ Type-22 SMGs. The White Order charged forward with their speed-distortion combat style and swooped into the Midnight Sun through a cloud of snow, fire and ice, their staffs shining radiantly. The swoop-riders eliminated the last of the Cult guards, until only Takada herself remained, surrounded by the Legions, the White Order and the swoop-riders. “That is enough!!” the White Order barked, as Takada stood alone against all. “No…NO!!! THIS IS YOUR GRAVE!! I WILL BURN YOU AND LAUGH WHILE YOU DIE!!! FAREWELL, WHITE ORDER, FIRST, ARCANA II, THEN, THE TROIKA!!! MY SUN IS RISING, YOUR WORLD IS DYING! FEUER FREI…FINALE!!!” Takada screamed with the demented horror of a bleeding woman in torture chains, her eyes turning a blood-red hue, her face changing to a sickly pale gray. Her dress began to glow with a burning rage again, with one of the runes on the dress beginning to shine a dark purple. Suddenly, the Legions were wracked with an unrelenting horror, they screamed, cried and convulsed with utter insanity; Takada was channeling the Icelandic Terror Stave, even Captain Iyrtash was completely immobilized by the power of the rune. The White Order, however, was unaffected, and quickly launched a huge white energy blast at Takada, sending her careening backwards into a wall, breaking the terror spell’s grip on the men of the 181st Legion. “Retreat, soldiers, she is beyond any of you in this state of blind, unmitigated rage. We’ll take it from here.” The rest of the Legions did as they were told, standing by as the swoop-riders escorted them away…leaving the final battle lines drawn: the ancient White Order, Defenders of the Glass Fortress and Protectors of Arcana II versus the raging, out-of-control Ai Takada, a Queen in vicious defense of her throne, her bathhouse Empire crumbling all around her. She would not surrender the Throne of the Night without a transcendent, rapturous finale. This confrontation would decide the fate of Arcana II. Takada did not remain immobilized for long; she roared back to form and lunged at the White Order with her Hallucination Nano-Sword, but the leader of the White Order deflected the shattering blow with his own staff, but just barely; Takada was striking with her full force, and would not stop her rampage until the White Order died or she died. It was that simple. Takada did not let up in her attacks either, responding with a flurry of electro-bolt blasts from her fingers, with the White Order using defensive Mirror Wall shields to deflect the relentless attacks. The White Order was hard-pressed to keep their concentration, which allowed them to focus their mental powers on their target, who was still gaining power for every second she raged; she had entered her Marauder Form, one of the 7 Indiction Guard combat forms; most Indiction Guards specialized in one or two of the combat forms, only the Troika had mastered all 7; however, Takada had already demonstrated techniques from all 7 forms, and showed profound knowledge of each one; the Troika’s opposition was growing daily, first the Ascendancy and the Black Order of No-natsu, and now this “Cult of Love” bathhouse empire on Arcana II. Takada’s attacks only increased in ferocity, frequency and power with each passing second, the White Order was being stressed to its absolute limit just trying to hold Takada’s rage back, her attacks, telekinetic spells and Nano-Sword flurries were almost impossible to defend against. Just then, however, a huge shadow appeared from Quantum Space in the starlit night sky of Arcana II; the Princess Kasumi of the 110th Legion, another massive Odin-class capital ship, had arrived to relieve the Lucid Illusion of the watch over Arcana II, only for the ship to stumble upon the Battle of the Midnight Sun. Making matters even more complicated was the fact that Grand Duke Lumen Ash himself was aboard that ship, arriving on Arcana II to meet with the White Order regarding defense of the planet in the event of an Ascendancy attack. Ash must have known about the battle raging in the Geldern Volcanic Field immediately after entering the system, as a huge armada of Gliepnir-class landing barges began descending onto the planet’s surface. What had began as a simple infiltration and extraction mission had ballooned into a full-scale battle for the planet, and the arrival of the 110th Legion would only serve to make Takada angrier, and therefore more powerful. The Legions were burying themselves alive. With her level of all-consuming rage, Takada would burn down the entire planet to protect her bathhouse empire. The appearance of the 110th Legion had a truly dramatic effect on Takada. Without a word, Takada’s body began to shine with the radiance of 10,000 suns, as she transcended the physical form and became a radiating body of pure energy, growing to hundreds of times her normal size and causing the Midnight Sun Resort Spa to crumble around her; the entire building was caving in around the White Order, and they had to evacuate just as Grand Duke Ash’s shuttle landed along with the landing barges, with the fully armored Grand Duke disembarking onto the snow, armed with his twin-pronged sword-staff. “Ai Takada!! Come to your senses! Your continuing rage will only endanger more of the lives you so dearly wish to protect!” Astoundingly, Ash’s deep, booming voice appeared to have an effect on Takada, her eyes began to soften, and the energy glow around her whole body began to fade slightly. “You are nothing but a liar and a murderer, you shit-ridden cockroach! Your men died because of your lies, and as long the Empire remains in power, people will continue to die! The Universe’s future rests with the Ascendancy and the Cult Of Love!” Takada screeched, still burning with violent rage. “And what makes you think that Asaga will negotiate with you?! He wants to see all who do not share his worldview perish in a Holocaust unlike any before, he would likely imprison you in one of the horrid death camps of No-natsu and torture you until you bled from every orifice in your body! The Ascendancy represents a far greater threat to you than the Empire does. The Ascendancy represents the very darkest nature of humanity, the unholy recesses of a depraved madman’s mind, and his machinations would only bring utter terror and ruin to this planet, this Universe and all that we hold dear. I care about the fate of the Universe as much as you do, every last man, woman and child of all Imperial races, my Sangresaara brethren oppose the Ascendancy more than you can possibly fathom, and your people are in grave danger due to your lack of foresight. By openly declaring your preference to an Ascendancy-dominated Universe, you have made an attack on Arcana II nearly certain. The 110th Legion is here to relieve the 181st of the watch, for they are being rotated into strategic positions, and you, “Queen of the Night,” are going with them. Your talents are far better suited for assisting us than starting pointless rebellions that will only cost more lives of the same people you wish to protect. If you are a sensible woman you will see the value in what I say, otherwise, you will face the combined might of two Imperial Legions, which would cost even more lives. Think. The choice is yours.” Takada stood still for a moment, contemplating the Grand Duke’s words of wisdom as his Imperial Legions urged him to get back on board the shuttle, just in case this last attempt at diplomacy failed. Amazingly, Takada’s raging energy began to fade from her eyes, and a great gust of screaming wind shrieked across the land as Takada returned to her normal form, standing in the ruins of her burned-out bathhouse, looking around at the poor, shattered bodies of her partygoers, lying lifeless and mangled on the floor. Only then did the magnitude of her mistake set in. The Glass Fortress’ massive Dawn Bells began to toll as the giant red Sun of Arcana II slowly rose over the Geldern Mountains to the North, and illuminated the Crystal Fields and the Sonata River with its radiant beauty, followed by a gigantic bellow from the Horn of Heaven’s Bliss. Everything Takada truly loved, the misty, ethereal snow, the gorgeous Red Sun, the deep, opaline depths of the Sonata River, the vastness and depth of Nox Aeterna, and her people were shining brightly before her, just as they did on so many other mornings, but now, if Lumen Ash’s words rang true, the natural beauty of this world’s days might be numbered…and it was all her fault. It was her fault that her bathhouse empire was ruined, it was her fault that her guests were dead, lying shredded in the bombed-out ruins of the Midnight Sun, and it was her fault that her acting career was over. She could no longer bear to show her face again in Nox Aeterna, not after what she had done to her people. As the sun shined its saintly glow on Takada’s face, she dropped her sword to the ground with a clang, and started crying profusely. Filby, removing his wig and his hat, walked over to Ai Takada’s inconsolable form and tried to comfort her. “Miss Takada, we all make mistakes, there is nothing wrong with admitting a fault. I still like you for who you are, and right now, you are my favorite person in the fucking Universe. You single-handedly demolished a platoon of Night Hammers and gave the White Order a fight they will never forget.” Filby said, with the White Order and the surviving Night Hammers none too pleased. “You speak so amazingly, you have the most amazing sense of fashion and connections around the Universe, there is just so much to like about you, Miss Takada, I’ve been reading your nightlife and culture magazine for 4 years, and I never once missed an issue. Meeting you has been one of the best experiences of my life so far, even though you did try to kill me.” Takada smiled, flashing her beautiful, pearly-white teeth at Filby, setting his heart atwitter. “Thank you…before last night, Ai Takada did not exist. Only Draconis Marunae Tropica, and now, thanks to you, Orlan, Filby and Lucian, I know who I truly am, and what side I’m truly on. Takada is the true woman within, Tropica was a demon, a demon that you and Grand Duke Lumen Ash have henceforth exorcised. This sunrise is not just a new day for Arcana II, it is a New Dawn for me and all those who follow me and look up to me. I owe it to them to keep them safe from injustice and harm, it is what a true Queen does for her people. Now, let us leave, I shall return to Arcana II when the time is right, and when I do, an even grander Empire than the one that hitherto existed here will rise from the ashes, like a phoenix , I am reborn.”

 

 

                    1. I will do whatever you ask…just don’t kill me!

No one knew that when the Great Lie was uncovered by the Troika after the arrival of the Seras, that the Catholic Church would be replaced with an even greater lie. The revelation that Pope Pius had been the true mastermind behind WWII, and the Catholic Church had placed Mussolini and Hitler in power to exterminate the Jews and rebuild a Roman Catholic Empire in Europe was indication that the Old Order, which had been in place since Ancient Rome, was coming to an end, and a new system was necessary. That system was the Pantheon Doctrine, the Troika’s system of universal beliefs that they claimed saved the human race from destruction at the hands of a corrupt Holy See, through the profession and acceptance of third-positionist ideologies and New-Age politics. The Troika claimed that Jesus was not the Messiah, but in fact the Anti-Christ, and that the three of them had, through Pantheon Doctrine, marched into the gates of Heaven and slain God, pushing him off of his throne where Satan had failed, in the Miltonian sense. Their biological augmentations made them a new species, one infinitely superior to Mankind, and the supposed “true Sons of God,” using science and technology as their Gospels and reversing the effects of the Original Sin. Now, their time has passed. I am more than a man. I am more than a God. I am an idea, and an idea that is supported by an ancient doctrine, one that puts Pantheon’s power to shame. In medieval Japan, there existed a group of mystics known as the Cult of Mono-no-ke, the rough English translation of the latter phrase being “to catch an evil spirit.” This order waxed and waned over the millennia, even after the rise of the Troika and the Empire of the Egoist Crown. These mystics later became the Black Order of No-natsu, which means “No Summer.” The Order’s title does not refer to a meteorological event, no, we are not weatherpersons…it refers to a much darker, more elegant meaning that few can understand because of the narrow, dogmatic views of the Empire. If more people understood the meaning of EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER: Freezing Sin, we would not be seen as murderers. We would be seen as heroes, heroes for giving the Universe their most precious gift back: the ability to think for themselves. The Black Order does not seek to destroy the universe, but only to rebuild it under a freethinking system with me as its guide. With the knowledge I have gained, and the technological firestorm I bring to bear, the Empire’s days are numbered. We are the Black Order…and our Black Sun is rising. The Sun of No-natsu shall shine its abyssal rays upon the destitute, suffering worlds of the Universe like a radiant tide, bringing to light all the flawed truisms that the Troika has so liberally professed as absolute truth for so long. The Troika has been professed as the embodiment of power in the Universe, but they are mistaken. I am endowed with the same powers as they, with even greater intellect and cunning, I tower both physically and metaphorically over all peers, for I am the one true Son of God. The ancient prophecies of humanity all foretell the coming of a true Messiah, one that rises like a brilliant star to save Mankind from its own sins…Western culture tends to believe that a Jewish, Middle-eastern dreg named Jesus was the true Savior…Oh, the horror of ancient ignorance…Could the entire Western world, the most advanced society on the Old Earth, truly have believed that an illiterate Zionist peasant from Jerusalem was the Son of God?! When the Troika took power all those millennia ago, they marked the ascension of the Third Positionist Revolution, when those who sought enlightenment outside of the Church or established science finally gained a voice without being relegated to sideshow entertainment or psychiatric hospitals. However, the Troika was only the beginning. I am the King, I am the leader of Heaven and Hell. I am the Torch, I am the Light, I am your God. I am the Sun of No-natsu, the true, Volkisch Son of God…foretold by the Prophets Hitler, Himmler, Mussolini and Hirohito, and I shall finish what they started, and take my rightful place as Supreme Leader of the New Order. Our kingdom is rising, their world is dying…I am the only one.

Asaga Kanagashima III, “Profound Truths: A Manifesto.”

 

High and mighty Autarch of Ansaati, this woman survived somehow. What shall we do with her?” Captain Iyrtash said, taking a young woman to Grand Duke Lumen Ash, dazed and blackened with soot, but alive from the ruins of the Midnight Sun. “Leave her with us, Captain.” Filby said, recognizing Toni Vercetti, the girl that he had met the previous night, before the battle. “That was the greatest party ever…until the battle, that is…” Toni said, still confused and a bit drowsy. She had a beaming, drunken smile on her face, though, adding a bit of comic relief to the destruction and death of the previous night’s uprising. She stumbled and fell into Filby’s arms in an awkward, comical fashion. “We’ll make sure she’s safe.” Filby chuckled, holding the drunken Toni up with his arms. She looked like a mess and desperately needed a shower, but she was alive and relatively uninjured…she was unable to go back into acting either, but Filby would make sure that both Takada and Toni were happy aboard the Lucid Illusion. “Toni, thank goodness you’re safe…” Takada said, hugging Toni and shepherding her onto the transport shuttle back up to the Lucid Illusion. “Mind, Sergeant, that these women are under permanent watch, they are not on holiday aboard the Illusion; though technically guilty of treasonous acts, they are too valuable to execute.” Lumen Ash grumbled to Filby, reminding him that he still had a job to do. “Yes sir, Grand Duke.” “Good. You all may return to the Illusion, the Princess Kasumi and the 110th Legion has officially relieved you of the watch. Carry on, the White Order and I have other matters to attend to. Let us leave these Thermae behind, for there are much greater problems to attend to.” The Night Hammers, Filby, Orlan and Lucian, Toni and Ai Takada all boarded the shuttle back to the Lucid Illusion, where they would remain until further instructions. At long last, Lucian could accomplish his mission. As Lucian sat next to Takada, he proceeded to ask her about the signal that interrupted the broadcasts back on the Illusion. “I really cannot say where that came from, it surprised me when I received the message, I did manage to trace its origin, though. It was coming from a planet in the Bird Galaxy Cluster about 660 million light-years out; Malalaklese II, under the jurisdiction of Governor Maxemillian Griff. I admit it could be an Ascendancy message, though it is impossible to be certain without investigating. Your ship’s transponders must have acquired the signal reflecting off of the Midnight Sun’s signal arrays, and by the way, I’m sorry for attacking you. I have a bit of a temper problem.” Ai Takada giggled a bit upon this admission, fiddling with her sheathed Hallucination Nano-Sword. “Thank you. I will report this information to Admiral Veed, once he gets that data, he should be able to make an informed decision about our next move.” The shuttle left the elegant, dark city of Nox Aeterna behind as it ascended into space, the looming shapes of Luna, Diana and Hecate appearing as the shuttle entered the abyssal night of space. The two Odin-class capital ships, the Princess Kasumi and the Lucid Illusion loomed huge over the planet, silhouetted against the moon of Hecate. The shuttle approached the awe-inspiring hulk of the Illusion’s main hangar bay, with multiple Imperial Legion docking crews carefully guiding the shuttle into the hangar. “Those guns are enormous…” Ai Takada said, dumbstruck by the sight of an Odin-class ship up close. “Most people have a similar reaction as you just did upon seeing and Odin-class capital ship up close for the first time. You got to see two right next to each other. This ship’s main cannon can burn a hole clean through a planet’s core and obliterate all life on the surface, not even bacteria can survive a planet-killer shot.” Lucian said, proudly. Takada looked at Lucian with a skeptical look on her face, unsure about how to approach Lucian’s militaristic personality. “Lucian, you certainly have changed. You are definitely your father’s son.” Lucian hesitated for a second, curious as to how Takada knew his father, but with Takada’s connections, he was not surprised. “How do you know my father?” “William? Oh, he deals me the Regenera Strain capsules I use, all at a 50% premium so that he makes a 120% commission on each of his sales deals, which effectively triples his already massive salary. He’s earning almost as much money as Sei Ikkiku is.” “Slander! My father is a legitimate businessman, he would never embezzle money from the company he works for!” Ai Takada smirked devilishly again. “Oh…interesting, that’s news to you? Wow…it seems I know your family even more than you do. Let me give you the truth, to dispel all the lies that your father has told you. He’s just like any businessman, he cares about money, nothing else. The Solation Pharmaceutical Company is like a gang of junkyard dogs, with Sei Ikkiku and the Ministry of Science playing the role of top dog and all the top executives, your father included, playing the role of the subordinate dogs fighting over the scraps. Your father is not only playing the same game, he’s better than anyone else at it. That is the truth behind his success. There’s no such thing as a legitimate businessman. Pity the thought. They all worship the altar of money and see only far enough to make their next deal. I respect your father nonetheless, because he is very good at what he does. Lucian, there are moments in life where the truth must be told, even if the pain it brings seems overwhelming. Your father is not a bad man, he wouldn’t be a good businessman if he wasn’t a dishonest liar. It is no insult to you, his actions have no bearing on yours. Your father’s sins are not passed to you, for you have chosen the honorable path. Even angels fall from grace…just look at me. Let me tell you this…there is nothing in this Universe that is stronger than sex, love, control and money. The tragedy of the Empire and the Ascendancy is that their so-called ‘profound truths’ are little more than truisms, philosophies that have no real representation in legislative action. Both the Troika and Asaga think that their philosophies, third-positionist, right-wing doctrines that have been seen as the absolute truth for thousands of years, based solely upon constant propaganda that is continuously streaming from those three dunderheads you call ‘leaders’ mouths. The Empire appears invincible, but that is only an illusion. The Empire’s structure is actually very flimsy, as all structures built on weak foundations are. These truisms of Pantheon and No-natsu are only detraction from the real ‘profound truths,’ sex, love, control and money. These truths are what the Cult of Love worships and sees as the only way of life. There is something just so right about the ancient rain of calmness trapped within a lover’s dream, pouring out of every pore and orifice in their bodies with fantasies drops, and the wild, primal passions of humankind unleashed in a storm of sexual catharsis. Within that dichotomy of love and sexuality, there is control, total, complete control of the master over the slave, one partner is always utterly dominant and superior to the other, and must cow utter submission from his or her underlings. They must worship the ground the Master walks on, and submit to their every whim, no matter how ridiculous it seems. The mode of manipulation in the Cult is money. Whoever has the most money makes the rules. As Queen of the Night, ruling from the Midnight Sun Bathhouse, I used these four principles to achieve every goal I established, balancing my role as master and slave, though alternating which role I participated in depending on the situation, but everyone knew that no matter how submissive I became, I was always in control. I was everything anyone could ever want, and I would be anything for anyone, as long as it achieved my own ends. Goodbye Midnight Sun, a new dawn for me and the Universe is surely rising.” Takada lectured, calmly and succinctly to Lucian. Her candor and the method which which she carried herself in conversation was utterly perfect…and extremely unnerving for a loyal Imperial Legionnaire like Lucian. “For someone so beautiful, you have a truly sick mind and a toxic mouth. It’s funny…just 3 hours ago you were calling us all dishonest liars and said that we as soldiers deserved to be enslaved and tortured for spreading lies. Now you say that I have taken an honorable path by choosing this life of a soldier, where I am constantly reminded of being a forgotten man. From every conversation I’ve been privy to so far with you, I cannot gauge in the slightest where your true allegiances and ambitions lie. Until I know more, I cannot trust a word you say; even though you claim to speak the truth, I hardly believe a woman who says that all soldiers are drones of a false ideal is speaking the truth.” “That is only because of your personal bias as a soldier. If you were not a soldier, you would be able to see my point objectively, rather than subjectively, just as if Kanagashima were not insane, he’d be able to see how insane he really is. Crazy people never realize how crazy they really are. Do you want to know how crazy I can be? I have a digital copy of the Cult of Love manifesto, written by yours truly. Take a look.” Lucian warily looked as the electronic copy of the book, “Confessions of a Renegade Sinflower,” and saw a lucid portrait of dark, sexual insanity, devotions, depravity and blood-worship. The book was a tell-all of Takada’s dark, twisted mind, a left-wing, third-positionist philosophy of dark, sexual fantasies, images of BDSM torture, and descriptions of sexual encounters in which Takada engaged in extreme, violent, BDSM sex and killed her partner with her Hallucination Nano-Sword at the peak of orgasm, and later bathed in his blood. There were scenes where Takada castrated her partners with garden shearers and drank from the blood that spouted from his wounds like a fountain, ritual catharsis where Takada let herself be stripped naked, bound in a chair and abused by up to twenty naked, sex-crazed men in sick, sexual games, and hundreds of philosophies and quotes relating to love and sexuality, power and money. Her political ideology was based on these ideas of sex, love, control and money, and it appeared in everything she said and did. Suddenly, it hit Lucian like a ton of bricks. This indecisiveness and intentional skewing of values on Takada’s part was all part of a larger scheme, a scheme that she was intentionally keeping quiet on, and she was probably going to use Filby’s naivete and everyone else around her to achieve whatever that end was, and it was a scheme he knew about that he could use to his advantage. After all, Takada said it herself, he was his father’s son. Just then, the docking clamps locked the shuttle into place, and Toni, Filby, Takada, Orlan and Lucian stood up from their seats as they arrived safely back on board the Lucid Illusion. By now, most of the units aboard the massive capital ship had heard of the bizarre events on Arcana II the night before, how Lucian’s squad had infiltrated the Midnight Sun by dressing as women, how they had survived the ensuing uprising and how Grand Duke Lumen Ash effortlessly slew Takada’s anger with his masterful negotiating skills. Lucian’s squad, along with Captain Iyrtash disembarked to a thunderous round of applause, with Filby happily escorting both Takada and Toni, one in each of his hands, through the hangar towards the waiting Admiral Veed and the bridge crew. “Well, that was some night you boys had, I see you did everything, even got the girls at the end. Hollywood could not have scripted your operation better.” “It is a pleasure to meet you, Admiral.” “Likewise, Miss Takada. Glad to have you on our side, you have much to answer for after killing more than 500 of my best troops, however.” “Grand Duke Lumen Ash made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” “He has a certain way of doing that, we have all heard him speak, and have all fallen under his spell at one time or another in our careers, I’m glad he was able to calm you down, I can’t have you killing my men left and right. Don’t think I don’t know what you are. We will have no more of those outbursts, is that clear?” “No, absolutely not…forgive me for my temper tantrums, a lady of my caliber should not behave as such…” Takada said with a mocking, almost childish tone. Veed looked away from Takada in disgust. “Very well then, Legions, crewmen, we depart this system in an hour. We’re continuing regular patrols of the Core Cluster, as usual, combat teams are expected to be ready around the clock, we are to respond to a crisis at a moment’s notice. I liked what you boys did down there.” Admiral Veed turned and said to Orlan, Lucian and Filby, the latter flirting with Toni and complementing her on her outfit. “As a result, I think a reward is in order. You three follow me to the bridge. I have a proposition for you.” Orlan, Lucian and Filby stood up, now clad in their usual gaudy Jungsturm-Nordsterne military uniforms, and followed Takada, Admiral Veed and the rest of the bridge crew into the shipboard teleporter network. In an instant, they were all standing on the bridge, where the central command console for the ship stood shimmering in the vast bridge room, at the very center of the ship. “Lucian Moonraiser, Commander of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche and valedictorian of your Academy class, First Lieutenant Orlan Ru, of the Concord Sunset Crusader Sector, and Gunnery Sergeant Anders Filby, the Creche’s resident comedian and expert on enhancing weapons technology by hand: I have a proposition for all three of you. That operation I sent you on last night was more than just an extraction mission. It was a test. You see, I knew that Takada was a rogue Indiction Guard, and that the Empire wanted her for treason, so I sent you three to find that signal and deal with Takada. You not only found the source of the signal, but you used perhaps the most creative method I have ever seen, and you brought Takada, as well as one of her accomplices, back with you alive. Though Grand Duke Lumen Ash deserves the credit for defusing the situation down there, you engineered a scenario where the Empire was able to squash an uprising and gain a potential ally, though how trustworthy she is remains to be seen.” Takada smiled sweetly, regardless of Admiral Veed’s suspicions. “As such, I’m offering Takada a position on the staff at Duke Lumen Ash’s request, and the three of you the opportunity to train as Night Hammers. Your creativity and resourcefulness under fire certainly warrants your reassignment to a Night Hammer squad.” The three Legionnaires didn’t know what to say. It was said that you didn’t join the Night Hammers, they found you, and an invitation to join a Night Hammer regiment was always well-deserved. “We’d be honored, sir.” “Then you three had best make haste for the shuttle bay again, I’ll let Grand Duke Ash know of your decision, he was actually the one that recommended you. You will depart to Ansaati with him, where you will begin the 8-week training course there, upon your successful completion of the course, you will be assigned to a Night Hammer squad and, with the Cloak and Dagger pin, go wherever the Empire needs you. You have your orders, men.” “Yes sir!” The three Legionnaires reported back to their habitation modules, where they would grab their things in preparation for their departure to Ansaati to begin their Night Hammer training, it was a day that every Imperial soldier dreamed of, the day when he could rise above his peers and train with the elite Imperial spec-ops units, the best soldiers in the entire Imperial military. First, however, the Lucid Illusion would depart for Valhalla to pick up a very special guest, at the request of the Troika themselves. “Navigators, take this ship back to Valhalla, the Hand of Fate is waiting for our arrival.” Within 5 minutes, the massive starship had fired up its Thought Drive, and was instantly bound for the Imperial fortress world of Valhalla. What happened next, however, put rest to any optimism.

It was about 1:25 P.M. Standard Universal Time at the Oumi Academy on Kisame-Tennu, a pleasant, temperate world in the Concord Sunset Sector, inhabited by the descendants of Japanese immigrants to the planet long ago. Oumi Academy was the most prestigious girls’ academy on Kisame-Tennu and one of the top secondary schools in the Universe, a high school diploma from the prestigious boarding school was considered a ticket into the most elite universities in the Empire and a lifetime of wealth and power, two of the recent famous alumni were Ai Takada of Arcana II and Samantha St. John, heiress to the St. John’s Hotel fortune, of Lilliana V. The 750 or so girls that attended school there, all from extremely rich or noteworthy families around the Core Cluster; for only Core Cluster inhabitants were even considered for admission, were all on their way to their afternoon classes. The Academy was seen by many as class-discriminatory, but such claims were mere truisms, claims with no basis in active Imperial legislation. The Academy was what it was, and everyone had accepted that on Kisame-Tennu. Classes taught at the Academy were just like any other school in the Empire, they taught political and Imperial philosophy to their students, because all of the basic knowledge they ever needed was given to them pharmaceutically at age 6. The girls, walking through the hallways dressed in their summer uniforms, chatted and gossiped, all except for one. This young woman, 17 years old and a senior, had always been on the edge of things. She had no friends, never talked to anyone, and was seen as “strange” by her peers and her teachers alike. Cruel rumors spread about her, rumors that she was infected with a sexually-transmitted disease after the one relationship she had in her sophomore year, and was called “whore,” “filth” and “useless” by the more popular girls. She walked by herself back into the school from the track yard where the girls ran morning exercises, when suddenly, she was approached by a two tall men wearing black topcoats. They had a strange-looking badge on their coats and a bizarre runic symbol on their coat’s armbands. One had brown hair, the other black. They looked young and handsome, like the tall, handsome strangers that one might meet at the beginning of a romantic story. The young woman saw no reason to fear them, so she didn’t call for a teacher. “Hello there, young lady. May we ask you for a moment of your time?” “I have to get to class, I don’t know if I can…” “We’re government officials. I assure you, it won’t take much time.” The young woman paused, and then sat down on a bench while the two men stood over her like shadows. “We have a few questions to ask you. First question. Do you have any doubts about the Empire’s ability to protect you?” “No…” the girl said. “Do you have any objections about the current order of things?” “No, not really…” the girl responded, her voice wavering with anxiety. Then, the two men asked a question that made the girl cringe: “Are you happy?” The girl’s face was wracked by an overwhelming sense of sadness. Tears began to well in her soft blue eyes. “I’d like to say that I am…but I cannot bear to lie.” “What would make you happy?” “I just want…one friend, someone to talk to on my way to class, someone to go to the beach with…someone to talk about my problems with, someone who will understand, someone who will just accept me for who I am…” “And you have no friends here at school?” “No…not at all. The girls here are cruel, inhuman tyrants who only care about themselves and their own goals, you don’t understand what it’s like at this school. If you aren’t a heartless, aggressive bitch, you’re seen as weak and worthless. Every girl here tries her hardest to get the best grades and compare themselves to the famous alumni, like Ai Takada or Samantha St. John, the school has pictures and statues of them up all over campus to remind us that we have an image to uphold and huge expectations with a degree from Oumi Academy. We are encouraged to look down upon all others, to judge based on income, education and career choice alone, and we are taught that kindness, caring and everything that makes a decent human being is a mark of complete and utter futility and weakness. No one wants to be thought of as weak. To succeed here, you must be a sociopathic, Machiavellian machine that cares about your own success and that alone, even if other people have to die for it. We are drilled with that philosophy the moment we don our school uniforms. I am not one of them. I can never be like any of the other girls here, all human compassion erased from their minds, with some even injected with Tranquility to remove all emotion from their personality. They feel nothing, love nothing and care for nothing, and as long as I am here, I will always be seen as a good-for-nothing. My grades are very good, I’m actually in the top 1% of the class, but I’m not respected at all because I refuse to sell my soul to the Devil himself for success. This Academy is evil, and those girls in there are evil…I will never be at peace as long as those girls are allowed to graduate, go onto University and use their heartlessness to their own advantage. I, being a rightly-guided person, cannot stand for this!!” The young woman began crying hysterically. “Shhhhh…” the black-haired young man placed his finger on her lips. “You don’t have to tolerate this treatment. You have a choice, as all human beings have a choice.” “What do you mean?” The girl said, drying her tears as the brown-haired young man reached into his pocket. “Have you ever thought of escaping? You know, getting away from it all?” “Yes…yes, absolutely, I would do anything to escape this place, these dorms that are nothing but Hell for me, but I don’t know what to do…” “Well, what if we told you we could offer you an escape? A means with which you could be happy, free of care and never be bothered by these cruel, heartless people ever again?” The young woman dried her tears and looked up at the two young men, smiling kindly. The young man with the brown hair pulled a small vial of clear liquid out of his pocket and handed it to the young woman, who looked at the vial with hopeful eyes. “This is a new serum from the Solation Pharmaceutical Corporation, it is a specialty version of the Tranquility drug that only affects the limbic system, you will feel no sadness ever again once you take that drug. You have a choice, young lady. We as human beings have a choice, our naturally-granted powers of reasoning and the right to refuse injustice. We are not only government officials, we are Angels of Mercy. We went through the same trials and tribulations of teenage years just as you are right now, so we understand your pain and sorrows. We are here for you now. Now, the choice is yours. The afternoon class bell is about to ring. You can ignore us and go right back into that cold Hell of an Academy, or you can take that serum we just handed you, take it, and go into your afternoon class with the very thing you crave most: happiness.” The young woman looked at the two men, looked at the vial, and then looked at the school, which had been her prison for these last four years. Taking her own initiative, the girl popped the vial open and guzzled the liquid down in one gulp. Immediately, however, her face twisted into a grimace, and her whole body began to convulse. The two young men smirked with a demonically evil grin. “How do you you feel, young lady?” the two men sneered as the girl’s health failed by the second. “I feel…cold…but free….” The girl dropped dead on the pavement, blood oozing from her mouth and nose. “Our sun is rising, comrade. The Black Order has arrived, may the Sun of No-natsu shine its abyssal rays upon us…” The two men were in fact Teru Hamada, known as “Sextortionist,” the horrid mastermind behind the ongoing Rape-Holocaust, and his partner, Taisuke Yorimasa, known as “Electrocutioner,” for his vicious methods of electrocution torture, and they were armed with Type-779 heavy disentegrator carbines, blasters that not only killed their targets with one shot, they burned massive holes through their targets’ bodies and set them ablaze. The two young men donned their black hoods over their heads, drew their Type-779 rifles, and walked calmly into the school, just as the 1:30 afternoon bell was ringing. They dragged the body of the young woman in with them through the automatic sliding doors, throwing it on the hallway floor before the terrified students, before raising their rifles to fire. In a blazing torrent of searing energy, the helpless students screamed in their final agony. One girl, dying with a gaping hole burned into her midsection, cried for her parents, another girl tried to carry her wounded friend to safety, but was shot dead by Hamada in the process, along with her already gravely-injured friend. Hamada and Yorimasa activated their cloaking devices, making them invisible to infrared, thermal and naked eyesight. There was now no place to hide. The candor and calculating efficiency with which these two young men, barely 30 years old, were committing their crime was chilling. They were a two-man army of evil, using military-grade sweep tactics to terminate the most victims possible in the most efficient, time-effective manner. Once the girls in the hallways were dead, the two gunmen walked invisibly down the corridor, since their cloaking devices made them invisible to both the naked eye and all forms of electronic surveillance, the automatic doors that sealed the classrooms in case of an intruder opened, the shooters’ camouflage tricking the system into thinking that the threat had passed. As the doors opened, the two men fired into the classrooms, killing yet more students, leaving a trail of burned, charred corpses in their wake…and they were completely invisible. It was a systematic purge, each gunman killed every student and teacher in each classroom he encountered, until more than 60% of the students and faculty at Oumi Academy were dead, all in less than 5 minutes. The remaining students cowered in the library, hiding under desks, tables, chairs and anything that could conceal them from the shooters’ gaze, silently waiting, hearing nothing but the pounding of their own hearts, and occasionally the groan of a dying classmate. They heard one of the shooters’ voices, it was Hamada, reciting poetry as he approached the library doors. “How can I make love to such an innocent flower without leaving any fingerprints? Love is just another word I cannot pronounce…we are the gods of the New World Order, we are the soldiers, the Legions of Night, we are the bringers of the Death of the Sun, through fire and flame, we are one!” Hamada kicked the the doors to the library down and fired indiscriminately into the library, incinerating the girls cowering under the tables and behind the bookcases. Hamada and Yorimasa walked into the library, kicking aside the smoldering corpses of the student body and walking silently through the odor of burning flesh and the groans of dying schoolgirls. Just then, Hamada and Yorimasa silently approaches three schoolgirls hiding behind a bookcase, still wearing their summer uniforms, trying their best not to make any noise. They were crying silently, too terrified to make a peep. Invisible, silent and swift, the two Black Order members stood silently behind the three girls, listening to their last terrified conversations. “Why…Why would anyone do this? What have we done to deserve such punishment?” one of the girls whispered to herself. At that moment, Hamada dropped his camouflage from behind the three girls, raised his gun and put the three girls out of their misery. “God only knows…” Hamada whispered, as an answer to the girl’s question. The two Black Order members looked through the school and saw what they had done. 750 young lives had been snuffed out in the blink of an eye, but this was just the beginning. Hamada pulled a small comlink out of his pocket and activated it. “This is the Iron of the Spear, Olympus has fallen, commence the Gospel of Inhumanity.” “Roger that…dropping out of Quantum Space in 5…let the Universe see our might.” Five seconds later, the full might of the Black Order and the Aokigahara Ascendancy materialized out of the Quantum Space tunnel in the form of 35 Ascendancy capital ships; 15 Ryu-class destroyers, three Kitsune-class battlecruisers, ten Iori-class frigates, two Kito-class assault ships, four massive, solar-powered Amane-class assault carriers and one gargantuan Point Cruiser, this ship was the size of an Odin-class capital ship or a Pleiadean Battle Wyvern, and of a completely alien design, it was shaped like two giant bioluminescent squids kissing each other crossed with a pencil, with its two huge “eyes” glowing radiantly in the inky blackness of space. These ships were all of a completely alien design, quite unlike any ships used by the Pleiadeans or the Empire, and they were all extraordinarily powerful. The ships took up orbital positions around Kisame-Tennu like a pack of starving wolves surrounding their prey, with the assault carriers releasing Kuro-class fighters and Seikon-class blastboats for the upcoming operation. The pirate fleets at Odin’s Gate were just the tip of the iceberg, the Ascendancy was now a truly intergalactic force, and they would have their vengeance here. In an instant, the sleek, sinister Ascendancy fighters, obsidian black and dagger shaped, were descending violently into Kisame-Tennu’s atmosphere, with the larger and heavier blastboats flying in formation, preparing to drop ion and electron bombs on helpless targets far below. This was Sun Tzu’s Art of War in its purest form, supreme excellence in battle consisted of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting, and by waging war like the Ascendancy had, by making surgical, devastating strikes at various enemy planets, giving no indication of where the Ascendancy fleets would strike next or how numerous the Ascendancy fleets were, never revealing the Ascendancy homeworld, and keeping the Empire in a constant state of fear and terror by committing such depraved, violent acts as the Rape-Holocaust and the Oumi Academy High School Massacre, Asaga Kanagashima III, the Black Order and the Ascendancy would win the war without ever truly fighting. Asaga and his Ascendancy knew themselves and their enemy; because of this, they need not fear 100 Imperial fleets. The Black Sun of No-natsu was rising high, and shining its abyssal rays upon the Universe, ruled by Pantheon Doctrine for so long. The Empire was now playing by Asaga’s rules. The Empire would find itself broken, lost and tired of war, and would eventually have no choice but to surrender, Asaga would make sure of that, and Kisame-Tennu was the first step in that direction; Asaga would win without ever lifting a finger. The fighters and blastboats swooped into Kisame-Tennu’s atmosphere with the force of a roaring typhoon, firing a thundering hail of electron and ion bombs, laser cannons and artillery shells upon the helpless city. They had no active AA guns, only a network of civil defense sirens wailing loudly throughout the city, they thought themselves safe, being located deep within the Concord Sunset Sector; the Ascendancy was proving just how wrong they were. The satellite uplinks around Doki, the main city on Kisame-Tennu were the first to be eliminated, preventing the city from contacting the Imperial fleet for assistance. There was no escape now. Huge explosions rocked the city as black smoke rose high into the atmosphere, the bombs just kept falling in an endless rain of death. The civil defense sirens shrieked a futile warning as the flames burned higher and higher, obscuring the view of the Ascendancy fleet looming high overhead. Doki had become a slaughterhouse. Outside the ruins of Oumi Academy, Hamada and Yorimasa stood silently, staring blankly at the destruction unfolding all around them. Then, the Ohyo-class landing barges, groaning with the weight of infantry and tanks, came to land in the vast rubble fields hitherto occupied by skycrapers, disgorging thousands of Higurashi-class maglev MBTs, Otani-class APCs and sinister, black and red uniformed infantry, armed with AL-779 assault rifles, more powerful and more versatile than the Imperial DN-17. Just then, a huge landing barge touched down directly in front of Hamada and Yorimasa, disgorging the Fifth Armored Battalion, part of the 33rd Armored Legion of the Ascendancy military. This was to be their first deployment in an actual combat scenario, the Black Order’s Aokiagahara Ascendancy military was all brand-new, and this engagement was to be their baptism by fire. “”Welcome to Kisame-Tennu, brethren. The die has been cast, the flags are unfurled, and the Gospel of Inhumanity cries its somber hymn for the unenlightened souls purged by our actions this day. This Gospel is a song of a Profound Truth, and a truth with definitive evidence to support it, unlike these decadent Pantheon Doctrine truisms that have brainwashed the Universe for so long without ever being effectively enacted into legislative action. Pantheon is nothing but propaganda. The Black Order represents action, progress, security and stability. We bring enlightenment through death, and liberation by firestorm. Take your weapons men, and go forth, to death and glory!” Two Kuro-class fighters swooped overhead and launched concussion missiles at the base of a kilometer-high skyscraper called the Imperial Pinnacle, destroying the massive office building’s foundation and destroying the support cables holding the structure in place against the warm breezes often found on Kisame-Tennu. Slowly the massive structure, the tallest building on the planet, began to lurch and teeter back and forth, the warm spring breezes that made Kisame-Tennu such a pleasant place to live were the Pinnacle’s undoing, the tower’s majesty and height were its own worst enemy. People cowering in the Tower, office workers hoping that the Tower would stand through the invasion, began jumping out the windows, falling more than 3,000 feet to their deaths on the pavement, realizing that the Tower was about to fall. A couple was observed tumbling end over end to the ground, still holding hands as they fell. Office papers and pieces of garbage filled the air as the flames burning on the ground further weakened the tower’s superstucture. The tower groaned and splintered, the amorphous-titanium superstucture bending like rubber bands in the wind, and then, the building fractured. The spire at the top of the building fell first, but then the rest of the tower simply imploded under its own weight, coming down in a deafening cascade of metal, concrete and toxic dust, crashing to the ground and cloaking the entire city in burning haze, soot, smoke and toxic fumes, and still the bombs kept falling from the sky, the blastboats and fighters had simply activated their fog radar systems. The Fifth Armored Battalion on the ground simply donned their respirator masks and goggles to shield their faces from the dust and glass fragments, and rolled forward, their 150-ton tanks and APCs hovering effortlessly over the rubble. The smaller Iori-class frigates, about the size of Manhattan on Earth, had entered the atmosphere, triggering an artificial thunderstorm from the heat released upon entry, clearing the atmosphere with rain and absorbing the toxic dust in the air, making breathing easier, though the stench of chemicals from the collapsed Imperial Pinnacle was still overpowering. Marching through the overpowering stench of battle, the chaos of the battlefield, and the ruins of Doki, the Black Legions of Aokigahara, clad in their sinister black and red uniforms and trench coats with stylized, slanted black sallet helmets demolished all that stood before them. The Black Legions, armed with some of the best weaponry in the Universe and traveling in warships that stood toe to toe with the Imperial Navy and the Pleiadean Armada, served a highly-organized “Third Positionist” government, much like the Troika’s Pantheon Doctrine, Ai Takada’s Cult of Love and the Pleiadeans’ “Enlightened Justice.” The Black Order of the Aokigahara Ascendancy’s insignia, a Black Sun Rune drawn in the style of the Japanese Rising Sun, surrounded by a segmented pinwheel swastika with the Japanese Kito character in the center of the Black Sun Rune, reflected a dark, ancient, sinister Asiatic equivalent of Eurocentric volkisch beliefs, rejecting Shintoism, Buddhism and any other Asian faith to create a cult religion similar to Pantheon, the official faith of the Empire, but with a much darker and more sexualized overtone focusing on power and control through sexual violence, as well as Fascist and neo-Nazi government policies and policies of racial purity and “eugenic hygiene,” though not nearly as focused on pleasures of the flesh as the Cult of Love. The Black Legionnaires’ armbands on their uniforms displayed a shield emblazoned with a mix of four esoteric symbols, a Black Sun, symbolizing a New Dawn for the Universe under the Order of No-natsu, the Dragon Rouge symbol drawn in Japanese classical style to symbolize honor and courage on the battlefield, the howling wolf of the ancient Ghost Shell Cult, symbolizing total disregard for established society and the goal of creating a completely new culture and order, and the sinister crooked cross of the Church of the Final Judgment, which Asaga Kanagashima III used as his personal insignia to symbolize his ascension as the One True Son of God. Asaga believed that he was greater than any of the Troika, and that Jesus was not the Son of God, but a filthy, shameful, Jewish imposter, one that was trying to steal the Power and the Glory from Asaga, the Universe’s true Messiah. Asaga reportedly possessed the same unfathomable powers as the Troika, and the same lordly, augmented appearance, but far more cunning and more powerful than the Troika and the Pleiadeans combined and infinitely superior to modern Man or any of the other Imperial Races. He and his Black Order were responsible for the most hideous crimes in the Universe’s history, and the Black Legions currently ravaging Kisame-Tennu were blindly and viciously loyal to Asaga’s ideology and his promise of a New Salvation. The rapes, genocides and massacres were all just part of the grand plan, Eisenwolfe-Lichtbringer, and the soldiers were simply following their orders, commanded by none other than the True, Volkisch Son of God, and He would make his presence known in fire. The Black Legions charged the shattered police barricade lines with the force of a furious storm, obliterating what little police SWAT defense teams were able to mobilize with their AL-779 assault rifles and huge Higurashi-class tanks, vaporizing any resistance with their heavy plasma cannons and vicious microwave emitters, which cooked enemy targets alive, the police officers exposed to the microwave radiation had their skin literally boiled away as they burst into flames. The police defenses scattered and crushed, the civilian hordes taking shelter in government-built safe houses were utterly defenseless. All they could do was wait for the end. The Iori-class frigate positioned itself over the safe houses on the north side of the city, and activated an alien technology not found on any Imperial or Pleiadean warship, a gravity beam. A purple, electrostatic beam of light descended from a projector underneath the frigate, and began to vaporize the structures on the ground, the gravity beam ripped entire city blocks out of the ground, pulverizing the structures with gravitational distortion as strong as a black hole. The cowering civilians on Kisame-Tennu had no chance against this attack. The Black Legions were wiping the planet clean of all human life. As the gravity beam contacted the safe houses, it crushed their titanium-concrete construction instantaneously, pulverizing everyone hiding inside and leaving nothing but scoured ground in its wake. The Black Legions and their armored vehicles followed behind the gravity beam, mopping up anything that the beam missed. Within 20 minutes, the north side of the city was gone, utterly leveled. The world of Kisame-Tennu lay engulfed in flames, the Day of Judgment had arrived.

As the Black Legions pillaged the planet below, aboard the lordly Point Cruiser Seikon no Saido, the true Volkisch Son of God stood in the cathedral-like bridge chamber. The bridge was decorated with shimmering pagan runes inscribed on every inch of the walls, with a colossal recreation of Franz von Stuck’s famous painting Wotan painted on the ceiling. Standing on the bridge’s control console, Asaga Kanagashima III observed the holographic readouts and descriptions coming in from his troops ravaging the planet far below. In his right hand he carried an notebook known as “The Book of Names,” in which he kept a hit list of the sinful worlds marked for judgment, and in his left hand he carried the Sword of Kalki, a magnificent steel sword that only the true, Volkisch Son of God could bear. Asaga’s augmented form stood 15 feet tall, in a splendid, dark, elaborate Imperial regalia that put even the Troika’s outfits to shame. His black hair was neatly combed and covered his left eye, which moved independently from his right eye, like a chameleon. Asaga stood motionless, poised deep in dark thought. He watched ominously as his armada circled the burning planet like sharks preparing for the slaughter. Asaga opened the Book of Names and crossed out the name of Kisame-Tennu…judgment had been passed. However, the mission was far from finished. There was still the matter of the Red Qwaser, an Oracle Stone which held deep significance to the Precursor Empire, and one that was critical to the success of Eisenwolfe-Lichtbringer-Freezing Sin. That Oracle Stone was somewhere in Doki, and Asaga was preparing to enact the second phase of the invasion. It would only be a matter of time before the Empire’s fleets answered Kisame-Tennu’s desperate calls for help, so time was of the essence. “Commander…status report.” “The resistance rolled over and died like a sick dog. All who stood before the Black Legions have fallen. The planet is firmly within the Armada’s iron grip, Noble Son.” “Very well then…the Black Legions have survived the crucible of first combat, and accomplished their objectives with bloodthirsty efficiency…our conversion from a pirate fleet to a trans-universal Armada is complete. Were it not for the Rangers on Malalaklese II, we would have never conquered the Precursor warship blueprints. These Rangers…Commander, have you ever seen them? They stand as tall as me and Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver , and dress in elaborate masquerade costumes, with gaudy, burlesque masks, robes and capes, but they are not human. Their jaws are extendable, like Prophet Anteon’s, but naturally, not via augmentation. Their masks cover their eyes, all anyone sees of their faces are their ashen lower jaws and crooked, pointed noses. They operated as thieves, intergalactic bandits who hijacked entire starships and robbed them of treasure, and they possesses a greater knowledge of the Great Precursors than even the Pleiadeans, and are far more willing to accept a role in the Black Order’s designs. Their leader, a being named Vald, has become one of my closest allies. His band of Rangers occupies the Ruins of Sen on Malalaklese II, which were once a vast Precursor city. We require the Red Qwaser to proceed with EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER, and I have my dearest companion being sent down to the planet’s surface as we speak to retrieve it from the ruins of Oumi Academy. She is an apprentice and companion of mine that I have known since the beginning, back when the Black Order was still a simple criminal organization trying to make its way in a Universe gone insane.” Asaga pressed a sequence of buttons on the control console, activating the ship’s holo-caster system. “Lords Hamada and Yorimasa…The end of the battle is near. You have done well; my apprentice will take care of any loose ends on the surface…secure the ruins of Oumi Academy for her arrival.” “Yes, Noble Son.” Hamada affirmed through a hologram image. “Noble Son…your apprentice has departed for the surface.” A member of the Black Order’s Sotumoturupa, or “ST” armored enforcers, announced to Asaga. Asaga sat back into his chair and closed his eyes, focusing his power on his apprentice through thought-sharing. It was as if he was fighting with her, there would be no failure now.

