Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Twilight Legacies: Crimson Vortex(Teaser)


In the distant and infinite void between the immense galaxies, on the outskirts of the massive spectacularly jeweled globular cluster of NGC-2419. The colossal gleaming stars burned like scalding hot embers, the starlight reflected off of the giant Kel-Reh starbase as the ships in the vicinity converged in the menacing Leviathan. Explosions ruptured over the extent of the fuselage of the Confederate dreadnought, bulkheads contorted from the concussive force and turbulent flames flooded the corridors of the crippled vessel.
Colonel Botch narrowly felt the intense heat from the burst of flames as he ducked into an intersecting corridor and bolted past the frantic crewmen that fled for the escape pods. His eyes flared as his heart fill with anger and fear, he felt a sharp sting upon his hand as he was thrown to the scorched floor, incapacitated. He quickly returned to his feet, as the fugitive officer glanced down at his gnarled and gangly hand, a strange sensation surged from the palm of his hand to his spine. For a moment, Botch studied his palm and noticed a raised surface in his rapidly mutating hand. An overwhelming force suddenly flooded his mind as he fell to his knees and cried out in excruciating pain. Corrupt images stretching back into infinity pierced his spirit as a voice from the utter depths of the abyss. Yij krai Abaddon brat'jhe-aht ut ane...
The colonel's eyes violently aflame, after another bulkhead collapsed behind him when he came across the Prometheus. He pressed the back-lit terminal, the lights flickered violently from another volley from the opposing forces that bewildered the mighty dreadnought and he scurried into the small corridor into the EVAC saucer. He fled down the contoured hallway with thin, bright florescent sconces along the seam of the bulkhead, until he arrived at the controls of the ship. Botch sat behind the helm of the saucer and the holographic monitor soon came to life and his hand waved over the control console and immediately the sound of the engines reverberated throughout the vessel. Botch then placed the HUD on his brow and the chair tilted back as the dorsal bay doors opened and the devious officer throttled the controls.
A coma of black smoke and smoldering debris trailed in the wake of the severely damaged dreadnought, as the Nurii and Triad fighters launched salvos of missiles along the neck of the massive vessel. The aft hatch of the dorsal section of the Leviathan retracted and the Prometheus immediately darted out as Triad and Nurii fighters converged on the elusive vessel. In moments, the saucer soared in between two squadrons of Nurii fighters which quickly and decisively evaded and began to open fire upon the strange saucer-like vessel. Blazes of weapons fire glanced off the translucent shields of the ship, when suddenly the saucer vanished into a turbulent blood-stained tempest that quickly receded into the darkness of space...

On the outskirts of the galaxy, far from the borders of the Terran Colonies, a Confederate fleet massed near a red supergiant. Squadrons of Jackals and Demon-class interceptors returned from their patrol of the star system and glided effortlessly across the celestial canvass of glistening stars. The Goliath-class carrier Armageddon grew larger upon their approach as a military supply convoy docked in the starboard docking bay, when suddenly a burst of crimson-amber energy turbulently emerged from the darkness of space only a few hundred meters from the fleet. The energy burst quickly disappeared after a saucer emerged from the hyperspace vortex, ship-to-ship communications increased from a brief moment as the patrols escorted the circular vessel into the primary docking bay. Once the vessel came to a halt, a ramp descended onto the platform, an officer approached hastily and knelt before the vessel as Colonel Botch slithered out of the ship and hissed in a demonic voice, “What is the status of the fleet?”
Immediately, the subordinate officer garbed in a sage-green uniform fell to one knee and lowered his head in complete submission and uttered, “The majority of the One-Hundred-Thirty-Ninth Procyon and the Sixty-Sixth Polaris fleets are still en route to our present location. They should arrive in a few hours.”
“Very good, Captain.” Botch replied, peering at the assembly of Confederate Marines that jogged through the launch bay.
“Colonel...what of Admiral Godfrey?” the subordinate raised his head slightly and questioned the black-mantled, fiendish and grotesque creature that stood before him.
“You need not concern yourself with pointless details. The Admiral served his purpose and now, I, Lord Abaddon will rise in his place!”
“Yes, my Lord.” the Captain retorted.
Botch's pale, deteriorating face mutated further, when there was an usual sensation, deep in the abyss of his heart. He perceived within himself an entity like non other, full of malice and seething with an unfathomable, perpetual hatred and for a moment in his contemplation an epiphany was granted to him. Botch said, “I'll be in my chambers.”
                                  Four Years Later...

Chapter I

A terrifying sensation rippled over the restless Colonel Ross, the memories of his past jumbled still in the back of his mind. His heart raced as he stood to his feet, garbed in the Triad black uniform with gold, silver and white lining around the collar and cuffs of the sleeves. Y'raiden walked on over to the small porthole across the cabin in his assigned quarters and observed the translucent violet-blue intricacies of the hyperspace conduit, when he sensed the distant populous of the Nurii homeworld. A voice echoed in the depths of his mind, “Colonel, we should be arriving in system momentarily.”
“Understood.” Y'raiden replied telepathically, he then made his way up to the forward section of the gunship.
The Legacy-class gunship exited hyperspace with incredible speed and darted towards the world of Nyr'kazhjaak. The giant bluish-green planet orbited a quadruple star system roughly five-thousand light-years from IMC Space, two earth-like moons orbited the huge jungle-planet, along with a smattering of starbases providing a heightened level of defense as a small feet of Mageddon-class destroyers jumped into hyperspace. A Nurii glider patrol approached the Triad ship and after a brief dialogue, the vessel was escorted down to the surface of the planet.
Once the vessel cleared the dense overcast, the ship traversed an extensive city that spanned for hundreds of miles. Massive skyscrapers and monuments pierced the grayish sky as a thin mist coated the canopy of the ship. Colonel Ross stepped into the cockpit where the pilot sat and with ease, controlled the gunship. Once the ship landed on the southwest platform a short distance away from a huge palace, this was the Capital Citadel and adjacent to this illustrious structure were twelve obelisks of gold and hieroglyphs marked the sides of these magnificent needles with artistic precision.
The Oracle's landing struts craned outwards from the belly of the ship, once the gear was fully extended, the thrusters fired in intervals until the gunship landed gracefully on the pad. A leopard-spotted lion-humanoid awaited their arrival, his mane braided on this right side with gold and bronze beads woven into the thick braided mane. The creature's eyes glowed boldly of amber-yellow, his sharp fangs shown slightly as he lifted his jowl. N'jhyr roared mightily, then called elite guards to attention in the language of the Nurii. The band of lion-warriors wielded their weapons as if performing an ancient ceremony, as Colonel Ross descended down the ramp of the gunship. The Nurii liaison bowed with respect and welcomed Y'raiden openly, “I am N'jhyr Ai'tahar, First Korahl of the Imperial Guard, in service of the High Lord Eltorai. Welcome to Kha-Kronym, Capital of Nyr'kazhjaak. Colonel Ross, it is an honor to have you in our presence. How was your journey?”
“Long.” Weary from the journey, the Kah'Rai warrior answered.
“Then we will escort you to the Temple of Rodhukan. There, we will give you sustenance and rest.”
“It is much appreciated, N'jhyr.”
Colonel Ross looked over his shoulder, immediately, he then jerked a nod and the ship launched gracefully upwards and veered away from the landing pad. A bright violet burst of light emanated from the gunship's engines as the ship darted into the heavens. Y'raiden gazed at the mysterious shrouded temple, as the bright yellow and blue disks shone through the overcast. Rays of light pierced through the clouds, the temple of gold, marble and granite and three gigantic monuments of violet quartz encompassed the temple. Thunder reverberated throughout the heavens, two glider squadrons burst from the clouds and veered towards the Citadel as Y'raiden, N'jhyr and the military escorts approached the massive and ancient stone structure. Finally, they came the large entrance to the temple, after ascending up a narrow flight of steps that wrapped around the base of the temple. N'jhyr halted, then looked at Y'raiden and spoke in the tongue of the Nurii, “For thousands of years, we have been disciplined in the way of Rhodukhan. It is a warrior's Rite of Passage...”
The massive doors opened to the ancient temple, N'jhyr and Y'raiden stepped over the threshold into the outer court. The hall was marked by large marble columns with crystalline tablets embedded into the stonework as orange orb-like sconces hung along the walls covered in ancient hieroglyphs. Nurii garbed in dark maroon, brownish-red and dark green tunics of leather and linen and girded with razor-sharp weapons roamed the gigantic hall within the temple. Y'raiden could sense the Nurii within the temple, his eyes flared with violet energy when a beast suddenly appeared from behind one of the columns.
“N'jhyr.” growled the beast, “I heard of our comrade's arrival.”
Then N'jhyr introduced the Kah'Rai being to the fellow seven-foot warrior-beast, “Zhal'Yrol, this is Y'raiden, a Colonel of the Triad.”
“It is an honor.” Zhal'Yrol bowed slightly and astutely remarked, “You are...Kah'Rai.”
“I am...”
“The Kah'Rai were believed to be extinct...destroyed hundreds of years ago.”
For a moment, flashes from his past resurfaced, Y'raiden briefly glimpsed the atrocities and destruction that wreaked havoc on his homeworld. He recalled the devastation, the horrific screams of the woman and children that fled from the star-chariots and the fire-rain that burst from the vessels that perched in the smoke-filled sky.
Startled, he felt N'jhyr grab him and asked, “Are you ill, Colonel?”
“What...just happened?” Y'raiden asked, as he realized that he had stumbled to one knee with his hand braced against stone floor.
“You were in a trance,” N'jhyr quickly answered as he helped the Kah'Rai to his feet.
Zhar'Yrol peculiarly peered at the silver ring that was on Y'raiden's ring finger on his right hand which bore unique craftsmanship. The ring held a translucent, violet gem and engraved in the intricate design and contours were two tracks of markings...similar to that of the Erakin. These markings Zhar'Yrol could not identify, yet he knew that they were more ancient than the Nurii and he inquired, “Where did you acquire such a ring?”
Colonel Ross looked down at the ring, the violet gem glistened and for a moment, revived from the energy that coursed through his veins and answered, “I found this ring among my belongings. Why do you ask?”
Zhar'Yrol answered, “I couldn't help but notice...the ring seems...familiar.”
“We must be on our way—Y'raiden will appear before the Council of the Twelve at first light.”
“Then I will keep you no longer. I have been summoned to the Palace Citadel. Our Lord Emperor has granted me a place in the Elite Imperial Guard.” The black-spotted lion creature explained. Before he concluded, Zhar'Yrol placed his large paw on Y'raiden and spoke words of encouragement, “Do not worry about the world outside. Focus on the task at hand. Do no fear the future. This is your destiny....embrace it.”
Zhar'Yrol quickly disappeared until he reached the entrance to a hallway, N'jhyr looked down at the Kah'Rai and bowed his head slightly. The doors to the Inner Court shut behind them and Y'raiden's training began...

Amidst the stars, a vessel of massive length soared on the outskirts of Omega Sagittarius, the colossal super-dreadnought soared upon flaming wings, a dragon much like the Leviathan of the Confederacy and far more lethal. This ship: the Nemesis bore resemblance of the ancient winged serpents as described in legends and myths of Earth. The commander of the dreadnought; mantled in a dark, velvet cloak gazed into the starry expanse before him. In the privacy of his chambers, deep in meditation, memories from the distant past resurfaced and he recalled the endless war that was waged upon the universe, a myriad of ships encompassed the Sudar fleet and in moments consumed by white and amber flames. A grotesque and vile creature awoke from the trance, he peered down at his reptilian hand and saw the glistening gem embedded into the skin of his palm and a crimson sphere of superheated energy formed as he spoke the dark and ancient Sudar incantations.
Instantly, over a dozen crimson-gold bursts of light appeared only a few hundred meters from the Nemesis, when the lieutenant approached the great chamber, bent to one knee and uttered, “My Lord, the Shedarah Fleet has arrived.”
“Yes...I know.” Abaddon growled as his eyes flared with immense anticipation. He then turned towards the subordinate, with the ball of energy lingering above his palm and ordered, “Prepare the primary docking bay.”
“Understood, my Lord.” The officer returned to his feet and bowed his head.
“Yes, my Liege...”
Lord Abaddon extended his hand and the energy surged towards the captain. The officer then fell to his knees before his master, then a crushing weight on his chest as it became more difficult for him to breath. The Dragon Lord walked towards him with such hatred and anger aflame in his eyes, “Should you interrupt me again, I will not be so understanding.” Abaddon threatened as he released the captain from his hold.
“Yes, Lord Abaddon.”
“Get out of my sight!!”
The sinister foe slithered out of his chambers in haste, after having looked at an approaching alien fleet through the large diamond-shaped porthole and journeyed across the lengthy vessel to the docking bay where three large Spider-class transports and their Wasp escorts arrived. Once the ramp of transport descended upon the metallic floor, a demonic creature with a mutilated face approached Lord Abaddon and bowed. In the ancient tongue of the Sudar, the underling groveled, “My Lord Abaddon, it has been many ages since our last engagement. There is an urgent matter we must discuss. ”
“Rise, Kro'tal.” Abaddon commanded and continued, “Join me.”
The two creatures commenced their trek down the dark, dank corridors and the Shedarah warrior as they continued their conversation, “The Armies of the Shedarah have returned from the realm of Aht'Jhe-aal. We have longed for battle, the taste of human flesh...for it has been many millennia since our brethren waged war against us.”
“And you shall have your war. Soon, Shaita'an will return to claim his prize and we shall reign unchallenged...”
“Yes, my Lord.” The ilk affirmed as he accompanied Lord Abaddon to the bridge.
“Unfortunately,” Abaddon explained, “The humans have become so advanced that they possess hyperspace travel and weapons that can rival our own.”
“Then what are your orders, my Lord.”
“How many more ships do you have in the fleet?”
“We have myriads-upon-myriads of ships that are ready for deployment.”
“When will they arrive?” Abaddon inquired.
“That is the matter I must discuss with you...”
Meanwhile, the soldiers watched with frightful anticipation as the transports and fighters landed in the vast hangar. Hundreds of thousands of demon-warriors marched onto the deck, their armor resembled that of thick spines and plates down their backs and had long, razor-sharp claws and fangs. Armed with archaic weaponry, they formed ranks as the battalion leaders called to arms with a harsh, loud shrill. On the faces of each demon was a mark, a tattoo of unique characters, this was the mark of the Shedarah warrior.
One year later, in the vast territory of the Directorate near a companion pulsar, a massive graveyard of derelict ships spanning hundreds of thousands of miles across the expanse of the system and was hundreds of years old. UTC, Directorate and some other wreckage floated aimlessly in the cold of space, when a fighter patrol soared through the radioactive debris field. The pilots' opaque visors protected their eyes from the blinding light that pulsated from the stars in the distance. The Russian pilots maneuvered their vessels quickly through the debris when suddenly, a bright crimson-white flash instantly appeared just beyond the cloud of debris.
“What was that?!” the pilot exclaimed over the com-channel.
“I don't know! It just appeared out of nowhere.”
“What ever it is, it's launching fighters.”
“Evasive action!!” the wing commander cried out as enemy fighters barreled towards the patrol. “This is Theta Wing! We require assistance!! We are under attack by unidentified hostiles!”
Within seconds the swarm of unusual insect-like configuration overwhelmed, when a Directorate Rurik-class heavy destroyer emerged from hyperspace a few kilometers from the patrol and immediately opened fire upon the alien vessels. The strange vessels darted towards the heavy destroyer, intercepting the torpedo volleys that blasted from the forward batteries. Yet, the weapons fire did not deter the incursion. The larger alien ship moved towards the destroyer, pulses of greenish-white and red energy hurtled towards the Directorate heavy destroyer. The captain of the destroyer ordered the remaining squadrons to be launched, but it was too late, an intensely powerful beam pierced through the shields of the destroyer and impacted the forward section of the ship. The blast crippled the vessel as alien fighters came about and concentrated there firepower on the destroyer. The ship's hull breached further as the weapons fire obliterated the vessel, the ship severed in half before a massive explosion expanded out into space and in moments the vessel was obliterated. Shortly after the assault, several more crimson-gold luminescent vorteces materialized in the darkness of space and in moments the system was overrun by swarms of alien spacecraft. 

