11ZackaryXhttps://community.lego.com/t5/Stories-of-LEGO-UNIVERSE/The-Truths-of-the-Universe-An-End-to-the-Tale/m-p/4703864#U4703864This is the rewrite of Truths of the Universe.
Availability: The Truths of the Universe: An End to the Tale can also be found here.
Author's Notes: This is the rewrite of Truths of the Universe.
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2011. Two years ago now. Right around three months or so after LEGO Universe first came out. Some time in February, a story was posted. A story that grew to become famous, to be the longest one written. One of my favorites, too. Two weeks later, my story was published, too.
The first of these stories was A Hero Rising. The second was mine, originally titled The Journey to the Nexus. We both wrote our stories; I left mine for several months, then came back and finished book one. Then it got popular. My fan base grew, until several name changes and a year or two later, the same topic, now Truths of the Universe: The Beginning passed The Journey of Vanda Darkflame, and the took the spot for the second most viewed story on this forum, also coming in at over one hundred pages.
Before this happened, actually, in July of 2012 I made a tough decision. My story writing had slowed down immensely, and I was barely coming in at a short chapter per month. I decided, looking back at the first parts of the story, that it needed a rewrite. It needed to be better. It needed more.
So here it is. Here is… my new legacy.
The Journey to the NexusEdit
"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishment- there are consequences."- Robert G. Ingersoll
Location- Skrios: Colony World
The children of this time have heard stories; old ancient tales, of things which very few know to be true any longer. Stories of how humanity used to be much smaller, how they all used to live in on one planet, together. About the kind of lives people lived, the adventures that were had.
As the young ones grew older, they began to ask for the rest of the story. Why they weren’t living on that planet. Eventually, they all learned of how a disaster had struck Earth’s climate systems. The planet fell into a post-apocalyptic state, and a new calendar replaced the Anno Domini (A.D.), which was called Afterworld (A.W.). One thousand people fled on the Noah, a ship designed to travel far into deep space, keeping the bodies of the passengers in deep stasis, preserving their bodies until the Noah’s systems found somewhere to live.
No more knowledge is known of the Noah. Its whereabouts are not known to this day, around five thousand years later. It is presumed the ship never reached civilization, and these thousand humans died.
Many humans that were three years old or younger were taken in an experiment, sent to live in Skycities. In these Skycities, they were raised without knowledge of the world below the clouds.
The rest stayed below the clouds, living until one day, the Skycity project began to decline, and those living in the clouds began to learn of the land on the ground. An attempt to connect the two civilizations was successful, until one day, the people of the ground used the connection to throw a revolution. The Skycities were destroyed, along with many of the people living in them.
This revolution took place about twenty years after the destruction of Earth’s climate and the building of the Skycities.
Earth’s climate was still declining, and it was beyond saving. It had been beyond saving; the decline was inevitable.
Eventually, technology had to be abandoned. The people were living in a more medieval state, conserving everything they could. The halt of the use of technology slowed Earth’s decline.
About two hundred years later, the climate fell into chaos. Heat storms would blast the landscapes for a day, then blizzards the next day. The humans were desperately in need of a way to leave.
A miracle happened. A sudden blast of energy from an unknown source created a wormhole in the Earth, and following through this path, the humans began to thrive again, working towards civilization. A hundred inhabitable planets were found, and they were named the Hundred Worlds. Each world had a representative, which forms the Council of the Hundred Worlds.
Eventually, the humans grew so much, they began to colonize smaller planets and asteroids. There are many colonies, most of which don’t have much money.
Our story begins on Skrios, a mining colony. The rain there never stops, and the entire planet is flooded. The mines are dangerous and deep underwater, while the cities are continuously built upon to stay above the water levels. If all the water disappeared from the planets, the skyscrapers would stand much taller than any of those made back on Earth.
Vanda Darkflame trudged along the streets of Skrios. She had fair skin. Her jet-black hair was parted, smoothed mostly on one side, spiked up on the side of head. A large strand of her hair was bluish-purple. She was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and an old long-sleeved shirt that didn’t completely fit her anymore. Her figure was lean and thin, but she held herself with confidence, like she knew she could defend herself against almost anything. Her eyes were dark brown.
She came to a halt outside of a tall house. One window was slightly dented from an incident. She sighed nervously.
This was the house she grew up in. This was the planet she had been born on.
She was seventeen years old, almost eighteen. And she had run away from this house five years ago.
Vanda turned around, walking to the water. She pulled something out of her pocket, and looked at it. It was a small little doll, painted white and blue. Its smiling face looked up at her. She closed her eyes, and turned her head. Then she let go of the toy, hearing the splash as it hit the water and began to sink to the bottom. She opened her eyes again, and turned back to the house.
Vanda took a deep breath, and knocked on the door loudly. Thunder sounded in the background.
After a few seconds, the door swung open. An irritated looking fifteen year old stood in the door, headphones around his neck, a mess of curly brown hair on his head. His irritated look left his face.
“Well, hello, there. Who might you be?” Max Darkflame said, stuffing the audio device into pocket.
“Max,” Vanda said. “It’s me. Your sister.”
Max’s eyes widened. He let go of the door.
Suddenly, Thomas Darkflame appeared at the door next to Max. “Max, what’s taking…”
He stopped when he saw Vanda. Recognition flashed in his eyes as he saw his daughter for the first time in five years.
Tears started flowing from Vanda’s eyes, mingling with the rain on her face. “Daddy, I am so, so sorry,” she began, her voice breaking.
Her father cut with off, pulling her into a tight hug.
Vanda sniffed, still crying. “But-“
“Welcome back, my little girl,” Thomas whispered, his eyes closed as he hugged his daughter.
A contented smile appeared on Vanda’s face.
Location- The Edge: Regional Docking Bay
It was around January.
Vanda was now eighteen years old. She stood at about five feet, seven inches. She hadn’t grown much, and she didn’t expect to. Max stood beside her, now sixteen. His curly brown hair was still in a large mess on his head, and he was nearing six feet tall. As usual, he was fiddling with some form of gadget in his fingers, messing around with it. He had always loved to invent things.
The two siblings stood there, waiting for Baron Ricaro Typhonus, an old schoolmate of their father’s. He had agreed to give Vanda a job as his assistant, as Vanda had been hinting to her dad for about a month that she needed to find a job. She was actually very lucky, as Baron Typhonus was a huge businessman. He had tons of money, and he had assured Thomas Darkflame his daughter would be paid well.
Max had tagged along just to keep his sister company. He would catch a ride back to Skrios after this.
A man in tall black top hat separated himself from the crowd. His long, black sideburns, coming from underneath his hat, and his black goatee contrasted with his fair skin. He was wearing a black suit, with a lifted collar, and a black tie. He carried what looked like a black walking stick, but with a large crystal attached to the top of it.
The corners of his mouth were upturned in a slight smile, and his kind hazel eyes suggested that he smiled often.
He began to walk towards the two.
“Ah, you two must be Max and Vanda!” the man stated. “I am Baron Ricaro Typhonus.” Vanda and Max bowed as the Baron did the same. He whispered to Vanda: “Your father said I’d recognize you by your hair.”
Vanda smiled, letting out a little laugh, as Ricaro winked at her. The dye in her hair was now bright pink.
“Well, I can’t really help my hair,” Vanda stated, smiling. “There was an accident with some radioactive chemicals, and now these strands of hair absorb whatever mood is in the air, and reflect its color.”
Typhonus raised his eyes. “Intriguing!”
Then he turned to Max. “I trust your hair isn’t radioactive, correct?”
Max laughed. “Nope, just her.”
Typhonus chuckled. “Well, it was nice to meet you two! Vanda, I suppose we’d better leave now, eh?”
Vanda nodded. She hugged Max. “See you later!” she said to him cheerfully.
“Yeah, definitely.” Max replied, giving a slight wave, already putting his headphones back on. Vanda sighed.
Max waved as Vanda walked away with Typhonus, and they stepped onto the Hurricane, Typhonus’ personal starship, together. The doors closed, and the ship lifted off.
As the starship flew off, Vanda looked back through window. She saw the dock falling into the distance as they grew farther and farther away.
Another starship, smaller than the Hurricane, came into her view. The word Pathfinder was painted across its side.
She watched it glide towards the docking bay, and Vanda frowned. It wasn’t slowing down…
Before she had time to really react, the ship slammed into the walls of the docking bay. The metal folded in on itself, and the air rushed out through the newly made hole.
The front of the ship pushed through the opposite side, effectively destroying the docking bay.
Max’s funeral was about a month later.
1- The ProfessorEdit
Location- Fulgore: 81st World, Third of Education
Doctor Albert Overbuild stood in his classroom at Treniem College. The students had already left for the day, and he had the area to himself. Of course, while he was a professor, he also technically owned the school. He was a brilliant and well known inventor, having built a rocket at the age of thirteen, and invented the Thinking Cap, a revolutionary device, when he was sixteen. He was a billionaire, but he didn’t like to squander on large things, such as mansions, cars, things like that. So he founded the Treniem University, and began to teach there, as he treasured knowledge greatly.
Albert was bald, with intelligent blue eyes. In his fifties, fifty-four to be exact, he was thin for his age. He had two robotic arms that he always carried around on his back, like a backpack. He always wore a pair of goggles, too, and a metal helmet-like thing attached to it.
He was wearing the schoolteacher uniform, which he had chosen himself. Shoulder pads, with the front half of the side to the left of his neck extended down his torso. These were bronze, with a glowing blue symbol, in the shape of a diamond cut through the middle, like two arrows, set into the extension. His jacket was mostly white, with white sleeves and middle section. The sides were orange, and so were the cuffs. On the side of his jacket that wasn’t covered by the shoulder pads, there was the school symbol, an impossible triangle. His belt was interesting, slightly weird. It looked like police caution tape. His right pants leg was orange, while the left was white.
Albert stood over a paper on his desk, looking at the latest design for a new fusion reaction insulator. The school had already designed a fusion reactor as a project, and now he had made the class’s latest project designing an insulator to help with the radioactive decay.
The majority of these had all been failures. One of them had been just plain idiotic. What kind of student at his school wouldn’t know that radioactive decay can filtrate right through a carbonated material, especially when it’s infused with a counteractive balancing material, which will simply feed it through faster.
He sighed, and put the papers back down on the table, leaning back in his chair. His mind ran over the past events of the day, trying to find something of importance to deal with.
A knock sounded on his door. Albert looked up, frowning. Who would that be?
“Come in,” he called.
The door opened, and a very young boy stepped in. An odd little boy. His hair was bright silver, as were his eyes.
Albert stood up, his metal arms on his back repositioning themselves for balance. “Hello there. Who might you be?” And how did you get past security? Albert kept the second question to himself.
The boy blinked, and looked up at Albert with his large silver eyes. He shrugged. “Can you teach me?”
The question was strange. If he meant that he wanted to be a student at his college, he was a bit young for that. Albert shook his head. He didn’t even know the boy’s name. “Sorry, but-“
“It’s Tarimal, and I’m seven. So can you teach me?”
Tarimal seemed a bit confident for a seven year-old boy. “Er… teach you what?”
“How much do you know?”
“Not much. But I’m a fast learner.”
Albert raised his eyebrows. Maybe it was another prodigy, like him. “Can you tell me how a rocket works?”
“Not until you tell me.”
Smart answer. So the kid had wits, but didn’t know much. “Why do you say you’re a fast learner?”
Tarimal shrugged. “I remember everything I see and hear.”
Ah. Photographic memory. “Do you understand what you remember, though?” Just because he could remember things doesn’t mean he knew what they were.
“Most of it, yeah. I can usually figure things out pretty well on my own. But a teacher would make things much faster.”
Albert nodded. “Well, alright. Where do you live?”
“I live here,” Tarimal said. He smiled, and for some reason, Albert simply accepted the answer without question.
“Okay, go to the principal and tell him you have my permission to be taught here.”
Tarimal nodded, and ran back out the door. Albert turned around and frowned. How did he get past the security, again?
It was about a year since the destruction of The Edge. The owner of the ship Pathfinder had apparently been dead for thirteen years, and the ship itself was supposedly reported having been destroyed. It couldn’t be traced.
Vanda had grown much quieter since the disaster. She never really talked much. She kept her job with Typhonus, working as his assistant. He kept her busy, as the cheerful old man he was. But Vanda was never the same person as before.
Today, Typhonus was visiting an old school friend of his. A man named Overbuild. He was waiting outside while Vanda went into the school to retrieve Overbuild.
She walked down the halls of Treniem University, reading the nametags on each door. Coming to a halt, she read the name Overbuild on one of the doors, and raised her hand to knock on the door. It suddenly swung open, and a young boy with silver hair and silver eyes rushed out past Vanda. She frowned as he ran off down the hallways. He seemed very familiar.
The door opened again, and Doctor Albert Overbuild stepped out into the hallway. His goggled glinted as he saw Vanda. “Hello there. Are you a student here, or did you come for an application, too?”
Vanda shook her head while Albert locked his classroom door. “No, I’m here to offer you a job. From my boss.”
Albert chuckled. “Young lady, I have a job here, as you can see.”
“I think you’ll at least want to talk to my boss.”
“Who is he?”
“Baron Ricaro Typhonus.”
Albert smiled. “Ah, Ricaro! My old friend! Last time we talked was last year, at Thomas’ boy’s funeral.” He shook his head sadly.
“Yeah, my brother,” Vanda said curtly. “You coming or what?”
“Oh, you must be Vanda. Well, hello again!”
Vanda nodded to the old man. “Coming?”
Albert shrugged. “It can’t hurt to see what Ricaro wants.”
The three sat inside The Hurricane, the two old men and Vanda. Vanda was toying with a pen, flipping it between her fingers while she sat in the background. Typhonus sat on one side of a hologram projector, while Albert sat on the other.
“So, what’s your job offer, Ricaro?” Albert asked.
Typhonus smiled. “The Imagination Nexus.”
Vanda looked up from her boredom, interested in this new turn of events. Albert raised an eyebrow. “What about it?”
“We’re going to find it.”
“Ricaro, the Nexus is a legend. It doesn’t actually exist. The idea in itself is unrealistic; you can’t contain Imagination, and you can’t place all the Imaginative power in the universe into one spot. It’s completely impossible.”
Grinning, Typhonus pressed a button on his hologram projector. A sudden image flashed up, of a mostly barren planet. “This is Vigilem, The Planet of the Guards. It is almost completely devoid of life, except for the Exeter family, who lives and trains there. I heard from some intelligence that they have this.”
A new image flashed up onto the screen of a pedestal, with what looked like a compass arrow on top. “The Imagimeter…” Typhonus whispered.
Vanda rolled her eyes. “Who names these things?” she muttered.
Albert frowned. “The compass that is supposedly able to lead you to Crux?”
Typhonus nodded. “It’s missing the golden map pieces, though.”
“That’s a problem.”
Typhonus nodded again. “I can track them down.”
Albert actually seemed to start believing Typhonus now. “But what about finding Gallant V?” he muttered, almost to himself. “It hasn’t been seen in years.”
“Already thought of that!” Typhonus said gleefully. “Hael Storm can track down anyone with a lot of money, and I happen to know where Storm is.”
“Then it’s all set.” Albert said quietly. “Alright then, I’ll join your expedition, Ricaro. But just because we’re old friends.”
“Of course,” Typhonus said smoothly.
“Now I need to find a good substitute to take my place at the university.”
Location- Temperandis: 52nd World, Seventh of Commercial Fishing
Hael Storm loved the planet Temperandis. Rarely anyone ever came anymore, as the majority of the fish tasted disgusting. And no one came to Hael’s side of the planet, where he landed his stolen ship down on the beach in a remote area. No one would look for him here.