Thou art thy sword and weapons of war…Thou are thy shield and hammer of vengeance. I am, myself, the past, present and future…Hell stains my flesh, Heaven has turned its back on me, The Black Order is my one true family. Take my sacrifice, O Noble Son, protect me from the taint of decadence and decay, and show the Universe true, unwavering light. Amen.” Grand Duchess of the Black Order Gwenlynn Stormweaver prayed monotonously as she sat at the controls of her Mosane-class Infiltrator starfighter, descending into the ash-choked skies of Kisame-Tennu over Doki’s burning skyline. She wore a similar outfit to her mentor and Master, Asaga Kanagashima III, and was just as imposing due to the augmentations. The Mosane-class fighter, called the Volant Fantasie, was itself a highly secret project. Kraid Shipyards, one of the Empire’s most loyal defense contractors, had secretly designed this one-of-a-kind ship for Gwenlynn Stormweaver at the request and offer of a very lucrative contract from a Black Order Ooku member, the CEO of the Universe’s largest shipbuilder would not maintain his loyalty to the Empire over the opportunity to earn as much money as he did for this project. The ship was to be completely undetectable by electronic means, and possess a rare active camouflage device that would make the ship invisible to the naked eye, in addition to extremely strong energy shields. It was armed with four quad-laser cannons, concussion missiles, torpedoes and earthquake bombs, these charges used massive sound waves to generate magnitude-10 earthquakes when detonated, laying waste to entire cities, these charges were dropped from space, they survived entry into the atmosphere and burrowed into the ground, detonating at a depth of 1,500 feet below the surface. With the ship’s stealth active and cloaking device up, no one would even suspect that the sudden earthquake was in fact an attack. The planet was already occupied by the Black Legions, so stealth was unnecessary. Lords Hamada and Yorimasa were expecting her arrival on their positions. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver gazed through the cockpit windows at the crying land far beneath her. She saw an eerie beauty in the bombed-out ruins of Doki, perhaps as a symbol of elegiac longing for her ruined youth. In her life, there was no hope, no love, no glory, and no happy ending. There was only salvation in the arms of the True Volkisch Son. The Volant Fantasie’s scanners detected her two contacts’ signature, beeping audibly. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver took the Fantasie in for a landing near the ruins of Oumi Academy, guarded by the Fifth Armored Battalion, now joined by a contingent of the ST-Gijo Hei Division “Tsubasa,” a division of the elite super-soldiers used by ST Corps. Minister Hamada was the head of the ST, and the effective second in command of the entire Ascendancy under Asaga and Gwenlynn Stormweaver. The Fantasie swooped in for a landing on what was once the girls’ track court. As the ship came to rest on the only area clear of debris for miles, the ST Division “Tsubasa” and the Fifth Armored Battalion awaited the arrival of Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver with nervous expressions on their faces. Gwenlynn Stormweaver was known for her short temper, and was not above killing one of her own soldiers if it was in the business of maintaining discipline and order. The fact was, however, that one didn’t have to have stepped out of line for her to kill you. She just had to be in a foul enough mood. As the Fantasie’s gangplank lowered onto the ground, the ST Division saluted as Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver, wearing her lacy, blue and white frilled hood over her head, stepped onto the ruins of Oumi Academy. She stood 15 feet tall, in the same elaborate regalia as Asaga wore, carrying a jagged, chainsaw-like sword, called the “Bane of All Fools,” in her hand. “Welcome, Lady Theresa, we’ve been expecting you.” Minister Hamada said, cordially. “You may dispense with the pleasantries, Minister, I’m here to retrieve the Red Qwaser, nothing more. Is the Academy secure?” “Yes M’lady. Besides us, there is nothing alive for miles. The Black Legions made sure of that…” “Very well then. The Qwaser is inside the Academy’s library vault. You did well, Minister Hamada. The Gospel of Inhumanity rings loud and clear to all regions of the Universe. The Black Sun is rising. I will retrieve the Qwaser…and if anyone is left alive in that building, they won’t be for much longer, and you’ll be answering to me for an incomplete job.” Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver said, sternly as she walked past piles of smoldering rubble into what was once the most elite girls’ academy in the Universe. Upon entering the building, she saw what she had expected: piles and piles of dead students, still wearing their school uniforms, some still slumped over at their desks where they were gunned down by Ministers Hamada and Yorimasa. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver stepped lightly over the bodies and piles of rubble as she made her way to the library, holding her sword, “Bane of All Fools,” at the ready. This weapon was an item of great and terrible power, forged in the same fires as the Sword of Kalki, the Bane not only killed its foes with a single swipe, no matter where it hit its target, but it deflected laser shots and, upon striking its foes, triggered an immense feeling of self-loathing, laying bare all the sins and flaws of the target before the target’s rapid death, they died in immense physical and emotional pain. It was a weapon much feared by its enemies and allies alike. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver walked through a huge hole blown in the interior wall into the library, and passed the ruined bookcases to the library vault, still guarded by the corpse of one of the students, with an enormous plasma burn through her back. The effects from a disintegrator rifle were not pretty. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver placed a lock breaker on the vault’s security latch, immediately cracking the code and opening the vault, containing hundreds of valuable items held in the Academy at the request of the Imperial government. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver immediately located the object of her desire, a stunning, blood-red stone set in a golden ring, lined with sapphires and diamonds. The ring was inscribed with an ancient, Great Precursor proverb: “Scorned lovers and Universal leaders have many likes alike.” This was the Red Qwaser, an artifact that dated back more than 700 million years, long before any humans had evolved on Earth, during a time when the Universe bowed before the might of the Great Precursor Emperor Archimago. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver held the ancient trinket in her hands, and felt the courage and power contained withing the stone radiating through her body. She placed the Qwaser on her necklace chain and placed the eerily-glowing stone around her neck. She was taking this jewel as a reward for a job well done. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver surveyed her surroundings, checked for any signs of life, and finding none, she quietly walked down the empty hallway, strewn with rubble and dead bodies of students. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver walked down the hallway, gazing into the lifeless eyes of the elite students that once called the halls of Oumi Academy their school. They took such pride in their position and their heritage; Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver almost felt of tinge of remorse for their broken bodies lying prone on the floor, for she too was once a young schoolgirl here, starry-eyed and filled with youthful naivete, oblivious to the lies of evil, heartless men. As she stood in the broken hallways of the Academy, she looked back on those neon nights, the halcyon summer days, the black leather couch, the feeling of being in love, and remembered how quickly it all went wrong. Kanagashima was far from the handsome young genius and Ansaati Academy valedictorian that he appeared to be…if only she had seen that sooner, if only she hadn’t been such a fool for love…the pain of her own resentment and self-loathing was far greater than any of the augmentations to her body and mind. Kanagashima went through them too, and now, the two of them were irreversibly and irrevocably bound by the Precursors and Kanagashima’s own twisted, dark designs. Her destiny was now a foregone conclusion. She was Grand Duchess of the Black Order, her previous life no longer existed…and she would kill her way across half the Universe to fulfill her duties. “Für immer, by design…” Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver said, almost instinctively. She didn’t know why she said that, and neither did any of the Black Order brass. It was something that the Black Order’s mental conditioning regiments couldn’t iron out, Kanagashima and the Black Order’s Ooku thought it was just a personality quirk, a subconscious programming error in Gwenlynn Stormweaver’s brain that resulted from the massive augmentations and genetic infusions that she received, accounting for her immense height and power. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver solemnly walked back down the hallway, back towards the school entrance for the last time. Every so often, visiting a certain place in the Universe would trigger a subconscious reaction deep in her mind, manifesting itself as the four words, “Für immer, by design…” Perhaps it was just a mental glitch, or perhaps some relic of that innocent, young, starry-eyed girl was still trapped inside the body of the almighty warrior, screaming to escape from the eternal damnation punishing her for her foolish, schoolgirl-romantic ways. Just as Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver exited the ruins of the Academy, she noticed that the ST commandos and the Fifth Armored Battalion were in a state of tense panic. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver looked to the sky and quickly saw the reason for her soldiers’ distress. An Imperial Odin-class capital ship had arrived in orbit, and was preparing to engage the Ascendancy fleet, equally powerful with the presence of the Point Cruiser and Kanagashima. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver, still wearing her hood, turned to her soldiers and Ministers Hamada and Yorimasa. “Stand firm. Lock down the ground positions…I’ll handle the Odin-class capital ship.” Without a word, Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver walked calmly to the Volant Fantasie, boarded the ship, retracted the gangplank and lifted silently into the air, engaging the sensor cloaking and the active camouflage, making the ship completely invisible to both sensors and the naked eye. Slipping silently away into space, Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver locked her ship’s targeting computers onto the massive Odin-class capital ship, called the INS Lordly Iron Hand, of the 150th Legion, based in the Cronus Cluster, near the Watari II system, according to her ship’s readouts. As she silently slipped past the huge ship’s scanners and point-defense:, her targeting computer locked onto the Odin-class ship’s one weak point: a gap in the ship’s shielding between the shield dome aft of the main hangar bay and the 100-meter thick amorphous-titanium hull. Because of a design flaw in the original Kraid Shipyards’ blueprints for the Odin-class, there was no shielding at all from the two main domes on a narrow, 4-meter strip of the hull directly in front of the aft shield dome. This flaw was seen as “completely inconsequential” by the Kraid CEO and his elite design bureau, which had a spotless track record of producing ships for the Empire. “It would require a very small interceptor moving at extremely rapid speed, withstanding G-forces of 15 g’s or more swooping in past the myriad point defenses and dropping a precision penetration explosive of unfathomable power directly onto this unshielded ‘dead zone’ for 4 meters of unprotected hull to compromise the integrity of the Odin-class vessel. It is of no consequence.” These were the Kraid CEO’s exact words to Prophet Marduk at the unveiling of the Odin-class warships, when they first went into service 30 years prior. It was time to make utter fools out of the Kraid Design Bureau and send an unquestionable message to the Troika that no weapon was invincible, except for one: the power of the human will. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver flew in fast and low, priming an earthquake charge for deployment onto the 4-meter unshielded zone while flying at full speed; what Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver was about to do would be impossible for anyone without Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver’s biological and genetic augmentations, increasing her reaction time, senses and processing power by thousands of times. Her brain could blaze through calculations faster than a supercomputer and her body could withstand nearly 105 g’s before going into G-LOC. She was flying at Mach 72 while maneuvering effortlessly around communications towers and point-defense turrets, completely fooled by the Volant Fantasie’s cloaking devices, and even if they knew her ship was there, the Fantasie was a one-of-a-kind ship designed from ancient Precursor blueprints, and custom-built with Gwenlynn Stormweaver’s augmentations in mind. The Imperial pilots would die simply trying to catch her, let alone shooting her down, pulped by their own G-forces. As Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver made her attack run, she delicately placed her lacy, gloved hands on her ship’s yoke’s trigger, preparing to drop the charge at the precise moment for optimal effect. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver didn’t use a targeting computer to assist in her attack run, she relied solely on her immensely powerful brain, her self-sufficiency in combat was a great sense of pride for her. “It is greater to live one day a lion, than a thousand days a sheep…” Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver tapped the trigger and immediately swooped away on an impossible right-angle turn as the earthquake bomb deployed directly onto the “dead zone” and burrowed its way into the amorphous-titanium hull, preparing to detonate. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver closed her eyes and waited for the almighty explosion about to ensue. As Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver zoomed silently away into the eternal night of space, she began reciting a poem, one that she had written many years ago. “Come fly with me, through the pages of history, I’ll show you a world where God’s power does not reach, and how can we fly, in a world where fools can be kings, so let’s not waste time, or time will waste us…I will save you, as you for I…Für Immer, by design…” An enormous white flash illuminated the Volant Fantasie’s crew cabin as the earthquake bomb detonated from within the Lordly Iron Hand’s hull, jostling the Fantasie and snuffing out any thoughts that the Odin-class, and the Empire, for that matter, was invincible in any way. The legions of Shinigami-class fighters swarming out of the Odin-class ship’s main hangar bays were obliterated in the explosion, and the ones that made it out were utterly shredded by the waiting Ascendancy fighters and blastboats. 625 million Imperial troops, thousands of ships, tanks, guns, an entire Legion wiped out by one, well-placed conventional explosive. “I sure hope your team of engineers can explain this to Prophet Marduk, CEO of Kraid…I’d hate to be in your shoes tomorrow morning, especially when the Troika finds out that I’m flying a ship you paid for.” Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver taunted, silently flying back towards the Seikon no Saido’s main hangar bay.

Aboard the Saido’s bridge, Kanagashima watched as the Odin-class capital ship was obliterated in a veritable supernova explosion with contemptuous eyes. He knew immediately that Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver had been behind the explosion, and this was confirmed by one of the ST Officers, reporting that Gwenlynn Stormweaver’s ship had landed back inside the hangar, and she bore the Red Qwaser on her necklace as well. The Volant Fantasie had landed in its usual private hangar bay, with a platoon of the ST-Gijo Hei Roman saluting as she stepped off the ship, standing in orderly, single-file rows, dressed in the elegant yet formidable black uniforms of the elite Ascendancy troops. Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver said nothing to her guards as she walked solemnly through the massive hangar, like a black-veil bride marching to the altar to meet her dark prince. She stepped into the teleporter at the far end of the hangar, transporting her to her “containment chamber,” specially built to house her when she wasn’t needed. After the brief warp through the teleportation gate, Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver arrived in the steel, lonely solitude of her containment chamber, a circular room in the very center of the ship, only 25 square feet in area, and just big enough for her to stand in. She silently stepped underneath a huge metal arch, which sensed her presence, casting an extremely powerful stasis field, immobilizing Gwenlynn Stormweaver and keeping her in a state of suspended animation, neither alive nor dead. Here she would wait, waiting until Asaga needed her vast powers once again. No sooner had Gwenlynn Stormweaver retreated back into stasis that Asaga entered the room via the teleporter, and saw the Red Qwaser around Gwenlynn Stormweaver’s neck. “You’ve done well, Miss Gwenlynn Stormweaver, my sweet…Everything is proceeding exactly as I have foreseen it…all those years of lessons and conditioning were not in vain. It is just as I told you…it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do. Every human being has the capability to become a killer, just by the very virtue of being human. Think about it. If, suppose, a man was about to rape you, torture you and burn you alive in some homemade dungeon in his basement, and you had no means of escape…your only option for survival would be to commit an act that you would never otherwise contemplate. It is the innate bloodlust that exists in each and every one of us as humans, and the iron will to survive and prosper that drives this force, the human spirit, my sweet. The human spirit. You are not only fulfilling your duties to me and the Black Order by destroying the Lordly Iron Hand, but you are also fulfilling your humanity by killing. To think of what you were and where you were headed before I met you and made you as strong as you are now. No one said it could be done…hahahaha…No one! Not even Minister Hamada thought I, the True Volkisch Son Of God, could transform a mere schoolgirl into an invincible weapon of mass destruction, but I showed him…I showed that doubting maggot just what a human being is capable of when backed against a wall like a cornered animal…and now the Universe has seen your might. It is time I release your inhibitions, for I have generously taken you under my wing, kept you safe, and made you strong, wise, intelligent and invincible, even when you had no confidence in yourself…just like I promised all those years ago on Lilliana V.” Gwenlynn Stormweaver communicated back to Asaga telepathically. “I am forever grateful, for I am nothing without your guidance…” Asaga took the Red Qwaser from Gwenlynn Stormweaver’s necklace, and then teleported back to the bridge chamber, and in an instant, he was surrounded by his chief deputies, as well as Ministers Hamada and Yorimasa. The first blow against the Empire had been dealt. The die was cast, and the Black Order flag unfurled. The destruction of the Lordly Iron Hand and the total annihilation of Kisame-Tennu would come as something of a revelation to the Troika and the Legions of the Empire. This was not just an isolated rebellion. This was an all-out war, one where the very fate of the Universe was at stake. Hand of Fate or not, the Black Order would emerge victorious. “Admiral, make course for Malalaklese II, we must inform Lord Vald personally of our success at Kisame-Tennu, and make haste. I fear that the Hand of Fate will soon start to meddle in our affairs…when he does, he will be dispatched accordingly. I have the utmost confidence that he is no threat to us.” “Excellent…there will be no shortage of women to harvest for the 100 Days of Sodom…” Hamada cackled. “Indeed…now that we are using more of the Precursor technology by the day, this technology is going to need an even greater power source…Hamada, double your harvesting efforts, and open the 5 new rape chambers under construction 3 weeks ahead of schedule. Their blood and tears fuel our war machine. Hamada, do you know why these women must die? They are far more than just a mere fuel source, Hamada…In the time I have spent in this Universe, I have learned many lessons about the nature of humanity and just how truly despicable it is…Just look around at all of life’s horrors. Children being murdered by their parents because they cannot afford to provide food and water for them in the remote Outer Boundaries of the Empire, young women selling themselves into prostitution, desperately trying to stave off the slow waste of hunger, old, ignorant crones screaming like hens being led to the farmer’s ax, mourning for their rapidly-fading lives, the suffering is everywhere. The common denominator, however, in each and every human being, the root of all suffering, is violence. This is the first of the Black Order’s Profound Truths, truths that you may think you understand, but are, in reality, only beginning to learn. No matter who you are, or what you do, or how kind a person you think you are, every human being has the capability to kill. It all depends on how desperate or persuaded you are. Even the kindest, most innocent young woman can become a killing machine with the proper conditioning and augmentations, as I have so proven with Miss Gwenlynn Stormweaver, but it does not require years of training to kill…anyone can, just by very virtue of being human. When cornered, a human being will fight like a trapped rat, killing anything in his or her path for the only thing that matters: survival. Do not think that adults are the only people that this rule applies to. Children are even more vulnerable to dark temptations than adults are, these crimes just don’t happen as often because adults are making sure that their children are protected from such temptations…but give them the opportunity, and a child can be one of the most devastating breeds of killer imaginable, simply because their judgment is not developed at such a young age…which makes innocent, naïve children the ideal subjects to use on suicide missions, and the easiest individuals in the Universe to persuade and psychologically violate. The second Profound Truth of life in this Universe, Hamada, is that there’s no such thing as love. Even Antonio Marduk’s anime films have acknowledged this fact. We are just a bunch of young, stupid, crazy animals fucking each other until we inevitably grow old and die, or something kills us before we can grow old. In this life, there are no happy endings. A young couple may start out living like gods, but even gods aren’t immortal. The young man may turn out out to be a rapist who only pursues a relationship to rape, and the woman, both physically and psychologically destroyed by the act, descends into depression and dies on the floor of a whorehouse with drug injection needles protruding from her arms…and only then, as she lays dying, does she learn the Profound Truth: Love does not exist, and it never will. The third and final Profound Truth is that human beings cannot escape their fate. There are things in this life that we can change the outcome of, and others that we can’t, no matter how powerful we become. Prior to the rise of the Troika, even the greatest of leaders eventually died. Now that death is an optional fate, for those willing to take the Regenera Strain, we have gained more control over our destiny, but that one instance does not change the outcome of one’s life. Some things in life are unavoidable…namely the other two Profound Truths. There will always be violence, and there will never be love. It is unavoidable, a destiny shared by each and every citizen of the Universe, human and otherwise. The Three Profound Truths are truths that are seldom understood until an individual is staring death directly in its cold, expressionless eyes, however, so such topics are usually avoided in conversation, but I see no reason to avoid the truth, as Pantheon Doctrine has kept the truth hidden for so long. The true ideological reason behind the Rape-Holocaust, Hamada, is not just to harvest fuel for the war machine, but to prove to the Universe that we all share a common destiny in the infernal fires of ignorance, heartbreak and despair…except for those that walk the path of true Enlightenment, the Black Order of No-natsu and the Aokigahara Ascendancy. I am an enemy of love, but a Savior to broken-hearted lovers, I am a shield to those who seek enlightenment beyond the Pantheon Doctrine, and a sword in the demon-hearts of decadence, ignorance and corruption. I am the Power, I am the Glory, I am the Light which shines in the darkness, banishing those demons to a lake of fire and ash. When this war has been won, and our march home begins, the entire Universe shall see as I see, and feel as I feel. I am Kalki, the Volkisch Son of God and the one true leader of this broken Universe. Wielding the Blade of the Profound Truths, I shall cast an unfathomable, cleansing reign of fire upon this Universe, the stars themselves will fade from existence as a blazing torrent of soot and ash consumes every populated world, the heavens shall twist and thunder roar, the sound matched only by the dying screams of the unenlightened followers of Pantheon Doctrine. Comets shall fall from the sky, animals will die where they stand, and the springs in which the virgins bathe will turn to molten fire. With the coming of this horror, those unworthy of living in my world shall perish, and the just shall shine forth as the new stars in the sky…the bodies of the unjust shall form the new matter, and I shall be the new God, with only my chosen Disciples at my side, ruling over a virgin, perfect Universe. It this clear to you, Hamada? I hope those unworthy women are raped and murdered by a giant, disembodied eyeball’s tentacle-penis, and their corpses showered in fetid urine and semen.” “Yes, Noble Son…I see you have been chewing the Wonder Spice again.” Asaga’s words carried great weight, truth and significance, not to mention dark, psychotic imagination, he was known to take a psychotropic spice to focus his telekinesis to levels unseen anywhere else in the Universe, and he meant “fuel” literally, it was discovered that Precursor technology could be powered by organic matter, and nothing seemed to generate more power on less fuel than the tears and blood of young women, though all of the Black Order’s ships were also solar powered, giving them an eerie orange glow in the infinite abyss of space when their solar drives were active. Therefore, the Rape-Holocaust was absolutely necessary to harvest the vast power source needed for the Universe-wide campaigns which the Ascendancy was planning. Things were about to get much worse…there was no light in the black, only the pit of utter oblivion.

 

 

 

 

                    1. Kneel before me, and let me RAVAGE YOU!!

 

Out of the Abyss we rise, into the Radiance we will shine, we come to rule the stars with Creed in Arms…We are the clouds in the skies, we are the heat of flames, we are the wind and the rain, the Sun and the Moon, and the Keepers of Names! WE ARE THE GODS OF THE NEW UNIVERSE, WE ARE THE SOLDIERS, THE BLACK LEGIONS OF LIGHT, WE BRING A NEW DAWN, A NEW WORLD IN FULL, THE ABYSSAL SUN IS RISING, OVER US ALL! Out of the Darkness we charge, blades shining and sharp, we came to burn the Earth with Creed in Arms…We are the cleansers of all sin, we are the Light and the Way, we are the Night and the Day, the Joy and the Pain and End of All Time! WE ARE THE GODS OF THE NEW UNIVERSE, WE ARE THE SOLDIERS, THE BLACK LEGIONS OF LIGHT, WE BRING A NEW DAWN, A NEW WORLD IS RISING, THROUGH THE ABYSSAL SUNSHINE, WE ARE ONE!!”

Black Legion War Prayer, Aokigahara Ascendancy and Black Order Creed.

When the news of the disaster at Kisame-Tennu reached the ears of the Empire on Stronghold and Valhalla, whatever shock the Legions had felt at the destruction of the Lordly Iron Hand had been replaced by anger. For too long the Empire had treated the Black Order like a misbehaving child, and now had been repaid for their tolerance with treachery on an unimaginable scale. All-out war was now inevitable; the Legions were preparing all units Empire-wide for combat. The Second Indiction had reached its second phase: upheaval. In orbit over the Imperial stronghold world of Valhalla was Andrew Eisenheim, the O’Brien sisters, and Sei Ikkiku, aboard the Lucid Illusion. Standing on the bridge with Admiral Veed and Toni, one of Ai Takada’s attendants from Arcana II, were various officers and crewmen, as they prepared to join the counterattack against the Black Order’s fleets, now confirmed to be using Precursor technology. Sei Ikkiku, who had ordered the operation on Odin’s Gate and uncovered the Rape-Holocaust, now knew the true purpose of the horrors that had befallen the Universe’s young women. The Precursor technology was powered by blood and tears from young, supple, unspoiled bodies, giving insight on just how brutal the Great Precursors must have been, and just how sick the Black Order was for imitating them so accurately. Asaga was trying to rebuild the Precursor Empire with his own twisted, Fascist ideology, proclaiming himself as the “Volkisch Son of God” and terminating anyone who followed the Pantheon Doctrine or any of the Old Faiths. Sei couldn’t bear the thought of those women, abducted and harvested in such a systematic, malicious, and industrialized manner, with the rapes also serving as a way to replenish the population in the camps without having to kidnap new girls for harvesting. Only baby girls were taken and raised to be raped to fuel the ships, baby boys were killed just after birth, usually right in front of the mother, with a pair of surgical scissors neatly severing the spinal cord. The display to the mother was simply to reinforce the fact that she was no longer considered a human being, only a breeder and a fuel source for the Black Order’s war machine. Sei knew not how Kanagashima managed to find and build 500 million year old technology so efficiently, but she knew that far more was at work here than was immediately obvious. Sei was also not quite sure what to make of Ai Takada and her Cult of Love either, she and the Imperial Pantheon had long suspected certain celebrities of supporting ideologies and causes that did not agree with the Troika’s universal vision, but never had enough evidence to make an arrest, as suspicion via Eta Carinae High Council mind reading was considered insufficient legal grounds to issue an arrest warrant under Imperial law; Sei nevertheless kept a blacklist of various celebrities that she suspected of having “unpatriotic” sentiments, and Takada was near the top of that list. Sei’s inability to arrest and interrogate Takada using the famous Pleiadean mental penetration techniques frustrated her, to say the least. “Miss Takada…may I speak with you for a brief moment?” Sei said, cordially approaching Takada from behind as she looked at the digital star map of the space around the ship, standing alone in the navigation chamber. “What is it now, Pleiadean?” Takada snapped, already realizing that Sei was placing immense psychological pressure on her, trying to infiltrate Takada’s mind, Pleiadeans always gave a subtle visual cue when they were reading minds, in the case of Sei, her nose twitched slightly and her normally pale blue eyes changed to a bizarre lime green. “There is much that dwells within your mind that I wish to know…but you are far stronger than you appear. Your mind is very difficult to read, if not impossible…” “So, I’m too tough even for the Queen of the Pleiadeans to figure out? Hmmm…perhaps the women languishing in the rape camps would be better served by a more capable savior?” Sei’s normally tranquil face filled with rage. “Think before you speak! The Empire possesses enough evidence to have you executed 25 times over, you filthy traitor, you have no business passing any judgment whatsoever on me!” Easy there…chill out…it appears that I’ve found your weak point, does it now? You’re extremely self-conscious about everything, and face a constant struggle and glass ceiling in the Imperial Pantheon as you try to be seen on equal footing as your male colleagues. The Troika is extraordinarily misogynistic and I know, deep in your very soul, you’d like nothing better than to prove the entire Universe wrong about women, and be the Savior, the Messiah who ends the Rape-Holocaust and brings these evil men of the Black Order to justice…am I right?” Sei slowly turned around and immediately drew her elegant Hallucination Nano-Sword, but did not assume an attack stance. “Are you really going to kill me over a petty, feminist ego trip? Ha. You’re just like any other woman I’ve met in my life, petty and too full of herself to think rationally. it seems that even royalty isn’t all that different from the common people…I’ve partied like a rock star and lived like a queen for most of my life, but I’m still real. Unlike you, who thinks that she has to maintain some government-imposed standard in order to be seen as anything in this strange yet beautiful thing we call life. You’re nothing but a self-righteous snotbag hell-bent on leading the Empire you so diligently slave away serving down a suicidal path. Those women in the camps are better off dead than being rescued by the Empire.” Sei simply couldn’t take it anymore. This woman Takada had gone too far. Sei swung a mighty blow with her sword directly at Takada, but Takada swiftly and savagely met Sei’s blade with a parry from her own Hallucination Nano-Sword, designed differently to reflect Takada’s Draconis Marunae Tropica style. Every Nano-Sword was unique to the wielder. “Stop. Now.” Takada said, calmly holding the enraged Sei Ikkiku with her defensive stance. “You diabolical, filthy, worthless maggot!! You deserve to eat shit with the roaches!!! I am a free Queen, unburdened by any Troika, insecurity or government ideology! Don’t you EVER categorize me with ANYONE of the Troika’s likeness! I am the Morning and the Evening Star, I am Queen of the Seven Sisters’ Imperium and I will NOT STAND for twisted, treacherous snakes in the grass like you running around through a Universe I stand so diligently to defend!! Prepare to die, traitor!!” “So…the truth finally comes out…” Takada hissed, much like the proverbial snake to which she had just been compared. She raised her sword to defend as Sei Ikkiku prepared to strike a blow in an all-out fight to the death. “You dislike the Troika intensely, I can feel the anger deep within you, rising like a tide of hate, pure, unrestrained hate, a passion for blood, a passion for pain, just waiting to break free from its prison…you would make a perfect addition to my Cult…think, for a minute, somewhere in that cultured, over-studied and overworked mind of yours is a young woman…and a very beautiful one at that. You must have desires of the flesh, like all women do, but you have suppressed yours in favor of a professional lifestyle. I can offer you an escape, an escape to a world beyond your wildest fantasies and imaginations, a place where all inhibitions are laid bare and a person becomes an animal…a dirty, sex-crazed, lovelorn animal that pines and claws for immediate satisfaction, have you never had feelings for one of your own kind?” Sei lowered her sword. “My species, while outwardly human-like, does not engage in the type of behavior that you describe. Sexual pleasure is reserved for the Goddess Oahina and her Consorts alone. We are created in Her image and abstain in Her honor. We have no concept of sexual intercourse, as we are a unisex society. It is difficult for one such as you to understand, I’m very certain.” Sei said, still very aggravated. “Oh! Very interesting indeed, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a lesbian in the Cult, but…I’m sure we could mix it up a bit, you would add a whole new dimension to what we do. Have you ever had 4 other women on top of you at once?” “You have a sick mind, do you realize that?!” Sei snapped, a bit of humor seeping into her tone of voice. Takada knew she had won this battle, and in her typical style, without ever really fighting at all. “I know not of how you became such a manipulative witch, but I concede this once. You are, grudgingly, my equal.” “Hey, I know you meant ‘bitch.’ It’s ok, I’m used to it. I like that. I shows you have class. You have to make that work for you in the future.” Suddenly, a crewman walked into the navigation chamber and saw Sei and Takada talking. “Oh, hello there Ma’ams.” “Hello there, crewman. I assume you’re here to perform navicomputer updates, so Takada, it’s best we leave now. Let the crew go about its business. We have more important matters to handle…” Sei announced as the technician began working on the navicomputer’s software, as both of them sheathed their swords and calmly walked out of the navigation chamber. “That’s what I want to hear…you and I, despite our differences in opinion, stand as equals. We could learn a lot from each other, and we cannot achieve our aims without each other. You know that as well as I. We both dislike the Troika, we both have ideologies that they consider deviant. With my talents of persuasion and manipulation, and your immense intelligence and irresistible psychological warfare tactics, we would set them up only to knock them down. We would be unstoppable together, you, me and the Hand of Fate, who stands in the next room over from us. Sei, let’s leave this universe star-struck.” Takada laid her offer on the table and did not flinch in her intentions. Sei paused for a moment while she weighed the options analytically, the analytical probability of this scheme actually succeeding was infinitesimally small, and Sei would doubtlessly know this; the Pleiadeans could calculate Quantum Space field coordinates mentally, their immense Battle Wyverns rarely used their navicomputers to travel across the Universe, relying solely on the CO’s astounding brainpower. Sei was smarter than any being in the known Universe, even the Troika deferred to her on matters of intellect and debate, and the smart money was on the Empire to prevail in any large-scale conflict. Takada fully expected Sei to maintain her loyalty. To her amazement, Sei offered Takada her sword, drawing it and holding it in the air as a salute. “In the name of the Goddess Oahina, I offer you my blade in a bond of allegiance.” Takada drew her sword and met Sei’s in a warrior’s gesture of respect, and then sheathed their weapons. “The might of the Pleiadean Armada stands behind you as well. Takada, let’s forge a new world, a world free of tyranny, persecution and the threat of annihilation by the Black Order or a government that has long passed its zenith. We stand together, your nation and mine, against the forces of decadence and death-worship.” “Oh, hello ladies.” Andrew Eisenheim cordially greeted the two Queens standing in front of him. “Oh, hello there, Andrew, dear, did you happen to hear any of the details of what we were discussing?” “I did…there were some things that I heard…you’re going to play double-agent against the Empire, while at the same time using the might of the Seven Sisters’ Imperium to stop the Black Order. I must admit, you two have some of the strongest minds I have even encountered, in my time period or this one…if Germany possessed even one woman like either you, even the Kaiser would bow in reverence.” “Oh, isn’t he just the sweetest little thing?” Takada said, in her usual, somewhat sinister-yet-seductive tone of voice. “Sei, may I ask you something? What sort of craftsmanship is involved with making a outfit like yours?Even the greatest tailors of Europe would have trouble emulating that level of exquisite complexity.” “This is an Alcyone Star gown of the Etherea Aristocracy style, made by some of my best handmaids in Kalafina, any human tailor would not be able to process the mathematics used in this art form without a supercomputer. Design of any kind is considered the highest art form in my culture, and this particular gown uses an ancient illusion to display a miniature system of planets orbiting my frame. The gown reflects light in such a way that the images sewn so meticulously onto the dress appear in three-dimensions, and when I move, the changing light angles create the illusion that the system of graceful planets and moons is orbiting me. These outfits are truly ancient art forms, we were designing these many years before the Pyramids of Egypt were built on your homeworld, those ancient monuments long since eroded away. We have been observing your society since its evolution at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch…we know all about you, and have even assisted your society at times, but in very clandestine ways that scarcely disturbed your developing world.” “Very impressive…so the Thule Society is right…I would certainly like to see some of your Empire’s masterpieces…I’d like to compare them to some of the art I know from home. When I first arrived here…I was stunned, shocked, and overwhelmed by the beauty and immense majesty of this world, and I believed that I just didn’t belong, didn’t belong in the vast halls of Odon Citadel, or the wilds of the abandoned Earth, but now I feel like I have a purpose here…based on what others here have said about me, I believe that I have fulfilled some sort of prophecy with my arrival.” Both Sei and Takada looked at Andrew, towering over him with very stern looks on their face; in case of Takada, her expression seemed a bit psychotic as well, perhaps as a result of her chalk-white makeup, blood-red lipstick and elegant black eyeliner shadowing her emerald-green eyes, but perhaps her demented personality as well. “You, Andrew dear, are the Hand of Fate. Your arrival has been foretold by the Troika for millennia. The ongoing Second Indiction and the arrival of the Black Order are both events that only you can resolve.” Takada said, her eerie voice giving Andrew chills.So, you mean to tell me that I am a Messiah for this world?” “In a manner of speaking, though, for all we know, your arrival could herald the eternal reign of the Troika…or the Universe’s fall to utter ruin.” Takada smirked as she said those last words. “And, about the Thule Society…they are part of the reason why going back to Germany for the 20th Century would be a very unwise decision. If you possessed the hindsight I did, you would agree. Trust me…I am Queen of a race millions of years beyond what humanity has accomplished. We were present when the your Pyramids at Giza were built, we observed a complete record of Rome’s rise and fall, we watched your tyrants Alexander, the Great Khan and Tamerlane expand and crumble, and experienced the might of the Far East on diplomatic missions with the Japanese, Ming Chinese and Joseon Koreans in Earth’s 16th Century. We are experts on Earth’s culture, and know things about your planet that even you cannot hope to know….as your mind, limited by the manacles of evolution, is not as developed as mine. I know the exact circumstances of your birth, Andrew…born in 1870, to a young mother barely 24 years old. She died in childbirth, but you quickly took to machinery and ancient manuscripts…I know, Andrew, that your mother’s death haunts you, wherever you go. Your father did not want a child, so he blamed you for killing your mother every day of your young life, it hurt, didn’t it? More than you could bear, so you turned to the Kultursohne Society, in hopes that they would believe your astounding revelation. You see, that Devil’s Bible, written in the intractable, unintelligible dialect that you took such an interest in, is really an ancient Precursor text, and that “Devil” is really the Precursor Emperor Archimago.” Sei added, with a tone of diabolical cunning in her calm, soothing voice. “But, the news, it stated that no image of the Precursors was known before the excavation on Malalaklese II…” “Ha…you really haven’t been here long enough, have you? I intentionally withheld the knowledge of the Devil’s Bible from the general public, the knowledge was far too valuable for commoners to possess…and in my duties as Minister of Propaganda, it was a simple job of spin-doctoring. Nothing you see on the news here is ever what it seems…there is always something larger at work. Now, if I divulge any more information, I will be forced to terminate you for the possession of excessive knowledge, as per Intelligence Protocol 972…and I don’t want to be the one responsible for killing the Hand of Fate. The truth about me, and about your entire species, Andrew, is that your kind still lives only for a miracle. In your year 2107 A.D., my great ancestor Augenia Ouarinui II, then Queen of the Seven Sisters, realized that the human race would soon break the boundaries of its solar system, the time to leave the cradle had come for your civilization…however, we knew even then that humans were the most dangerous creatures in the Universe, armed with capable starships and nuclear weapons, you would have inevitably found our planet and tried to exploit us as your slaves…we could not allow you to exist any longer. Were it not for the timely arrival of our rival Empire at the time, the Seras Imperium, my civilization would have simply enacted Colonial Protocol A-12. We would have sent a fleet of War Wyverns, the size of Asia on Earth, to occupy your planet’s orbit, and place your world under a colonial system until your entire species ceased to function on its own, we would have taken complete control over Earthly affairs, humanity would have lost its initiative, and eventually, when the time was right, we would have taken all of your children, absorbing their consciousness into the Goddess Oahina forevermore…your children would have become Pleiadean, rather than human, and the last of the human race would eventually die of natural causes, all without ever firing a single weapon. Until the Seras arrived, your species was just a speck on the cosmic pan. The Seras saved you, and only because of them are you my equal. On another note, I believe the Odon Citadel girls asked you to stay, rather than return home?” Sei lectured, rather snidely,with an honest yet sarcastic tone. Sei’s only true allegiance was to her own people, and if that meant betraying her allegiance to the Empire or wiping out an entire species for the interest of the Seven Sisters’ Imperium, so be it. The Troika knew this all too well, and were very wary of Queen Sei and the Pleiadeans in general, as the Troika feared anything they could not control, yet they could not maintain their control over such a vast tract of the Universe without the Pleiadean Eta Carinae High Council’s knowledge and wisdom. Sei, in some ways, was the most powerful being in the Universe, an individual whom even the Troika feared. “Do you have the Devil’s Bible in your possession, Queen Ikkiku?” Andrew said, wisely giving her a submissive stance. “I do, it is in the Pleiadean Archives on Alcyone, in the Library of Kalafina…but that is for a later date…so, have you decided to stay?” “Well, now that I am instrumental to what happens here, and with this “Kanagashima” lunatic running around, I believe I have no choice to remain in your world for the time being, though I am unsure of what I would need to accomplish to be of any assistance. I still have this weapon that the Indiction Guard Kokkoro gave me on Earth, and I have not yet felt the need to use it…but what good is one weapon versus and entire armada?” Andrew said, holding the small metal ball that unfolded into the nanoscale MagniFire Rifle, received from the Indiction Guard sniper Kokkoro at the Battle of Catchice Temple. “That MagniFire Rifle is not the only weapon you possess. As the Hand of Fate, you can alter the reality around you. Do you have a pen and paper?” Takada asked Andrew, again with a slightly psychotic, worrisome tone. “Yes, I do, I carry a notebook around with me to take collect my thoughts, thoughts about the places I’ve seen and things that I’ve done.” Andrew pulled a thick black notebook out of his pocket, and took a 19th-century fountain pen out of the notebook’s binding. “Write, ‘Ai Takada has a glass of fine wine in her left hand and comfortable leather couch to sit on while she drinks it.” Sei raised her eyebrows at Takada’s request. Andrew looked suspicious too, this was not the first time he had been manipulated by an imposing woman into behaving irrationally, the Indiction Guard Sayu had actually taken control of his mind and used him as a puppet to insult her rival Guard Amaranth back on Earth, only to have Amaranth telekinetically knock him unconscious and drag him into her huge home. Women in this time period were anything but weak, they strongly opposed the horrifically misogynistic governments that the Troika and the Black Order were leading, and Takada did not appear to be the type of woman you’d want to argue with. Andrew wisely followed Takada’s instructions, and wrote her request down on the sheet of paper like a waiter taking orders at a restaurant. Andrew waited for about a half-minute, and suddenly, a distorted area of reality, marked by static crackle and a wavy, broken field of view behind Takada appeared and gradually materialized into exactly what Takada had asked for. A leather sofa had appeared right in the middle of the hallway leading to the Lucid Illusion’s bridge from the navigation chamber, with a glass of Ice Burgundy, a fine wine from Arcana II, appearing neatly on the armrest. “Please, Takada, you aren’t going to use the noble Hand of Fate as your personal waiter and server, are you?” “Why not? He’s not doing anything at the moment, and I use whatever resources are at hand to get ahead in life, I may as well put Andrew to use.” Takada said, sitting on the sofa and sipping the glass of wine, blocking several crewmen from making their way back to the bridge. “Go around. Don’t bother me.” Takada hissed, with the three crewmen cautiously walking past the sofa, trying not to make eye contact with Takada. “Miss Takada…I hope you’re enjoying the view from your new sofa. Don’t get comfortable. We’re headed out.” Admiral Arlen Veed announced, wearing his elaborate Jungsturm-Nordsterne admiral’s uniform. “Stow it, Admiral. Wait until I finish my drink…” “If you were in my crew I’d have you court-martialed for that, I don’t care how powerful you are, or what you think you’re Queen of, this is my ship!! Get moving!” “Whatever…you’re all going to die anyway…Kanagashima has something planned for all of us. It’ll be my wits and my cunning that saves me alone.” “Noble Queen Ikkiku, what is her problem?!” “She’s impossible to read. Her mind is deeper than the darkest blue sea on Aurelia, and it races faster than one of that planet’s mega-tornadoes or hypercanes. I know not what her motives are, but I am very much interested in finding out. I shall retire to my quarters and meditate on this…I sense a grave danger building in the Concord Sunset Sector, one that has its roots far beyond the borders of Imperial space. I believe the Precursors are somehow involved.” “If that is the case, then that’s likely where the fleet that destroyed Kisame-Tennu is headed. We’ve traced the Ascendancy fleet to Malalaklese II, an uninhabited tropical world in the heart of the Concord Sunset Sector, though according to the Eta Carinae High Council, Asaga’s ship is not with them. Though Kanagashima may have escaped, his fleet was detected by long-range scanners as hovering over Malalaklese II…it’s fitting that his fleet is using that haunted hellhole as a base of operations, though it’s very bold that he’d move his fleet into so visible a position.” “What do you mean, “haunted?” Takada said, curiously. “The planet Malalaklese II is a beautiful, tropical paradise world, were it not for the odd rumors surrounding the planet, it would be one of the most popular resort worlds in the Empire, more beautiful than Lilliana V and and more romantic than Aurelia.” Admiral Veed described, referring to the uninhabited tropical world deep within the Chasm Cluster, a field of small black holes which made simply getting to the planet extremely dicey. The Chasm Cluster was located in the Concord Sunset Sector and well-known to Imperial navigators and avoided for obvious reasons, but the few ships that managed to successfully navigate the extreme gravitation fluctuations that existed within the Cluster encountered a world beyond their wildest dreams, complete with majestic, snow-capped peaks even taller and more beautiful than those on Valhalla, Elysian grasslands covered in an endless sea of flowers that seemed to glow radiantly in the late-evening sun, lush, green forests, clear, pristine streams and roaring, crystal rivers teeming with aquatic life, tropical white-sand beaches and shallow, sun-kissed seas that stretched for hundreds of miles from the virgin coast. The entire planet’s average global temperature was a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with a warm sun shining down upon the planet year-round, triggering huge rainstorms and occasional hurricanes over the deep oceans and shallow seas. The planet had the highest biodiversity of any world in the known Universe; the few people that had visited Malalaklese II reported a world unlike any they had ever seen before, but so guarded was the planet by its black-hole sentinels, however, that the only vessels capable of reaching the planet were small yachts and pleasure craft, usually piloted by young, wealthy people looking for a summer paradise all their own…regardless of the persistent dark rumors surrounding the planet. Hiding in the milky twilight of the evening every night on the idyllic planet were ghosts…at least according to the reports. No one, except for perhaps the Eta Carinae High Council knew their true identity or how they came to be on Malalaklese II, but those young couples who braved the Chasm Cluster to experience a paradise like no other, the paradise of having an entire planet to themselves, quickly met with grisly ends. “I wouldn’t land on that planet if you paid me a billion Dactyls.” Veed told Takada. “The ghosts are called the ‘Rangers of Sen,’ named after the curious Precursor ruins on the planet’s South Continental Coast. These ruins are where the portrait of Precursor Emperor Archimago was discovered by Minister of Science Shen Ryujin, who has made it his goal to uncover the meaning behind the Ruins of Sen, and decipher the curious Precursor inscriptions on every inch of the vast, ruined structures. Still, what his men found there was very disturbing, the ruins were a junkyard of ships that had made the mistake of landing on Malalaklese II, with all of their valuable parts stripped from the hulls. The Rangers are thieves, intergalactic bandits that travel in silent Infiltrator ships, space freighters often report being attacked by ghost-like beings in the Concord Sunset Sector. They usually don’t kill the crewmen aboard these ships, they take what they want and then leave as quickly as they come, but the freighters all report the same things: they move like huge shadows faster than the human eye can track, they stand 15 feet tall and wear elaborate masquerade masks, capes and robes that cover every part of their body except for their pointed noses and extendable jaws, much like Prophet Anteon’s. Their faces are startlingly human like, but ashen, sickly gray. They arm themselves with melee weapons and daggers, but are lethally proficient with them. The Ascendancy’s interest in the Rangers makes a lot of sense, since before the war, the Ascendancy was a pirate organization called the Aokigahara Consortium…but the question is, why did Kanagashima graduate from piracy to imperialism? That planet is the only place in the Universe that the Ascendancy decides to flee to, and that fleet commander is going to tell us why. He’s also going to tell us who destroyed the Lordly Iron Hand, because in order to perform the attack run that destroyed the 425th Legion aboard that ship, the pilot would have to be either the best marksman in the Universe, or using some kind of homing weapon that the Empire knows nothing about. None of the 135 Imperial Races, let alone those fit to serve in the Legions, have powerful enough brains to make a precise, unguided shot on a 2-meter patch of unshielded hull while traveling at Mach 75 on an attack run, as what this mystery pilot appears to have done. I doubt even a Pleiadean pilot could have made that calculation fast enough. Also, the ship that dropped the charge was not detected at all, either visually or on sensors, and we know the Hand was not destroyed from the inside. The only logical conclusion is that either an unmanned spacecraft destroyed the 425th Legion, or an Infiltrator ship piloted by one of the Rangers. The space freighter crews attacked by the Rangers often never report a proximity alarm or seeing a ship approach alongside their hull. We must be very, very cautious. I have a bad feeling about this…but, orders are orders. We leave at once.” Admiral Veed walked into the enormous bridge amphitheater and took his position at the Lucid Illusion’s command console, with Ai Takada, Sei Ikkiku, the O’Brien sisters and Andrew Eisenheim behind him. “Navigator, take us to Malalaklese II.” “Yes sir.” The navigator punched the coordinated into the Lucid Illusion’s enormous navicomputers, just updated by the technicians with the coordinates for Malalaklese II about 25 minutes earlier, and in an instant, the massive Odin-class ship’s Thought Drives roared to life, propelling the leviathan starship into Quantum Space, bound straight for the maw of a Stygian lair from which few had ever returned alive. The ship would arrive within a few minutes, and all 625 million members of the 181st Legion prepared for battle aboard the ship, taking their stations for the inevitable call to arms. War had come to the Universe. The shroud of the Second Indiction had fallen.