Chapter II

Amidst the myriad of turbulent frozen particles of the Bug Nebula, a magnificent tempest of violet and golden energy rapidly materialized in the opaque luminescent mist of a churning nebula on the far side of the galaxy, thousands of light-years from the Far Space Union borders. The Genesis emerged from the turbulent energy vortex into an ocean of golden, amber, green and crimson particles with a cluster of white dwarf stars in the midst of the churning mass. Asteroids aimlessly floated on the outskirts of the nebulous mass a few hundred meters from the bow of the carrier. The massive Triad carrier glided on an ocean of stars and further into the opaque arena it went…
The bridge of the Genesis was teeming with personnel, the junior officers scurried from station to station, recalling a variety of data to their holographic monitors that appeared from the psionic-activated consoles that were integrated into the bulkhead of the ship. Major Tappley pensively observed from his chair and notified the commander as she stepped onto the bridge, “We've entered NGC-6302: The Bug Nebula.”
Colonel Landrey sat in the command chair and ordered, “Commence scans of the area.”
“Understood.” the tactical officer replied and resumed after a moment, “There are no ships nothing on our sensors.”
Captain Levinson, pilot of the Genesis glanced back at his fellow officers and colleagues as Rachel arrived on the bridge and sat attentively in the captain’s chair. The young woman gazed at the eternally churning nebula, threads of luminescent magenta particles ignited as plasma lightning arched across the screen. The crew minded their posts, their focus on the roster of jobs that needed to be completed by the end of the day, “How can that be? According to Protectorate Intel, our informant should be here,” Tappley indicated as he looked back at Rachel.
“This doesn’t make any sense!” Perterbed, Landrey inquisitively responded, “Run continuous scans.”
Lieutenant Wells looked back at the Landrey and inquired, “Do we know who the informant is?”
“An agent of the Gemini Continuum.” Major Tappley retorted.
Suddenly, one of the consoles to the right of the colonel alarmed with a series of chirps and the tactical officer alerted Colonel Landrey, “Ma’am, a ship just appeared off of our starboard. Twenty kilometers out, two-zero-five mark two-zero. The ship is an Eros-class fighter... I’m receiving GC transponder signal.”
“We’re being hailed on an encoded frequency. It’s the informant.”
First Korahl Ren'cyr Zh'oraan stepped onto the bridge, his cat-like eyes focused on the large holographic monitor. The warrior-beast approached the woman commander, “Colonel Landrey, I must speak with you. It is of the utmost urgency.”
“I'll be with you in a moment, Ren'cyr. Open a channel,” Rachel declared as she stood up and walked closer to the screen.
A strange noise suddenly echoed over the speakers on the bridge, then all power shut down--Everything fell into darkness. Landrey’s eyes barely adjusted to the sudden blackness in front of her, she stumbled around, when several conduits exploded throughout the ship, sparks and consoles ruptured from the seismic blasts that reverberated through the lower decks of the ship. Then the emergency power defaulted to minimal output, “What just happened?!” asked the helmsman.
“I have no idea. I thought I sensed something just before we were hit,” replied Landrey, as she nursed the laceration on her cheek and felt the sharp sting of pain, as she touched it.
“Status?!” requested Tappley.
“I don’t know, all of systems just went down. Systems are not responding to my commands,” replied the chief-of-security.
Landrey immediately walked over to a compartment hidden within the bulkhead, she waved her hand over it and the bulkhead disappeared. Several Triad pistols and talons were handed to the crew by her hand, she then waved her hand over a violet gem on her breastplate and the armor quickly formed over her uniform, “We’re going to have to seal the bridge manually.”
A gigantic vessel appeared from within the mist and cloud of the nebula, it was a Far Space Dragon-class dreadnought that spanned almost sixteen kilometers long, three concave fins protruded from the dorsal bow to the engineering section of the enormous vessel, where three hyperspace nacelles extended from the primary impulse engines. Buckling bulkheads reverberated throughout the crippled carrier as the crew prepared for battle. Armed with Talons and Fangs, the stouthearted, heavily-armed security forces braced theirs hearts and minds when they moved quickly into position throughout the vulnerable sections of the Triad carrier.
A dead silence permeated the bridge as the battle-ready crew braced themselves for combat. Colonel Landrey sensed an insurmountable fear and anxiety from her crew and glimpsed the abject mass of Union wariors invaded the Genesis and Rachel announced emphatically,“We’re being boarded!”
“We can not let this ship fall into enemy hands!” insisted Tappley with his firearm raised near his head on the dimly lit command deck.
“I know!” Landrey confirmed with conviction and placed her hand on the palm device on the arm of her chair.
“Auxiliary power is active. Primary PSISYS is disabled.”
“It'll have to do.” Rachel closed her eyes and focused her abilities, one thought came to mind; which in turn activated the self-destruct on board the vessel, “The self-destruct has been armed. We’re evacuating the Genesis!”
“How long do we have?”
“Enough time to get the escape pods.” she replied, “Follow me. There’s a hatch over here. Help me remove this cover.”
Within moments, several columns of golden translucent energy appeared simultaneously throughout the entire carrier, as the particles dissipated rapidly, human forms robed armor, their heads covered by elaborate helmets that covered their necks and held some sort of pointed weapon with some jade stone at the tip, on the other end of the six foot staffs were a heavy iron ball, like a club, “Drop your weapons! Now!”
“Colonel?” telepathically communicated the security chief, but Rachel did not respond to him.
Absolute terror suddenly swept over the young woman, she and her crew were at the mercy of her captor. Somehow, their telepathic abilities were suppressed by means beyond the physical realm, when she realized that her subordinate was attempting to communicate with her. “I can’t hear your thoughts!” She cried out as terror struck the heart of Landrey.
“Drop them! Now!” the Far Space officer declared, as he pointed his weapon at the Executive officer.
The auxiliary power restored itself after a few moments, the elevator doors opened and there emerged from the threshold of the pod, was an officer of the Far Space Military. A man of muscular stature, wide-set, dark eyes and glistening, charcoal black hair, tied in a short pony tail. The attire of the man was a full uniform of dark gray, with a green collar and cuffs, his rank on the left breast of the jacket and a black leather belt wrapped around his waste with black trousers and boots.
The official wore a Samurai sword on his belt, he caressed his gnarled, oily hands across the long handle of the sheathed blade, as he strutted forward with such command and authority. A callous expression crept across his face, as he sneered with a loathsome hatred and malicious intent in his vindications. The villain’s eyes were sharp with anger, as he scanned the bridge of the Genesis, “Who’s your commanding officer?” demanded the Japanese official.
“I am!” cried out Tappley, as he stepped forward.
“Major, don’t do this!” Rachel urged, “It is I, whom you seek.”
“Step forward,” nefarious warrior ordered.
Rachel defiantly complied and stood before her captor, as the sadistic villain grinned lustfully at her and proposed, “You must be Colonel Landrey.”
“I would think that’s obvious…”
“Now! You listen to me!” Rachel demanded, “I-- ”
Colonel Landrey felt the sharp back-handed slap across her face, “Colonel, hehe…You are hardly in the position to make demands.”
A young Triad officer rushed towards General Naginata and quickly removed a small blade concealed on his belt. With a quick motion, the sinewy intruder unsheathed his sword and with a sharp ring, the blade went through Triad officer. The young officer fell silent and collapsed to the ground as his head rolled off his shoulders. The malicious general stared with a cold satisfaction on his face and placed his blade towards his next victim, “That was not wise…Take them to the Damura.”
The Samurai warrior jerked a nod in acknowledgment, as Rachel knelt by the corpse of the fallen officer as tears streamed down her soft pale cheeks. Anger filled her heart as she lividly looked up at the general with relentless disdain, “There was no need for that!”
“I have patiently waited for this day to come. I have a Triad colonel at my mercy,” the general provoked as the soldiers cuffed Rachel and the other crew members.
The crew of the Genesis was then transported on board the Damura and placed in large cells that accommodated twenty people in each detention block; while the bridge crew and senior staff were placed in individual cells that spanned across the gigantic vessel that was several thousand meters longer than the Leviathan. Guards were posted on several decks of the detention decks, where the prisoners settled in with anxiety and fear of the future.
Three crimson beams fanned out from the ventral section of the Damura and locked onto the Genesis. The Triad carrier was brought into a large hangar within the colossal ship and was now a trophy of the Far Space Military. FSM attack gliders soared across the expanse of the celestial void, as the psionic-interdicter frigates entered formation along side the enormous dreadnought.
On board the bridge of the Damura, the efficient and speedy crew of the gigantic vessel worked around the clock, the general sat in his large captain’s chair in the center of the bridge took to his feet and walked up to the large holographic monitor. An image of a grotesque creature appeared, concealed in shadow and amber light. Naginata observed the gaunt, gangly serpent that appeared before him. The dark, twisted creature’s eyes burned with an intense translucent crimson that bewildered the FSU commander. This Agent of Darkness had powers of sorcery and sadistic, twisted apparition was Lord Abaddon and slowly the demon removed itself from the shadows and stepped into the dank amber lighting. Naginata staggered back a few steps as his eyes gazed upon the grotesque image, “Yes, General?”
“I bid you good fortune, Lord Abaddon.” Naginata greeted as he bowed in reverence to his master.
“I gather...you fulfilled the agreement.”
“Indeed, I have.”
“I hope you found the tools that I have given you...useful.”
“Very...” the general laughed and requested “And now let's discuss the payment?” Naginata insisted with fearless urgency.
“Show me the sincerity of your allegiance and we will discuss payment.”
The Far Space Military general grew impatient and with a sharp glance to his security officer, gestured with a quick nod. The officer quickly returned with Naginata's prize possession, the young woman was bound and gagged and struggled to loosen her painfully tight bonds that were around her wrists, “Is this proof enough?”
Abaddon's eyes flared with such potent energy and maniacal hatred, he replied, “Yes...”
“I have her and more…” enticed Naginata, “If you’ll grant me an audience, we can discuss a fair price.”
“Very well. I am sending you the coordinates,” the Lord Sorcerer indicated, then looked off the screen and jerked a nod.
After a few seconds, the communications officer received the data, “General, we have the location.”
“Excellent,” General Taigei-Fujimoto Naginata retorted with a lustful grin of satisfaction.
“Until we will meet again, my Lord.”
After Naginata lowered his head, the image of the serpent disappeared and returned to the forward display of the jeweled canvass of space, “Helm, plot a course for those coordinates.”
“Yes, sir.”
The small fleet of ships, in moments, disappeared into a luminescent vortex of fluctuating energy towards a distant spec of light a great distance beyond the immense nebula.

