[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/IYv2X0N.jpg?1]] Khal is a place balanced between the natural and spiritual planes and there is a constant struggle to maintain that balance. The keepers of this balance are Dreamers from another world who's thoughts resonate with the portal to Khal. These dreams guide them to find the portal when they are awake.
The Dreamers are powerful beings that always appear when Khal is in crisis. They can manipulate space, transform, and even conjure things out of thin air.
The Dreamers have always stopped one power from becoming too great and swallowing the other. But the return trip back to Earth has never been guaranteed. Not all survive the battles they fight. Not all find themselves dreaming after.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/Vs8ZTH0.jpg?1]] The Khalian are of the natural world and share the same physical features and attributes as humans. (below)
The Khalori are of the spiritual world and consist of benevolent and malevolent creatures. (above)
This is the year of the Solar Eclipses. Khal's 14 moons will each pass in front of the sun every month, starting from the smallest, Jol, and ending with the largest, Fol. Fol will completely block out the sun for the last month of the year and the Khalori will take full advantage of this.
They are building an army under the banner of The Dark King, a demon of cold fire. But he is not alone. A Dreamer from the past has joined his cause and has gained immense power.
You will send me your character's skelly in a message as well as a sample post. If I approve your character, your first post will be your character in their worst nightmare. They will overcome their nightmare in any way you see fit, but don't make it too easy. After you post your nightmare, I will discuss with you through PM your character's abilities .
[b Addendum]: Your dreamer character does not have to be from Earth, but I'd like them to be humanoid.
1. [http://rp.eliteskills.com/vc.php?c=347668 Yui Azii] by Darien
2. [http://rp.eliteskills.com/vc.php?c=395199 Justin Matthews] by Urizen
3. [http://rp.eliteskills.com/vc.php?c=395289 Asma Hakim] by Tesla]
Please do your best with grammar and spelling I now use Grammarly. It's a godsend.
If after [b three weeks] of no reply, I will be forced to kill off your character in the most embarrassing manner possible.
In the subject line of the PM put dreamers don’t sleep.
127 but looks 30.
Iolani is one of the most kind and just rulers in the history of Khalian, but she is not without secrets or dark desires. She has mostly kept them in check but the up and coming invasion of Khalori has put her on edge. Iolani is the queen of Khalian in all but name due to the last will and testament of her father that she be married before given the title. It's a fact that deeply irks her but tries not to show.
Aleka is the younger brother of Iolani. He is a fun-loving puppy-like character who is adored by everyone he meets. He is usually light hearted, but recent events have forced him to set aside childishness in order to prepare for the battle to come. However, he does try and lighten up the mood whenever he can, pulling small pranks and make jokes when appropriate.
You don't have permission to post in this thread.
The terror that can be inflicted upon you in a short amount of time is truly astounding when you think about it. It was just a few minutes at most, but they dragged on like hours in that senseless oblivion. Asma managed to survive it by focusing on her happier memories, but as the transition dragged on it got more difficult. Only when her senses returned did she realize that most of her extremities were clenched from the journey.
Her senses were slow to come back to her in this new world and it took all of her effort to drop into a crouched position rather than fall over. The strange place she found herself in was apparently different enough than her own world that it required her cybernetics to adjust. Thankfully though they were able to compensate enough to help her keep her breakfast down, and to help her notice the strange humanoid standing in front of her.
As the scene before her sharpened she realized that they were both in the middle of a throne room straight out of one of the many fantasy novels she read as a child. The room was far more beautiful than the offices she was used to dealing with world leaders in as a representative of her species. It was also a great deal more primitive than the offices that she was used to which meant she was almost certainly violating the Exploration Prime Directive.
It also meant that her armored vacuum suit was significantly out of place in comparison to the archaic throne room. The odds of her protective suit looking like the armor of such a simple civilization were slim to none based on her experiences. Not that she minded having to break the directive, but she knew from history how most societies looked upon invaders.
So she made sure that she would be in a better position before making her introduction. She started to back away from the humanoid in front of her until the sounds of footsteps approaching from behind put a damper on that plan. If they were going to flank her she needed to be sure that they were aware she was not a threat as quickly as possible, and that meant putting her empty hands up away from her supplies. All that was left was to hope that they would be reasonable despite the unusual circumstances.
The group that walked in did so with an air of confidence befitting armed soldiers. However, it was the reaction of the other humanoid in the room that drew Asma's eye as she realized that she might not be the only out of place person here. A fact that she felt more confident in as a regally dressed woman addressed them from behind the armed guard.
[b “Welcome to Kahl.”]
A welcome was always better than a threat, but the fact that her entourage was armed kept Asma from celebrating prematurely. Especially as it only took her a few seconds to realize that this was not a place recorded in any of the things she had read from the Homo Evolutis. They had knowledge on just about every primitive species within a year's travel of Gelendria, and Kahl was not listed once in those records.
Her introduction was postponed again as her suit alerted her to a Kassak distress beacon on the planet. It was much too far away for her to do anything about it though, as she had not packed anything for high-speed travel. A fact that she was regretting as she looked at the sharpened blades held by the new group of humanoids.
[b “Fear not. My name is Asma Hakim,”] Asma said as she stood up. [b “I am a representative of the Homo Evolutis and I mean you no harm.”]
[b “However, my senses tell me that there is a dangerous creature that means you harm that appears to have come from my area. It is a bipedal creature, about our height, and is covered in scales,”] Asma explained. [b “They are highly aggressive and do not listen to reason. I tell you this in the hopes that your people can avoid trouble.”]
The smell was different. Everything was different. The sounds, the light, the atmosphere, there was more oxygen in the air. Justin could hear the distant roaring of crashing water and he smelled the scent of fresh vapour on the air. A waterfall? Was this what a waterfall smelled like? If this was what a waterfall smelled like, he'd like one installed in his house, please and thank you.
Justin took a deep breath to properly savour the scent and realized there was so much more; leaves, flowers, plants, fires, oil, roasted meat, people. For once he could breathe. He relished being able to do so. This was already turning out to be a good dream and here he was, just stood breathing in an open space.
Justin took a tentative step forward before he realized there were no shoes on his feet. There couldn't have been, the same fine claws that adorned his fingers finished his toes.
The soles of his feet tickled with the sensation of several lines engraved upon the stone he stood upon. Golden eyes lowered to meet with a strange symbol, which vastness was not immediately apparent from the angle Justin was looking at it. His eyes followed the lines of the architecture to come upon an empty throne, set high, several steps leading up to the majestic seat.
Curious, Justin moved closer, baffled by how realistic this dream felt.
He also wondered what manner of drugs they had him on in order to experience something like this; because whatever it was, more people needed this and stop rushing through their lives like headless chickens.
A smile played across his lips.
Justin's eyes wandered to the single source of light beaming down into the throne-room. Through a circular clear glass port in the ceiling, he could make out a nearly obscured night's sky he was pretty sure would not have any of the constellations trying to predict the future and he almost laughed out loud when he caught sight of the amount of moons.
Tides would be such a mess here.
He imagined that when those moons aligned themselves perfectly, water might actually float. Some seemed too far away to entertain that ridiculous theory and Justin didn't have much time to work out a complete and sane theory regardless. Just as the last of his toe scraped the outer line of the symbol, the lines started to glow. No, not a glow. More like the air above the symbol was vibrating like the baked air hovering above the heated desert sands. For a moment Justin stared, taking hesitant steps back, bringing up a hand to guard his sensitive eyes from the sudden influx of light.
And then things shifted for real. The air contorted, crackling and thrashing above the symbol, lashing out at the structure surrounding it as if the portal was causing a volatile storm to rage in a small confined space. The bubble which contained the storm grew denser with each second Justin stared at it, the air whipping about his frame, trying to tear him apart as well.
And then everything coalesced into an explosion almost, which nearly knocked Justin off his feet had he not crouched down.
The silence following the storm was deafening, but slowly the waterfall's distant roar returned, along with the cries of several animals. That, and the breathing of another person, along with the scent of something Justin recognized as metal.
He stood, dusting off his clothes and blinked the dream's reality back in focus.
Ah, another person.
Justin got the faintest clue that his entrance had probably been similar, though he had not experienced his arrival as such. Whichever it was, such trivial affairs didn't matter.