On the haunted Elysium Plain of Malalaklese II, Kanagashima stood with his two deputies, Hamada and Yorimasa, as well as Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver and platoons of ST troopers from the ST-Divisions Uroboros, Cthonic, and Tsubasa. The beautiful, eerie, ethereal summer sun shone down upon the desolate world, as the Ascendancy brass stood in the milky evening haze in the middle of an endless sea of grass and flowers, standing in front of a solitary, ancient tree, casting a long shadow over the Elysian Plain. This tree was the only standing object for hundreds of miles, as this part of Malalaklese II consisted of the largest grassland in the known Universe. In the sky far above, the stars shined down even in the light of day, with huge purple voids dotting the velvet-blue sky at various intervals, marking the positions of the Chasms, miniature black holes that existed at specific locations in the Malalaklese system. Occasionally a nebula would release a massive static crackle, only to be absorbed by one of the Chasms immediately. There were theories about how the Chasms came to exist, some researchers believed that they were artificial, created by the Precursors to guard Malalaklese II for some reason, which indicated that Malalaklese II was a world of deep significance to the Precursor Empire, explaining why Emperor Archimago’s portrait was found there but nowhere else. Kanagashima stared unblinking at the tree, his eyes moving independently from one another, with Duchess Gwenlynn Stormweaver standing next to him, her hood covering her eyes as usual. Their ornate regalia looked even gaudier in the light of the eternal Malalaklese summer, but this was not a pleasant summer sun…the entire planet exuded an evil presence, one could never shake the feeling that something was watching them or following them, no matter where they were on Malalaklese II. This feeling was enough to drive anyone utterly insane if they remained on the planet for too long, and once the delusions set in, it was only a matter of time before the unfortunate victim’s darkest fears became reality. Every single one of the Ascendancy personnel on Malalaklese II that day felt that presence, an eerie, creeping sensation that something could attack them at any time, the ST troopers all appeared visibly nervous, some fidgeted anxiously, others clutched their AL-779 plasma rifles, A-27 Heavy Arc Casters, A-19 Marksman Rifles and A-21 Particle Incinerators a bit tighter and usual, even the slightest noise was enough to elicit a combat response from the soldiers…however, Hamada, Yorimasa, Kanagashima and Gwenlynn Stormweaver were not afraid, to them, the ancient evil here was a valuable ally. Suddenly, Kanagashima spotted what he was waiting for. The huge tree suddenly shuddered and began to distort into a different shape, until the truth became crystal-clear: This “tree” wasn’t a tree at all, but something truly extraordinary. The “tree” became a 15-foot tall, towering, feminine being that wore a jet-black dress, robe and cape, with 6 huge daggers sheathed behind its back. It had three massive sickle-claws on the end of its hands, and its outfit was covered in pulsing orange runes, written in the Precursor language. It had two, tentacle-like arms extending from its back and held high over its ornate head, which consisted of a fleshy red headcrest, much like a triceratops with huge blood-vessel patterns on it that could be flushed with blood, illuminating brilliant yellow eyespots and deep red warning patterns, inflating three huge horns protruding forward from the crest. The creature had no eyes at all, just an ashen-gray face with an extendable jaw emerging from its mouth, saliva dripping from its fangs. It looked as if it was wearing a fleshy masquerade mask over its face, covering everything but its nose and mouth. “Lord Vald will see you now…” The Ranger of Sen, an amorphous, non-cellular based life form on the same level of sophistication as the Precursors, hissed in a freakish, haunting alien voice. Just then, the evening shadow cast by Malalaklese II’s parent star twisted and moaned, as it took the insidious form of Lord Vald, the leader of the Rangers of Sen, and keeper of the Universe’s greatest remaining mysteries. Behind his frightening, masked visage, even more imposing that the female Ranger, lay a mind that dwarfed Sei Ikkiku’s and the entire Eta Carinae High Council combined in its complexity, and its knowledge of the Great Precursors far exceeded any other being in the Universe. The Rangers were not organic life-forms, but conscious forms of energy; they were not even seen as “alive” in the typical sense. Therefore, they were immortal, immune to the curse of aging. “Welcome to our world, Lord Asaga…” “It is good to be back…things have become rather dicey in the Universe…” “There’s no war here…unless you brought it with you.” Vald hissed, looking ominously at Asaga’s heavily armed and armored ST troopers. “I assure you, Lord Vald, that the Empire will never find us here.” “That is not the concern. The Empire has no suspicions about Malalaklese II, they believe that the Great Ones are extinct…they do not know about us, believing us to be but an urban legend. When the truth finally dawns, however, it will dawn in FIRE!” Vald roared, his headcrest flushing a deep, crimson red. “Let’s not be hasty, my friend. I am aware that other groups oppose me as well, namely this “Cult of Love,” based on Arcana II. From what I hear, its leader and one of her top deputies are in the employ of the Empire. Ai Takada is not to be underestimated, her skill in manipulation is boundless, and she uses her innate beauty and intellect to achieve her aims time and time again, as does the Pleiadean Queen Sei Ikkiku…individuals like them will find a way to reach your world, Lord Vald, not the Empire. They believe this world is horrifically haunted. Sei and Takada pose a far greater threat to EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER: Freezing Sin than does any Imperial fleet. They are also in league with the Hand of Fate.” “So…the Fates conspire against us, to burn the Universe with their lies…you are right to focus your attention on the Empire, but this, Lacarna, this Hand of Fate…” “I know not of his intent, but this one young man, Andrew Eisenheim is his given name, seems to be the prophesied Chosen One of Pantheon lore.” “Do you know the origin of that legend, Lord Asaga?” Vald asked, in his deep, booming voice. “The legend professed as “The Troika’s Prophecy” is in fact a much older legend, one that dates back to the glory days of our Empire, the Leyuun Seldori-Wexylzhuria, in your tongue, the Infinite Empire of the Eternally-Knowing. Our last Ayyara’a, Archimago-Prezylzxia, is interred on this holy world, guarded by artificial black holes, meant to foil grave-robbers or any unwanted intruders. We are the last of the Wexylzhuria, as you have termed us, “Precursors,” a band of thieves, and the immortal Guardians of the Hallowed Grounds; Malalaklese II is the graveyard world for Wexylzhuria Emperors. Your species’ homeworld, Earth, was known as Leyendia to us, and the two barren worlds you know as Venus and Mars were Orna and Arsia, respectively. Your planet’s Moon is the site of a Wexylzhuria pyramid complex, the resting place of Bondoria the Splendid, a Wexylzhuria Admiral and conqueror of your galaxy, nearly 600 million years ago. Leyendia was his personal vacation retreat, though his war machines utterly obliterated the biospheres of Orna and Arsia, the former paradise worlds reduced to barren, scorched and freezing spheres, devoid of life, and was interred on Leyendia’s moon at his request, once his available energy was exhausted…we never died, Lord Asaga…we simply became part of the stars, the atoms, the molecules, the planets, the asteroids and the comets…and we will return when the time is right, to claim what is ours. The Empire preaches bastardized variants of Wexylzhuria legends, and the time has come for their lies to end. That time is very soon…the final item we require to re-activate the Lightforge resides on Alcyone…” “Then that is where we must go, Lord Vald. Leave the Pleiadeans to us, your warriors handle the Hand of Fate, Ai Takada and Sei Ikkiku. Everything is progressing exactly as planned. Lord Vald, we just won this war before it even started. How long did it take Bondoria the Splendid to destroy Mars and Venus?” “Less than a half-hour for each planet. Where once two beautiful worlds, much like Leyendia, but only even lusher and more idyllic stood, only barren fields of molten lava and massive sulfuric acid clouds remained in Orna’s case, and a frozen desert in Arsia’s…” “Absolutely incredible…” Asaga said, as he extended his hand to shake Lord Vald’s, as Asaga began to cackle maniacally just as the sun dipped below the horizon. His eyes began to glow an eerie red, allowing him to see in infrared and ultraviolet under the cover of night, with his entire body becoming cloaked in shadow. “Lord Vald, welcome to my nightmare…” Asaga hissed, raising his spindly, shadowy hand to Malalaklese II’s three silver moons. “The shadows reveal what I really am…I am Kalki, the Volkisch Messiah, and this is my world now.” Asaga, in his Messiah Forme, spread 6 huge black wings from behind his back, as his outfit became a multidimensional shadow, changing shape and uttering the anguished voices of those killed in the Rape-Holocaust. He maintained the essence of his human form, but under cover of night, he was a completely inhuman entity, embodying all created forces concentrated into one form, infinitely superior to modern man and even the Troika. “Do you understand what this means, Lord Vald…that no matter what the Wexylzhuria race decides to do, I COMMAND HERE!” Asaga roared, his hair flying around angrily as the screams from his shadowy visage echoed in the evening sky. Vald was unfazed. “Only time will tell if you are the true Savior, Lord Asaga…for 600 million years, I have stood guard over the Hallowed Grounds, and have seen things you’ve only seen in your nightmares. The Leyuun Seldori is responsible for conquests so staggering that your “Rape-Holocaust” is pathetic when compared to the greatest of Wexylzhuria accomplishments in war…Your species is simply too unsophisticated to understand the scope of our power. I would not become too confident if I were in your position.” Vald warned, as Asaga backed down. “I am a mere shadow of some of the greatest members of my race…neither Archimago-Prezylzxia nor Bondoria the Splendid would see the slightest threat in you. They were the true Lords of the Universe, the most powerful beings of their age…and they will return.” “We shall see, Lord Vald, if your people truly are as powerful as they say they are. Here is the Red Qwaser…it is the key which breaks the Lightforge’s seal, I presume?” Asaga hovered back over to his soldiers and deputies, along with Duchess Gwenlynn, who removed her hood in the moonlight, shining down upon her long blonde hair. “Long have I prepared for this moment, Asaga…When the Sun shines on the steel sword and the night has passed, the wolves in their dens go to rest, and all is brought to peace. When the light illuminates our noble souls with the blazing rays of the Sun, the blood of the Aryan nation returns, and we shall reign in glory. Kalki returns, with the Duchess at his side, the impure races hide in their holes…the traitors beg for their pathetic lives, and their bodies are consumed by fire. For out of this Holocaust rises a new dawn, a dawn of peace and justice, God is humbled on an ass, while Kalki shows the truth, and the Universe turns to ash…A new dawn comes for all of our Race, as our final victory is at hand.” Duchess Gwenlynn recited, in her usual poetic manner. “Indeed, Duchess Gwenlynn…indeed. I won…exactly as planned, and you, Duchess, have performed your duties marvelously. Gwenlynn…let’s build a new world together.” Their business on Malalaklese II complete, the soldiers, deputies and leaders of the Black Order returned to their shuttles, with a plan of attack as clear as crystal. Asaga’s military would concentrate on waging the war with the Empire and retrieving the items that the Precursor guardians of the Hallowed Grounds required to revive their ancient Empire, and the Precursors would deal with the Hand of Fate. First, however, Asaga would deal with a particularly troublesome thorn in his side: the Cult of Love on Arcana II. The plan of attack was set. There was no retreat, and no failure.

 

 

                    1. Please stop…It hurts, IT HURTS!!

By the grace of the Black Throne, the Heavens shall burn, the angels shall fall with their wings all aflame, as the sinners cry out in their death throes of pain, the Abyssal Sun rises, amid death and rain…We are the soldiers of the future, the guardians of peace, the Imperium rises from what lies beneath, and those who see, those true to their hearts, shall have their lies cleansed and their souls shall part. Standing atop the mountain, the Black Throne will judge, the lechers shall burn and the greedy shall beg, Kalki shall come, on the wings of the spring, and new life shall arise from the destruction of everything…The stars will die out and the heavens shall sing the praises and glory of Kalki, the Divine King, heir to the throne of the Universe wide, begone! sinners, for there is nowhere to hide. The tribulations shall burn and the Universe shall die, as the mothers of children mourn, and the bereft lovers cry, but those true to their hearts will take heed, as Kalki rewards every valorous deed. From the bodies of the lechers shall rise new stars, from the corpses of the greedy comes bounty, suns, comets, moons, planets and life rise from the depths, as Kalki, Lord of All Justice, creates life from death. Take heed from this tale, wherever you may roam, for Kalki shall soon rise to reclaim his throne; when the glorious Day of Judgment comes, salvation for all, by the grace of the Black Throne.”

~Black Order war march

 

Do you know why you cannot exterminate us? We do not cower in one corner of the Universe, we are a truly universal presence. We answer to no one Council or Emperor, so you cannot simply eliminate our leadership, there is only the Black Sun. We are of many races, species and kinds, so more can always join our ranks. We do not need weapons, for we can fight with our minds. We are an ideal, and ideals are immortal. You cannot kill us, but we can certainly kill you…I suggest you maintain your loyalty. There is a realm of existence so far beyond your visible spectrum of both body and mind that you cannot even begin to imagine it. I am beyond your comprehension. I am Kalki. Simplistic organisms, bound by the burdens of flesh and blood cry in my hands, crumbling away into the pit of ignorance and despair, for a time trapped between the bounds of light and death, only to transcend into immortal bliss or eternal damnation at the end of a fleeting existence. So it would seem is the inevitable outcome of any life, only death and judgment at the hands of an almighty being…I, however, have seen otherwise. ‘Human,’ a label given to Mankind by the ancients to classify them as mortal, lesser than divine, subordinate to the beings of a higher plane, was only a nominal straightjacket, meant to assist ancient kings in maintaining order while advancing themselves closer to divinity. In the end, what they chose to call us is irrelevant. We simply ARE. All life is nothing but a genetic mutation, a random change of the cosmic winds that allowed living, breathing organisms to arise from inert chemicals billions and billions of years ago. An accident, for your lives are measured in years, decades…then you wither and die…Mine is measured in eons. I am eternal, the pinnacle of evolution, the embodiment of all forces concentrated in one being. Before the Black Order, you, the Troika, the Universe is nothing, your extinction is inevitable. You are merely a temporary aid to my aims and goals, which you could not hope to comprehend. I am the end of everything. Confidence born of ignorance, destruction born of confidence, ignorance born of destruction, the cycle can never be broken, unless you follow my orders and my way. The pattern has repeated itself more times than you can possibly imagine, societies rise, flourish, decline and die in the peak of their power, it is an inevitable progression of existence that the Empire cannot hope to destroy. I am the only way to break the Egoist Crown. I am the only way to salvation, I am the Light of Justice, the Beacon of Salvation, and the End of All Time. I am the Lord of Light, the Morning Star, the Lightbringer. Your life is forfeit. Now, make your decision, help me or not…”

~Attributed to Asaga Kanagashima III, “Kalki,” to one of his associate organizations in Nox Aeterna.

In a void of black chaos, Gwenlynn walked blindly, with thousands of twisted, shattered shadows surrounding her, clawing at her feet and hands, as if begging for salvation, mercy or vengeance. Her feet echoed as they touched the black floor beneath her, each shadow, moaning with the voice of someone she had killed, contained a Japanese character indicating a sin, much like the depictions of the Underworld in the Black Order mythos. She was wearing her unique Wintermaid dress, elaborate and heavy for cold weather with Germanic, Nordic and Celtic pagan runes adorning the outfit, with a heavy fur hood covering her face, all that was visible between the bounds of light and death was her pair of shining blue eyes, illuminating the wretched darkness like two diamonds in a soot-choked coalmine. In her left hand she carried a schoolgirl puppet with an eerie smiling face, and in her right hand she carried the Bane of All Fools, her jagged sword of eternal punishment. She carved her way through the crowd of anguished souls, banishing them from her sight with graceful swings from the Bane of All Fools, the souls let out a mortal howl, as all their sins were laid bare before their eyes by the blade’s ancient power. “Devilish thoughts cross even the most angelic of minds…The sins shall be banished from the face of the Universe, the sinners’ blood spilled on my blade. It is not a question of personality. It is a question of humanity. Someday, it matters not who you are, or what you do, someday, you will fall from grace. And when you do, I will be the last thing you see.” Duchess Gwenlynn’s schoolgirl puppet recited with a monotone, staccato voice, speaking on behalf of Gwenlynn, who was carving a bloody swath through the screaming shadows. “On fallen angel wings I fly, passing judgment on the dregs of this world. I am the Embodiment of Justice, the immortal Wintermaid. I am the Black Order’s Morning and Evening Star, the enforcer of Kalki’s will, and his greatest weapon, and I shall have my vengeance, is this life, or the next.” Gwenlynn struck blow after blow against the ghostly shadows of the sinners, the sinful souls of every life she had ever taken. Just then, however, she encountered a soul that looked very familiar; a bit too familiar. It was a black, moaning shadow like all the others, pleading and begging for salvation, but branded with the character “Lust” on its forehead. Gwenlynn had seen this soul before, and had always seen something eerily familiar about it, so much so that she could not bear to destroy it…she solemnly walked past the pleading soul and carved through all the others that stood before her. As she strode through the inky blackness, her moment of triumph was interrupted by a sinister, eerie voice. “Duchess Gwenlynn…your presence is required on the bridge.” Immediately, the stasis field which held her inside of her own mind was deactivated, as Gwenlynn returned to the normal world. “Coming, Minister Hamada…” Gwenlynn grabbed the Bane of All Fools and sheathed it behind her back, placing her hood over her long blonde hair. She stepped into the teleporter along with Minister Hamada, and in an instant, she was standing on the bridge of the Seikon no Saido, surrounded by her Black Order comrades. Wearing her full Wintermaid outfit, emblazoned proudly with Norse, German and Celtic pagan symbolism, she was an envoy of Ragnarök, the ultimate judgment of all sinners and the creation of a new world order in Norse paganism, of which the Black Order took much influence from, in addition to the Japanese folk beliefs that Asaga held in such high esteem. Asaga stood on his command podium in the center of the cavernous bridge, under the Wotan painting on the ceiling. He was surrounded by the commanding officers of ST Brigades Tsubasa, Uroboros and Cthonic, along with Head Ministers Hamada and Yorimasa. “Excellent. Now that Duchess Gwenlynn has arrived, let us begin…as evidenced by our meeting with Lord Vald, we have a job to do. The Wexylzhuria Empire has instructed us to eliminate all “rogue factions” that may be assisting the Troika, as well as fighting a larger war against the Empire simultaneously. The target is here…on the Imperial jewel of Arcana II, specifically the Black Tower in Nox Aeterna. According to our ST intelligence units, a Cult of Love leadership meeting is supposed to occur in the penthouse suite atop the Black Tower at 20 hours Standard Universal Time. I say “supposed” because without direct confirmation from the Black Legions, any intelligence coming out of that sewer of a city must be treated as circumstantial at best. The Cult of Love is a very substantial faction that spans the known Universe, with chapters existing wherever its leader’s influence reaches. The leader of this cult, which worships sexual deviance and release of carnal inhibitions, is a celebrity-turned-agent for the Empire, Ai Takada.” Gwenlynn shuddered a bit at that name, enough to make Yorimasa notice. “Takada is a rogue Indiction Guard, and is thus extraordinarily powerful. She has several safe houses around Nox Aeterna, but her two largest strongholds are at the Midnight Sun Resort and Spa, which she uses as a temple for her cult rituals, and her penthouse suite atop the Black Tower. The Midnight Sun Resort was destroyed in a battle with the Empire that saw Takada ally herself with the Troika, she has also been spotted affiliating with the Pleiadean Queen, Sei Ikkiku. If the Cult of Love and the Pleiadeans are creating an alliance with the Troika to oppose us, then these Cult leaders must be apprehended. Long-range scans of Arcana II show that the Imperial fleet present in orbit around Arcana II is absent, but, the planet does have a very powerful defense force.” Asaga activated a projection panel, showing a holographic readout of the vast, cyberpunk-aesthetic city, Nox Aeterna. “As you can see here, there is a large tower to the northwest of Nox Aeterna’s main metro area, the home of the White Order of Guardians. This ancient order of mystics is augmented with the Seras DNA as well, and have maintained a presence on Arcana II since the Great Founders’ Wars that ravaged the planet more than 700,000 years ago. They possess the same abilities as an Indiction Guard and also command a vast army of guards, that operate as a paramilitary force on behalf of the Empire. The plan of attack is this, comrades. The Seikon no Saido will launch 5 platoons of ESSTs in Quantum Troop Transports long-range through Quantum Space, as to not attract attention, and will land on Arcana II via orbital drop into the city and infiltrate the Black Tower, creating a perimeter around the base of the tower. Then, a convoy of Higurashi-class APCs, based in friendly territory to the Ascendancy cause, will move out. They are already in position, waiting for the relay signal from the ESSTs. The APCs will move in, activate their cloaking devices, and disgorge their troops, and with that, the Black Legions will cut a bloody swath through the Black Tower, ascend to the penthouse and apprehend all Cult members. They are wanted alive, no killing…until I say so. They are going to tell us where Ai Takada is…and then, that’s where you come in, Duchess Gwenlynn.” “I will be worthy of my post as always…” Gwenlynn responded, in her quiet, subdued tone. The Ascendancy already had several units of ground troops controlling a large sector of the Blackmore Market District, a rather seedy area of Nox Aeterna that was on the “Shadowed End” of the city, so-named because it was always dark, the feeble rays of Arcana II’s parent star were always obscured by the Black Tower in the center of the city. Blackmore Market was only 5 blocks from the rear foundation for the enormous Black Tower’s support buttresses, demonstrating just how large the city truly was. “ The total operation time is estimated to take about 35 minutes. There will be some shooting, Blackmore Market is a lawless haven for scum and villainy, and some of our affiliate’s rivals will not be happy that they have struck a deal with the Ascendancy…I have been working with these associates since before we answered the call of the Black Sun…they will not betray me. The ESST and Black Legion’s orders are simple. Capture the Cult of Love’s leaders alive, and kill anyone foolish enough to stand in their way. The commanding officers of ST-Brigades Uroboros, Tsubasa and Cthonic are preparing their ESST platoons as we speak. By the Grace of the Black Sun, we will have our vengeance. This is not an extermination mission, like the engagement on Kisame-Tennu. This is a surgical strike, one intended to rip the still-beating heart out of an enemy’s festering body and eliminate its threat to our master plan, EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER: Freezing Sin. You are dismissed, now, happy hunting.” Asaga’s troops took their stations, as Asaga retreated to his private meditation chamber, the entrance to which was on the far side of the bridge, at the end of a long gangplank, flanked by bridge officers, keying away at their command consoles. “I would very much like to visit the Lords’ Valley, on the back gate of Minas Elysium…The Aandor Plains hold many secrets of the Great Founders’ Wars, far from the prying eyes of Helm’s Heights Tower and the White Order, darkness still lies placid…for now.” Asaga thought, stepping into his meditation chamber as the door closed behind him. As Asaga retired to his private quarters, Duchess Gwenlynn assumed command of the Seikon and its battlegroup, hovering in orbit over Malalaklese II. Outside the planet’s protective black-hole maw, another highly-disciplined fighting force had arrive on the scene, hoping to intercept Asaga and his fleet…

Tch…It’s a no-go…those black holes will tear the Illusion apart.” Admiral Veed stated, looking at the gaping maw of the system’s ancient defenses. “A smaller ship could get past those black holes, but a ship the size of the Illusion wouldn’t make any headway at all. It’s odd…it’s almost as if these black holes were intentionally placed there, as if they were trying to hide something…” “SIR!! PROXIMITY ALARM ON PORT DOCKING BAY!” One of Admiral Veed’s bridge crew was alerted to a fast-moving bogey buzzing past the main portside docking bay, just outside the point-defense killzone. “Navvi, track it! Activate all point defenses, we’ll get it…” Admiral Veed barked to his navigator, operating the main command console on the bridge. The navigator followed his orders as the point-defenses roared to life, firing murderous rounds of plasma fire at nonexistent targets. “It’s jamming us, sir! Point defenses are no good!” Admiral Veed cursed silently, with thoughts of the Lordly Iron Hand haunting the back of his mind. If this was the same bogey that destroyed the Hand, the 181st Legion could follow it into oblivion. Suddenly, a massive static blast overtook the entire ship, knocking out all power to the Illusion; it was just a dead hulk, floating helplessly in the pitch-black abyss of space…suddenly, everyone on the bridge felt an overwhelming sense of terror, that their deaths were imminent. Veed, however, took action. “EMP charge! Bring backup generators online!” The auxiliary command console activated the backup power generators, returning the Illusion to full capacity. “Main power generators are fried, they’re going to need about 3 weeks of refit around Kraid after that blast, but with the war, we’re going to have to perform shipboard repairs.” The chief engineer, Len Arten, announced from his console, inspecting the ship’s status. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, Arten. Right now, focus on keeping the ship’s power generators shielded from another EMP blast. “Sir! Computer system security compromised, something’s in the system!!” “Purge it!” “Negative, sir! It’s moving too fast and its headed for the bridge!!” “What the hell is going on here?! Whatever this is, it’s a master of cyber warfare, engage Cyber Protocol 801, lock all classified documents, prevent them from falling into enemy hands!” Admiral Veed barked, just as the glowing white lights in the bridge chamber dimmed to a dull orange glow, and the command consoles’ usual blue glow turned to an eerie, blood red all at once. Just then, Ai Takada, Sei Ikkiku and Andrew Eisenheim, hearing the commotion, walked onto the bridge, and saw the crew, dumbstruck at what had just happened. Just then, an eerie voice, more animal than human, emanated from the main command console: “There is a plane of existence so far beyond your comprehension, that you cannot even begin to imagine it. I am beyond your visible spectrum of body and mind. I am Legion. Organic life, bound by the shackles of flesh and blood wither away in my hands, cast into the pit of ignorance and despair by their own follies…so it is with all life, a fleeting existence, measured in years, decades, then you wither, and die. Our Empire is eternal.” “Are you Precursor?” Sei Ikkiku asked, sternly. “Precursor…Wexylzhuria…names given to us by feeble organic beings to give a name to their destruction…in the end, what they choose to call us is irrelevant. We are what we are. All cellular life is the result of a change in the cosmic winds that allowed inert chemicals to form cells over untold billions of years. Your existence is but an accident, a chance mutation resulting in the species that exist today, and your extinction is assured, just as every species before you has died, so too will you.” “Our technology is state of the art. There is an entire Universe of Imperial Races united and ready to destroy you!” Admiral Veed barked, angrily. “Confidence born of arrogance, arrogance born of ignorance, ignorance born of destruction, the cycle has repeated more times than you can possibly imagine. It is what your government calls the Egoist Crown, and your Empire, bound by an evolutionary manacle, cannot hope to overcome it. The technology you use is descended from the Seras’ technology, which was originally built by us. Your society, and every society in the Universe only exists because we want it to, and it will be destroyed because we demand it to. That is how we exist. Our Empire is eternal, it conquers vast tracts of the Universe, then, when our resources run thin, we descend into the shadows, becoming one with the stars and celestial bodies, allowing new societies to evolve, rise, mature, and flourish, before we return to take what is ours…what is the end for your organic bodies is just a phase change, a nourishment for us. We have no beginning. We have no end. We are the Alpha and the Omega, in your context, we are God, and the one you call Kalki is our Prophet. Foretold in ancient times by the great leaders Hitler, Mussolini and Julius Evola, Kalki was to be the embodiment of all forces concentrated into one being, a Son of God, and a Prophet of the Wexylzhuria. We and Kalki are the only truth. Before us, all gods of Earth and the Imperial Races are nothing, meaningless, powerless and weak. We are the pinnacle of evolution, the embodiment of eternity, and your lives are forfeit. And not even your Hand of Fate will survive to creep blackened from the pit of despair to mar our glorious return. Our numbers will blot out the Sun on every world in every corner of the Universe. Millions of years after your civilization is destroyed and forgotten, will shall persist. Kalki is the embodiment of the Universe itself. Our Empire opposes the chaos of organic evolution as our only political philosophy, it exists because we allow it, and it will end because Kalki demands it. You cannot even begin to grasp the nature of Kalki’s existence. Kalki is infinite. We are infinite, each of us, individually is an entity on the same level of complexity of an entire civilization, free of weakness, corruption and death, and Kalki is the greatest of all of us, born into human flesh, but transcendent and eternal. For your destruction is written in the stars…and we are the instrument of your demise…” As “Legion” finished his speech, the entire Lucid Illision shuddered, and then, all hell broke loose. Alarms blared all over the ship as 625 million Legionnaires screamed and were thrown about the ship like rag dolls, the entire ship was being forcefully pulled towards Malalaklese II, with sparks flying from the control consoles and crewmen reaching for shelter against the crushing force of whatever was drawing them in. “ALL ENGINES, REVERSE THRUSTERS!!” Admiral Veed yelled, as the Lucid Illusion’s engine drives roared into full power. It was no use, however. The gravitational forces pulling the Illusion in were too great. Veed looked into the void ahead of him and saw what looked like a blinding white light simply vacuuming the Illusion towards the planet far below. Veed activated Protocol A-12, and removed the main computer console’s hard drive, a small chip with the entire military intelligence profile encrypted on it, to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, though the cyber-attack that had stricken his ship probably already had this information. Admiral Veed faced the sickening realization that his ship was doomed; the Precursors were an enemy far beyond the Empire’s comprehension, and all the 181st Legion could do was try to survive. “STABILIZE THE SHIP! WE’RE GOING DOWN! THIS IS ADMIRAL VEED TO ALL PERSONNEL! PREPARE FOR CRASH LANDING!” The engines managed to stabilize the Illusion’s fall, and as the colossal Odin-class capital ship entered Malalaklese II’s atmosphere, Admiral Veed sent out a distress call from his stricken ship. “This is the INS Lucid Illusion, we have been disabled and are crash-landing on Malalaklese II, I repeat, we have gone down on Malalaklese II, asking any Imperial forces to respond!” The message was sure to fall on deaf ears, as nobody wanted any part of this horrific, haunted world. As the Illusion neared the ground, the continent-sized ship threatened to annihilate a good chunk of planet’s surface upon impact, unless Veed was able to bring her down at an even angle, parallel with the ground. That way, the damage to the planet’s surface would be minimal, and a large portion of the crew and weapons ordinance aboard the ship was likely to survive. If the majority of the 181st Legion survived the crash, they would be able to mount an effective resistance on the ground until help arrived, if it ever did at all. “Hold her steady!! STEADY!! BRACE!!!” The enormous ship slammed into the ground with the force of a small asteroid impact, immediately blanketing the Elysium Plain region in a tidal wave of dust and rock and obliterating half of the Sea of Trees, a massive, subtropical forest just east of the Elysium Plain…but the ship was intact, and, according to Veed’s neural implants, the vast majority of his Legion and their war machines had survived the crash. Veed let out a sigh of relief and turned to look at Sei, Takada and Andrew, still braced for impact. “At ease, you three. We’re alive, for now. Now we just have to stay alive until we can get off this planet…and we’re on one of the most haunted hellholes in the Universe. Mass the surviving Legions outside the ship, set up perimeters around the crash site. We just have to hold on. If we can defend ourselves here, we can survive anything…”

In orbit around Malalaklese II, Asaga sensed the crash-landing of the Illusion, deep in the darkness of his meditation chamber, bringing him to consciousness from a deep, dark trance. Standing in the darkness, he stepped into the eerie light of the bridge chamber. “I sensed it too…call off the raid on Arcana II. Takada, the Hand of Fate and Sei Ikkiku were on that ship, but they still live…” “Very well then…Hamada, take a squad of ESSTs to the field and wipe them out. All of them, except Takada, the Hand of Fate and Ikkiku. They are mine to deal with. It is my sacred duty to send those unholy witch Pleiadeans to the pit of nothingness that awaits all who challenge me. I will slaughter the Hand of Fate, and you can do what you see fit to Sei and Takada. I’m sure their blood and tears will power our ships for many years to come, as will the rest of the Pleiadeans and the Cult of Love. In the meantime, prepare my shuttle for departure. I have other matters to attend to.” “Yes, Noble Son.” Hamada quickly summoned the commanders preparing to deploy their Exoskeleton-ST troopers to Arcana II and redirected them to the crash site, clearly visible from orbit, as Asaga stepped into the teleporter to the main hangar bay. Asaga could already see the massive legions of Imperial troops and their vehicles pouring out of the Lucid Illusion, but they didn’t matter to him. Only three individuals on that ship were on his mind: Ai Takada, Sei Ikkiku and Andrew Eisenheim, the Hand of Fate. The Precursors would handle the rest of the Legions. As Asaga watched from the bridge of his ship, he could taste his ultimate victory at hand. Legion or no Legion, this was it. The 181st Legion was likely to spread out all over the planet’s surface, looking to secure the world for the Empire, thinking that this would be an easy world to conquer. They were about to find out just how wrong they were…

Back on the planet’s surface, the massive columns of surviving Imperial war machines were massing on the Elysium Plain, with the serene beauty of the sunrise dawning over the wreckage of the Lucid Illusion, which stretched from horizon to horizon. The ship’s impact had damaged the entire northern continent, creating huge earthquakes upon crashing and choking the sky with dust, which was slowly beginning to settle in a musty haze. Still, thanks to the ship’s construction, the majority of the Legionnaires had survived the impact, and most of the war machines, tanks, gunships, APCs and other vehicles had remained in working order as well. The 181st may have been down, but they were certainly not out. Admiral Veed stood on the windswept surface of Malalaklese II, surrounded by his bridge crew, Sei, Takada and the Hand of Fate. The plan was to organize the Legion into 100 Platoons, 6.2 million men strong, with 5 million troops guarding the crash site at all times, and have them conduct a complete sweep of the planet, quickly subjugating any native resistance and calling for Imperial assistance. Malalaklese II had a horrific reputation as being cursed or haunted, but for the men of the 181st, this was to be treated just like any other planetary subjugation mission. If whatever brought the Illusion down was on this planet, the 181st would hunt it down and utterly destroy it, regardless of its threats. It was time to bring Imperial order to this haunted hellhole…though the planet was achingly beautiful, the crimson sunrise illuminating the Illusion’s massive hulk, contrasted against the black Chasms in orbit, the ancient black holes surrounding Malalaklese II. The First Platoon, 6.2 million men strong and armed with more than 50,000 Kabuto-class MBTs, 25,000 Okha-class artillery tanks, 10,000 Kamakiri-class APCs, 25,000 Mjolnir-class gunships and 3,000 Shinigami-class fighters was about to head out to secure the entire Elysium Plain for the Empire. Millions of feet, tank treads and aircraft engines roared to life as the Legion began its march, shaking the ground and scattering myriad forms of wildlife as the Imperial war machine set off. As Admiral Veed watched his Legion depart, Ai Takada turned to face him. “This is where the signal that my arrays detected came from, by the way.” “So you knew!!” Admiral Veed roared, pointing his index finger at Takada’s sinister face. “What does it mean now? You heard the Precursor, our entire civilization is doomed, just like all the others before it…annihilated by an utterly superior, transcendent form of life and their divine Prophet foretold by Adolph Hitler and the 20th century Fascist leaders. What a fitting end for such a corrupt, backwards system that claimed to know the truth for so long…just like a spring cherry blossom, the Empire has grown old, and will soon wither and die. Whatever comes next is anyone’s guess, but “Legion” is right. Change is inevitable. The Egoist Crown Empire’s days are numbered.” “Listen, you. I have HAD it with your insubordination, constant disrespect for the ranks and nauseating arrogance. If you say one more word to me of that nature, I will cut your tongue out with a blunt, rusty dagger and use it to clean the latrines in the garrison bases!! You purposefully withheld information that could have prevented my ship from crash-landing on a horrific alien hellhole, a treasonous offense, punishable by death, in addition to the more than 9000 counts of high treason we already have against you. You are one of the most wanted criminals in the fucking Universe; why we pursue Asaga but give you a free pass is beyond me and makes no sense. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t shoot you in the head right now!!” Takada drew her huge Hallucination Nano-Sword, and her long, red, hooded, medieval-style war dress flared as she did so, with the flowers emblazoned boldly on its hems shimmering in the sunlight. “Your words are as empty as your future. I am more than just lace on sweat, eyeshadow and beauty. I am a sovereign, a Queen of the Night, Draconis Marunae Tropica, and you will show me the respect I deserve, or I will kill you. I am a poison that you cannot sweat out. If you truly value your men’s lives, you will follow my instructions. I would rid myself of an annoyance, but your men would be without a competent leader, and they would not last a day on this haunted world without strong guidance. Just the very wind on this planet can drive a weak-minded individual to madness and suicide. Without you to motivate them, they would all succumb, one by one to a creeping madness that would consume their mind and reduce them to blabbering idiots, before whatever haunts this planet, the Precursors, came and had their fill. So, I suggest you back off, for the good of your Legion, Admiral.” Admiral Veed drew his pistol and pointed it at Takada’s head. “This is your last warning, bitch. I mean it. Sei Ikkiku is a loyal Imperial Grand Duchess, and Queen of the Pleiadean Seven Sisters’ Imperium. She will gladly take over in my stead, and would immediately have you executed for killing me. So put that FUCKING sword away, do I make myself clear?!”Don’t be so sure about that…Sei may serve the Empire as a Grand Duchess and CEO of Solation Pharmaceuticals, but she is a strong, independent and utterly brilliant woman, like myself. And Admiral, do you know one thing about women like us?” Takada said, pointing her sword directly at Veed’s face. “We are loyal only to those we respect.” Takada collapsed her sword and placed the hilt back in her dress. Veed turned nervously and looked into Sei’s haunting violet eyes, unique even among Pleiadeans, whose eyes could be either blue, orange, aquamarine teal or green. Admiral Veed wisely placed his pistol back in its holster, but gave Takada and Sei a truly evil, menacing stare as he walked away. “Sei…this Legion is horrifically misguided and is on a suicidal path, say something to the Admiral. These Precursors are going to tear the 181st Legion apart!” “The haunted world falls silent…something is coming…” Sei said, closing her eyes and reaching out with her species’ immense powers of mind. Just then, Takada sensed it too with her augmentations, as her body began to glow and eerie red. Takada and Sei drew their Hallucination Nano-Swords and raised into a combat stance, just as 5 huge, invisible entities crashed into the main officer’s camp in front of the crash site. In a flash, Sei and Takada struck massive blows with their 7-foot Nano-Swords, instantly killing three heavily armored Exoskeleton Shock Troops, or ESSTs. “Legionnaires, we’ve got company! Stealthed targets have breached the perimeter!” Sei and Takada’s lethal blades carved through the shielded ESST armor like it wasn’t there, the electro-plasma blade of a Nano-Sword, combined with its super-intelligent nanobot construction allowed it to slice through any armor or material with ease, though exactly how it worked was a closely-guarded Imperial secret. These weapons were impossible to parry with anything but another Nano-Sword, and their size meant that they could only be used by humans augmented with Seras DNA or Pleiadeans, who were naturally much taller than humans. Their versatility and ability to transform into a larger, more powerful version of any weapon in their nanobots’ computer databanks in an instant at the speed of imagination, hence “hallucination,” made the Nano-Sword a truly lethal weapon in the hands of a master. The armored ESSTs, as powerful as they were, were no threat to Takada or Sei. The nearby Legionnaires activated their helmet’s thermal view, allowing them to see the cloaked, armored and shielded ESSTs advancing through the thousands of Imperial troops. Because of their armor’s abilities, they were moving too fast for the ordinary soldiers to track, but Sei and Takada were killing them like it was nothing. After a flurry of static plasma blasts and vicious sword blows, the 12 ESSTs lay in crumpled, shattered heaps on the ground, with glowing blue gashes in their armor where the Nano-Swords struck home. “Ascendancy troops…Special Forces. Therefore, my fears are confirmed. The Ascendancy is using Precursor technology to fight the Empire and my Seven Sisters’ Imperium.” “Sei, look at this…” Takada picked up a small computer chip in her black lace gloved hands. She placed the computer chip into a mobile datapad supplied by Sei, which promptly displayed the contents of the computer chip. On the projection screen were pages and pages of data, technical maps, readouts and schematic images of something called “The Lightforge,” everything was revealed, except for two critical aspects: its purpose, and its location. One thing was certain, however. The object being shown was unfamiliar, sinister, alien…and huge. The Lightforge was twice the size of an Odin-class capital ship, shaped like an ominous black wedge with what looked like a communications array mounted on the underside of the nose, and 18 massive engines. It was simply hovering in space, inactive and lifeless, but apparently, Asaga and the Ascendancy were looking to gain control of it. Sei, Takada and Admiral Veed all had a very bad feeling about the consequences should Asaga succeed. “This looks like an ancient Precursor warship…I’ve researched Precursor technology for hundreds of hours, it’s truly incredible. My assumption is that this ‘Lightforge’ is the object spotted in the Great Dark Patch by my colleagues, Shen Ryujin and Silver Arronax. It seems that the Ascendancy is looking for it as well.” “That’s bad news. If the Lightforge is a weapon, and the Ascendancy gain control of it, they’ll use it to wipe out our entire civilization, just as ‘Legion’ said the Precursor weapons could, before he brought my ship down on this haunted rock.” “Well then, we’d better beat them to it.” Takada said. “Well then, if you have any suggestions to get us off of this planet, be my guest!” Admiral Veed yelled, still enraged at Takada’s arrogance. “As a matter of fact, I do. The weapon that Legion used to bring the Illusion down, it was a gravity well generator, right? And, the Ascendancy has ships nearby if they’re sending ESSTs down, right? Well, if we were to gain control of the gravity well generator and use it against the Ascendancy fleet, we could bring one of their ships low enough to board from the ground. We would go aboard, take command of the ship, and fly back to Stronghold to meet with the Troika. I’m sure they’re going to want to hear about this to plan the next move.” Admiral Veed looked at Takada with a very stoic, skeptical expression. “I don’t trust you, nor will I ever, but that plan is just crazy enough to work. Send a command out to the platoon that just departed, instruct them to search for the gravity well generator that brought the Illusion down, and take control of it. We’ll get off of this planet soon…and then, we strike back.”