Rachel spent hours staring at the cold steel floor in the dark and dreary confines of her cell. She felt dehydrated, her palette parched and she craved the pure taste of water and a morsel of food. In her solitude, Rachel’s thoughts dwelt on Colonel Ross, over the years since they parted ways she often regretted that their friendship dissolved. She once felt a genuine fondness for Y’raiden, but it was painful for her and felt that she wouldn’t have made a worthy companion. As washed over her, tears swelled in her eyes and she wept silently, yearning for her freedom.
Colonel Landrey, hours later, drifted off to sleep on the hard metal slab of a cot, her thoughts ventilated on her family and friends. The cell around her transformed into a stark white light, she felt the warmth from the light as the light faded and before her was her homeworld. The PSI-A’tan city: a rife civilization that spawned from the ashes of their exile, the suns ascended over the skyline as a piercing light descended upon the world. Orange and white blazing fire consumed the city, as the shockwave of superheated energy and debris scrolled out from the impact. She heard the cries of her people as she attempted to flee from the devastating blast and within seconds, she felt her skin incinerate. The pain intensified throughout her entire body and in an instant, the world around her dissolved. Colonel Landrey’s heart raced, tears streamed down her soft cheeks as she sensed the residual effects of the nightmare.
As the young woman regained her orientation, she came to the realization of a severe migraine, the light seemed painfully bright to her eyes. Rachel pressed her fingers to her temple as she attempted to dull the severe pain. Suddenly, a familiar voice called her name in the midst of the darkness, she called out to it in her mind. Hello? Is anyone there? Who are you? A woman appeared from behind the cell barrier, garbed in white linen and luminescent. She seemed encumbered by age and her soft curved flowed with her attire as she approached her daughter. Instantly, Rachel knew who it was, “Mother…” she spoke through telepathy, “I’ve missed you…Why are you here?”
After they warmly embraced, her mother answered quietly, “I’m here for you.”
Why did Edonai allow this to happen?” Rachel asked her mother, as she stifled her tears.
Do you doubt the power of Edonai? Have you lost your faith so easily?”
I am…terrified.”
Fear not, my darling daughter.” Her mother wrapped her arms around Rachel, comforting her.
What’s going to happen?”
That has not yet been revealed to me. You must trust in Edonai.”
But mo—.”
It is time…I must go.”
Within moments, her mother and everything around her became consumed by darkness and she awoke in her cell with the seditious man looming over her. The evil Naginata stood on the other side of the prison cell and imagined the pain and torture he would inflict on such a delicate woman, “What do you want?!” Rachel angrily demanded to her captor as she attempted to use her telekinesis on the lusting general.
“Effective devices, aren’t they?” the General ignored Landrey’s inquiry and remarked as he antagonized Rachel further, “You want me dead…I know, I can see it in your eyes.”
Rachel glared at the General and inquired in desperation, “Why are you doing this?”
“Why ask questions to which you already know the answer.” Naginata indistinctly replied.
“For money, that’s it. Isn’t it?”
“You have absolutely no idea how much Triad officers, in particular, are worth on the market.” The reprehensible general implicated with a disturbing smile on his face.
“I really don’t care. All I want is for you to release me, my crew and my ship. I’m sure the Protectorate—.”
“I don’t want your Protectorate!” He then took a few steps forward towards the barrier and gestured with a clenched fist to his chest, “What I want, you couldn’t possibly understand.”
It’s all about power? That’s why we’re here? The informant was a rouse, of course. I should have known.”
“Not a rouse, my dear colonel. We just exploited an opportunity, but thanks to our allies, we have a new method of extracting the information we wanted. Or rather needed for our survival. More importantly, I want your secrets. For instance, how to take down the Black Star Defense Grid protecting your territory? Or how to engineer a weapon that utilizes the metaphysical energy that your ships possess?”
“I will tell you nothing!” Landrey swore as she stood inches away from the barrier, glaring at Naginata.
“So be it!” Naginata professed and with great implication said, “Perhaps the deaths of your friends will give you some incentive.”
The sadistic FSU official then disappeared down the dark passageway, as Rachel flopped down on the cot, discouraged and fearfully awaiting her veiled fate. Longing for her freedom, she only saw darkness in her mind, as her heart imploded and shaken by the insidious form of Naginata and his offer. She then fell into a deep slumber, faded away into the depths of a dark void and dreamed of her passions, her fears and her family, in the comfort of her home on PSI-A’ta.

Chapter III

Ten months into the year 3197, the Continuum fleet advanced into the Confederate-occupied territory of the Frontier, towards the ancient star system of Keilen where Lord Abaddon staged his massive fleets above the second planet. Meanwhile, Confederate fighter squadrons patrolled the outlying planets of the triple star system when a small fleet of destroyers emerged suddenly from a maelstrom of glistening bluish-green luminescent energy near a massive white-violet sphere of frozen gas with four thin, silvery rings of ice orbiting the gas giant.
The patrol of Jackals and the new Demon-class interceptor approached from the southern pole of the nearby moon orbiting the colossal planet and launched their assault from upon the fleet. Missile and Torpedo salvos soared undaunted towards the Continuum Fleet, immediately the ships retaliated with a spread of superheated projectiles that exploded after having intercepted the incoming armed ordinance. The Jackals pulled evasive maneuvers as brilliant spheres from the powerful ordinance violently detonated only meters from the approaching fleet.
Meanwhile, thousands of Confed ships of various size swarmed above the arid, tempestuous rock, the Nemesis perched in the distance and Lord Abaddon observed from the privacy of his chambers. Concealed in darkest, deepest corner of his chambers, the ghastly creature stood firm with his mantle draped over his shoulders and came down to the shafts of his black, glistening boots. In the deepest recesses of the twisted Abaddon’s mind, the Warlord contemplated his strategy, the trap was set as the Protectorate armada appeared from several bright churning vorteces of energy above the Keilen world. Pulses of energy strafed in the distance, as fighters engaged in dogfights against Confederate squadrons.
A dark figure approached the serpent-sorcerer and turned towards his comrade, his eyes aflame with hatred and power and with an alien voice, he inquired, “Yes?”
“We are ready to make the jump on your command, general,” After a brief salute, the underling indicated and quickly returned to his duties.
“Very well.”
Keilen, in the ancient dialect of the Kel-Reh meant “A Place of Slaughter”, an apt description for a planet that had been besieged countless times and over several hundred years. The Protectorate fleet emerged from hyperspace, the Covenant led the assault on the Confederate shipyards directly head. Aboard the carrier, Johansen’s gaze pierced the image on the holographic monitor in front of him as he sat pensively in his chair, watching his crew as they obeyed his command, “Sir, the fleet’s responded,” indicated the tactical officer.
“Come about, heading six-zero mark nine. Execute attack pattern Ross-Echo-Seven,” Johansen ordered.
The Covenant banked to port as the vessel glided over the shipyards, firing volleys of particle weapons across the X-axis of the super structure. Flaming debris and plumes of black smoke filled the cold, dark void. The partially constructed dreadnoughts drifted from their station and collided into the gigantic orbiting base. Pyros and the new advanced Demon-class squadrons darted up from the surface of the planet and opened fire upon the approaching fleet.
Kikris, Kama and Sphynx-class fighters provided escorts for the bombers that were launched a few moments after the fleet arrived in system, the Kikris fighters matched speeds effortlessly with their targets, the Confederate fighters hadn’t a chance. Triad bombers and deployed their photonic discharges against the hull of the Confederate ships and the Triad carrier Covenant fired its primary cannon across the dorsal axis of the enemy station.
“Covenant, this is Gamma Leader. I’m detecting multiple inbound bogies! They’re all around us!” indicated the fighter pilot, as he pitched upwards and performed a one-hundred-eighty degree roll to starboard and accelerated towards his next target.
“Copy. Why didn’t we detect their approach?”
“They must have some sort of cloaking technology,” replied the pilot. “Where’s Alpha Leader. He should have been here already.”
“Colonel Ross just radioed in on the secure channel. He should be arriving in a few moments, just hold tight,” the communications officer answered over the com-band.
A swarm of UTC and Protectorate vessels huddled above the barren rock of Keilen II, orange blazed explosions like Fourth of July fireworks across the horizon. The turbulent desert-world became the battlefield for yet another war, the clash of the Confederacy and the stalwart Protectorate battled on Keilen soil amused the deviously twisted Botch as he observed the battle from a distance.
Colonel Malachi Johansen led the assault on Keilen II, the Covenant exchanged fire with the UTCG Armageddon, a Goliath-class carrier and flagship of the Confederate 69th fleet Vega. The luminescent shields attenuated as pulses of violet and white energy impacted the barrier protecting that approaching enemy vessel as Kodiak III bombers weaved in between the fleet and engaged the Protectorate squadrons that quickly emerged from the launch bays of the approaching fleet.
The crew jostled violently from the subsequent explosions from the initial assault from the Protectorate squadrons that swiftly attacked the defense turrets mounted on the Confederate vessel. With weapons ablaze, the lead Nurii pilot swerved and rolled through the plumes of molten shrapnel and debris that rocketed outwards into the utter depths of space as an enemy cruiser erupted from the barrage of energy fire. The pilot's intuitions were pronounced as the Confederate squadrons intercepted the swarm of Nurii Imperial fighters and in minutes, intense volleys concentrated plasma and missiles cut the enemy bomber squadron to shreds.
A few hundred kilometers from upper-atmospheric engagement, over thirty hyperspace vorteces suddenly appeared and a fleet emerged from the intensely turbulent and translucent aperture. Colonel Ross piloted his fighter: the Storm, through the mass of Continuum starships entered the battlefront and unleashed a barrage powerful energy pulses towards the Confederate blockade and the fighter squadrons that swarmed within the fleet. Y'raiden studied the three-dimensional radar display on his HUD. With a vigilant eye and quick hand, the Kah'Rai warrior pilot dodged the crossfire between the mass of ships above the arid planet of Keilen II.
The GC carrier group Galatea and the Pandora launched a torrent of superheated plasma hurtled into the engagement as enemy fighters strafed across the ventral section of the ship and immediately returned fire on the battle cruiser. The translucent bluish-green shields brilliantly shimmered as the powerful energy projectiles impacted the defenses of the GC ships. Alarms resounded throughout the ship, the Continuum pilots jumped into the cockpits of their Virtus-class fighters darted out of the launch bays of the ships and were ready reclaim the Keilen world and its people.
The elliptically configured fighters were unique in design, with an off-set cockpit, a single air intake in the fuselage of the ship and mounted with various weapons and defenses and quad engine design propelled the fighter at incredible speeds that rivaled the most advanced Confederate fighter.
Superheated plasma fired from the twin mounted blasters from the Continuum’s Virtus fighters scathed the squadrons of Demons as they collided with multiple volleys that nearly grazed the Continuum squadrons.
“This is Omicron Three! I have hostiles opening fire!”
“Omicron Three! Take evasive action, turn to three-two-seven mark six-zero!”
“I’m already there!” Y’raiden replied over the com-link, “I’ll have him in my sights in a second!”
Colonel Ross maneuvered through the Confederate fleet, already engaged in battle against hundreds of Protectorate vessels. Y’raiden saw the masses of the colliding fleets, Black Star, Fringe, IMC, Gemini Continuum and Nurii all did battle with the Enemy. Countless vessels swarmed, darted and exploded in the intense and eternal battle that the Kah'Rai warrior perceived before him as errant blasts of energy from Confederate carriers grazed his sleek starship. Y’raiden barely had time to react as he banked to the right, then pitched upward as a missile volley detonated a few meters in front of his ship.
Within moments, he saw on his radar the Continuum squadron under attack as several enemy fighters and interceptors tracked the Virtus-class fighters. Ross sensed the fear of the pilots, he anticipated the maneuvers of the bogies and with his mind destroyed the pursuing enemy. The enemy fighters instantaneously ignited as a magnificent burst of energy consumed the vessels from within, the Storm banked and soared across the massive fuselage of the IMC Liberty, as several bright beams of translucent energy strafed across the industrially designed starships of the UTC. The subsequent explosions traversed across the gantries from the power core of the massive structure that perched above the crimson planet and in seconds both the Protectorate and Confederate ships were consumed by the powerful shockwave. The ships that survived the blast continued in the upper-atmospheric conflict, after having destroyed the weapon-satellites in orbit above the planet the squadrons of fighters and dropships descended into the opaque, volatile storms that wreaked havoc across thousands of miles across the desert surface.
The GC military vessel Galatea was comparable in length to the Genesis, the ship's unusual configuration bore resemblance to the UTC Goliath-class carriers that orbited the planet. The Galatea's particle weapons fired several volleys that impacted the UTC carrier as the enemy vessel propelled itself away from the rapid explosions and several opposing ships were caught in the intense blast. The vessel veered towards the larger UTC ships and fired a volley of bright yellow orbs pulsed from the ventral plasma cannons. Immediately, plumes of amber and orange explosions rippled across the hull. Soon the enemy carrier broke apart in a magnificent explosion of turbulent energy. Colonel Ross piloted the Storm rapidly through the smoldering debris and opposing fire from nearby enemy carrier turrets. Triad heavy fighters and Nurii gliders soared in between the dueling destroyers and took up positions on the Colonel's flank; providing cover for him as he weaved through the fleet.
“Colonel Ross, is that you?” inquired one of the Black Star pilots. “What took you so long?!”
“Sorry, did I miss much?” Colonel Ross apologized over the com-channel.
“We’re giving Confed quite a beating, sir. They’re shipyards have been completely destroyed.”
“Good! Form on me, I’m going to make my descent in a few moments.”
“Sir, are those Continuum ships? Where? How?”
“I’ll tell you later. I need you to cover me. I’m going in.”
“Yes, sir. I’m right behind you.”
The Confed weapon-satellites breached the shields of a nearby Nurii Griffen-class assault cruiser. The vessel took evasive action as the lethal crossfire from the Armageddon pierced through the shields of the Nurii vessel that speedily darted over the damaged hull of the UTC carrier. The super assault fighters blazed a trail of superheated plasma and strafed the hull of the Confederate destroyer. Soon after, the attack ships fired several more volleys at the satellites in orbit above the Keilen planet. A powerful beam fired from the dorsal weapons array of the enemy destroyer, the starboard engine ruptured as the pulse of yellowish-white energy impacted the vessel, sending the ship adrift towards the opposing UTC fleet with a smoldering coma of fire, smoke and debris.
The Nurii cruiser then scraped along the dorsal section of the Armageddon and corkscrewed into the bow of an IMC weapon-cruiser, the Nurii vessel exploded violently from the turbulent impact. The shields of the IMC ship weakened rapidly as shards from the smoldering shrapnel scored the hull, a fiery hull of the port engine hurtled into the stardrive section of the cruiser. The wing and solar panel were severed instantaneously from the brilliant explosions.
Many Protectorate ships converged on the Armageddon, the Liberty soared above the Confederate flagship and fired a barrage of superheated energy and torpedoes that impacted along the port mid-section of the hull. The subsequent explosions were catastrophic, rendering the ship powerless to maneuver. The Nurii battle cruiser rapidly came about after the initial attack and targeted the port-side dorsal beam cannons of the Confed carrier and though the UTC vessel was crippled the ship's beam cannons ripped across the contoured fuselage of the Nurii battle cruiser and in moments the vessel and it's crew were destroyed. The carrier then veered towards the Liberty and opened fire on the the cruiser’s forward weapons arrays fired several salvos that impacted the small contoured neck that protruded upward from the center section of the Armageddon. Portions of the hull exploded, as several plumes of fire, smoke and molten debris riddled the crippled vessel.
The IMC weapon-ships then opened fire upon the massive Confederate carrier as their thick beams of bluish-white luminescent energy converged on the enemy vessel. Within moments superheated plasma shot out of the massive cannons and into the hull of the Confederate carrier. Nurii gliders were in pursuit of the Confederate fighters, but the advanced Demon-class attackers could not evade the Nurii pilots and within moments, the Confederate ships were destroyed.
A pilot of one the Black Star super assault fighters headed off towards the distance, beyond the planet and reported in, “Command, this is Bravo Two. I’m detecting an unusual energy signature about six-hundred kilometers from my current position. Requesting further orders.”
Colonel Johansen listened from his headset that hung from his ear, “Your orders are to engage the enemy and provide cover for the bombers. Understood, Bravo Two?”
“This is the Fringe Destroyer Pegasus, we’re being overrun by Confed bombers. Requesting assistance!” cried the Commander of the Fringe starship.
Several fighter interceptors cruised into the heat of battle, destroying every enemy bomber in their midst, as the Pegasus engaged the fleet of cruisers. Colonel Ross piloted the Storm as a wing of Black Star fighters provided cover as they made their descent to the surface of Keilen II. Green pulses of energy soared passed, only a foot off to the port, had he been a little closer, it would have been a different story. Y’raiden looked at the HUD and acquired the nearest target; a particle defense turret, one of the many that defended the primary facility that controlled the weapon-satellites in orbit.
When he accessed the consoled with his mind, the warrior-pilot quickly alternated to his primary weapon configuration. Once the violet reticule changed color to a vibrant crimson hue he led the targets that were rapidly accelerated towards him and a split second pulled the trigger. After the approaching targets were destroyed, three Confederate escort frigates appeared above the Confederate Fortress and trained their powerful weapons batteries on the incoming ships.
The Storm shot through the atmosphere of Keilen with wings ablaze like a shooting star and with cannons firing the potent energy particles at the enemy gun frigates that hovered near the impenetrable fortress braced against the tall, sand-capped mountains on the outskirts of the vast Dunes of Kedarik. Several anti-spacecraft artillery units formed a defensive line along the razor-sharp slopes of the crimson rock and opened fire at the approaching targets.
Colonel Ross intently watched the red diamond reticule swiftly rotated towards the highlighted target with an amber-orange luminescence and in seconds Y’raiden squeezed the trigger on the flight controls. A powerful orb of light bluish-violet light suddenly soared quickly across the mauve sky and a plume of fiery smoke, shrapnel and rock exploded from the impact. Several volley of energy pulses fired from the disruptor cannons of the Storm as the vessel grazed shields with the hovering gun-frigate. The Kah'Rai pilot veered his ship back towards the two remaining gun-frigates, he focused his essence on the two targets that flanked his ship as he dove into their crossfire.
Undaunted by the pulses of energy that grazed his fighter, Y'raiden searched deep within his heart and the words of the ancient tongue of the Kel-Reh became evidently clear and he uttered with profound conviction. The gun-frigates were instantly caught in a fury of bluish-violet lightning that arched from the Storm's hull as the ship became luminescent with an unimaginable energy and both ships were engulfed in flames as they were sent crashing into the rock below.
Along the Kedarin Mountains Confederate ground forces emerged from nearby bunkers and advanced towards the fortress with a retaliatory strike of cannon fire and surface-to-air rockets towards the approaching Protectorate squadrons when thunderous explosions resounded in the atmosphere as flak guns on the Confederate frigates launched their volatile ordinance. Suddenly the squadrons of Kikris and Katanas fell under attack by unknown forces and somehow were able to penetrate their protective shielding in moments, “My shields are down! Argh!”
Y’raiden heard the garbled cry over the com-link of the pilot when the fighter fell towards the Kedarin Mountains couple hundred-feet below. He shuddered at the loss of his wingman, when the vessel made horrific impact into the ravine of the razor-sharp rock.
“Colonel Ross to the Covenant! We need support down here!”