From the door just off to the right of the throne-room several people entered all at once. One of them was dressed in intricate and refined clothes, the luxurious cloth adorned with golden details, her skin a sun-kissed hue. Several others wore metal armour, their faces stern and tense.
Justin cocked his head, curious and at the same time apprehensive. They openly showed off their weapons; long blades bound to their backs and smaller knifes, hidden carefully among the metal distraction. A display of power. But to what end?
"Welcome," the woman spoke with an air of royalty. "Welcome to Kahl."
The trip was nearly instantaneous. Once she entered the wormhole she was engulfed in a swirling mist of light, color and intense pressure. Alarms blared dangerously in her cabin and her flyer rattled until the Kassak Torpedo exploded behind her. The explosion shoved her out on the other side. The alarms continued to go off, and much to her horror, the Kassak had followed her through, and was firing at her. They came out into open airspace, on a strange planet and over what looked like a major city. Well this was great! She’d just broken probably 10 Alliance violations, including the Exploration Prime Directive. Not to interfere or make a presence around pre-FTL societies.
She was rocked forward as the Kassak landed rapid fire at the aft of her flyer. “Frax!’ She cursed as her head was slung forward by the impact.
“Aft Shield Plating at 60%,” The computer informed her. Yui simply pursed her lips and began evasive maneuvers. She was in open airspace over an alien planet, fighting off an incredibly skilled Kassak scout. The kassak laid another set of rapid fire against the back of her ship, and Yui decided it was time to stop running, and slammed her engines into reverse. The Kassak flier went zipping past her, but he’d be turning soon, so Yui pushed her engines back into drive and began to make the Kassak sweat. His flier was nimble and quick, and Yui had to wonder who this Kassak was. Scouts were not generally this good of pilots. They evaded her fire as they flew away from the city they had dropped in on and from there it was a dangerous dogfight. Yui had more to protect than her own ass and research. If the Kassak got away this planet would be in danger of invasion. She couldn’t allow that to happen. They were coming up on a massive forest beneath them and Yui began to fire with real intent. She didn’t want him to crash into a city or village and kill innocents. He released his own decoys though, as well as venting plasma from his engine. It obscured Yui’s view and she zipped right through it, but when she cleared the cloud of plasma the Kassak was out of view. He wasn’t gone though, he came from above her and fired a heavy payload.
Explosions ruptured her console, as electric sparks, wires and smoke began to fill the cabin. Fear finally invaded her, as she realized her ship was in danger of literally falling apart. She was disabled, but not out of the fight just yet.
“Shield plating is down to 20%, another hit like that and the ship will be destroyed. Primary systems are off line, secondary systems running at 45% efficiency. Repairs are recommended…” The AI went on, Yui ignored it, the Kassak had flown ahead and was making a come around to take her head on. Yui saw her chance, and before the Kassak had the chance she launched two photon torpedoes right at him, and watched him dodge the first but not the second. It exploded his ship in a great ball of fire, but not before he launched a final missile at her. It took out her starboard wing, and forced Yui into a downward spiral. She yelled out from the forces pushing against her, and with no way to stabilize herself, she crash landed on the alien planet.
Everything was dark, and fuzzy for Yui when she finally came to. A beeping in her cockpit told her the ship was out of commission, and she felt a rather large goose egg on her head. She had cuts and bruises from the impact and as she looked around she saw her ship was beyond repair.
“Please stay inside the ship, distress beacon is being launched-“
“Belay that,” Yui snapped. She didn’t want other Kassaks to trace her signal. She wanted to figure out where she was before compromising this alien planet. She looked to her side and saw that her wormhole scanner was busted, and when she tried to move she realized she couldn’t as a bit of alloy was bent from the framing of the cockpit and now pinning her to her seat. It was clean through her shoulder, but thankfully it had come from behind. She didn’t move just yet, not ready to experience that sort of pain, and looked out the window as best she could. The glass was cracked and covered in black burn marks from the explosions in here console. Carefully she reached forward and brought up the display. It wavered in and out of focus as the power shorted. Containment of her engine was still in place, and operating just fine. She winced in pain from the movement but flipped the display to another view. It was no luck, the sensors were down and she couldn’t tell if the planet was breathable or safe to venture into. From the readings she did manage to get, she could tell that the Kassak Ship had crashed 5 kilometers away from her own. She highly doubted he’d survived, but she was going to get her ass moving to confirm it.
With a couple of quick breaths, Yui braced herself and unclasped her seat harness and pulled herself up and off the steel that pierced her shoulder. She shouted in pain, but she managed to stand up in the cockpit and stumbled over the wreckage to a first aid kit behind a wall panel. Or it should have been back there. The panel had fallen away spilling everything inside it across the floor.
“Computer?” She asked, but all she got back was a dying beep, even the computer’s voice was going down. “power status,” She gasped and pulled her hand away from her wound to find sticky blue blood covered her hand.
“Power at 20% and declining. Primary and Secondary systems off line. Emergency power has been activated.”
“Reroute power to my work station to begin download,” Yui managed and shuffled over to her work console, dragging the first aid kit with her. She sat down at the console in her sleeping quarters in the back. It was no better than the cockpit, but she placed a tiny silver disk into a slot and watched as her research was downloaded to the disk and she worked to patch up her shoulder. She ripped open her flight jacket, and shook it off carefully. The wound was anything but clean cut, it had left jagged skin, and Yui knew it would leave one hell of a scar. At least she’d have a cool story to tell.. if she ever made it off this planet.
Yui managed to put a foam stitch on her shoulder wound, which would hold it for now, but she definitely needed medical attention. She knew she was concussive and losing blood, but an unconscious soldier was a dead one. She powered through and when the download was complete, Yui pocketed the disk. She had her research and the Computer’s AI on that disk. She then pulled a set of memory chips from the main console of her ship. Star charts, Alliance information, Oukan positions. She took anything of intelligence and importance and stuffed it in a bag. Only then did she don her flight jacket back on and began to grab weaponry and survival gear. She grabbed two phaser pistols, and a plasma rifle. Then she clipped a sword hilt to her hip. The blade was made of light particles, the same particles that made the ammunition in her phaser gun.
Geared up and ready to go, Yui slung the bag over her shoulder and opened with great effort to pry open the side doors of her flier. Oxygen rich air filled the smoky cockpit and Yui noted her luck. The foliage around her was dense and rich in color. The ground was soft from a recent rain, and the air was perfumed with the smell of the forest. Yui actually took a deep breath. Oukan did not smell like this. Oukan didn’t have green flora like this. Oukan was mostly desert with sparse water sources, which was why the blue planet with all of its water had been so lovely to Yui. What must it be like to live on a planet comprised of so much water?
Despite the pain Yui was in, she carried the extra weight and held her plasma rifle as she started to find higher ground. She had to find the Kassak ship and destroy it. Turning her wrist she tapped a small band she wore and a holo-display emerged in blue lines of the nearby mountainous forest. With a red beacon flashing on the west side of the mountain. The Kassak was alive and submitting a distress beacon. She smirked. He must have thought she was dead, or it was a trap. Either way… she was about to find out.
Nat was in the caves of the mountain above Castle Eden with her clan when she felt a ripple of…something pass through the air. The cave walls and the rushing water practically sang with the vibration. The harpy queen looked over at her First, Van. Van never said much, and rarely was she expressive, but Nat had known her since before their first letter. She saw the spark of relief in her rook sister’s eyes.
When the portal circle appeared in the Castle Eden’s throne room six month’s ago, no one understood the danger. There had been peace and balance in Khal for generations, the longest time of peace on record.
Then, news of a coupe and the slaughter of the Khalori royal family reached Khalian. In their place sat a demon made out of cold fire.
Ever since they heard that Dark King had taken over Khalori and that it was rearing its power hungry eyes at Khalian, Van had receded into herself. Nat empathized. It seemed like the two of them could never escape from under the lone mountain.
It seemed, like Nat’s mistake, her failure, would forever haunt her until Mala took her from this realm.
But she didn’t idly sit by and wait. The moment she heard the news, she told Iolani everything she knew. Advised how best Khalian could shore up defenses. She even went back the other harpy clans to request their aid despite knowing they wanted nothing to do with her or the impending war. Nat didn’t blame them. The last time the harpies got involved in an imbalance, they were almost annihilated. On top of that, they had faced this enemy before and lost.
A harpy's pride could only take so much damage.