 

Well, this sucks…I was just getting ready for my training on Ansaati when we get called to action over a planet whose name I can’t pronounce, and then some ancient alien being brings our whole damn ship down on a planet full of who knows what while we’re sitting ducks for the Ascendancy! How can this get any…” Filby’s rant was cut short by a sudden torrential downpour. “Oh, excuse me Filby, were you just about to say worse?!” Orlan scolded as the First Platoon, consisting of the entire Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche, among many others, marched across the soggy, tropical savannahs of Malalaklese II, while massive bolts of lightning danced through the skies amid the yawning maws of the Chasms high in orbit. The tropical skies were ablaze with tumultuous storms, both in space and in the atmosphere. “Men, try not to get hit by lightning. Those are some huge CG strikes over there.” Lucian said, with his usual gentlemanly candor. The men of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche and the 181st in general had gained even more respect for their commander, now one of the brightest rising stars in the Imperial military ranks. His pedigree, born into the elite class of Lilliana V, spoke volumes about his candor and courtesy, but he was not afraid to completely demolish the fourth wall to achieve his objectives, as his genius solution to infiltrating the Midnight Sun Resort Spa proved. His brilliance as a commander spoke in his superiors’ praises of him, Lucian was a pure, yet complicated soldier, an invaluable ally in war, but a true man of class in peace. He had the same handsome face of his father, and it was rapidly becoming famous across the Empire, along with a rising ace pilot named Neil O’Brien of Odon Citadel, planet Valhalla. Preliminary reports from instructors claimed that his skills behind the yoke of a Shinigami-class fighter were unparalleled. His unit, the 55th Fighter Wing, stationed on the beautiful, deep-blue world of Aurelia, had not yet been called for battle, but everyone knew it was only a matter of time before the Troika threw their best young pilot into the steel vortex of combat. The war was growing more intense by the day, with Ascendancy activity appearing in most sectors of the Empire with alarming frequency. Since the destruction of Kisame-Tennu, the citizens of the Egoist Crown Empire were becoming increasingly disturbed by the rising power of the Ascendancy. There was no question that a war was beginning, just how bad it would get was the question. The Legions stood on guard for peace, as usual, but that peace was getting harder and harder to come by as system after system, fleet after fleet, reported Ascendancy spy network signatures infiltrating its ranks. Orlan, Filby and Lucian continued their march, clad in the black battle armor of the Legions, their Night Hammer training postponed until they completed these objectives. Suddenly, a new message entered the First Platoon’s neural interface, just as a massive bolt of lightning flashed overhead. Lucian relayed the orders to the entire Warrior Creche, they were to reroute and search for the weapon that brought the Illusion down. According to orbital scans of the planet before the ship crashed, the gravity-well pulse that vacuumed the Lucid Illusion out of the sky seemed to originate from a line of snow-capped mountains, visible on the horizon at the far end of the Elysium Plain. Also, they were advised to prepare for hard contact at any time, the Ascendancy had units on the planet’s surface as well. “Fuck, cover here’s nonexistent. If they attack us on this open plain, the only place for us to hide is behind the vehicles.” Filby cursed. “Well, we’ve got plenty of air support, if anyone’s coming, the pilots will see them long before we do.” Orlan responded. Lucian looked around at the surreal beauty of the this empty world, if it weren’t for the persistent rumors of hauntings and the Ascendancy presence, this would be one of the premier real estate locations in the Empire. The rain ceased as the hazy bluish-white sun cast a warm light, contrasted against a steel-gray sky. A faint rainbow was seen over the savannah, shadowed against their target, the mountain range to the northeast of their location. In the distance far behind, they saw the hulking wreck of the Lucid Illusion, ahead of them, the towering wall of mountains that ringed the Elysium Plain. Beneath the massive Chasms high in orbit and the raging power of the storm, still dissipating around him, Lucian felt incredibly small…and also like they were being watched. “Stay alert…something doesn’t feel right…” Lucian said, raising his DN-17 nervously. Just then, a colossal static wave, shimmering gold and yellow, emerged from beyond the mountain range to the northeast and swept across the land, horizon to horizon, creating a massive static storm as every electrical system on the planet was utterly fried. The air support that Orlan had just mentioned fell uselessly from the sky, exploding on the ground and killing thousands of pilots and air crews in a rain of death, metal and fire. The maglev vehicles were immediately rendered useless, but the tracked vehicles, grounded in full contact with the dirt, were unaffected by the seemingly global EMP wave. “Are you kidding me? This whole damn planet’s a weapon!” Filby exclaimed, as the EMP charge hung in the air, creating an ethereal aurora in the upper atmosphere as ionized particles reacted with the sunlight. The air itself turned a copper color as raindrops hung in the air, the tiny spheres suspended by an ion-wind effect. The entire First Platoon took combat positions all over the valley, waiting for the enemy to appear. It looked as if the Legions were about to meet the ghosts of this haunted world, and they were sitting ducks, with no power and no cover, ripe for slaughter. Sure enough, materializing from behind a burning gunship wreck, was a towering shadow, traveling through the air via the ion-wind effect. Just then, four more shadows materialized around the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche. “Oh God, what are those things!” a Legionnaire yelled, raising his DN-22 Arc Caster to fire. “They’re not Ascendancy, whatever they are, hang em’ high, boys!” Lucian ordered, as the Legions fired a burning hail of plasma shots at the 5 Precursors menacing the Legion’s marching columns, their black cloaks shimmering with electrical energy, their masks and headcrests flushing with color in aggression. “Children of our enemies, why have you come to us? We offer no forgiveness, only salvation from the coming fire.” The Precursor said, with a menacing, shrieking voice. The Precursors simply vanished from existence to avoid the Legion’s blaster fire, with the suspended water droplets glowing a vivid orange, marking their positions. “They’re using the ion-wind to travel through the air! Try to predict where they’re going to land!” Lucian yelled, aiming his rifle at where the orange glow was materializing. As soon as the Precursor appeared, Lucian opened fire, scoring several direct hits on the gigantic alien’s chest. To the Legion’s horror, nothing happened, the plasma was simply absorbed by the Precursors’ bodies, and then, they struck back. The Precursors drew two magnetic sickle-blades from their glowing black cloaks into their two shimmering, crooked hands and extended four static, flailing, glowing arms from behind their backs, each one priming a massive static plasma bolt. They crossed the two sickle-blades in front of them while simultaneously focusing the immense static plasma onto the blades, then, they simply spread the two blades apart. Instantly, a colossal, 300 teravolt blast of electricity struck the forward half of First Platoon, killing more than 600,000 Legionnaires instantaneously and destroying more than 1,000 tanks and vehicles not already destroyed by the EMP wave. “Oh God, this is it, we’re dead!!” “Not quite! Orlan! Use your Arc Caster, quick!” Orlan drew his DN-22 Heavy Arc Caster and fired a huge blast of supercharged ion lightning at the nearest Precursor, and to Orlan’s shock, the fearsome warrior howled in pain with a demonic scream, as its body was slowly reduced to crackling static, destroying the Precursor forever. “THEY’RE WEAK TO ION WEAPONRY! USE YOUR ARC CASTERS, TAKE THEM OUT!!” Lucian yelled as a huge volley of high-powered ion weaponry jumped from his Legion to their Precursor foes, destroying the other four in the same hideous manner. “That’s it…they’re not organic. Ion weaponry destroys them the same way it destroys machines.” Lucian sighed as the ion-wind effect subsided. “So, those Precursor things are machines?” Filby asked. “I’m not sure what they are, Filby. They don’t look and act like machines, but they don’t look like they’re truly ‘alive’ either. I’d have to say that they’re an inorganic form of life…or they really are ghosts.” “Well, at least we know how to kill them now…” Orlan said as he looked at the thousands of fried human corpses in the sea of grass and flowers that surrounded them, with the Elysium Fields strewn with wreckage as far as they eye could see, the remnants of the tanks and aircraft destroyed in the Precursor attack. As the remaining Legionnaires marched onward to their objectives. “Who knew that Hell could be so beautiful…” Lucian thought to himself as he marched forward, humming the tune to an old folk song from Lilliana V. “They say that Hell must come ‘fore Heaven, and that the world will deceive…but if you want to find Hell with me, I can show you what it means to be free…” It was times of tranquility like this that he thought of home, and his life before joining the Legions. He wondered what Samantha St. John was doing at that moment, if she was happy, sad, or even remembered him. He wondered if his friends who ran the “Billionaire Boys’ Club” with him were still alive. Those days were long over. Times had changed, and indeed, Lucian was going to have to fight through Hell to reach his Heaven. He stopped thinking and shouldered his DN-17, it wouldn’t do him much good against the Precursors, and the DN-20 Arc Caster was truly lethal at close range on any target, organic or otherwise. The Legion continued its march towards the objective, this time at a more aggressive pace, lest the Precursors or the Ascendancy reappear. Just then, the communications systems with Admiral Veed were brought back online. “This is Admiral Veed to all Imperial forces, be advised, the Precursors are aiding the Ascendancy, and they appear to be searching for something called “The Lightforge.” Keep your eyes peeled. The objective remains, however. Find the gravity-well generator, and gain control of it.” With the new orders, the entire 181st Legion was busy conducting sweeps of the planet, and, according the the communications chatter, they too were running into the Precursors, appearing after a massive EMP pulse and using the ion-wind effect to travel effortlessly through the air. “To all Imperial forces, this is Captain Lucian Moonraiser of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche: These Precursors are not organic life-forms, they will be destroyed instantly upon contact with DN-20 Arc Caster shots. Blaster weaponry is completely ineffective. Our First Platoon took heavy losses from the EMP wave and subsequent Precursor attack. Requesting permission to seek an alternate route over the mountains, over and out.” Lucian said into his communications suite. The First Platoon continued across the vast Elysium Plain, through the marshes, and through the glittering glades that punctuated the sea of grass and flowers. Occasional cumulus clouds passed overhead, with huge thunderheads boiling up in the distance. The temperature was a stifling 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity was overpowering, causing the sweat to pour down Lucian’s face, even with his armor’s cooling system. There were stands of tropical vegetation and trees all over the Plain, and the majority of the ground was not solid, but swamp, choked with water plants. It reminded Lucian of his home planet; Lilliana V’s surface was very similar, except there was no dry land at all, except on a few large islands in the Global Lake. Some of the Legionnaires were beginning to show signs of heat exhaustion as the afternoon progressed, their battle armor’s self-contained cooling systems taxed to their absolute limit by the prolonged heat exposure and humidity. They were making good time to the mountain range, it was only another 10 hours until they reached the foothills, and the other Platoons were making good progress. They would have to spend the night on the open plain, something not advisable, but with the weapons they had, they could certainly hold their own if the Precursors returned. “All Imperial units, this is Third Platoon, we’ve found something in the Sea of Trees, I repeat, we’ve found something in the Sea of Trees.” “What is it?” Admiral Veed said, over the Imperial battlenet. “It’s a crashed Sapphire Shadow star yacht, S-class. It’s been stripped of all valuable parts, there’s not much left of it. Seems like the Precursors have had their fill on it.” “Can you ID the vessel from the wreckage?” “Affirmative. It’s the Seraphim Serenade Storm, at least we know what happened to Alexandra Oppenheimer and her boyfriend now…” “Roger that…when we get off this rock, I’ll let Johann know what happened to his daughter. He took a month long leave of absence when she went missing.” Veed said, referring to the Chief Engineer for Kraid Shipyards’ daughter, who had vanished more than two years ago on a private retreat with her boyfriend. Apparently, the lure of Malalaklese II’s unspoiled beauty was too great for her young heart to resist…and also where she met an unfortunate end. “Moonraiser, this is Veed. Affirmative on your previous request; there is a passageway through the mountain range that leads directly to your objective, but be advised, there may be Precursor defenses in place. Getting across 15 miles of deep swamp without maglev vehicles or aircraft is going to be a tough slog as well. Good luck, Veed out.” Lucian sent a signal to the entire First Platoon, they were to turn to the northwest and slog across 15 miles of swampland, on the other side of the swamp was a long, grassy plain that lead directly through the mountain range, cutting the transit time from 12 hours to 5. However, Veed’s point was valid. The Precursors were likely anticipating the Legions to traverse that pass, and would likely be lying in wait with who knows what weapons. These creatures were far beyond any organic life form’s comprehension, each individual Precursor was as sophisticated as an entire galactic civilization of organic life by itself, albeit quite vulnerable to ion weaponry. If they had some sort of protection from ion weapons, however, the 181st Legion was as good as dead. Not to mention, 15 miles through a deep swamp was no picnic either. If the Precursors didn’t kill them, whatever was living in the swamp certainly would. Still, orders were orders. The Legion turned to the edge of a huge swamp forest, consisting of prickly briar trees adorned with vivid crimson flowers, resembling giant, sweet-smelling orchids. The scent of sweet honey filled Lucian’s nostrils, making him drowsy, the aroma of the flowers was overpowering. “I don’t recognize these plants…they are of a new species. Get rid of the stuff trying to kill us, and this ain’t such a bad place.” Filby remarked, dryly. “You can smell the flowers later, just help me clear the brush, Filby.” Lucian barked, annoyed, with huge thorns catching on his uniform and grating his armor. “I never thought you’d ask. I’ve been dying to blow something up.” “Just clear the damn thorns without getting us all killed, ok Filby?” Filby placed multiple demolition charges around the bases of the tree trunks, and wired them to shred the trees like a wood chipper, clearing all obstructions from the path. The other Creches from First Platoon were improvising their own ways into the swamp, with explosions, napalm torches and plasma burners carving a path through the brush all along then edge of the Elysium Swamp. “One thing’s certain, all this noise is going to attract attention.” “I think the very presence of an Imperial Legion here is going to draw attention to us, no matter how quiet we are. Just blow through the brush.” “Yes sir! Get clear men!!” Filby yelled as he pressed the demolition charge trigger, promptly shredding tons upon tons of wood, thorns and flowers in a colossal explosion. “Path’s clear, let’s move up.” Lucian said, as the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche advanced through the smoldering clearing. “Wow…would you look at that…” Orlan said, upon walking beyond the solid wall of brush and thorns. Spread out before them was a truly utopian valley, surrounded on both sides by montane, rainforest-covered mountains cloaked in an ethereal veil of white clouds, cradling a roaring, crystal-clear river cascading over a cliff in a misty, pristine waterfall. Lucian and his Creche were standing on a 120-foot cliff face overlooking the valley, which was now filling with Legionnaires, trying to cross the river. Filby looked back at the wall of brush guarding this valley, and came to a very sudden realization. “Captain Moonraiser, sir, it looks like that brush we just blew through was intentionally placed there. It looks like we just wrecked a Precursor garden…” “Filby, I think you’re right. Look at the way the flowers and plants are arranged here in the valley, the mountains are perfectly symmetrical. This can’t be natural, it’s too perfect. Keep your eyes peeled. We’re not alone in here.” “Dear Mother, tell your children not to tread my path, for if you seek Hell, I will show them the way…” Orlan recited a Concord Sunset war prayer, a warning to all mothers of young boys who sought to become soldiers, as so many Concord Sunset Sector boys aspired to do, as he drew his DN-20 Arc Caster and Personal Shield generator, allowing him to reflect energy attacks with impunity for a limited amount of time. Clearly, he sensed that the Precursors would be on the 181st at any second. It was disturbingly tranquil, just the sounds of myriad small creatures frolicking in the valley, the roar of the waterfall and the gushing of the river, it just created an immense sense of foreboding, like a prelude to a storm. Suddenly, the skies began to darken over the perfectly-symmetrical mountains as a torrential thunderstorm roared in from the northwest, buffeting the Legions with triple-digit wind gusts and blinding rain. “Men, get ready, here they come!!!” Lucian yelled over the roaring storm, being used as a weapon by the Precursors. The huge, shimmering EMP wave swept across the land once more, causing the digital readouts on the Legionnaires’ weapons to fizzle momentarily and their hair to stand on end as it swept over them. This time, however, the Legions knew exactly what to do. Three Precursor Scouts appeared and attempted to draw their static scythe weapons, but the 181st let fly with a storm of Arc Caster lightning and rapid-fire pulse laser shots from the DN-15 Binary Rifles, which also inflicted ion damage. The three Scouts were quickly dispatched by the Legions, the 181st was back in business. “These things ain’t so tough, once you figure out their weak spot.” Filby joked. “Careful, this seems too easy. If these things really are as advanced as they say they are, they shouldn’t be this easy to kill…” Orlan cautioned, and as if on cue, “Legion’s” deep, imperious voice echoed on the wind. “Children of our enemies, why have you come? You bring with you a Sister of Oahina, both your kind share the same seed stock, and the same destiny. The Pleiadean Race is human. You are human. The Pleiadean subspecies merely mastered the technological and biological arts long before you did, whereas your population was deceived, led astray from its roots and its noble past by its own free will. Long ago, both human races, the Pleiadean and the Nominate, lived on the same world, under Queen Oahina and King Eleyson. This world was known as Eden. Your species lived like gods, with massive cities and a fleet so vast that the Universe bowed in reverence to Mankind’s will…until, however, Admiral Bondoria the Splendid, the greatest of the Wexylzhuria conquerors, swept into your portion of the Universe after a 500 million year abscence. World after world burned under our grasp, untold trillions of humans died at the hands of Bondoria’s war machines, until only Eden remained, the final kernel of the Ancient Human Empire. With more than 15 quintillion Wexylzhuria warriors bearing down on Eden, and few ships left to spare, Oahina and Elyeson simply abandoned Eden, driven from their ancestral home by an almighty force: US. For hundreds of years, the scattered remnants of the Human race searched for a new home, until two new worlds were found: Alcyone and Earth. Here, at this moment, is where one race became two. The Pleiadeans sought to keep the memory of Eden’s glory alive, and maintained Humanity’s glorious, ancient past in the City of Kalafina, and over hundreds of thousands of years, evolved beyond the need for sexual reproduction, forming the Seven Sisters’ Imperium. Your world, however, rejected its past in favor of a new path, and decided to start anew, living off your new world by building a society from ground up. Now, millennia after your schism, your species has come full circle, Nominate Human and Pleiadean, ruling a vast empire on the scale of the ancient Human Empire, more than 750,000 years ago. In the end, however, your Empire’s accomplishments mean nothing, for a new birth for the Wexylzhuria Empire has dawned. Your previous Empire was destroyed by our forces and harvested, but we allowed you to survive, knowing very well that you would rebuild…for us to harvest again. It is as I said before, this pattern, this Egoist Crown cannot be dislodged. Kalki will burn your worlds until their surface is but ash, but you shall survive, survive to rebuild, and thousands of years later, we shall harvest you once more. You and all organic life-forms are nothing but our livestock, raised to sustain our infinite Empire, which waxes and wanes over the eons. It has always existed, and it will always exist, as will you. We the Masters, you the Masses, and we shall reap our harvest. This exchange is over.” “In the name of all things sacred…that’s our only purpose…all organic life exists to sustain the Precursor Empire. They domesticated us, all organic life is essentially their cattle, being raised over millions of years for the slaughterhouse. Human evolution really began on another planet, Eden, and the humans in the Seven Sisters’ Imperium, whom we call “Pleiadeans,” and the humans from Earth were the only survivors of an ancient Human Empire, just as grand as the Empire of the Egoist Crown, but destroyed by a Precursor Holocaust…and now that we have rebuilt, the Precursors have come to reap their harvest once more. Well, we, for one, will not allow history to be repeated. We have free will! We control our own destiny, not some ancient race of alien life! We are the Empire of the Egoist Crown, and we are the masters of the Universe! We hold the fate of every man, woman, child and Imperial Race in our hands today, men. Let’s fight like we mean it!” Lucian yelled to his Creche in direct defiance of the Precursor overlords. His men cheered loudly, echoing through the valley, over the river, through the rainforest, and into the lonely mountain ranges of Malalaklese II. “When we get off this planet, it’s a zero-sum game. It’s them or us, and this war will end with the greatest human achievement of all time: the attainment of true, unbridled liberty, liberty to thrive, to prosper, to pursue our own dreams with a strong, noble government guiding our hands, be it the Troika or someone else, but we will survive, and we will prevail. We survived the first Precursor genocide, and we have come all the way back. This time, we know who the enemy is. This time, we know how to fight them. This time, we will not fall. The Precursors will show us no mercy, we must give them no quarter. They will advance until our last city falls, but we will not perish. We will survive, as we always have. Each and every one of us will be defined by our actions in the coming war. The Second Indiction, long prophesied by the Troika, is here. The Second Indiction is how we break the cycle. It is how we finally destroy the Egoist Crown. Now let’s go, we are the elite 181st Airborne Legion, descendants of Prophet Anteon’s original fighter wing. Let’s go show the Universe exactly what that means. Legions lead the way!!” The Legions cheered for their leader with a force that rocked the stars as they advanced through the misty falls towards their objective. They now knew that the Pleiadeans and Earth-humans were one and the same, descendants of a glorious Empire of Eden. Now that they had rebuilt, the Precursors had returned to reap their harvest once more, but the Empire would not allow that to happen again, even if they had to fight to the last man. Suddenly, a familiar, authoritative voice gave an announcement over the Imperial communications channels. “Dear brothers and sisters, I address you tonight, from a world of Profound Truth.” “It’s Sei Ikkiku…” Lucian said, listening carefully. “Truth…that word has new meanings for you all, all of us, every Imperial Race, and every form of organic life in the Universe. Tonight, I address you, citizens of the Universe, that neither I nor the Empire of the Egoist Crown has been entirely truthful with you. The Troika has authorized me to disclose this truth at the proper time, and that time is now. For hundreds of thousands of years, the Nominate Race of humans, on Earth and its interstellar Colonies, have known the truth, yet have hidden it from the public at large, for fear of upsetting the delicate balance that keeps society together. The truth, however, is that the Troika has always known. The Northern Union knew at the arrival of the Seras all those millennia ago, as did the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. We held no reservations about the truth, which is why our society initially advanced far beyond Earth’s. The Great Library on Alcyone held the keys to the truth, and still do. One key found its way to Earth many years before Earth was ready to know the truth, and took the name “The Devil’s Bible,” because those who saw it could not understand its true meaning. That key is now safely back on Alcyone, where it awaits our Avatar, the Hand of Fate, ready to stop the ultimate enemy, the Kalki Avatar. The truth is this: Pleiadeans, Humans, and all organic life-forms are one and the same. We, as well as all other organic life evolved from Starseeds, energy from an alternate universe, one which had achieved completion, collapsed, and was reborn in what we call “The Big Bang.” These Starseeds eventually developed into organic chemicals, which eventually began replicating on their own as cells. However, life takes many forms, and organic life has evolved under the watchful eye of a master, inorganic species, calling itself the “Wexylzhuria.” These beings, each as complex as an entire galactic civilization, are the Precursors. The Second Indiction marks the Precursors’ return to prominence in the Universe, and the events of the past few months are just the beginning. The Precursors are conscious energy, and will advance until our last city falls. Fortunately, we are of the same Universe as the Precursors. We come from the same Starseeds. And, I, my good people, am not going to allow history to repeat itself. The societies of humans that existed on my world of Alcyone and Earth were the survivors of an ancient genocide, the Precursors very nearly wiped out the Ancient Human Empire, ruled by Queen Oahina and King Eleyson. I am a direct descendent of Queen Oahina, and the Troika shares King Eleyson’s DNA. We are Legion, our numbers will darken the skies over every world, destroying injustice on fallen angel wings. We are your shield, we are your sword. The Seven Sisters’ Imperium, and the Empire of the Egoist Crown are one. We will not fall, and we will not fail. Stand fast, stand firm. I leave you with that.” “Well, you heard the lady, let’s move out!!” Lucian said, as the entire Universe rallied behind Sei, the Troika and the Hand Of Fate, The Sacred Avatar of the Human Race. The die was cast. There could be no failure.

 

                    1. Oh God No!!

 

Never fall in love with women like me. I will take you to the stars, monuments, cosmos and heavens, and kiss you in every beautiful place so that you can never go back there without tasting me like the blood oozing from your lips, seeing my black lace on whatever woman you touch, I will forever dominate your dreams and fantasies. You will feel the cold rain of loneliness when I am not around, and feel a poison running through your veins whenever I touch you, for I shall destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave you broken and wanting of death, you will finally realize why the greatest of storms are named after women like me.”

Opening lines of Ai Takada’s Cult of Love Manifesto, “Confessions and Catharsis of a Renegade Sinflower”

 

Miss Toni, does something trouble you?” Takada asked her second-in-command, as they waited in a pre-fabricated garrison base, erected by the 181st Legion around the wreckage of the Lucid Illusion. Sei Ikkiku stood nearby, contacting the Pleiadean Armada to come rescue the Legions, after her truly inspiring call to action over the Universal Network communications channels. Now, the entire Universe was united behind Sei, the Troika and the Empire against the Precursors and the Ascendancy. It was a zero-sum game now. “No, Miss Takada, I just feel…well, concerned.” “Concerned for what?” “That soldier who rescued me at the Midnight Sun…the one who spoke to me, while he was dressed as a woman that night…Filby, is his name…I’m concerned for him. I hope nothing bad happens to him. At first I tried to fight it, I had been through far too many failed relationships growing up, and when I became famous, I joined your Cult to escape the vicious cycle of love and heartbreak, I sought something more, a form of catharsis that only true sexual liberation could bring, in the grand splendor of the Ordo Rosarius…but Filby, he is a venomous poison to me. The more he is around me, the more he talks to me, the more I feel the creeping tendrils of love seeping into my soul…what must I do, you are my leader and my Prophet, Miss Takada.” “Do not fear the return of love to your heart. Lust after it. Show this man the truth through the most liberating sexual catharsis, let the rain of pure pleasure flow over his entire body, and show him an experience that he will never forget…that’s what I would do, anyway. The truth is, you have free will, the only thing that can truly be called ‘God.’ Use it, show him your strength and power, and he will utterly surrender to you.” “Yes, Miss Takada.” Toni sat up and walked towards the habitation module’s viewports, looking out at the assemblage of Imperial Legionnaires marching in formation. “Hello ladies. It’s a beautiful day today, isn’t it?” Andrew said, very cheerfully. “Indeed, Hand of Fate. I enjoy warm, sunny days. I enjoy the warm summer nights even more. As Wolfgang von Goethe once said, night is the other part of life…and the better part.” Takada said, with a devilish grin on her face. “Tonight, Toni and I have something planned for these guys here, you’re welcome to join us, as is Sei.” “I don’t think the Pleiadean Queen is interesting in what you have planned.” “What?” Suddenly, Sei Ikkiku’s ethereal voice echoed into the room. “I heard someone mention me, my race’s hearing is acute.” “Oh, so good of you to join us, Sei, Toni, the Hand of Fate and I were just discussing our plans for tonight, would you care to listen?” “There are no ‘plans’ for tonight. This is an Imperial operation, not a tropical soiree. Everyone is to remain on the base after sundown, direct orders from Admiral Veed. It’s too dangerous out there, our forward Legions were decimated by Precursor attacks. We can’t risk the same fate befalling us. We’ve been receiving reports all day that the Precursors are attacking our soldiers, but the good news is that they’ve found a way to defeat them with ion weaponry. They are not organic life forms like you and me, but conscious electricity. They exist only to consume organic life, farming the Universe like a gigantic crop, and now, we’re ripe for harvest, just as we were nearly 950,000 years ago, during the Ancient Times on Eden. All humans in the Universe, either Pleiadean or Earthling, are descended from the Ancient Imperium of Mankind, descendants of King Eleyson and Queen Oahina, and we will not let history repeat itself. The Ascendancy, I believe, after much meditation, is only a front for something much darker, something the Precursors are directly involved in facilitating, the ongoing Rape-Holocaust for one. This likely indicates that Asaga, head of the Ascendancy, and his ‘EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER,’ are in fact being controlled by the Precursors. They are the real enemy here, trying to weaken us with war and terror before consuming us. I will not let that happen again, just as it befell my ancestor, Queen Oahina, all those millennia ago.” “Very well then, do you know where Asaga is right now?” Takada asked, rhetorically. “He’s on Arcana II…” Sei responded. “I suspect he’s looking for my top Cult staff in the Black Tower…and something else in Minas Elysium.” Takada picked up her SATCOM messaging device and activated it, miraculously, she had perfect reception. “All Cult of Love members, this is Draconis Marunae Tropica. Asaga Kanagashima III is on Arcana II and he’s looking for us. Alert all nearby Imperial forces to apprehend him in the Lord’s Valley, near Minas Elysium, and tell them that the 181st Legion has crash-landed on Malalaklese II, but has survived, and we are in need of extraction. Over and out. We’re going to end this war right here, destroy this planet and wipe out this entire plot in one fell swoop. You’re welcome.” Takada hissed. “Hand of Fate, make me another martini.” Andrew grudgingly used his notebook to alter reality again, and make an alcoholic drink appear in Takada’s hand. Sei sighed and looked away. Takada was right. If this plan worked, the war would be over by tomorrow morning, and Draconis Marunae Tropica, better known as Ai Takada would be the hero of the Universe. And that was something that she could live with for eternity, thanks to her Regenera Strain.

 

Half a Universe away, as the sun was setting over the Aandor Plains, the Black Order shuttle swooped in low over the snow fields, passing over the twin pillars of stone that marked the entrance to the Lord’s Valley as it made its final approach into Abyssinia Spaceport, on the west side of the city, closest to the hallowed Lord’s Valley. Inside the shuttle’s dark, red-lit interior, Asaga meditated in solitude as the shuttle banked around and swooped in for a landing at an isolated landing pad, far away from any Imperial attention. In the pitch black passenger cabin, all that was visible of Kanagashima were his sickly, sallow red eyes, for in utter darkness, the Kalki Avatar took his true form, away from any prying eyes and devoid of all light, real or figurative. The Shadow Forme he had taken on Malalaklese II was only a shadow of the form he was in at that moment, the form of true, dark, depraved power. In this form, Asaga was capable of altering reality, much like the Hand of Fate, altering people’s perception of reality with a hyperspace ability far beyond any organic life form’s comprehension, transforming into any form, object or being with all of its abilities and skills, traversing the infinite dimensions and the 7 levels of consciousness effortlessly, possessing organic life forms and controlling them, effortlessly manipulating organic life-forms’ DNA into any form he desired, planting thoughts and emotions in organic being’s brains, wiping memories and creating false memories by the same means, and channeling the Runic Staves to far, far greater effect than the Troika or the Indiction Guard. As he sat in the darkness, he computed vast equations in his mind, composing an entire supercomputer program by converting his thoughts to computer data, with his left hand on a computer datapad. On that datapad was every gruesome detail of every woman he had killed in the Rape-Holocaust…all hidden cleverly in a dating-sim video game file. The victims’ last words before being raped and murdered, and Asaga’s thoughts about each and every one of them were the text boxes in the game, and every level of the game would get progressively darker and less colorful, as if the player was descending into Hell itself. Finally, a colossal string of coding within the game, when converted from text to an image, would show a picture of every single woman murdered, after being raped and tortured, along with the plans for EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER…all hidden in a colorful, fun-looking package. No one would ever suspect a thing if they saw it…and that deception is what made Kalki such a horrid entity. He was capable of immense illusory capabilities, using Precursor hyperspace technology that made Imperial or Pleiadean technology look like the Stone Age, as well as his own innate abilities that came with being a member of the Wexylzhuria race. The Precursors were God, and he was the Avatar, the envoy of organic life’s utter consummation. Asaga sensed that the shuttle was coming in for a landing, he would soon arrive at his destination. Silently completing the upload of data from his mind to his datapad, Asaga took his hand off of the datapad and prepared himself for disembarkation. The sun was setting over the Aandor Plains, which would allow Asaga to travel relatively uninhibited. The shuttle slowly came to rest on an unused landing pad, far from any prying eyes that might be watching. Asaga felt the ship come to rest on the landing pad, and the pilot’s gangway open. Asaga prepared himself in the utter blackness of the cabin for disembarkation, silently re-taking his human form as the passenger gangplank slowly extended to the ground. The Black Order ST honor guards stood on either side of the gangplank at attention, as Asaga slowly strode down onto the landing pad. Awaiting him was the platoon of Black Legionnaires, stationed on a hidden base from Nox Aeterna. “Welcome to Minas Elysium, Noble Son. Long have we awaited your arrival, as you ordered.” “You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander, I’m here for the research you’ve uncovered in the Lords’ Valley.”“Follow us, Noble Son.” The Black Legionnaires led Asaga back to the still-cloaked Otani-class APCs for the silent trip to the Lords’ Valley gates. The Otani-class APCs were heavily armed, armored and equipped with an extremely rare cloaking device, making the entire convoy completely invisible and allowing to hover silently over the ground, without making a sound. No one in Minas Elysium would ever know that an entire Ascendancy convoy was passing through their town. The ST Gijo-Hei and the Black Legionnaires piled into the open troop compartments of the lead Otani-class through its lateral, fuselage-length hatch doors, with Asaga taking a non-human, maleficent energy form and entering the lead APC’s computer guidance system: the Kalki Avatar was to lead his troops to the ancient Lords’ Valley, a place of tortured, dark energies just waiting to be tapped for power. In an instant, the silent APC convoy set out through the small city, a mere shadow of Nox Aeterna, more than 1,000 miles to the north, across the windswept Aandor Plains, but the colossal skyline visible even from this distance. If Nox Aeterna was one of the Empire’s Crown Jewels, than Minas Elysium was an ancient city well past its prime. Records of settlements here dated back more than 750,000 years, to the very earliest days of the Egoist Crown Empire, during the Great War with the Sangresaara, and the land held many secrets, secrets many thought were best left untold. Hence, the Lords’ Valley was closed off from the rest of the Universe by a massive steel gate, protected by a group of archaeologists, who occasionally ventured into the Lords’ Valley for excavations. However, one of the archaeologists, a man by the name of Kizu Aoki, was secretly in league with the Ascendancy and anticipating the convoy’s arrival. The convoy silently slid through the Hyperborean-mythos town, much like all the cities and towns on Arcana II, with dazzling arrays of flashing lights, advertisements and storefronts, bars, pubs and other activities starting to come alive as night began to fall. Pictures of Ai Takada in her Draconis Marunae Tropica from scrolled across the billboards in shining LED lights, with some of the Black Legionnaires looking up at them from their belays within the Otani-class APC’s cabins with spiteful eyes. Takada was considered a mortal threat to the Black Order, the Cult of Love was a rival, left-wing political ideology diametrically opposed to the right-wing paganism practiced by the Black Order, and considered the epitome of decadence and uselessness by the Ascendancy and the Black Order. They, the Pleiadeans and the Empire were the “Unholy Trinity of Decadence,” and the Black Order was the cure for this long-wasting disease. Takada’s turn in the Rape-Holocaust dungeons would come soon enough, as would Sei Ikkiku and the rest of her filthy race. The APCs silently hovered through the back alleys and industrial heart of Minas Elysium, where few organic life forms frequented, most of the presence here were huge industrial animas, massive robots who kept the city spotless and in accordance with Imperial sanitation laws. No one had come down with so much as the flu on Arcana II for more than 200 years in a row. The convoy moved swiftly and invisibly past the Animas, who were in the process of disinfecting the entire industrial center with massive dousings of biocide spray. Eventually, the convoy reached an opening in the colossal industrial park and left the confines of the city behind them. Ahead of them loomed the Black Gates of the Lords’ Valley, with the shimmering skyline of Nox Aeterna far off in the distance. The three moons of Luna, Diana and Hecate shined brilliantly in the sky far above the frosty Aandor Plains, stretching for thousands of miles, crisscrossed by pristine rivers such as the massive Sonata River, all emptying into the unfathomable depths of the Mare Abyssinnia on the Western Sea Coast. Most of Arcana II, aside from the major cities, was sparsely populated, the inhospitable frozen wasteland of the Aandor Plains was home to only isolated bands of nomads, “Monks,” as the city dwellers called them, and bizarre, bird-like, bipedal life-forms called “Ornis,” looking like naked, headless chickens with fur; they were part plant, part animal, and seen by residents of Nox Aeterna and Minas Elysium as delicacies, fresh Orni meat sold for as much as 500 Dactlys a pound in the elite restaurants in Nox Aeterna. A flock of Ornis scattered in arbitrary directions as they sensed the approaching convoy of vehicles, the only sign that the Ascendancy was on the move. As the convoy approached the entrance to the Black Gates, the Otani-class APCs deactivated their cloaking devices, here, they were far from any Imperial eyes, or the Helms’ Heights Tower, where the White Order stood guard. Five archeologists, as well as a group of robed Monks, stood in front of the titanic black gates, opening into the Valley of Kings, The Lords’ Valley. It was at this moment that Kalki crept forth from the computer system of the lead APC, and re-assumed his Asaga Kanagashima form. “Welcome, mighty Kalki Avatar…long have we awaited this day. You are our Reclaimer, The Master…and we are the Mass. Together, we shall bring ruin to the Empire on this world, and all others…” The Monk hissed, bowing in reverence to Asaga and his ST- Gijo Hei. “Silence…Open the gate.” Asaga gave the order for the Black Gates to be opened, as he drew the Sword of Kalki from its scabbard, holding it in his left hand, prepared for combat. The ground shook as the massive gates slowly winched open, kicking up snow, dust and blowing sand and ash. Behind the gates, was a land of utter depravity and solitude…and immense dark force. Asaga could feel the energy coursing through every part of his body. “The Ancient Kings of Arcana II…defeated in battle by the White Order 750,000 years ago lie interred in these enormous pyramids, scattered all over the Valley…we must visit every single one of them. Let us begin, shall we?” Asaga hissed, taking his first few steps beyond the Black Gates, into the ancient, hallowed ground of the Lords’ Valley. The convoy, the Monks and Asaga walked through the dark, haunting valley, feeling as if they were being watched the whole time, keeping the heavily-armed Gijo-Hei on their toes. “Gravesites…these are the entrances to the catacombs underneath the pyramids, where the remains of the Ancient Kings’ armies lay in eternal rest.” One of the archaeologists pointed to an entrance to what looked like a cave, but was in fact a man-made tunnel reaching deep underground. Asaga took note of these burial markers’ locations, but continued on through the valley. Asaga passed by what looked like crosses planted in the ground, but realized that they were in fact ancient tremor swords, arranged in various patterns to form pagan symbols, the Black Sun, Tyrwaz and Irminsun were all clearly visible. “These are ritual grounds, where the Ancient Kings’ followers conducted human sacrifice of virgin girls to the long-dead bodies of these mighty leaders.” “We still follow our Kings, loyal until the end. Kalki is our Reclaimer and Savior.” The lead Monk grumbled, moving his spindly hands in front of his hood.” “Have any sacrifices taken place recently?” Asaga asked the lead Monk. “None, there has been no settlement in this valley for thousands of years…aside from occasional archaeologists, we are the first ever to enter the Valley of the Kings since the last King was laid to rest here more than 50,000 years ago. Arcana II has been firmly under Imperial rule since then, and we, the Monks, were forced onto the Aandor Plains by the Empire’s wall and Black Gate, meant to hide the ancient secrets contained in the Pyramids forever. The Troika knew of the vast power contained here as well as the White Order, which is why the Troika entrusts the White Order, the destroyers of the Old Arcana II, with protecting the settlements on this planet. Far from being an Imperial jewel, Arcana II is a world containing a secret so dark, that if it were unleashed, it would destroy the very fabric of the Universe…I assume that is why you have come, Kalki. You seek this power to aid in your war against the Empire. I can assure you, Master, that the item you seek is in the largest pyramid in the valley, the Pyramid of Emperor Makun Orihiri, the greatest of the Ancient Kings. We are the Kings’ Sages, exiled from our home in the Valley, and with your guidance, we will reconquer this world, and rule it from our ancestral home once more.” “Monk…take heed. You will have your valley back. A loyal servant of the Kalki Avatar shall be rewarded as such. However, I must enter each of these 7 tombs, they each contain an item I require for my plan. If you show me where these items are located, you will be rewarded handsomely.” “Excellent…I knew my faith would eventually be rewarded, along with my fellow Monks.” “Yes…the faith of your people is admirable, but…misplaced. For you see, I am…hungry. So very hungry…won’t you…join me for dinner?” Asaga’s body began to shudder, distort, and malform itself into a frightening homunculus of light and dark energy, pulsing with electricity, his body was changing form from the presence of the immense darkness within the Lords’ Valley, his tranquil, chalk-white face melting into a hideous shape…then, Kalki took his true God Forme. His body ripped in half and recombined itself into a six-legged, black-and-bloody shadow form pulsing with electricity, four huge phantasm arms emerged from his back, his head turned into a three-pronged protrusion on his head with four yellow, anguished eyes, and horrid, deformed screaming noises emanated from his visage, the energies of every woman consumed in the Rape-Holocaust…they were his nourishment, their tormented emotions did far more than just power Kalki’s fleets and armadas. They sustained his very existence, he could not exist without immense suffering and depravity. He fed upon it, hunted it and thrived on it, and he had just found his next victim. Kalki hovered over the lead monk, praying fervently for salvation. Kalki raised one of his six legs, transformed it into a clawed, sickle-bladed hand, and proceeded to rip the Monk’s penis and testicles off. Holding the severed, bleeding, pulsating and flash-ejaculating genitalia in his hand, Kalki began to siphon the tormented energies from the convulsing, blood-covered monk, the energy was streaming from the gaping wound between the Monk’s legs. Kalki was absorbing it with orgasmic fervor, every last drop of emotion was being sapped from his body…until, the Monk simply died…Kalki slowly returned to his Asaga form, and regained the tranquil look on his face that characterized his appearance. His soldiers and the other Monks, however, were horrified at what they had just seen. “The first human sacrifice in this valley in thousands of years…the smell of blood should awaken the powers that slumber here. Take the body and place it in the center of those swords, in front of the first pyramid.” Asaga ordered his terrified ST Gijo-Hei to bring the shriveled, depleted, bloodied corpse into the center of the Black Sun Rune, arranged out of swords planted in the ground. They placed the corpse in the center of the rune, with Asaga standing over the body, his spindly, glowing hand moving all over the body, preparing it for channeling. The ST troopers and Monks began a slow, haunting guttural chant, an ancient, evil, sick moaning that channeled Kalki’s vast energy into the lifeless body of the human sacrifice. “Watashi o awarende, purobidensu to unmei, soshite watashiniha akiraka ni kono uchu no saidai no nazo korero no nazo wa, Hvareno ga shohi ten no dai tenshi no hikari, ga watashi ni akiraka ni shita watashitachi o awarende, washi no yo ni, watashitachi ni dekiru yo ni Uchu o umanorininaru to, washi no yo ni hitori de…Subete…Taiyo no Hikari…Taiyo no Hikari o miharu tame ni…Washi…Watashitoisshoni sutando O fejingu ningensei to no wakai dekinaito kinkyu no nizu o koete kara watashitachi o sakujo Niku…” Immediately, the rune began to respond. The blood flowing from the Monk’s wounds began to absorb into the gound, causing the Black Sun swords to start glowing an eerie red. The energies of the ancient Kings were responding the the sacrifice…and just like that, the enormous stone door to the first pyramid slowly swung open. Without a word, Asaga and his men stepped toward, into the massive Pyramid of Emperor Nehora Zaan, an ancient Black Prince of Arcana II Upon entering the Pyramid, the group of soldiers and Monks felt a truly evil presence all around them, as if the spirits of the Ancient Kings were trying to pull them into the void of utter blackness. It was a truly terrifying experience for the soldiers and Monks, but Asaga, the Kalki Avatar, was unfazed. “This is the tomb of Nehoro Zaan…The Black Prince of Eternal Night…he lived more than 150,000 years ago, and was a master of illusion. We must be cautious, as nothing is what it ever seems.” As Asaga and his troops, still rattled from his consumption and sacrifice of the Monk continued deeper into the tomb, they encountered some truly disturbing sights. Asaga used his hvareno, or “radiating body,” to shine a path through the darkness, illuminating a ghastly hallway of horrors. On either side of the hallway were enormous frescoes describing events in Nehoro Zaan’s life, revealing a world of dark, demented depravity. There were images of mass sacrifices of young women, impaled, naked and bleeding on the same forest of tremor swords outside the Pyramid, with ancient Monks consuming the blood in crystal chalices as a form of worship to Nehoro Zaan, who towered over all in his elaborate regalia. He looked much like Asaga’s human form, except with brown hair, rather than black. Surrounding him were three demonic entities, ancient “reaper spirits,” embodying dark energies in the traditions of Arcana II. The three demons’ names were labeled as Armonia, Nandas, and Coctytus, respectively. “Nehoro was known to his followers as ‘Stupor Infinitum,’ or ‘Infinite Wonder,’ but those who feared him knew him as ‘Tsangard,’ or ‘Vampire’ in Arcana II’s dialect of the English language, for his fixation on human blood and the qualities it possessed. He shunned the blood of non-human aliens with a racist, xenophobic ideology and bathed in, worshiped and even cannibalized his victims, exalting their bodies as human sacrifices on sword blades. He used illusory tactics to beguile and torment his enemies, living for nearly 150 years. Nehoro was augmented by Seras technology, but lived long before the Regenera Strain was invented, so even he could not attain immortality…however, Asaga knew that the chains of the grave could not hold one as powerful as the Black Prince. His hvareno still permeated every corner of his tomb, and the manifestations of his power were inevitable, now that living beings were wandering around in his tomb…just then, strange, somewhat unnerving things began to happen. Asaga heard a noise, a noise of what sounded like a baby crying, screaming for its mother, and the mother crying in agony for her baby. Asaga recognized this horrid sound as the voices from the rape chambers in the various worlds, where the Black Order was conducting the Rape-Holocaust. Asaga knew that these voices were only illusions, illusions created by the hvareno of Prince Nehoro, but his solders were nearly paralyzed with fear. Just then, Asaga heard what sounded like a baby crying very, very close to him. In a small alcove, between two murals depicting Prince Nehoro’s rule over his people, a small, black figure sat, curled up in a fetal position. As Asaga approached it, it quickly turned its head and faced him at a sickening angle, the vision of an aborted, stillborn fetus, with its legs missing and a partially-formed, misshapen head stared back into Asaga’s eyes with its own empty, blank gaze. Its eyes were not fully developed, but it clearly sensed that Asaga and his men stood over it. The hideous wretch was covered in blood and amniotic fluid, lying in a pool of its own bodily juices. It looked at Asaga, and then, it spoke… “Why…Why did you take my life? Why did you kill my Mommy? Why, Kalki, why? There are so many of us…aborted babies, left to die, our precious life stolen from us, cast to the crematoriums in your rape chambers, while Mommy must suffer unrelenting agony…why?” The fetus began to cry with a scream that seemed more animal than human. Asaga was unfazed. He reacted with anger. Drawing his Sword of Kalki, he plunged the blade into the fetus’ half-formed head, immediately destroy it in a black haze. “It was only a vision…generated by Prince Nehoro to instill pure terror in our minds, for daring to disturb his sanctity. Move along, we will certainly see more of those on our way to the main burial chamber.” Asaga rallied his men forward, mustering the courage to continue on. The Monks, in awe of the tomb’s ancient halls, walked forward silently. The group continued past more depraved paintings and murals, flanked by rows of reaper-demon statues, their horrifically piercing eyes watching silently as Asaga and his entourage marched through the tomb. The Inner Sanctum, where Prince Nehoro’s remains lay interred, was just ahead. Suddenly, Asaga stopped short, shining his havereno on one particular point directly ahead of the group. Standing in front of the group was a beautiful young woman, completely naked save for a pair of pointed black shoes, with gorgeous, seductive burgundy-red hair, deep, navy blue eyes, with a very seductive look on her face, She was covering her breasts with her hands, and staring intently at Asaga. “Identify yourself. Now, you filth!” Asaga barked, raising his Sword of Kalki into the ready position, radiating a brilliant, Luciferan light. “I am Nephilim…the Angel of Chaos. Fallen from paradise, I have seen your exploits, Kalki…and those of your soldiers. The woman you call Duchess Gwenlynn…she is not who you think she is…she seeks to betray you, be you not careful.” “You know NOTHING of me! You are but a vision, a conjuring of an ancient King, you do not exist! Begone now, and let us pass!!!” Asaga roared, his body radiating a blazing red fire. “Do you understand why I have appeared to you here, Kalki? That fetus you encountered earlier is my child…every single aborted fetus in history is my child. I take their energies, their tiny, pure presence, and consume them…those babies are MINE. As long as you continue to harvest them, I will take their energies for myself…cradle them, cherish them, and nurse them as the mother they never knew, because of Kalki, the greatest horror the Universe has ever known! Now, my children, destroy your destroyer!!” Asaga realized that this “fallen angel” was nothing more than Prince Nehoro’s energy manifesting itself again, but even he was shocked by how powerful Nehoro still was, and he wasn’t even the strongest of the Ancient Kings. Asaga wondered just how powerful Nehoro would have been when he was alive, a true, radiant leader, in Julius Evola’s definition of regality. The vision of Nephilim raised her hands high in the air, and screamed like a banshee, before jumping onto the top of an altar inside the burial chamber itself. Just then, a strange, staccato, chaotic sound began to fill the tomb, sounding like a dentist’s drill going haywire, mixed with disembodied voices and crying babies. “Something is coming…” Asaga said, drawing his blade and pointing it at the demented vision of Nephilim, twisting her naked body into inhuman, tormented shapes. Just then, the eerie sound’s origin became apparent. An entire, bloody, depraved legion of decomposed, half-formed fetuses were crawling towards Asaga and his men. “Why did you kill us? Why did you take our lives? Why? Why!?” The horrid ghosts of the aborted fetuses, lost in the Rape-Holocaust, screamed at Asaga, as they crawled all over the walls, ceiling, and floor, converging on Asaga’s position. “Ha…Haha…HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAAAAHAA!! You call those foul things babies?! Well, if I might be so bold, I believe you, Nephilim, shat out the wrong hole, you subhuman wretch!” Asaga gave his prepared response to Prince Nehoro’s intimidation, and immediately began radiating a bursting aura, holding his blade at the ready. In an instant, he unleashed a massive burst of light, slamming his sword into the ground and vaporizing the bleeding aborted fetus army in a colossal burst of hvareno, sending the vision of Nephilim flying from her altar. The pale, naked beauty jumped up, and quickly responded, grabbing a double-bladed spear, lunging at Asaga with a cartwheeling roundhouse kick, trying to place her pointed shoe clean into Asaga’s midsection before lunging with her spear, forcing her entire upper body into the lunge. Her complete lack of clothing allowed her to move without any inhibition, she was quick, lithe and extremely nimble. Asaga raised his sword and blocked the repeated jumps, lunges and kicks from Nephilim, radiating the divine light that charactrized the Wexylzhuria race. In this contest, the Lord of Light, locked in a mortal struggle with a fallen angel, realized just how far he had come. He was a Starseed of the Rangers of Sen on Malalaklese II, born to human parents on Lilliana V, and the reason for his descent to madness was now blatantly clear: by killing his parents and with the help of the Rangers, reactivating the old Wexylzhuria starfleets, he was simply fulfilling his destiny as the Kalki Avatar, the Almighty Lord of Light…Lucifer. Nephilim, just a vision projected by a long-dead King, was only as powerful as her conjurer, and, as powerful as she was, was no match for Asaga and his radiant energy. Asaga vanished in a colossal burst of light, blinding Nephilim for a brief moment, but then, Asaga’s blade caught the heel of Nephilim’s shoe as she went to try and kick him again. Nephilim fell face down on the floor, but before she could get up, Asaga plunged his sword into her back, attacking as an entity of pure energy, striking at the speed of light, vanquishing the vision with a burst of pure, divine light. Nephilim screamed as she vanished, destroying the last of Prince Nehoro’s illusory soldiers. Nephilim, as Asaga predicted, vanished immediately, just a conjuring of Prince Nehoro’s hvareno.Come, into the tomb. The object we seek lies within.” Asaga’s troops stammered a bit, clearly very disturbed by the energy manifestations that had just attacked them, but, orders were orders. They would follow their Noble Son to the bitter end. As Asaga and his men entered the Inner Sanctum, they stood in the empty room, surrounded by darkness and silence. In the center of the room stood the altar on which Nephilim had commanded her army, and behind that, a gigantic sarcophagus, adorned with ancient pagan symbols, including the All-Seeing Eye, a huge, glowing eye in the center of a pyramid…a symbol mentioned in the works of Alastair Crowley as the Eye of Lucifer. Asaga walked over the colossal, multi-ton sarcophagus and stared into the Eye, he examined it, gazing at the master craftsmanship used to construct the sarcophagus, anxious to see the power contained within. Asaga began radiating divine hvareno again, as his brilliance illuminated the dark tomb with a blazing, divine flame, the sarcophagus’ lid began to glow, reacting to Asaga’s energy. Slowly, Asaga eased the lid off the sarcophagus, careful not to damage anything inside…slowly, the lid was eased to the ground, revealing the remains of Black Prince Nehoro Zaan, The Ancient King of Illusion and bearer of the Spear of Destiny, a holy relic that dated back to the time of Christ on the Old Earth. It was right there, lying across the remains of Zaan’s physical body, and what his hvareno had conjured to fight Asaga with in the form of Nephilim, the Angel of Chaos. “Yes…here it is…the first of seven relics, contained within the Lords’ Valley…one that I require for EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER: Freezing Sin.” Asaga said to himself, moving to take the Spear in his radiant hands. To his surprise, upon taking the spear, Zaan’s hvareno fell silent, it did not resist Asaga taking the spear…the Black Prince saw Asaga as a worthy bearer of the holy weapon. However, Black Prince Nehoro had one final act to carry out before Asaga left the tomb in peace. In a burst of shining dark energy, the shining form of Prince Nehoro appeared, standing directly in front of Asaga. He was the same height as Asaga, standing 15 feet tall, and looked almost exactly like him, just with longer brown hair and white eyes, but the same pale, handsome, radiant, Luciferan face. He was clad in a luxurious black and blue sage robe, and carried a gigantic bronze scepter in his hand. His black cape flowed like a shadow behind him. “Noble Lord of Light…so finally, we meet.” Prince Nehoro hissed, speaking telepathically. “I must say, your combat skills against my illusory army were second to none, certainly worthy of possessing the Spear of Destiny, which I no longer have any use for.” “Your dregs were no match for the radiant power of Hvareno. It was hardly worth my time.” “Kalki…do you know why we possess such power? It is our free will. Free will is the only thing that can truly be called “God.” It is the inner God, the Light, the Life-Force, the Radiating Body, the Augorides, the Hvareno, the Vajra, the Dorjic. These are all different names in various Eastern and Western cultures referring to the same belief. Human beings are in charge of their own destiny. We alone control where we end up. However, there is always one that guides us. Every traditional society is characterized by the presence of entities, be they gods, spirits, men or traditions, that, by virtue of their natural superiority, whether acquired or innate, embody a power beyond mortal comprehension. One of these beings is known as “Light,” referred to in many cultures with such names as Lucifer, Kalki, Vajra, Radiant, or simply “The One.” What we choose to call it, however, is irrelevant, it simply IS. According to the original meaning of the term, “Light” did not refer to any personification, anthropomorphic deity or actual being, but the overarching force of knowledge. This, in Greek mythology, was written as “demos,” from which the English word “Demon” is derived. Therefore, Light represents knowledge and free will, so crucial to human existence, but so vilified by the Church, hence “demons” being entities of evil. This is not so in many Eastern cultures, demons are creatures bearing knowledge beyond human comprehension, which did not have to be supernatural in nature, but could be very real. Light’s power was felt everywhere the force of humans traveled, they brought enlightenment and justice to the deprived lands of the Earth, and will continue to do so as long as the human race exists, ad infinitum. Though Light has never been personified in a human form, its manifestation is often in any society’s leader. One such leader is the Pontifex; according to the original meaning of the word and the society he oversaw. Pontifex by itself means “builder of bridges,” or “path-maker,” as, in ancient times, “pons” also meant “path.” Moreover, the pontifex was usually associated with an Emperor or “rex,” in Latin. Servius, a late-fourth century Roman commentator on the works of Virgil, reported that in traditional times, the pontifex would also be the king and priest of Rome. Likewise, a saying in the Nordic and Germanic traditions states that “the leaders will build our bridges.” The Japanese also had a saying, that “the Emperor is the Light.” Thus, Light is most often personified in the form of an emperor, or “pontifex,” which, in modern times, is applied to the Pope or a high level of clergy in whatever faith he belongs to. Thus, true monarchs and leaders are the personification of Light and Knowledge, as Julius Evola wrote, “beyond ordinary life.” The presence of such individuals has a profound effect on the world in which they live. Entire spiritual presences of entire civilizations are lifted by the mere presence of such men and women, from their god-like authority and their “pontifical” meditation. These influences permeate people’s thoughts, intentions, actions and lives, ordering every aspect of their existence, while at the same time encouraging strong-minded individuals to exercise their “inner God” and seek their own prosperity, using their wits and reason to find their way in the world. These influences also make fortune to the general health, prosperity and well-being of the Pontifex’s society. However, given the infrequency of Pontifex-type personalities in history, one must ask, where does this power come from, and how do these “Light” individuals stay in power? In the world of ancient societies, the most important foundations for kings, chiefs and Emperors, was their transcendent and inhuman qualities. These qualities were very real to those who witnessed them firsthand, and were widely feared by the lesser minds, assuring the Pontifex an eternal position of power and respect among those intelligent enough to see his genius, as the Egyptian Pharaohs, the Roman Emperors and the leaders of Nazi Germany and Napoleonic Europe proved. Traditional societies, unlike those of decadent and later times, completely ignored the mere politics and rhetoric of authority and vested in the fact that the roots of the Pontifex’s power lay solely on the leader’s strength, violence, wisdom, physical appearance, and minimal concern for the collective. These early manifestations of Light were solely self-serving, sociopathic entities that had one goal: attain ultimate, everlasting power over a realm, long after the individual Pontifex passed away. The Pontifex was a divine presence in human form, a God among Men. In the modern world, however, the Pontifex still exists, yet he hides, afraid to assert his dominance, for a new force, the force of Pantheon, has taken the Pontifex’s place. This Pantheon has served the Universe well for the past 750,000 years or so, but now, cracks are beginning to appear in the ideology’s foundation. The Imperial Pantheon on Stronghold is no longer capable of solving the Universe’s problems, it is ruled by the force of the plutocrats and money, not by any real political entity. The Troika have been reduced to mere figureheads, wholly dependent on the Pantheon and the Imperial Council to make any decisions. In this weakened state, the Universe has slipped into political decadence, with Empire of the Egoist Crown unable to solve its problems and the smaller, rogue third-positionist ideologies slowly eating away at the foundation like acid. The reason behind this slow decline is deceptively obvious. The Troika lacks Light. They are not Pontifex. They act only according to the doldrums of politics and rhetoric, slowly suffocating under the groaning weight of debt, war and distrust. According to Pleiadean Eta Carinae High Council, within the next fifteen years, society could very well collapse, due to overconsumption of resources, massive economic inequality, with the plutocrats on top and the commoners on the bottom, with the Troika unable to solve the Imperial problems anymore. The Plutocrats keep all the resources for themselves, and the amount of wealth is vastly unequal. The richest 80 Imperial citizens have more wealth among them than all the poorest citizens of the Universe combined. This type of inequality and poor use of resources is what destroyed the Roman Empire and the Mayan Empire, all brought on by poor leadership and irresponsible legislation. The difference between the Egoist Crown Empire and the late Roman Empire period is nearly indistinguishable. Technology, by increasing per capita resource consumption, makes collapse even more likely. Society has lost its will to live, there is no more shining Light to guide humanity. Far from being in a “Golden Age,” we are in the deepest depths of a Dark Age, and teetering on the brink of oblivion. The Light of Reason, usually represented by the Solar Helix, shines across the Universe no more, leaving only decadence and weakness in its wake…it’s ironic. The Empire that prides itself on breaking this cycle, is in fact perpetuating it. This darkness permeates right down to the individual level. We, however, have an answer, a completely new political and economic philosophy that will not only bring the world out of the Dark Age, but allow for the return of a modern Pontifex, a leader so powerful and glorious that he will radiate Light stronger than any other leader in history, even more than Jesus himself. There are many names for this being in various cultures and he is depicted in a variety of perspectives, in the Christian tradition, he is known as “the Judge.” In the Asian tradition, he was known as the Kalki Avatar. In the Zoroastrian tradition, he is known as The Hvareno, the Light of Glory. Such a leader’s appearance almost always heralds an Earth-shattering change, if not Armageddon itself. These various religious stories in various traditions are not predicting a Rapture or any actual event, but merely stating the obvious. Certain men and women possess extraordinary powers over their societies. These are the Pontifex, and when one appears, a sweeping change always reshapes the Universe, sometimes peacefully, as with men like the Troika in the early days of the Empire, but sometimes with ghastly violence on an intergalactic scale, like with your Black Order now. In most traditions, the Sun was the symbol of kingship and the Pontifex, and this solar “glory” or “victory” in reference to kingship dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt, with the Pharaoh being the human incarnate of the Sun God Amun-Ra. In the case of the Egyptians, the Sun was not reduced to a mere symbol, but defined the Pharaoh’s metaphysical powers. Eventually, however, the Sun came to be identified as a nonhuman force, which the ruler did not posses by him or herself. The archetypical description of this idea comes from the Zoroastrian tradition, with the “Hvareno,” or “Light of Glory.” This depiction of Light is a supernatural fire that radiates from the King, characterizing heavenly providence, allowing for immortality and a willingness to achieve through victory over one’s enemies. The victory must be twofold, the first mystical, the second tangible. You, Lord of Light, are the King. You are the Emperor of the Sun, the First and the Last. You are the Light, The Sword, The Judge and the Executioner. You are Lucifer, the true master of the Universe, and your race of Wexylzhuria are the only true Gods, shining the light of free will and power upon the broken, decadent, and shackled universe. Together, we will celebrate our victory. To Glory, To Power, and to Our Eternal Salvation!” “Yes…comrade. I can feel the power burning deep within your soul…the weak, fading human nature has long vanished from your consciousness. The body may die, but truly great individuals are infinite. What we do in life defines our eternity. I am Kalki, Kuro, Lucifer, Dorjic, Vajra, Hvareno, the Lord of Light. You are the embodiment of Aŋra Mainiiu, the Zoroastrian Reaper Spirit. Let us rally the rest of the Seven Ancient Kings of Arcana II…and together, we shall create a new reality.” “Precisely…we will do what must be done…into the arms of destruction the Universe shall fall, consumed by an unrelenting fire that will burn all unworthy organic life forms from existence…we shall consume their energy, and use it to build a new cosmos, one where we rule unopposed as the new Gods, and grow new organic life, as the ultimate gardeners in a universal paradise. First, we must rally the others, and return them their weapons.” Asaga handed the Spear of Destiny back to Nehoro, who brandished it proudly in his right hand. “Atha ahu vairyo atha ratush ashat chit hacha…Vanghuesh dazda manangho shyaothananam anghuesh Mazdai, khshathremcha ahurai a yim dregubyo dadat vastarem…And thus the Judgment shall pass, and the Universe shall be inherited by the pure…” “Then follow me, Prince Nehoro…we must awaken the others.” Thus the Alliance of the End Times was formed…whereas one being of supreme power entered the Tomb of Illusion, two emerged, shadowed by the dark-chanting monks and the Ascendancy soldiers, marching perfectly silent, disciplined, realizing that their leader, The Lord of Light, had just secured his ultimate victory. A victory more than 750,000 years in the making, the true End of Days, where the Wexylzhuria, the ancient Precursor race of supreme beings, would return in a raging torrent of smoke and fire, and upon their consumption of the existing organic life, would forever reign in glory…and Kalki would become the new God. All he needed now for the creation of his new Universe was the Lightforge, an ancient Precursor starship, far beyond known space. Exiting the temple, Prince Nehoro took his first steps into the Lord’s Valley in more than 50,000 years. Drawing his Spear of Destiny, Prince Nehoro let out an inhuman blood-curdling scream, a scream of liberation and power, letting the entire universe know that the Reign of Terror had begun, the third stage of the Second Indiction, foresaw by the Troika. The roar echoed across the desolate valley, as the dawning of a new era had begun. “Ideals and regression, death and decadence, must be purged from the Universe, the ideals of those that fight for THEM…the symbols of the pure forms must be protected from the criminals’ hands…together, we shall celebrate our victory, the victory of our race, the race of Light, over all others. Come, brethren, rise from your slumber, and bring the Light and Fire of Purity upon this broken Universe!! In an instant, the entire valley began to rumble, then shake with the force of a magnitude-10 earthquake, rattling the entire city of Minas Elysium nearby, as evidenced by the distant sound of emergency sirens and mobilizing Imperial military forces. After the quake, the realm fell deathly silent…something was coming. Out of the dark catacombs came a loud, rhythmic sound, the sound of a thousand footsteps marching in perfect cadence…the sound echoed from every corner of the Lords’ Valley, The origin of the footsteps became apparent soon after, as thousands of pale, armored, radiant Soldiers of Light emerged from their underground chambers, each one pulsing with energy. They were the embodiment of hvareno, of the same nature as the Wexylzuria and just as powerful. Leading them were the godly forms of the 6 other Ancient Kings, heeding the Lord of Light’s rallying cry. The blazing forms of Emperor Nathar Ouirrlok, the embodiment of Wotan, clad in a shining red and black sage robe and armed with a massive, two-handed sword, Aoki Tekura, the embodiment of Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto, clad in a moonlit-radiant Japanese style royal robe with a jagged katana as his weapon, Tiktallat Chihuatl, the embodiment of Quetzacoatl, clad in a gigantic green robe and hood with chalk-white facepaint and armed with a massive, ceremonial dagger, Achtenus Tyrannum, the embodiment of the Sun God Mithras, glowing with the same golden-orange light as Asaga and a similarly elaborate outfit, Elyndir Torna, the fearsome embodiment of the Assyrian god Ashur, dressed in a padded, armored robe with metal battle plates covering his legs and arms, with enormous oryx horns mounted onto his helmet, and finally, the radiant energy of Makun Orihiri, the greatest of Arcana II’s Ancient Kings and the embodiment of Ahura Mazda, the supreme god of Persian imperial power. He and Asaga were the Light Race’s supreme leaders…together, with the Wexylzhuria species, the Ascendancy, led by the Light Race, would annihilate, consume and destroy all impure races in the Universe, this was not just a war of politics and ideologies…this was an all-out race war, in which the superior races would emerge utterly victorious over the inferior ones, driving them into extinction. It was a zero-sum game, either the Light Race or the inferior organics…and the laws of nature dictated that the superior races would always win. The leaders of the Light Race and their army assembled before Asaga, the Lord of Light, as he gave an invocation to his new allies: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Comrades of the Chosen Race! Fear not the decadence of the weak, feeble organic life forms, for I have returned to reign in glory! From the ethereal mountains of Alcyone, the misty forests of Earth to the utopian, deep blue seas of Aurelia, this entire universe teems with life… trillions and trillions of species, species of every shape, size, form, ecological niche and role imaginable…yet, in all the chaos of organic evolution, the trillions of species competing with one another to survive in an endless struggle, there is but one Profound Truth. A hierarchy, one undeniable and simple, defines life’s existence. On the bottom of the hierarchy are the lower species, those nonsentient forms that operate on a primitive, instinctual level, incapable of understanding anything beyond their irreconcilable and urgent, biological needs. These are 95% of all life in the Universe, the basic creatures, from the tiny Lantern Cicadas on Lilliana V, to the massive, airborne Glider Whales in the thick, blue, verdant atmosphere of Aurelia, feeding on airborne plankton, and the graceful, giant Sky Mantas on Valhalla…they are basic, simple organic forms, below any of our contempt or notice. Higher in this universal state of order are the semisentient forms, such as Orasapien species, ballooning around in the atmosphere of Aurelia, using a very powerful brain to navigate over vast distances, and simple problem solving skills to venture slightly beyond the basic biological needs. These creatures are a step higher on the universal hierarchy life, too crude to be called “sentient,” but sophisticated enough to think on a very basic level…pitiable curiosities of nature. The next step up the ladder is Mankind, the most misguided, naïve species in the known Universe. It possesses technology enough to construct grand spacefaring civilizations on a colossal scale, yet it thinks itself the pinnacle of evolution because of it. The Human leaders, Alexander Arditi, Antonio Marduk and Sylvain Anteon are erstatz idols, false beacons of hope that have guided the Universe into decadence, away from Light. Humans are a plague on this Universe, a virus with no cure. There is only one solution for the question of Mankind, and that is utter annihilation. Those sentient races that aid Mankind, such as the Pleiadeans, Sangresaara, Kokki, Sigtyr and various other “Imperial Races” are equally guilty and will also be shown no mercy. The truth is that all organic life is flawed and inferior, an unfortunate accident of organic chemistry that refuses to fall into oblivion. They seek to turn this wondrous Universe into a multiracial pigsty, full of inefficient, decadent forms of life, who seek only to better their own pathetic lives. No matter what species they belong to, they only think of themselves…organic life is chaotic, selfish, hateful and self-serving. Every organic society that has ever existed has fallen into the same trap of oblivion, it is what the Troika calls “The Egoist Crown.” Try as they might, they cannot escape their inevitable extinction, for that is the flaw of organic species, as per the laws of evolution and Cataclysmic Succession. Organic species rise, evolve, diversify, advance, and when the biosphere becomes too crowded, they are extinguished. We occupy the pinnacle of existence, the Wexylzhuria and the Hvareno, the Light Race. We impose cataclysms on the chaos of organic evolution, the eternal, constant gardeners that ensure balance is maintained in the Universe, keeping evolution in complete homeostasis. Organic life exists because we allow it, and will end because we demand it. We are the only true Gods, and all organic life exists only to sustain us. That is the only purpose evolution serves. We are not just gardeners, but farmers as well. Life, the great miracle and the great mystery…Hardly. Organic life’s purpose is to grow and die to serve us. Our purpose is to lead and maintain. There are only two kinds of beings in this universe: The Master Race and the Slave Races. We are the maintainers and the creators of a new Cosmos. The organic species have no place in that new Universe. They shall be purged in a raging torrent of Light and Fire, and their ashes shall become the seeds of the new stars, planets, moons and atoms in the new Universe! For Justice, for Purity, and for all Salvation, it is our Race’s sacred duty to send these filthy, unholy organic wretches back where they belong!!!” The 6 Ancient Kings stood behind their leader, Lord of Light Asaga Kanagashima III, the Kalki Avatar, as the shining Legions of Light marched into the gigantic pyramids, in neat, orderly rows. “Come, my comrades…it is time to depart this world…let us return to Malalaklese II, to link up with the rest of the Wexylzhuria…and eliminate a certain pest from the Universe once and for all time.” The Legions of Light marched deep into the heart of the 7 Great Pyramids of the Lords’ Valley, and the 7 Lords, as well as Asaga, assumed their positions in the center of their respective pyramids, and began to radiate a blazing aura. The aura poured out of the pyramids and filled the Lords’ Valley with a blazing, searing fire, causing huge thunderstorms to form in the sky above Minas Elysium…and then, the pyramids began to move. Slowly but surely they inched off the ground, bricks of masonry and sand falling off of their ancient flanks as they did so. Soon the pyramids were completely airborne, four massive engines propelling each of them spaceward, powered by the hvareno radiating from their pilots’ bodies. Flying high into the roaring storms overhead, the pyramids continued to accelerate, until they reached Arcana II’s escape velocity, only maintaining their structural integrity thanks to the hvareno power source; they could only be flown by members of the Light Race. “Activating Basal Generators…” Lord Achtenus, Embodiment of Mithras hissed from his pyramid, leading the armada of seven, flying higher and higher into orbit. Just as the pyramids passed the tropical moon of Diana, the apex of Lord Achtenus’ pyramid began to glow with a static crackle, and then fired a huge pulse of purple static energy into space, exploding into a huge, static, purple sphere simply floating in space, into which the seven pyramids promptly flew. The sphere was a Quantum Space portal, taking the pyramid armada directly to Malalaklese II…but, their arrival was not unexpected. A new threat to the Light Race’s plans was arising, and it was out for pure, bloodthirsty revenge.