On the bridge, Colonel Johansen sat rigidly in his chair, as console lights and monitors flickered from the nearby blasts of the nuclear warheads that were launched from the hostile bombers and detonated against the shields of the Covenant. Malachi observed the Nurii squadrons when the ships soared with elegance and grace across the main holographic display, Johansen received a transmission from the Storm and the captain of the ship replied, “I’m sorry, Colonel Ross. I can’t spare any more fighters. We’re kind of busy at the moment.”
“Is your primary particle cannon still operational?”
“What did you have in mind, Colonel?”
“I need you to take out the shield generators of the main base… I’m transmitting the target coordinates.”
“I have the coordinates, Colonel.” replied the young man, as his fingers glided over the console.
“Tactical, prime the forward cannons.”
After a few seconds, the weapons officer spoke in a firm, unwavering tone and stated briefly, “Primary weapon is armed and ready.”
“Fire when ready.”
Another fleet of gun frigates and their bomber escorts approached from the North, an insurmountable ordinance was launched towards the Protectorate fleet. Y'raiden maneuvered the Storm, with sharp reflexes he pulled the trigger, eliminating the salvos of missiles that were launched from the Confederate vessels. Violet and white plasma pulses quickly hurtled towards the enemy cruisers, in moments, the ship exploded and the armor-clad foot-soldiers fled from the fiery shrapnel that rained on the troops that protected the impenetrable fortress. A pulse of energy descended from the crimson heavens and incinerated another artillery unit on the beachhead. Protectorate fighters dove through the crimson atmosphere and bombarded the tanks and gigantic machines that guarded the black fortress. Y'raiden intuitively steered his ship through the plumes of blazing fire and black smoke and fired another volley of plasma towards the inbound enemy frigates.
Debris from the intense blast shocked the Confederate troopers, as they watched the defenses of the base rapidly become a pile of smoldering ruin. The magnetic projectile traveled at the speed-of-light and instantly pierced through the armor of the next battery. Colonel Ross intently watched as the number of defense cannons declined on his sensor monitor. Then a magnificent pulse of violet-white energy thundered down from the crimson sky and the next moment, a shield generator was obliterated, followed by two other blasts in isolated locations a few meters from the Confed fortress.

The Commander of the Confederate instillation watched from the control tower, he knew his command had finally come to an abrupt and bleak conclusion. He trembled at the sight of ships that quickly descended though the crimson veil of cloud and unleashed a volley of weapons fire. Triad dropships deployed squads of psionic warriors riding anti-gravity bikes and fervently growling Nurii clad in archaic armor and clenched in their large paws were goliath swords that brilliantly glistened on the desert battlefield.
The medium built officer, mangled and scarred from Abaddon's wrath and watched in utter dismay and misfortune. Lights and consoles in the control tower flickered as the bombardment persisted until the protective barrier fell, the subordinate officer cried fearfully, “Sir, the defense perimeter is down!”
“Get me out of here, now!” the Commander hysterically ordered as he grabbed the hybrid underling that marched towards him.
“Right away, sir.” the sergeant hissed with a quick jerk of the head and quickly disappeared from the commander’s sight.
With sharp eyes, the defaced and bewitched officer descended from the control tower, into the bunker and fled through the endless corridors until he reached the underground hangar that was hidden deep in the mountainside. He looked at the vacant hangar and saw on the launch deck, his ship: the Hades. The ramp of the Gambit-class vessel extended onto the platform and he strutted up into the UTC vessel. The large bay doors then gradually gaped open where a storm of Protectorate vessels approached from the great wastelands. The Hybrid tracked his superior to the landing deck, his sharp senses detected the engine ignition and raced onto the vessel just moments prior to its launch. The ship lifted into the air and darted out of the hangar with increasing speed along the ridged and mountainous rock that stretched towards the crimson horizon in the distance.
With fearful intent, the crew of the control tower watched as a potent blast of energy rapidly closed in on their position from the sleek fighter descended through the black smoke that rose into the eerie crimson-hued sky. The panes shattered instantly from the thunderous explosion and the crew vaporized and showers of flaming debris fell on the guards within the fortress courtyard. The crewmen of the fallen fortress raced to the dropships that were on the launchpads in the vast courtyard and more squadrons soared overhead with great speed and with a barrage of blue and violet discharges bombarded the courtyard until nothing remained.

Y’raiden piloted his fighter with cunning prowess and came about for another attack run on the Confederate stronghold when suddenly he sensed malicious intent...something was near. The Storm’s wings and fuselage suddenly ripped apart as an energy pulse blasted from nowhere pierced the psionic shields and immediately, internal alarms sounded and he had no choice but to eject. He tapped a button on a small device attached to his black armor on his forearm, microscopic magenta orbs appeared and danced around him. The cockpit suddenly dissolved into thin air and transformed into the crimson landscape of Keilen II and a few hundred feet above the Confederate fortress.
With a mere thought a helmet formed around his face and neck, as he descended upon the compound. Colonel Ross removed the Ceruutai and the Vekyl from their scabbards on his back and spoke in the ancient tongues of the Kah’Rai. Violet-white luminescence formed around himself and his swords. Instantaneously, the swords became one and transformed into a talon variant, unique and unrivaled in its intricate design. The bilateral blades curved sharply with a slight transparency, the handle forged of gold and steel of a lion and seraphim intertwined. The Talon glowed with great intensity, Y’raiden twirled the weapon above his head, as he accelerated towards the crimson rock below.
Confederate soldiers converged and unleashed a fury of weapons fire on Colonel Ross as he descended upon battalions. Y’raiden’s eyes flared violently, as the psionic energy consumed his spirit and translated into his weapon that now became one with him. He struck the blade with all of his strength into the rock, the ground quaked and a lethal energy wave emanated from Y’raiden and translated through the weapon into the desert rock.
The enemy soldiers shielded their eyes as they saw a violet-magenta orb of light, shot across the sky. A plume of dark plume of superheated sand particles ascended into the crimson-magenta sky. Crimson dust, rock and enemy soldiers were thrown into the air, a crater formed where Y’raiden knelt with his Talon still in the ground. Confed soldiers strewn about across the desert landscape and before the Guardian, stood the gigantic enemy fortress.
Undaunted by the approaching enemy forces, Y’raiden removed the blade from the smoldering crater and marched forward. A Confederate emblem marked the gates of the compound, large Balrog machines: all-terrain vehicles that are controlled by an artificial intelligence with a humanoid resemblance. These machines guarded the gates and the landing fields of the UTC fortress. Their weapons were powerful, but not so powerful to Y’raiden, who looked at them as large toys of the Confederacy ready to be broken and smashed.
“I see Confed continues to invest in those futile contraptions.” The Kah’Rai warrior remarked to himself as his slid along the wall of the fortress. He scaled several feet into the air, onto the a ledge of the fortress wall and reposted into a reverse flip onto the large cannon-arm of the machine. Y’raiden jumped on to the drone’s shoulder and pierced through the thick armor of the Balrog with his metaphysical weapon. The drone collapsed as the adjacent drone fired a salvo of missiles and Y’raiden quickly evaded the blast, as smoldering debris nearly lacerated his armor. He soared into the air, time appeared to slow down incrementally and focused his psionic energy. The colonel spoke the ancient tongue of his ancestors, the machine became full of violet lacerations across its armor plating and exploded. Y’raiden spat after he landed on his feet, “I hate those things!”
A patrol of enemy foot soldiers came around the bend, Y’raiden peeked around the corner and patiently waited for the right moment and thought: stealth. After quickly speaking the magic of his ancestors, Colonel Ross immediately a tempest of translucent violet cloud encompassed him and conformed to the appearance of the wall. The guards cautiously approached a few minutes later after having heard a residual sound through the vacant corridors. In moments, as if thrown by the air into the tall concrete-granite wall that encompassed the fortress and the Confederate soldiers were quickly incapacitated by the uncanny warrior. Y'raiden reappeared and sprinted into the military complex and down the lengthy maze of corridors that were set before him.
A pulse of energy grazed his shoulder when he felt the piercing compression of hot air and he glanced over his shoulder and saw several more guards charging towards him with weapons ablaze. Colonel Ross dodged the weapons fire with lightning-fast reflexes, the energy blasts were deflected as he twirled the his magical Talon as the patrols surrounded him as the lead soldier threatened, “Surrender or die!”
Y’raiden sprang into the air with his ancient weapon braced close to his body and quickly landed in the middle of the armed patrol and he swung his Talon with great skill as one of the troops fired his weapon. The Triad Colonel then sliced off the mussel of the long rifle with the blade of the Talon, re-posted and parried. The Talon was caught with the bayonet of the enemy's rife with the rear U-shaped blade and simultaneously stepped into the opponent as the enemy pulled the trigger. The Kah'Rai used the sharp and contoured blade and sliced the ankle as he swept the soldier off his feet and twirled the Talon above his head before he intuited the next several flurry of punches and swings from the remaining soldiers that attempted to deter the fearless Triad officer. Y'raiden sensed their intentions and anticipated the next several moves as he blocked each forceful blow, until the enemy was subdued with his final strike.
Perched on the edge of a cliff on the Kedarin Mountains, the dark fortress lingered in the smoldering heap of ruin from the fallen cruisers that once protected the ilk of the Confederacy as Protectorate dropships landed on the flat man-made landing pads of granite a few hundred feet from the structure. Both Nurii and human set foot on the rocky terrain of the plateau, the enemy soldiers that survived the initial assault exposed themselves with their hands raised and their weapons tossed aside. A Nurii warrior with a dark brown mane braided into dreadlocks, growled angrily, “Take the prisoners into custody and gather their weapons!”
“Yes, sir. Understood.”