Hael was a space pirate. He pillaged and stole, sometimes working as a modern-day Robin Hood, other times simply getting wealth for himself. He was in his thirties, with scraggly long, brown hair. His face sported a good amount of stubble, and his teeth didn’t look as good as they should have. He wore a pair of gold epaulets, and an unbuttoned green vest. His belt buckle was in the shape of a gray skull, while the belt itself was brown. His pants were brown, as were his boots. All in all, he looked like a pirate.
He waltzed up the beach, humming to himself as he grabbed his mug, filling it with the liquid in his flask.
“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life fer me!” he proclaimed groggily, and then drank deeply from his mug. He just loved hot chocolate.
Two minutes later, he was unconscious.
2- A Way of LifeEdit
Location- Temperandis: 52nd World, Seventh of Commercial Fishing
Hael Storm woke in a haze, his mug lying on his chest. Sand coated his back from the beach, and the sun was shining bright in his eyes. He sat up, feeling the heat of the sun beat down on his head. He dropped his flask and mug into the sand and trudged deliriously into the forest, searching for shade. He lay down underneath the trees, and feel asleep again.
Noises penetrated his sleep, and Hael, opened his eyes, wondering who was talking. Then he realized that voices only meant one thing: there was someone else on his island.
He quickly scrambled to his feet, and hurried behind a tree. Hurriedly, he pulled out his pistol and loaded it, ready to shoot any intruders on his beach.
The voices grew closer, and one of them shouted out. “Hael Storm! We know you’re here! Come out if you value your life!”
Hael thought over what they said, then shrugged. He did value his life.
He stepped out from behind his tree. “Well, ‘ello then.”
Three men stood there, wearing black coats. On the coats was a badge emblazoned with the symbol of the FRCIS, Federal Republic Crime Investigation Society. Or, as the criminals called them, Fricks.
“We’re afraid that you’re under arrest, Mr. Storm, for multiple accounts of theft of private property, and resisting arrest multiple times.”
Hael grinned. “The Fricks finally found me, eh?”
The agents‘ faces stayed completely serious.
Hael sighed. “Gloomy as ever. Aiight, let’s get this over wit’.”
He held out his hands, and one of the agents stepped up a cuffed him, making sure they were tight. “Thank you,” he said curtly. “Now please step in the vehicle.”
Hael stepped inside the Federation vehicle, sitting down as the door hissed closed. He sighed. The last time this happened was over three years ago. He had managed to avoid contact since then.
Then he grinned. Now he could go back to sleep.
The Hurricane landed down on Temperandis, its side getting hit by waves of water as the tides brought them crashing down on the sand. The door slid open, and Typhonus walked out, followed by Vanda, then Albert.
“Captain Hael Storm!” Typhonus called out, turning his head. He frowned. “My information said he would be here.”
Vanda walked down the beach, looking around for the space pirate. She squinted her eyes as she saw a small ship on the beach about three hundred yards away. “I think I found his ship!” she called out, running across the sand to inspect it.
As she grew closer, she began to make out words painted across the side of the ship. Her legs continued to run, but her mind went into a state of shock and unbelief as the ship’s name registered.
She managed to stop her legs as she read aloud the ship’s name in a soft voice.
The ship was small, and the hull was scarred, probably from battle with other ships. And crashing into docking bays.
A dark look came over Vanda’s eyes, and she let out a slight chuckle. How ironic, that they were hunting down the owner of the ship that killed her brother.
The colored strands of her hair shuddered, and a blood red color washed over them.
Back inside the Hurricane, Vanda, Albert, and Typhonus sat around a table. They had found the prints left in the sand by the FRCIS, which Vanda had recognized, and they knew Hael would’ve had to leave in another ship, since his was here.
“Then the FRCIS caught up to him,” Albert said, stroking his chin thoughtfully.
“Good riddance,” Vanda muttered. Neither of the old men heard her.
Typhonus was frustrated. “This is really not good. The FRCIS never accept bribes, they’re paid too well!”
Albert looked up, slightly shocked. “Are you suggesting that we get him out of jail?”
“If we want to find the Nexus, then yes! I simply need a way to do it.”
Vanda sighed. “I can do it,” she spoke up. They turned to look at her. “I can break him out.”
Albert snorted. “Yeah, definitely. I doubt your feminine charm is going to work on FRCIS guards.”
“Actually,” Typhonus said to Albert. “Vanda has shown exemplary skill for being able to move unnoticed and unheard. I’ve started to suspect for some time that she’s received some kind of training.”
Vanda nodded. “Yeah, I took some lessons.”
Albert raised his eyebrows. “So you think we should get an infamous space pirate out of one of the highest guarded prisons in this galaxy?”
Vanda nodded. “But, uh, first I’ll need my equipment. Which is…” Vanda pointed at the map on the table. “Right here.”
Location- Foecunditas: 30th World, Fourth of Mechanical Engineering
Vanda easily pushed her way through the large crowd of men on Foecunditas. Mechanical engineering was a huge enterprise, as it had nine worlds all to itself, but there were rarely any females on the planet.
One man looked at her strangely. She looked back at him strangely, and he quickly looked away.
“Hey, little lady!”
Vanda turned. A large man stood by a stall. He didn’t look like a vendor. Just a thug.
“You look like you need a bodyguard.”
She nearly laughed, but just raised her eyebrows instead. She turned to continue. She felt his hand on her shoulder.
“You know, to protect you from-“
She shrugged off his hand. No point in starting a fight. Just walk away.
The man shrugged. “If you say so!” he called after her.
She sidestepped into a dark alleyway off the side of the road. The alleyway, unlike most here, was mostly deserted. Just one person lying in his own filth off to the side. She quickly walked towards the end of the alleyway, where there was an obviously reinforced door in the shabby brick wall.
The man on the side of the alleyway looked up as she walked past. “You best not go in there,” he croaked, grinning to reveal his blackened teeth. “It’s nearly rush hour.”
Vanda looked at the man, then kept walking. The man was crazy.
“If you go in there, they’ll get you too!” he called, then started laughing.
Ignoring him, she pushed open the door without knocking. A man sat at a table in an otherwise barren room.
“What is it?” he called out, not even looking to see who it was.
“It’s me, Jackson,” Vanda said.
The old man looked, then started. “Oh my… I thought you were dead! What happened?”
“Long story, don’t have time. I need my usual stuff. Lost it when I left.”
Jackson shook his head. “Wow. This is quite unexpected.”
“I know, but I don’t really have time for a cheerful reunion. Please get me the gear, I’ve got the money right here.”
Jackson nodded, and then shook his head again, muttering as he walked off towards a back door.
Vanda stood tapping her foot. She heard a clink at the window, and snapped around to look at it. She sighed. Nothing there. She was being overcautious.
The back door opened again, and the man came out carrying a bundle. “Here it is, it’s got all the usual. Vanda handed him the money, and took the bundle. She untied it and spread it out on the table. Best to check it now.
Everything was there, the particle shaker, the counteractive suit, the explosives. All the materials she would need. She wrapped it back up.
“Why’d you check it? Don’t you trust me?” Jackson asked, grinning.
Vanda looked at him. “No. And thanks.”
“Yeah, well, don’t bring that back. Don’t want any more attention than necessary, if you know what I mean.”
Nodding, Vanda pushed the door open with her shoulder, the bag over her shoulder.
She walked back out into the alleyway, the hot air hitting her again. The man lying in his filth looked up, grinning.
“They’re here,” he said in raspy voice. “I told you they’d come…” He slumped back over against the wall, chuckling quietly. Vanda frowned.
“Who was that, again?” she asked gently kneeling down to be in eye contact with the man. He looked back up, and she could see the blank stare in his eyes.
“It doesn’t matter. They’re already inside.”
“Inside…” Vanda didn’t even finish her sentence, as she knew if her instincts were right, she had to act fast. She jumped back to her feet, pulling out an item from the bag on her shoulder at the same time.
A ripple of energy passed through the air, followed nanoseconds later by an expanding ball of fire, radiating outwards from the center of Jackson’s place. The sound of the explosion registered in Vanda’s ears just as it hit her, and noise itself shook her.
The item from the bag, now in her hand, was in the shape of a small octagonal disk. It registered the energy ripple when it passed through, and activated, quickly opening and letting out a sudden sheet of energy that clung to Vanda as tightly as it could. She raised her arms to cover head in natural instinct.
The explosion passed over her harmlessly, being deflected by the protective material.
As the energy died away from the explosion, she lowered her arms slowly, looking around. Then she remembered why the Second Skin Safety Suit was advised against using unless in extreme circumstances.
Limited air supply.
Suddenly remembering all her training with this equipment, she realized she had forgotten to take in a deep breath before activating it, and her lungs were starting to hurt.
She quickly depressed the button in the center of the small, flat octagon, and it closed, cutting off the deflective material.
Breathing heavily, she studied the surrounding area.
The ground was charred heavily. Parts of Jackson’s walls were still standing, but she could see through to the floor, which was now just a crater. Bricks had been disintegrated off the edges of the buildings closest to Jackson's.
Pointedly deciding not to look towards the man, she ran right into the building. She knew there was no chance of Jackson surviving. But she also knew who had done this. And she knew their tricks.
Vanda quickly scanned the inside of the building, then ran through the hole that used to be Jackson’s back door. Keeping her head down, she exited the smoking building on the other side. The path led down another alleyway, filled with less smoking bricks, but a dumpster. On the walls were several windows, and a fire escape to her left. The fire escape was pulled out of position a little bit.
Narrowing her eyes, she quickly scaled the eight feet in between her and the bottom of the ladder and then began to climb.
Thirty seconds later, her head appeared at the top of the tall, scarcely populated apartment building. She pulled herself quickly over the top edge of the building, looking around for tracks, or anything really to lead her toward Jackson’s killers. She knew who it was.
The Shadows. The people who had trained her. They had finally decided to get rid of Jackson, as his usefulness in equipment was gone.
Vanda had been the only person to ever actually leave the Shadows and live so far. She was hoping to keep that record for a long time.
Unfortunately, the Shadows lived up to their name. They were far out of sight, and while Vanda knew she could track them, she also knew she couldn’t catch them.
She sighed, and relaxed her tensed up muscles, sitting down on the rooftop to think.
Chances are, if the Shadows were cutting off loose ends…
She was next.
3- The StarbaseEdit
Location- Starbase 2001, Federal Republic Crime Investigation Society Headquarters
The Hurricane was expensive enough to stay unnoticed by the cops as it slowly orbited the huge Starbase 2001. The entire place was always in lockdown, as it was paid for extensively. If anyone were to get out of here, they’d be heralded as the greatest criminal of all time.
“Seems easy enough,” Vanda said with a shrug, while looking out the window of the Hurricane.
Albert looked up from the building’s blueprints. “Apparently, there’s a plan to build another Starbase. Supposedly, Starbase 3001. It’ll be much smaller, and open to the public. A public Starbase… how interesting.”
Ignoring Albert’s comment, Typhonus looked at Vanda. “So you truly think you could get in there?”
Vanda rolled her eyes. “That’s, like, basic training.”
Typhonus nodded. “Alright then. Stay safe, okay?”
“Don’t worry; Jackson made good equipment. It’ll keep me safe.”
He sighed. “Okay. Okay. Guess you’d better get going. The sooner the better.”
Vanda nodded. “Yep. I’m gonna change into my equipment.”
Vanda now stood inside the airlock, before it was opened. She now wore a sleeveless red ninja gi, along with red leggings. Gold lining traced over both. Her feet had red lightweight boots on them, with a tiny circle in the sole of each boot. She had red gloves on that came up to her elbows, and a red armband around her right bicep, with a circle bearing the symbol the Shadows had always said represented the Eye of Balance, between darkness and light. A silver katana was strapped to her back, and the rest of her equipment was all attached to her red belt.
All these were dark red, so she could still blend in.
Accompanying the katana on her back was a small little tank of air. She probably wouldn’t need it, but it provided safety.
She gave a thumbs up sign to the tiny camera on her wrist. It was there so Typhonus and Overbuild could see what went on.
Typhonus seemed to have seen the thumbs up, as the airlock slowly crept open. The entire place roared with noise as the vacuum filled in the area, dissipating the air. Vanda was pulled straight down to the opening, and as her legs flew out the opening she grabbed onto the opening airlock door.
Pulling herself up, Vanda was standing on top of the airlock now. The door was slowly beginning to close, and she could feel the weightlessness setting in.
She kicked off the edge of the spaceship, activating the tiny little flame thrusters in her boots as she did. They definitely weren’t enough power to lift her at all when she was on a planet, under the affect of gravity, but it was enough to propel her through space.
After the first minute, Vanda had begun to breathe the backup oxygen. Her hands touched down lightly on the metal wall of the space station. She half expected the suction on her gloves to work, but then remembered that suction is created by a vacuum in an enclosed space, with the air pressing around it, and since there was no air, her gloves didn’t stick.
She pushed off the wall, shaking her head and telling herself to concentrate. Activating the thrusters, she came back at the wall, punching an item on her tool belt before she hit it.
An electrical signal was sent through Vanda’s body, and each of her molecules marked with a specific pheromone. Then they dissipated, slowing down their vibrations and bouncing along passed the tightly woven molecules of the airtight metal wall. The molecules reformed on the other side with the pheromone, each molecule finding its partner.
Vanda gasped as her body fully reformed. “I hate doing that,” she breathed.
Then she smoothly blended with the shadows of the wall.
The entire building was what she had expected it to be from the blueprints. A large labyrinth, crawling with guards. Each corner had surveillance on it; each little hallway had some form of camera or guard, but usually both. Traps were placed in strategic positions, with all the guards aware of their locations. There were only twenty cells in the entire complex, because a mini-labyrinth surrounded each small cell, making it very hard to even get to the inmate’s room, let alone somehow manage to break them out.
Vanda had never done anything like this before, but she was confident. Sort of.
She did know one thing for sure, though. She had definitely been spotted already.
She quickly slunk down the halls. There weren’t any more shadows in this area, the light were too bright. There was practically nowhere to hide if a guards turned the corner.
That was when red light began flashing, and a loud siren went off. Reactions was instantaneous, as a guard suddenly ran around the corner, his face set in determination.
Turned toward him as he pulled up his weapon. Her mind perception slowed down the action, allowing her more time to think. This happened due to adrenaline rush, and a lot of training.
She began to run towards the man, herself moving slowly in her mind’s eye as well. The man saw it all in real-time, though.
His gun was locked on her. She saw his finger muscle twitch, and she sidestepped slowly, moving out of the way just in time as the trigger was pulled back and a bullet shot past her. This mind perception trick would only work with a single fire. She definitely couldn’t dodge more than one bullet at once. Luckily, these men had been trained not to waste bullets, as they usually wanted their intruders alive, and so they usually only needed one bullet.
The man was still registering the dodge when Vanda’s foot slammed into his stomach. He doubled over, and she grabbed the back of his head, slamming it into her knee. The glass on his helmet cracked. She punched his face, knocking him out cleanly, and in the same motion, slightly opened her fist, letting a small cylinder fall into his suit. Then she let go of the back of his head and let him slump to the floor.
Another guard turned the corner, his gun lowered. A shuriken hit him right in the foot, and Vanda’s fist in his stomach. Vanda’s other hand ripped off his helmet, and she head-butted him. He too fell to the floor.
She frowned. “Why the heck do they keep coming one at a time?”
Then she shrugged, and ran down the corridor again.