A loud boom reverberated across the evening sky, drawing the harpy queen’s attention away from her First. Frowning, Nat rushed to the cave entrance. To the south, a burning light streaked across the sky away from the castle and toward the southern forest lands.
“Too small to be a meteor,” Van confirmed Nat’s conclusion.
[#C71585 “Nothing is ever easy.”] Nat grumbled and turned to a century, [#C71585 “Se, grab mine and Van's gear, we are going after it.”]
Se nodded and flew deeper into the caves.
The harpy queen and her First unfurled their wings and stretched them. It was going to be a long and flight even longer if one of them pulled a muscle.
Another ripple concussed through the air. This one was more intense as it came from the castle below them. It shook the whole mountain. Debris fell from the cave ceiling, shattering against the floor or plopping into the rushing river. Her clan began to emerge from their homes, smaller caves within the main cavern. When they saw her and Van standing by the mouth of the cave with their wings ready, they flew toward them.
[#C71585 “We need to send someone to let Iolani know that we’ve got an unorthodox entry and we are going after it.”]
Van nodded and barked an order to a rookling who had yet to complete her First Hunt. There were two untested rook classes in their clan at the moment. It was a frustration and a disgrace and the main reason Nat and her rook sisters set out to Mount Hai to see if their temple to Mala was still intact.
Now there were two generations who might never know their True Name and Nat was to blame. After they returned back to the Eden caves, she and her clan had been hard at work constructing a new temple. It wouldn’t be as grand, nor hold as much of Mala’s essence as the last temple, but it was something. Nat prayed that Mala would find their tribute worthy.
[#C71585 “Lor!”] Nat called out into the accumulating crowd. A moment later, her Second jogged over. [#C71585 “Van and I are going after a stray Dreamer. You are in charge.”] Nat nodded to the elder harpy. The harpy bowed her head in acknowledgment. [#C71585 “Keep working on the temple, we will be back as soon as possible. Two weeks at most.”]
Then Se appeared with two small packs, a belt of knives and a long sword in its sheath. Nat took a back and the longsword and Van took the other set.
Without much fanfare, the two of them turned and leaped out of the cavern and into the night air.
[h3 [center [b 17th of Phel[sup 3rd month] 9:42pm]]]
The dark ruddy red silhouette of The Void Evermore sat peacefully in the middle of Riordan's Lake. Its bow pointed directly at the dying light of the sun beyond the Gorgan Mountains. Nine of Khal’s moons hovered above, casting their various soft colors across the calm waters.
Broll was lounging a hammock in his quarters when a pressure wave sent his ship rocking violently. It almost knocked him out of the hammock. Shouts could be heard from his crew outside. Then a sound like thunder erupted from above. The pirate captain sat up, alert. Broll could hear his crew crying, [i “Look, in the sky!”]
He got up then, striding to the door and yanking it open. It seemed like all of his crew were standing at the port bow pointing up at the sky, mouths agape.
He put his hands on his hips, [#556B2F “Well don’t you all look like a fresh dumb bucket of wineye fish.”]
They jumped at the sound of his voice and spun to look at him with wide eyes: some in fright, others in awe. Broll laughed inwardly at how accurate his insult was. He was about to throw another insult when what they were looking at entered his field of vision: a burning object falling from the sky. He watched as it disappeared over the southern horizon.
[#556B2F [i Interesting.]]
After the curious object was out of sight, his crew seemed to snap out of their awe struck silence. The rushed toward him, all speaking, shouting really, at once. Broll raised his eyebrows at them. They quieted instantly.
As the pirate captain opened his mouth to call out orders, another pulse wave hit his ship. He stumbled forward but caught himself. Broll didn’t miss a beat. He turned and ran up the stairs to the quarterdeck to get a look at Castle Eden. Sure enough, the beacon on top of the tallest spire was starting to glow a warm green. He heard his crew clamor up the stairs after him. They all gathered around, watching as the beacon grew brighter and brighter.
“What should we do, Captain?” He heard one of them ask.
Broll cursed under his breath. No doubt, Nat felt and heard the first Dreamer breach. The harpy would waste no time in retrieving him or her. Even though Broll had a head start, he would be restricted to the waterways. Nat would beat him to the first Dreamer by days, possibly weeks, depending on where the Dreamer crashed.
Another pulse rippled through the air. The beacon showed brighter. It was shining brighter than the moons now. Even though The Void Evermore was anchored out in the middle of Riordan's Lake, he could see the City of Riordan come alive as its citizens turned on their lights to investigate the strange occurrences.
He turned to his crew, [#556B2F “Hoist the anchor, and turn us about.”]
They responded in a chorus of “Aye Aye, Captain” and dispersed to their stations.
The city of Riordan sits on the east shore of Riordan's Lake and 23 miles west of Castle Eden. It is the center of all Khalian culture and Dreamer influence and is home to some of the tallest, nonresidential structures in Khalian. Other than the warehouses and ship building sites, buildings near the docks show the most Deamer influence. The architecture is simple but most are made out of metal, glass, and brick. This section of the city also uses the most electricity, as it is the hub of commerce. The farther away from the lake, the buildings are made out of wood, stone, and in some cases, clay.
By the time they arrived at the docks, the sun was gone and the streets of Riadan was crowded with onlookers. The Riodanians were standing around speaking in hushed tones with their neighbors. Though everyone tried to stay quiet and calm, a fever of hope and excitement was building. The stress of impending war and the news of the attempt on the prince’s life had had everyone on edge.
Broll left the ship after giving the crew instructions for the rest of the night. Then he made his way to the dock’s stables where he retrieved his horse, Stoick, a gelding just as ruddy red as his ship.
He slowly made his way through the streets of Riordan as more and more people began to gather outside to point and stare at the beaming green beacon on top of the castle. Its light was reflecting off of the waterfall Castle Eden sits in, turning the water so green, it looked like a living forest.
By the time Broll arrived at the castle, it was well into the night. When the guards at the entrance saw the pirate captain, they sneered but signaled to call the bridge. The entrance to Castle Eden was hidden behind the waterfall and located across a 30ft gap. The bridge extends like an accordion across the gap and a triangular truss made out of metal protects the crosser from the tons of falling water.
Once the bridge locks in place, Broll throws the guards his trademark smirk, which they return with a vulgar gesture. He does the same with the guards at the other end and their response the same as the other guards. He dismounts Stoick when he arrives in the inner courtyard. The dimmed lamps on the walls, just barely light Broll’s way as he guides his horse to the stables. He then proceeds to make his way to his room by taking as many servants passages as possible.
Ever since Iolani dangled a pardon in front of his face, Broll had taken advantage of being allowed to come and go from Castle Eden as he pleased. While the room he usually stayed in was not technically his, the servants, Iolani, and Aleka treated it as such. It was a fact he loved to rub in Nat and General Mason’s face.
Broll collapsed into his bed the moment he laid eyes on it. He hadn’t realized how tired he was until he saw the light green sheets and the shushing sound of the smaller waterfall outside his window met his ears. The room was a thoughtful gesture as Broll, being a pirate, was more used to sleeping on his ship and letting the rocking of the waves the lapping of the water against The Void Evermore lull him to sleep. While the bed wasn’t a hammock, the sheets were made out of the same weaved cloth as the one in his cabin.
It was the little things like this that made Broll hate the fact that Iolani was in power during an Imbalance. The woman was a giver and a stern but loving ruler. A ruler better suited for a time of peace and balance. A ruler that deserved better allies than a washed up Harpy Queen and pirate who was only in it for the payout.
In the morning he would scope out the new Dreamers and learn if Nat did indeed go after the one who entered through the sky.
Asma waited for the coffee to take effect before she sat down with a second cup to have her breakfast. Her dining room was sparsely decorated just like the rest of her apartment and the building it was located inside. The one thing sitting on the table was a white plate with a pale colored brick sitting on top of it. A concoction that was designed to provide a third of your necessary nutrition in a simple borderline tasteless package. It had become her breakfast of choice as it allowed her to focus on things other than the taste while she ate.
This morning she spent the time going over the details of the nightmare. Her memory allowed her to replay the nightmare in such a way that she could notice details she completely missed the first time. Beneficial in this instance given the strange occurrence; however, it could just as easily be considered a curse given the terrible things she could recall from her life.
Going over the memory a second time caused her to notice there were more changes in the minutiae than she had before. A number of allusions to doorways, gateways, entrances, and the number thirteen. It seemed the dream wanted to be subtle about drawing her attention to the mysterious doorway on the thirteenth floor, but due to anxiety, she missed most of the admittedly small signs. Still, it was enough to make her want to investigate further.