Y'raiden, meanwhile, roamed the endless corridors that stretched across the underground complex when he recalled the intelligence from the briefing and pulled up the schematics of the compound on his HUD inside his helmet. There was a maintenance tunnel on the edge of the cliff, about a hundred feet below him and he climbed down the brink. When he was at a safe distance, he jumped on the octagonal-shaped portal and used the abilities given to him to open the hatch. The hatch opened and he entered the tunnel, slowly making his way through the bowels of the compound. He crawled underneath low grates as he heard the footsteps of soldiers march across the steel walkways. The Kah’Rai warrior and his team of stalwart soldiers finally arrived on the Sub-Level Ten, he surreptitiously stepped through the labyrinth of the dark, dank superstructure, he then ducked into a corner as several troops clad in green and black armor quick-marched passed Colonel Ross.
Sirens resounded with a piercing noise, as the ground shook from the explosions on the surface. The enemy officers did not express their fear as they armed themselves and ran up to the surface with stern faces and cold hearts. Patiently, Colonel Ross waited as the teams of soldiers hastily ran by and once the corridor was clear he moved closer to his next way-point as it had been marked on the map. Y'raiden was still several hundred feet from his desired location; which happened to be the most heavily guarded section of the base. He knew there were challenges ahead, there was a great deal of activity all around him and if the mission was compromised, he would inevitably suffer the fate of his fellow comrades.

Chapter IV

The battalions of Protectorate armies braced themselves against the knoll of sand and rock while cold, harsh winds blew from the southwest as a weather front moved in. The dropships stayed their course towards the designated drop-zone that appeared on the pilot's HUD, the payload doors retracted from the floor of the transport and the soldiers descended onto the corpse-strewn, crater-filled battlefield. Bursts of green orbs of energy shot across the sky when crimson lightning flashed across the ever-darkening sky and Triad warriors advanced towards the artillery placements. A Triad gunship broke through the opaque clouds, superheated energy blasts rained down the ship and with a terrifying screams the Confederate soldiers were thrown by the intense discharges of fire, shrapnel and sand. Fighters and gunships descended upon the battlefield, as the super-fighters ignited their weapons across the threshold of the smoldering terrain that was replete with craters and the remnants of Confederate plasma weapon batteries.
Triad warriors charged with their mystical weapons, their hearts were filled with excitement and fear, as they hued the forces of evil and liberated the slaves of the UTC. The noble Nurii came down in their chariots and with weapons unlike the humans, divided the enemy. In the heat of battle, swords clanged against the armor, soldiers from both sides wounded by ballistic fire from the trenches. Horrifying cries echoed over the dunes and the canyon walls, as if the earth itself had suffered the onslaught.
Meanwhile, Colonel Ross stealthily moved up the passageway, he heard the clattering march of a team of Confederate officers around the bend--it was in his best interest to be undetected at this point, so he quickly scanned the region of the surrounding environment for a hatch or a door of some sort, he found a small terminal hidden behind a hinged metal cover. He tapped a few luminescent buttons of the back-lit display terminal and the hatch adjacent to it opened with a hiss. He crawled inside, as the group of officers marched by, towards the exit and proceeded undetected.
Y’raiden undoubtedly found his way to a large compartment, there appeared to be a large gap, approximately a hundred feet and below was an elevator pod, the Colonel looked up and saw what looked like rungs of a ladder to a supporting girder and below, was where he needed to be. After careful scrutiny, he observed on the other side of the gap was another, larger hatch and a ladder descending two or three levels below his current position.
The Protectorate fleet continued the onslaught of the rigorous outer-atmospheric battle in orbit above the dead rock. Several Confederate weapon-cruisers converged on the Triad starship Covenant, red beams impacted the hull, subsequent explosions strafed across the fuselage of the ship. Confederate fighters soared over the fuselage and fired several salvos of torpedoes and energy pulses, plumes of fire and smoke riddled the battle-worn cruiser.
On the bridge of the damaged starship, Colonel Johansen jostled violently in the captain’s chair, damage control teams rushed to the flames that ignited on the bridge. The pilot wounded, unconscious and singed from an exploding console, the executive officer currently assisted in the engineering section and other officers at their posts. Another salvo impacted the mid-section of the Covenant upon its descent into the atmosphere, Johansen had little choice but to take the helm, the ship entered the atmosphere and struggled to keep the ship from disintegrating.
As the damaged Triad battleship darted across the mauve-colored sky, the Liberty swooped in and curtailed any attempts of escape. The UTC ships were disabled and brought on board the Liberty and were now prisoners of war; there, they would await trial and eventual execution. The Protectorate fleet created a blockade around the planet, as hundreds of fighters and gunships approached on a descent vector.
Colonel Ross journeyed his way deep into the subterranean bunker below the ornate and disturbing fortress top-side, he finally arrived at the end of a ventilation shaft above the cargo compartment, deep in the bowels of the compound. He climbed down and stepped off the plastic polymer containers of supplies stockpiled by the Confederacy. Y’raiden looked around the numerous piles of crates, one crates stacked on top of another, like great pillars and realized that this was weapons storage. Quite suddenly, he had an epiphany--after all, a diversion was necessary in order for him to access the main computer core on this level.
So he went to work right away, rigging several meta-explosives on the sides of the containers and set the time dilation devices for ten minutes, that would give him time to locate the computer and gain access to the secure mainframe of the base. Y’raiden stealthily moved out of the cargo bay to the connecting corridor, he wondered the maze that led him directly to the a single terminal outside the vault of the mainframe. He waved his gloved hand over the keyboard terminal and within seconds he bypassed the security firewall. The thick metallic barrier opened and the warrior stepped over the threshold into the alcove.
Colonel Ross surveyed the large cylindrical device in the center, a biometric terminal protruded upwards from the floor and attached to the console was an elliptically shaped sensor node. He quickly reached for his psionic weapon and with a mere thought a violet pulse of energy surged from the blade and into the sensor, rendering the device inactive. He then placed his hand above the green back-lit terminal keyboard and an orb of luminescent energy manifested in the palm of his hand and was able to override the existing security protocols that appeared to be encrypted in an ancient form of Kah'Rai—this was an astonishing discovery. As Y'raiden continued to access the massive and infinite mainframe, he stumbled upon super-classified projects and briefings Lord Abaddon had been sanctioning over the past several years. He delved deeper and found that the higher-level security files were encrypted with markings that were truly unknown to him...until he came upon a video file under the codename: TIAMAT.
The image flashed for a moment as the video file came to life, Y'raiden's blue eyes widened at the atrocities that were displayed before him, the vividly painful images were engraved into his mind. He turned away for a moment, stifling his tears of hatred and anger and fell to his knees with his hands covering his face. After a few minutes, he stood to his feet and composed himself and then drew attention to a small crystal storage device he slipped out of his pocket on his uniform and inserted into the interface.
He briefly felt a presence in the room, caution filled his senses and conveyed to him that danger was near. With haste reaction the colonel avoided a discharge of energy from a Confederate weapon hidden in the shadows of the murky chamber. The Triad soldier dodged the subsequent attack that proceeded from the entrance of the computer core room and for a mere second, a shadow glided across his vision.
The psionic warrior slowly reached for his magic weapon; which was now lying on the floor and with his telekinetic abilities, he summoned the weapon into his hands. Another blast of energy suddenly surged a few inches passed his head and with a quick shoulder roll and avoided the next volley. Yet, with his sharp visual acuity he could not see the perpetrator, the eerie green glow from the terminal and the sconces that hung on the cylindrical columns around the room. Colonel Ross then detected the slight footsteps of the assassin approaching from somewhere close by, Y'raiden closed his eyes and after a sharp blow to his jaw, he whipped around and felt the powerful fist of the phantom.
Colonel Ross was knocked back into the terminal, then felt a sharp blow into his temple forcing him to one knee. The collar on his armor was wrenched back, then he felt a hard blow into his chest, then a couple volleys into his ribs and still he could not see his opponent. He felt his body lift a few feet into the air and shot across the room into the bulkhead and he cried out in pain as he felt his spine break under the brute force. The injured warrior wiped his bloody mouth, the magical weapon still remained in his hand as the bout continued. Unexpectedly, a strong blow into the colonel’s chest forced him against the bulkhead and he was then thrown over the computer core…Disoriented, he attempted to rise to his feet, but immediately felt intense pressure on his back and knew his Talon somewhere in the room.
Y’raiden lay prostrate on the floor, disoriented for the time being. He felt the brunt force from a foot and that rolled him on his back and the phantom appeared from amidst the darkness. The dark, giant, muscular figure was girded in gray armor, the being removed the helmet and revealed the villainous that was before him and uttered in a robust voice, “Remember me?”
Colonel Ross gazed up at the familiar soldier, “Should I?” he remarked with a hint of sarcasm.
“Then perhaps I should jog your memory.” Threatened the villainous soldier when he stepped towards the Kah'Rai. The Triad officer employed his abilities at that very instant and with a mere thought the phantom assassin was hurtled into the bulkhead. The wounded colonel climbed to his feet and marched over to his enemy, who trembled with fear at the sight of the Talon that was clutched tightly in Y'raiden's hand. The weapon glowed with such intensity as he approached the villainous assassin and he stated firmly, “It was on Maeve, wasn't it?”
“You remember...”
“You clearly underestimated me.”
And with a declaration filled with anger and hatred, he spat his last breath, “You…seal your fate…by killing me! Abaddon…will know!”
Y’raiden’s gazed upon the dying soldier, whose cold eyes glazed over and drifted away with an expression of such terror as he breathed more heavily and sporadic, until he exhaled his last breath. Colonel Ross grabbed the crystal from the terminal interface and stowed the object in his uniform, he then quickly disappeared down the corridors of the compound with his Talon clutched in his hand.

Many Protectorate vessels remained in orbit, taking into custody, the Confederate ships that attempted to escape. Fighter patrols soared across heavens, through the dense debris field until they came to the bulk of the fleet as IMC medical frigates and prison transports were launched from the massive bays of the Liberty, while Triad, Continuum, and Nurii fighters ran patrols of the outer system. Meanwhile, Colonel Johansen took the helm and managed to land the crippled starship in a safe area not far from the ruins of the UTC stronghold. Hints of black smoke rose from the damaged sections of the ship, as Johansen, the commander of the Covenant stepped off the large ramp that descended onto the hot sand of the Dunes of Kedarik. The ship’s commander covered his eyes as the bright triple suns ascended into the crimson sky.
Triad bombers swept across the ruins of the UTC strongholds, nothing remained but molten debris and mangled remains from the fallout. The Kah’Rai warrior observed as transports full of supplies descended upon the hot surface of the planet, a crimson haze covered the horizon as the suns descended and even now some of the moons were visible. Yet, Colonel Ross was concerned, something did not seem right about the planet and he recalled the tremendous power from the satellite weapons in orbit and the devastation that ensued such an event. A force that strong would have left some residual radiation and it would have been lethal to anyone exposed.
As Y'raiden ascended to the surface, a splinter of doubt and anxiety gnawed at his spirit… Darkness lingered on the horizon. When he finally reached the surface, the doors slid open and hundreds of Protectorate soldiers were deployed by troop transports onto the debris strewn landing pads. Mighty thunder rolled above fallen compound as several squadrons soared overhead, explosions and weapons fire resounded over the beachhead.
Colonel Ross uttered the Kah’Rai magic of his ancestors and his Talon reverted to its original state: The Ceruutai and the Vekyl. Once beyond the walls of the fortress, he saw the damaged Triad battleship and the Protectorate Base of Operations near the smoldering ruins of a Confederate dropship; where several officers from the various nations consorted and discussed further strategies on the Front-lines. Colonel Johansen turned towards the approaching warrior and saluted, “Colonel Ross, how nice of you to join us. Fine work, back there.”
“Colonel Ross, I am Special Agent Matthias. I was--”
“Appointed liaison on behalf of the Continuum.” interrupted Y’raiden, who completed the thought of the GC agent.
“Colonel Ross has a habit of doing that.” Johansen reluctantly remarked.
Y’raiden sensed an urgency, as a Protectorate soldier approached him, “Colonel Ross, we came across the ruins of a ship in the middle of desert, a few minutes ago… It’s Confederate, sir.”
The Kah’Rai warrior’s expression transformed into anticipation, his instincts were strong and he looked at Johansen, “Colonel, I must take my leave.”
“By all means.”
Ross jumped into the Triad attack shuttle and speedily journeyed across the scalding sands of Kedarik. The trek seemed endless across the vast wastelands, he looked upon the rustic surface with great anticipation… And great sadness, for Commander Mallory--Tom was a dear friend of his, whom he served with during his tour almost twenty years ago. Y’raiden recalled their missions together, the times spent in fellowship and the comrades they lost in battle. Now, just a memory, a shadow of the past and tears swelled in his eyes and ran down his cheeks, when he was startled suddenly by one of the approaching officers, “Colonel, we’re approaching the coordinates.”