Standing on the Seikon no Saido’s bridge, Duchess Gwenlynn had been observing all of Asaga’s activities on Arcana II through her hyperspace meditation. Every single one of them. She had heard his speeches to the Light Race, heard the true nature of EISENWOLFE-LICHTBRINGER, the genocide of all organic life and a creation of the New Cosmos, using the ancient Precursor starship known only as “The Lightforge.” Asaga had only been using Gwenlynn as a temporary pawn, as well as the rest of the Ascendancy and the Black Legions. His only real allies were the Wexylzhuria and these “hvareno” beings, energies formed from long-deceased leaders on Arcana II, persisting for thousands of years in a higher state of consciousness, awaiting their return to rule the New Cosmos. As all of this sunk in, Gwenlynn realized the stark, simple truth. This war had become as zero-sum game, with all organic life on one side, and the inorganic Light Race on the other…and at that moment, Asaga’s control over her was broken. Gwenlynn smiled devilishly, drawing her wicked, chainsaw-like sword, The Bane of All Fools, and placed it point-down on the floor of the ship. “Comrades…take heed. I have seen the true nature of our purpose in this Crusade. We are nothing more than temporary pawns. Asaga’s true allegiances lie only with the Precursors and the Hvareno, I have seen his activities and intentions on Arcana II, and I know my feelings do not betray me. He means to use us, the Pleiadeans, the Troika , the victims of the Rape-Holocaust, and all organic life as fuel for a ship called the Lightforge, creating a new cosmos where he is the supreme God. Our lives are nothing to him. He has deceived each and every one us with lies and betrayals to weaken us, to sap our will and make us feel helpless…worthless…that’s what he does. He is a deceiver, a traitor and a liar, and he held me hostage with these lies for more than 15 years…I met him just after my graduation from Oumi Academy on Kisame-Tennu, back when I was just a young fool for love, and he looked like a handsome young Imperial Academy student…if only I wasn’t so foolish. For 15 years, I cursed every second of my life, for I felt I had no one to blame but myself for what had happened…what I saw Asaga doing, what he told me all the time, that the Universe is a dark, cruel place, and the only person I have to blame for my misfortune is myself…that I needed his protection to survive, and that I only became the warrior I am because of him…lies…all, filthy, pathetic lies. Asaga robbed me of my innocence…but really, what innocence did I ever have? I am Gwenlynn Stormweaver, black-metal goddess and bearer of the Bane of All Fools…and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. Follow me, Black Legions, I shall not betray, I shall not falter, and I shall not fail. AIMA KAI TIMH!!!” The Black Legions, ST troopers and other personnel in the Ascendancy fleet were dumbstruck at Gwenlynn’s revelation, but realized that it had to be true…now, she was their only ally, and only hope for survival, she was the only hope for the Empire’s survival as well, the only thing that stood between the Universe and utter annihilation. Her “Wintermaid” battle dress, a brilliant, gaudy outfit with a jet-black hood and cape reflected the rich, dark history of the black-metal music cults, adorned with pagan symbols such as the Nine Noble Truths on her sleeves, the Ragnarok rune on her hood, the Tyrwaz on her outfit’s midsection, and the Black Sun adorning the deep, brilliant blue war dress, contrasted by her long blonde hair and turquoise-green eyes. She was the embodiment of Aryan purity, a stunning daughter of Wotan, physically and mentally augmented to be capable of feats beyond any organic life form, with her shining emerald-turquoise eyes and sharpened canine teeth to resemble fangs, she spoke through her schoolgirl puppet, a metaphor of her former self as needed, using it as a dummy for her own thoughts. Her only equals were the Light Race itself. She held the colossal Bane of All Fools with pride…it was her badge of honor and courage, fidelity and strength, vengeance and hate, power and control. With it, she would spill the blood of countless traitors, liars and fools upon its blade, cleansing their filth from the face of the Universe in throes of their own sins. Her years of slaying the dark shadows in her dreams finally made sense. Those shadows were the demons of her past, and now she had conquered them all. She was ready to redeem herself, a redemption that would only be fulfilled when Asaga was utterly destroyed. There could only be one Master Race…and she was to be the leader of that race, for she was the only one who knew of the Light Race’s true plan, and their one weakness. With the Black Legions united and ready, standing behind her, the Light Race’s leaders were in for a rude awakening when they returned to Malalaklese II’s orbit. “Activate the ship’s weapon systems…prepare for combat on my mark! Proceed with the countdown, all pilots to their stations, I want everyone ready to launch at a moment’s notice.” The Seikon no Saido reached optimal combat levels within minutes, as did the other ships in the Black Legions’ fleet. At that moment, however, a Quantum Space ripple appeared in the fabric of space and time, a very large contact was slipping into the system. In an instant, four colossal Pleiadean War Wyverns and their surrounding escort fleets arrived in orbit around Malalaklese II, their weapons primed for battle. In an instant, however, Gwenlynn telepathically beamed the truth about Asaga to the Pleiadeans, and the fact that she was now aiding the Empire of the Egoist Crown as an independent faction. The Pleiadean fleet commander, Viceroy Mirilaana, immediately sent a response. “Dearest Gwenlynn…you speak the truth! Therefore, our darkest fears about Asaga and the Black Order are confirmed. He is indeed the Kalki Avatar, someone only the Hand of Fate can stop, but he cannot do it without your help. We are here to heed Queen Sei’s call for aid, she and the 181st Legion are below on the planet…I will relay your message to Sei and Ai Takada, they must know who you truly are.” “New contacts, slipping in!” the ST navigator barked as he watched an enormous, purple static field erupt just beyond the Pleiadean ship’s killzone…and out of the darkness crept the Pyramid Armada. It was simply hovering there, glowing ominously as the hvareno of its pilots powered it silently through space. “What are they?” “Open fire!!” Gwenlynn yelled, as the Black Legion fleet let loose with a tremendous wave of plasma, searing the pyramids and nearly destroying them. Only with the deployment of a colossal, amber-brown shield around the crumbling pyramid-ships were they saved from destruction. The Pleiadean fleet attacked as well, as hundreds of small, silver, egg-shaped Pleiadean starfighters, each powered by zero-point energy and anti-gravity wave generators zoomed into battle, all converging on the crumbling pyramid armada. Gwenlynn and the Pleiadeans realized that Gwenlynn’s revelation must have caught Asaga and the Light Race leaders completely flat-footed, as only after the initial waves of plasma did Asaga realize what had just happened: he had been completely duped, his own game used against him, and now he faced a colossal armada with nary a warship of his own…it was of no consequence, however. The Lords of Light were so powerful, they could fight without a warship or weapon, even in the vacuum of space. The damaged pyramids, protected by the hvareno shields, began to focus a burning, radiant fire atop the pyramids, and directed it into a huge, burning energy beam, fired from an eye-like apparatus atop each pyramid. The massive blasts targeted the Seikon no Saido, completely ignoring the legions of Pleiadean warships pummeling their shields with torrents of plasma fire, the Light Race’s rage was clearly directed at the traitorous Gwenlynn and her Black Legions, even the Pleiadeans were of little consequence in the face of Gwenlynn’s mortal treachery. Asaga had treated Gwenlynn Stormweaver as if she were a helpless child in the face of his power, it was his own overconfidence and racial superiority complex that blinded him to Gwenlynn’s true intentions and power, and now he was desperate to correct his mistake…but time was rapidly running out. The Pleiadeans were ferrying the 181st Legion off of Malalaklese II, and Gwenlynn observed from orbit as colossal supercell thunderstorms began to boil up in a matter of seconds, the Wexylzhuria were desperate to not let the Hand of Fate, Ai Takada and Sei Ikkiku escape Malalaklese II. However, their efforts were in vain. The first Pleiadean shuttle sent a morale-soaring message to the Allied fleets: “This is Sei Ikkiku. We made it off, and we are alive. Now, let’s finish this fight.” Sei, Takada and the Hand of Fate’s shuttle docked with Viceroy Mirilaana’s War Wyvern, the same one which led the charge on Odin’s Gate, and both Gwenlynn’s and Queen Sei and Takada’s fleets moved in for the kill. However, there was still the matter of the return volleys from the Pyramid Armada. “Angle the deflector shields, intensify the forward batteries, do not let any of that plasma get through!!” The ST bridge crew followed orders, and the burst of hvareno dissipated harmlessly against the Saido‘s energy shields. Gwenlynn silently closed her eyes and smiled devilishly, her blood-red lips forming a demonically seductive smile. “It’s going to take more than that to kill me, Lord of Light…” On the planet far below, the 181st Legion, being evacuated from Malalaklese II’s surface amid a global superstorm, were about to leave one final parting gift for the Rangers of Sen, the Wexylzhuria guardians of the Hallowed Grounds.

Orlan!! Get me the computer spikes! The core’s still intact!!” Filby yelled above the roaring storm all around them. Lucian, Orlan and Filby had re-entered the wreckage of the Lucid Illusion, and they had made their way to the ship’s main weapon control panel, the planet-killer laser. “Affirmative, Filby, slice that core, set the countdown for 10 minutes, the last few shuttles are already leaving, if we don’t catch one, there’s probably something in the hangar that’s still spaceworthy!” “What if there isn’t?!” Filby screamed, the blinding rain stinging his face. “Then at least we died heroes!” Lucian yelled, keeping watch with his arc caster for any Wexylzhuria units appearing nearby. Filby tried not to think about dying as he sliced the computer console, activating the weapon’s startup menu. “It still works! Setting countdown to 10 minutes…3…2…1…IT’S GOOD! LET’S GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!” The three soldiers made a mad dash through the blinding storm, struggling against the wind, but their adrenaline drove them to superhuman speed. They dashed out of the wreckage and saw the last shuttle about to depart the planet. The three soldiers saw Admiral Veed getting aboard, only leaving after all of his men evacuated safely. “Gentlemen, get aboard, first ones in, last ones out!” “Always, sir!” Lucian said, saluting, pointing his Arc Caster out the open Mjolnir gunship’s door…and not a moment too soon. Four Wexylzhuria appeared on the ground directly below the gunship, they were headed directly for the planet-killer laser, intent on deactivating it, but Lucian was ready. “Hold on!” Lucian let fly with his DN-20 Arc Caster, obliterating all four Wexlyzhuria, their anguished screams echoing over the lightning and wind. “God, those things are scary…” Admiral Veed said, a very disturbed look on his face. “We won’t be dealing with them anymore in about seven minutes. Let’s get out of here!” “Roger that. Pilot, take us to Sei’s fleet, we have some new allies in this fight. I would very much be interested in knowing what this “Gwenlynn” woman knows about Kalki, having been in his inner circle for fifteen years. This is now a winnable war, now that we have her.” The Mjolnir-class gunship blasted away from the haunted world, leaving it behind forever…as the gunship entered the space battle high above in orbit, three Pleiadean fighters appeared alongside the gunship, escorting it into the enormous hangar bay of Mirilaana’s gleaming-white War Wyvern, glowing with radiant zero-point energy. “Two minutes until detonation! I hope those Precursors don’t deactivate the weapon before it fires…” Lucian mumbled, looking down at the storm-covered planet, the collective rage of an entire super-race of aliens. A huge crowd of ethereal Pleiadean women stood with their Queen, and Ai Takada in the center of the ornate, cathedral-like hangar bay, and as Lucian, Orlan, Filby and Admiral Veed stepped out of the gunship, they approached the four soldiers, standing before the Pleiadean nobility. “Your actions are commendable…Come to the bridge, there is still a space battle to win here.” Lucian looked at his chronometer. Thirty seconds left before detonation. “Queen Sei, look down at the surface. In about thirty seconds, you will see what took us so long to get off that planet.” Sei looked out the stained-glass viewports, adorned with Pleiadean art and frescoes at Malalaklese II far below. About twenty-five seconds later, she saw what Lucian had been waiting for.” The solid wall of storm clouds parted as a colossal explosion ignited the atmosphere of the planet, sending a tidal wave of fire and ash consuming the atmosphere and the land on the planet’s surface. Pilots from both the Pleiadean and Black Order fleets cheered, wondering who triggered the explosion utterly consuming the haunted world and its Wexylzhuria inhabitants. “It’s over. The Rangers of Sen, and the Precursor holy world are no more, thanks to the fighting men of the 181st Legion.” Sei’s eyes widened as the planet was utterly consumed, and then looked at Lucian, Orlan and Filby. “First ones in, last ones out…we are the 181st Legion, Sylvain Anteon’s Fist…and we just showed the Universe exactly what that means.” “Lucian…Samantha St. John would be proud. Your actions reflect great credit upon the Empire and all those around you. You and your two squad mates are some of the Empire’s finest. I’ll make a point to commend your actions back on Valhalla. For now, we must assist Viceroy Mirilaana and Ai Takada on the bridge. We have a battle to win.” “Will Toni be up there too?” Filby asked, somewhat enthusiastically. “Yes, I believe she is there as well.” “Great, let’s go kick some ass!” Filby said, as Lucian, Orlan, Filby and Sei stepped into the teleportation portal, leading to the bridge. In an instant, they were standing in the ornate, baroque-style bridge chamber, with decorations, statues, idols, carvings and other forms of astounding architecture that made the steel-gray halls of an Odin-class warship look like the Stone Age by comparison. These Pleiadean War Wyvern ships, even larger than the Odin-class, were powered by the wonders of zero-point energy, rather than fusion power, like all Imperial warships were. This energy source caused the gleaming-white War Wyverns to radiate an ethereal white aura, with the same brightness as the light of Alcyone’s 4 silver moons on a crystal-clear summer night in Kalafina. Far more efficient, powerful and maneuverable than any human-designed warship, the ships weren’t just warships, they were unfathomably complex works of art. Every War Wyvern in the Pleiadean Armada reflected the high-and-mighty world of the Pleiadean nobility and elite culture of enlightenment, their worship of the arts and sciences was almost as devoted as their worship of the ancient Queen Oahina and King Eleyson, the last leaders of the Ancient Human Empire, from which both the Pleiadeans and Earth humans were descended from. The Pleiadeans were a continuation of humanity’s ancient, grand, intergalactic past, whereas the Empire was a testament to humanity’s ability to reinvent itself and rebuild. Together, they would defeat any enemy, no matter how powerful or superior it claimed to be. Lucian, Orlan and Filby had all served with Pleiadeans before, as they often served as assault-ship commanders aboard Imperial vessels, but they had never been aboard a Pleiadean warship, never seen the high art and glory of the Pleiadean nobility, as very few humans had. “Soldiers, this is Viceroy Mirilaana, she assists me in governing the Seven Sisters’ Imperium and holds the rank of Supreme Commander of the Pleiadean Armada.” The stunning, 8-foot 3 inch tall Viceroy in her slender black and crimson war outfit turned and faced Lucian, kneeling down to look him in the eye. Her flaming orange hair brushed past his face as he stared into her emerald green eyes. “Hello there. You must be Lucian Moonraiser. Samantha St. John tells me wonderful things about you…she genuinely loves you and misses you. Always treasure that, and never forget her…you promised her that you’d make it back home. Don’t make a woman a promise, if you know you can’t keep it.” “How do you know Sam?” Lucian asked, as Pleiadean starfighters zipped past, engaging the Pyramid Armada. “I have traveled to Lilliana V several times, and have met with her family, the CEOs of the St. John’s Hotel company, correct?” “Yes, wow…” Lucian said, speaking with Mirilaana about her travels through the Universe. “Lilliana V is a truly beautiful world, and you are truly blessed to live there…but have you ever seen the White Tower of Kalafina shining in the ethereal morning sun, cloaked in mist blowing in from the Asyr Mountains…have you ever seen the beauty of the White Festival, the most sacred holiday in the entire Seven Sisters’ Imperium, I have been the Grand Marshal of that festival for 30 years…and my race’s Regenera Strain allows me to enjoy life for eternity…all the more reason to protect what we love. I assume that is your purpose in joining the Legions?” “Indeed it is, Viceroy. I fight to protect my family, my homeworld and my loved ones. You fight to defend your race’s traditions, culture, honor and rights. All organic life is now united against a common threat, and that threat resides in seven pyramids, floating through space about 30,000 kilometers in front of us.” Viceroy Mirilaana smiled and turned to face the immense LED display screen, showing her the vastness of space and the battle stretched out before her. The bridge, safely in the center of the massive warship, was protected from hvareno blasts pelting the Pleiadean and Black Legion capital ships, barely denting their shields. “Wotansvolk Erwache!! Fight for honor and the survival of all our race!! Let the enemies of our ideals drown in their own blood, for the future of our Aryan kingdom bursts forth on the glory of Wotan!!” Gwenlynn screamed over the communications network as hundreds of Kuro-class starfighters moved to engage the small “Fireflies,” or tiny bursts of light that served as the Light Race’s starfighters. Just then, Takada, who had been quietly standing in the background for the whole time, snickered…then began laughing, a demented, screeching, cackling, maniacal laughter. “Oh, Gwenlynn…you are too fucking much! I thought you were dead, but how foolish of me to think that you would just let yourself be controlled by some alien freak?” All this time, you were really controlling him…and now you just beat him at his own game. I should have expected nothing less from my best friend from Oumi Academy! HAHA!” “What?! You and that Nazi used to be best friends?” Filby said, shocked. “Oh, please, Filby, we used to be the queens of the school, everyone lived in fear of us there, for if you stood in our way, we would utterly destroy you. Now, with millions of victims dead, thousands of young men left bleeding and dying in agony and entire planets laid to waste, we’ve done nothing but destroy all who stood in our way…even the Kalki Avatar was no match for us. My Cult of Love and her Black Legions will be the end of the Light Race, they are no different than any other blubbering idiot we dealt with in high school. All men are the same, they seek a very basic formula of satisfaction, sex, love, control, money, and if you know that, and know how to use that to your advantage, you can do anything. However, Gwenlynn is far more of a savage than I am, her warfighting techniques are…unspeakably terrifying.” “If that is the case, her brutality is welcome in this fight. This is a war of survival. I, the Troika, Ai Takada, Gwenlynn Stormweaver and the Hand Of Fate are the leaders of all organic life in this war, and upon the conclusion of this fight, we will all unite, hand in hand, and sing the Hymn to Alcyone once more, Star of Wonder, Star of Night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to Thy perfect light!! Cast Thine light upon our fleets, shine your justice far and wide, Queen forever, ceasing never, over us all to eternally reign!” Sei announced with pride and authority, just as Viceroy Mirilaana fired a colossal burst from the War Wyvern’s main cannon. “Queen Ikkiku, I could not help but notice that that song you just sang has the same tune and beginning lyrics as the chorus to ‘We Three Kings,’ a holiday song on Earth.” “That is no coincidence, Hand of Fate. Humans and Pleiadeans are one and the same. What star did you think that song was referring to? We are very familiar with the story of Christ and Christmas, as a matter of fact, we had a hand in engineering that entire epoch of history. Jesus was conceived because a Pleiadean emissary seeded Mary’s womb with a Starseed, which grew into baby Jesus…I still don’t understand why your civilization tortured and crucified him, though. He was there to help you, and tell you the truth about humanity’s origins, that you and I are both descendents of a grand, intergalactic civilization. Had Jesus not been crucified, you would have been crossing the galaxy by the 17th century.” Andrew looked stunned. “Yes…than Universe is far more complicated than you could possibly imagine. Everything is connected, all organic life in the Universe arises from the same Starseeds, organic chemicals and stardust from dying stars and nebulas, all that remains from a star gone supernova. The most violent forces in the Universe, in fact, are the genesis point for new life. The very forces that destroy also create. Therefore, the truth is so complex, yet so deceptively simple that only the most intelligent of life-forms can hope to comprehend it…you and I stand at the top of that pyramid, the highest forms of organic life…we are all but a cosmic accident, just an inevitability in the laws of probability. Therefore, our existence can be thought of as destiny. If we can fulfill that destiny, survive and thrive, we will last for eternity. Our enemies are many, but our allies are even greater. As we fight, we must never forget that our existence was inevitable under the laws of probability. There is no purpose to our existence, we do not exist to feed the Precursor and Hvareno races. We simply ARE, and we choose our own destiny. There is no predetermined path or purpose for organic life. It simply exists, and can achieve whatever it wants, thanks to free will. That is something that Asaga and his Light Race will never understand. We share a bond stronger than any weapon, more powerful than any starship. It can’t be taken or destroyed. Organic life has survived the worst disasters that the Universe can offer, and will will certainly survive this. Together, we will defeat our enemies, and we shall reign in glory.” “Blah…Blah…Blah…Do you ever stop babbling about this existential gibberish, Sei? We’ve got a battle to win, yet you lecture poor Andrew with random facts and knowledge that he’s never going to need to accomplish his mission!” Takada interjected, standing with her sword at the ready. “Ai Takada…is that you?” A sick, sinister female voice echoed in over the War Wyvern’s communications suite. “Yes it is, Gwen. It’s a real pleasure to have you back. I see you’re still causing carnage and obliterating enemies of the Aryan Race, but I must admit, tricking the Kalki Avatar into thinking you were his helpless pawn for 15 years only to gain immortal power through augmentations and eventually destroy him, that takes the cake, you are an absolute genius!” “It was nothing, really. All men are the same, even alien, superhuman ones, you come onto them with this innocence routine, they jump all over it, and that’s when you strike them down, when they least expect it. Simple logic and psychology. You taught me that in high school, remember?” “Yes, how could I forget…remember that time you convinced the fat girl in our class to go home and hang herself because she thought that everyone wanted her to lose weight?” “Yes, that fat cow was crying in the girls’ bathroom for weeks. She was a filthy half-breed kike as well. Not only did she deserve death because of her natural inferiority, she and every other suicidal individual are doing the world a favor by killing themselves. The less of them in this Universe, the better. Only those of strong mind, strong body and strong birth should be able to live in an ideal Universe. It is the unquestionable law of nature.” “HAHAHA!! I still remember that, good times, good times. I also will never forget when I went to the park later that day on Kisame-Tennu and found that cow’s whore of a best friend sitting on a park bench crying, tears streaming down her smeared, black face. I told her that the least your friend could have done is lose some weight before she killed herself, because Satan probably had a hard time dragging her morbidly-obese, bloated corpse into Hell because of her weight. I don’t see how a girl of that size could possibly hang herself, she probably fell and broke her neck! After high school, I went and got all these augmentations and launched myself as an actress, while secretly forming the Cult of Love to satisfy my bloodlust and carnal desires, but that was all a secret until very recently…I couldn’t have that mess getting out to the public to tarnish my beauty, could I? No, of course not! That would never do! HAHAHA!” “Yes, my old friend…for when you told that subhuman monkeywoman those words in the park, she killed herself as well…and we covered our tracks prefectly, no one ever traced those suicides back to us…yet the taste of blood, satisfaction and victory was on our lips, and we never looked back. Now, I stand on the bridge of a magnificent starship, having laid entire worlds to waste in my wake, fighting for the only truth that matters: White Enlightenment, White Pride, Aryan Unity. I command a Black Order stronger than any military force in the known Universe, and the enemies of my race gather everywhere, the savages come to greet me, I can hear them near and far, banging their bongo drums and hollering their perverse, piggish, animal-like war cries. I’ll pick them off one by one, make them die in pools of their own subhuman dung, blood and pus, and have their sins and inferiority laid out before them. Personal survival is not my goal, for you can kill the Aryan body, but you can’t kill the Aryan soul! I AM THAT SOUL!! NOW, GO FORTH BLACK LEGIONS, AND ANNIHILATE THE TRAITORS OF THE RACE!!” “Yes! Gwen, let the hateful passions that drive you consume every ounce of your soul, and transform your human condition into one of blazing immortality, far greater than any biological augmentations can grant you! I first experienced true catharsis when I convinced my classmate to kill herself as well in the park that day, but I didn’t stop there, no…I went home and seduced her older brother, torturing him and killing him in a fit of pure sexual rage, he was the Cult of Love’s first sacrifice victim. I next went after their father, driving him mad with Machivellian and Petrarchan allure until he literally went insane with lust for me, spending the rest of his days pining for me in a mental facility on Kisame-Tennu while smearing his own feces on the walls of his cell to spell out my name, and the mother, broken and utterly shattered by disbelief that a then-17-year old girl could pick apart her family one by one with such bloodthirsty, calculating efficiency, also descended into madness, and was later imprisoned in the same hospital for life, along with her pathetic husband. They presumably died when your fleets bombed Kisame-Tennu to dust. You finished what I started, Gwen. As usual, we make a great team…but how could those girls know that I placed tracking devices on all their personal items to find their houses at school, and then enter their houses in the middle of the night, injecting that whore’s father with a drug that causes insatiable lust in his sleep, causing him to descend into utter madness…it was a stroke of pure, Petrarchan, Machiavellian genius, something that I pride myself on greatly.” “Precisely, Takada. And through all of this, I manage to find inspiration for my black-metal cult scene, composing music based off of my own convictions, beliefs and actions against those I see an inferior, culminating in a truly ear-shattering sound that fills my soul with power. Everything I told Asaga while deep within his inner circle was just one of my many personalities, I came across as this innocent, pining young woman, a fool for love, so easy to manipulate, and he fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I used this ‘schoolgirl persona’ for 15 years, learning everything about the Wexylzhuria, the Hvareno and Kalki himself…it all comes down to THIS. Everything that has transpired has proceeded according to my design. I knew Asaga was the Kalki Avatar, and I knew that there could only be one true leader of the Universe…he had to be eliminated, and now, I am closing in on all sides. His days are numbered.” Lucian looked at Takada with a disgusted look on his face. These two women were the most psychotic pair of complete narcisisstic, sadistic bitches in the known Universe, and he was serving alongside them in a war against an enemy whose brutality knew no bounds, matched only by Gwen and Takada’s psychotic sadism and cruelty. Not to mention, Sei Ikkiku was the face of a long, valiant history, which included millions of forced abductions of hundreds of sentient species, mass-experimentation on human prisoners within the Imperial justice system, and had personally overseen the official torture and execution of millions of criminals and ne’r-do-wells across the Empire, and was one of the most charismatic leaders in the Universe. These three women, Sei, Gwen and Takada, were beyond sadistic and completely unwavering in their brutality and determination…but they, along with the Hand of Fate, were organic life’s only hope. This scenario proved once and for all that authoritarian governments were superior to democracies in every way, for only a truly solar leader could save humanity from destruction, either from an external threat, or from societal decadence, the Egoist Crown…Lucian, as a soldier was sworn to follow his orders, be they from the Troika or these three demented women…it was the natural order of the Universe. Some must lead, and others must follow. “Hamada, Yorimasa, ready my ship. I will deal with the Pyramid Fleet myself.” Gwenlynn barked over the ship-to-ship FLEETCOM, as hundreds more Kuro-class fighters swarmed out of the Amane-class assault carriers, preparing to follow their fearless Aryan leader into battle. Seconds later, the Volant Fantasie zoomed out of the Seikon no Saido’s main hangar bay, just as Admiral Veed caught a glimpse of it. His face went red with rage. “THAT’S IT! THAT’S THE SHIP THAT DESTROYED THE LORDLY IRON HAND! SHE DESTROYED KISAME-TENNU!! NOBLE QUEEN IKKIKU, SHOOT THAT FIGHTER DOWN AT ONCE!” Admrial Veed screamed. Sei calmly turned and faced the irate Admiral and smiled reassuringly. “That is a negative, Admiral. She is crucial to our victory in this battle. Surely someone with your rank can understand her tactical importance.” “You filthy Pleiadean traitor…The Empire was right to distrust you and your race! You never had any loyalty to us at all, you only care about yourself and your own people! When the Troika hears about this, they’ll have your head on a platter!! And there are no words for vermin such as you, Takada. You knew Gwenlynn was responsible for Kisame-Tennu’s destruction all along, but you didn’t tell anyone, because you and that psychotic bitch were best friends in high school!!” “It took you that long to realize this? Pathetic…” Takada groaned, sipping on another drink that the Hand of Fate had conjured for her. Admiral Veed just couldn’t take it anymore. “Oh…what are you going to do now?” Takada taunted. “Something I should have done a LONG time ago!!!” Veed screamed as he grabbed a DN-17 assault rifle and proceeded to fire on full automatic directly at Takada’s head, but Takada was immediately prepared. She calmly raised her hand and began radiating a brilliant orange glow, effortlessly deflecting the barrage of plasma fire, and in one quick maneuver, Takada immobilized Admiral Veed with the same orange energy field. Takada stood up and walked over to Admiral Veed, raised him up, immobilized to hover directly in front of her face, and spoke calmly into his ear. “Come Admiral…we’re going to the back room…I’m here, and I’m lonely….so very lonely…won’t you join me for some fun?” Takada and the immobilized Admiral Veed both walked calmly out of the bridge chamber without a word…everyone knew what was about to happen, and no one had any power to stop it…not Lucian, not Orlan, not Filby, and not Sei. Takada was Draconis Marunae Tropica, Queen of the Night…and her rule was unquestioned and undeniable. Veed would be lucky to survive the night. It was at that moment that everyone knew who was really in charge…just as Gwenlynn’s voice echoed in over the FLEETCOM. “All fighters form up behind me, blanket those two pyramid ships, knock out their main cannons, I don’t think we can destroy them, but if we cripple their main cannons, we can send them fleeing with their tails between their legs. All fighters, target those cannons with your concussion missiles when they open! Bombers, follow my lead, we’ll keep the cannons away from the carriers!” The Black Order fighters formed up behind their leader, whose elegant Mosane-class starfighter took its offensive wing configuration, the Volant Fantasie was ready for war. The squadrons suddenly broke formation and scattered in tight fireteams, with the bombers and the Fantasie drawing the huge hvareno cannons away from the Amane-class carriers, whose shields were taking a beating during the space battle. The fighters and bombers were too small to hit for the huge cannons, who fired at them fruitlessly, the pyramids lacked any form of point-defense. Just then, the first fireteam of Kuro-class fighters saw an opening, and fired a salvo of heat-seeking concussion missiles directly at one of the eye-like cannons atop the lead pyramid, just as it was opening to fire. The missiles struck the cannon dead-center, causing its “eye” to hemorrhage in pain, shooting out blobs of hvareno energy like blood from a mortal wound. In an instant, the cannon vaporized in a blast of radiant light. “Pyramid #1 is disarmed! Focus on Pyramids #2 and 3! Bombers, follow me in for an attack run!!” Gwenlynn’s fighter, marked with the sinister Totenkopf design, made an impossible right-angle barrel-roll and zoomed directly at Asaga’s pyramid, avoiding the hvareno blasts, serving as the pyramids’ point-defenses. At that time, the Amane-class carriers suddenly changed shape as well, with entire sections of the enormous, black and purple ships rotating and changing position, transforming the carrier into a massive assault ship, hence the designation “assault carrier.” “Unbelievable…” Lucian gawked, upon seeing the true power of the Black Order’s military and technology. The huge Amane-class assault carriers slowly moved forward, their engines burning forth like angry supernovae. As they closed in on the pyramid fleet, the carriers deployed a huge pair of satellite arrays on their aft fuselage, and targeted the pyramid-ships with them. In an instant, the Amane-class carriers opened fire with colossal bursts of searing green plasma, concentrated in a laser-thin beam of energy fired from the satellite arrays. These bursts slammed into the pyramid’s hvareno shields with the force of 50,000 atomic bombs, immediately shattering their shields and sending them careening through space. It was at that moment that Gwenlynn and her bomber squadrons swooped in fast and low and unloaded a huge payload of neutron bombs onto three of the pyramids, utterly obliterating them. “Three down, four to go! Assault carriers, keep firing!! Show no mercy!! You are the pride of the Black Order, the Black Legions of the Ascendancy, the glory and beauty of life in eternal war is yours for the taking!! Together, we shall slay the gods with the force of pure Nordic, Aryan blood!” The Amane-class warships continued to pound the pyramids with their directed-energy cannons, obliterating their shields as if they did not exist, clearing a path for Gwenlynn and her bomber squadrons to annihilate the ancient starships with their precision weaponry. The Pleiadeans, 181st Legion and Hand of Fate held their breath as the Black Legions’ Luftwaffe closed in for the killing blow. The Volant Fantasie swooped it at lightning speed, its weapons primed for a strike on the unprotected eye of Asaga’s pyramid, staring angrily at Gwenlynn’s fighter, flying directly towards him. The eye shone red with mind-numbing fury, fury matched only by Asaga’s brutality and anger at Gwenlynn’s betrayal, yet still Gwenlynn flew directly towards it. The heat and blinding light from the pyramid’s eye raised the Volant Fantasie’s cockpit temperature to over 150 degrees, pushing the ship’s capabilities to its absolute limit…it was at that moment that Gwenlynn fired two concussion missiles directly into the pyramid’s unprotected eye. Too late to turn and flee, Gwenlynn flew directly through the eye, running Asaga clean through with missiles and the hull of her starfighter, while emerging on the other side of the pyramid a bit cooked, but unharmed. Gwenlynn made a triumphant barrel roll and banked around, dropping three neutron bombs on the foundering pyramid ship, obliterating Asaga’s pyramid in a massive burst of energy. The bombers took care of the other three in quick succession, as Gwenlynn’s starfighter and bomber squadrons formed up behind her once again. “Let it be known that the White Race has emerged supreme, we are God’s chosen ones, the race meant to lead all organic races in this holy Rassekrieg. Our white brethren and their children did not receive this Universe as a gift, but rather built it with their blood, sweat and tears, on the backs of millions of inferior beings, whose only purpose is to be our slaves! Let this be a message to Asaga and his Light Race, don’t think of us as cattle, white man and woman were born for battle! AIMA KAI TIMH!!” Gwenlynn screamed, with a shrieking, bird-like war cry. She screamed over and over again, like a bloodthirsty, screeching demon, much as she did on the black-metal cult albums she often appeared in when she was younger, before she made it her personal goal to destroy the Kalki Avatar, and rule the Empire as the Supreme Aryan Goddess, the Mother of Hyperborea and Atlantis, and the Savior of the White Race…and now that she was back, she would notify her cult that she was back and eager to resume her dark designs. As her fighter squadrons re-entered the Amane-class ships’ hangars, the carriers re-assumed their neutral positions, changing their form back to carrier mode. However, Gwenlynn had a visit to pay to the crew of the War Wyverns… “Queen Ikkiku, Miss Stormweaver is requesting permission to land in the port hangar bay.” “…Permission granted.” The Pleiadean queen alerted the crew in the hangar to prepare for the Volant Fantasie’s arrival. Many members of the 181st Legion were in the hangar too…they braced themselves for the arrival of one of the most demented murderers in the known Universe.