Once she was done with her breakfast she moved over to her computer desk and loaded up the camera feed for the hallways on the thirteenth floor. Most tenants only had access to the floor that they lived on for security purposes, but thanks to her position she had been trusted with administrator rights. The door that she had seen in her dream though was not visible on any of the cameras, and even changing the angles did not seem to help. She still had a nagging feeling about it all though, and so she decided to go look in person.
She slipped on a jacket before she left to be a bit more presentable and after that, it took no time at all for her to make it to the thirteenth floor via the stairwell. Just like before she could see it through the window in the door, but this time it seemed to actively call out to her. Before she could open the door to the hallway though she recognized one of her neighbors coming with their pet and managed to force herself to sprint upstairs. Her desire to avoid her neighbor outweighed her desire to go to the door at least for the time being.
Now that she was sure that the door was there in reality she knew that she would have to investigate further. Before she could do that though she would have to make sure that she was properly prepared for what could be on the other side. She already had a go bag for both emergency purposes and her job necessitating travel, and so she had a solid base already. First things first though she wanted a shower to make sure she was presentable for whatever was on the other side.
Once she was clean she took components of both of her go bags to assemble one that would work for a dangerous adventure. She made sure to add some extra rations, her favorite knife, and some protective gear she had received for her work as a diplomat. After that, she set up a message system to send messages to her various superiors in case she did not return from the trip. They were layered to give more explanation as time passed and set to send after 12, 24, 48, and 72 hours respectively. It might not do her any good but it helped calm some of her nerves.
While the door seemed to be calling to her before, the effect when standing in front of it was on a different level. She had no hesitation as she reached for its handle and was ready for whatever came her way. However, the handle barely budged as the door was locked.
[b “Because of course it can't be that easy,”] Asma whispered to herself as she slumped her head against the door.
Just for a second, she wondered if she was even the one meant to go through the door, but that possibility faded as another thought struck her. She quickly pulled out her key that she had brought along and placed it in the lock. The click of the mysterious door unlocking was music to her ears. Once her key was safely tucked back away she turned the handle and watched as the world faded away.
A sharp inhalation signalled the end of dreams. Reality slowly filtered back in: the faint scent of warm water mixed in with shampoo, the fluttering of his curtains in the gentle early afternoon breeze, the rattle of something rolling away on the floor on the very same breeze and the clanking of a kitchen pot being abused. Going by the smell of things, the kitchen pot's cry was for an unwanted participation to a late lunch. Justin burrowed a little further under the blankets, not at all inclined on joining the waking world yet, until the door opened. His lazy brown eyes found the woman he'd come to know intimately and love. She stepped on whatever had been rolling away, cursed and kicked it away.
"I'm going to have to do some cleaning," Madeline muttered at the stray object and finally caught on that he was awake and watching. "Or actually, why don't you ever clean anything, hmm?"
Justin shot the woman a languid grin and turned onto his back, tousled curls a mess on the pillow.
"I think it's perfectly fine for that item to live where it is...it's free to roll around and everything, sounds ideal," he countered.
Maddi just rolled her eyes and sighed, a gentle smile on her face at Justin's antics. She favoured it when he was calm and relaxed like this, far more than when he was in pain, suffering or pulling one of his pranks with her brother Mark.
"You have a good rest then?" Maddie asked, sitting down on the bed. Justin's arms wound around the still too-thin woman and pulled her closer for a kiss.
"I had the weirdest dream..." he started.
"When don't you?"
Madeline pulled away and opened a drawer that had several socks pouncing from it upon opening and sighed, picking out a pair that looked like hers. The drawer subsequently refused to close and Madeline surrendered. Most all things in Justin's small apartment seemed to lead a life of their own alongside the man -which was to say, a life of structured chaos and disarray.
"Emily was in it," Justin ventured, stretching out.
"Was she? She was crying all night again last night, poor thing," Maddie remarked and sat at the end of the bed to pull on her socks. Justin watched her back, her spine fairly prominent when she was bent over like that. He didn't remark on it; they both knew she needed to eat more to recover what weight she'd lost being out on the streets.
"There's food on the stove you will eat, mister," Madeline stressed, prodding his chest. Justin grabbed for the finger that had no right to be so intrusively right and brought the digit to his lips. A playful smile danced across his lips, "could always stay home and be lazy?"
She only pulled away in response and moved to the livingroom. Justin debated whether he wanted to leave the warm comfort of his bed, which he'd spent far too much time in regardless. That said, neglected beds made for bad sleeping partners, so the internal debate was on.
Maybe he'd stay for a while longer.
At long last he dragged his weary limbs from the warm embrace of his comforter and surrendered to clean clothes instead, floundering to pick up what dirty clothes tried to escape a deadly encounter with his washing-machine. Postponing their plight by leaving the clothes to fester in the laundry-basket, Justin shuffled into the livingroom as well, catching Madeline as she was putting on her shoes and getting ready to leave for work.
A distracted peck to his cheek, a glance around the exploded chaos that was his livingroom, a fragile smile and soon Madeline's pattering had all but silenced inside the house. Justin folded his arms around his stomach, one hand experimentally tipping the lid off of one of the boiling pots to see what monster lurked inside, but all that rose was an genie of vapour and the scent of fresh pasta. Again his recollection of the dream he'd suffered through crept to the forefront of his mind, distracting him enough to burn his fingers on the lid of the pot. The lid fell back with a loud clank when his fingers decided they were ill-equipped to deal with boiling hot temperatures and please let go, thank you.
As an apology, Justin sucked at the affected fingers and ran the tap, the sudden rush of cold water pushing back the wispy thoughts and allowing reality to slip back in. He couldn't be daydreaming all the time. There were things he needed to do.
"So how've you been doing, Justin?"
Justin looked up from his scorched fingers and stopped worrying the red skin, producing a faded smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"I- I'm doing alright," he managed.
Justin had come to know Kingston, his physician, well enough to know that his results weren't anything out of the ordinary. He nodded whenever the man stopped talking, letting him know that he was sort of listening, nodding along even while his gaze drifted back outside, watching the sun vie for dominance between the rain-laden clouds.
A hand touched his shoulder, "so let's just keep this up and we'll see you back in a few months, okay?"
Justin looked up and nodded.
"Yeah. Yeah, sounds good."
The hospital smelled familiar; a nasty blend of disinfectant, perfume and paint he'd come to associate with death. At least he was on his way out and while grateful for their services, he'd rather not be undressed by another nurse ever, thank you.
Justin mindlessly pushed the elevator-button several times, as if admonishing the device to please not be broken this time around, which was a weird fear to have considering the elevators in hospitals were nothing like the brute metal tormentors back at his apartment. Before the ping of the elevator could announce it was boarding time, Justin's attention became ensnared by something shimmering in the periphery of his vision.
The elevator's ping fell on deaf ears.
Justin pulled away from the elevator and rounded the corner, curiosity reeling in the bait. In the end they turned out to just be stairs...? Justin blinked, confused and baffled at the same time. Not only was he fairly certain the hospital did not grow random stairs to suddenly go to floors that didn't quite exist, but these resembled the ones from his dreams with an accuracy that was frightening. Justin carefully put his hand on the railing and guided his feet to take the first step. He wasn't even sure why he would -the stairs were going up, not down, stairs were still a general pain to climb and he was worn already.
But two steps in had his legs fall into a rhythm, the third step made the railing disappear entirely and soon reality dissipated in the same way the dreams from before had been chased by the pain of a pot having it out for his fingers. Justin felt the world around change along with his body; breathing became easier, his clothes melted as reality dripped away around him and exchanged itself for a marvellous throne-room. His feet were bare, slender nails where his human feet would be, the same claws that were at the end of his fingertips. Justin reached up and pulled a pluck of white hair down in front of his eyes and smiled.
Was he dreaming?