In the security room, two guards watched the video cameras, seeing what looked like a young girl running down their hallways. She had already taken down two guards, who were the emergency response team. They were sent to take care of a problem. After five minutes, if the alarm was still going off, four more guards were sent. Unfortunately, one of the guards had been in the middle of getting a promotion when the emergency began, so they had arrived at different times.
The entire prison communication ran on a walkie-talkie system. They felt that an intercom system could be hacked into. They literally had nothing that was connected to the entire prison. Especially no ‘Release All the Prisoners’ button. I mean, that would just be kind of stupid. A button to let everyone in the prison go. That’s practically begging someone to come in and break them out.
The solid metal door slammed open as the Warden burst in. His face was red, and he stormed across the room.
“What’s going on, men!?” he shouted, slamming his fist down on the table in between the two guards. One of them jumped. He was a rookie. The other turned his chair. “Sorry, sir, slight delay in the stopping of a breakthrough. It’ll all be under control in no time.”
The Warden’s eyes narrowed. Behind him, the door opened again, and his personal escort rushed in, sliding to a stop and saluting while breathing heavily. It was hard to keep up with and protect the Warden when he was trying to get somewhere fast.
“I’m staying here until the job’s over,” the Warden said, gritting his teeth while watching a replay of the girl taking out the first guard. “I wanna meet this criminal.”
Vanda sprinted down the hallways now. She knew where she was going, and no more guards were popping up around the corners now. She wasn’t even tired yet, from all this.
Rounding a corner, she stopped at a door. Sealed tight. She was here now.
Voices started to pick up in the small little earphone in her ear.
She grinned, a pressed a button on her belt.
Back past several corners, down the hallways, a group of about fifteen men had stopped at the unconscious men to see what had happened. They begin examining the bodies for clues, and one man spoke. “You ten, head down and spread out. Find her. We’ll see what we can do to help these guys.”
The moment he said that, the little cylinder Vanda had slipped into the first guards suit picked up the noise and transmitted it to Vanda’s earphone.
The ten men he had pointed nodded, and turned.
“Wait,” the captain said, closing his eyes. “Do you hear that?”
The men stopped, and listened closely. Then they all heard it.
The cylinder had begun to spray a high-powered form of sleeping gas, absorbed in molecular form, so it was small enough to get into space suits. It created a hissing noise as it sprayed the gas, along with a ticking noise as the propelling gas made it bounce against the inside of the suit.
“What a mysterious ticking noise…” the captain mused.
“I found the source of the ticking!” one soldier yelled out, kneeling by the first guard to be knocked out.
The gas seeped through the suit finally, and began to diffuse in the air. The seven men within the first few feet of the body fainted almost instantly. Then the rest started to fall to the floor.
Vanda grinned. She knew the job was accomplished.
Composing herself, she quickly pressed the particle shaker again, throwing herself at the wall. She reformed on the other side, gasping for breath, the continued the process, skipping past all the dangerous rooms of the mini-labyrinth. After all, if there’s a way past the hard stuff, why bother?
She appeared in the eighth hallway, and remembering the blueprints once again, she knew this was the last hallway. Through the next wall was Hael Storm.
Taking a deep breath, Vanda composed herself mentally as well as physically. Then, she pressed the particle shaker.
It was time to face the man who had killed her brother.
Location- Starbase 2001: Federal Republic Crime Investigation Society Headquarters
Hael sat in a chair in his cell. The walls were a blank, off-white color, and the only things in the room other than the chair were Hael and a bed. An uncomfortable bed.
Occasionally, food would come in from somewhere. Hael still hadn’t worked that part out. But he knew there was food. And it came into the room from somewhere. Usually while he was asleep. Uncomfortably asleep.
Sighing, he slouched in his chair. This was so boring.
Suddenly, he heard something move behind him. There was a sudden gasping noise, then silence. Hael tensed. Something was happening, finally!
Hael stayed facing the opposite wall, for dramatic effect. He spoke in his best ‘aloof’ voice.
“So, what is it now, mate?”
The voice behind his was feminine, and it seemed to emanate malice. “I believe we have some unfinished business.”
Strange. For one, lots of people had grudges with Hael Storm. But he doubted very many of them would break into this compound just to get at him. And he couldn’t think of any girls…. Oh.
“Listen, Tallulah, I’ll get yer stuff back to ye eventually. It’s not like I can really complete our deal in here.”
There was a slight pause. “… Who’s Tallulah?”
Wait. That wasn’t Tallulah’s voice. Hael sighed. Dramatic effect ruined. “Er… sorry, never mind.
There was another slightly awkward pause, as Hael sat there facing the wall.
“So, who be ye?”
Vanda stood there. At first, she had thought she might be weak when this moment came. That she wouldn’t be able to confront the man. Now she realized just how stupid those fears had been. How could she not confront this man?
Hael Storm spoke again. “So, who be ye?”
She gathered herself again, and began to speak softly. “Do you remember… about a year ago? When the Edge was destroyed? What were doing then?”
The space pirate hesitated. “Ah… that day. Feels like such a long time ago, eh? … Well, I believe I was…”
“Can you turn around to face me?” Vanda said, still speaking softly.
The chair spun around, and Vanda got a view of the space pirate. His brown hair was straggly, his features grizzled. He had a gold tooth.
“I was… runnin’. Runnin’ from more cops. I used… er… a distraction.”
“Do you know who was piloting the ship that destroyed the Edge?”
“I ‘spose I do, yeah.”
“Then… who was it?”
Hael sighed. “Why do ye want ter know?”
Vanda shuddered. Then she answered. “My brother was there, that day. He was in the Edge. I just made it out alive, when the ship crashed into it. He died.”
The grizzled space pirated looked at the girl in front of him, decked out with weapons of all sorts, and obvious skills in martial arts. He was nervous now. Maybe she had come to kill him.
Vanda sighed this time. “I know. I understand. You just can’t do it. You don’t have the guts to admit what you did. You’re a lazy, scared, cowardly old man, who’s lived his life out as a murderer of innocents, justifying his life by giving a few of his stolen profits to people who need much more than what you give them. All you give the poor is false hope, no real help.”
She spat on the ground in front of him. “You’re disgusting.”
Hael looked up from his chair. He met Vanda’s eyes. Then he looked away. Vanda took a deep breath.
She couldn’t hold it in anymore.
Hael felt her grab his collar, and he was lifted out of the chair. His feet left the ground, and Vanda thrust him across the room. The force pushed him into a somersault of sorts, and his back slammed into the wall. He slid down, slumping against the floor, and had barely a moment of respite before Vanda’s boot made contact with his head.
He stumbled about two feet in the direction she had kicked him. He had heard something crack in his mouth, and as he opened his mouth and groaned, his gold tooth fell out.
Hael rolled himself onto his back, groaning again as he faced Vanda. “That hurt…” he whined. Vanda’s eyes blazed pure hatred at this statement.
“That’s the point,” she growled. She punched him in his stomach, and as he doubled over, she grabbed the back of his shirt and slammed him against the wall so they were facing each other.
Vanda and Hael were both breathing heavily, both their faces covered in sweat. Hael had blood dripping from his mouth, and his left eye was swollen shut.
They looked each other in the eye, one without mercy and another without remorse, only containing self-pity.
“Duke. Jake. Exeter.” Vanda stated, one word at a time.
Hael continued panting. His body told him to fall to the ground, but Vanda’s hand on his shoulder said otherwise, and he was forced to eye level.
After a little bit, he spoke. “What… what about him?”
“Where is he? I need to know.”
“He’s…. he lives near the-“
The door flew open, and a dozen guards stormed in. Vanda dropped Hael and was reaching a button on her shirt the same moment that the Warden sauntered through the doorway.
The Warden took in the scene of the disheveled and injured Hael Storm on the ground, and the mysterious girl who had managed to break in glancing at the warden with her dark brown eyes above her red mask as she reached for something.
He cleared his throat. “Now what are you doing in-“ He was cut off by a loud explosion as the walls of labyrinth that Vanda had passed through simultaneously shattered and fell to the ground.
Vanda grinned. She knew the micro-detonators would come in handy. Especially since they exploded without the huge fireball and everything. Just a quick disconnection of the fabric of whatever material it was attached to in a two-meter radius, and letting it fall apart. It still released a sound wave, still very loud, but the actual danger was contained. Very useful for walls. Very ugly when used on humans.
She grabbed Hael’s collar again and hefted him up on her shoulder, racing out through the newly installed makeshift hallway. The Warden stood there in shock, as the girl hadn’t even let him finish his sentence.
He shook his head. “Go get her! NOW!”
Vanda burst out into the actually hallway where the door to Hael’s cell used to be, looking around in both directions. Keeping her minds eye on the blueprints she’d studied, she raced down the hallway to the left.
As she turned the corner, she heard the men race out into the hallway behind her. She grimaced. The old pirate was seriously slowing her down.
Luckily, though, their destination wasn’t far from Hael’s cell. She ducked into a side hallway, and there it was. An escape pod, situated for emergency use by authorized personnel only.
Vanda attached a mechanism Overbuild had made to the panel, and about two seconds later, the light on it flashed red several times, and then turned green. The door slid open, and Vanda thrust Hael in, jumping in after him as quickly as she possibly could. She kicked another panel in the side of the pod, and the airlock quickly closed as a countdown began.
She looked out the pod window, and saw that three of the men had managed to get inside the airlock before it closed. She grimaced, but she knew they wouldn’t die; they were wearing space suits.
Vanda turned to the controls and set them for Ackenar, the agreed planet that they would all meet on. They didn’t want any of the FRCIS members knowing about Typhonus, Arthur, and the Hurricane. Vanda would be the only one in danger here, and she knew she had much worse people than the FRCIS that wanted her dead.
The countdown reached five, and Vanda braced herself against the bars.
Then the image on the screen flickered to a flickering, large red zero.
The airlock doors hissed open much faster than the ones on the Hurricane. The escape pod was sucked out into the vacuum, with the security guards following right behind it. One tried to grab onto the edge of the airlock, but lost his grip, and continued spinning into space with the rest of his comrades.
Vanda let go of the bars and sighed in relief. She had made it through what was supposed to be the most impossible place to break into. She grinned to herself. Not when you have Jackson’s gear.
Suddenly, she felt Hael stick an oxygen tank mask over her face, kick her, then tap her waist, and everything went blank.
Hael saw the girl relax, letting her guard down, and he grinned crookedly. She thought he was out of the picture.
He had seen the equipment she used before, and had dealt with a few people who had used it. He was slightly familiar with their functions and how they worked.
In the confined space of the escape pod, they were close together. He grabbed an oxygen mask from the rack behind him, and quickly reached over, pulling it over her face. Then he kicked her towards the wall, at the same time tapping the device on her belt. Her particles fuzzed out, and she quickly disappeared.
Hael limped to the window and saw her body reconfigure itself on the other side of the escape pod. Then he grinned as he activated the pods boosters, watching her hate-filled eyes fade into the distance as the small craft flew away on its pre-determined course.
Albert watched as Vanda pulled herself out of the now closed airlock, back into the Hurricane. She looked up, a slightly defeated look on her face, but mostly determination.
Typhonus began to talk immediately. “What happened? How did he get away?”
Vanda waved the questions aside. “Not sure, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve got the pod’s tracking signal, and I know where it’s going. Back to Ackenar.”
“Then we head there and cut Hael off,” Arthur mused.
“No,” Vanda stated outright, while straightening her hair, and walking towards the map. “I also placed a tracker on Pathfinder. His ship. That’s what he’ll be doing, getting his ship.”
Typhonus frowned. “Won’t he be harder to catch in his ship than in that little escape pod?”
Vanda nodded in reply, as she began typing in the tracker code for the escape pod. “Of course. But we’re not catching him; we’re following him. He knows we’re looking for Jake Exeter, and he’s a man of taking risks. He knows the Exeter’s aren’t the type to kill people without extreme reason; they’re people of honor. He’s going to go to Exeter, and ask for money in return for the information that there are people following him. And even if Exeter refuses, and says he doesn’t really want the money, it’ll be the best place for Hael to hide. He knows we don’t know where the Duke is, so if Hael’s there, we don’t know where he is either. So basically, he leads us right to Exeter. It’s much safer than simply catching him and telling him to take us to Exeter. He could lead us right into a trap.”
Vanda had finished typing, and now on the holographic monitor above the table there was a moving blue circle, representing the escape pod, and a red triangle on Ackenar, representing Pathfinder.
Albert raised his eyebrows. “Your assistant’s quite a strategist, Ricaro,” he said.
Typhonus shrugged. “I know.”
5- The Lost WorldEdit
Location- Vigilem: 3rd World, First of Defense
Hael had travelled all the way back to Temperandis, and regained his precious ship, Pathfinder. After about three days of flight on his vessel, he was now in orbit over Vigilem, the Planet of the Guards. It was legendary for the armies it had bred, to defend against any threats. It was the very first world founded entirely for defending the Hundred Worlds, though technically speaking, there are only two worlds of defense, including Vigilem. The most well known family on the planet was the Exeters. They had become legend through battles won, through their prowess. No one could understand it, but it seemed to be genetic, as every single Exeter had a knack for fighting. Fantastic reflexes, amazing flexibility and speed, etc. Sometimes it seemed as if they had studied a plan of each exact move the foe would make before a one on one battle, then completely destroyed the enemy before they even had a chance. Several Exeter had no record of ever losing a fight.
This ability was one no one understood, and Hael himself was curious about solving. He had never been able to get any of the Exeters to reveal the information, but he still pushed.
Back on the story of Vigilem, around the year 4000, the location of the planet itself somehow faded from history, and became myth. Historians have no idea how people forgot the location of a planet so important, and one that was a part of the Hundred Worlds at that. After its disappearance, they turned the largest colony into the 101st world, changing its name to Excubiarum, and training everyone there to be soldiers.
Hael was one of the few who still knew the whereabouts of the ancient Guardians planet, and visited there often. Usually to try and find a new way to make money, sometimes to hide.
He directed Pathfinder into the atmosphere of Vigilem, pulling up slightly as it lowered towards the ground. He carefully extended the landing legs, and it smoothly landed on the rocky ground.
The surface of Vigilem looked like a bunch of large, flat dark gray rocks had all been stuck together to create a surface. But they didn’t all completely fit, so there was a ton of cracks and ridges. A nice setting for photographers, in the right light. Horrible to walk on barefoot.
A bang sounded from his engine as he shut it off, and Hael frowned. Then he shrugged. Whatever it was, he could probably deal with it later.
He strode down the walkway that had extended onto the ground, stepping firmly on the metal, and then the rocky floor of the planet. He grinned. Then he looked up.
Above him, in the atmosphere, a ship began to descend. Squinting, he reasoned it to be about twice the size of Pathfinder, but almost definitely not as fast.
The noise began to grow much louder as it grew closer, and Hael watched curiously as it performed the landing procedures just as he had. Maybe it was some relatives of the Duke, coming to visit. Duke Jake Exeter was the only Exeter that was regularly at their palace. The rest of them usually had jobs and connections to fulfill in the outside world, under false identities.
The walkway extended, and planted itself on the rocky ground. A man walked out, wearing a black suit, top hat, and cloak. He had a cane with a crystal on the top. Behind him walked another man, this one bald, wearing goggles, an orange and white suit, and had a four-armed contraption attached to his back.
Behind them was a familiar looking girl…
Hael instinctively winced and rubbed his mouth. Then it hit him. These people had followed him. Somehow, the girl had tracked him after their encounter at the space station, and they had followed him here. Instead of forcing him to take them to Duke Exeter, they’d tricked him into willingly taking them right to him.
