"Core Matter Reactors 1-3 damaged, Core Matter Reactors 7-16 damaged, Core Matter Reactor 22 destroyed, Core Matter Reactors 29-31 destroyed," the computer sounded off as Pyro shifted back into consciousness, blinking a few times before he slowly got up off the floor. Lights flickered and flashed, some sparked and cracked as crewmembers frantically ran around the ship.
He looked up and saw all of the fighters in the large cargo dock were out of their place, tossed around by the violent shaking the ship experienced before Pyro was knocked cold. Suddenly, with a loud whirring sound, the lights and computers in the ship simultaneously powered on. There was a short cheering heard throughout the ship at the fact and then people immediately returned to their work.
"Pyro..." a feminine voice called through a radio on Pyro's uniform, "I know you're not dead yet... I swear if you're dead, you're getting demoted."
Pyro hit a button on the radio, and replied, "Admiral, ma'am, still here. Orders?"
"Bridge, now," the Admiral said back. After hearing that, Pyro ran through the corridors to a transport deck and headed up to the bridge. When he got there, he stood to the side while Admiral Cinder talked to some others. After another couple minutes, more officers showed up, and awaited orders of some kind.
"Alright," the Admiral said aloud, "Professor Dimitri, explain to all of them what you just told me."
"Right," the large, gorilla-like science officer said as he brought a few different images onto a large screen at the front of the room. "When we first got power back, we sent out a distress signal in every known language, which, considering we've expanded across the entire Galaxy by now, we pretty much know every language. But, not only have we recieved no response, we are also, according to star charts, hovering over an allied cityscape planet. Upon further investigation, we attempted to use digital communications to verify our position and can't get any signals through whatsoever. It's as if there are no planets in the entire galaxy that have any kind of digital gps systems. We performed a scan on the nearby planet, and it came back negative... for almost everything. There's no radio waves, no high electronic readings, and no synthetic core matter readings. We decided to take a few images of the planet, and this is what we got."
On the screen, a large fertile junglescape planet appeared. "We used a combination of sonar, thermal, and tectonic imaging to look at the topography of the planet; as you are well aware, no two planets will have the same exact topography, it's like an iris scan for a planet. We matched the topgraphy up to another planet in our databases, and it turned up with the same planet it should be... some 12 thousand years ago before it was colonized. At first, we thought that we may have been pulled into a black hole, and gone back in time, but it doesn't make sense. The planet was completely lifeless about 90 thousand years ago, and there still should have been some sort of known readings on other nearby planets. Ladies and gentlemen, we have not traveled back in the space time continuum, but rather, side to side... we are in another dimension... some sort of alternate timeline that could have differentiated as far back as an entire galactic year."
"As of yet," Admiral Cinder began talking, "We have gotten no response from our distress signal. Chances are, that there is some space ferring race out there, and we don't know if they are friendly or hostile, but the odds are that some-one is going to come and say hi to us, and soon. I want you all to make sure that this ship, which I have learned is the only still operational one, is ready for battle should it be necessary. At the same time, I want the medical staff ready to attend to every crewmember in this fleet, the word is, that there's a lot of dead soldiers in our other ships. I also want you, Pyro, to take as many fighters as are ready and fly down into that planet; hide there and if we get attacked prepare to flank any opponents that come."
"Understood," Pyro said as he head off, radioing all of his pilots to prepare for battle.
"What is it Constable? I haven't had my coffee yet today, so make it quick."
"Sensors have picked up a large fleet of unidentified ships. However, most of them seem damaged. Unfortunately, there is at least one in good condition, and judging by its' size, would require considerable backup to pacify if these guys prove hostile. Orders?"
"Alert the Home Guard and any Imperial Police Force gunboats within three systems. In the meantime, set a course to the fleet."
The Constable ran off towards the bridge like his heels were on fire, as Rzniye continued his walk to the mess. The ship rumbled as the engines came to life with a blast of orangish-blue flame from the cylindrical engines. HG-47925 drew ever closer to the unidentified fleet as it slingshotted around Herit. In the meantime, the IBA Commander got his coffee. In a matter of fifteen minutes, the gunboat came close enough to the unidentified ships for both visual and radio contact. Rzniye, who was know on the bridge, ordered his radio officer to hail the fleet.
"This is the Imperial Border Authority. Identify yourself immediately."
Some shuffling and muffled voices were heard before an official-looking alien was seen.
"This is Admiral Cinder of the Imperial Galactic Alliance. We can't really explain exactly how we got here, but we're not hostile."
Before Rzniye could reply, seventeen IPF gunboats arrived alongside two cruisers, a destroyer, a battleship, and a carrier from the Home Guard dock at Drenedev Shipyards.