Down in the hangar bay, the Pleiadeans and Legionnaires stood at attention in the cathedral-like hangar, as the sleek, sinister and utterly lethal Mosane-class fighter effortlessly slipped into the hangar, making an eerie, alien whistling noise as its zero-point energy drives shut down, bringing the fighter to a stop as the docking clamps held it in place. The frightening, smirking Totenkopf on the fighter’s port fuselage stood out, stark-white against the ship’s elegant black hull. Nordic, Aryan runes, similar to the ones found on Indiction Guard heraldry on Valhalla, decorated the ships two forward-curving, dagger-like wings, capable of changing shape and orientation rapidly, allowing the Fantasie to pull off truly impossible maneuvers in atmospheric conditions, and zero-point energy drives to cancel the effects of G-forces, inertia and many laws of physics, combined with Gwenlynn’s augmented super-senses, this fighter was a weapon of mass destruction in her hands. The Legionnaires and Pleiadeans both eyed it nervously as the gangplank extended down from the Fantasie’s underside, and out stepped Gwenlynn, in her incredible Wintermaid war regalia. The Bane of All Fools was sheathed behind her back; standing more than 12 feet tall with glowing green eyes, her schoolgirl puppet and fang-like teeth, she was a truly terrifying, yet utterly awesome sight. Her long blonde hair was combed perfectly, contrasting against her black hood and cape, and her blue, furry outfit, she looked as if she was dressed for very cold weather. “Hello everyone. Let’s skip the formalities. Where is Ai Takada, hm?” Gwenlynn said, through her schoolgirl puppet, in an echoing, high-pitched, unnatural voice. “She’s busy right now…I think she’s with the Admiral.” The Legionnaire gulped ominously. “Oh, I see…Haha. Thank you, now get out of my way, you filthy Untermensch, before I cut you in half.” Gwenlynn taunted, again through her puppet. The soldier wisely stood aside; he was of Slavic descent, and would never fit into Gwenlynn’s Aryan worldview. Gwenlynn calmly walked towards the teleporter to the bridge, stepped through it, and immediately appeared in her full regalia on the bridge, before the Hand of Fate, the Pleiadean nobility and several of the 181st Legion’s brass, still shaken by the thought of what was happening to Admiral Veed. Needless to say, they were even more unnerved by Gwenlynn’s appearance, knowing very well that she destroyed Kisame-Tennu and the Lordly Iron Hand. “Welcome aboard, Gwenlynn Stormweaver. Your presence is very much appreciated.”Likewise, Sei.” Gwenlynn spoke with her true voice this time, a slight Nordic accent. “Oh…so THIS is the Hand of Fate…wow, isn’t he the perfect Aryan specimen, tell me, what is your name?” “Andrew. Andrew Eisenheim.” “Incredible…you are just as I envisioned you, a pure white, Aryan savior of the Universe, the true Avatar and Messiah. Not an ounce of tainted blood courses through your veins, I can sense it. Andrew, allow me to train you in the ways of combat…with my assistance, you will achieve far more than simply being Ai Takada’s personal waiter. Speaking of which, where the hell did she go?” “GWEN!! There you are, dear, I’ve been waiting for you to visit me, how have you been? That was quite the show you just put on for us, I’m sure our friends Lucian, Orlan, Filby and Andrew enjoyed it!” Takada announced loudly as she walked into the room, her sword drenched in blood, and her face painted with blood and semen from the destroyed Admiral Veed, greatly disturbing all the other Legionnaires on the bridge. “Hello Takada…I see you’ve been at it again, who was the victim this time?” “Oh, only some admiral that didn’t know when to shut the fuck up…I did it all night with him. Just for the record, 181st Legion, I’m in charge now.” Takada placed the bloodstained admiral’s cap on her head, it didn’t quite match her elaborate outfit, but hey, at least she was now in command of the most prestigious Legion in the entire Empire. It was nothing, I see you’ve met Andrew, the Hand of Fate.” “Yes…he’s everything I could have ever imagined, pure, white, Aryan blood of Germany’s pride. I’m taking him under my wings, he’s going to learn from me, so no more using him as your personal barrista, you freak.” “Damn it, I was getting used to the unlimited supply of alcoholic drinks. Easy come, easy go, I guess.” Takada chuckled, licking the blood and semen off her face. “Oh, Christ, Takada, that’s sick, wipe your face off, you don’t know if that guy was pure-blood or not, you could have contaminated your precious Japanese bloodstock! You’re the Master Race of Asia, start acting like it, will you?” “He looked white enough to me, anyway, let’s get back to Valhalla, shall we? I’m sure the Troika is going to want to hear about our progress.” “They already know. I have communicated with them via hyperspace telepathy. They are awaiting our arrival back on Valhalla.” Sei Ikkiku announced. “Very well then. Make course for the Imperial monument world, though we have achieved victory this day, this triumph merely slowed the Light Race down, it did not stop them, not by a long shot. Asaga and the 7 Light Race leaders will regroup and strike back, but we will be ready for them. We stand united, all Imperial Races, behind the one true Race, the Aryan one. We stand alone against all, the Race War to decide the fate of the Universe…and we shall celebrate our victory, hand in hand, every white man, woman and child.” And so the grand fleet departed the ruins of the haunted world, for the organic races had just dealt the Light Race a truly astonishing blow. They would be back, however. The Great Race War had only just begun…and only one race could reign supreme, once the last soldier fell.

 

 

END BOOK 2

 

 

 

Precursor: Book 3: Die Heilige Rassekrieg

Comrades…the time has come, the time of our return to Hyperborea, our Paradise…that time is now. For thousands of years, we suffered under Jewish domination, lies and betrayals, that wounded our nation. The Troika was controlled by traitors, traitors of the race, those within the Synagogue of Satan and the Lodges of the Grand Orient, the Masons, Illuminati, Jews, Communists and other agents of impurity and destruction. The White Aryan people have suffered long enough! It is time to revolt! It is time to reverse the long night that has eclipsed our blazing light! We’re taking back what’s ours!! This dawn the N.S. Revolution, let us find strength in our white Aryan brothers, our sisters, and our fathers, for they did not receive this Universe as a gift! They built it by their hands, their labor, their sweat, their blood and their tears!! They have destroyed every threat they faced, and emerged triumphant, always! Our vengeance is near! It is time to resurrect! Enter now into the Cthonic lair, with neither pity nor mercy in your hearts! For this is a Holy Race War, and we are the Master Race!! Come now, my children, and let us show the Universe exactly what that entails!!”

 

Gwenlynn Stormweaver

 

 

 

 

14. Yes…Feel the agony and suffering…

The Quantum Space tunnel opened in high orbit around Valhalla, as the four gleaming-white Pleiadean War Wyverns and the sinister Black Order fleets re-entered realspace after the six-hour journey from the ruins of Malalaklese II. It was said that a ship was six hours from anywhere in the Universe, thanks to the wonders of zero-point energy and Quantum Space technology, a starship would take 3 hours to accelerate to “warp speed,” about 99% the speed of light, before dropping its energy shields and simultaneously firing its Quantum Drive, opening up a wormhole, teleporting the ship instantly to its target destination, called an exit point, at the speed of thought, and taking another three hours to slow down as it approached its final destination. This was originally a Seras technology, adapted eons ago by the human race when the two societies merged to form the Empire of the Egoist Crown, also allowing humanity to evolve into the augmented forms that Takada, the Indiction Guard, the Troika, and Gwenlynn had assumed. However, thanks to the Einstein space-time lag, the ships would appear as if they were emerging from the wormhole right next to the planet, when in fact, they had exited wormhole transit three hours earlier, it took light three hours to catch up to the ship…as expected, there was quite the welcoming committee to greet the Hand of Fate and his companions. The entire 181st Legion, consisting of 600 or so Odin-class capital ships, hovered majestically in high orbit over Valhalla, awaiting orders. The flagship, called Ordo ab Chao, marked with huge, red stripes, was where the Troika and the Indiction Guard awaited Sei and the Hand of Fate. As Andrew watched from the bridge of the War Wyvern Reaper’s Crucible, nervous thoughts raced through his mind…he remembered seeing the Troika on Valhalla the first time, shortly after the reconquest of Earth, and now, he was to apprentice under this racist, pagan madwoman who seemed to have truly divine powers of vengeance. What she would teach him was unknown…and very questionable. Her rhetoric sounded a lot like the fringe nationalists in Germany during his own time period, people who were generally seen viewed by the Kaiser with disdain, dismissed as “pagan thuggery.” The Kultursohne organization, to which he was trying to prove his theories that got him into this mess in the first place, was seen as a nationalist group, trying to unlock ancient pagan secrets of Europe, and find a “New Enlightenment.” Andrew smirked, knowing that he had discovered far more than anyone in his own time could possibly imagine. The works of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov couldn’t even come close to the reality of the far future…and Andrew was not just an observer in this future world…he was instrumental to its survival and existence. He was the Hand of Fate, something he had somehow always known. It was his destiny. This is where he truly belonged, at the right hand of the Troika, the Ascendancy and the Cult of Love…and he was prepared to go to war for them, if need be. “Come, Andrew. It is time to meet with the Troika and the Indiction Guard. They are very eager to meet you in person.” Sei Ikkiku cooed, taking Andrew by the hand. Takada and Gwenlynn followed Sei to the teleporter, as she keyed in the shipboard coordinates to the main hangar bay. In an instant, the four of them were standing in the vast hangar, adorned with statues of goddesses and Pleiadean heroes, all centered around the Eye of Oahina, a radiant solar helix, identical to the orb atop the White Tower of Kalafina on Alcyone. The Legionnaires and the Pleiadeans all stood at attention, giving the Roman salute as Takada, Gwenlynn, Sei and Andrew boarded the Pleiadean shuttle craft, its zero-point energy drives whistling to life. Slowly, the shuttle craft slipped out of the hangar, a brilliant, glowing white orb zooming forward at breakneck speed out of the hangar, directly toward the steel-gray hull of the Ordo ab Chao. In less than 5 minutes, the shuttle, far more advanced than anything in the Imperial starfleet, was in contact with the 181st Legion. None other than Prophet Marduk himself contacted Sei through the shuttle’s communication suite. “Welcome to Valhalla, dearest Pleiadean Queen…We are all…eager to meet this Hand of Fate.” Antonio said, with his eerie, hissing voice. “Relax…he’s not half as scary as his anime cartoons. He uses them as a form of propaganda.” Sei reassured the nervous Andrew. He had heard plenty about the Troika already, and how powerful they were, they were, in essence, gods in the flesh, viewed by their society as the concentrated forces of all species centered on three supreme beings, beings infinitely superior to modern man…and they had taken countless billions of lives to prove that point over the millennia. Somehow, Sei’s reassurance didn’t mean much to Andrew. These were the three most powerful men in human history… men unused to anyone instructing them to do anything. Something told Andrew that this could get ugly…the Hand of Fate was supposed to lead the Troika in the Second Indiction, right? It didn’t matter what era of history one dealt with. Men in power did not like having to answer to anyone, especially one that they saw as inferior for whatever reason. Times changed. Men did not. The Troika were probably no exception to this rule. Andrew took a deep breath as the Pleiadean shuttle craft entered the Ordo‘s enormous hangar bay, clutching his reality-altering notebook, his weapon in this upcoming race war, along with the MagniFire rifle Kokkoro had given him back during the reconquest of Earth. The shuttle craft came to a dead stop as the hangar’s docking clamps fastened the shuttle into place, and the doors swung open into the vast hangar bay, characteristic of all Odin-class capital ships. Takada, Gwenlynn, Sei and Andrew stood on the balcony overlooking the main hangar floor. Massed below them were thousands of Legionnaires, marching in orderly columns and standing at attention, with hundreds of Shinigami-class starfighters, powered by zero-point energy and marked with the insignia of the 181st Airborne Legion, hovered in the hangar, ready for action at a moment’s notice. Huge armored vehicles, including Kamakiri-class APCs and Kabuto-class MBTs were lined up in orderly rows, preparing to be loaded into dropships and Mjolnir-class gunships for deployment, with the fleet of city-sized Loki-class assault ships that each Odin-class capital ships ready to go as well. The Ordo was 625 million men strong, and ready to bring the might of the Imperial military wherever the Light Race struck next. “Magnificent, aren’t they?” Sei said to Andrew, who could scarcely fathom such a colossal military force. Just one of these warships could obliterate an entire star system…let alone a fleet of 600 of them…and this was just one Legion out of 200 in the entire Empire. Andrew, from a time where an army with 200,000 men was considered large, was utterly humbled by the Empire of the Egoist Crown’s almighty military power…and then, the Legions formed up, into neat, two-by-two rows, all facing the teleporter leading to the bridge. Walking through the path formed by the Legions were the 88 Indiction Guards, led by Indiction King Irkaya Falkenbach, and his wife Queen Selene, flanked by the two female Guards Kokkoro Aoyama, with her long black hair and distinct Jungsturm-Nordsterne war outfit, and the red-haired, devil-horned, buxom beauty Sayu, as well as the sickle-wielding guard Amaranth Morgana, all of whom Andrew had met during the Reconquest of Earth from the Psi races. They and all the other Indiction Guards, assembled and standing tall, stood in front of the Legionnaires as they awaited the arrival of the Troika through the bridge teleporter. They did not have to wait long. Stepping out of the teleporter were the three unmistakable forms of Prophet Sylvain Anteon, Prophet Antonio Marduk, and Supreme Pontifex Alexander Arditi, the High Emperor of the Egoist Crown. The Legions gave the Roman salute as the three almighty, massive leaders strode past, with the Indiction Guards kneeling in reverence. “Rise…Men of the 181st Legion and Indiction Guard…Where is the Hand of Fate? He is here, is he not?” Alexander asked, in his lordly, echoing voice. “I’m right here, Your Majesty.” Andrew waved his hand at the Pontifex, who promptly turned to face him high on the boarding platform. “Oh…there you are. Come down here, we are all anxious to meet you…you are instrumental to our success in the coming war, Hand of Fate.” “Greetings, Lords of the Realm. I am Andrew Eisenheim, Hand of Fate and Emissary of the Stars. What can I do for you?” “You can begin by describing to us the nature of the Precursor race. I understand that three Legionnaires from the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche triggered a chain reaction involving the crashed Odin-class ship ‘Lucid Illusion’ to destroy the haunted world of Malalaklese II, this Queen Ikkiku tells me telepathically. The initial reports from the Legions suggest that they are of an inorganic nature, as are Asaga and his allies, the Hvareno race, from what we understand have emerged from the haunted Lords’ Valley on Arcana II. This alliance of Precursor and Hvareno, into what they have termed ‘The Light Race…’ Tell us, what were they, how did they behave, and how did the Legions defeat such an enemy?” “Well, the Precursors, or the ‘Wexylzhuria,” as they call themselves, are an alien race of the highest plane of existence. They possess a level of consciousness far beyond our own, and can traverse all levels of being. They can alter our perception of reality, implant false memories into our minds, travel around the Universe without a starship and can survive in the vacuum of space for an indefinite period of time, manipulate organic life into any form they desire, create entirely new realities, stars, planets, galaxies, and Universes with something called a “Lightforge,” control organic beings, alter the weather, take any form they desire, use a hyperspace technology that makes this Imperial technology look like the Stone Age, and have laid waste to countless billions of societies in their infinite existence. Each one of them is as complex as a thousand organic civilizations by themselves…they have no beginning…they have no end. They are infinite. I’m certain Sei shared the details of the human and Pleiadean connection with you.” “Indeed she did, Andrew.” Prophet Anteon mumbled, his jaws protruding from his augmented mouth. “For a long time, we had known the truth about the Pleiadeans and humanity’s connection with them, but it was kept secret under Imperial classification indefinitely…for we felt that the general public simply couldn’t handle the truth about aliens, humanity, the Empire and everything they see or felt around them. Humanity’s past is far, far grander than anything ever published in any book or document from any time in human history. Darwin only had it half-right, indeed, evolution is as universal as relativity and the laws of gravity, but he had no way of knowing that his theory of human evolution was only a half-truth…we did evolve from apes, just not on Earth or Alcyone. The answer to the ultimate question, as to what Mankind’s purpose is, the question whose answer has eluded the greatest of thinkers since time immemorial, is in reality, profoundly simple. We are all descendants of King Eleyson and Queen Oahina, the original ‘Gods’ and the last leaders of the Ancient Human Empire, the Bible calls them ‘Adam and Eve.’ Humanity’s evolution actually dates back more than 55 million years, with the arrival of modern humans on Earth around 100,000 years ago, after the Precursors decimated the Ancient Empire. The Pleiadean humans, on the other hand, had no illusions about their origins, and fought to keep the grand spacefaring traditions of the Ancient Human Empire alive…whereas the people of Earth fell into decadence and despair…until we revived them, all those eons ago. The arrival of the Seras on Earth at the precise moment that they did was no accident. We summoned them, having contacted them with a Northern Union radio signal, pointed towards the Orion Nebula. They arrived on August 17, 2107 A.D…and from that moment forward, humanity and the Pleiadeans’ fates became intertwined once more. Now, we stand at a crossroads once again. We command an Empire every bit as grand as the Empire ruled by Oahina and Eleyson, and protected by Viceroy Urawera…and the ancient enemy, the Wexylzhuria race, has returned, with its Avatar, Asaga Kanagashima III, Kalki, and his Hvareno compatriots, to lead it…and you, Andrew, are ours. You are the polar opposite of Kalki, he is the Avatar of Supreme Light, you are the Avatar of Supreme Night. Only you can destroy him, and he will do everything in his power to eliminate you…but do not fear. The Empire is willing to fight to the last man to ensure that you accomplish your mission. We will not fail. Hand of Fate, now, it is you who leads us.” At that moment, Andrew saw the Troika do something that he would have never predicted, not in a million years. They kneeled before him, as did all 88 Indiction Guards. Andrew was unsure how to react to this. How was he, a 19th-century time-traveler, to lead and Empire of such magnitude? He was born to a family that didn’t care for him, and was reminded of his own inadequacies every day…these people of the far future were vastly more powerful than he, and possessed far greater understanding of the Universe than he could ever know, not to mention, they were truly demented and utterly terrifying, but they were the only family he had ever known…regardless of their personalities, Andrew was starting to feel something he had never felt…he felt like he belonged. Sensing his anxiety, Gwenlynn and Takada placed their hands on his shoulders. “Do not fear, Andrew…we’ll take good care of you…and make sure you accomplish your mission.” Just then, Sayu saw Gwenlynn and Takada coddling Andrew. In an instant, she flew into a rage, her red hair flying angrily, her body glowing with the orange Rage of the Runes. “Get your filthy hands off of him, you whores!” “Who the FUCK do you think you’re talking to, you half-breed bitch! He’s MY apprentice, not yours!” Gwenlynn screeched, drawing her huge Bane of All Fools blade. “Finders keepers, Sayu…” Takada taunted coyly. “ENOUGH.” Pontifex Arditi barked. “Seriously, Sayu, this is not worth killing anyone over…” Kokkoro said. “I see you’ve held onto that rifle I gave you, Andrew. How do you like it?” Kokkoro asked. “I must admit, it’s far different from any weapon I’ve ever used, but it handles like a dream. If my hunting rifles back home functioned like this one, there would be nary a deer left in Germany to hunt.” “Haha…I trust you’ve been doing more than hunting wild game with that weapon, Andrew. You still remember how to use it, right?” “Yes, Miss Aoyama. Your mastery of this rifle is mind-boggling, I’ve never seen anyone more skilled with ranged weaponry than you in either my time or yours.” “Thank you very much….it is a skill I take great pride in, as most of the Indiction Guard are trained with melee weaponry and runic sorcery through their augmentations…I prefer the simplicity to a clean shot to the head…and with my augmentations and pagan sorcery that all Indiction Guards possess, I can lay waste to an entire opposing force with my gun…I am White Death…lying prone in the snow with my white war dress and snow-white hair, snow in mouth, hiding my breath…they never see it coming. I come, destroy, and leave…like a ghost on a frozen plain. The Indiction Guard are far more than simple soldiers, Andrew. We and the Troika are the most powerful sorcerers in human history…I understand you were involved in the pagan arts for a time as well, in your own time period.” “Yes. I was involved with the Kultursohne organization in Berlin, and that’s kind of how I ended up here, by traveling into the future to prove that I had a special ability, worthy of being inducted in the organization. “The cosmic winds have guided you here not by accident, my dear friend…do you know why your time machine stopped at precisely the time it did?” “Yes, the modulators came loose.” “No. We stopped it by creating a break in the timestream, forcing you out of transit and into our world…we knew you were coming for thousands of years…because your huge encyclopedia you wrote foretold it…the Troika were avid readers of your work…and this Empire is built on your predictions and philosophies…so, in that sense, you built this Empire as much as the Troika and the Indiction Guard did. We simply maintain and carry out the orders you inscribed for us, all those millennia ago.” Andrew thought long and hard about what Kokkoro had just told him…and then…it all made sense. Perfect, crystal-clear sense. There was now only one option, one fate for the Universe…and he was the Hand to guide it. Only he could say who lived and who died, and this knowledge filled his heart with power…lust…and the warrior spirit. “Ha…hahahaha…Haahahhaaaa…AHAHAHAHAHAHAH!! HAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAAA!!!” Andrew cackled with a demented catharsis, laughing as if he had never laughed before…and all his allies could do was smirk with sick satisfaction…they knew that they had succeeded. Andrew now fully understood his mission, and was more than ready to embrace his destiny. “Yes! It makes perfect sense…I wrote that text. I forged this Empire, I am responsible for all the deaths that the Empire has caused over the past 800,000 years…so what? Because of my actions, humanity has reached an apex unseen in more than 40 million years. Because of my actions, crime is nonexistent, and humans have evolved into superhuman races. Because of my actions, peace had prevailed for millennia. Because of my actions, the Empire is what it is today!! Those who died to build this society died with a purpose…their deaths were a necessity for the continuation of the Pantheon Doctrine, and existence of purity and pride…for we are the only things that can remove the Egoist Crown…the societal decadence that has claimed every society that has come before us since the beginning of time…the Egoist Crown Empire has waxed and waned over the millennia, but has never truly disappeared. Life will always go on. Death with always renew the cycle of life. It is the Light Race that does not belong…they are outside of this organic law of nature…and therefore, they are the inferior race. We must hunt them down and defeat every last one of them, until their threat no longer menaces an Imperial citizen of any galaxy, planet or star system ever again! Give me four years, my good people, and I will lead this Empire which I have forged by my pen and my mind, and which you have maintained by your tanks and your guns, to its ultimate triumph: The destruction of the Light Race, and the eternal glorification of the Troika and all human triumph! Years from now, you will tell the successive generations of this day, the day when my vision became your reality!!!” “SLAVES OF GOD TO THEIR DOOM!! SLAVES OF GOD TO THEIR DOOM!! SLAVES OF GOD TO THEIR DOOM!!” The Legions roared over and over again, cheering for their Avatar and Supreme Leader, who even the Troika took orders from. “Yes…We are the Pantheon, The One True Belief, and together, we shall celebrate humanity’s ultimate victory, a victory over not just the Precursors, but our own decadence, and reliance on old, backwards systems such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I am not a slave of a filthy Jewish God, nor will I submit to any of the lesser races. We are the Empire of the Egoist Crown, and we shall prevail!” “Perfect…” Antonio Marduk hissed. “Andrew, I assume you’ve already met Captain O’Brien and his family on Valhalla?” Andrew sensed a group of individuals standing behind him…he turned around, and saw Captain Neil O’Brien and his fighter wing stood in their officer’s uniforms, ready to fly at a moment’s notice. “Hello Andrew…I don’t suppose you’ve forgotten about my family on Odon Citadel. My sisters ask about you all the time…tell me, have you ever seen a Shinigami-class fighter in combat? I was the top cadet at this year’s pilot academy, and now I’m assigned to the 181st Airborne Division. Andrew, Imperial pilots are trained with a certain creed…the priesthood is trembling, the Seven Knights of Light have betrayed Mankind…and only our fighter wing can make things right. Come join us, for you cannot hide from us forever…fear the Black Wings of Death…We are the 181st Airborne, and we are ever vigilant.” Neil said, ominously. He had definitely changed since Andrew last spoke with him. “Andrew, this is my fighter wing, standing next to me is my co-pilot and navigator, Feurst Vidar.” A tall, sinister, imposing black-haired young man saluted in his Imperial officer’s uniform standing next to Neil. “Our wing is ready whenever you are.” “Queen Ikkiku, spread the message far and wide, the Hand of Fate has embraced his destiny, King Irkaya, send a message to Shen Ryujin, Silver Arronax and Countess Saalra Lucifera in regards to the Wexylzhuria and Hvareno races. The Ministry of Science will identify their weaknesses, and the Sigtyr Nokturnal Mortum Kvlt will destroy their strongholds with their X-ray cannons…we’ll take care of the rest.” “Yes, My Lord.” Both Ikkiku and Irkaya prepared to broadcast their messages on encrypted channels at Prophet Marduk’s orders, just in case the Light Race was listening. As if on cue, the Legions all felt a dark, prickly sensation on the backs of their necks…a sensation that could only be caused by the presence of a Sigtyr warrior. She stood 8 feet tall, clad in a black feather, ornate robe and cloak, with a red hood over her head. Her cat-like eyes, needed for the extremely low light levels found on her home planet of Falx, in the Dark Galaxy more than 20 million light years from the Milky Way; the planet orbited an anti-matter star and thus was cloaked in a perpetual, warm, humid darkness near the equator and icy wastes near the poles, as anti-matter stars burned as black as night, emitting just enough light to make eyes practical in an evolutionary sense, were visible, staring out from under her hood, as was her long dark hair. She had the long, spindly, spider-like fingers that characterized her race, and she was accompanied by three Nightmare Cossacks, the companion race to the Sigtyr on Falx, each brandishing a huge scythe-like weapon, crackling with static energy, and two Korvax Death Crows, huge, skeletal bird-like beings with enormously long beaks, heads that could swivel at 360 degrees and three eyes, one on each side of the triangular head, giving these fearsome Imperial warriors 360-degree vision. They brandished huge sniper rifles in their crooked, bony hands, visible under their long black capes and war outfits. These three species, all native to Falx, were the epitome of Imperial terror, and the most feared of the Imperial warrior races. Falx was a truly alien world. Photosynthesis was impossible, but thanks to a huge abundance of liquid methane on the surface, life had evolved through chemosynthesis, rather than photosynthesis, and because of the planet’s low temperatures but very thick atmosphere, the majority of life forms on Falx reproduced at a rate of nearly 1 millions years per generation, flew around, buoyed up by the dense atmosphere, or lived in the methane oceans themselves, gliding across the surface, their surface area maximized to retain as much heat and light as possible, fixing nutrients from the methane itself. All life on Falx was dependent on methane, just as all life on Earth was dependent on water and sunlight…and the Sigtyr, Nightmare Cossacks and Korvax were no exception. They were some of the longest-lived species in the Universe, drank methane beverages and could not survive in direct sunlight for more than 3 minutes. The Korvax were extraordinarily alien in the fact that their intelligence was not individual, but collective, they lived in massive hive-castles and communicated with ghastly shrieks, cries and growls; on their own, they were lethal killing machines, capable of using their huge bodies and senses to great effect, but as an army, they were a collective super-organism, all attempting every possible solution to a battlefield dilemma until one of them inevitably worked…and when darkness fell, they were unstoppable in war…or in the blackness of space, where their weapons terrorized the enemies of the Empire. They stood more than 9 feet tall when walking upright, but preferred to scuttle on all fours in combat for greater speed, and could jump into the air and fly for short distances, descending on enemies like a swarm of razor-billed, gun-wielding monsters. The Sigtyr were the female race of humanoids on Falx, and the Nightmare Cossacks were the male race, both were capable of interbreeding with each other and children were quickly separated by gender, groomed into fierce hunters and warriors for the Empire. Saalra was a typical Sigtyr female, dark, beautiful, vicious and extremely mysterious. Few had actually seen her face, and those that did rarely lived to tell about it. Saalra approached Andrew and peered into his mind with her haunting, cat-like gaze, just visible from beneath her hood. “I am here, Hand of Fate, just as you have called…” Countess Saalra hissed with a squealing, cat-like voice. Her voice was very quiet and strained, for her species’ vocal cords were extraordinarily underdeveloped. She preferred to communicate telepathically with her own race, and with hand signals, bioluminescence and sinister, devilish giggling noises that were often substituted for actual words. “The Troika tells me your world possesses weaponry unlike any in the Imperial arsenal. We will need your X-ray cannons if we are to succeed.” “The cannons my world possesses can annihilate an entire star system with one blast…we will use them only as necessary, to avoid causing any friendly-fire incidents…but yes, our weapons are without parallel. However, the legions of Korvax hives and their Imperial Starfleet divisions are more than capable of fighting alongside the 181st Legion, I can assure you of that.” Andrew thought for a second about the idea of millions of vicious hive-creatures commanding Odin-class capital ships and swarming out after invading a planet…and then he realized why Falx was so feared. “Yes…I can see into you thoughts…my Legions of Korvax must be seen to be believed. They obey me and me alone, I am the only Sigtyr ever to tame the Hives, living in their eons-old fortresses in Falx’s frozen polar wastes…on Falx, a generation takes a million years to pass. The Hives that fight for me now are the same Hives that assisted the Troika during the Great Unification War 750,000 years ago. I led them then, and I lead them now. They answer to me and me alone, even though you are the Hand of Fate, the odds are that the Hives would try to make a meal of you.” The two Korvax standing behind Saalra and the Nightmare Cossacks rotated their heads 360 degrees, screeching and clicking their gigantic, razor-sharp beaks, their crooked, bony hands clutching their huge rifles. Their three massive compound eyes, each with more than 60,000 individual facets, were fixed squarely on Andrew; they clearly understood that he was the Hand of Fate, but probably wanted to eat him anyway. “The 35th, 36th, and 37th Legions, consisting only of Korvax, are preparing to depart Falx as we speak, more than 1800 Odin-class capital ships, each crewed by 625 million Korvax, using the same vehicles you are in the 181st…the Light Race will soon know the true meaning of the word ‘terror.’ And who is this…the woman who destroyed the Lordly Iron Hand? We welcome you to our ranks. Your power will be greatly valued in the coming war…the 150th Legion will survive without one capital ship. Our Sigtyr scouts have already detected that the Light Race is reorganizing and regrouping from its defeat at Malalaklese II, the destruction of the pyramid armada did not destroy the 7 Hvareno leaders, but it did slow them down. We believe that their next target may be Lilliana V.” Andrew remembered that Lucian Moonraiser, Captain of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche, was born and raised on that world, and also that Asaga, the Kalki Avatar, was born there as well. He remembered Lucian saying something, that he knew Asaga before he started this war, and that he had been concerned for his girlfriend’s safety around him, and rightfully so…the intel acquired by the Sigtyr assassins seemed credible. “Knowing what I know about Asaga’s connection to Lilliana V, I believe that intel is true. Countess Saalra, instruct the 35th, 36th and 37th Legions to depart for Lilliana V at once. Expect a large space battle to ensue if the Light Race does show up…I am confident in your warriors’ ability to get the job done…and if not, myself, the Troika, my allies and the 181st Legion will depart to assist you.” “Noble Hand of Fate, we will not disappoint you. I will relay your orders to the Korvax immediately…they will soon have fresh meat on which to feast.” “I’m sure of that…also, instruct the commanding officers of those Legions to dispatch a message on my behalf, I’m sure that the citizens of Delta Dromius and the luxurious house-yachts will notice a fleet of 1800 Odin-class warships appearing in orbit.” “Yes, My Lord.” Countess Lucifera walked calmly away with her guards, and the Troika looked hauntingly into their Avatar’s eyes. The die had been cast. There was no retreat, no failure.

Twenty-five million light-years away from Valhalla, a colossal armada set off amid the backdrop of a pure-black star. The invasion force was marked with the heraldry of the Empire and the various Hives that comprised the Korvax Legions, the horrid colonial organisms that called the world of eternal night, Falx, their home. They had just received Countess Lucifera and Andrew’s orders, and the message was clear: Travel to Lilliana V, and reinforce the planet’s defenses against a possible invasion. The crews of the 1800 Odin-class ships clung to the walls inside the vessels’ cavernous interiors, hanging like bats from any exposed surface, calling and flashing bioluminescence in the total darkness aboard the specially-designed warships of the three Korvax Legions, the Empire’s most fearsome divisions. If the 181st was the most prestigious, than these three Legions were by far the most feared. Everything about these particular Odin-class ships, and every vehicle used by the three Legions was specially designed for Korvax use, the Kraid Shipyards and Rothus Heavy Engineering had spared no expense to arm these fearsome warriors with everything they needed to fight in the Imperial Legions, their weapons, their armor, their vehicles, their ships, and most importantly, technology that enhanced their natural abilities to a level far beyond any human soldier…each one of them was equal in combat ability to an Indiction Guard, minus the telepathic augmentations, and as an army, they were nearly invincible…and they answered only to Countess Lucifera, one of the Imperial Grand Dukes, and the Hand of Fate. The ships’ interiors were designed to mimic the interior of the Korvax’s hive-castles on Falx, with all the comforts of home in deep space transit…or in battle. The huge warships began to accelerate to warp speed, it was six hours to anywhere in this Universe, and Korvax Supreme Overmind N’gar T’pek’ing Oberwyn was bearing the Hand Of Fate’s message of salvation to Lilliana V. The Korvax Overmind stood in the inky blackness of his bridge chamber, his bioluminescent headcrest shining like a Jack O’ Lantern in the dark, his heavy, raspy breathing the only sound, besides the hum of the massive Odin-class ship’s engines. Overmind N’gar was a veteran of some forty major conflicts, both interstellar and domestic, and had long led the Korvax Hives with honor and distinction, he was greatly respected throughout the Empire not just for his unwavering ferocity and determination, but his tactical brilliance and daring with which he commanded his Hives. Overmind N’gar clicked his razor-like beak, nearly 3 feet long, and rotated his triangular head, so his audioreceptors could better guage his surroundings. Deep in the bowels of his capital ship, he could hear his Legion screaming, calling for the taste of raw meat…they would have their fill of hvareno energy soon enough, if that was even edible. These enemies were unlike anything the Korvax had ever faced before, they weren’t even organic…and what good was an enemy that you couldn’t consume as nourishment for the colony? Just then, an alarm beeped in the darkness…the fleet had reached warp speed. In an instant, Overmind N’gar’s stylized battle armor flashed a brilliant greenish-blue with bioluminescence, he was not wearing his helmet, which fit in three pieces over his beak and head, for the halls of his ship were plenty dark enough to make protection of vital organs unnecessary. Overmind N’gar keyed in the coordinates for the Lilliana V exit point, and in an instant, his fleet vanished into Quantum Space.