He slapped his forehead, groaning as he did. Another clunk sounded from the engine behind him.
The man with the top hat smiled and waved. “Well, hello, Mr. Storm! How are-“
The noise of the explosion reached their ears before the actual explosion itself.
A large fireball suddenly engulfed the back section of Pathfinder, where the engine was located. It shot throughout the inside of the ship, and for a split second, an onlooker looking into the ship would’ve seen a magnificent yet terrifying sight of flames through the windows of Pathfinder. It would’ve looked as though the inside of the ship was fire itself.
Then the split second ended, and the pressure of the fire pushed outwards as the fireball engulfed the rest of the ship.
Hael ducked, reflexively reacting to the explosion behind him by bending over. He heard a loud, almost deafening screech among the midst of the sounds of the explosion, and then felt something large and heavy slam into his back.
He gasped, and everything went black.
The moment the ship exploded, Vanda grabbed her employer, thrusting him underneath the walkway of the Hurricane. She did the same with Albert, throwing him beside Typhonus.
She turned and activated the Second Skin Safety Suit, and took a deep breath of air as it quickly spread and clamped tightly over her clothes.
The first chunks of the ship hit milliseconds later as she began to run towards Hael. A few rocks bounced off her, and she didn’t feel a thing.
A huge chunk of the ship, with the letters P-A-T written across it slammed into her. The skin rippled, absorbing the impact to protect her bones. She went flying backwards, but wasn’t injured.
Vanda crawled out from under the offending metal plate, and continued running, starting to get tired from lack of air. She reached a piece that looked as though something were holding it up, and she pushed it, seeing Hael underneath. Smaller chunks of flaming metal began to rain from the sky, reinforcing the subtle tone of disaster in the air
She grabbed Hael, and began to carefully pull him while pushing back on the flaming metal with her boot. Luckily, the boot was designed to be heat resistant. She didn’t look at Hael as she pulled on him; she knew you were never supposed to move someone when they’ve sustained an injury to the back. But it was necessary this time. Leave him underneath that thing and he would burn to death.
She finally reached the walkway again, and pulled Hael underneath it, beside Overbuild and Typhonus. Breathing heavily, she looked up, observing their makeshift campsite now.
Albert had apparently hit his head when being thrown down, as he was lying unconscious on the ground. Typhonus sat quietly.
Vanda looked down at Hael now. She quietly studied the damage.
The base of his spinal cord, in his lower back, had been crushed, cutting the brain off from all the nerves below that. Vanda grimaced. She’d dealt with an injury like this before. It couldn’t be healed.
Hael would never be able to move his legs again.
Vanda looked up to Typhonus. He was standing now, looking out as the dust settled, and the chaotic explosion had been finally transfigured into a cackling fire on a lump of melting metal. The look in Typhonus’ eye was strange; it was unlike the kindly old man Vanda knew him to be.
Typhonus turned. “So,” he said, his hands behind his back now. “This is our welcome to Vigilem.”
Vanda raised her eyebrows. “Sir?”
“I believe somebody tried to kill us just there.”
“We don’t know that,” Vanda said calmly, trying to keep the worry out of her voice. This wasn’t like Typhonus. “Maybe his engine was malfunctioning.”
Typhonus snorted. “I doubt it.”
They stood in silence for a bit.
“This is all your fault, isn’t it?” Typhonus said.
Vanda looked up again, surprised. “Sir?”
He shrugged. “You’ve got so many people trying to kill you. Maybe this was just another one of their methods. Maybe the FRCIS thought you were with Hael, so they just blew up his ship. Get rid of two birds with one shot.”
“Sir, you ordered me to go in there and get him, I don’t think that could hardly classify as my fau-“
“Maybe it was your stupid trainers.”
She winced at her employer’s casual mention of the Shadows. “I don’t think-“
“It doesn’t matter what you think!” Typhonus snapped. Vanda recoiled at his anger-filled remark.
The silence came back, Vanda shocked at Typhonus’ strange behavior, and Typhonus still standing and looking out across the rocky landscape.
“What now?” Vanda said, breaking the silence.
“We wait for a rescue ship to come, idiot,” Typhonus said, his words laced with disgust. “The Exeter’s will have seen the explosion, and they’ll be sending out a rescue ship for us.”
Vanda nodded, and looked back down to the unconscious Hael and Overbuild. Hael had a few second-degree burns across his torso, too. She frowned. She felt kind of… sorry. Sorry for him.
She shook her head. She could never feel sorry for this man. Not after what he’d done.
A siren began to sound, and she looked to her right, seeing a rescue vehicle speeding along towards the fiery wreckage of the ship. She breathed a sigh of relief.
Then she looked back up to Typhonus, standing there coldly, and her frown deepened.
There was definitely something wrong with Baron Ricaro Typhonus.
6- Welcome to Exeter PalaceEdit
Location- Vigilem: 3rd World, First of Defense
Albert Overbuild woke up slowly but gradually. His bed was comfortable. The covers were a soothing light blue color.
The room around him was pleasing to the eye, too. Light blue paint washed the walls, and a nice little dresser sat next to the bed, with a lamp settled nicely on top. A wardrobe was in the other corner.
He rolled over in his bed and smiled contentedly as a phrase he heard once came to mind. He murmured it to himself.
“The gravity around a bed in the morning is ten times stronger than gravity anywhere else.”
He loved his little puns that most people would scoff at.
Albert drifted back into sleep.
His eyes opened. The room was still dark, but he could tell that the drapes around the window were heavier than most. A little bit a light seeped in between them, and he could tell it was daytime.
After about five minutes of just laying there and contemplating whether to get out of bed or not, he sighed, realizing he wouldn’t be getting back to sleep anytime soon.
Albert slowly pushed off the covers and stood up, yawning and stretching at the same time.
He instantly regretted the stretching.
Pain shot through his sore muscles. He quickly pulled his limbs back and looked down, realizing he must have pulled something when Vanda threw him.
Then he realized he was wearing a light blue sleeping gown, and he frowned. Someone had changed him into pajamas.
A sigh escaped his mouth. He should probably check up on the others. Wherever they were.
His wardrobe contained several sets of clothes. He frowned as he thumbed through them, trying to find something to his liking. He looked up and saw several of his normal school uniform robes on a shelf, with his school regulation shoulder pads next to them.
He pulled on his clothes then, smiling as the familiar fabric fit comfortably. Then he frowned again. He was missing his goggle and robotic arms.
Albert shrugged. He would find them. But first, he needed to find some breakfast.
He left the room, his robe trailing on the soft carpet as he stepped out into the bright hallway, filled with daylight.
Trooping down the bright hallways were soldiers, dressed up in heavy armor. Each had on a helmet, and the majority of them had facial hair showing in between the faceguards of the helmets.
One man, standing guard outside Albert’s room, saluted. “At your service, sir.”
“Ah, room service,” Albert stated, grinning. “Can you direct me to breakfast?”
The guard, now slightly miffed at being called room service, pointed down the hallway. “Third door on the right, sir.”
Albert saluted casually. “Thanks.”
Vanda sat in the large breakfast room. She never actually ate much, but she was there because it felt right to be in a kitchen early in the morning, with breakfast smells around her.
The room was halfway filled with knights; most of them were either still asleep right now or on duty. A large circular section in the middle served as the actually kitchen, and the cooks were serving food out through the window in the circle. Elsewhere in the room, there were several circular and rectangular tables, and a bar area. Vanda was at the bar, her red hood up. People would notice she was a girl eventually, but she could at least postpone that.
It had been two days since the explosion of Pathfinder. Albert and Hael had been unconscious the whole time, but scientists who had taken a look at them said that they should be fine with rest.
Typhonus stayed in his new room most of the time. No one could really tell what he was doing in there, but it was either sleeping or conducting some sort of experiment; that Vanda knew.
Vanda had stayed in her room herself for the first day. After the disaster out on the plains, and the strange encounter with Typhonus, she had lost her appetite. Most of her first day had been spent staring at the ceiling and trying to get to sleep.
When she woke up this morning, hunger had gotten the best of her, and she forced herself to this area. Though she had no appetite, she knew she needed food.
Keeping her dark red cloak close to her, she began to take slow bites of the eggs and toast. Each bite felt weird in her mouth, and she found it hard to swallow the food.
She looked up as a knight slid into the seat beside her. He seemed kind of quiet, but nicer than most of the rowdy men in the dining room.
“Hi,” the boy said, tentatively. He was fiddling with something in his hands. “I’m Abel. But the other knights sometimes call me Legodude, because I’m always playing with LEGOs.”
Vanda could now tell that he was holding LEGOs in his hands. She smiled slightly, putting down her fork. “That’s one of the worst nicknames I’ve heard in my life.”
Abel burst out laughing, and Vanda smiled a little bit more. “I’m Vanda,” she said, opening up a bit. “We came here looking for Duke Exeter.”
“Oh, you mean Sutta?”
Vanda raised her eyebrows. “Who?”
“Sorry, that’s the name he goes by around this area,” Abel said, kind of chuckling. Maybe some sort of inside joke. “He’s my older brother.”
Surprised, Vanda turned to face him more directly. “Oh! You’re an Exeter, too?”
Abel nodded. “Yep. I’m not as good as my brother, but I’m getting there.”
“Oh. So, when do you think me and my friends could meet with him?”
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Sutta yourself.”
He looked down at little display on his wrist. “Oh, I’ve gotta go. Bye!” He got up, and walked out of the lunchroom.
Vanda half-smiled, disappointed at not knowing when they could leave, yet glad she met the Duke’s younger brother.
She turned back to her food, starting to slink back into her slump, when someone else plopped down in the seat beside her. She sighed. “Who now?”
“Me,” Albert replied.
Vanda shook her head. “You woke up, huh?”
“Apparently so,” he replied. “How hard did I hit my head?”
“Ah. That would explain it. “
After a few awkward seconds, Albert began to eat through his food ravenously. Vanda grimaced, and stood up, sliding her plate towards Albert. “I’ve got stuff to work on; talk to you later.”
Albert looked up, shrugged, and went back to his food.
Back in her room, Vanda plopped down on her bed, staring up at the ceiling. The curtains were drawn across her window, and since clouds usually covered the sky of Vigilem, there wasn’t much light seeping through anyways. A fluorescent light was above her bed, shedding some light on the room.
The walls were a dark blue color, with the door across from the bedhead, on the right side of the wall. A door to the right of the bed led into a large bathroom.
The dark blue comforter on the bed was crumpled as Vanda curled into a ball. She was wearing her suit still; Jackson had given her more than one of the clothes, but just one set of all the weapons, which had been confiscated until they left.
She sighed. She missed her old life back on Skrios. Back where all her friends went to school, and the rain would comfort her every time she couldn’t go to bed, and the miners gave her flowers when she visited, and her hair was normal, and she had a brother…
She shut her eyes tighter. She’d given up all that when she was twelve. She was eighteen now, technically an adult. Nearly nineteen.
Vanda sighed, and rolled out of bed. She quietly flicked the light switch, letting the room go dark, and reached into her small drawer in the table beside the bed.
Inside was a stash of candles, which she asked for while she was staying locked up in her room. They had been provided through a small electronic lift, to preserve her privacy in her room.
She quickly arranged thirteen candles in a circle on the floor. The circle had a diameter of about three feet, and she sat down in it, crossing her legs.
She closed her eyes and straightened her back, placing her hands together, one in a fist, being held by the other. Then she began to breathe deeply.
Ten minutes passed, and Vanda let out one breath. Then she began to breathe back in, and as she did, she raised one finger.
One of the wicks on the candles sparked, and began to burn, providing an eerie yet calming light.
About five minutes later, Vanda slowly raised another finger. The candle next to the first started to spark, and Vanda’s body shuddered. The spark died, and the first flame started to shiver itself. Her eyes tightened.
The first two candles both surged upwards, then dwindled, until they were completely out, the wick left as a crisp. Vanda sighed, and opened her eyes back up. It was a good exercise for her for meditation; since she could never complete it, she could always use it to dwell.
She stood back up, and turned to her bed. Usually at this junction, she would take a nap. But she wasn’t really that tired, so instead, she decided to see about the meeting with Duke Exeter.
Vanda sighed. To schedule a meeting with the Duke, she would need to speak with Typhonus.
She grimaced, and opened the door, stepping back into the hallway and turning to her left. She already knew which room was Typhonus’.
Once she arrived at his door, she hesitated for a second. After the strange night two days ago…
She steeled herself, and knocked on the door.
It opened instantly, and Typhonus was standing there. His top hat was on the bed behind him, but his suit was still on, and his jeweled cane in his hands. His black hair was slightly messy, but his mustache was combed as usual. His eyes were red, though; seemingly from lack of sleep.
“Yes?” he said, slightly in a growling tone.
Vanda grimaced again, on the inside this time. “Um… how are you?”
“You know… um… I need you to set a date for us to meet with the Duke.”
Typhonus muttered something under his breath, then looked up. “Today.”
“You heard me. Now, go set the date with the Duke. Leave me.”
Typhonus closed the door at this, leaving Vanda slightly confused about what she was going to do next.
Hael Storm opened his eyes to the dim light of a hospital room. As his mind began to fully function again, he realized what was different from his normal wake up routine.
He couldn’t feel his legs.
Grimacing, he tilted his head upward while still laying down. He saw his legs held by a cast, and the cast looked soft. But he couldn’t feel how soft it was.
He was starting to panic. If he had truly lost the use of his limbs, he could never run again. He would probably be unable to continue his previous career. Hael could practically feel his life falling out of his hands.
As he desperately tried to at least wiggle his legs, a noise disturbed him. He quickly looked up, taking in his surroundings for the first time.
He was the only person in the hospital room, as far as he could tell. His curtains on the bed were open, and all the lights were turned off.
Hael turned his head to his left, and that’s when he caught his breath.
Sitting in the wide-open window was a small demonic figure. In the lighting, Hael could only make out the figure’s wings, tall ears, like a cat’s, hunched posture, and glowing red eyes.
He stared at the creature while it cocked its head, seeming to look at Hael curiously.
It began to speak.
“We implore… you… take our… healing gifts…”
At these words spoken in a hissing undertone, two shapes began to materialize over Hael’s lap, and when they formed, one dropped down into his lap, while the other fluttered over and landed softly on his shoulder.
One was a cutlass, with a jewel on the end of the hilt, and the other a black parrot.
As the two formed completely, Hael felt something snap in his spine, and he leaped upwards in surprise.
Then he realized he could feel his legs.
Even though he had only been consciously without his legs for a minute or two, he was very, very happy to have them back. He quietly rolled his ankles and moved his legs around in various ways. They literally felt better than they had ever felt before in his life.
He quickly inspected his sword, admiring the steel and the light blue gem on the end. Then he turned to his new parrot, which also turned to him. He cocked his head, and the parrot did likewise.
“Hmmm… I’ll name ye Omega,” he said. He felt that this name was rather cool.
He pulled the cast off his legs, then turned to the demonic figure, still in the windowsill. “Aiight, mister. What’s yer catch?”
The creature didn’t play innocent for even a second. “You will join… us… in the… Cause of… the Dark…”
“And what might that thar offer entail?”
“Never-ending… slavery… and obedience… to the… Cause of… the Dark…”
Hael thought about it for a second. “Er… nah, no thanks.”
The creature straightened slightly. “But… our gifts…”
Hael chuckled, while shaking his head. “Ye should’ve done yer research, mate. I’m a pirate!”