"Hnh. Regardless of where you've come from, you have illegally entered Eteno space. I see that your ships need repair before we bring you in to space dock, so we'll see if we can get some repair barges here. Have you let go of any cargo, or launched any craft since your arrival?"
"We've illegally entered your space?" Admiral Cinder said, trying to hold back laughter, "Anyways, I apoligize for the invasion, but unfortunately, as our fleet is badly damaged, and no longer has a home nation; I officially declare that we are an independant nation in this galaxy. It is not our intention to pose any threat to you, or your empire, but any arrest or interrogation of the crews of any of these ships will be considered an act of war; I'm sure you can understand that I have to ensure the safety of my fleet, and of my people. We have sent a fleet of fighters to planet's surface for the sole purpose of remaining hidden in the event that an enemy fleet of great firepower decides to attack. Seeing as that is not the case, I don't believe such actions will be necessary. We greatly appreciate any help you can offer at this point in time."
After giving her speech, she turned to an officer on the bridge and said, "Tell Officer Charr to bring his fleet back up."
After a few moments, nearly 270 U-150 Dominators, and 22 Locust transport/gunships flew into space from the planet below and headed for the Black Emerald to dock.
"Well, as long as your craft haven't caused any damage to our resort colonies, I see no problem with anything here. I just spoke with Fleet Commander Raulf of the Imperial Home Guard, and he says that about a dozen repair barges on the planet below us are preparing to launch, so we will be able to repair most of the damage your ships seem to have sustained. However, you'll need to come to Drenedev Shipayrds with us for full repairs. It's nearby, and I can arrange a meeting with High General Lambert Schulz and you, if you'd like."
"There's nothing wrong with these conditions. We'll wait for those barges in the meantime. Admiral Cinder, out."
The feed went blank on the IBA ship, and Commander Rzniye walked towards the radio operators.
"Have you any news from the surface?"
"Well, we received a message fifteen minutes ago from IAF Gloster saying that they detected a huge strike force and were scrambling. Unfortunately, we can't inform them of what's going on because a ****ed electromagnetic storm is brewing up high in the atmosphere above Gloster. Those panicked airmen are probably scurrying around like rats on their airfield trying to get some Defenders up." The radio officer replied.
"Keep trying to hail them."
Imperial Palace, Malisk II...
Supreme Commander Ivanov Monore surveyed the many holographic screen arrayed around him, giving him up-to-the-second information about the empire. The trade value of the Grum, the stock market, troop deployments, food output, military news, and all sorts of other things. On one of the screens, an alert popped up from the IBA. Monore figured it was just another illegal immigration report, and opened it up. It read:
TO SUPREME COMMANDER MONORE
FLEET OF DAMAGED SHIPS SUDDENLY APPEARED ABOVE HERIT
IBA, IPF, AND HOME GUARD RESPONDED
NOT HOSTILE, REQUESTED REPAIR
ALERT LEVEL RED AT IAF GLOSTER
EM STORM BLOCKING COMMUNICATION WITH GLOSTER
Ivanov immediately closed the message and opened up an A/V feed with his secretary.
"Svenja, I need to go to Herit. Alert whoever is in command of the 1st Fleet right now, and load up the 13th Ceremonials. I've received some interesting news..."
Meanwhile in an isolated cave deep below the surface of Herit...
Deep down, at least a mile below Herit's surface was a cave completely sealed off from the surface lit only by torches. It consisted of two chambers; one with several cots and another with an unusual machine. Two black cloaked figured were in the room with the machine.
"Did you manage to open the portal?" a black cloaked figured said to another.
"Yes, Master Monstrum. But something did not go quite right."
"How so, Pardus?"
"It seems the portal opened to the wrong dimension."
"Pathetic! You do not know how important this is, do you? The entrance to the Home Dimension was opened before so why can't it be opened again? Do you realize the magnitude this mistake has cost us? Who knows what sort of species have passed through it? Our plans could be ruined!"
"According to my scans, it seems that a few damaged ship only made it through but the portal closed behind them. I'm certain only a handful of them could not be much of a problem."
"You do not know that. Who knows what sort of crimes this race has committed. I'll leave you to further diagnose whatever problems there were with the machine. Keep in mind we will have to leave soon. I feel the presense of Eteno in orbit. They might detect us down here."
"Right." Pardus went about examining the machine. He then made some extremely complex calculations on a datapad. He entered some equations, double checking his work. "Hmmmm...wait a second. I think I may have found the solution. It seems the galactic magnetic alignment is incorrect in this area. But how? I thought my calculations were spot on, precise!" He pondered a little more. "Wait, it appears that someone else in the other dimension tried to open a portal as well. That seems to have dirupted the natural magnetic alignment in this area. We need to find another nearby region with the correct galactic alignment!"
In the other room, Monstrum wondered to himself, "I imagine it would not be wise to overlook whatever came out of that portal. The presense given off by the beings aboard those damaged ships seems strangely familiar but also foreign. I foresee serious problems."