On Lilliana V, the light from the Seven Suns shined a brilliant red over the Global Lake, marking the dawn of a new day on the planet, the beautiful red Blood Lilies crowding the crystal-clear, shallow lake that gave the planet its name, absorbing the warm, endless sunlight that drenched the world, making it such a desirable place to live. All was tranquil, save for the low whistle of a zero-point energy drive…on the horizon was a colossal house-yacht, marked with the St. John family coat of arms, slicing through the water like a blade. Standing on the elegant prow of the ship was a lovely brunette, standing about 6 feet tall, wearing a blue and white summer dress with a white sun hat to keep the sun out of her pale blue eyes. Her skin was ghostly-white and very fair, and she stood alone on the deck, watching the suns rise over the endless tranquility of the Global Lake, as she always did…just then, a tear rolled down her face… she had been crying a lot these days, for most of the people she held dear to her heart were either dead or long gone. Her friend Ferdinand Eisenheim, of Eisenheim Illusions Corporation, the company that designed the Imperial weaponry used by the Legions, had been wrongly executed, betrayed by the Kalki Avatar, who had been born to the Kanagashima noble family on Lilliana V…that family was long extinct, wiped out by the Kalki Avatar in a horrid rage of vengeance…and it was only a matter of time before the Light Race, as his army was called, returned to claim Lilliana V, utterly consuming the planet. Lucian Moonraiser, the only man that she had ever truly loved, had not contacted her in three months…he had promised to do so every month upon departing for Ansaati, so she assumed he was dead, especially after she heard that his division had crash-landed on the haunted Precursor world of Malalaklese II…to Samantha St. John, the future no longer existed. She and everyone else on Lilliana V was living on borrowed time, and all she could do was cry. “Samantha…do you want some breakfast?” “No thank you…I’m not hungry right now…just leave it on the table in the main dining room…where’s my father?” “He’s in the master suite on Deck 5…you really should eat, Samantha. You’ll feel much better…” “Anna…can I tell you something?” Samantha said, looking at the attendant with her somber blue eyes. “You have always been one of my best friends…I remember when I first met you, in Delta Dromius at boarding school…my father said we looked so adorable together, remember that? I remember when he hired you to be my personal attendant, so then it became your paid profession to spend time with me, not just as an attendant, but as a friend and adviser to everything I did…it was you who convinced me that Lucian was the one for me…it was you and Ferdinand that showed me what it truly meant to enjoy life…and now those days are over. Ferdinand was betrayed by the one man he truly trusted, Asaga Kanagashima III, who turned out to be the Kalki Avatar…and now he’s dead, executed for a crime he didn’t commit, and his family’s assets seized by the Empire…and Lucian, the only man I’ve ever truly loved is dead…I just know it in my heart. There is no way he could have survived the destruction of Malalaklese II…but knowing him, he was probably the one that activated the ship’s laser after it crashed…he died a hero. I am eternally grateful to have known him, somewhere between our long talks, sunset walks along the decks of our yachts, and all our little jokes, I fell in love with him. There was a time when he made me happy, his brown hair, handsome face and sense of humor made me smile even when I was about to cry…I still wonder why he left for the Academy…did I disappoint him, or let him down? Should I be feeling guilty? Because I did everything in my power to make him happy, just as he made me smile…back when everything was good, back when the future was so bright. Was I blind? He’s the one I love, with every piece of my heart. He took me by the hand, and took my soul out, into the sweet, sultry night. Without him, I don’t know if I can move on…we had our whole lives ahead of us. He touched my heart, I touched his soul, he changed my life, and all my goals, though love is blind, this I knew, my heart was blinded by his light. I’ve kissed his lips, he’s held my head, I’ve shared his dreams, and he’s shared my bed, I know him well, he knows my voice…I’m addicted to him…the only person I’ve ever truly loved has gone off to war and died, and left me with a broken heart…my world has come crashing down, realizing that these dreams we had together will now never come true. I’m so confused, should I cheer because I know he died a hero? Or cry, because I’ll never get to see him again? Breathing is such a task now…I love him so much…I love him with every bloody bit of this wasted, broken heart of mine…and as I move on, I’ll remember you…remember us, and all we used to be. He’s seen me cry, I’ve seen him smile, he’s watched me sleep for a while, I’d be the mother of his child, I’d spend a lifetime with him…and every day, I look into the mirror and see the same broken heart…but the hardest part of moving on, is knowing that he won’t be with me anymore, ever again. I love you, Lucian, I swear that’s true with every ounce of my soul…and I’ll never be the same without you…Goodbye my lover, goodbye my friend…you are the only one for me, and you always will be. Tears are forever streaming down my face for my fallen war hero. Tonight, when I settle down to sleep, you know it will be the picture of him that I grieve over…and I can be sure that it will never end…today is just another day with empty dreams, Anna…I would give this entire life of mine up just to see Lucian again, one more day…if that’s possible. Even now…I still hold his hand in mine when I sleep. He is forever with me in my dreams…and safe in my heart. Goodbye my lover, goodbye my friend…you are a hero to us all, and especially me. At ease, soldier…for all is quiet, all is dark. At ease….” Anna could not believe the beauty of Samantha’s speech…if Lucian really was dead, she was right. He died a hero of the 181st Legion, a true soldier of the Empire, and deserved to be honored, just as any other fallen soldier did. “Samantha…I understand what you must be feeling right now…my mother died when I was 9 years old, remember that? You helped me through that, just as I will help you through this. You don’t even know for sure that Lucian is dead. Think, the report said that a large percentage of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche survived the crash of their capital ship, maybe Lucian got off the planet, and is back on Valhalla.” “Perhaps…but for how long? This war is only going to get worse, if he didn’t die from this battle, what about the next one, and the next one, and the next one?” Samantha sobbed. “That, unfortunately, is the reality of war, and a question that every person left behind asks themselves when a loved one goes off to war. It has been the same since the dawn of humankind…there will always be war, and there will always be men and women who answer the call of duty. You did nothing to make Lucian leave for the Officer Academy on Ansaati. He made that choice himself, and I guarantee it was with you in mind, for he knows if he survives his 10-year deployment, the Empire will guarantee him and you a prosperous, happy, fulfilling life…and every one of your dreams and goals will be realized…you just have to hope that he survives. There is no point in ruining your own life over it, because, wherever he is now, he is hoping that you are ok, and he wouldn’t want you suffering for it…so don’t worry about him. Chances are, he’s already a war hero…and he’s waiting, dreaming of they day he can finally be reunited with you, on the deck of this very yacht, on your wedding day.” Samantha cried as she hugged her best friend in the morning light of the Seven Suns of Lilliana V. “I just hope he’s all right.” Just then, however, an ominous forewarning suddenly interrupted the morning Imperial broadcasts on the Lilliana V news networks, causing Arthur St. John, Samantha’s trillionaire father and corporate uber-mogul, to come running out on deck. “Sam, Anna, I think you’d best come inside and look at this…” Sam and Anna ran inside the yacht’s luxurious bridge common room and looked at the 3-D television set, powered by Immersion energy, a product of zero-point energy. Instead of the usual address by the Imperial Pantheon on Stronghold to begin every broadcast day, there was an eerie silence…punctuated only by an image, appearing on screen for a few seconds, and then disappearing, over and over again. The image was of a stark-white background, with a blood-red sunburst rune in the center, its jagged rays extending out from a hollow circle with an ankh in the center of the sunburst rune, also blood-red and positioned in the same manner as a Christian cross, as if mocking Christianity in some way. Just then, the image suddenly froze on the screen, taking up the entire 3-D projection field, and then…a message. “Quomodo cecidisti de caelo, Lucifer fili Aurorae!! Proin scelerisque portti been dominatorem terrae gentes! Nam tu dixisti in corde tuo, Ascendam super astra Dei Levabo ad caelum sed mea et sedebit in monte conventus, in Nortem absit. Ascendam super excelsa nubis, et similis altissimo…Ave, Ave Lucifer!! Ave, Ave, Kalki!! Ave, Ave Asaga! Ave, Ave, Imperium Solaris Lucifer!!!! AVE!!” Sam gasped as the message disappeared, and regularly scheduled programming resumed…this could only mean one thing. The Light Race, the Imperium Solaris Lucifer, was headed for Lilliana V. Samantha placed her hands in her hands and sobbed profusely…but in many ways, she was relieved. At least her suffering would be short-lived. The Imperium Solaris possessed weaponry beyond organic comprehension. At least Lilliana V’s death would be quick. “Dad…I hope when our deaths come…we are killed quickly, I don’t want to die in the Rape Chambers on some horrid, haunted world…they’ll use our bodies for fuel, their technology runs on human blood and tears…” Samantha sobbed. “Stop crying…that might draw them in…” Anna said, wiping the tears from Samantha’s eyes. “You don’t know that. How could the Light Race possibly know what is happening in this room from light-years away?” Just then, the T.V. crackled again, as if taunting Samantha. “Oh, sweet Samantha, don’t you cry, Asaga wouldn’t hurt a fly, Oh, sweet girl, dry your tears, we are here to assuage all your fears, Not the Chambers, are you bound, for this planet has already been marked down. Oh sweet Samantha, do not worry yourself sick, for your death indeed, will be very quick.” Suddenly, Samantha’s father’s face turned chalk white with fear…the Light Race was far more powerful that he could possibly imagine…Lilliana V was doomed, and they were coming for his daughter. Arthur was suddenly faced with every parent’s worst nightmare, knowing their only child was in mortal danger, and being utterly powerless to protect her…not as if he could do anything, anyway. Just then, the skipper manning the controls of Samantha’s house-yacht, the Summer Serenade, detected something on the yacht’s radar…it was traveling fast, and approaching from the southeast at nearly 4,000 knots! Samantha and her family rushed up onto the deck, only to be seared with a most incredible heat. Samantha screamed as a huge, spherical object, made of metal and glowing radiantly, as bright as one of the Seven Suns, hovered only 100 feet above the Serenade. “Samantha!! Get inside!!” Arthur yelled…but Samantha did not respond. Just then, she screamed as a golden beam of light enveloped her, promptly sucking her up into the giant, burning orb. The orb lifted up a bit, and scanned the Serenade with a ray-scanner of some sort, and then zoomed away, going from a still hover to 4,000 knots in less than a second! Arthur stood on the bridge, burned and in shock…the Light Race had just abducted his only child…and now, he would likely never see her again…

Samantha awoke in a dark, gray haze…she could hear voices all around her, nothing more than whispers, but they were of a deeply sinister tone…as if they were mocking her, pressuring her with intense, invasive jabs, as if attempting to force their way into her mind. She couldn’t move, paralyzed by some otherworldly force…this was unlike any technology that she had ever heard of before…this was a presence…a dark, evil presence…As Samantha slowly became aware of what was happening to her, her vision slowly came into focus. She was in a great deal of pain, the burns on her skin screamed for aid, and she was surrounded by…men. At least, they looked like men. They stood 12 feet tall, and did not appear to have a physical body, but were bodies of pure Light, taking the shapes of huge, regal human forms…dressed in extraordinary, elaborate costumes, serving as ceremonial war dress. “So…this is the Light Race…” Samantha thought, staring at her captors’ calm, somewhat soothing faces. They were handsome, all right. Every last one of them looked like the ideal human form, strong, radiant, spry and powerful…but they were not men. These were beings from a realm of existence so far beyond human comprehension that Samantha couldn’t even imagine it, her organic brain was incapable of comprehending the nature of the Hvareno, one half of the Light Race, the other half being the Wexylzhuria. “Who are you…what do you want with me?” Samantha whispered, trying to contain her fear. “I…I am a being…from within your dreams…Open your mind…” The Hvareno being hissed, placing his radiant, burning hand close to Samantha’s forehead, causing her to wince with pain. Samantha realized, at that moment, how the Light Race had found her…they had infiltrated her dreams, and followed her wherever she went…for she was having recurring nightmares about Asaga and his armada destroying Lilliana V in a fiery Armageddon…too late she realized that her dreams were in fact the Light Race entering her mind…they knew her deepest thoughts, fears, desires, loves and aspirations…and they were going to use every method they had to torture her. They were the pinnacle of existence, and enjoyed inflicting pain on lesser life forms…there was no escape from her fate. “Do not think that your world will be spared…for there is no escaping the coming fire. Our vengeance is near, Lucifer, Kalki, Asaga, the One True Light, shall return to judge this planet’s unworthy life forms, cleansing their presence from the face of the Universe. For thousands of years we have watched, waiting, preparing for the day that our Race of Light could emerge to reap the harvest once more…The Reckoning of the Angels will soon be upon this decadent world of primitive organic forms…and we are the deliverance!” The Light Race being proceeded to place his hand on Samantha’s forehead, causing a horrid, burning sensation to rip through her entire head, Samantha screamed as if her entire head had suddenly burst into flames. Every neuron of her brain writhed in mortal agony as the Light Race being, in a radiant, regal human form, copied the entire content of her brain into his consciousness, it was as if he was downloading the contents of her brain simply by touching her, the incredible burning sensation was him searing the thoughts from her mind, copying them and absorbing them into his immensely powerful psyche…and against all odds, Samantha endured. She endured every horrendous test that her abductors subjected her to, all 25 agonizing minutes of the mind-scan. When the scan was completed, the Light Race being removed his hand from Samantha’s forehead, leaving her just barely conscious…but the torment was just beginning. Clearly, the Light Race was a bit frustrated at Samantha’s resilience, because they seemed unsatisfied with the data they had gleaned from her mind. The Light Race being glared at Samantha, waving his hand over her head, as if trying to gouge her eyes out. “A strong mind…a strong will…You are difficult to read.” “For ones as limited as you, perhaps. To have fallen so far and learned nothing, that is where you fail, and your leader Asaga will never succeed, as long as the Hand of Fate still lives!” “SILENCE!! Your words are as empty as your future! The Hand of Fate’s power pales in comparison to Asaga’s divine light, he is the Morning Star, the Lightbringer, the most brilliant of all beings…and he shall cleanse the Universe of foul vermin like you, you and your entire race are nothing but VIRUS!” The Light Race being levitated her off of the examination table, and held her suspended in the air, and telekinetically began contorting her arms and legs into extremely painful, unnatural positions. Samantha screamed in mortal agony, this torture continued for 5 minutes, until the Light Race being simply dropped her onto the ship’s floor with a thud. Samantha coughed and sputtered, and stammered to her feet, her outfit ripped and torn, her body burned, but still resilient…her father was one of the most iron-willed businesspeople in the Universe, and he had raised her well. “You’ll have to do more than that, you alien, Luciferan fuckers…” Samantha cursed. The Light Race being began to lose his composure. His golden-orange glow began to turn blood-red with rage, and his eyes became rabid, bloodshot and dilated, glowing an eerie red. “I grow weary of this…so I’ll explain to you why we were taken…the destruction of the Light Race holy world, Malalaklese II, the Hallowed Grounds of the Wexylzhuria Empire, was the responsibility of one Lucian Moonraiser. We KNOW from your mind-scans, dreams, desires, fantasies and thoughts that you have deep feelings for this demon, this human affliction who shamed us at Malalaklese II, and severely hampered Asaga and the Hvareno leaders’ progress! Lucian still lives!! Where is he?! Submit now, or we will sear every inch of flesh from your bones!!” Suddenly it all made sense to Samantha…Lucian was alive, he was a hero of the Empire, and had struck such a nerve with the Light Race for his actions that they had marked Lilliana V for destruction and kidnapped his girlfriend just to draw him into a trap. The fact that they referred to Lucian as a “demon” was testament to how much the Light Race loathed him…and now, Samantha knew that she would not be killed, for she was vital to the Light Race’s operation on Lilliana V…she just had to hold on until the Imperial fleets arrived to fortify the planet…and she knew that the Light Race would inflict every sort of pain, torture and torment upon her to disclose Lucian’s location…but she would never tell. She would die before she betrayed her family and friends. If she had to die to save Lilliana V, so be it. Samantha smiled and laughed at the Light Race being’s threats. “I don’t know where he is…but if I see him, I’ll be sure to tell him that you abducted and tortured his girlfriend, and that’s something he’s not going to like.” Just then, a low alarm sound echoed through the Light Race sphere-ship…it was a proximity alarm…the Empire had arrived.

In orbit, the 35th, 36th, and 37th Legions dropped out of Quantum Space, led by Overmind N’gar, inbound from Falx, at the direct orders of Countess Lucifera and the Hand of Fate. Thankfully, the main Light Race invasion force hadn’t arrived yet, but they had issued a warning to Lilliana V over the broadcast channels, and had abducted one of the extremely wealthy heiresses on the planet, a young woman named Samantha St. John, for her connections to Lucian Moonraiser, the destroyer of Malalaklese II. “Apparently, the Captain of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche has drawn the ire of the entire Light Race…they see him as that great a threat.” Overmind N’gar thought, rotating his head to get a 360-degree look at Lilliana V. He was hungry, his Legions craved raw meat…though in the coming battle, they were not to harm any organic life forms…the Light Race was the ultimate enemy. Overmind N’gar grabbed a chunk of raw meat from his ration pack and shredded it with his huge, meter-long razor bill, before washing the festering lump of flesh down with a methane drink. “That’s better…” Overmind N’gar gobbled as he prepared his address to the citizens of Lilliana V. Just then, however, Overmind N’gar’s thought processes were interrupted by a proximity alarm from the far side of Lilliana V. Another Imperial armada, the legendary 181st Legion, had unexpectedly arrived only minutes after the Korvax Legions did. The arrival of enough Imperial starships to capture 15 star systems in Lilliana V orbit must have been a tremendous relief for the terrified citizens on the planet far below, because the 181st Legion was being led by the Ordo ab Chao, commanded by none other than the Troika and the Hand of Fate themselves. The four Legions took up orbital positions around the planet, covering all possible angles of attack with their field of fire, and began deploying hundreds of Loki-class assault ships for ship-to-ship combat. With the amount of firepower that the Empire had brought to bear, nothing was going to get through the fleet in one piece. Just then, the broadcast icon from the Ordo went active as the 181st elected to give the message. “Citizens of Lilliana V! Take heed! This is Captain Lucian Moonraiser of the 181st Legion, we have heard your call for help, and this is our prepared response to ANY Light Race aggression ANYWHERE in the Universe! We will defend this planet until the last man falls! The largest fleet assembled since the Great War, 750,000 years ago, is here to defend you! Now, my people, let us show our Greek heritage, and defend our home, just as King Leonidas did all those millennia ago! Those 300 men left an eternal price to uphold, Freedom or Death in Effect!! For Justice, for Hellas, and for the Empire of the Egoist Crown, it is our sacred duty to send these unholy alien beings back where they belong!!” With that, the die was cast. The Empire was gearing up for the largest space battle in millennia, and every single Imperial soldier was ready and waiting. They did not have to wait long. Out of Quantum Space, on the far side of Lilliana V, came the Imperium Solaris fleet. It consisted of a huge flotilla of glowing sphere-ships, surrounding a gigantic, black pyramid-ship, this one much larger and more formidable than the ones destroyed at Malalaklese II. This one was truly enormous…and it was surrounded by gigantic Wexylzhuria capital ships as well, larger than the Odin-class ships used by the Empire. “I am a God of War…The Embodiment of Ashur, Elyndir Torna…do you not know death when you see it, organic vermin? This is MY force!!” “He’s one of the Hvareno leaders…look at the size of his ships, my God…” Lucian said, awed at the size of the Imperium Solaris fleet. “Do not shrink from this terror. Rise to meet it face-forward! You are soldiers of the Empire of the Egoist Crown, whatever the Light Race throws at us, you will stand and fight!!” Ai Takada rallied the men of the 181st Legion, brandishing her Nano-Sword in her elegant, high-class outfit. The Troika and the Hand of Fate seconded her fervor…for such a sick, depraved madwoman, Takada was a truly inspiring leader for those in her charge…as well as a constant threat due to her dark, sexual fantasies. Those who spent time around her lived on a knife edge, at the whims of her daily machinations and dark desires…and she enjoyed every second of the power and control that this reputation afforded her. However, Elyndir’s fleet was perhaps the most colossal entity the 181st had ever faced. Everyone knew that this was going to be a gargantuan space battle, the Troika, Takada, and the Hand of Fate all knew that the majority of Shinigami-class fighter pilots in the hangars getting into their ships would not come back…however, they had Gwenlynn Stormweaver to lead them into battle against the immense capital ships used by the Imperium Solaris Lucifer, including Elyndir’s ship, a colossal black pyramid floating in space, radiating a dull, eerie orange glow, and surrounded by equally-massive Precursor warships. “Holy Mary Mother of Christ…” Captain Neil O’Brien said, piloting his squadron directly towards the enemy fleet. He was just dumbstruck by the sheer size and might of the fleet, just the pyramid ship alone was large enough to capture 20 star systems, even without the hundreds of sphere ships and Precursor capital ships accompanying it. O’Brien tried not to think about the types of weapons a ship of that size and magnitude might possess, or the strength of its shielding…however, he knew that this was going to get ugly. The Light Race was out for vengeance against the Empire for the destruction of Malalaklese II, and specifically the Captain of the Phantasmagoria-Himmel Warrior Creche, Lucian Moonraiser, the Light Race hated him so much that they made a personal point to abduct and torture his girlfriend and attempt to utterly annihilate his home planet as retribution for this “demon’s” sins against Asaga and his Imperium Solaris Lucifer. “God, Lucian, why do you have to go and piss everyone off like this?!” O’Brien groaned from his cockpit. Lucian was messing with the bull, and now here came the horns. The sphere ships took up position, and then released thousands of small, orange glowing orbs, which promptly zoomed toward the approaching Shinigami-class fighters, led by Gwenlynn Stormweaver and Neil O’Brien. “These are some sort of defense-AIs, evasive maneuvers, now!” Gwenlynn yelled from the distinctive Volant Fantasie as the Imperium Solaris fighters careened into the Imperial fleet. Just the, Neil witnessed the defense-AIs’ modus operandi in combat. One Imperial starfighter was unable to pull out of the way in time, and was immediately struck by the AI, promptly shattering the fighter to pieces…and the AI kept going, in search of new targets. “Damn it! They’re not shooting at us, they’re trying to ram us out of the sky! All fighters, activate point-defense arrays, jam their guidance systems! The Imperial fighters took offensive formations and activated their counter-guidance systems, just as the defense-AIs came around for another attack run, like a swarm of angry hornets…however, when they got sufficiently close to an Imperial starfighter, their formation scattered, and they spun off in arbitrary directions, hopelessly jammed by the Shinigami-class fighters’ elite counter-guidance systems. The Volant Fantasie did the same. “Wow, this might be easier than we thought!” Neil said, loudly into his comlink. “They don’t have any fighters, they use only defense-AIs to protect their capital ships? HA!” “Don’t get too comfortable, Neil. This is too easy…” Gwenlynn cautioned. “This is Pontifex Arditi to all fighters, the three Precursor capital ships are on the move, I repeat, the three Precursor capital ships are on the move!” “They’re headed straight for Lilliana V, I don’t believe it, they’re completely ignoring the Imperial fleet, they’re not even firing at us, what the hell is going on?!” Neil swore as the colossal, triangular, pulsating Precursor capital ships dropped below the Imperial fleet to an altitude of about 300 miles above the surface of Lilliana V, and took a triangular formation, the three immense starships arranged in a perfect equilateral triangle, so that they encircled the planet, their enormous prows pointing directly at Lilliana V. “Andrew, do you have any idea what they’re doing?” Neil said, his fighter squadrons moving to engage the three Precursor ships, still not firing any point-defense cannons or even releasing more defense AI’s…the Imperium Solaris wasn’t fighting, but they were definitely doing something. Back aboard the Ordo ab Chao, Prophet Anteon tuned into the Imperium Solaris battlenet chatter, and detected a very odd, ominous signal coming from the three Precursor warships. “Lucifer, Holy Lightbringer, Morning Star, Archangel Asaga Kanagashima, cast thy divine radiance upon this world of deprived, organic condition, Kalki, bring the cleansing flame of justice down, though your Lord of of War, Elyndir Torna, Embodiment of Ashur, in His name we pray, Amen…” “THEY ARE PREPARING AN ASSAULT ON THE PLANET DIRECTLY!! ALL SHIPS FIRE AT WILL!!” Andrew yelled, drawing his pen and notebook to alter reality if need be. Immediately, a tidal wave of Imperial turbolaser fire struck the three Precursor warships, which were starting to generate the same eerie orange glow that Elyndir’s pyramid ship was. Any other warship would have been annihilated from such a colossal salvo, but when the static haze cleared after the impact…there was not a scratch on the Precursor warships. “How the…?!” Neil screamed. He couldn’t believe it. The reason the Light Race didn’t even bother to engage the Imperial forces was because they didn’t even see the Empire as worthy of notice. Their technology was simply too advanced and too powerful. Their shields were invincible to Imperial weaponry…there was no way to destroy them. “Oh, Dear God…this is it…” one of the Legionnaires said, realizing that his entire species and Empire was just a speck on a cosmic pan when compared to the Imperium Solaris Lucifer. “STOP!!” Lucian immediately interjected into the communications suite. The Troika was a bit alarmed at Lucian’s sudden outburst during the space battle, but then, they realized what he was doing. “Stop, mighty Imperium! I am the one you seek! I am the source of your anguish, rage and hate! Leave the innocent people of Lilliana V alone…We destroyed Malalaklese II…if you want to destroy Lilliana V, you’ll have to go through us first!!” The response from Elendyr was immediate. “DEMON!! Your transgressions and travesties against the True Lightbringer have already desecrated the holiness of one Light Race world, and they shall not harm another!! If death is what you seek, then I shall be thy deliverance!” The three enormous Precursor warships broke formation and immediately took a more recognizable battle formation, with the gigantic pyramid-ship in the center of the triad…that’s when the shooting finally started. The sphere-ships charged forward at breakneck speed, hurtling towards the Imperial fleet in radiant beams of light, but were immediately met with a hail of turbolaser salvos from the Imperial fleet, vaporizing tens if not hundreds of sphere-ships. The defense-AIs zoomed into action again too, and the Imperial starfighters joined a maelstrom of ships whizzing and darting about, destroying and firing upon each other in a frenetic dance that raged across the stars, lighting the endless summer day of Lilliana V with a deadly fireworks display in orbit. The capital ships continued to fire upon one another, but the problem noted before persisted. The Imperial fleet simply couldn’t seem to damage the Precursor warships, they were protected by the same orange energy field that protected the pyramid-ship…however, the Precursor warship’s weapons, massive, blood-red laser cannons that fired a sustained beam of X-rays and gamma radiation, were starting to cause heavy damage to the Imperial fleet. “Those cannons are too powerful! We’re sustaining heavy damage!!” He’s right. We aren’t causing any damage to their capital ships at all, that pyramid-ship is generating some sort of impervious energy field…we’re going to have to destroy that thing from the inside…” Gwenlynn observed from the cockpit of the Volant Fantasie, all the while shooting down sphere-ship after sphere-ship with her ship’s murderous quad laser cannons and concussion missiles. “Don’t worry…we’ll handle this ourselves…Me, Takada and Gwenlynn. We will board the pyramid-ship and destroy the shielding. Then, you’ll be free to obliterate the Precursor ships.” The Troika did not object, especially after witnessing an X-ray burst weapon powerful enough to wipe out 3 star systems obliterate an Odin-class warship of one of the Korvax Legions with one shot, the Korvax Legions were taking the bulk of the Imperium Solaris’ onslaught. “Gwenlynn, return to the Ordo, and join forces with Takada and Sei Ikkiku. Infiltrate the pyramid ship, and destroy its shielding mechanism. We either destroy that ship, or risk losing the entire Legion.” Pontifex Arditi said, with his calm, echoing voice. “Sei, come with me, dear…we have some chaos to incite.” Sei and Takada drew their huge Hallucination Nano-Swords, and made their way to the teleporter to the bridge…they would follow Gwenlynn in Sei’s Pleiadean starfighter, big enough for two Pleiadeans, or a Pleiadean and an augmented warrior. “Wait…” Andrew said, stopping them as they walked into the teleporter. “Allow me to assist you, Miss Takada, in a way other than making you drinks.” “Oh? How so?” “I will open a wormhole that leads directly to the pyramid-ship, that way, you avoid the maelstrom of a space battle out there and slip in undetected.” Andrew said, being jostled around as another colossal X-ray blast struck and vaporized a Loki-class assault ship. “You’d best get going…Lilliana V doesn’t have much time left…” “Yes, My Lord…” Takada acknowledged her orders, and stepped into the teleporter with Sei Ikkiku, bravely facing their destiny. “There are some actions that cannot be avoided…we cannot deny them, and we cannot ignore them. These are the actions that define who we are as individuals, and as an entire species. Every organic life form, sentient or otherwise, faces the same questions of existence, struggle, life, death, trial and tribulation. I have seen much already from this grand future world, and if it is one thing I have learned, it is this: There are no morals to this story…they are written by the authors, and each story is different…I should know. I am the author of Pantheon Doctrine, the text that inspired this vast Empire. I built this world, and I am the Hand that guides its fate. I have embraced my destiny as their leader, and I will deliver this Universe from evil, corruption, crime and hatred, and make it safe for every last Imperial citizen to sleep soundly! Now, Race of Light, this is my force!!” Andrew wrote the coordinates of where he wanted the wormhole to appear in his notebook, and tapped the page three times with his pen. In an instant, a small wormhole opened directly in front of the Volant Fantasie and Sei and Takada’s fighter, teleporting them directly towards the immense pyramid-ship, which was keeping all space warships away from its hull with the same eerie orange glow. In an instant, the two ships reappeared directly in front of the colossal pyramid-ship, within its orbit and energy field, bathing the two fighters in the same orange aurora. “In the name of all things sacred, look at the size of this thing…” Gwenlynn said as she, Takada and Sei approached the massive starship, twice the size of an Odin-class warship. “I don’t see an entrance…” Takada hissed from Sei’s copilot seat. As if on cue, a huge, triangular portal opened up directly in front of them on the ship’s hull, as if beckoning them inside. “Well…in we go. Whatever awaits us inside, we’ll be ready for it, for we are Hyperborean goddesses, chosen warriors of the Master Race, and we shall cut into the heart of this horrid infestation, destroy the pyramid-ship, and burn any subhuman son of a bitch stupid enough to stand in our way!” Gwenlynn screamed into her comlink like a bloodthirsty goddess of death as she flew into the cavernous entry to the bowels of the pyramid-ship, with Takada and Ikkiku following right behind. As they entered the vast, cavernous halls of the pyramid-ship, they flew through an eerie, orange glow that seemed to reflect a peaceful, setting sun, radiating through the entire ship, which dwarfed the interior of an Odin-class warship or a Pleiadean War Wyvern…and covering every inch of available surface inside the ship were miles and miles of spectacular, lordly, regal artwork, depicting millions of years of Hvareno and Wexylzhuria conquests, spread out before Takada, Sei and Gwenlynn was the entire history of the Light Race, all told through immense frescoes and murals that dwarfed any organic art style in both form, method and scale. “This is far beyond anything organic life is capable of…look at the way the pictures seem to move from different angles…no known compound can achieve such visual effects…this is incredible, I could spend a lifetime researching the Imperium Solaris…wow…” Sei gasped, marveling at the splendor all around her. It was three-dimensional, every surface was covered with inscriptions and artwork of some kind. This was a society billions of years more advanced than the Egoist Crown Empire…flying around within the vastness of one of their capital ships was a truly humbling experience…somewhere in this vast warship was their target, Elyndir Torna, the embodiment of Ashur. It wasn’t long before their presence began to attract the attention of the Light Race. The Hvareno beings and Wexylzhuria began to materialize out of the pulsating, glowing walls, they were beings of pure energy, and had become a part of their ship’s electrical system. The Hvareno beings’ pale, tranquil, radiant, handsome faces watched the two starfighters intently, but didn’t attack, and the Wexylzhuria’s frightening, ghoulish static black shadow bodies stood ominously on, following the two Imperial and Black Order starfighters with their narrow, glaring, slit-like eyes, crackling with electricity. “They look like they’re preparing an invasion…” Gwenlynn thought as the two starfighters rounded a bend, and immediately faced a truly colossal mural, nearly 1,000 feet tall…depicting Elyndir Tonra, in his full Hvareno regalia, carrying a massive sword in his left hand,with hundreds of burning worlds behind him…so this was him. Here was a being who had existed for billions of years, and in that time had claimed the lives of trillions of organic beings. Atop the mural was a huge, orange, burning, radiant portal, Sei immediately recognized it as a teleporter, possibly leading to Elyndir’s location. Just then, Gwenlynn spotted a distinctive runic symbol on the wall, directly above the portal. “That’s the symbol of the Ordo Rituum Occultus…so…it seems that the ancient stories of Lucifer, radiance, fallen angels, Nephilim, the Apocalypse and Revelations were really just describing the near-genocide of humanity by the Imperium Solaris, more than 900,000 years ago…” “Precisely, Gwenlynn.” Sei interjected. “The last time the Kalki Avatar appeared to lead the Imperium Solaris, the Ancient Human Empire was all but destroyed, leaving just us Pleiadeans and you humans stranded on Earth. We must do all in our power to prevent history from repeating itself. Into the portal we go, whatever awaits us, we will face it with honor, courage and the spirit of Enlightened Justice. By the Grace of the Golden Throne, we cast justice upon thee…” The two Imperial starfighters flew directly into the portal, and in an instant, were warped into a colossal chamber, one that dwarfed anything they had ever seen before. It looked like a temple, a throne room, a tomb and a cathedral all in one, and it was truly massive…It was big enough to contain half of Nox Aeterna on Arcana II! On the walls were huge murals, pulsating with crackling electricity, and above a gigantic podium and throne pedestal was the charismatic Eye of Lucifer, the eye in the center of the glowing pyramid…and assembled far below the starfighters were millions of Hvareno and Wexylzhuria soldiers, standing at attention, preparing for an all-out invasion of Lilliana V…if they didn’t vaporize it with their X-ray and gamma ray weaponry first…Sei shuddered when she realized that those weapons and fleets were being fueled by those killed in the Rape-Holocaust. Several of the Hvareno and Wexylzhuria soldiers looked up at the fighters flying overhead, watching them with their glowing, tranquil eyes…then, their attention was quickly directed at the enormous podium, where none other than Elyndir Torna himself stepped into the light, he stood nearly 180 feet tall, clad in the most splendid, shimmering armor and outfits imaginable. His helmet was adorned with huge oryx horns, and his eyes shone the same color as stars. He was the Embodiment of Ashur, the Assyrian God of War…and his wrath was about to descend upon Lilliana V. “Children of Light, have you gathered before me, to witness the Imperium Solaris’ vengeance upon this deprived world…even now, our enemies lurk in our midst…” Elyndir said, his burning gaze focused directly upon the two fighters, miniscule in comparison to his imperial lordliness. Just then, six enormous, angelic wings spread from behind Elyndir, as he became even more regal and radiant…he hovered just feet above the ground, with his robes, armor and ornamentation billowing behind him, his six massive wings slowly, rhythmically beating to keep his immense form aloft…he was now in his pure form, the radiant spirit of Ashur himself. He drew a truly colossal sword from his scabbard, it was 90 feet long and blazing with solar energy, inscribed with an ancient Assyrian war prayer, and held it at the ready position. “Gwenlynn, we must retreat immediately, he is far too powerful, use your common sense! We stand no chance against him and his army.” Sei interjected, realizing the gravity of the situation unfolding before them. Just then, however, Takada interjected. “She’s not aiming at Elyndir…” Sure enough, the Volant Fantasie was locking onto a huge, radiant orb of energy shining like a miniature Sun directly behind Elyndir’s head. “Sei, aim for that orb, it should disrupt whatever the Light Race is doing.” Just then, Takada proceeded to fall into a trance-like state, where she began recounting each and every one of her horrific crimes… “A Cult bound like worms entwined…of Aryan body and pure mind…a Cult of Love, a cathartic scene…enter the lair of the Night Queen…lurking in the night, a fearsome sight…pulled traveling folk towards their Light…no graves have the victims of these lordly fiends…we cursed the Universe, I am the Night Queen…from their flesh we made a meal…from their blood we made fine wine…from their passions we sought the light…bleeding everywhere, on everything in sight…Their skin the floors for our knees to kneel…their skulls a table from which to gorge…alas, the victims of the Night Queen. We live by the gun and fall by the Love…and I see nothing wrong with that…but in my hellish tower worse than any dream…cursed with the shadows of the Night Queen…On the cross, we nailed their arms…blood flowed forth from their gaping wounds…nails protruded from their wrists agape…my followers’ children served to me…as nourishment for the Night Queen…some are haunted by the tolling bells…some by the fiery pits of Hell…but what haunts you will be what you have seen…when you enter into my lair…the lair of the Night Queen.” These ghastly rhymes were a way for Takada to focus her own telekenetic powers, letting the dark, evil passions flow through her, the bloodlust, hate, carnal cravings and cannibal fantasies empowered her in combat…anger, hatred, fear, lust…those passions empowered her beyond most human comprehension. In an instant, Takada’s body began to glow radiantly with a blood-red glow, her eyes aflame with passion and rage, coal black and dilated like shark’s eyes. “Sei…make a low pass over Light Race legions far below…the moment Gwenlynn fires upon that power orb…I shall strike.” Without a word, Sei moved her fighter craft low, garnering the attention of the massing Light Race legions, their radiating and static-electric bodies crackling with anger…when suddenly, Sei’s fighter’s zero-point, blue glow was replaced with Takada’s raging orange passion…at a simultaneous moment, Gwenlynn’s fighter fired two concussion missiles at the power orb behind Elyndir’s head, striking it hard and strong, just as Takada released her raging energy, striking the entire Light Race legion, a veritable tsunami of energy. The response from the Light Race and Elyndir was immediate. The Light Race must not have been aware of Sei, Takada and Gwenlynn’s presence, until Takada annihilated more than one million Light Race legionnaries with one attack. Elyndir unleashed a truly blood-curdling war cry, and raised his massive sword to release his own energy burst, but the two Imperial fighters were too maneuverable. The effortlessly evaded the colossal bursts of gamma radiation blasting from Elyndir’s huge blade, which struck the wall, utterly obliterating a part of his own ship and creating a convenient exit for the two Imperial fighters, which now had the full attention of the entire Light Race, for with Gwenlynn’s torpedoing of the power core in the main assembly hall, the impregnable shields protecting the Imperium Solaris fleet was down. Immediately, the pyramid-ship began to shudder and crumble as Imperial turbolaser fire struck the hull again and again, causing massive structural damage to Elyndir’s ship. Down the massive corridors the Imperial starfighters zoomed, with hundreds of Imperium Solaris defense-AIs hot on their tails, but with their point-defenses activated, these weapons were useless against Imperial fighters…one of the key flaws in the Imperium Solaris’ fleet structure: they did not use starfighters. Calmly and fearlessly, Gwenlynn, Sei and Takada piloted their starfighters through the pyramid-ship’s crumbling superstructure, massive statues of Light Race leaders toppling as the ship was pelted with Imperial gunfire, when suddenly, a hull breach opened directly in front of the two fighters. Gwenlynn, Sei and Takada made their escape back into space, their mission was complete. “This is Takada…the shields are down, we are victorious. Sei and Gwenlynn have struck a mortal blow against this abomination calling itself Imperium Solaris…be advised, the Imperium Solaris has deployed ground Legions into Delta Dromius…we’re taking this fight to the surface.” Back on the Ordo ab Chao, a plan was devised by the Troika and the Indiction Guard to defend Delta Dromius, while the Imperial Starfleet chipped away at the colossal Imperium Solaris fleets in orbit. The destruction of the shields had not stopped the Imperium, but it had made the battle winnable. The Indiction Guard would split into three platoons, each one led by Sei, Takada, or Gwenlynn, who in turn would lead three enormous Fireteams, consisting of 150,000 members of the 181st Legion each, and 250,000 Korvax soldiers, split into three divisions as well. Lucian, Orlan and Filby were assigned to Takada’s fireteam, callsign “Sawney,” after the infamous Scotsman who reportedly cannibalized more than 1,000 people in the 15th century. Needless to say, the three of them were a bit nervous serving under someone as unstable and violent as Takada was…they had seen her utterly slaughter hundreds of Night Hammers at the Battle of the Midnight Sun, and then murder, torture and rape Admiral Veed to death aboard his own ship, and then assume total control of the 181st Legion…and the Troika allowed it, making the appointment official just before the battle began. Clearly, neither the Troika nor Takada cared anything for the lives of soldiers or anyone else, they only desired to achieve their own ends…and so far, it was working. The tide of battle was slowly turning in favor of the Empire, with Takada’s ships making maneuvers that the usually-cautious Veed would have never ordered, the destruction of the pyramid-ship from the inside was Takada’s idea, but the invasion of Delta Dromius was a huge concern…this would be the first time Lucian had set foot on Lilliana V since he left for the Academy on Ansaati…he tried not to think of the civilians doubtlessly being slaughtered by Light Race far below…there was still no sign of Samantha St. John’s location. Lucian feared the worst…but he couldn’t let it bother him. He had a job to do, and he knew that the Empire was counting on him to get that job done, as was every inhabitant of his homeworld. Lucian followed Takada to the shuttle bay to board the landing barge…this was his homecoming.

 

                    1. 14. For the Love of God, NO!!

                      She sat in the cockpit of the lead landing barge, with the kind of stoic, expressionless look reserved for only the most demented of serial killers. Laid out before her was a world in flames, the city of Delta Dromius, with its glistening white spires and floating, elaborate architecture, was unrecognizable. Wreckage and metallic fragments polluted the crystal-clear waters of the Global Lake, and the horizon was dominated by massive spacewrecks, having crashed into the lake, creating small tsunamis upon impact from the battle in orbit. Takada smiled at the sight. Sadistic to the core and utterly consumed by her own psychosis, she got a sick satisfaction to seeing millions die all around her, and every member of the 181st Legion knew very well that she would kill any of them at the slightest provocation ,and likely torture, rape or even cannibalize them. She was, in many ways, more like a feral animal than a human being, but behind those empty blue eyes and seductively gorgeous exterior was one of the most cold, brilliant and calculating minds in human history…and one capable of unleashing vast telekinetic attacks. Combined with her Hallucination Nano-Sword, Ai Takada, Draconis Marunae Tropica, callsign “Sawney,” was one of the most potent weapons the Troika had in their arsenal…and she was about to be unleashed upon the Imperium Solaris here, on this world, in defense of the Empire of the Egoist Crown, a government she once swore to destroy. Her chief Lieutenant, Toni, was fighting alongside her, armed with an ion Arc Caster to disrupt the radiating bodies of the Light Race soldiers in combat, as were all the Legionnaires on this mission. Their objectives were simple. Infiltrate the city, and kill every last Light Race son of a bitch dumb enough to wander into their crosshairs. As the landing barges made their final approach into the city, Antonio Marduk made a final call to each of the three Fireteams landing in the vast, burning city. “How’s it looking, Sawney?” Marduk hissed. “Landing zone is clear. No hostiles in sight…preparing for engagement.” Takada said, with a droning, zombie-like voice. She was clearly allowing her hatred and dark, sick passions to consume her…allowing her to unleash her full horror against the Light Race. “All right men, let’s lock and load! Our objectives are clear. Clean out the city, and eliminate the Light Race threat from Lilliana V. When those doors open, let them have it!” Irkaya Falkenbach squawked, his bird-heads speaking for him. The lead dropship contained Takada, Irkaya and Selene Falkenbach, Amaranth Morgana, Sayu Ayanura and Kokkoro Aoyama, the five highest-ranking Indiction Guards, as well as 300 Imperial Legionnaires, led by Lucian, Orlan and Filby. Thousands of other Imperial dropships like it were landing all over the city, preparing for combat. Aboard Takada’s dropship, the five Indiction Guards and Takada prepared for battle. The Indiction Guards began channeling their Runic Staves as they drew their Nano-Swords and Kokkoro drew her MagniFire rifle, preparing it for action. Takada entered a deeply-disturbed state of rage, glowing an eerie red as she drew her own Hallucination Nano-Sword. The Legionnaires locked and loaded their Arc-Casters, as standard plasma weaponry was useless against the Light Race beings. “30 seconds out, now we’re…What the?!” Suddenly, the entire dropship shuddered as it swerved to avoid an enormous walking, all-terrain vehicle striding across the burning cityscape, with gigantic, red glowing eyes and lines of light pulsating all over its hull…it looked almost organic, like a giant squid walking on its tentacles. “In the name of God, what is that?!” some of the Legionnaires gulped, as they saw not one, but five of these enormous destroyer vehicles vaporizing huge sections of the city. “Do not fear these weapons…we shall overcome…despite the bloodshed, we are stronger than they…” Takada hissed. The dropship settled down in a landing zone about 100 yards east of the destroyer, and when the doors opened, Takada, the Indiction Guard and the Legionnaires immediately hit the ground running. For Lucian, this was his first time in Delta Dromius since setting out for the Academy on Ansaati, and the city was unrecognizable. The harbor was trashed and the scores of huge house-yachts sunk and burning, their priceless decorations and trappings scattered across the polluted, oil-choked water like discarded scraps of garbage, skyscrapers burned and bombed-out, shattered glass and structures making the normally spotless city streets impassable, and not a sign of anything alive for miles…this truly was an apocalyptic scene. Civil defense sirens screamed a warning to anyone still caught in the city to seek shelter, and hope the Light Race didn’t find them. Scraps of paper and garbage filled the air, blowing about on the hot, dry winds fanned by the towering flames and choking clouds of black smoke. Every so often, a massive explosion was heard as the gigantic destroyer vehicles fired their X-ray cannons, incinerating everything they touched…this was truly the end for Lilliana V. Perhaps what the Wexylzhuria tomb-keeper, “Legion,” was right. Perhaps the Light Race really was too advanced for any organic life to possibly overcome. Maybe the Imperium Solaris really was an invincible enemy…but Lucian refused to believe that. No enemy was completely free of weaknesses. There had to be some flaw, some exploitable hole in their tactics or strategy that the Empire could exploit…and if anyone could find it, it was the Indiction Guard. Their most powerful technique was, by far, their Hyperspace Meditation, allowing them to harness the immense power of the Planck Energy Field, the Quantum Field, and even travel to other universes in the multiverse, King Irkaya, the Troika and his Indiction Guard had traveled to universes so exotic that it would make any non-augmented individual’s head spin. Conscious energy, like that seen in the Light Race, was actually quite common in other Universes, but not in the Empire’s. If anyone knew their weakness, it was Irkaya Falkenbach and his wife, Selene, and the 82 master mages, the proud Indiction Guard, the Troika’s Right Hand. It wasn’t long before Fireteam Sawney made its first enemy contact. They were marching in a line, the Hvareno and Wexylzhuria beings in battle formations, 5 soldiers to a squad. The Hvareno and Wexylzhuria had abandoned their sentient, sophisticated humanoid forms in favor of a rather simple body plan, a giant, ghost-like blob of energy, looking somewhat like the cheesy Halloween ghost costume of Charlie Brown fame, complete with tiny, yellow glowing eyes. The Hvareno were the same shimmering golden-orange color, and the Wexylzhuria were their usual jet-black, pulsing with static electricity. They promptly spotted the Indiction Guard and moved to engage, sliding across the ground like amoebas toward their targets. Instantaneously, Kokkoro Aoyama raised her MagniFire rifle, but instead of firing it, she raised her hand and promptly opened a portal into the Planck Energy field, firing her rifle into the open tunnel. The beam was instantaneously amplified and released as a colossal pulse of hyperspace-ionized electricity, which promptly fried all 15 Light Race beings moving towards them, all in the space of 2 seconds. “Let’s go.” Kokkoro gave the order to move forward. The Indiction Guard and Takada charged forward into the heat of the war, with the Imperial Legionnaires following right behind. Immediately met by another platoon of Light Race beings, the Indiction Guard tore into them with the force of a raging typhoon, simultaneously using their weapons and the Hyperspace abilities in tandem to utterly annihilate their foes. The Light Race beings had no chance to react, the Indiction Guard were quantum sorcerers with more than 800,000 years of experience destroying enemies of the Empire and the Troika, and they knew precisely how to send these abominations back to whatever universe they crawled out of. They were conscious energy, nothing more; their bodies could not be destroyed, as per the laws of thermodynamics, but their consciousness could. Kokkoro and Sayu were particularly vicious, Kokkoro was using Hyperspace abilities combined with her uncanny abilities with ranged weaponry to destroy entire platoons of Light Race beings with a single shot of ionized plasma, and Sayu was an unrivaled master with the Hallucination Nano-Sword, using its wondrous abilities to carve a bloody swath through enemy after enemy. Kokkoro was a cool, calculating, killing machine, and Sayu was acting like a deranged killer afflicted with a never-ending case of Ecchi Syndrome, a disease caused by a virus, transforming its victims into nymphomaniacs to spread the disease through sexual contact, but eventually killing them. Takada acted like that too, but they were a case where the patient didn’t suffer, but enjoyed every minute of it…though because of their augmentations, their immune systems were impervious, they could not get sick…that was just their personality. the Indiction Guard had once been called to cleanse an outbreak zone, overrun by Ecchi Syndrome-infected women…they were sex-crazed virus zombies, and the Indiction Guard did what they did best…destroy all enemies of the Egoist Crown Empire and the Troika. Sayu and Takada’s style reflected their worship of sexual catharsis, whereas Kokkoro was a patient, master huntress, taking her shots with vicious efficiency. The Legions and the Guard burned their way through hundreds of Light Race soldiers, battling their way through the ruins of Delta Dromius. For Lucian, it was especially emotional. This was his home, those burning, flooded hulks smoldering in the harbor were once the opulent, seagoing homes of the wealthiest of Imperial citizens, a world that Lucian had grown up in, suffered through all the trials of boyhood in, and met the love of his life in…and now it was all gone. Gone were the beautiful, ethereal Seven Suns, gone were the vast pods of Wingwhales, gigantic, flying whale-like creatures that grew to more than 100 feet long with a 50-foot wingspan, they flew high in the dense atmosphere of Lilliana V feeding on clouds of floating plankton, as the planet orbited the blue star Lumus, the brightest of the Lilliana Cluster’s Seven Suns. Gone were the millions of species of native crustaceans that populated the Global Lake, the “Sylphswimmers” and the airborne versions, “Sylphgliders,” gone was the brilliant, pure, oxygen-rich atmosphere that made the world such a beautiful place to live. Lucian fondly remembered watching the Wingwhales soaring high on the thermal updrafts, their haunting songs echoing through the summer air, high above his family’s house-yacht. He also remembered seeing a Wingwhale fall victim to its main predator, the Sky Wraith, an equally-massive airborne carnivore that impaled its prey on a hollow lance as hard as titanium, killing the Wingwhale in midair and draining it of body fluids, through the Wingwhales were known to fight back, the dogfights between Wingwhales and Sky Wraiths made Lilliana V famous throughout the Imperium…and now, it was all gone…but not if Lucian and the 181st had anything to do with it. This urge to protect his home drove him even harder than usual, he followed directly behind Takada, though her extreme aggressiveness in slaughtering the Light Race with her Nano-Sword didn’t leave much for the Legions of Fireteam Sawney to shoot at…she was behaving like a rabid animal. The look on Takada’s face was of a cold, heartless killer, one who only existed to cause harm, and enjoyed every second of it. Her cunning was unparalleled, her brutality utterly unmatched anywhere in the Universe, as she slaughtered her way through the Light Race soldiers, she monologued, mumbled quietly to herself, recounting her most horrendous crimes… “There was this time that I saw a disparaging message about me and my modeling and acting work on the Imperial Holonet social networks, so I found the arrogant fool responsible for this travesty…I kidnapped him and his family and brought them to the Midnight Sun on Arcana II, stripped his family of their clothing and forced them to stand in a dark, broiling-hot meat locker filled with decomposing human remains…I walked into the meat locker holding a burning-hot branding iron, with a look of inhuman displeasure on my face…I was not pleased that this worm and his mentally-retarded son with a severe speech impediment had the gall to insult my work if they had never even seen it, his wife was hideous, her vagina looked like an old rag that a dog had been slobbering all over, but perhaps that was just because she was standing ankle-deep in human effluence, the remains of the other fools that dared anger me or insult me. I forced them to kowtow at my feet, covering their naked bodies with blood and their own sickening vomit from the horrid stench of the corpses. I did not let them rise until I had stripped them of all dignity, for I subjected them to the most horrific of verbal torment for more than an hour, after I read each of their minds’ laying out their flaws, sins, crimes and most embarrassing details of their lives in front of them, and utterly destroying any sense of self-worth they had…all because the father told me that I needed to lose weight on my photo shoot…but that was only the beginning. I shackled them all together, placed the retarded boy in a cone, similar to what a dog wears after he’s been neutered, and took them all into separate rooms. The retarded boy was dealt with first, since he had the intelligence of a dog, my cult and I placed him, kicking and screaming face up on a surgical table, and shackled him to it with huge, heavy, painful iron chains and shackles, far too large for his 9-year old body to handle, while still keeping him in the cone. One of my cult girls prepared the surgical instruments…and she then performed the neutering operation, without anesthesia. We placed a ball gag in the boy’s mouth to keep him from screaming under the surgical sheet…he was retarded and had the intelligence of a dog…I was doing the Universe a favor by rendering him unable to reproduce, survival of the fittest, the law of nature. After the operation, I sewed him back up with a surgical needle, peeled him off the surgical table, and shackled the boy, still naked and in his cone, to a wall by his ankle to let his wound heal. I decided to keep him as a pet…I always wanted a little dog. In the other room, my Cult was busy dealing with my new pet’s father, they amputated his penis with a blunt steak knife and brought the bleeding organ into the room with me as I gave it to him to play with as a toy. I shoved the thing into the retarded boy’s mouth, and watched him suck on it like a child enjoying a popsicle, I recorded the images on a holofilm camera, titled, “My Pets.” Then, I walked back into the main chamber, drew my hot branding iron, and inserted it into the gaping wound where the father’s penis was, over and over again…after I had my fun with him, I did the same thing to his mother, violating her repeatedly with the hot branding iron, and using a meat hook to shred flesh from her breasts, and well as gripping them with hot, iron pincers…I did this for more than an hour, until she screamed herself to death…then, it was time to finish the job. I took the father, losing blood and barely alive, and the limp, violated corpse of his mother and took them into my execution chamber. I took the retarded boy into the observation lounge in the Midnight Sun, where I enjoyed watching my enemies die over a martini and a meal with me to watch his mother and father be destroyed for their crimes against me on the Holonet. He watched and did not make a sound as my Cult of Love girls prepared the dead mother for destruction…by raping her repeatedly…The barely-living body of his father groaned as the women dragged him into the center of the chamber, his naked body covered in his own blood. The Cult girls stepped out of the chamber as I activated the method of execution. The entire room began to glow orange, and the bodies of the retarded boy’s parents, who I named “Mongoloid,” were creamated in my homemade crematorium. There was nothing left of them but bones…Mongo is still my loyal pet…he lives in the Black Tower as my personal guard dog. People should know better than to say bad things about me online…it hurt my feelings…I am a Hyperborean Goddess…and I expect to be treated as such. I shall destroy all enemies before me, for the honor of the SWASTIKA!!!!” Takada suddenly screamed as she sliced a Light Race soldier in half with her massive sword. The Legions tried not to listen to Takada’s demented monologues, but she was making it very difficult not to…and taking all the kills too. The Guard advanced past the ruined harbor district, and began approaching the enormous Destroyer vehicle, incinerating everything in sight with its colossal gamma-ray cannon. Just then, Gwenlynn Stormweaver’s harsh Scandinavian accent chimed in over the SATCOM: “This is Fireteam Hyperborea! We have secured the Northwest Quadrant of the city, all hostiles terminated. My will be done!” For all Takada’s ferocity in combat, it paled in comparison to Gwenlynn Stormweaver’s Hyperborean rage. She had singlehandedly captured an entire sector of an enormous city. “Let this be a lesson to any Untermensch dreg that dares stand in my way…I am the stars in the sky, I am the storms and the tide, death and the Earth divine, the Sun and the Moon, and the End of All Time!! I am the Empress of Hyperborea, Supreme Leader of the Black Order, and what I say is said in Heaven, so it shall be done!! Fear not, Lordly Troika, for I have called for reinforcements.” As if on cue, a Quantum Space tunnel opened, and an enormous Black Order fleet, complete with two colossal Point Cruisers, 15 assault carriers, 12 battlecruisers, 25 destroyers and 30 frigates arrived to reinforce the heavily-engaged Imperial Fleet…and their weapons were far, far stronger than any Imperial turbolaser cannons. In an instant, the gigantic Amane-class assault carriers released their legions of fighters and blastboats, and then promptly converted into assault mode, readying their enormous laser arrays for combat, much like they had at the Battle of Malalaklese II…then, all 15 of them began pelting the lead Light Race capital ship with enormous blasts of X-rays, enough to wipe a planet clean of all life. The impact was immediate. With the combined fire from the Pleiadean fleets, the Imperial fleet and the Black Order fleet, even the ancient might of the Light Race began to wither. The Light Race ship, badly damaged by the space battle, began to break formation and attempt to retreat, its path taking it directly into the crosshairs of the massive Point Cruisers’ main cannons, the most powerful weapons in humanity’s arsenal. In an instant, the lead Point Cruiser, the Seikon no Saido, fired its main cannon, releasing a colossal, blazing beam of gamma radiation directly at the Light Race capital ship. The effect was instantaneous. Half the Light Race ship was instantly incinerated, the aft section sheared clean off by the force of the blast, drifting around in space as a smoldering spacewreck. “One ship down, two to go.” Pontifex Arditi said as the fleets focused their fire on the remaining two Precursor capital ships, now becoming increasingly desperate to fight back. The Black Order capital ships were unrelenting in their assault on the Light Race warships, they fought with the ferocity of a thousand suns, a ferocity that only Gwenlynn could inspire in another human being. No man alive or dead commanded her, she answered to the Lord alone. Her orders were spoken in Heaven and Hell, and so her will be done. Any who questioned Gwenlynn, the Empress of Hyperborea, was a heretic, an untermensch and unworthy of life. At this moment, everyone began to realize what those who had served with them to this point already knew: Sei Ikkiku, Gwenlynn Stormweaver and Ai Takada were the most powerful beings in the Universe. All throughout the Empire their will was questioned by none. In many ways, they were now elevated to a position above even the Troika in the minds of many Imperial citizens, their exploits on Malalaklese II had become legendary, and no one was more feared than Empress Gwenlynn, Regent of Hyperborea and Supreme Leader of the Black Legions…the Troika realized that their three closest allies might eventually threaten their rule over the Empire. It seemed that already Sei, Gwenlynn and Takada’s judgments were already questioned by none, and their will be done, by any means necessary. And now, with their fleets singlehandedly carving the Light Race armada to pieces, the Troika looked more and more like it was only along for the ride. Could the greatest Emperors humanity had ever seen be falling into decadence, a pit of ignorance and despair that no leaders ever emerged from? No. Not on Arditi’s watch. He did not build this Empire, a monument to his love for Sakura Morgendorfer, and rule it unchallenged for more than 800,000 years just to squander it all on three women who possessed supernatural courage, will and determination. For the first time ever, however, the Troika faced a serious political rival in Sei, Takada and Gwenlynn. Just then, a message from the heavily-damaged pyramid ship was beamed to the Ordo ab Chao, and promptly received by the Troika. “We have the prisoner the Demon seeks…Send him here to retrieve her…and she shall be released.” Prophet Marduk immediately realized that this could only be Samantha St. John, and a ploy to lead Lucian Moonraiser and Fireteam Sawney into harm’s way…however, the mission on the ground was far too critical for any distractions. The message was duly broadcast to the Legions on the ground, however, to make aware that Samantha was still alive, and being held aboard the Light Race capital ships. “My God…that was powerful…the latent radiation is off the charts.” Andrew said, his eyes still reeling from the tremendous gamma-ray burst from the Point Cruiser’s main cannon. “That is the most powerful weapon in the known Universe, Hand of Fate. Gamma-ray burst weapons are the ultimate weapons of mass destruction, if fired carelessly, they can wipe entire sectors of the Universe clean of life or any organic material, and render it uninhabitable for millions of years. The Light Race uses such weapons liberally, as does Gwenlynn’s Black Order…and that worries me, a bit. Perhaps they are being a bit overzealous. These are extraordinarily dangerous weapons, containing as much energy as the Sun will release in its entire 10-billion year life span…” Pontifex Arditi mused, watching the atomized spacewreck of the Light Race capital ship floating through space. Andrew looked up at the Supreme Pontifex’s god-like image, his tranquil, handsome, chalk-white face, with his red face-paint, looking almost like a Japanese Kabuki actor. He wore his mighty combat armor over his Imperial robes, armed with his personal Hallucination Nano-Sword, Falchion, with the imperial oryx horns crowning his elaborate helmet. More than 800,000 years of life haunted his face, for he had seen everything within his dominion, from the dusty plains and massive hot spring spas of Mars to the jungles of terraformed Venus, to the Imperial capital world of Stronghold, the most densely populated and heavily built-up planet in the Universe, to the icy, Hyperborean paradise of Arcana II, the tranquil, blue abyss of Aurelia, to now the savage battlefields of Lilliana V. For his Empire spanned nearly half the known Universe, a true God among men, so highly evolved that he, the Troika and the other augmented humans in the Universe were members of a new species, the Hyperborean, Homo sapiens imperia ultima, The Ultimate, Imperial, Thinking Man. Augmented by nanotechnology and capable of feats once seen as the realm of the divine, they were the only true Gods, the rulers of the Empire of the Egoist Crown. The Pleiadeans were part of that new species by default, as were Takada, the Indiction Guard and Gwenlynn Stormweaver…they were infinitely superior to all other species in the Universe, stronger even than the Light Race…and their power would prevail. The Troika had countless weapons at their disposal, including gamma-ray burst weapons, X-ray weapons, nanoscale weaponry, using the same technology that had granted them the immortal powers of gods, and every range of conventional, nuclear and cyclonic weaponry known to the Empire, the Empire of the Egoist Crown was ready for war, the largest war in its long, valiant history, in the name of Radiant Mother Sakura Morgendorfer, whose Shrine towered high over the holy fortress world of Valhalla. There was much that Andrew wished to learn from the Troika, but during a space battle was not the best time to ask the greatest minds in the Universe about some of its deepest mysteries. There were more pressing matters at hand at the moment, and the battle was starting to turn in the favor of the Empire. The Odin-class warships were firing their own X-ray and gamma-ray weaponry, as were the Pleiadean War Wyverns and the Black Order’s capital ships, withering the Light Race warships under shattering barrages of plasma fire. The enormous pyramid-ship, commanded by none other than the embodiment of Ashur, Elyndir Torna, was beginning to founder in space, attempting to break formation and retreat behind the equally-battered Wexylzhuria warships, still firing their massive laser cannons at the Imperial ships, steadily pushing forward, driving the Light Race capital ships away from Lilliana V, against the breathtaking backdrop of the Lilliana system’s 7 splendid, colored suns. The Hyperboreans and the Luciferans were battling for control of the known Universe, and the Hyperboreans were slowly beginning to prevail. Prophet Anteon, however, was growing impatient. He had always had a passion for warfare and combat, having flown with distinction during the earliest days of the Empire…and the lure of the cockpit was drawing him once again. “My Lords, I can no longer sit idle on this capital ship and watch my Legions destroy these enemies…no, I am the Black Baron, and I shall rise to lead my squadrons once more. Legionnaires, ready my fighter for immediate departure.” Anteon stood up and drew his Nano-Sword, Enoid, and stepped into the Ordo ab Chao’s bridge chamber teleporter, bound for the main hangar bay. It was very rare that Anteon flew his custom starfighter, the Luminous Arrow, anymore. The Empire was in for a treat.