Chapter V

The shuttle circled around the ruins on the edge of a large canyon, a tail-fin protruded from the drifting dune, where the wreckage lay and shards of debris strewn about derelict craft. The vessel landed gently and the ramp extended downward from the fuselage of the shuttle and Y’raiden stood mystified by the ship. He stepped forward, slowly, uncertain and terrified as to what he would find. The entire front end of the ship was buried in sand, the fins welded onto the fuselage were torn off and twisted in a strange manner. The colonel stepped closer to the derelict vessel and saw the aft compartment was sheered off, or perhaps it appeared that way and crawled down the hatch into the exposed compartment and a strange sensation came over him.
Y’raiden caught glimpse of what had happened, brief moments in time and saw the aftermath of the crash and the storm that ensued. From that moment, the storm seemed to consume his thoughts and spirit… A familiar power and presence was in that storm. Could it have been Kah’Rai magic? The warrior thought to himself, when he returned from his quickening. For what seemed like hours, he emerged from the back-end of the craft with a perplexed expression as he examined the ruins. Beneath the debris and sand, he pulled out a pair of UTC dog-tags and studied with great scrutiny.
“Tom?” he said, as he climbed on the fuselage and scraped off the crusted sand with his hands. After a minute or so of chiseling the dried sand off the hull, the hint of bold white font was revealed. He pried the dirt off more vigorously then before and when he was finished, he took a few steps back, “The Sadonia? How did you get all the way out here?” the Kah’Rai warrior asked himself.
Quickly, the helmet and faceplate retracted behind his head and into the collar of his armor. Ross examined the vessel and its designation more closely, peering at the sand covered identification tags he clasped in his hand. Y’raiden deduced after careful contemplation and comprehended the crash of the downed vehicle. Apparently, the dropship was flung over two-thousand miles across the Dunes of Kedarik. He looked at the ship one more time as the piercing sound of fighter craft glided sharply through the atmosphere.
Bright spotlights shone on the Protectorate and IMC banners that fluttered in the breeze of the twilight canvass when Colonel Ross arrived from his mission. Triad soldiers escorted prisoners onto the transports in the landing field as gargantuan vessels hovered in the sky as prison transports descended from the jewel-filled heavens. Assembled to the north, a refugee camp stood near the ruins of the Confederate Fortress, while the other enlisted men and woman gave provisions freely to the Keilen citizens and the former political prisoners of the UTC.
President Garrett of the IMC arrived in the Independence I along with several fighter escorts. He and his advisors discussed the latest agenda on the docket in the conference room. Immediately, a feminine voice suddenly came over the ship’s intercom, “Mr. President. Colonel Johansen awaits your arrival.”
“Thank you, Captain.” President Garrett humbly answered, as he removed himself from the table and strolled to the porthole and gazed upon the scalding terrain of the Keilen plateaus. The voices of his advisers diminished, as his eyes caught the sight of a fleet of ships circling like ravens above the devastated remains of the enemy fortress. The President felt an overwhelming joy and relief that the Keilen System was reclaimed under the banner of the IMC. The daunting hardships of this war, the President faced with the utmost courage and resolve, despite the billions of lives lost was not in vain...
As the Independence I made its final approach, Colonel Ross saw the sleek, cylindrical vessel with the long tail fin and twin engines thunderously descended. Proud of his find, he detected an urgent request from Colonel Johansen and so, quickly responded. When he stepped into the temporary shelter, his colleague, focused on the other officers and soldiers in his presence. All eyes turned towards Y’raiden, suddenly, the air grew still, his heart raced anxiously.
“Colonel Ross, I’m glad you returned so promptly. What, pray-tell have you unearthed in this forsaken wasteland?”
Y’raiden tossed the nickel-plated diamond-shaped dog tags on the table with a live holographic facsimile of the desert terrain. Colonel Johansen picked up and examined the tags closely.
“Confederate dog tags,” He retorted nonchalantly and tossed them back on the table, carelessly.
Ross somewhat surprised at the attitude of his cohort, insisted, “Take another look at them, Malachi.”
Johansen reluctantly took the tags and glared at Ross, the examined the tags with intent scrutiny. He rubbed his thumb over the worn engraving, the name and date stood out beneath the sand-covered tags, “Mallory, Lt. Commander Joseph Thomas, CNF, UTDr Leviathan. What does it mean, Colonel Ross?”
Hardly amused to see Johansen’s skepticism, Y’raiden confronted with an aggressive tenacity, “Tom Mallory was a friend of mine. He and five other Confederate officers were declared officially KIA.”
“And you believe this friend of yours could still be alive?”
“Yes!” With bold eyes, Ross confidently confirmed as he approached Johansen.
Johansen gently tossed the tags to the Kah’Rai warrior and incredulously responded, “Where did you find these tags?”
“On board the wreckage of the Sadonia.”
“Were there any remains?”
“No.” Hesitantly, Colonel Ross retorted.
“Then how do you know he’s still alive? Where’s your proof?”
“You held it in your hands a moment ago.” Y’raiden ardently confirmed.
“Dog tags hardly qualify as evidence on any ground and neither does the wreckage. For all you know, they could have been picked off by scavengers or devoured by some indigenous life form,” Johansen readily refuted.
“Colonel, you know me--” Colonel Ross adamantly replied, “I know Tom and others are alive.”
“And you are basing this on what? Some nonsensical notion, some gut feeling?” Johansen skeptically admonished.
“I cannot and will not answer that.”
“--Because you know it’s the truth. You have been on this quest of yours for five years and thus far have come up with little or no evidence to suggest otherwise.”
“Colonel, my people colonized this world long before any Terran settled here.” Y'raiden spat with fierce indignation. “I know I will find something--some clue to my people’s whereabouts.”
“Y’raiden, take a look out there.” Johansen calmly brought Colonel Ross to the threshold of the tent and said, “It’s a dead planet out there--nothing but wasteland. It is impossible that your people survived on this world.”
“Keilen was--”
“Enough!!” First Korahl N’jhyr growled as he entered the tent quarters, “Colonel Johansen, I believe you can make use of your time elsewhere. Perhaps, overseeing the repairs to your ship.”
“We’re not finished here.” Johansen declared as he stormed out of the tent.
N’jhyr’s large orange eyes glowed like the stars themselves as he rebuked Johansen. Once the prideful colonel left their presence, the lion-like beast garbed in armor that glistened from the bright lanterns that hovered about like fireflies. The Nurii warrior turned towards Y’raiden, “Colonel Johansen has much to learn about the Kah’Rai--as do you.”
The stalwart pilot despised Johansen for his faithlessness, he looked away, out towards the twilight horizon and looked up at the tall beast and stated, “I don’t understand him. I can sense his emotions, his thoughts and his spirit… They are so turbulent full of a ranging anger… He reminds me much of myself. After I had lost both my families.”
“He is in much pain. He too, lost his family.”
“Are you justifying his actions?”
N’jhyr chuckled and answered gently, “Hardly, but if I’m not mistaken you were once exactly like him. It’s like looking at a reflection of yourself.”
“I was never that much of a skeptic when it came to pursuing the truth.”
“No, but you were deceived by many, ages ago. Long before the Colonies were even born.”
“I know… I remember pieces of my past going back centuries. That is why I must find my people.”
“And you will… In time.”
“Now, that sounds all too familiar.”
Y’raiden stepped outside, N’jhyr in close pursuit and together they looked upon the landscape as the moons ascended into the heavens. The large cruisers and fighter escorts soared like eagles in the night sky and Colonel Ross prognosticated an ominous darkness on the horizon and said, “It is hard to believe that this was once my home, the ruins of our cities now buried under these ancient sands...”
N'jhyr gazed upon his friend and comrade with his yellow eyes and in a soft, calming tone, he asked, “You remember events from another time.”
“I have meditated on my past, my life was stolen...so many years ago. Lately, I've relived events before this world was overtaken by the Sand and I wonder what I could have done differently. I could have saved my people...my family.”
N'jhyr suggested as he placed his large paw on Y'raiden's shoulder, “You should rest. I will see you at dusk.”
“Perhaps, you're right.”
Later that night, Y’raiden fell asleep in the shelter that was assembled for him earlier that day. Images flashed in his mind, the dune landscape riddled with mystery and infinite intrigue. After brief flash of brilliant white light until the Kah'Rai warrior found himself donned in the ancient attire of his kin, the Vekyl katana girded on his belt and before him was a spectacular city. He strolled up to the tall and intricate palace gates with guards posted on either side, attired in the dark violet armor-plated suits and their curved lances clutched in their hands.
Y'raiden took a moment and studied with a keen eye at the twelve large obelisks that pierced the crimson-amber sky and rose from the center of the ornate city of stone and metal. Four tall monumental spires with wings outstretched on each pinnacle, just oustide the contiguous obelisks and in the center was the palace-citadel where Large sphinx-like ships cruised through the billowing cumulonimbus clouds above him. Immdiately, a cool breeze brushed against his bearded face and he looked beyond the walls of the illustrious city and saw the majestic mountains of granite and rives that coursed through the green terrain of the lush valley below..
In his hand, a book, on the worn leather cover was a golden emblem with several alien characters below--It was the Arcturus Tome, a book that described the origins of the Kah’Rai people and the secrets of the Kel-Reh magic; the legacy and a gift to their stranded ancestors. Y’raiden studied three martial arts systems of the Kah’Rai: Khu-ro’yu, Iratdhe and Aeshundhe for decades. Where for hours he spent building his strength, coordination and speed and was a sanctuary from the daily rigors, but it was a way of life, this was his life. Y'raiden roamed the vast stone-paved streets of Vkairyn; capital city of the Kedarin Colonial Republic of the Kah'Rai Royal Imperium, until he arrived at the carved steps of the large palace with a dome cathedral with twelve spires that encompassed the structure.
Y'raiden gazed upon the marvel of the ornate palace with several statues that were interpreted as the numerous constellations in the night sky. One statue in particular caught the kinsman's eye of the Great Warrior and Philosopher: E’ceradaen, the Forefather of the Kah'Rai civilization. Once he entered the antediluvian building and strolled through the large foyer lined with red and blue carpet, Y’raiden came to the large entrance of the Great Hall. Several Kah’Rai nobleman paid respect with a bow as he reverently approached the golden throne, where a venerable man stood. Upon this man’s head was a thin silver crown with violet and amber jewels and bore Kah’Rai markings of the wearer's lineage, “Lord Y’raiden, you grace us with your presence. What, so urgently calls you to this place?”
“Your Excellence.” Y’raiden bowed to one knee and replied in the Kah’Rai dialect, “I’ve come bearing terrible news. One of our patrols came to a village deep in the Al’korim Forest. I found this among the ruins...”
“The Tome of our Kin...” the King Ir'abaen stated in distress. “What happened to the people of the village? Were they slain?”
“No, your Magesty .” Y’raiden answered, “I believe they were taken.”
“By whom?” a voice echoed throughout the Great Hall of the Palace-citadel and a woman appeared from behind one of the columns as the afternoon sunlight trickled in from the small windows of the structure.
“We suspect…the Off-Worlders.” Y'raiden quickly answered.
“Perhaps…” the arch-mage by the name of Shoa’an-Rak indicated as she encircled Y’raiden with relentless scrutiny, “How many moons since our Shaurak'an encountered the Off-Worlder ships?”
“Several—though it has been said that near the Great Water of Ushan'te, there is a great cavern that houses many of their starships and these people come from the Ancestral World of Terra'an-Ka.”
“Heresy!!” the arch-mage violently accused with her finger pointed at the Kah'Rai warrior. “You speak of lies! You know the ancient texts...don't you?”
“I do.”
Shoa'an-Rak sneered at Y'raiden with intense indignation, she dared not approve of such a warrior. He was an outcast after all, his lineage broken by his father's actions and now, the man before her was nothing but a misfit and a vagabond. The woman-mage encircled the warrior and approached the king who sat on his silver throne with arms of wings and lions. With a sly tongue, the black-haired woman incredulously questioned the man that stood before her and the king, “How could a mere paladin possess such knowledge?”
Y'raiden glared at the arch-mage of the Realm and declared fervently, “I assure you, I possess the knowledge greater than any paladin that roams these lands.” King Ir'abaen eyes widened when the warrior retorted boldly and he lifted up his sleeve on his forearm—it was the royal crest of Ajha'an-Quin, the lineage of the High King of K'tara and the warrior continued, “I bear the markings of our Forefathers. I am Y'raiden-Quin, heir to the Throne of K'tara and you must—.”
Y’raiden immediately awoke, the intense luminosity burned in his eyes, as the sensations of the terrible nightmare lingered still. The warrior’s brow and attire drenched sweat, he gazed at his tightly clutched hand bearing an ancient Kah’Rai dagger and heartfelt cry, he shouted in a mournful anger, as tears ran down his cheeks. Startled by a voice at the entrance, he turned and with his abilities threw the knife with his mind. The blade suddenly halted in mid-air, when Colonel Ross realized that it was a Protectorate soldier stood composed as the blade nearly reached his jugular and with a calm voice indicated, “Colonel, sir. You have been summoned to the Operations Tent.”
“Understood. I’ll be there in a minute, corporal.”
Colonel Ross stepped into the Operations Tent, N’jhyr and several other officers stood before him, “We came across something that might interest you.” Johansen said, “A Nurii fighter squadron detected some ruins near mountains to the north-west.”
“What is that, Colonel?” An inquisitive Protectorate officer questioned.
“My home…” Colonel Ross answered, reminded of the siege.
“You and Colonel Johansen are to investigate the ruins,” ordered General Diven; commander of the Cornerstone, over the sub-space holographic com-link, “Colonel Ross, you will be in command. Use caution! There may still be resistance hiding nearby.”
Johansen objected, “With all due respect, sir. I am certain—.”
“Both you and Colonel Ross will work together on this. Otherwise, Colonel, I can have you court-martialed for insubordination.” Diven countermanded Johansen’s suggestion.
“Yes, General Diven.”
“N’jhyr, you will accompany them.”
“As you command.” N’jhyr bowed his head, his golden mane danced in the warm breeze of the morning and growled slightly at Johansen as a warning.
“You are to depart in one hour. Prepare your men. The fleet will remain in orbit. Diven, out!”
Furiously fuming, Johansen stormed past N’jhyr and halted abruptly beside Y’raiden and spat, “I will see you in one hour! You had better be ready. Otherwise, you’re on your own.”