Yui came awake with a start and a small gasp. She bolted upright in her bed, cold sweat on her forehead. It took her a moment to realize that it was just a dream… She was no longer stationed at the Osiris Outpost, and hadn’t been for nearly five cycles now. She slowly brought her arms up to hug herself, a frightened look on her face. Her skin crawled feeling so deeply violated by her own dream. Her room was still dark, the screen filters over her windows were drawn, and her breath was ragged. It had felt so real, and made only worse by the fact she was currently traveling alone. Finally she looked down at her hands in thought. In her dream she had manifested her mental shields into a physical one, and she’d managed to do what so many Oukan’s could only dream of: using their telepathic abilities kinetically. Only a small percentage of the population currently had the ability, and it was believed to be the next step of their evolution. Yui had always wondered if it was just a mental state of being they had yet to discover, and the ability had always been there.
Right now, that wasn’t important, what was important was making sure she was still on course. It wasn’t like she’d be able to go back to sleep.
“Computer, “ a beep in the room signified that it was waiting for a command. “It’s time to wake up, what’s the time?” The lights turned on, illuminating the small room. It was plain with a full sized bed, a lavatory and shower behind a paneled wall, and a closet that held her clothes. It was sparse and impersonal, but for the last two cycles it had been home as she hunted across the galaxy for wormholes.
“The time is 0:400.”
“Maintained and heading toward programed coordinates.”
“What is the time remaining?”
“8 hours, and twenty minutes remain of voyage before we reach the star system’s Oort Cloud. Manual Drive will have to be engaged to maneuver through debris field,” The computer stated over a small speaker in the room. It was connected to a small panel on the wall where a blue eye vibrated and wiggled with it’s words.
“Understood, prepare morning programs.”
“Understood.” the blue eye on the wall panel went out and Yui was alone once more to prepare for her day. She was almost there! She looked out the windows as the filters rose up, to see stars zipping past her. She was on her way to some backwater planet on the edge of the galaxy, somewhere the Kassak’s couldn’t find her, or her research… or so she hoped.
Yui spent the day in deep thought, her mind on the wormhole. She did a set of calisthenics to keep limber and strong, had breakfast, checked on the ships systems, and then spent the rest of the day in her tiny lab going over equations and working on building her Wormhole scanner. She wasn’t quite able to shake the dream from her mind. She’d seen it again, the wormhole. It was the clearest she’d ever seen it, and it was beautiful. She just hoped she could see it in person. The wormhole she was hunting for was not exactly natural. Natural wormholes were always there just hidden, only showing themselves when hit with a neutrino beam. The trouble with wormholes: They’re unpredictable. As a former soldier, unpredictability was not unheard of, but generally avoided at all costs for mission success. Still, it didn’t deter Yui from her goal; and some might say that made Yui mentally compromised.
She reached the system’s Oort Cloud in good time, abandoning her lab, but carried her new and improved scanner into the cock pit. She took her time rigging the new equipment into her ship, and was satisfied to find it was connected and operational. Perhaps this would be the time it worked. It took Yui three hours to get past the outer rim of the solar system and into the orbital space. A proposed course was given to Yui on the screen ahead of her, and she followed it. She needed to find the third planet from the star. She was certain that was where the Wormhole would appear, all of the data she had collected, and her dreams had led her here. It was smooth sailing past a large blue gas planet when Yui started to pick up chatter on a low band frequency. She turned it up out of curiosity, but it was nothing more than computer codes. She frowned. That meant a planet in this system possessed intelligent life. Primitive, but intelligent enough to send out radio waves. That certainly was interesting. Everyone believed there was nothing out here in the boondocks of the Galaxy. Then again, no one had ever bothered to travel this far.
What a mistake that was… Yui wished she had come here sooner. She took her time traveling the system flying at FTL1. She marveled at how colorful the system was, and when she came across two Gas Giants one right after the other she actually smiled. Catching sight of of the first surrounded by rings of ice and dust. No thanks to a nearby satellite, Yui learned the species of this system called it Saturn. Then there was Jupiter, a true sight to behold, and an asteroid field that was far more fun for Yui than it would have been for the average Oukan to navigate. She shot right past a desolate red planet, and that was when the smile was wiped clean off her face. A red alarm began to go off in the cockpit.
“A Proximity alarm?” Yui questioned and tapped against her console to bring up a rear display.
“Oh Frax” She cursed, behind her was flying two Kassak scouts, and their target scanners were locked on her. “Frax, Frax, Frax…’ She cursed, and moved quickly. She was going to end up dead if she didn’t act quickly.
“Two Kassak Scouts are advancing aft,” the computer informed. A steering column rose up from under a panel on the console and Yui grabbed it.
“Yes, I know. Thank you!” She was anything but thankful. From there she initiated her FTL Envoy and it was cat and mouse, on her way to the third planet. She was having trouble shaking them off her tail, and was half tempted to go back to the Gas Giant and hide in one of its moons, when she saw the Moon from her dreams. It was covered in partial shade, and just below it was a beautiful little blue planet of water. For a brief moment, time seemed to still, but a blaster fired off her port side, and Yui couldn’t take the time to enjoy the sight. She maneuvered her ship quickly to fly towards the moon, and disengaged from her FTL Envoy letting it fall to orbit the moon. Now she’d have greater maneuverability, but she lost her ability for FTL speeds. It was a calculated risk, and she was pleased to see the Kassak’s had ignored her envoy to go directly after her. She had Kassaks to kill, or be killed herself. “Computer, play some music would ya?” Yui asked, and dropped her ship down in a sudden drop. She’d use the blue planet’s Gravity to help sling-shot her around to come up behind the Kassaks and take them out.
“Yui, my programing requires I inform you that music during combat is distractive and will reduce your odds of success.”
“No Frax, but it helps me concentrate,” Yui grit her teeth at the AI.
“Very well. Playing Music,” the computer confirmed and a blast of noise began to fill the cabin of her flyer. Something in Yui’s eyes changed, darker, meaner, and bolder. A wicked smirk played across her face, showing a fang, and she flung her ship around the planet, dodging an obvious space station in the process. It appeared the species of this planet was intelligent enough to get into space.
Intercepting the two Kassak Scouts, she lined up her shot and fired. Her ship shot white hot laser blasts at the closest Kassak ship, taking out one of its engines and sending it in a downward spiral. As hoped, the Blue planet caught his ship in a decaying orbit. Yui didn’t hang around to watch his ship explode in Atmo. She barrel rolled to avoid the other Kassak’s fire, and an upcoming satellite. As she flew into open space she heard her wormhole scanner begin to go off in alarm. Yui couldn’t even look to the screen to her side to see what it was, not that she had to.
“Neutrino field detected,” The computer confirmed. Yui gasped. Straight ahead the wormhole came alive before her eyes! She glared, caught with a choice: Take her chances with the Wormhole, or take her chances against the last Kassak she was having trouble shaking off her back. Alarms were going off, telling Yui the Kassak had launched a low payload photon torpedo her way. It might have been a small payload, but it would have been more than enough to take her entire ship out. She couldn’t risk her research. “Here goes nothing…” she breathed before shouting with determination. Engaging her boosters once more, she piloted herself and her ship into the wormhole….
This had already been a tedious experience the third time she went through it, but by now she could go through it all on autopilot. After she leaves her research facility she notices a strange figure just on the edge of perception. Close enough that she could tell that she was being followed, but not close enough that she could glean any details about the creature. They maintain that distance even as she speeds up her pace.
While she had a pretty standard routine traveling home during her conscious hours the trip changed during her dreams. The already imposing skyscrapers that lined the street were all a little bit taller. Clouds blocked out the sun and the street lights were all dimmer. However, the most disturbing change was the lack of people, as she and her pursuers seemed to be the only ones left in the massive city.
Just like all the times before she made her way down the stairs on the corner into the tunnels where the rapid transit system was located. Her pursuers never seemed to follow her into the tunnels, and so it had become her safe haven during these nightmares. It was the public restroom where she felt the safest, as she made her way inside and to the second closed off stall. The same place that she had forcibly woken herself up all the times she had been through this before.
Once she was safely behind a locked door she gathered herself and prepared to forcibly wake up from the dream. It took only a few seconds for her face to falter though, as she found herself incapable of extracting herself. This was the first time she found herself trapped in this otherwise predictable nightmare.
Asma began to take deep breaths while tapping the pads of her fingers to her thumbnails in order. It was one of her most reliable rituals for freeing her mind from the fog of anxiety. Just a few minutes of it helped clear her mind and allowed her the clarity she needed to come up with a plan.
[b “Home,”] she whispered to herself before kicking the door off its hinges. It was where she was sleeping in the real world, and it was where she had always felt safest. If there was a location she had to be to escape this endless nightmare her home was a better bet than most.