With this last word, he flung himself at the creature. Unfortunately, the creature’s reflexes were well trained, and it disappeared in a cloud of dust at this.
Hael went flying out of the window, seven stories high.
7- The Last ExplorerEdit
Location- Vigilem: 3rd World, First of Defense
Micah Exeter had been raised on Vigilem, and trained here his whole life. He was twenty years old, and his blond hair was smooth across his scalp. He had a battle scar on one side of his face.
Most of the time, his parents were out on other planets, dealing with the secret businesses they still had open. Micah had never left Vigilem, though; he was still quite young. Most of the time, he stayed here and took charge of the knights, most of whom were older than him, and his little brother, Abel.
He was the Duke of the Exeter palace, with his mother and father being the technical King and Queen, though they weren’t around much.
Though Micah was younger than most of the knights here, he was definitely not less experienced. He worked out with the rest of the knights, no matter how extreme the exercise was, and sometimes could go for twice as long as they could. His sword was one of the best in the army; gigantic, and yet Micah could wield its weight with one hand, while his other gripped his cast iron shield.
He’d been through his share of battles, usually leading them, against some of the smaller, dissenting clans still living on Vigilem, and the worst injury he’d gotten was a deep gash on the right side of face, leaving the scar that’s still there today.
So far, though, Micah’s week had been going a little bit off from his normal schedule. Two days ago, two ships had landed down just a mile away from the palace. One of them had exploded in some sort of engine incident, and one of the crew had been injured beyond repair before the rescue ships were able to arrive.
The passengers on the ships had been treated as guests while they rested for the past two days, and now Micah had received a call that they wished to meet with him. So, he was now preparing for a meeting with this strange group. Minus the one who had broken his legs, obviously.
He sat down in his comfy chair. He was in his office, which consisted of a desk with a computer, several trophies lining the walls, a flat screen TV, and several filing cabinets.
Micah checked his watch. It was three thirty in the afternoon. The meeting was at six. So, he still had some time to get some work done.
He was asleep in five minutes.
Hael flew out of the seven-story window, and went sailing toward the rocky ground below. They connected with a THUD, and he felt the majority of his bones crack.
Instantly, they began to melt back together, and Hael slightly winced as he stood back up, his last ankle clicking back into place. He looked at the bird and cutlass.
“Handy little things, aren’t ye?” he said with a grin.
He brushed the dirt off his hospital robe, and held his cutlass up. It was time to find something to drink.
A small beep woke Micah up at five fifty-five. He jolted out of the chair, startled, then realized the beeping was coming from his phone. He quickly pulled it out of his pocket, and flipped it open.
“Hey, Sutta! It’s Abel.”
Micah sighed. Sutta was the nickname that everyone in the palace called him, except for his parents.
“Hey, bro. What’s up?”
“You kinda have a meeting in five minutes. Just thought you might want to remember that.”
Micah fumbled around in his mind for a second, before remembering the meeting with their guests. “Oh! Oh, right. Thanks.”
“No prob. Talk to you later.”
Abel hung up, and Micah closed his own phone, pushing it back into his pocket. He sat back down in his chair, only to stand back up at the knock on his door.
He quickly strode across the office, grabbing the doorknob and pulling the door open.
In the hallway stood three people. In front was a man wearing a suit, along with a top hat. His mustache accented his eyes, red from lack of sleep. He had a cane with a jewel on top.
Next to him was a man wearing a professor’s robe and shoulder pads. His blue eyes shone out, brighter than a normal person’s eyes.
Behind them both stood a young girl, looking about Micah’s age. Her black hair was accented by a gray streak through the front, and her eyes sparkled dark brown. She was wearing a red suit, and she seemed aloof to the situation. Micah also noticed she seemed quite pretty.
He shook his head. “Sorry, excuse my manners. Come on in.”
The man in front nodded, and stepped across the threshold, leading the other two in Micah’s office. They all sat down in the chairs in front of Micah’s desk, and he sat back down behind his desk.
“I’m Baron Typhonus,” the man with the top hat began, starting them off quickly and curtly. “This is my partner, Doctor Overbuild, and my assistant, miss Darkflame.”
Vanda nodded to Micah, her arms folded while she slumped slightly in her chair. Albert did the same, but he sat up straight.
Micah nodded. “Well, hello there. I’m Duke Micah Exeter, but you can call me Micah.”
Typhonus’ mouth twitched slightly. “Yes. Down to business, then, duke. We have begun a quest for a certain location, called Planet Crux. We heard from a source that you could lead us to this planet. Is this true?”
Micah was surprised at how direct Typhonus was. “Oh… wait, Planet Crux? Er… why?”
“We’re looking for the Imagination Nexus.” Typhonus slid a piece of paper with an artist rendering of the Nexus on it.
Looking at the paper, suddenly something sparked in Micah’s memory. “Oh! Yes, I think I have what you’re looking for. The Imagimeter, correct?”
“Ah. Well, let me get one thing straight: what, exactly, can the Imagination Nexus do?”
Albert interjected here. “Well, see the basics of it is that it flows out of the wormhole whose energy was used to create it. Somehow, though, whenever you’re near the Nexus as a whole, whatever you imagine can become real.”
Micah nodded, and sat back in his chair, stroking his chin. After a few seconds, he spoke. “I’ll give you the Imagimeter. It’s in my ship, the Venture Koi. But only on one condition.”
“What’s that?” Typhonus asked suspiciously.
Micah sat forward in his chair, his hands on the table, as he looked Typhonus in the eye.
“I get to pilot the ship.”
Typhonus raised an eyebrow.
“Otherwise, no Venture Koi. It’s impossible to break into it.”
Albert looked at Typhonus. Typhonus shrugged. “Alright. Welcome to the team, Duke Exeter.”
Micah smiled. “We’ll leave in six hours, then?”
“While I’m gone, Jacob’s in charge, okay? I’ll be back in a month or two,” Micah finished, speaking to Abel.
Abel nodded, Micah smiled, and the two brothers hugged. Then Micah grabbed his luggage bag, and walked out the door.
The others were already waiting for him out in the launch bay. They had decided to leave Hael here in his hospital room, and let the people here take care of him. He had fulfilled his purpose.
Micah pressed a button on the side of the ship, and the cockpit quickly slid open. Vanda, Albert, and Typhonus all walked in. Micah turned, and waved at his knights one last time, then followed the rest into the Venture Koi.
As they entered the ship, Vanda looked around the room, studying it. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Micah climbed onto the metal floor of the ship, and the door closed behind. “Well, welcome to my ship. Make yourselves at home!”
No one moved.
Micah tapped his fingers against the wall. “Er… well, I guess I’ll get the ship going.”
He sat down in the pilot’s chair, flipping several switches on and off. The lights all turned on, and the two thrusters in the back began to receive power from the engine.
Slowly, the Venture Koi began to rise off the ground, shuddering slightly, but then gaining its balance.
Micah quickly turned the ship towards the docking bay doors. After a moment of hesitation, he pressed down on the thrusters.
The ship quickly accelerated out of the docking bay, tilting upwards so as to leave the atmosphere.
Vanda looked out the window, watching the rocky ground get further and further away. She sighed; the planet had been nice. None of the knights were jerks. It had been a good place. Maybe she could come back someday.
She turned around, and walked towards the hallway in the back of the main room, feeling the ship jumble as they hit the end of the atmosphere.
“We’ve left the atmosphere!” Micah called out from behind Vanda. She heard Typhonus mutter something to him, but decided it was unimportant and continued into the hallway.
As she headed to the last door on the hallway, which she would be claiming as her room, hopefully, a voice spoke behind her.
“Want ter leave without me, eh?”
She spun around, dropping her bag instantly and instantly grabbing two shuriken from her belt, one in each hand.
Standing at the other end of the hallway was a fully healed, cocky looking, unshaven space pirate with a black parrot and a jeweled cutlass.
Hael Strom had managed to sneak in.
8- The ArrivalEdit
Location- Deep Space: Venture Koi
Hael Storm grinned up at the rest of the group on the ship.
He was sitting in a chair, in the middle of the main room, his hands clasped on his lap, tapping his finger on his other hand, and his gold teeth showing.
“How did you get on here?” Micah asked. He was hostile toward the pirate, as was Vanda. Typhonus seemed indifferent, his legs crossed as he sat down in a chair in the corner. Albert was just curious, gazing at him through his reacquired goggles on his eyes, the arms on his back twitching curiously. They really fit his personality.
Hael grimaced jokingly. “Oh, toughie. Well, see, I got meself in a mood fer a bit o hot chocolate. My favorite drink, ya know. And I saw this ‘ere ship, and since I ‘ave recently lost me own ship, I decided I would, er, take a quick peek around in ‘ere.”
Typhonus spoke up from the background. “Good duke, I thought I was informed that this ship was impossible to break into?”
Micah ground his teeth together, then sighed, and stood up straight. “I suppose I was wrong, Baron.”
Typhonus’ indifferent expression didn’t change as he went back to studying the jewel on his staff.
Albert squinted at Hael, studying how he was moving. Then he shrugged. “I say he can come with us. If he was crafty enough to find a way in here, I suppose he’s worthy of the Imagination Nexus, correct? And it would just take longer to turn back and drop him off somewhere.”
Vanda blew a strand of hair out of her face angrily, her arms folded. She turned on her heel and walked back out of the room.
Micah seemed slightly disappointed that he hadn’t managed to make Vanda happy, but accepted this new turn of events fatefully, though he was still a little hostile towards Hael. He extended his hand. “Well, uh… welcome aboard, then.”
Hael stood and shook the hand with gusto. “Thanks!” His grin was wide and the look in his eyes smug.
After five days of travelling in the Venture Koi, the explorers were beginning to get restless. Vanda had kept mostly to herself. Micah had been hard at work, sometimes keeping himself awake with mental training while steering the ship, other times helping Albert study the Imagimeter to see how it worked, and the rest of his time was spent sleeping. He did talk to Vanda once, but that was short-lived, as she was only coming out of her room to go to the bathroom.
Typhonus had studied the Imagimeter while Albert and Micah weren’t, and had stayed up late into the night doing as much research on the subject as he could.
Hael had mostly slept. And snacked a little bit. But sleeping was his definite favorite thing to do on the Venture Koi.
Today, as Micah was piloting the ship around some rocks, Albert stood over the Imagimeter a few feet behind the steering wheel. Staring at the golden designs etched into the top, it was then that he noticed something.
The top of the Imagimeter was a square, divided into four small squares. One had an arrow pointing from the center of the larger square to a corner. Like the compass needle. The other three small squares were randomly filled with golden lines.
Albert frowned, and tugged at the corner, giving a yelp of surprise as the small golden square popped off.
He looked over the top of the Imagimeter, and then pulled off the other two squares, leaving just the square with the arrow.
Looking over the squares, Albert realized something. “Oh…” He smacked his forehead.
Quickly, he repositioned the three squares so that the golden lines were connected, forming a complex web. But they were connected.
Then he placed them on the Imagimeter.
He jumped back as the compass jerked around suddenly, like it had just been turned on. It spun around on the pedestal for a second, then slowed to a stop.
Micah turned around at the sudden, just in time to join Albert in seeing the rest of the process.
The arrow of the Imagimeter suddenly began to glow white while humming. The humming grew louder, and then the white light shot out of the end, zooming past Micah’s face and having its progress halted by the wall.
Albert turned to Micah, and then motioned in the direction the light was moving. “Well, go that way!”
Micah nodded, slightly stunned, and sat down in the chair, turning the ship the same direction as the light.
After a minute, the light was now shining through the window and out into space. It was quite a sight to see, the beam continuing on until it was no longer visible to the naked eye.
Micah looked back to Albert, wondering what to do next. Albert looked up from the Imagimeter, and nodded at Micah.
“Well, go on. Follow it!”
Micah nodded, turning back around, and hit the thrusters, propelling the ship forward along the shining white line.
Three days later, Hael stepped out of the room he had been staying in most of the time. They had given him a TV, so he hadn’t considered the conditions inhumane, though he definitely preferred exploring.
He quietly tiptoed past Vanda’s room. He had managed to mostly avoid her so far, and he didn’t plan on meeting up with her alone again.
He rubbed his jaw when he thought of their first meeting.
Quickly, Hael continued tiptoeing. He had only come out of his room over the past few days to eat. He had a bathroom in his room, so that was already taken care of. Right now he was out for a midnight snack, midnight referring to the middle of the time that everyone slept on the ship, as there was no definitive time zone in space.
Hael quietly crept into the main room. The Imagimeter shone brightly out into the never-ending blackness of space. The ship was free floating, but sensors were ready to alert the crew in case the ship travelled too closely to any debris, planets, or asteroids.
The fridge was sitting in a small corner. Hael grinned as he pulled on the handle, sliding it open, and the dark main room was filled with light as he beheld food heaven.
He quickly grabbed a packet of ham, pulled out a box of rolls, a small container of cheese, and three apples from a small compartment at the bottom of the fridge. Carrying them all in his arms, he quickly staggered over to the table, the room growing darker as the fridge door shut. Now the only light was that of the stars through the windows, giving the room a sort of magical feeling. That, and the bright, constant shining of the Imagimeter.
Hael set down his chosen assortment of food on the tablecloth, plopping down onto a chair in the circular room. The Imagimeter was behind him, lighting the room brightly, and keeping Hael out of darkness. The room was completely silent, no sound from anything except for Hael’s breathing. Omega was on his shoulder as always, and he shifted his feet, letting out a tiny squawk as it settled down for a nap. His cutlass rested against his hip, jangling slightly as he sat down.
The rolls slid easily out of the packaging, and he tore of a slice of cheese. He pulled a piece of ham out of the package. Then he pulled open the roll, sticking the ham and the cheese inside, and closing the roll again.
He took a bite out of his newly made sandwich, swallowing, and then sighing as he set it back down on the table, resting his elbow on the table and staring out at the stars.
His mind began to slowly mull over his life, pointing out the things he had done wrong. It slowed more as he reached the moment, a year ago, when he had been running from the police, and had smashed right through the docking bay.
He remembered thinking to himself: Don’t consider the consequences; just go!
Now he was facing the consequences he had ignored. He’d exercised his freedom to make choices, yet he’d forgotten that all choices have consequences.
His brown eyes twinkled as he rested his head on his arm, staring at the emptiness of space.
“Maybe ye’ve done somethin’ wrong here,” he murmured softly to himself.
He sighed again, and grabbed his apple, taking a bite out of it while still staring off into space.
Suddenly, the stars went out.
He frowned, and then sat up quickly, squinting.
The entirety of space had gone pitch black. The Imagimeter’s bright light even stopped at the glass windshield in the front of the Venture Koi. It didn’t seem like it stopped; it looked like it was still flowing out into space, Hael just couldn’t see the rest of it. He knew there was only one explanation for this.
Something was covering the windshield.
He dropped the apple down onto the tablecloth, moving around toward the windshield. He drew nearer to the darkness, until his face was nearly touching the glass. The blackness was complete out there.
Hael reached up his hand and hesitated, holding it parallel to the glass.
Then he touched it.
The Imagimeter’s light stopped, throwing the room into complete darkness. Hael staggered backwards, tripping over the table as his breath quickened.
A second later, the dark red emergency lights flashed on, bathing the room in an eerie red light. Hael stood up, using the table to hoist himself off the ground, and stared around the room.
His eyes stopped at the airlock doorway, as he caught his breath.
Through the airlock window was a familiar silhouette; that of a demonic creature. Its large, bat-like ears were crumpled slightly, and it eyes glowed blood red, fitting in with the eerie lighting.