Emperor Clar was having a bit of a wild day. Senate intel said that Hunre extremists were targeting the Shrine of Yetu, and he recently heard from Colonel Etah that the Kklixins were being controlled by a Grox-implanted Karnasaur with unknown motives. He was just going over Etah's most recent report when he recieved an urgent email from Eteno forces. It read:
"Karnasaur Emperor Clar Kran,
We have a matter which will require the assistance of you and your finest covert operation soldiers, along with the upmost discrection. As of 2 hours ago, Eteno forces contacted an unknown fleet of derelicts orbiting an Eteno colony. They claimed independence and stated that they came in peace. They say that they were doing battle with an enemy fleet when they were sucked into a black hole or something and brought here...
Your Majesty, they claim that they are from an entirely different universe.
We humbly request that you send your legendary HIRIOTS to assist in this situation; they require repairs and we are currently lending them a fleet of repair barges. We need the HIRIOTS to help in escorting them to a new world where they can touch down without risk of discovery. This secrecy will only have to last until the Senate can confirm that they are willing to reveal these... as they call themselves, "Great Horned Dragons".
In additon, the Senate has already promised the GSSOC Team's involvement in the escorting, assessment, and relocation on the Horned Dragons. Not what they're used to, but the Senate gave them the choice as to who gets in on the team when a new race joins. Whoever they choose, he or she will be given all the rights and privileges belonging to a GSSOC member. But you probably already can guess all this.\
We eagerly await your answer,
Eteno-Karnasaur Ambassador Nhevit Noreivt"
Clar was caught completely off-guard, but, as with all Karnasaurs, was equally fascinated.
A new race from a different universe? Could this mean that out experiments aren't a waste of credits... what if it was an articifical black hole? If so...
Without thinking another word, Clar sent a message to the HIRIOT HQ ordering the best Elites to be sent over to help the Eteno.
"Pyro," Admiral Cinder said through a headset as she left the bridge, "Come back to the ship, and meet me in my quarters, we need to have a private discussion about what needs to be done, along with some other hand-picked individuals."
"Copy that," Charr said back while he navigated his U-150 towards the flagship and docked.
As he walked into Cinder's quarters, the doors shut behind him, and another officer who he was unfamiliar with locked them. "So what's the emergency?" Charr asked as he sat down at a large dining table with the others.
"Ever since we've arrived here, we haven't run into any ships nearly as powerful as ours; but they definitely have some kind of large alliance, spanning across a good portion of the galaxy. Speck, our chief intelligence officer, has identified several planets and systems that are in constant contact with one another. Through a series of silent hacks, we've determined a few native empires and their locations across different parts of the galaxy. They aren't as large as the Federation in our universe is, no where near that, but they are big. What I'm saying is that until recently, we were one of two galactic superpowers, and now that probably is not the case. Based on how we used to do things, I assume that our friends are going to want to relocate us; that will not happen. We are not rushing into any alliances, not yet; and until we can secure a planet to call our home in this universe, we aren't joining anyone's side. If brought you all here for some special assignments. Charr, I want you to be my eyes and ears within their ranks, an ambassador so to speak, not so much a spy. I don't want them to do so much as sneeze on my ships without me knowing. Meanwhile, I'm going to have the rest of you on stand-by; if Tyrannis managed to warp us here, then he might be able to do so with his ships also. You all need to know something about Tyrannis as well. Speck, show them."
The officer that Pyro didn't recognize earlier, hit a few buttons on a wall console, and a video popped up of a huge ship being constructed around a large ring of shipyards around a moon. "Is that what I think it is?" Pyro asked.
"Yes," Cinder replied, "Our intelligence recently confirmed that what they were working on is a revamped Excalibur class mega-dreadnaught. If they're constructing one, chances are, that they're constructing more. I think that Tyrannis might plan to send one here to finish us off. So be on your guard, there's no telling how unstoppable one of those ships could be with modern weapons onboard. It would take a fleet of Jestico class warships to take one on, a fleet we definitely do not have."
"Shouldn'tn we tell our new friends?" Charr asked.
"No," Cinder answered, "We should wait to see if Tyrannis comes here first, if not, there's no need to raise the alarm. Once we can manage to head off a new empire in this universe, we'll start constructing a fleet powerful enough to take on any fleet Tyrannis constructs."
"If I may ask," Charr continued, "Where are you planning to go?"
"Arckas," Cinder said, "My gut tells me they haven't discovered it yet, and if we can get there first, it will be a strong start, with tons of resources. That's all. You're dismissed." After she finished, the rest of the officers left the room. Before Charr could leave, Cinder spoke up again, "Pyro, we may not see each other again after this, not in person, not for a long time. Please be careful."