Despite the lack of running trains, it did not take long for Asma to make it to her normal stop. The efficient design of the city by the Homo Evolutis kept most things close together. That and Asma had chosen her apartment in part because of its proximity to her main office. It made this journey through the tunnels far more bearable.
By the time she got to the surface it had gotten dark, and with the dimmed street lights it gave off an eerie feeling. Unlike the rest of the city though, the buildings here were picture perfect as though they had been plucked from reality itself. The sight of it put a smile on Asma's face as she strode towards the front doors of her apartment building.
Once inside she headed straight for the stairwell to climb up to her floor. The elevators were almost certainly in working condition, but she did not like being in such a confined space when awake let alone when dealing with an inescapable nightmare. Plus if she took the stairs two at a time she would be at her apartment in a flash.
She stopped when she got to the thirteenth floor though, as she noticed an unusual door down the hallway. Under normal circumstances, it would not have stood out to her at all in a dream, but it was the only change to her apartment building. It was a door that did not exist in the real world, as she had mapped out every floor before she moved into the complex. Before she could investigate though she caught sight of one of her pursuers coming around the corner at the end of the hallway and decided that discretion was the better part of valor in this instance.
After the detour, it only took her a few minutes to make it to her apartment. Just like the rest of the building the hallway leading to her door was sparsely decorated and clearly utilitarian in design. It also relied on standard doorways unlike some of the other spacefaring civilizations, as Homo Evolutis believed in the reliability of the simple system. Which was good for Asma as it allowed her to notice that her door was already unlocked.
She slammed her door open knocking over one of her unknown pursuers to reveal a room full of creatures dressed in black robes. Each one wore a different mask of a ghostly pale face distorted one way or another. Sitting behind them all was the one she recognized the best though, as he was someone from the nightmares of her youth. A short young man with bright red hair and a smirk that just begged to be slapped off.
[b “Welcome home!”] The redhead called as he raised one of Asma's own glasses to her. [b “Hope you don't mind I helped myself.”]
[b “I thought I buried you,”] Asma whispered as she stayed just behind the doorway.
[b “You might have, but I'm not the original. Just wearing this suit until I can get my hands on a better one,”] the redhead explained as he stood up. [b “It took me a while to find it, but I thought it appropriate given this recurring nightmare.”]
It was his last line that caused recognition to light up on Asma's face. The sight of drew the redhead's attention, but before he could say another word he was forced to take cover. Asma had drawn a gun out of the air and sent a bullet at over Mach 7 aimed right for his skull.
[b “You're not the one causing this dream,”] Asma said as she pulled the trigger again this time putting a bowling ball sized hole in one of the robed creatures. [b “You might be able to keep me here, but you can't keep me from changing the scene.”]
[b “How right you are, but I can always change the scene myself,”] the redhead retorted as he drew his own gun into the dream.
While their guns were immensely advanced given their origin as Homo Evolutis technology the fact that they were in a dream limited the lethality. Asma knew that as long as this was her mind it meant that her mind could process everything that happened and that since that was the case then even her dream self should be capable of processing the scene in front of her. Allowing her to dodge an object that she would have difficulty seeing in reality. Unfortunately the same was true of the redhead as they seemed to exist as a separate part of her mind.
It made for a scene that was more fit for a movie than it was for reality as each bullet appeared to move in slow motion in comparison to the one who fired it. Although while Asma and the redhead were capable of reacting to the bullets the robed creatures were not, and Asma's previously pristine apartment quickly took on the look of a slaughterhouse as gore covered the walls. Despite this Asma and the redhead pressed on in their ultra fast combat.
Just a few minutes into their fight the floor of the apartment gave way. Both fighters adapted to the change quickly, but their stray bullets had done more damage than expected as the rest of the building started to go with it. With all of the robed creatures having been reduced to piles of meat the two found they were having a harder time avoiding damage as they worked their way out of the collapsing building.
[b “Just give up, I'm a part of you Asma,”] the redhead taunted. [b “I know everything about you, and I know what you're going to do.”]
It was that overconfidence that gave Asma the upper hand as she realized what she would have to do to win. So the moment she saw her opening while they fled the falling building she took it. By allowing the redhead to land a shot that destroyed her right leg she got the angle needed to blow a hole through the redhead's chest. Which she followed up by putting another bullet straight between his eyes.
[b “You might be a part of me, but you will never be me,”] Asma said as she stepped away from the rubble.
Taking the steps to avoid the collapse her attention was drawn to a single door that seemed to still be standing in the building. It was the same door that was not supposed to be there, and now it seemed to be humming. She awoke before she could go to investigate it though.
The sight of her undamaged apartment drew a sigh of relief but did not stop her from pulling the knife from her nightstand. Just because there was nothing in her bedroom did not mean there was nothing in the rest of the apartment after all. So after she got out of bed and slipped her shoes on she set to work on clearing the rest of the apartment.
Once she was sure she was alone she set her coffeemaker up to brew a pot and collapsed on her couch. After what she had gone through she was thankful that she could take time off as she was not prepared to deal with the stress of work after that nightmare. Especially since she had other work to attend to after seeing that strange door.
Like a puppeteer pulling the strings, the giant mass twitched and shifted, one limb at a time. Ever so carefully it put down its hand, splaying the fingers deliberately and finding support on the large slabs of stone.
The misshapen creature had four human arms and two human legs. The legs at the back were contorted together, but powerful, strong, with cable-like muscles supporting the weight of the creature. They didn’t move when the creature did, but were dragged behind it and left a trail in the fine sand.
Upon its shoulders rested a metal shell, layer upon layer of unrefined metal, upon which two bronze lion-heads were mounted, facing outwards. It peered left, then right, steam rising from the lions’ gaping mouths.
The lion-heads twitched and moved constantly and whenever they turned their feral eyes to seek their prey, the sound of metal grinding against metal resounded in the large space. Its head was a mask in the shape of a female face. Chains dangled from its shoulders and neck, but they were tethered to nothing. The face turned as if attached by a single pivot and did so to achieve the unnatural angles it needed to see anything. Upon the bronze mask, the woman’s face was set in a serene smile.
There was nothing serene about the current situation.
Heat rose from the large slabs of sandstone. Pillars stretched high in the hall, the ceiling too distant to make out and too dark to see. A dusty heat clung to the air, despite the missing walls. Justin couldn’t feel any wind. There was no wind to whip about the waves of sand that danced against the edges of the platform upon which the hall was built yet they rose high. Amid the sand, fallen structures were visible; worn down by the sand, it was hard to tell they had once been majestic pieces of temple, palace and communal buildings.
Justin knew that if he fell into the moving sand, it would drown him instantly.
Another giant hand settled on the stone, silently shifting as if the monster wasn’t at least four times taller than he was, even as it was hunched over and burdened by the metal shell upon its shoulders. It snaked agilely around a pillar.
Justin held his breath, sweat pearling on his forehead. He shifted behind the opposing pillar, peering at the creature from a distance. His feet shifted, the fine grained sand slippery under the soles of his bare feet.
It shifted instantly and with a speed that was entirely unexpected. Justin gasped and ran, fled from his hiding. He’d been found! The burdened monster came after him in an uncoordinated but surprisingly fast jumble of limbs and metal clanks. It screamed, the high-pitched sound freezing the blood in his veins. If he had to guess, it was somewhere between frustration, pain and panic.
Justin didn’t have long to think about it. The giant creature was fast, but not nimble. Justin turned a corner and it too did so, slipping into a pillar as it did. The pillar couldn’t stand the weight and force of the creature’s thrashing and cracked, pieces of stone crumbling to the floor.
Neither of them cared. Justin ran until he came upon stairs, leading up into the darkness.
The creature overshot the turn but recovered by grappling with all four arms at the stone, the legs sweeping behind it.
Justin didn't wait to see how it faired; he ran. He ran out of breath.
And out of stairs.
The creature gave no quarter and grabbed him at the top. One hand was enough to trap his arms against his body, while the other three tried preventing them both from teetering off the edge. Once it recovered its balance, the head turned, red eyes staring straight at him. A metal clunk resounded and the jaw of the female face fell open. Justin clawed at the hand and realised his nails were feral, slender and powerful instead of ordinary human fingers, but the sharper nails were useless against the thick skin of the creature.
Piping hot steam gushed out of its mouth.