Chapter VI

A storm gathered force and traversed across the Dunes of Kedarik and stretched to the mountains, as two Triad Archer-class heavily-armored shuttles suddenly emerged over the blood-red mountains. Moments after the shuttles appeared from the dark circulating clouds, the remnant Confederate soldiers immediately opened fire upon the approaching Protectorate forces. Unabated, Colonel Ross evaded the enemy weapons fire and with sharp eyes, he saw the UTC soldiers concealed in an armored bunker protruding at the base of the mountain. Y’raiden pulled the trigger on the flight stick and violet and white superheated energy impacted the bunker, flaming debris and enemy cohorts were thrown from the burning rubble.
The suns veiled from the black smoke of battle across the landscape, the stench of smoldering debris, rotting flesh and the Confederacy lingered in the air. An incessant storm of weapons fire echoed over the dunes, as plumes of dirt and debris rose into the air. The Protectorate battalion braced against the ancient fortress ruins, as thunderous explosions rocked the Keilen soil. As a Protectorate squad rushed across the crimson terrain, they were caught by the blast of an errant plasma pulse and were launched into the air. The Captain of the group climbed to his feet, disoriented for a moment and picked up his assault rifle. He looked over his shoulder and saw his team embedded in the sand and rock, swiftly, the captain dodged another blast.
“Cap! Where’s our support?!” the Sergeant cried out, as the non-com pressed into the rock a few feet next to him.
“They’re coming!”
“How?!” he questioned as a mortar round exploded several feet beside him, sending clouds of debris into the air, “By wagon train?! We’re getting slaughtered out here!”
“Hold on a minute. You hear something?” the Captain asked, as he raised his fist in the air.
The Captain looked up in sky and saw nothing, where the Confed soldiers had been holding the bunker. He pulled out his binoculars and peered through, “What is it?” the sergeant asked, as a young corporal ran and braced next to them with his sniper rifle braced close to his chest.
“Brenner, where have you been?”
“Never mind that, Cap. Sir, our reinforcements are underway.”
“Brenner, how would you like some target practice?”
“What do you need, Cap?”
“You think you can take out those soldiers holding the bunker over there?”
“You bet I can,” the Corporal stated haughtily, as he cocked the sniper rifle with the long barrel with the small long-range visual scope attached to the stock of the weapon.
“We’ll provide cover for you. On my mark—.” the Captain ordered to his men, gesturing them where to go with his hand.
The attack-shuttles flew overhead, as the battalion moved closer to the UTC bunker and within a minutes the soldiers guarding the bunker entrance were eliminated, but the battle was not over. A Triad dropship deployed a dozen warriors, N’jhyr, Ross and Johansen were among them and with their swords ready as they cut down the enemy soldiers.
“They’re fleeing into the bunker. Follow me. N’jhyr, Captain Marcus, you’re with me. The rest of you with Johansen.”
“Yes, Colonel.”
“Then let’s move out!” Ross commanded as he led his men into the bunker.
The bunker was full of narrow, concrete passageways, florescent lights were equidistant apart down the lengthy causeway; while the rest held the bunker from any Confed stragglers, as the dropships took up positions above the bunker.
During this time, the two teams journeyed deeper into the bunker, through a maze of hallways, until they were once again met with hostility, the Kah’Rai asked one of the soldiers for their weapon, awaiting the precise moment and he pulled the trigger. Several blasts from the artillery shot past, Ross signaled to Johansen to move along the other side of the wall and fired a volley, “Surrender! You have lost!” Johansen cried out.
Colonel Ross peeked around the corner and immediately felt of the heat of another attack, as the blast exploded a piece off the wall, “I guess not…” he commented as he braced against the beachhead.
“What are your intentions, Colonel?” asked Johansen.
Colonel Ross closed his eyes and concentrated his energy from within, he felt the confines of the hallways around him and the three men that guarded the black gates of the UTC. He sensed the enemy soldiers, their dark hearts, the rage that fueled their desire for superiority and their strength and brief images washed over his mind. Then without further delay, his very essence reached out with his mind and the door behind the enemy soldiers began to buckle and contort. The evildoers looked over their shoulder, as the concrete walls cracked, dust fell from the ceiling and the lights flickered with each passing moment.
The enemy grew anxious and their attentions were drawn from the opposing forces at the other end of the corridor. He then jerked a nod, once he opened his eyes and the military men rushed in ablaze. One of the soldiers dropped his rifle, hands raised to the air and cried out, “I surrender! I surrender!”
Johansen looked at the dead prisoner with vile repugnance, his brow furled with anger as he raised the Triad Talon in his hands and recoiled the weapon and the blades became luminescent and with a swift swing killed the Confederate soldier with a merciless fury. Malachi saw the body collapse to the floor and Y'raiden rushed in and took the weapon from him, “He surrendered! Does that not mean anything to you?!”
“He got was he deserved. The Vermin!” Johansen cursed with passionate indignation.
“Our orders are to show quarter to any who surrender. According to the Edicts of Battle.”
“They deserve worse!” Colonel Johansen scorned, as he grabbed his Talon from Y’raiden and stormed away.
The Captain approached Ross with concern on his face, “Colonel, what was that?”
“I don’t know, but I aim to find out.” Y’raiden retorted with determination in his voice, “Captain Marcus, secure this area. Johansen, stand aside.”
“Colonel?” Malachi interrogated, “Is it really wise that we proceed further? Who knows what me may encounter beyond that threshold?”
“A word, Johansen? In private,” Y'raiden ordered, then with his mind he spoke, “There was no need for you murdering that soldier.”
“You know what they’ve done. They’ve slaughtered hundreds of millions since the beginning of the War and I’m sick to death of it. I’ve lost loved ones too! I lost my entire family when, my friends, my life and I’m going to make them pay. Now you stay out of this affair.”
“How dare you! You have no right to play God. I wonder if Edonai would be as merciful towards you, as you are to your own kind.”
“They are the Enemy! Period!”
“Then you’ve forfeited your soul--just to satisfy your vengeance.”
Johansen stormy eyes affixed with a passionate flare on Y’raiden with such distain, Colonel Ross peered into his soul and saw that bitterness clouded Johansen’s heart and was speechless, harshly, Malachi spoke aloud, “No! Not vengeance! Justice!”
Angrily, Malachi disappeared after crossing the threshold, deep into the maze of mysterious corridors. The teams led by Colonel Ross trekked across the mile-long corridor with steel grates going down the center of the hallway. There appeared to have been some power source, the gray lights flickered intermittently as they traversed the causeway, Captain Marcus looked over his shoulder and something caught his eye for a moment. When he turned further, it was gone. With an unchallenged sense of courage, the Kah’Rai looked back at the captain for a moment, after having stopped briefly, “What is it, Captain?”
“I don’t know. I could have sworn I saw something.”
Johansen surveyed the vicinity, “It was probably nothing,” he suggested.
Y’raiden was not so easily convinced, he felt a constant pricking of his heart and it grew stronger with each step they took deeper into the ancient bunker and he commanded to all those present, “I’m not so sure. Stay vigil. Now, we’re moving forward.”
At the end of the corridor was a large hall, white columns of cement were placed a few feet from the walls. Lights flickered and hummed randomly, as the teams cautiously proceeded. The emblem of the SGMC decorated every wall, there were various desks and computer terminals that littered this ghostly room, the air was stale and dry.
“What happened?” asked the sniper, “It looks like they just left.”
“They must have abandoned the base,” Johansen commented.
“The question is why?” appropriately questioned the Kah'Rai soldier, as he walked to the end of the room.
“What are you saying, Colonel?” asked Marcus.
“I think we all can guess what happened here. Right now, we have a mission. We can speculate later.”
“Yes, sir.” complied both teams.
“Johansen, I want you to take your team down that corridor. We can cover more ground.”
The teams split up and went their separate ways, Johansen took point and with the men of his group they roamed through the dank compound. Colonel Ross took Captain Marcus and the corporal and roamed the abandoned base, “I want an open channel, report when you’ve found something, Colonel,” ordered Ross over the com-link, as he touched the earpiece of the headset.
“Copy that, sir.”
The Kah’Rai warrior and the others followed the next corridor to a cluster of labs and storage bays. He looked at the wall and realized that there was some alpha-numeric lettering: SL-24-C9, “What do you suppose those letters and numbers mean?” asked the corporal, as he aimed the flashlight attached to his weapon down the corridor.
“I gather we’re on one of the sub-levels of the superstructure,” Y’raiden surmised as he cautiously stepped forward.
“Colonel, how old is this base?” Captain Marcus questioned, as he peered around the empty corridors and vacant room.
“I suppose it could be almost a thousand years, but enough conjecture and be silent.”
The Corporal then quickly peeked around a corner, though he covered the rear of the team, he thought he saw something move down one the corridors, “Colonel.” he whispered, “I think we’re being watched.”
Y’raiden saw that this was no coincidence and inquired, “Where did it go?”
“This way. Down here.”
Colonel Ross started off down the corridor, when he felt a chilling sensation on the back of his neck and surged down to his toes. Something’s not right…Y’raiden mused to himself, “No. We’ll take another route.” He confidently stated as he took a few steps back.
“Perhaps we can find a schematic of the bunker. Surely, they must have a map or something.” suggested Captain Marcus, as he walked up to his commanding officer’s flank.
“I agree,” concurred Y’raiden , as he stepped down the main corridor.
The ground beneath his feet started to tremble, dust and debris collapsed from the ceiling, lights flickered and glass exploded and then stopped. Captain Marcus became anxious, his heart thumped rapidly, when the ceiling came crashing down on him as he evaded the falling debris.
“What was that?” he asked with great concern on his face.
“Was that an earthquake?” asked the sniper.
“I don’t recall this place having earthquakes.” Y’raiden remarked to himself. He lightly stepped forward one more step, as if walking in the middle of minefield.
The earth shook more violently, the entire ceiling in front of them collapsed, sparks and flames broke out across the corridor. Smoke riddled the atmosphere, choking the officers, “Ross to Johansen. Respond!” there was nothing but static and he tried again, “Johansen. Please respond!”
Marcus climbed to his feet, he braced his hand against the wall and felt a hot surge of pain that shot up his arm and through his shoulder, “Argh!”
“What is it? Are you alright, Captain?” asked Colonel Ross.
“I must have broken my arm during that last one. I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave me behind.”
“Allow me to take a look at it.” suggested Y’raiden, as he examined the captain’s arm.
Colonel Ross braced his hand against the comrade’s arm, he closed his eyes and focused the essence of his being into the wound. A bright violet, luminescent energy form inside the palm of his hand and translated through the attire and mended the damaged bone. The team collected their bearings once again, but the wide corridor was now blocked by a large concrete block of debris and ancient conduits of torn cable. The lights then flickered and an orange glow from the small fires that burned near the damaged conduits, “Looks like were going this way.” Y’raiden indicated as a helmet formed around his head and from the opaque goggles that formed around his eyes became translucent with violet light.
“I have got to get me one of those!” The Corporal enviously remarked.
“You and everyone else.” jested the Kah’Rai warrior, as he walked forward.