Hael remembered to breathe when it blinked, then reached up with its hand, placing each separate, long claw on the glass.
He quickly pulled out his cutlass, stumbling with his fingers in the movement. The sudden motion of his arm awoke Omega, and he fluttered up into the air indignantly, startled slightly. He squawked once, then settled back down on Hael’s shoulder, ruffling his feathers.
Hael held his cutlass in a defensive manner.
“What do ye want?” he called out, fear in his voice.
The creature sat there silently on the other side of the airlock. It blinked again, and then pressed one of its claws onto the glass.
The glass cracked, and the claw penetrated.
Hael jumped as the emergency alarm started to sound, ringing throughout the ship. The claw had slid all the way through, but the metal doors installed on the sides of the airlock closed quickly, sealing off the crack in the glass.
The darkness outside of the windshield was cut off from Hael’s view as emergency metal doors slammed down there, too, blocking off the glass from space.
Suddenly, the alarm stopped ringing. The red emergency lights shut off as the main lights in the room flickered on, filling the room with the normal white light it usually held.
Hael snapped his head around to see the entrance to the hallway.
There stood Micah, Albert, Vanda, and Typhonus, all looking confused, tired, and slightly angry.
They all stood silently for a few seconds.
Albert said the first words. “Umm… what happened to the Imagimeter?”
Hael suddenly remembered that the Imagimeter had stopped working. “Er…”
Typhonus frowned. “Duke Exeter, open the window, if you would.”
Micah nodded, still slightly confused, and complied, walking past Hael and his midnight snack, and pressed a button.
The metal slid back up into the ceiling of the Venture Koi, revealing the outside. All the stars had returned.
In front of the ship, though, clearly visible, was a planet, strangely enough, in the shape of a cube. Land stretched out across it, but the gravity seemed to pull only towards one side of the cube, as what were several large lakes on the top of this planet became waterfalls, gaining momentum as they reached the edge of the planet, then cascading down, falling off and then disappearing into the distance below the planet.
On the very top side of this cube sat a fantastic temple, stretching from a large base, thinning out into a large cylinder sticking high into the sky. Out of the top of this hollow cylinder came another wide cylinder; this one was a light bluish color. It seemed to be moving, spiraling upwards until the explorers could no longer see it out of their window.
“The Imagination Nexus,” Typhonus whispered, his eyes wide.
Albert’s eyes were wide, also. “Oh my gosh… that planet is literally impossible…”
“It’s Planet Crux,” Hael whispered, transfixed. “The place all o’ us explorers have deemed as the ultimate treasure ter find… the impossible planet…”
Vanda stood behind them all. Her folded arms had dropped as her mouth and eyes widened along with the rest, showing her bright brown eyes clearly. Her streak of hair turned light blue as she mouthed the word ‘wow’ in amazement.
Typhonus tightened his grip on his cane, and narrowed his eyes. “Alright, team. It’s time to get what we came for.”
9- The Impossible PlanetEdit
Location- Planet Crux: World of Imagination
Venture Koi touched down on Planet Crux, its engines rustling the bright green grass on the ground as they slowed to a stop. The beautiful landscape moved smoothly in the breeze around the bright red ship.
The walkway extended once more, and as the door slid open, Albert took the first tentative step out. A look of surprise swept his face as he gazed at the amazing planet. He took a deep breath, feeling the fresh air fill his lungs.
“How does air taste so good?” he whispered.
Hael and Micah followed behind him, both stunned by the beauty of the Planet Crux.
Inside the Venture Koi, Vanda started to make her way out onto the planet. Typhonus’ cane suddenly appeared in front of her, blocking her way.
She turned to look at Typhonus.
“This is a dangerous world, from what I’ve heard,” Typhonus said, narrowing his eyes. “I want you, as my assistant, to stay with the ship. Don’t let anything happen.”
Vanda opened her mouth to protest, slightly shocked. “But…”
“But what?” There was an edge in Typhonus’ voice.
“Nothing,” Vanda said, giving in. “I’ll stay back.”
Typhonus nodded, and stepped out of the ship.
The four explorers stood outside now. Typhonus had explained what Vanda was to do to all of them, and they had made their way across the magical landscape, towards the amazingly high temple on the horizon. The staircase was ahead of them now.
The temple seemed to be made of a dark blue material, like a lighter version of obsidian. It was smoothly cut and expertly designed, the bottom layer one giant circle, and as it got higher, it would narrow in. The Imagination Nexus shot out, bright blue, spiraling onward out of the temple, and a sparkling river was flowing out from underneath the temple, cascading over the edge of the planet.
“Amazing architecture,” Albert muttered, inspecting the stone. “Simply fascinating.”
Typhonus placed one hand on top of the other while studying the temple. His eyes squinted as they reached the top, the Nexus giving off a bright light. He frowned, and lifted one hand, waving it forward. “Let’s go.”
Micah nodded, following behind him. Albert looked up from the stone, looked back, and then quickly ran after them. Hael grinned and took up the rear of the line.
They began the long trek up the stairs, Typhonus slightly laboring with his cane, but the rest of them simply wondering in the amazement of the planet, and the temple they were climbing.
After several minutes, they reached the top of the stairs, and stood in front of a humongous doorway, staring into a cavernous room. In the center of the room, the Imagination Nexus floated upward from a humongous hole in the floor, emanating from the center of the planet underneath it, and being contained into an everlasting spiral at this point.
The four explorers stood in awe of the Nexus, watching it gracefully spiral upwards, heading right out of the top of the temple.
Albert’s face shifted into a determined expression. He stepped forward.
“To the Nexus,” he said. He took a deep breath. “For the Imagination to make anything we could ever dream of and more.”
Hael grinned, and stepped beside Albert. “For all the riches an’ gold any pirate could ever dream of!” he said heartily.
Micah shifted his shield on his arm, and moved to stand beside the others. “For the greatest purpose in an Exeter’s life; helping those in need.”
Typhonus nodded, and hobbled beside the others, his leg seeming even weaker. He looked to his right, seeing his companions staring at the Nexus. Albert turned, from the end of the line, and smiled at his old friend. Typhonus nodded once again, and looked forward.
“To end the quest… and the dream… of my life. To the Nexus.”
On this dramatic note, the four explorers stepped forward almost simultaneously, with Typhonus slightly in the lead. As he stepped forward through, his foot came into contact with some sort of barrier in front of the door. A sudden charge of electricity coursed through his body, and he went flying backwards.
The others stopped themselves just in time, turning back to look at Typhonus. Everything was quiet for a few moments.
Micah raised an eyebrow. “Well, that ruined the moment.”
Typhonus groaned, and pulled himself back up, leaning on his cane. His limp was much more noticeable now.
Hael scratched his head. “Er… what the brick just happened?”
“Obviously some form of a barrier,” Albert said, frowning. “We’ll need to find a way past it.”
Typhonus grunted in agreement as he pulled himself up to be level with the others once again.
Before anyone could give any ideas, though, a figure began to materialize directly in front of the barrier, which began to ripple. The figure was glowing a bright light blue color, and the only distinctive features were its eyes.
A voice began to emanate from the creature, clear and deep, yet resounding.
“You have tried to enter the Shrine of Imagination. What is your business here?”
Typhonus spoke up, shouting at the thing. “I am Baron Ricaro Typhonus! We have come seeking the Nexus of Imagination, that which flows pure and free!”
“What is it you plan to do with the Imagination Nexus?”
“We wish to study it, to gain knowledge from it!” Albert spoke up, squinting at the glowing figure.
The creature was silent for several seconds. The only sound was a strange humming coming from the Nexus room. Then it spoke again.
“Very well. I will accompany you inside.”
The figure floated to the ground, landing on its glowing feet.
“What are you, if I may ask?” Albert said, curiosity overtaking his thoughts once more.
“I am the very last of the Guardians, entities set by the First Builders to protect the Shrine of Imagination in the Nexus Temple. My title is Isr’otihkalimask, meaning He Who Lasts Long. It stands true, as I am the last of my kind left alive.”
As he spoke, the barrier lowered visibly, opening the way in to the Nexus.
Hael frowned at Isr’otihkalimask’s unpronounceable name. “I’ll call ye Bob.”
The newly named Bob frowned, then shrugged. “I don’t see why not. I will take a form seen as more ‘normal’ to your kind.”
More glowing light enveloped Bob, and he lowered to the ground. The light dissipated, revealing a bald man, wearing jeans and a red shirt.
“Interesting,” he said, his voice friendly, and no longer reverberating. He brushed off his jeans. “Strange body." Micah rolled his eyes. “Thanks.”
Bob smiled. “You’re welcome!”
Micah sighed, shaking his head. “Alright, let’s go inside the shrine now.”
Hael nodded, grinning from the awkward moment with Bob. “Yup. In we go.”
After the awkward interjection made by Bob the Guardian, the four explorers prepared themselves for the end of their journey yet again.
They stepped through the door.
Inside the thoughts of Baron Typhonus
Baron Ricaro Typhonus’s thoughts swirled in his head. A specific idea rose to the top of his mind, urging him.
“Think chaos,” the now familiar voice whispered. It had been with him since the explosion of the Pathfinder, following him, growing inside of him. “You are not truly free to do anything unless you can create chaos.”
Typhonus stayed silent, as he always did, simply following the voice.
Follow the voice.
Inside the Nexus Shrine
The explorers stepped into the shrine, taking in the hugeness of the Nexus itself, and the height of the room it was in. The cylindrical column of stone stretched high, high into the air, reaching skyscraper points. The tip was slightly obscured by a light cloud layer. The spiraling blue Nexus extended out far beyond the tip of the shrine, becoming lost in the endlessness of space.
Albert stared up at the blue power source, gazing in wonder. The rest of the explorers concentrated on the base of the Nexus.
“It’s amazing,” Micah whispered.
Bob stayed back at the doorway to the shrine, folding his arms and watching as the four explorers slowly walked towards the giant spiral, each staring at the glowing entity in wonder.
They instinctively circled around the Nexus, each explorer taking a point opposite another.
Albert started first.
He closed his eyes, and built upon the first idea that popped into his head. An invention he’d been looking at for a long time. A robotic dog, which was installed with a largely adaptable mainframe. Meaning, it would learn from it’s surroundings. Basically acting like an actual dog.
As he reinforced the thought, he opened his eyes and saw a line of glowing blue stretching out of the moving spiral. It was forming the picture of the dog in front of his eyes, a transparent image.
Acting on impulse, Albert held up his hand and waved the image into the spiral.
There was a flash, and Albert covered his eyes quickly. He lowered his arm, and stared at the Nexus for a second.
Then the dog jumped out onto his chest.
Startled, Albert fell onto the floor, laughing as the mechanical dog nuzzled him. Its eyes glowed brightly, recording the scene with its installed video cameras.
Hael and Micah saw Albert’s example, and started to follow, each with their own smile on their face, and their eyes shut tight.
Typhonus stared at the bright blue for a second, constantly moving and flowing upwards, patient and clever, finding its own cracks and slipping through, creating the most complex organism Typhonus had seen.
A grin cracked across his blank face, and his eyes suddenly washed over completely black, washing out even the whites of his eyes.
Another bright blue line stretched out in front of his face, quickly forming itself into the image of a tall spider, infused with a chaotic and destructive mind. Typhonus quickly moved his staff through the image, and it faded away into the Imagination Nexus.
The blue veins of Imagination in front of Micah and Hael suddenly overheated and popped, sending sparks flying into their faces.
Micah’s eyes flew open, and he swatted the sparks off. Hael yelled out in indignation, rubbing his face with his hands.
Then the spider crawled out.
The thing was humongous. Its legs stood over ten feet high, and its body was not proportional to its legs in any way. It didn’t even seem like a spider in many ways. It had only four legs, each black with glowing streaks of purple, pulsing as it moved. The body was flat, with four glowing red eyes, and a purple head. It twitched its head to the side, like it was sniffing the air. It made a loud hissing, clicking noise, a cacophony of terrifying sound.
Typhonus laughed, standing to the side, his eyes still completely black. The other stared in horror, too shocked to do anything.
The creature twisted at Typhonus’s laugh, moving its legs and clicking its pincers. In one swift move, it jabbed its closest legs on top of Typhonus pinning him to the ground, at the same time whacking Hael into a wall with another leg, seemingly accidentally.
As Typhonus’s head hid the cold stone floor, the jarring impact forced him to blink. His eyes opened again, and the black color was gone, replaced by his normal brown irises, and a look of sudden terror.
The spider began to back up into the Nexus, dragging Typhonus with it. He opened his mouth to say something, but was enveloped by the Nexus before he could make a sound.
When the spider touched the Nexus, though, the point it touched instantly turned from light blue to a dark, chaotic purple. The infected particles instantly began to spread, swirling upwards and infecting others at the same time.
Albert quickly sent a text message to the Venture Koi. Then he looked upward again, as the purple stain quickly spread across the spiral. The entire base was already enveloped.
“What do we do?” Micah shouted across the room to Albert.
“Grab Hael!” Albert yelled back.
He turned around to ask Bob for help. But the Guardian was gone.
Inside the Venture Koi, Vanda sat in a swivel chair, bored out of her teenage mind. She was looking through files in the Venture Koi. Not much interesting stuff.
She scrolled through, stopping at a file labeled as “Various Prophecies and Urban Legends.”
She shrugged. Could be interesting.
Vanda opened the file, then paused, and decided to let it download onto her phone as she read. She never knew; there could be something important that someone might not want her to know.
She set the device to download, and browsed the file. A few caught her eye, but not too many.
One seemed to pop out to her, though. She leaned in closer, squinting as she murmured it aloud.
“White, pure as the dove; Red, courageous as the flame; Blue, cold as the ice; Gold, righteous as the hero; Purple, sleepless as the night; Black, alone as the legend.”
She frowned, and shrugged. It made no sense.
Reaching forward to move the screen down more, she pulled it back as the screen went blank. Large letters in text flashed across the now white screen.
“FLY THE SHIP OUT NOW.”
She frowned. It was obviously from Albert. But if he sent this, that meant they were in trouble. And she didn’t want to disobey orders, but she also wasn’t going to leave her friends behind.
Grimacing, she made her decision.
Inside the Nexus Shrine, Albert was holding a piece of the Nexus, a small glowing particle he’d managed to salvage before the whole thing was corrupted.
Micah, however, as he was running to grab Hael, saw something Albert didn’t. A small flash traveling down the side of the Nexus, speeding along, just like a bolt of lightning. On the other side, something similar came flying out of the Nexus, striking the wall and sending it crumbling to pieces.
Following his reflexes, Micah lunged forward and grabbed Albert, throwing him back. The bolt struck Micah right in his chest, the impact crushing the armor and folding it in on his chest. A spark from the bolt made it to his skin, and his back arced in pain. It felt as though he was literally being ripped apart.
Then everything went black.
Albert dropped the shard of Imagination in surprise as Micah grabbed him and threw him back, intercepting the bolt. He watched as Micah flashed purple and then practically fell into pieces.
A cracking noise high above made Albert look up, and he saw, to his great horror, the Venture Koi floating high above the temple. Too high for anyone to survive a fall. A bolt from the corrupted Nexus flew out and made contact.
The sight was strange. It was as if whoever had made the ship hadn’t bolted all the pieces together correctly. Slowly, various parts of the ship became disconnected and fell towards the ground, until the ship was a large, falling pile of rubble.
Albert’s mind grasped the situation within a few seconds, slightly slow due to shock. Everyone else was incapacitated, two of them probably gone forever.
But there was always a way out.