It wasn’t enough. It was going to devour him. Then he saw her; Emily. Blessed Emily. The young girl looked like she did in real life, except for her eyes. She appeared older, far older. In her hands she held a clay jar. It was pressed against her small body and then she tipped it. From the black vase escaped scarabs. A thousand, if not more, scarabs. They raced one another up the stairs, gathering in a giant writhing mass until they reached the creature holding him in its grip. At first, it seemed to give no pause to the small creatures, but soon one hand became distracted and the heads whipped about to the source of the disturbance. It dropped Justin to beat off the scarabs and he could only barely cling to the last few steps.
Emily dropped the vase and ran.
No! Justin yelled, but no sound came from his mouth. Only the echoes of his cry resounded against the pillars. He needed a weapon. Justin scanned the hall, the sand ocean and darkness above them and his pockets but all he could find was a tobacco pipe lodged in the strange clothes he was wearing.
Smoke rose from the pipe’s mouthpiece once he held it out and amid all the chaos Justin grew curious. He inhaled the puff of smoke, not taking the time to savour the taste before blowing it out in a cloud of dense mist. He could see something. It was vague, but through the smoke, it was almost as if-
The sight of Emily jumping back to avoid being caught distracted Justin. Emily’s fluttering blue dress remained only just out of the grasp of the monster as it chased her in a rage-fuelled fit. A light dust sparkled from her hands at the height of her jump, blinding the creature and stunning it. Justin took a deep drag from the pipe and rushed up to the creature while it was stunned.
He exhaled. The smoke hit it in the face. For a perilous moment, Justin was exposed to attack, standing in front of the creature as he was, but he shouldn’t have feared. It slowly stopped moving.
Its eyes slid shut like heavy doors and it sagged through its arms, defeated. For now.
Justin looked around to find Emily. The girl fell slowly, as if she was weightless and when she touched the ground Emily vanished in a trail of smoke.
[Oukan Outpost XXV - Osiris Nebula]
It was a seemingly ordinary day, just like any other. Yui stood at her console, tab in hand as she reviewed data on the panel before her. This was a cosmic nursery, home to newborn stars in their early formations. The outpost was expertly hidden within the gaseous cosmic dust clouds that shielded and housed the formative stars. The lab was quiet, without a soul in sight. Yui had dreamed of doing her own independent research for wormhole technology, but the Oukan Science Commission had other plans. They placed her in Osiris to study the birth of stars, and catalogue any new elements that could be found in the gaseous clouds and dusty debris. Wormhole technology & research was considered taboo. If one did discover it, it could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Despite the boring work, Yui did enjoy the view, flares of bright neon color streaked across the inky blackness of space, and the stars flickered at varying powers to making the nebula seem to twinkle. She wanted to get her primary work out of the way, so she could focus on her own personal project.
Yui was young, determined, and intelligent. Her cool logic, and masked indifference to confrontation, had earned her a great deal of respect among her peers. She wore the standard uniform of her division, a black textured space suit, to help maintain her body pressure on the off chance the station lost life support or gravity control. Her claw like nails tapped against the holographic display before her, and onto the glass tab she held in her hand, correlating the data. It was not uncommon for Yui to be alone in the lab, but it was uncommon for it to be so quiet. Eerily clear blue eyes, with slitted pupils looked over from the console to the view windows ahead of her. With her main work completed, she was able to focus on her own interest. Despite the Council’s advice to avoid researching Wormholes, Yui made her way to a separate console and pulled up her work station. She peered over her shoulder, satisfied that she was indeed alone, and brought her research up from the panel. Data, equations and notes cluttered the display, and an animated simulation of her wormhole played out. The equations and algorithms were to locate a wormhole, and it could , find any naturally occurring wormhole; but there was one in particular Yui wanted to find….
The entire atmosphere of the room suddenly seemed to warp and shift around her. It made the hair on the back of her neck rise up in caution, and her long sensitive ears picked up the first sound to be made since she entered the lab. She curiously looked behind her to see nothing, but the quiet sterile lab space she was in. White walls with silver consoles, equipment, and work stations were all empty. Out of curiosity, Yui set her tab down on the console, and stepped away. The projection went down, saving her work and she approached the doors of the lab. They opened up automatically for her with a gentle whoosh sound, and closed promptly when she walked into the hallway. An eerie silence permeated the air, which was strange because the station generally had a consistent hum of noise from the gyro stabilizers, and the plasma generator that kept the station running. The air wasn’t moving either. It gave Yui an uncomfortable feeling, but she began to wander the halls anyway. It took a great deal to set Yui on edge. Her only show of disquiet was the slight furrow of her brow and the narrowing of her eyes as she wandered the deserted halls and found that the entire station was empty. She was the only one left. She finally frowned standing in the center of the station and looked over the railing to look up and down at the other decks of the station. All quiet. Not a single inhabitant seemed to be around. Yui wondered where everyone had gone, and finally called out.
“Hello?” She called, her voice echoed off the decks of the open center of the station and she frowned. Even the promenade on the lower level, was deserted.
“Alright… something is not right…”
It was then she finally felt a presence behind her, and she turned to see an entire platoon of Kassak Soldiers. They wore full gear, from tactical suits to wielding heavy power weapons, but nothing could hide their true form. Spindly green fingers held weapons, their scaled tails hung like a dangerous weapon off their back, and their faces were long and menacing. Covered from head to claw in a spattering of green and brown scales, they had feelers that sprouted from their heads and fell down the center like a mohawk. Some sported tattoos on their faces and bodies. They all looked like a mutated lizard with serrated sharp teeth, forked tongues and reptilian yellow eyes. Yui didn’t have time to react, and even when she did, no matter how hard she tried to fight or to shout, she couldn't make a sound. She struggled under the weight of three Kassak’s who tackled her to the ground, one going so far as to bite her, infecting her with poison. It made her drowsy and unable to keep track of time.
The Kassaks were an enemy race from a not-so-distant star system. They were constantly attacking Oukan ships, outposts, and the like under their own fear of an Oukan invasion. This was ironic because in truth, it was the Kassaks that were invading Oukan space. The Kassaks trusted no one, and so expanded their empire by invading and conquering anything or anyone they perceived as a threat -which was anyone who wasn’t Kassak. The survivors of their conquests were enslaved and forced to work in mines, or refinery plants to continue supplying the Kassaks with material and goods. Yui had never been fooled -Kassaks weren’t afraid of different species -they were jealous of intelligent races such as Oukans. Kassaks saw themselves as superior, and that all other creatures are simply in existence to serve them. They stole technology from other civilizations to further their agenda. They had all the power, but none of the discipline behind discovering it. It was a dangerous mentality -and why the Oukan people along with the Galactic Alliance, had waged war with them for centuries.
When Yui finally came to, she was strapped on a medical bed, bound and unable to move on a Kassak Ship. She struggled further, unable to be free. A scaly hand rested on her shoulder, and Yui flinched away in disgust. She turned to glare up at the culprit and found a female Kassak, dressed in the Kassak Uniform but sporting a medical insignia. Ahead of her stood the infamous Emperor and General of the Kassaks: Massix. Anyone who saw Massix, never lived to tell the tale. Yui knew she would die here.
“I want to know what you know…” He said cryptically, and stepped forward. He was not dressed in a uniform but in vibrant purple robes, and his feelers were woven and braided down his head, hanging to his mid back, while his tail swished lazily with his movements. Yui clenched her jaw.
“I’m not talking,” Yui attempted.
“You don’t have to,” Massix hissed, his tongue peeking out with his words, but Yui couldn’t stop looking at his viciously sharp teeth. Her gaze was only taken away when she saw a fellow Oukan -a traitor, walk into the room. Yui did struggle harder then and tried to lean away from him the closer he came.
“You are Oukan!” Yui tried. “Why help the Kassaks?”
“Survival is inherent in all living creatures, I’m just exercising that instinct,” He said, and leaned over her on the table.
“Get on with it,” Massix demanded. The Oukan traitor grinned, and reached out with his hands to place his index and middle fingers on Yui’s temples. She thrashed her head from side to side, not wanting him to invade her mind.
“No!” She tried to scream, tried to free herself, but was subdued by the many Kassak hands that reached out to still her, including one at the top who held her head still and strapped it into the bed with the rest of her limbs.
“We can do this the easy way… or the hard way,” the traitor whispered, and his fingers touched her temples.