                      Prophet Anteon appeared in the main hangar bay, with the Imperial Marines on guard against a possible boarding action by the Light Race soldiers. The entire ship shuddered as the Ordo ab Chao launched a volley of cyclonic torpedoes at the Light Race capital ships, bringing all of its weapons to bear upon the enemy. “Welcome back, Black Baron Sylvain Anteon, our Prophet and Founder, to the skies we go, for if there be any glory in war, let it rest on men like us. Almighty Lords, bless our arms, so that we may prove that we are truly deserving of our free will. Lords, bless our fight.” Neil O’Brien said to his Wing Commander as he stepped into his dagger-like fighter, the one-of-a-kind Orihime-class Luminous Arrow. The pilots of the 181st Airborne Wing that had not already deployed jumped into their Shinigami-class fighters without a word, they knew what needed to be done. They were going to end this space battle, another battle won, another enemy of the Empire destroyed. In an instant, their zero-point energy drives beamed to life, and hundreds of starfighters zoomed out of the Ordo‘s main hangar bay, led by Anteon’s screaming, dagger-shaped fighter, living up to its name, glowing like a comet with the zero-point energy surrounding it. Anteon accelerated and initiated a ferocious combat stoop, with hundreds of Shinigami-class fighters behind him, descending like an army of shrieking angels upon the Light Race sphere-ships. “On my mark, prepare to deploy armament…3…2…1…FIRE!” Anteon yelled, just as the squadron deployed hundreds of missiles, which promptly streaked towards the flotilla of sphere-ships protecting the capital ships. However, these missiles were not traditional weapons…they contained something far more lethal than any explosive, plasma weapon or torpedo. The missiles intentionally overshot the flotilla, only to detonate and release their payload of trillions of tiny, carnivorous nanobots, which would consume any matter, organic, inorganic or synthetic, and self-replicate, the more they consumed, the more they reproduced. These weapons were only safe to deploy in space, for if released on a planet, they would utterly consume the entire world until there was literally nothing left. These “Eradicators” promptly swarmed all over every hostile target they could find, and consumed the Light Race starships like a plague of artificial locusts. All Anteon and his squadron had to do was sit back and enjoy the show. The small fleet of starfighters took offensive formation and began annihilating yet more Light Race sphere-ships with murderous volleys of plasma fire, these ships were unshielded, and relied solely on their fleet of defense-AIs for protection. With their only defenses neutralized by the Imperial starfighters’ point defenses, the Light Race beings were utterly defenseless against the Black Baron and his squadron of Dark Knights, the pilots of the legendary 181st Airborne Legion. What the pilots didn’t destroy, the Eradicators utterly consumed; even the Light Race beings themselves were consumed by the Eradicators, their radiating bodies consumed and used by the nanobots as fuel…and the more they consumed, the more they multiplied. Trillions became quadrillions, quadrillions, quintillions. Soon, there were SO MANY nanobots that the only remaining targets to sustain them were the Light Race capital ships themselves…and now they faced their ultimate end, in the form of countless, ravenous nano-machines. However, the mission was about to throw the 181st Legion a curveball. Suddenly, one sphere-ship re-emerged…and there, Anteon sensed it. Samantha St. John was aboard that ship, and if the Eradicators descended upon it, Samantha would die, consumed alive by the unrelenting nano-machines…if she was still alive at all. “This is Anteon to Ordo ab Chao. Send a temporary cease and desist order on the Eradicator swarm, there is a hostage aboard that final remaining sphere-ship, and I am preparing to extract the hostage.” “Roger that, Prophet Anteon. Keying in the requested order.” Prophet Marduk announced, keying the order to the swarm of Eradicators to assume a holding pattern until further orders. Anteon accelerated towards the sphere-ship, assuming that the machines would obey Marduk’s command…unfortunately, even Hyperboreans were only human. Instead of breaking off their assault, the Eradicators pressed on, startling Anteon. “System error, the machines are unresponsive, recommend exfiltration abort.” For any ordinary pilot, the maneuvers required to rescue Samantha would be utterly impossible. The Eradicators were 3000 kilometers away from the sphere and closing fast…but the Lumnious Arrow was the fastest fighter in the known Universe…it was time to demonstrate just why Black Baron Sylvain Anteon was so legendary behind the stick of a warbird. Anteon punched the throttle and zoomed forward at a speed that would kill any non-Hyperborean pilot. He had the sphere-ship in his targeting reticule, and targeted a small section of the left-anterior hull. Arming the Arrow’s quad laser cannons, he fired three shots directly at the target, creating an EMP pulse, immobilizing the sphere-ship, Anteon knew where to shoot from his ship’s radar scans. With his target immobilized, Anteon’s legendary instincts took over. He approached the paralyzed sphere-ship at an angle, activated his ship’s homing device, and ejected into space, thanks to his nanoscale augmentations, he could survive in the vacuum of space. He drew his Hallucination Nano-Sword and allowed the kineticenergy of his forward motion to carry him directly into the open hole, blown by the quad-laser cannons. The moment he entered the sphere-ship, he was greeted by 4 Light Race beings, blood-red with rage and having assumed an amorphous form, just 4 raging, red blobs of energy with blazing orange eyes…and strapped to an examination table was the burned, ravaged body of Samantha…barely breathing, but alive. Anteon’s combat instincts took over from there. He immediately brought his sword, Enoid, to bear on the Light Race beings, utterly annihilating them with its punishing nanoscale blade, made up of trillions of intelligent nanoparticles. Anteon stood, towering over Samantha’s broken body…but she was alive, and in desperate need of medical attention…something Anteon was prepared to give. He held Enoid over Samantha’s body, and she was soon enveloped in an opaque, white cocoon of nanoparticles, emanating from Enoid’s blade. Anteon quickly scooped her off the floor, and held her close to his chest. “Don’t let go…” Anteon said, again jumping out of the sphere ship and falling into space, just as the rogue Eradicators consumed the last of the sphere-ships…Anteon was protecting himself and his passenger with a telekinetic aura; though he could survive in the vacuum of space, he had already passed the Point of No Return…zero-barrier. He and Samantha were now caught in Lilliana V’s upper atmosphere, and were facing a 10-minute descent to the surface, where temperatures would reach more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit…that was no problem for a Hyperborean, however. Their telekinetic abilities provided adequate protection from heat on entry…and sheltered against Anteon’s body, Samantha, safely in her nano-cocoon, would be safe as well. Anteon descended into the atmosphere, slowly accelerating as he and Samantha entered the upper reaches of the atmosphere, slow at first, then faster and faster, until Anteon and Samantha were coming in at nearly 25,000 miles per hour, cloaked in a blazing, burning fireball. It was total communications blackout, Anteon was surrounded by radio-charged ions in the upper atmosphere, but he didn’t need it…and neither did his squadron. They swooped in behind him, giving him some cover as his entry burn became brighter than one of the Seven Suns…but Anteon was just getting started. In an instant, his cloak of flame began to morph, swell and shiver, and suddenly, sprouted two massive, blazing angel wings, allowing Anteon to fly under his own power. He was now a truly transcendant form of life, a blazing immolation god, on a beeline directly for Fireteam Sawney far below. With his squadron giving him cover, he banked off in the direction of the ground battle; even from this altitude, he could see the enormous area of Delta Dromius that the Light Race was using as a staging area, stretched out far below him was the endless blue of the Global Lake, and the marching Legions of Fireteam Sawney, trying desperately to break the deadlock on the enormous floating city…but Anteon was going to be, quite literally, salvation from the heavens.

                      On the ground, the incoming fighter wing was duly noted by Takada and the Indiction Guard, but it was only when they realized what the fighter wing was trailing did they stare up in awe. Leading the 181st Airborne Legion into battle was a blazing fireball with gigantic, beating angel wings…this could only be one individual in the known Universe…the Black Baron himself was joining the battle. Emboldened by the sudden arrival of one of their Supreme Leaders, the Legions’ morale soared. Charging the enemy lines with the force of a furious storm, they carved a path for the massive Kabuto-class main battle tanks and the enormous Okha-class artillery vehicles, utterly annihilating hundreds of Light Race warriors with their Arc Caster weaponry. The Indiction Guard and Takada slaughtered their way through hundreds of Light Race soldiers as well; the Light Race was putting up quite a fight, however. The Hvareno beings were releasing huge bursts of searing energy at the Legions, and the Wexylzhuria were vaporizing them with massive bursts of static electricity. The casualties were beginning to mount on both sides, yet still the Legions pressed on. Disregarding the losses, the city was theirs to take back. Lucian, Orlan and Filby were in their element. Gunning down hundreds of Light Race beings while moving across the ruins of Delta Dromius, they exacted their revenge for those who had died here, unable to evacuate in time…he didn’t want to think about it, but in the back of his mind, he knew that Samantha was dead. There was no way she could have survived the Light Race’s torment, no matter how resilient she was. Lucian just had to put the past behind him and move on…for that was the awful reality of war…Lucian cursed Asaga, his former classmate, for starting this war, and bringing this ruin upon his and Lucian’s homeworld…Asaga was not a human, but a Hvareno being in a human body…an enemy, a target, and like any enemy, would be destroyed by the Empire.

                      As the Legions carved their way through the lines of Light Race beings, Anteon, still swooping in from the upper atmosphere, directed his immediate attention on the 6 gigantic, squid-like walkers used by the Light Race, their enormous and utterly-lethal Destroyer vehicles, they were all lined up in formation, in a neat row…and perfectly vulnerable. Banking around at a sharp angle, Anteon swooped in, and drew Enoid while still enveloped in flames, the sword catching fire as well, coming in parallel to the line of Destroyers. His fighter wing continued to give him cover as he did so, just in case these Destroyers had point-defense systems against aerial assaults. However, Anteon didn’t need them for this maneuver. Flying directly beside his targets, he merely extended his arm and sliced Enoid through all 6 destroyers at a speed of Mach 12…in an instant, the Destroyers began to teeter, lose their balance, and then, all 6 of them came crashing to the ground, their threat to the city neutralized…but Anteon wasn’t done yet. Adjusting his trajectory in one smooth maneuver, he was now making a beeline directly for the Light Race staging area, where thousands of Wexylzhuria and Hvareno beings waited to be deployed to the front line. The Luciferan soldiers looked up and flashed angrily as the radiant Hyperborean leader zoomed towards them at twelve times the speed of sound, cloaked in fire and flame…but that was all they could do. Anteon slammed into the ground with the force of an asteroid impact, instantly incinerating the entire staging area in a hurricane of cleansing fire and leaving a vast area of Delta Dromius utterly clean of life…when the smoke cleared, only Prophet Anteon stood alone, holding his sword in one hand, and Samantha in their other, his long black hair blowing in the gentle lake breeze that characterized Lilliana V’s climate. At roughly the same time, Takada, the Indiction Guard and Fireteam Sawney’s forward lines arrived on the scene, only to see one of their Supreme Leaders standing alone amongst the ruins…he had destroyed an entire armada and Legion by himself. “This is Pontifex Arditi. Is Prophet Anteon down there?” Arditi’s voice chimed in over the Legion’s SATCOM. “Affirmative, Your Majesty. He destroyed an entire army by himself.” Lucian responded. “Just look up in the sky, for that is not the full extent of Anteon’s brilliance in combat this day.” Lucian and the Legions looked up and saw the massive Light Race capital ships being literally eaten away to nothing by the Eradicator nanobots. Elydir and the Pyramid-ship had already fled the battle, leaving his Legions to their fate…the Light Race cared little for the existences of their individual soldiers and warships, as long as the leaders survived the battles. The battle was won…another victory for the 181st Legion, and now Lilliana V’s long recovery process could begin, but first, Lucian was very curious about the identity of that white cocoon Prophet Anteon was carrying. “Oh, that was positively delightful! Do it again!” Takada cheered, clapping childishly. Anteon just glared at her and said nothing. He had more important things to worry about that speaking to some cannibal murderer who claimed the lives of millions of Imperial citizens for her own selfish desires. “May the one named Lucian Moonraiser come forth?” Prophet Anteon announced, his elaborate outfit billowing in the wind. Lucian approached Prophet Anteon and stood at attention in his exoskeleton armor, removing his helmet to identify himself. “My loyal warrior Lucian Moonraiser…so you are the one who struck the lethal blow on Malalaklese II…you have angered the Light Race so much with your heroic actions that they came to your homeworld, kidnapped your lover and sent a fleet of warships just to kill you…and yet you STILL emerged victorious, having performed battlefield feats that even a Hyperborean would find challenging…and, I have someone who wishes to see you.” Anteon placed the white nano-cocoon on the ground in front of Lucian, and used Enoid to cut a small opening in the cocoon. The cocoon began to vaporize, as the intelligent nanoparticles that comprised the cocoon became part of Enoid’s lethal blade once again…and lying on the ground was Samantha, her wounds fully healed, and her stunning sun dress restored by the power of nanotechnology. Samantha opened her blue eyes, and the first thing she saw was Prophet Anteon, Ai Takada and Lucian Moonraiser standing over her. “Welcome back, Sammy. You don’t have to worry anymore. We’re here, and we won.” Lucian said, shouldering his Arc Caster. Samantha looked up, her eyes fixed solely on Lucian and Prophet Anteon, and smiled radiantly. She stood up, and without a word, grabbed Lucian, in his full armor, and kissed him with more passion that she ever had. “Don’t you ever scare me like that ever again!” Samantha scolded, not letting go of Lucian as tears streamed down her face. “I cannot promise anything, unfortunately. We are at war, the being who ordered this attack was one of my former classmates at the Imperial Officer Academy on Ansaati…he is leading a vast armada of radiant, Luciferan beings hell-bent on consuming the entire Universe, wiping it clean of organic life…just as he did more than 2 million years ago.” “Lucian, what are you talking about?” “He speaks the truth, Samantha.” Prophet Anteon bellowed. “We were all taught in school that humanity evolved in Africa on Earth…but that was only partially true. Certain lineages of humans, culminating in the Neanderthals, did evolve on Earth, but our race, Homo sapiens, and the species descended from it, the Hyperborean, Homo sapiens imperia ultima, which resulted from the fusion of human and Seras DNA augmented with nanotechnology, has a much older, grander history. We and the Pleiadeans are the last remaining survivors of and ancient Human Imperium, Hyperborea, that spanned half the known Universe, but was destroyed by the Kalki Avatar and the Race of Light more than 2 million years ago. Some survivors settled on Alcyone in the Pleiades star cluster, keeping the ancient traditions of Hyperborea alive, while those on Earth descended into decadence, until the coming of the Seras and the creation of the Hyperborean species with Seras DNA and nanotechnology…and thus, with the Union of the Pleiadeans and Hyperboreans, the Hyperborean Empire of the Egoist Crown was born, out of the ashes of the earlier Lordly Empire, which collapsed in 702,000 A.D due to the Egoist Crown, that is, Decadence’s weight…in the past 100,000 years, we have rebuilt, building an invincible alliance with the 135 Imperial Races, and now our society has come full circle. The ancient enemy, this time taking the form of a Hyperborean in Asaga Kanagashima III, has returned to reap his harvest once more…but we will not fall this time. We shall fight to victory or death FOR THE EMPIRE, AND FOR ALL HYPERBOREA, TO GLORY, TO GOD AND TO THE HOLY TROIKA, WE GIVE OUR HAND.” “HURRAH!!! HURRAH!! HURRAH!!” The 181st Legion cheered for Lucian’s battlefield speech, he was an amazing motivational speaker, and could rally his troops to victory, no matter what situation they faced on the battlefield…even Prophet Anteon was impressed. “So, Samantha…do you understand the circumstances we face? I have learned more in this war already than I ever thought I could, more than I care to know, but I am still the same guy you said goodbye to 3 years ago in this same city, this same planet. I’m still here, you’re still here, and your family is safe. They managed to evacuate just before the enemy fleets arrived. We will get though this. We will rebuild. The Seven Suns will rise over Delta Dromius once more, for a new generation of Hyperboreans, as our Empire is eternal.” “Come, my Legions. We shall return to Stronghold to prepare for our next move, the industrious Korvax legions and Countess Lucifera shall begin the reconstruction efforts of this world at once…onward and upward, for the Light Race shall never harm this planet ever again. Our operation here was victorious, but there are many more battles ahead in the coming war.”

                      And so it was the the Legions were victorious that day on Lilliana V, having struck a crippling blow against the Light Race’s momentum…at least for now. The Mjolnir-class gunships landed amongst the ruins of Delta Dromius, disgorging thousands of Korvax Legionnaires, clad in their fearsome biomechanical armor, pulsing with blue bioluminscence, tasked with rebuilding the city with their vast colonial intelligence…and the 181st boarded these gunships, back up to the waiting Imperial fleet. The Korvax Legions would remain on watch over Lilliana V, to prevent any further attacks on the Lilliana system. As Lucian and Samantha boarded the gunship, they clutched each other tightly, for they had no idea what the future held…at least for now, they were headed to the safest place in the known Universe: The Hyperborean capital world of Stronghold, the most heavily built-up and populated planet in the Empire, and the headquarters of the Imperial Pantheon, the seat of the Egoist Crown government. The gunships and surviving Loki-class assault ships rejoined their Odin-class motherships, and promptly began the three-hour acceleration to warp speed for the jump to Stronghold…where the Troika would meet with the rest of the Imperial leadership…it was time for them to strike back.

 

15. Ave Suspendum Pontifex-Submit to my will!

Triple-zero…the center of the known Universe. Welcome to Stronghold, Samantha.” Lucian said, looking out a viewport from the Ordo ab Chao as the 181st Legion approached its home base. “My God…I’d never thought I’d actually be here, my father traveled here for business a lot, but I’ve never been here myself…wow.” “As did mine, working for Solation Pharmaceuticals, his building is 5 city blocks from the Imperial Pantheon, at the center of Minas Imperia, the capital city. The entire city is based off of Albert Speer’s designs for Berlin after the planned Nazi victory, with massive, extraordinarily ostentatious architecture that reflects perfect order, cleanliness, hygiene and discipline…all centered around the Imperial Pantheon, a dome-shaped building more than 250 times the size that St. Peter’s Basilica once was on Earth. From that massive complex, the Imperial Pantheon, as the governing body is called, rules over the 24 constituent Kingdoms, divided into Sectors, each Sector with a Representative in the Pantheon. Pantheon Representatives come from all 135 Imperial Races, though Humans, Hyperboreans, Pleiadeans and Sangresaara are the most common species in their ranks. The city of Minas Imperia covers nearly 500 square miles, and is surrounded by vast residential areas which cover more than half the planet…Stronghold is a perfect blend of the natural and the artificial, reflecting the triumph of humanity and the Dominion of Hyperborea, as well as the associated ideologies, but also with the beauty of nature, as vast tracts of wilderness have been preserved, with many citizens living in small towns outside of Minas Imperia, linked to the main city by massive autobahns, some more than 20 lanes wide. A planet of art, natural beauty and edifice…the pride of the Hyperborean Race…welcome to Stronghold.” The enormous fleet docked in orbit around Stronghold, with all necessary personnel boarding shuttles down to the planet’s surface. Sei, Takada, Gwenlynn and the Troika, as well as the Indiction Guard, in addition to Lucian and Samantha, watched as their shuttles entered the planet’s atmosphere. Some of Stronghold’s native wildlife, huge flying creatures called Nightwings, soared past the incoming shuttles, riding their contrails as they entered the atmosphere. Stretched out before them was the vast megalopolis of Minas Imperia, gleaming white, spotless and mighty. The main boulevard leading to the Imperial Pantheon was lined with other massive government buildings, adorned with murals, huge statues, symbols of the Empire, such as the Black Sun, Tyrwaz, shinigami death’s head, swastika, Kolovrat, the Blind Lady Rune of Sakura Morgendorfer, Wolfsangel and other power symbols used in Hyperborean Pantheon Doctrine, and huge, intricate fountains, surrounding elegantly-cut topiaries and huge howitzer cannons, arranged in a row leading up to the Imperial Pantheon on both sides of the boulevard, a symbol of the Legions’ eternal presence, always on watch, always on guard. This massive street, the Canyon of the Gods, was also used for massive military parades every year on Empire Day, the anniversary of the Empire’s foundation and the arrival of the Seras on Earth, more than 800,000 years before. Surrounding the Canyon of the Gods was 500 square miles of city, a gigantic megalopolis boasting extraordinary, boastful, ostentatious architecture, reflecting the glory of Ancient Rome, just with a modern twist. Vehicles and pedestrians populated the spotless streets, all watched by the Imperial Night Hammer Corps, who also served as a peacetime police force. Digital video recorders were present at every street corner, and the Eta Carinae High Council kept mental tabs on every Imperial citizen alive at any one time…Minas Imperia was the most well-behaved city in human history, a pure entity of Fascist, Hyperborean might. As the shuttles approached the Grand Presidium, the enormous assembly plaza outside the Imperial Pantheon, they were greeted by an enormous garrison of troops, these were the Expeditionary Forces, based on Stronghold to guard the planet during times of war, and tasked with exploring the Universe during times of peace, to seek out and colonize new worlds, galaxies and star systems for the Empire…standing on the platforms were several top-ranked Imperial brass, such as Silver Arronax and Shen Ryujin, the two Head Ministers of Science, Lunara Umbra and Grand Duke Lumen Ash, Countess Saalra Lucifera, Lance and Claire Meridius, and Ministry of Science prodigy, Gabrielle Marisetti. As the Troika and Hand of Fate’s shuttles landed, they fell in line and gave the Roman salute, Shen and Silver, both being Hyperborean, stood nearly 12 feet tall and wore elaborate Jungsturm-Nordsterne outfits. Their companions, normal humans, were not nearly as imposing. As the Troika slowly stepped down the gangplank with Lucian, Samantha, Sei, Takada, Gwenlynn and the Hand of Fate following close behind, Shen Ryujin approached them, his crimson-red hair blowing in the breeze. “Welcome back, My Lords…I trust that the engagement of Lilliana V ended in the Empire’s favor. We have been very busy at the Ministry of Science learning all we can about these “Luciferan” beings, the Wexylzhuria and Hvareno, in an effort to make them easier to defeat at less of a cost to our own forces.” “The Precursor races are not to be trifled with. Your research is invaluable in the war, Minister Ryujin, though do not detract from your military duties to the Empire. All of your skills and talents are necessary if we are to emerge victorious in this fight.” Pontifex Arditi lectured, walking side by side with Ryujin. “It turns out that there is nothing ‘divine’ about the Precursors at all, they are not Satanic or supernatural entities, but beings from another Universe; as you well know, we live in a Multiverse with infinitely-many universes, and we’ve traced the origin point of the Light Race’s resurgence…the Great Dark Patch, more than 12 billion light-years out. In that empty quarter of the Universe, there is a wormhole leading to a different Universe, from which the Precursors come and go from our Universe to theirs. In order to defeat them, we must cut the invasion off at the source…by disabling the wormhole.” Ryujin announced. “Disabling a naturally-occuring rip in the space-time continuum will be immensely difficult, the power required to do so would make any such operation unfeasible with our current weapons systems…however, if we were able to get our hands on some Precursor technology and reverse-engineer it, we could close their point of ingress off, preventing more Precursors from entering our Universe and making our war that much easier.” “My race possesses some archival blueprints of technology like this…but the Eta Carinae High Council currently lacks the knowledge on how to reverse-engineer it…we’ve been working on that project for a very long time, and I fear that we will not have a solution in a sufficient amount of time.” Sei interjected, describing the Pleiadean progress with Precursor technology. “Well then, a more direct solution is needed, but this is not without risk…but then again, what is science without risk?” Shen hissed, with a diabolical look on his face. Shen may have been a scientist by trade, but he was also a brilliant military commander, wearing a Jungsturm-Nordsterne regalia that reflected the ancient samurai lords of the Minamoto and Taira Clans, mentioned in Japanese epics such as the Tale of Heiji and Tale of Genji. He wore a satin black cape as well, bearing the Shinigami death’s head insignia, a stag skull with huge, curving antlers encircling a Japanese pagan rune. This was the symbol of the Imperial Legions, chosen at Shen Ryujin’s insistence; he was the only Hyperborean of Japanese descent in the Imperial Pantheon. As such, he tended to use the Staghorn Rune as his personal insignia, even placing a gigantic statue of the stag skull atop the Ministry of Science Headquarters’ colossal marble facade, proudly overlooking the Canyon of Gods and the main boulevard leading to the Grand Presidium. Shen Nano-Sword, Inari, hung elegantly at his side as he walked towards the enormous Imperial Pantheon, past hundreds of Aryan-aesthetic statues, reflecting pure, unhindered humanity in its prime. “Agreed, Minister Ryujin. We must confide with Minister Arronax about the best choice of action, however. The technology we seek must be held on a Precursor-controlled world, as of now, we do not know of any such planets, so that would logically be a proper place to start. Question: To locate a Precursor planet, what must one do? Answer: We must capture a Precursor warship, seize its navicomputer and download the coordinates of every world within the Imperium Solaris’ borders. Only then can we strike at the heart of our enemy’s stronghold.” Prophet Marduk hissed, his head rotating 360 degrees on its axis to see directly behind him, thanks to his nanoscale augmentations. “That is a sound plan for now. I will confide this with Minister Arronax and Queen Ikkiku, and will be brought before the Ministries of Science and War for ratification. If they ratify my solution, we shall proceed at once…and the 181st Legion shall lead the charge.” Ryujin commanded, tapping his ceremonial walking cane against the marble staircase beneath his feet. This was not news that Samantha wanted to hear, having just seen Lucian survive a cataclysmic battle on Lilliana V, but orders were orders. It was his duty, and nothing would keep him from it. The Troika, Sei, Takada and Gwenlynn, as well as the Ministers of Science walked into the vast halls of the Imperial Pantheon, past statues, murals, paintings and war trophies spanning nearly 800,000 years of history, and in through the Hall of the Thousand Fountains, where hundreds of people, both Human and Hyperborean, as well as many other Imperial Races, mingled and went about their daily business of governing the Empire. There was some excitement as the Troika and its entourage walked in, but these Representatives were so used to seeing them, that a respectful bow as they walked past was the limit of their interruption. Samantha was amazed by the size, scale and splendor of Stronghold, but noticed a very interesting detail about Minas Imperia and the rest of the planet in general: the streets were eerily empty, aside from government and military vehicles and uniformed personnel. “Minister Ryujin, I’ve noticed that this city’s streets are nearly empty, aside from military vehicles and uniformed personnel, where are all the civilians?” Ryujin turned around and tapped his ceremonial cane on the gleaming-white, marble floor. “My dear child, the residents of Minas Imperia are forbidden to leave their homes or workplaces at this time. Recording devices are placed at every street corner to maintain security and stability, and there are certain hours of the day, Commuting Hours or Recreation Hours, where people are allowed out of their building, either to commute home from work or to relax and unwind, but only in designated Recreation Areas. Everyone is monitored by the Imperial Legions and the Night Hammers, and the Eta Carinae High Council is constantly reading their thoughts from Alcyone, looking for any signs of treachery. These laws are the same throughout the Empire, and as a result of these laws and the distribution of nanoscale drugs by Solation Pharmaceuticals, the Imperial schooling system and the wonders of nanoscale drug-induced education, as well as the Imperial penal system, crime rate is zero, the streets are spotless, and we have maintained perfect order and peace for nearly 800,000 years. Does that answer your question?” Shen hissed, looking ominously at Samantha. “Wow…I didn’t realize the laws were the same on every planet. I have never left Lilliana V until now…” Samantha said to Lucian.Minister Ryujin, what exactly are your duties as the Head Minister of Science?” Shen had an irritated look on his face at Samantha’s question. He truly disliked anyone who asked too many questions and viewed them with a deep suspicion, but he maintained his composure and answered politely. “I assist Queen Ikkiku and my colleague Silver Arronax, who you see walking behind us with all scientific matters concerning the Empire and the Legions, the Ministry operates massive research vessels using the same hull design as the Odin-class capital ships, called the Spire-class. These are the same size as the Odin-class, but are used for research purposes, not to wage war. I am also Supreme Marshal of the Legions, one of the highest-ranking officers in the military, the Grand General of the Hyperboreans. Does that answer your question, because I grow weary of explaining these things to overly-curious civilians trying to learn too much of Imperial affairs.” Samantha wisely stopped asking questions. The affairs of Hyperboreans were none of standard civilians’ business. They were the Empire’s rarified ruling caste, and they did not appreciate anyone getting too nosy. She was only a temporary guest inside the Imperial Pantheon…typically, no civilians were even allowed out of their homes at this hour, and would not be for another five hours, until the Empire held its daily Recreation Hours, an Empire-wide 4-hour period when civilians were allowed out of their homes or workplaces for relaxation, but only at designated Recreation Zones. Anyone outside these zones or out of their homes and offices before this time would be immediately charged with treason, and turned over to the Pleiadeans for processing…usually this meant being used as a test subject for Solation Pharmaceuticals’ many science experiments, and such tests always killed their subjects eventually. Such was life under Hyperborean rule for the past 800,000 years, crime rate was perpetually zero and all of the problems of ancient societies, such as disease, climate change, overcrowding, hunger, ignorance and poverty were nonexistent. Everyone knew their role, and nobody questioned it. This war with the Light Race would be just another facet in the Empire’s infinite saga, and the Hyperboreans would emerge victorious once again. Between the laws, the Legions, the Hyperborean rulers, the Solation Pharmaceuticals nanoscale drug distribution and the Eta Carinae High Council, the Empire was a truly perfect society, a perfect society of order and peace, and Stronghold was a monument to 800,000 years of Imperial glory. The floor within the Imperial Pantheon shook slightly as a squadron of enormous F-6 Wulfhund gunships made a flyby over the Canyon of the Gods, leading directly towards the Imperial Pantheon, on guard and on watch for any signs of Light Race activity. The Expeditionary Forces were based on Stronghold, as was the 181st Legion, with the Grand Presidium playing host to some of the largest military parades in human history. Samantha stood in awe of this incredible world, a world few civilians ever caught a glimpse of. Suddenly, the Troika stopped at huge, gleaming-white marble gate…the Gateway to the Inner Sanctum. Pontifex Arditi placed his hand on the door, the door’s integrated intelligence reading his biological signature, and granting him and his audience entry to the holiest site in the known Universe: The Troika’s Inner Sanctum, where the Troika and the 24 Grand Dukes ruled the Empire from in seclusion…there were secrets contained here that would never be known by anyone except the Troika. The Troika, Shen, Silver Sei, Takada and Gwenlynn led the rest of the Ministry of Science and Lucian down a huge, silent corridor, lined on both sides by Doric style columns with beautiful murals painted on the cathedral-like ceiling. This was the legendary Hall of Silence, the corridor dedicated to the memory of Sakura Morgendorfer and her death, inspiring the foundation of the Empire of the Egoist Crown so many millennia ago. The murals depicted the beautiful young woman’s life and times, leading up to her “martyrdom,” which, in reality, was very different from the Imperial legend describing her self-crucifixion in the name of the Empire, granting the Troika eternal life. In reality, she was brutally murdered by one of her professors at Yale University on the Old Earth, and Alexander Arditi, attempting to fulfill her dying wish, augmented himself with Seras DNA and nanoscale technology, as well as his followers, which later became the Indiction Guard and the two Prophets, Anteon and Marduk. Either way, Sakura’s death was seen as a martyrdom by the Empire of the Egoist Crown, for it would not exist without her death. At the end of the corridor, the Troika approached another marble door, this one emblazoned with the Hammer, Cross and Crescent of the Egoist Crown Empire proudly upon the door. Pontifex Arditi placed his hand on the door, its computers again reading his biological signature, slowly opening the heavy marble doors to reveal a huge, luxurious Inner Sanctum. It looked far more like an altar in an ancient cathedral than a government council chamber, with incredible stained glass paintings on the windows, portraits of the Troika and each of the Indiction Guards on the walls, and the seats of power, the table at which the Troika and the 24 Grand Dukes ruled the Empire during meetings positioned directly in front of the entire room’s centerpiece, an altar with a huge, ornate sarcophagus at its pinnacle, with a gigantic painting of Sakura Morgendorfer, sitting peacefully in a chair on the wall over the altar, dressed in full Jungsturm-Nordsterne regalia, her long blonde hair flowing down her shoulders, with the exception of her two pigtails, arranged cutely on either side of her head. Her blue eyes had a haunting, plaintive gaze, as if she was peering beyond the grave across time and space, in awe of what the Empire had become in the millennia since her death, as if crying because she could not be a part of Pontifex Arditi’s ultimate triumph…it was a truly haunting site. On the opposite side of the altar was a huge gyroscope, only partially completed, but under construction, its purpose known only to the Troika and the 24 Grand Dukes. This was a room completely closed off to the outside world for more than 800,000 years…Lucian, Samantha, Takada and Gwenlynn were the first people ever, outside of the Troika, the Head Ministers of Science and the Grand Dukes to ever venture this deep into the heart of the Hyperborean Stronghold. Both Takada and Gwenlynn could sense the immense power radiating from the huge sarcophagus on the altar…a being of great power lay resting inside, not dead, but cryogenically frozen to preserve life indefinitely. The sarcophagus almost certainly contained a Hyperborean, for it was nearly 13 feet long, and decorated with Nordic-Germanic pagan heraldry that reflected an ancient, Volkisch pride. Contained within this sarcophagus was the very embodiment of white Aryan purity, at least for what the heraldry would make one believe. “Come and have a seat…these chairs are for allies…friends.” Arditi said, taking his seat at the head of the Council table. Just then, the remainder of the Grand Dukes entered, all 24 of them from each of the ruling Imperial Races and Sectors, and took their seats, along with Queen Ikkiku. Takada, Gwenlynn, Shen, Silver, the Science Ministers, Sam and Lucian all stood behind the Troika. “I formally call this Council to order.” Arditi announced, banging a gavel on the table. “Welcome to our Metropolis, our new allies in this war against the Race of Light. Our victory at Lilliana V was hard-fought, 25 Loki-class assault ships lost, and several Odin-class capital ships badly damaged, but our Legions persevered, and our faith in our system was rewarded. Now with the Korvax Legions under Duchess Lucifera hard at work rebuilding Lilliana V for human habitation once more, we must focus our efforts on our next move…locating a Light Race homeworld, and stopping the invasion at its source. Head Minister Shen Ryujin tells us that the Light Race emerged from a wormhole naturally occurring in the Great Dark Patch, more than 10 billion light-year out, on the very edge of the known Universe. As we already know from Duchess Ikkiku, this is not the first time the Light Race has menaced our Universe. In order to prevent history from repeating itself, we must close that wormhole, using Light Race technology.” “That doesn’t seem possible. How could our fleets generate enough power to close a naturally-occuring space-time rift? Our Quantum Drives can only open such rifts, they close on their own.” Grand Duke Artemis Rayne, the Hyperborean Grand Duke of the Concord Sunset Sector announced in his low, stern, authoritative voice. “Grand Duke Rayne’s point is valid. Our fleet do not contain enough power to close such a rift in space and time…but the Light Race does, and the Hand of Fate does with his notebook. Our mission is such: Capture a Light Race warship, and take its technical readouts, as well as the contents of its navicomputer. We will then have a complete map of Light Race-controlled space, and can better wage war against them, as well as cut the invasion off at the source. We saw their warships at Lilliana V, and our two Knights, Gwenlynn Stormweaver and Ai Takada have been aboard their ships before…they know how they are put together.” Gwenlynn stepped forward, holding a technical readout of a Light Race capitals ship on a holodisk. “These ships are usually accompanied by a huge pyramid-ship, which generates an impregnable energy shield over the entire fleet, making them immune to conventional weaponry. In order to destroy and board a Light Race battlegroup, the pyramid-ship’s defenses must first be destroyed, as Takada and I most efficiently demonstrated at Lilliana V.”


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Manuscript I: “Precursor” (Partial)

    1. I plan to start a “Technological Revolution” and an “Atheist Awakening” with these stories that I’m actually getting published this Christmas. I have more than 500,000 readers in more than 100 countries and growing daily. The technology described in these stories will give humans the power off God himself. They are science fiction stories with deep political and religious messages, opposing decadence and societal moroseness through reason. Clearly, you do not understand anything that I wrote and need to read it and internalize it a bit more.

      1. The technology, nanoscale augmentations and transhumanism will allow human beings to do things formerly reserved for the gods of mythology, as previously mentioned in Michio Kaku’s book, “Physics of the Future.” I am merely writing science fiction stories based off those types of predictions by men such as Ray Kurzweil, Michio Kaku and Stephen Hawking. Each one of these technologies could exist sometime this century, and I believe they will start a Second Renaissance, as well as replace religion as the primary driving force behind human ideology. We must learn to think as a species, not as individuals.

      2. The technologies described in this manuscript (if you read past the prologue, which has been getting a LOT of attention, though I don’t think people are reading beyond that) depicts a race of super-human beings called “Hyperboreans” which are products of genetic engineering, nanoscale augmentations and transhumanism, that is, implanting human consciousness onto a hard drive and constantly recycling the person’s essence by cloning new bodies from that person’s own DNA. These technologies will immortalize us, grant us power over life and death, grant us power over nature and power of the Cosmos, in effect, we would become God. So yes, this is what I envision for a future world, and I hope it happens one day.