Frowning, Albert turned, and grasped along the floor. His hand made contact, and pulled the Imagination shard out of a pile of rubble it had fallen into. Thinking quickly, he held the shard in front of him, and shut his eyes tight.
The pieces of the Venture Koi stopped right above him.
He quickly shifted the pieces until they surrounded the hole in the ground that the Nexus was being spewed from. Each piece glowed with a blue light from the Imagination.
Quickly, all at once, he moved the broken metal in, forming a plug. The chaos hit the bottom, slowing corrupting the Imagination.
A drop of sweat dripped down Albert forehead as he struggled to hold back the corruption. And in one swift move, he plunged the pieces into the hole, clogging up the source of Imagination.
Breathing heavily, he dropped the shard. He had sealed it to his best ability; it wouldn’t be coming out of the hole anymore.
Albert fell to his knees and looked around him, a feeling of despair settling over him at the sight of Micah.
He gathered himself together, needing to wake up Hael and deliver the bad news. He let out a little laugh as he realized how little he knew Hael, and they were the only two left now.
He stood now, dusting bits and pieces off of his robe.
Then it happened.
A giant crack ripped through the ground, just to the left of Albert, and purple energy spewed forth. He gasped, and jerked his foot back, just as another crack appeared to his right.
It dawned on him then that the Nexus was forever moving upwards, and holding it back would build up the pressure, not only in the temple, but in the whole planet.
He turned to grab for the shard once more, but it was too late.
Everything flashed white, and then went black.
Location- Remnants of Crux Prime
For the second time in as many weeks, Albert opened his eyes to a shuddering headache. This time, though, he was not lying on a comfortable bed in a palace; he was, in fact, on a bunch of jagged rocks.
Groaning, he sat up, rubbing his head, and then his back.
Standing, he noticed that he was on a floating island.
“This makes no sense at all,” he muttered, exasperated.
The island was jagged and quite large, and seemed to be a shard of the Planet Crux. Apparently, the planet had been objected to Imagination for five thousand years, and that was enough to give each individual piece of the planet its own little gravitational field and atmosphere. The giant, impossible planet had exploded and thousands as smaller, even more impossible planets.
The edge of Albert’s section was quite far from him, and he counted himself lucky that he had landed on a large piece. To his left, Hael lay on the ground, still very, very unconscious. Micah lay on a rock formation, still torn. Beside him was the shard of Imagination, which had apparently survived the explosion as well.
An idea struck Albert just before he let the depression return, and he shakily made his way to Micah, climbing over another cluster of rocks and nearly landing on his face, if it weren’t for his robotic arms steadying him.
He reached down and picked up the shard of Imagination; it glowed and pulsed in his hand, its presence somehow happy. He then placed the shard in the midst of Micah’s pieces.
Quickly, bolts of Imagination, much like the chaotic purple ones from the corrupted Nexus, flew from the shard, latching on to Micah and literally pulling him together. His body reformed, and then he blinked, and gasped, jumping up with his eyes full of panic.
“Calm down! Breathe!” Albert ordered with a laugh. “Haha, my thesis was correct!”
“What…” Micah said, still breathing heavily. He’d heard nothing of what Albert said.
“The chaos and Imagination won’t really send you over the brink from life to death; it suspends your body in an animated form. You can be brought back with a bit of Imagination from the Nexus!”
“What are you talking about?” Micah asked, the shock beginning to die out. He was a fast healer.
“Oh, basically, that big swirly purple stuff? It won’t kill you. And now that you’ve got the Imagination inside of you, you’re practically immortal. If you’re mortally injured in anyway, the Imagination will simply convert the death to smashing. And then you’ll be back. Too weak to fight, but you’ll be alive.”
“Name I just came up with. It’s like dying, but not dying. What you just did.”
“It’s painful,” Micah commented.
Albert nodded. “I would think so.”
A loud noise sounded from behind Albert, and he turned, jumping at the sound.
By Hael, two figures had appeared, one holding the other. They let go of each other, and the shorter figure bent down to Hael, gently shoving him.
“Hey!” Micah shouted, already running towards Hael with Albert. “Who…”
He stopped as Vanda looked up, Bob standing behind her, his hands still slightly glowing.
Albert yelped in surprise. “But I thought you were…”
Vanda grinned. “You told me to get the ship off the planet. It has an autopilot, you know? I thought you were simply worried about the ship’s safety, so, you know.”
Shaking his head, Albert grinned, too. “Glad you followed instruction, I suppose.”
Hael groaned, and his eyes opened halfway, squinting. “Ugh… I feel like I drank a bit too much o’ that hot cocoa.”
“You didn’t miss too much,” Albert said, smiling now that everyone was happy and back together.”
Bob’s hands had stopped glowing now, and he spoke. “I left when the Nexus began to become corrupted, as I knew the consequences. I ran into this young lady on the way out,” he gestured to Vanda, “and I grabbed her to save her life. Apparently, though, you all survived.”
He gave Albert a warm smile.
A sharp barking at his feet made Albert look down, and he was surprised to see his robotic dog there, still alive and kicking. Its metallic tail wagged, and he smiled.
“Imagination is a very hard thing to destroy,” he commented, with another smile.
Vanda looked up, and nodded. “Of course.”
Albert turned to Micah. “Typhonus didn’t just disappear, though; that spider is still somewhere among these fragments. And with the power of the Nexus combined with the chaos, they’ll be doing anything they want. They could be forming an army.”
A determined look came over Micah’s face. “Then we’ll have to make one of our own.”
Albert nodded, and their eyes met. They grinned, both knowing something.
Their journey had just began.
"A dream is lazy. Never make an entire story a dream. It's a bad twist."- G. A. Nightstalker
New Universe Year 3; Afterworld 5310
Location- Nimbus Station: Piece of Planet Crux
After the end of our last tale, the four explorers did begin their own journey; a long, difficult road to greatness.
With Planet Crux destroyed and only a small remnant left, Doctor Albert Overbuild sent out a transcript to the many connections he had elsewhere in the Hundred Worlds. He described the situation, and they began funding the newly named Nexus Force Project.
The remnants of Planet Crux themselves had spread out to create a huge solar system, consisting of tiny planets with flourishing life, due to the abundance of Imagination recesses in each chunk. The majority of the planets were only several kilometers long; many of them kept the oceans that they had originally had on Planet Crux, with the never-ending water still cascading over the edge and falling into space below.
Knowing that the forces of chaos would move quickly, the four explorers had set up the Nexus Force to search for ways to stop the evil from expanding. Each of them had different strategies of stopping the chaotic power, so they set up their own different branches of the Nexus Force, called Faction.
First and foremost there was the Assembly Faction. Albert Overbuild leads this faction, and their main purpose is to exploit the limits of Imagination itself, testing it in the most creative ways thinkable. They concentrate on ingenuity and creativity.
Seeing a need for force, Duke Micah Exeter formed his faction, the Sentinels. They were the guardians of the Imagination. Focusing on battle skills, strength, bravery, and honor, they quickly became the most recognizable faction.
Hael Storm, the space pirate, still had a craving for adventure and exploration. He founded the Venture League, whose job it was to explore various planets, find out if they were inhabitable, and move in, allowing the Sentinels to take their places to block off the chaos from moving in.
Last but not least, after these three factions were created, Vanda Darkflame, a highly trained and secretive nineteen year old, at the time, decided that they were missing something. She knew from her training that the best way to defeat an enemy is to know everything you can about them- know your enemy. So she created her own faction, which she would lead. She called it the Paradox Faction; they would study the chaos to destroy it.
These four founders organized the Nexus Force, establishing the various rules and ranks. As they did this, their sponsors made their name quite well known among the Hundred Worlds, until almost everyone knew that they were open for recruits.
People began filing in on shuttles; usually those who were out of a job, and didn’t have much left for them in life. Very few of them really understood how much they would be helping the universe when they joined the Nexus Force.
Albert had, at a time before this, extracted much of the Imagination chunk he had placed in Micah to keep him alive. There was still much there, but Albert had taken a lot for study. As he had found, it grew exponentially when it wasn’t giving power to something, like Micah. So he had placed it in a contained room and let it grow, occasionally taking samples to study. When his sponsors sent ships to take recruits, he sent them a large package of Imagination, along with designs for cryogenic pods.
These pods would be placed in each recruiting ship, with Imagination laced in them. As people joined, they would get in the pods on the ship, and be placed into a cryogenic sleep. They would be injected with a small dose of Imagination in their blood stream; not as much as Micah, but enough to keep them barely alive if they were hurt badly.
The new recruits arrived the three main recruiting ships, pulling in around one hundred and fifty soldiers. The majority of them joined the Sentinels or Assembly. The other fifty split almost evenly between the Venture League and Paradox.
Around the time of the explosion of Planet Crux, Albert created a new calendar system at the year Zero, called the New Universe Year calendar. The Venture League spread out, and the Nexus Force established a temporary base at the largest chunk still floating, which they called Nimbus Station. Several other chunks were inhabited; the Venture League took the first one they found with a good jungle and ocean, and had a crew of experienced space pirates explore it on their new ship, the Black Seas Barracuda. They named this chunk Gnarled Forest.
Unknown to Vanda, there were apparently many members of the same secret society as Vanda, the Shadows, who had left and were in hiding from them. Around five of these joined the Nexus Force, and they joined the Paradox. Paradox decided they wanted a place separate from the other factions, so as to conduct their dangerous experiments without fear of tainting others. They took the desolate Forbidden Valley as their own chunk; it wasn’t truly one rock, but a long string of many rocks floating around each other. It was a barren land, with rarely any plants. Paradox set up their labs here, and began their experiments.
Around a year after the explosion of Planet Crux, when the Nexus Force was still at its relatively humble number of members, chaos finally emerged from its hiding. Right above Nimbus Station, a huge, whirling cloud of purple formed, thundering darkly. It began spewing out random creatures, each one disfigured and glowing purple. None of them seemed to be able to speak, and each had a look of hate in its eyes.
A battle ensued, and the Nexus Force won, with much damage done to their main headquarters. None were lost, due to the Imagination, but many were injured.
It was after this that Albert coined the chaotic force as the Maelstrom, after the giant vortex in the sky. The creatures were known as Stromlings.
After videos of this battle were leaked to the public, people began to realize that there really was something to fight out there. And when an official video was released, with Micah explaining why the Maelstrom was a danger to the rest of the universe, the rest of the recruits began to flow in. This time, many different varieties of people came; those with family, friends, and connections. These people traveled from across the universe, joining each faction as slowly, but surely, Maelstrom began to fester on each planet, except for Nimbus Station, were it seemed they were gone for good.
Three years after the explosion of Planet Crux, two after the Battle of Nimbus Station, is where our story takes place.
Abel Exeter had come to the Nexus Force two years after the founding. He had joined the Sentinels, determined to follow in his now famous brother’s footsteps.
His brother, of course, was Duke Micah Exeter, leader of the Sentinels.
Today was the thirteenth of June. And in two days, on the fifteenth, it would be Micah’s twenty-third birthday.
Abel was on Nimbus Station, and he was in Xeno Blueblade’s store, the man who sold equipment to the Sentinels. The aisles were practically empty; it was a year after the main recruiting time, and not many people were still buying equipment. Abel wasn’t, either. He was there for Micah’s birthday present.
Quickly shuffling along through the store, Abel saw nothing of any special interest. Micah already had a fully functional suit of armor and weapons, so most of the stuff in this store would be completely useless, and even inferior to the grade of Micah’s armor.
Abel sighed, and apologized to Xeno Blueblade for wasting his time. He then walked out of the store, slightly disappointed, though he hadn’t expected to find anything above average in the store.
He strode out into Nimbus Station.
Nimbus Station was a magical place. The sky always looked like a sunset; the higher skies were dotted with stars and a dark blue color, but the horizon was a gentle spread of oranges, reds, and yellows.
The mainland was a rock in an ocean, with grass growing along the pathways, but the sides of the islands were rocks leading down to the waters.
Different pathways all led down to different areas of the planet, and many led to launch pads to take you to other planets.
Abel stood in the midst of Nimbus Plaza, the center of the planet. This area had four tall buildings set opposite each other. They were connected by a circular brick road, with a round area of grass in the center. Small walkways led to the stores inside the tall buildings on the grass.
Each building represented a separate faction; one blue, for the Sentinels; one yellow, for the Assembly; one green, for the Venture League; and one red, for Paradox. Strings of lights connected each building, giving the plaza a feeling of celebration.
Abel was dressed in his Knight armor; he had already risen to rank three, the highest one can achieve in their place in the faction. Each faction, at the moment, had two separate ‘kits.’ These represented a person’s occupation and place in their faction. They bought the armor that went with each from their various faction vendors, Xeno Blueblade being the vendor for the Sentinels. When they joined a faction, they chose what kit they would use, and you were given the rank one equipment. Then they were given the rank two and three equipment when they were earned.
In the Sentinels, there were Samurai and Knights. In the Venture League, there were Daredevils and Buccaneers. In Paradox, there were Space Marauders and Sorcerers. And in the Assembly, there were Engineers and Summoners.
Abel’s gear consisted of a breastplate, chain mail leggings, a shield, a sword, and a reinforced helmet. Each item was infused with Imagination, and made by the highest order of Engineers and weapon designers from Assembly and Paradox.
He quickly hopped down the steps into the center, skirting around the grassy area in the middle. This place was notorious for people begging for various trades to get special rare items tat they wanted. And sure enough, there were about five or six people just standing in the circle, yelling out how much they would trade for what.
Walking swiftly, Abel left this area behind, sidestepping a group of Summoners on their way back from Avant Gardens. He turned the corner, and made his way along the pathways to the entrance to Forbidden Valley, one of the most dangerous lands. Then he grinned.
A dragon’s tooth should be a suitable present for the leader of the Sentinels.
1- Summoners and SecretsEdit
Location- Forbidden Valley: Piece of Planet Crux
Metru Nui was a Sorcerer, in Paradox. His gear was dark colored, in various shades of purple, red, and black. His hat looked like one that people think typical of magic users; tall, pointy, and wide-brimmed. He had shoulder pads on his shoulders that extended into points, and his clothing was covered in runes. In his right hand, he held a wand, black, about three feet tall, and decorated with a horse’s head on the end. The horse’s eye were glowing a dark purple, the same color as the Maelstrom. In his left hand he held a handle that was attached to what looked like an orb. It was glowing completely purple, and simply hung there, like a small, portable, magical sphere.
Metru was in Cavalry Hill, one of the main infected areas of Forbidden Valley. The main stromlings overrunning Forbidden Valley were the Dark Ronin, ancient suits of samurai armor that had been animated by the Maelstrom to attack; and the Maelstrom Horsemen, which were basically Dark Ronin riding on Maelstrom horses.
As can be inferred from the name of the area, Cavalry Hill was filled with Horsemen, rampaging about with their spears. It wasn’t as much of a challenge as other areas of the Nimbus Station, but when you were all alone, there was quite a large chance you could be overridden.
And as it would happen, Metru was all alone.
Grinning at his own daring, Metru sliced his wand forward, hitting a Horseman with a blast of Maelstrom energy. The creature’s eyes widened, and then it imploded with a small bang, the bones and pieces of armor falling to the ground while the Maelstrom energy trapped inside dissipated into the air.
He turned, taking in a deep breath at the same time. His gloved hands cupped around his mouth, and then suddenly, he yelled.
A cone of Maelstrom energy blasted from his mouth with the yell, injuring every Horseman that was in the way. It swirled to a stop, and Metru quickly scrabbled to the top of a rock formation while the Horsemen were confused for a second.