Chapter VII

Several levels below Colonel Ross’s position, Johansen and his team braced against the bulkheads as the earth shifted beneath their feet. Support beams crashed into monitors and conduits that weaved along the corridors. Bulkheads buckled under the enormous pressure from the gigantic debris and rubble that rested precariously on the infrastructure. The harsh sounds of contorted steel echoed throughout the numerous elevator shafts that connected the various sections of the compound, “Johansen to Ross. Do you read?” Malachi inquired over the com-channel.
“Colonel? Is that you?”
“Affirmative. Was that an earthquake?”
“I believe it was, Colonel.” replied Y’raiden. “What is your status?”
“We’re all present and accounted for with no injuries.”
“Same here.”
“I’ve attempted to contact the surface with no success.” Colonel Johansen addressed.
“So have I. This place must be shielded. What’s your position?”
“We’re on Sub-level Thirty and Colonel, this place is about to collapse. Any suggestions?”
Colonel Ross and his team proceeded down the passage, their weapons trained and senses sharpened. Dust and rocks intermittently fell from the ceiling, when the ceiling in front of them collapsed to the floor, exposing the duct work and power conduits that wove through the base. They climbed up the narrow duct work to the ascending level, where there appeared to have been barracks and some offices and an elevator at the end of the corridor.
The sniper saw something move in one of the rooms and immediately opened fire into the darkness. “Hold your fire, Corporal!” Y’raiden ordered as he pushed the mussel of the weapon down towards the floor.
“I thought I saw something...” the Corporal explained as he cautiously stepped further down the corridor.
Colonel Ross then intuited a presence approaching nearby…something familiar and for an instant he heard a subtle voice in the language of his kin:

Yrai’din, urij khen’or v’kirim arat Kah’drin.
Ihj kah’te imtorash Chan’rak.
Kin ce’ranei vot’kotal nir ovrah’am ryun n’trin.

He then quickly looked over his shoulder, the hair on the back of his neck stood up and a chill surged down his spine. Yet, nothing was there…The Corporal looked at the perplexed and concerned colonel, “Sir, is everything alright?”
“Uh…yes. I’m…fine. Let’s move on.”
The Kah’Rai warrior attempted to contact his fellow comrade through telepathy, but there was no response, so he employed the miniature headset that curved from his left ear to top of his cheek bone and spoke over the com-link, “Johansen, please respond.”
“Yes, Colonel Ross.”
“Have you sensed anything…unusual in your area?” Colonel Ross inquired.
“No, I have not and we’re five levels below you.”
“I think this facility has some sort of psionic dampening field in effect. I’ve been trying to reach telepathically for a few minutes.”
“I’ve been ignoring you. Besides, I find the traditional way of communication more gratifying.”
“Okay. Report when you’ve found something.”
“Understood. Johansen out!”
Colonel Ross continued down the maze of dimly lit corridors until they reached a alcove of elevators. He then closed his eyes for a moment and with his mind, he pried the door apart, a cold gale suddenly moved through the corridors. The florescent lights intermittently flickered as Y’raiden cautiously set foot inside the elevator pod. The soldiers followed suit and the sound of buckling steel echoed throughout the shaft, as pieces of debris collapsed on the elevator roof, “This place looks like a war zone down here. What happened?” the sniper questioned the legendary warrior.
Y’raiden examined the console inside the elevator, the glass was shattered, scorch marks and weapons fire scored the gray-red interior. The lights flickered once again and there on the floor laid the skeletal remains of a couple of SGMC personnel. He leaned by the bodies, their uniforms tattered and with several holes that went through the marrow of their bones and beside one of the corpses something glistened like a star. With his sharp eyes, he realized that it was piece of jewelry and carefully he picked up the necklace. He then scrutinized its intricate craftsmanship and to his surprise--this trinket seemed intimate and familiar.
In that moment, images flashed in his mind, he saw a beautiful, slender brunet with hair down to her shoulders and with her green eyes. She looked upon him with such unequivocal devotion and love, he found the necklace hanging around her small neck. The world around him transformed, he was surrounded by the stone walls of their chambers. Early the next morning, Y’raiden felt compelled to the balcony where he overlooked the great city, the suns ascended over the valley. Donned in white linen, he felt the cool, crisp summer breeze caress his face. He looked back at the woman still sound asleep, he loved her so incredibly deeply. He felt an urgency deep within his spirit, he rushed over to Zheva’el and gently and passionately kissed her as her eyes opened to see her love. Zheva’el curiously asked, “What is wrong, my Love?”
“I have been summoned. I will return shortly.”
The Kah’Rai warrior found himself wondering the corridors of the SGMC compound, he and his team discovered several laboratories. His heart raced as he approached the lengthy corridors and the numerous, large doorways. Terrifying, traumatic memories flashed in his mind, the horrible screams and torture that he and his kin endured. Many of which did not survive, he remembered being taken down these corridors to the threshold in front of him. The door peeled away and before him were dozens of pods, tables overturned and numerous bodies of SGMC personnel. Lab equipment broken into shambles and now was a tomb riddled with corpses and damage caused by something never seen before. Y’raiden then turned a corner in the vast laboratory and came to many remains strewn about and decayed. One of the remains impaled by a long-handled sword, the sword, itself punctured the bone and into the concrete-metal bulkhead. He then removed the long blade and examined his findings, the razor-sharp weapon bore engravings in the dialect of the Kah’Rai. The warrior recognized the blade that was forged--for an instant, he glimpsed an image its master.

Johansen, meanwhile, led his team through the dank maze of collapsed bulkheads and ceilings, until the team found themselves near an elevator access way. The door was fully open, the dim florescent lighting flickered along the shaft and the colonel noticed that there was a ladder visible on the other side. Malachi looked back a good distance, where there appeared to be some blockade of fallen debris. A member of his team inquired, “What are planning on doing, sir?”
Johansen took some steps towards the wall of the debris, his eyes intent on the ladder. Then with a rigorous and speedy sprint, he launched himself onto the ladder and grappled as tight as he could.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” remarked the non-commissioned officer, as an expression of fearful anticipation swept across the middle-aged soldier.
Finally, the others in Johansen’s team followed suit, where they jumped across the elevator shaft and onto the oxidized ladder. The sound of leaky pipes and water echoed through the ventilation systems as they climbed up twenty stories and rendezvoused with the Kah’Rai warrior and his troops. The envious Malachi swaggered to Y’raiden and questioned, “Did you find anything of importance, Ross?”
“I found this…” Y’raiden stated as he extended his hand with the sword clenched tightly in his hand.
Johansen took the weapon from the Kah’Rai warrior, “It bears a striking resemblance to your sword. What are those markings?”
“It’s the Blade of Celestia.” Y’raiden explained, “It belonged to an arch-mage…”
Johansen, vexed by Y’raiden’s findings and watched as Colonel Ross turned slightly towards the darkness. The Kah’Rai warrior disconcerted as a cold chill surged down his spine--Revelation and fear gripped his heart, he sensed seditious intent concealed in the shadow before them.
“Colonel? What is it?” Malachi poignantly inquired as he approached Y’raiden cautiously. Suddenly, orange blasts of energy swept down the corridor, Colonels Ross and Johansen ducked behind the corner, as both teams were rendered incapacitated in a few seconds. Johansen and Ross returned fire, when, in moments, they were overpowered. A figure emerged from the darkness, who then removed the mask from his face. Several others stepped away from the shadows and crevasses within the ruins of the compound. The medium build man dressed in dark attire, a LASE pistol clutched in his hand and aimed down at the incapacitated soldiers.
“Take Blain to the ship. Leave the others.” The armed assailant ordered to his gang.
Colonel Johansen woke up disoriented and partially numbed from the assault. Slowly, reality sunk in as he looked at the other teams, when he heard the sound of a subspace radio link from his headset, the other teams were in various stages of disorientation and vertigo from the stun weapons.
Hovering over the incapacitated teams, N’jhyr watched as Malachi climbed to his feet, “Are you alright, colonel?”
“My head is pounding. What happened?”
Another soldier awoke moments after Johansen and quipped as used his assault rifle to prop himself up, “I feel like I have someone hit my head with a ten pound sledge.”
“I attempted to contact you for the past hour. I took it upon myself to assess the situation. Where is Colonel Ross?”
“I don’t…know. We were…overpowered.”
“By whom?” Growled the Nurii creature while sniffing the air, cautiously drawing his blade and stated urgently, as he picked up the Blade of Celestia, “We must depart, immediately.”
“I’m not--”
“Colonel. I think we should go.” The soldier concurred with the lion-humanoid creature.
N’jhyr, Colonel Johansen and the two teams hastened their way to the shuttle, weapons poised for battle. When the lion-warrior sensed an intense presence nearby and abruptly halted and suddenly, he heard a thunderous roar emanating from the icy, rustic mountains. Four luminescent orbs ascended through the opaque, maroon clouds and in moments disappeared into the atmosphere.
“N’jhyr to Liberty.” The Nurii warrior said on his miniature headset.
“This is Admiral Abernathe. What is it?”
“Colonel’s Ross and Johansen fell under attack within the SGMC compound and Ross was taken. An unidentified cruiser just departed moments ago.”
“Understood.” Abernathe replied over the com-link.
Dwarfed by the massive Liberty in orbit, the alien ship accelerated further into space when several squadrons intercepted the unknown vessel. The admiral observed pensively, his heart raced as he stepped towards the large porthole and saw several fighter squadrons converge on the small ship.
“Liberty! This is Alpha Leader. We’re almost in weapons range!”
The Protectorate squadrons banked and dodged through the extensive debris field in orbit above the planet; while Triad and IMC squadrons converged from behind a Gemini Continuum destroyer, within moments, the alien vessel opened turret fire. Several volleys grazed the shields of the converging fighters.
“Liberty! We have weapons lock!” The Triad pilot indicated with his mind poised for the assault.
Admiral Abernathe interjected over the secure com-link, “I want all squadrons to use minimal force!”
The cluster of squadrons opened a barrage of superheated ion particles towards the unidentified ship, but the escaping vessel cunningly dodged the trailing weapons fire. Suddenly, a shimmering portal of turbulent energy appeared from the dark shroud of space and the glistening chariot in moments, disappeared.
Across the vast starry expanse, the Damura darted through hyperspace nearly en route to its destination. Rachel, meanwhile, lingered in her cell as her captors vigilantly observed her. They patrolled around the cell, garbed in thick armor of the Samurai with a katana strapped to the backs and girded with a sidearm on their belts. The young woman slept when she could, but her nightmares grew increasingly more frightening with each passing moment.
In the deep corners of her mind a terrible feeling swept over her, she sensed a strong, dark being in her presence. A twisted apparition emerged from the shadows beyond the barrier of the cell, the ghostly creature stepped through the force field and intensely studied the prisoner. The creature’s pale, slimy, reptilian scales glistened in the strange lighting of the cell and slithered about like a serpent. Fangs protruded from the upper lip, the cheek bones were augmented with spines, the eyes burned like the suns of Mintaka and the long, black, oily hair pulled back into a pony tail. Colonel Landrey fearlessly examined the creature, she realized that it was herself--a mirror. The demon stood face-to-face with her, placed her cold hand on her throat, the sharp claws lacerated her throat and exposed her fangs in a fit of anger. Rachel attempted to pull the cold hand away, but it would not release her and woke up in a cold sweat.
“No! No! Let go of me!” Rachel cried out, flailing her arms in the air as if the demon was still there.
Upset, Colonel Landrey wiped the tears from her cheeks and the sweat from her moist brow. Naginata gazed at her with arms folded, his long black hair tied back into a pony tail and girded in Samurai warrior attire, “It’s unfortunate that you will not be in my care for much longer. I desire so much to be with you. You are so…beautiful.”
“May you die slowly by my hand!” she lividly swore.
“Colonel…your tone is not exactly becoming,” Naginata provoked, “I’m sure you could put your anger to better use.”
She lunged forward, kicked, punched and pounded on the transparent barrier and sent shocking pain into her limbs, “I’m going to kill you!”
“General, we’ll be arriving in system momentarily,” notified an officer over the intercom.
“Very well. Naginata out. My dear, I hope you’ve enjoyed your stay…” the General insinuated with a hint of sarcasm after he pressed a back-lit circle on his forearm, he turned towards the exit and looked over his shoulder and resumed, “…but my presence is required on the bridge. I doubt our paths will meet again.”
“Don’t be so sure, General.”
The FSU vessel emerged from a dancing mystical portal of translucent bluish-green energy on the outskirts of a blue super giant with a companion neutron star, the binary star system had several rings of planetary debris, remnants of old Nurii and UTC battle cruisers and a handful civilian freighters adrift in the abyss of space. The devious Naginata stepped onto the bridge, “Tactical!”
“I’ve been probing the system since our arrival--there is no sign of the Lord Abaddon’s Command Ship.” the subordinate indicated as his hands glided over the console.
“He’s here. I know it.” Naginata muttered under-his-breath, “Open a channel: All frequencies.”
“Channel open, sir.”
“This is General Naginata of the Damura. Show yourself!”
A colossal dragon with massive wings appeared from the darkness directly in front of the Damura. An image appeared of the infamous Abaddon concealed in a shroud of darkness, he replied, “Naginata, I am pleased you arrived on schedule.”
Naginata bowed, “I’ve managed to capture a Triad vessel and the crew, including their commanding officer: Colonel Rachel Landrey.”
“You have done well, General. Prepare for her transport, immediately,” Lord Abaddon commanded, as he jerked a nod.
“General, the prisoner has been transported aboard the Nemesis,” explained the security officer over the intercom.
“You are to head to the Outpost in the Telaris system. Once you have arrived, you will release custody of ship and crew of the Genesis. Only then will you receive payment,” The Demon Lord amended, before the image reverted back to the exterior view of the Nemesis.
Carefully watching the massive vessel disappear in a dazzling burst of light, Naginata clenched his jaw tightly, his eyes darkened with spiteful anger. The General ordered, “Plot a course for the Telaris system: Maximum hyperspeed. Hangitsu-san, you have the bridge. I’ll be on the hangar deck.”
“Understood, sir.” The subordinate bowed as he took his station, accordingly.

EXCERPT COPYRIGHT(C) 2011 By M. J. Stoddard. All rights reserved.