Yui felt his mind attempting to meld with her own. She tried to block him out, tried to fight him, but he pushed harder, showing his strength and wormed in closer to reaching her most intimate thoughts and memories. It was an invasion of a persons self - her mind would be open and no longer hers, but shared for as long as he forced a melding. Despite her struggles, and the mental blocks she tried to put in place; the traitor forced himself on her, into her mind and created hideous images for her to see. She saw herself being violated in ways more then just having her mind exposed. She saw an image of her body being raped by numerous Kassaks, and another where she was eaten alive by Kassaks. Her limbs were ripped off, and her ears cut to be worn as ornaments on Kassak Soldiers’ weapons or belts. He was breaking her down with images of a desecrated Oukan homeworld, the enslavement of her people, the murder, and the colonization of Kassaks on Oukan Prime. It was a vulgar tactic, but the deeper he pushed to break her down, the easier it would be for him to break past her mental locks. Yui figured out quickly what it was he was looking for… her wormhole research. She couldn’t let him find it, couldn’t let any of it fall into the hands of Massix. If he had that sort of technology he would annihilate the cosmos. The Traitor pushed harder, and finally severed a crack in her wards, and there it was, gleaming brilliant and bright by a pearl of a moon. Yui’s Wormhole. The Wormhole opened up, a welcoming sight… but Yui could feel him digging deeper. He was looking for coordinates. He was looking for her research.
She screamed out, unwilling to lose that information, or the information of sensitive Alliance Corps Intelligence. She needed a way to get him out of her mind -to stop this invasion upon her body and mind, but how? All of her military training couldn't even get her out of this situation. If only the mental blocks could manifest physically. As if wanting to grant her wish, they did so, and with a great surge of mental stamina and power, she blasted the invading Oukan back and into a monitor. It knocked them all back, but Yui knew she would not escape the Kassak Ship, if she didn’t get free of her bindings while they were down. She steadied her breath, closed her eyes and focused on the locks around her wrists. She’d just blasted away a traitor freeing her mind, now she just had to free her body. Her telepathic abilities were far stronger then they ever had been before, and the locks gave away, unhinging from around her, and Yui was able to free herself. She made it off the table with sluggish movements, before she was caught by Massix. He spun her around, and tore his fangs right into her throat. She choked on her own blood, and her head fell back to look outside the window, and there was her wormhole. It glittered beside a brilliant blue alien planet… and then everything went black.
[h3 [center [b 10th of Phel[sup 3rd month] 8:43 am]]]
Nat was lounging sideways on the throne when Iolani glided in through the side door of the room. When the harpy saw her, she swung her legs around and pushed herself off. She grinned wide and spread her arms.
[#C71585 “My love, I’m home!”]
Iolani stood with her back straight, chin up, and her hands gently clasped in front of her. She stared up at the renegade harpy queen with barely contained contempt. Nat looked stung. She dropped her grin and her arms.
[#C71585 “What’s wrong?”] She raced down the steps toward her. When Nat went to touch her arms, she took a step back. Iolani watched Nat flinched at the rejection.
[#4682B4 “Where were you?”]
Nat frowned. [#C71585 “What?”]
The question sent a shot of fire up Iolani’s throat. She bared her teeth at her long time companion. The expression made the harpy step back in shock.
[#4682B4 “The Southgate Pass was attacked. Our patrol was near wiped out! Where were you!?”] Despite her rage, she felt her eyes getting hot.
Nat’s face contorted from confusion to understanding to panic. Iolani clenched her fists.
[#C71585 “Aleka! Is he okay?”]
[#4682B4 “You have no right to ask!”] The ruler shouldered past Nat to continued up the steps to her throne. But the harpy grabbed her arm. [#4682B4 “Let go of me.”]
[#C71585 “You sent me and my clan to scout out Mount Hai three weeks ago.”] The harpy queen reminded. [#C71585 “You know it takes at least a week to get there by flight. We were grounded by a blizzard when we got there.”] Nat let go of her.
The harpy’s words settled over her fiery rage like sand. She couldn’t move but she didn’t turn around either. Nat took her silence as permission to keep speaking.
[#C71585 “I realized around day three that the blizzard wasn’t natural. It took two more days to find the winter spirit causing it and a whole mess of hours to get it to stop. I’m sorry I wasn’t here.”] The harpy moved so that she stood in front of Iolani again.
Iolani schooled her expression as she looked at her strongest ally. She should have known it wouldn’t fool the harpy for Nat's eyes were soft with understanding. Again, Nat reached to touch her arms and Iolani let her. The harpy’s hands followed her arms down until they reached her hands. They were cold, meaning she had recently been flying, meaning she just got back.
Nat gently pulled them away from each other and brought them up to the chilled leather of her breastplate. [#C71585 “My love, is the Prince okay?”] She asked softly.
Iolani’s shoulders dropped. [#4682B4 “He’s…alive. We almost lost him thrice now. Danica thinks the worst is over, but he hasn’t woken up yet…”] she trailed off, the horrible hours of watching her best medics stitch her little brother’s arm back to his shoulder passed before her eyes.
A couple moments of silence slipped between them.
[#C71585 “What do you need me to do?”]
The request snapped Iolani out of her daze. She pulled her shoulders back and blinked away the tears in her eyes. She took a deep breath through her nose and pulled her hands out of Nat’s.
She lifted her chin up at the harpy. [#4682B4 “I need you to stop calling me that.”]
Nat blinked, then smirked playfully. [#C71585 “Never.”]
The ruler of Khalian rolled her eyes as she made her way up to her throne. [#4682B4 “And I need you to stop lounging on my throne like it’s some common bench.”]
Nat followed her, [#C71585 “I’ll think about it.”]
[#4682B4 “And I need you to send your report to General Mason.”] Iolani turned and sat on the throne with all the grace that came with her station and years of practice.
[#C71585 “I had Van deliver it as soon as we flew in.”] The harpy stopped on the last step. Her foot rested on the top platform. Iolani looked at her with feigned exasperation.
[#C71585 “Anything else, [i my love]?”]
Iolani huffed, [#4682B4 “You know, for a harpy, you don’t seem to respect other people’s True Names.”] She leaned against the armrest, getting as comfortable as she could in the solid jade and gold monstrosity. The throne was made out of the largest deposit of jade found in the very mountain the castle was built into. It was then sculpted into a throne with the top of high back carved to look like the top of the mount itself. Gold was then painted poured into cracks and chips of the throne to make it glitter as if kissed by sunlight.
[#C71585 “Should Mala graciously bestow upon you a True Name, I promise to scream it from the highest mountain in Khal, shout it before plunging into battles, and worship it every night in bed.”] Nat smirked at the flat look Iolani gave her.
[#556B2F “Sexually harassing our magnanimous Iolani, again [i Nat]? Shame on you.”] A smarmy voice said from behind her throne. Nat glared at the pirate as he emerged from his hiding place. Iolani looked over at the man as he leaned against the side of the throne opposite of her.
[#C71585 “Broll. Still sliding around like the snake you are, I see.”] Nat bared her teeth at the disrespect. The pirate bowed mockingly.
Iolani let out a long and suffering sigh, catching the attention of the two before they could start a headache inducing argument within earshot.
[#556B2F “Yes, My Queen?”]
Iolani narrowed her eyes, [#4682B4 “You know that is not my title.”]
Broll tilted his head. [#556B2F “As far as I am concerned, it is. And I’d also be so bold as to assume our resident harpy queen agrees with me.”]
[#4682B4 “It’s a good thing that the only concerns of yours I care about, are those of the movements of the Dark King’s naval forces.”] She looked at Broll expectantly.
[#556B2F “All work and no play make you a cranky queen.”] The pirate captain pointed out as he pushed away from the throne and went to stand at a respectable distance next to Nat.
[#4682B4 “I’d appreciate it if both of you treated me like a queen and respected my wishes.”] She all but gritted her teeth. Argument or not, the headache was coming.
Broll shrugged. [#556B2F “It’s too bad you’re not a queen.”]
[#4682B4 “Both of you, out of my sight before I have you thrown in a cell.”] Her voice was stern but she couldn’t quite put enough anger behind it to keep her two friends from smiling as they left the throne room.
When they were gone, Iolani slouched and leaned back in her throne. She stared at the large rune circle carved into the middle of the floor of the throne room.
[#4682B4 “Please,”] she grumbled, [#4682B4 "take your time.”]
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.