A blast of sonic energy from his orb sent the Horsemen flying backwards, and Metru was given time to charge his grand finale.
He quickly gathered all the Imagination in his body into one point, centering it into his core. He felt his arms and legs go limp as the sudden concentration of magic pulled the energy away and raised him into the air. An onlooker would have seen what looked like a limp puppet, floating in the air as Horsemen regrouped around it.
Then he let go of all the Imagination energy at once.
With an all too familiar explosive sound, it radiated out from his body in a large circle of deadly energy, ripping through Horsemen where it found them. As quickly as it had exploded outwards, it swirled like a wave during the high tide, creating what looked like a large circle of high walls of slightly purple Imagination. Then it flew back into Metru’s body, which had been hanging above the rock the whole time. His body quickly absorbed all the new Imagination, and he dropped to the rock, exhausted, yet feeling quite accomplished.
As he started to pull himself up, he saw two last Horsemen who had survived the attack, and he grimaced, knowing he couldn’t take these last two after that display of energy.
He halfheartedly shot a blast of Maelstrom from his wand, but the Horseman sidestepped it easily, still cantering about in a small circle and trying to decide whether to come near the Sorcerer or not.
The Horsemen seemed to make up their mind, and they began a slow trot toward the defeated specimen.
Just as they did this, a giant blue creature roared into Metru’s field of vision, biting off one Horseman with its Venus-flytrap-type of mouth.
Metru smiled weakly as Scratch whacked the other Horseman with its huge claws, shattering the chaotic creature into tiny pieces. The giant monster was an ally; it was one of the creatures that Summoners were able to, well, summon.
And sure enough, a Summoner walked into Metru’s vision as well, patting Scratch’s leg, as he couldn’t reach anywhere else. As the Summoner began to walk towards Metru, this is when he blacked out.
Metru opened his eyes, blinking the tiredness away. He was lying on a strangely comfortable rock now, and he was surrounded by the calming noise of slowly moving water.
He sat up slowly, and turned around.
Behind him sat a man wearing a black and white ninja gi, with black pants. He had spiky blonde hair, and he was meditating quietly, with a small panda snuggled up next to him.
They were sitting in what seemed to be a hollowed out circle in the giant branch of a humongous tree. The circle was filled with water and a few rocks, specifically designed to calm the mind. Metru knew where he was now.
This was the Great Tree; a giant tree, where the branches were walkways and the trunk as wide as a house. It was a sacred place to all ninja in the Forbidden Valley, and they considered it their home. Brickmaster Clang was the meditating man behind Metru; off on other branches of the tree were Smashmaster Foom and Gathermaster Klex, each in their own type of environment. Master Fong Shader stood in front of the main dojo, closest to the trunk of the tree. And at the very top of the trunk, in his own secluded place, was Numb Chuck, one of the most well known ninja.
Metru turned back towards Clang. “Um… Brickmaster Clang? Where did the Summoner who rescued me go?”
Clang opened one eye, and said nothing for about ten seconds. Metru opened his mouth to ask again, but he was shushed by Clang.
After several more seconds, Clang spoke. “He’s at the top of the tree. With Numb Chuck.”
Slightly confused by the pauses, Metru stood. “Thanks,” he said politely, then hurried across the rocks to the branch.
At the bottom of the trunk that Numb Chuck lived on top of was an anvil. To create the lift to take you to the top of the trunk, the anvil had to be broken, then Imagination would have to be used to rebuild the anvil. But this anvil could only be broken using a special weapon, a Maelstrom Hammer, which had to be earned. Metru had already earned his, though.
Another recruit stood by the lift, which he had already shattered. This recruit was an Engineer, from Assembly, like the Summoner. He had a white helmet, with a blue visor covering his eyes. His shirt and pants were both orange, and he had protective shoulder pads on. He had a large yellow wrench in his right hand, and in his left was a complex looking remote control.
Metru watched as the Engineer built the lift, sparks of Imagination flying from his hands. The shattered pieces of the anvil came together again as a small, slightly glowing, metal square. Metru jumped onto the lift beside the Engineer, and it slowly began to float upwards.
“Hello there,” the Engineer said, holding out his hand for Metru to shake.
Metru shook it. “Hi! I’m Metru. Metru Nui.”
“Call me Fusion,” the Engineer replied. Metru nodded.
Numb Chuck sat at the top of the tree with the Summoner, both of them quietly looking at a hologram of the area. The Summoner sat in his white robe, concentrating on the moving designs, while Numb Chuck watched him for any changes in expression.
“Here,” the Summoner said, straightening his back while he pointed at a figure on the hologram. “The heart rate of this is one is slower, calmer. I think it’s leading the others. Or at least some of them.”
Numb Chuck nodded, bent down to look at the hologram, then stood back up at a noise from below the tree. His ear twitched.
“Hide everything; quickly!” he hissed. “Recruits coming up!”
The Summoner nodded, and quickly stuffed the hologram projector into his pocket. He stood up, and brushed off his pants, nodding to Numb Chuck as he crossed the top of the trunk to where the lift was coming up.
The lift rose into sight, and the Summoner jumped onto it, saluting to the other recruits as they got off.
The Sorcerer grabbed his arm. “Oh! Hey, I just wanted to say thank you, for, you-“
“It’s nothing,” the Summoner said gruffly, pulling his arm away. The lift fell again.
The Sorcerer looked after him, slightly confused.
Location- Nimbus Station: Piece of Planet Crux
Micah was in the small hideaway in the forests of Nimbus Station. It was made specifically for the Mythran, higher-ranking officials who fought only with Imagination, no weapons; and the faction leaders.
He was lounging about in his office-like area; basically just a place to relax. His thoughts were on upcoming events of major importance; mainly, his birthday.
He sighed, and rubbed his forehead with his hand. Everything seemed to be stressful nowadays; it was always like an overload of information on his head. Since he had helped create the Nexus Force, people had always come to him for assistance, advice, ideas. Most of the time he wanted to send those looking for battle help over to Vanda; she was the strategist.
Several worlds had been discovered now. Among them were Avant Gardens, a grassy, mountainous planet; Gnarled Forest, the land the Venture League pirates were exploring; and Forbidden Valley, of course. Micah had helped to discuss the defense to be set up at each of these planets, though his main forces were on Avant Gardens, as Forbidden Valley was being run by the Paradox, and Gnarled Forest by the Venture League.
Though recently, many problems had begun to appear, centered on Paradox. Apparently, many recruits considered using the Maelstrom as a weapon controversial. There had been many accounts of Paradox members being teased, taunted, and shunned by the others for this. Unfortunately, in the past three weeks, there had been two incidents in which Paradox recruits, two sorcerers, turned up seriously injured and sent home as invalids, with a medal and a promise that the Nexus Force’s sponsors would take care of all their medical bills.
Many of the more extremist groups against Paradox had actually managed to convince themselves that Paradox was working with the Maelstrom. As absurd as it might sound, about a year ago, while studying the Maelstrom, a scientist had managed to actually get a glimpse of the Maelstrom core. Though he had been slightly traumatized by the experience, he was able to tell the rest of the world a piece of information that had convinced many that Vanda was in league with the Maelstrom.
This was that the chaos did have a master. And it was the man Vanda had been employed to for about a year.
It was Baron Ricaro Typhonus.
2- The RavineEdit
New Universe Year 3; Afterworld 5310
Location- Nimbus Station: Piece of Planet Crux
Micah mulled over his thoughts on the recent outbreaks against Paradox. His concerns weren’t completely over the faction problems, though. Lately, he’d been growing closer to Vanda. But this problem with Paradox was spurred on by many Sentinels, and Micah felt like Vanda was getting slightly irritated at him, like she felt like he wasn’t taking enough control of his faction. He groaned, and stood up from his desk, brushing off several crumbs from the snack he’d had. He didn’t feel like doing any more paperwork; it was altogether too exhausting. As he grabbed his jacket, he reminded himself to smile. “Today’s going to be a good day,” he said to himself.
Location- Gnarled Forest; Piece of Planet Crux
Fred sat on the edge of the Ravine, his legs dangling out over the edge.
Gnarled Forest was a place of many wonders, but the Ravine was by far the one made for daredevils. A gigantic chasm in the ground, the Ravine was surrounded by huge cliffs, with large, wet, stone slabs in the wall creating the path to the other side. Beautiful waterfalls pounded down from the top of the cliffs, high above the heads of visitors. The bottom of the Ravine was so far down, all that was visible was a large cloud of mist dizzyingly far below their feet, created by the many waterfalls pounding down to the bottom. Large sculptures of heads were carved into the cliff faces, with torches in the open mouths and eyes of these heads. They wore stone tiki hats, and stared at travelers trying to cross.
Palm trees stood all around the tops of the cliffs and on the small passageway Fred was sitting in. These passages were all cut into the cliff face, connecting everything to the Ravine. It had taken a lot of work from many Assembly Engineers, but the job had been done.
Fred was a Paradox Sorcerer; wearing the purple, black, and red nowadays was dangerous, though. He had, of course, been informed of the feuding breaking out between the many different groups of people within factions. He kept to himself for the most part, though; he didn’t have very many friends in other factions to turn on him.
He was a writer, and altogether a dark person. Fred had joined the Paradox simply because he liked that they meddled in chaos and darkness. He personally felt like he understood Typhonus’s point of view when creating chaos: with chaos, comes freedom. He wasn’t for the Maelstrom; he still disliked them. He simply felt like he understood them, and that helped.
Fred didn’t think like many other loners in the Nexus Force; he didn’t work in teams, but he wasn’t the lone-ranger type of guy. He took a methodical approach to destroying Stromlings; many other loners preferred to take out all their built up anger in the most flashy way possible, then slink away. They liked an air of mystery. Fred truly just didn’t care.
His staff lay down beside him, and he stared off the distant side of the Ravine. After a tiring morning, Fred felt he deserved a small period of rest. He felt that this wouldn’t last very long, though.
And sure enough, a loud group of people on the path behind him became audible as they turned the corner, passing by the many palm trees.
Fred sighed, and scooted over to the side, making way for the people if they were planning on crossing the ravine. He reached for his staff, picking it up and pulling it out of the way.
Looking behind him, he then saw them. A mixed group of Sentinels and Venture League members. There was one Knight, a Buccaneer, and two Daredevils, all laughing and conversing.
The Daredevil with a streak of blond hair coming out from underneath his helmet saw Fred, and he pointed, motioning to the others. They noticed Fred too, and the Buccaneer stifled a giggle, while the Samurai gave Fred a sudden glare.
Inwardly, Fred sighed. This was a group of Paradox haters.
Blondie displayed his obvious leadership of the group, as he strutted towards the quiet Sorcerer on the edge of the Ravine.
He cleared his throat, gaining Fred’s attention that he didn’t know he already had.
“Hey, Rebel,” he said, his blond hair annoyingly sticking out from underneath his Daredevil helmet. “I think I found a Stromling; what do you think?”
“It seems disgustingly infected with Maelstrom, Dash,” the Knight replied. “Think we oughta take care of it?”
“It seems dangerous,” the Buccaneer chimed in, a grin spread across her face.
Fred stood, pulling his staff with him. The eyes of the horse head decoration on the top glowed purple as he brushed dirt off his pants.
Dash widened his eyes in mock surprise. “It grew taller! Oh, no, what’ll we ever do?”
The Buccaneer and the other Daredevil both began laughing. Rebel seemed to smile slightly, but Fred was slightly worried by the look of hatred in his eyes. It was as if he really believed that Paradox was working with the Maelstrom.
“I’m sorry; I need to head back to Nimbus Station,” Fred said quietly, keeping his calm.
Dash shook his head. “Oh, no, we can’t let you go there! No Stromlings allowed at Nexus Force headquarters.”
“Please move out of the way.”
“Or what?” Rebel asked, pulling out his greatsword and shield.
“Or I’ll consider you rude and inconsiderate.”
The group broke into laughter at this.
“Oh, no, how horrible,” the Daredevil said in mock horror.
Fred grimaced. “Just let me pass.”
“Here; give us your Maelstrom weapon,” Dash said, grinning as he reached toward the staff.
Fred pulled his staff away, and Dash made a pouting face. “Aw, can’t give it to me?”
Rebel moved forward as Fred watched the events unfold with a wary look on his face, saying nothing now.
Suddenly, with lightning speed, the flat of Rebel’s greatsword smashed into Fred side. His eyes widened as his mouth opened, letting out a small gasp as his reaction.
The impact drove the wind out of him, and Fred felt at least one rib crack underneath the soft, un-protective Sorcerer’s clothes. His hand loosened, and he felt the staff fall to the ground with a clunk. He followed suit, dropping onto his side.
Dash snatched up the staff with a grin, as Fred rolled on to his back, his eyes shut from the sudden pain.
“The Stromling’s down!” Dash cried triumphantly.
Fred opened his eyes, trying to shut out the pain. “Give it back,” he grunted.
Rebel knelt down to look Fred in the eyes. “We’ve been meaning to try a little experiment on a Stromling like you for a while. We thought that maybe, if we inject you with Maelstrom, it’ll counteract the Maelstrom already in you! It’ll make you uninfected! Isn’t that a great thought?”
Fred groaned. Their science was horrible. Great. He’d been beat up by a bunch of idiots.
But Rebel’s next action made Fred disregard the logical fallacies.
Rebel reached into the pocket of his armored pants, and pulled out a syringe, filled with a swirling, purple liquid.
Fred opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, the Knight jabbed the syringe into his wrist, pushing the Maelstromic liquid into Fred’s arm.
Fred yelled, and jerked his arm away. The liquid was already in his arm, though, and he had only managed to tear a small hole in his wrist.
“Now you can be a Stromling, just like your friends!” Dash called from behind Rebel.
Fred sat up, and looked in disbelief at his arm. This was just another mean prank.
Then a section of arm caught on fire. Purple fire.
He yelled again, scrambling away from the arm, taking in ragged breaths while his broken rib jarred him.
“Aw, don’t be such a baby,” Dash said dismissively. “We’ll just smash you. You’ll wake up, good as new.”
Fred looked up in disbelief at their idiocy again. But once again, he wasn’t given time to explain anything to them.
Rebel stepped up next to him, and grabbed him by his side. Fred gasped as his rib pressed against the armor.
“I bet you’ve always wanted to see the bottom of the Ravine,” Rebel said with a grin.
Then he threw him over the edge.
Fred’s mind took a moment to take everything in. He was falling down to the bottom of the largest chasm he’d ever seen. And Maelstrom was quickly spreading throughout his blood system.
Purple flames suddenly spread to his abdomen.
In an act of desperation, Fred pulled a move usable only by Sorcerers. He quickly gathered all the Imagination in his body into one center, including the infected Imagination.
Then he released it.
He had done this before, but it felt strange to see tints of purple among the expanding light-blue ring.
He looked back down, and saw the mist from the waterfalls. And he realized he’d pulled his trick at the worst possible time.
Fred flew through the mist and became invisible from any onlookers above. A second later, there was a sudden crack.
The infected Imagination that had just started to regroup in a circle to fly back to their Sorcerer suddenly halted, and dropped. They’d lost their destination.
Back at the top of the Ravine, the Daredevil bit her lip. “He won’t die, right?”
Dash waved his hand dismissively. “He’s got Imagination in his body; he can’t die. C’mon, let’s head back to Nimbus Station. Maybe we can find him again later.”
Dash walked off with the Daredevil and Buccaneer, though Rebel lagged behind.
He looked over the edge of the Ravine, grimaced, and then threw in the Sorcerer’s staff.
He truly hated Paradox.