"You too," Pyro responded, "Good luck." After that, Pyro left the room and headed for the bridge for the official assignement, where Cinder arrived shortly after.
"Hail our rescuers," Cinder said to one of the officers on the bridge; once a response came, she spoke quickly, "Sir, I've assigned one of my officers, Brigadier Assault Commando Char as an ambassador, where should I send him?"
"He should go down to Herit, and rest of your fleet should come to Drenedev once the quick repairs are completed by the barges. General Schulz is on Herit, as I stated before, supervising the construction of a modified transport for one of his divisions. He's the highest-ranking Eteno in three systems, because most of the officers are still out fighting one of our enemies after a shock advance last month." Replied Fleet Commander Zakary Raulf, whom the GHD Admiral Cinder had hailed.
"I'll send him out immediately; once my ships are able to move, we'll follow your barges to the shipyards you spoke of for full repair, after that, we'll be on our way. End transmission."
"Thanks. Imperial Navy out."
After the feed ended, Pyro headed towards the main hangers of the ship and left in his presonal U-150 "Dominator" fighter and flew down to Herit, and was guided to a civilian spaceport as Gloster was taken off alert, but still in chaos. The repair ships from the planet finished their work on the GHD fleet, which then apprehensively took off with the vanguard of alien ships. However, for now, the focus will be on Brigadier Assault Commando Pyro Charr. When his fighter landed on an unoccupied landing pad like a harrier in the civilian spaceport with three Eteno Imperial Navy Defender fighters circling overhead, he opened the cockpit of his ship and locked it up electronically. Meeting Char were about a dozen official-looking Eteno in black/yellow uniforms. One of them walked up to Charr, a translator in his ear.
"Constable Roy Erndroif, Teremov Police Division."
"Nice to meet you too; Commander Charr, ambassador of the Black Emerald."
"My officers and I will be escorting you to High General Lambert Schulz's headquarters in town. See, most civilians in the empire tend to get a tad excited by new, intelligent peoples."
"Ok... how will we be getting to this Lambert Schulz?"
"Motorcade. You'll be riding in a hovervan while my boys drive alongside, behind, and infront in their PCs."
The Constable continued speaking as he, the officers, and the dragon walked off the landing zone, through the spaceport, and out to the garage.
"As you have most likely already discovered, we are quite a bit shorter than most races, and as such our vehicles don't have as much leg or ceiling room as you may find comfortable. So please, try to relax despite that."
The Constable slid open the door of the pitch-black van.
Pardus searched with his mind for other Brotherhood members, relaying his new info via a Telephathic Amplifier to another scout named Letifico. Letifico responded rather quickly as he was already nearby a favorable area.
"I seem to have discovered a new planet. It's an anomaly of epic proportions and the surrounding area is the best alignment I've found," Letifico said. "No one seems to have colonized it, as its gravity is apparently so powerful that its star orbits it. I mean, I would not want to even get within its atmosphere, or my ship will be squashed like a Sarkakion larva."
"Impossible! How could a planet like that even exist?" Pardus responded with surprise.
"Well, I'm staring right at it. It's best that you get your tail over here so that we can pinpoint the location on where exactly to construct the portal. I sense that someone is planning to colonize this area soon so we do not have much time."
"Right away. Send me the coordinates, then we'll be right over there."
"It's quite a ways away from where you are. It should take at least several hours to get here from where you are if you were to go at maximum speed."
"Acknowledged. The entrance to the Home Dimension shall once again be opened!" Immediately, Pardus and Monstrum packed their belonging and materialized themselves aboard a cloaked ship on a nearby moon leaving unnoticed. They took the portal machine with them, their cots, and put out the torches leaving no trace. The ship silently took off to the unusual planet that Letifico discovered.
Soon enough it arrived. Immediately upon Pardus's and Monstrum's gaze was an enormous planet almost 8 million kilometers in diameter.
"Here we are, Pardus. Now, open the portal," commanded Monstrum.
"Right away, Master," Pardus said. He turned on the machine launching eight drones which arranged themselves in a circle about twenty miles from the edge of the planet's atmosphere. Then, the drones began to distort space and eventually rip it open creating a wormhole.
Letifico sent a message via Telepathic Amplifier. "I never thought this day would come. I will remain outside to make sure no one else gets in the portal or even worse...gets out."
Pardus and Monstrum entered the portal. Everything around them turned white. Then, Pardus pulled a lever which reverse accelerated the warp drive which further warped the white void into something else. When space settled down, beyond them, they arrived on a floating island that was a vast desert of ash with a floating ocean above them. In the distance were volcanoes that erupted snow. This was not normal space. This was the Home Dimension.
A tall Karnasaur wearing a dress uniform and shades stood in front of a luxury shuttle. The Emperor himself had the Karnasaur comeall the way out here to escort a Brigadier Commando from some extra-dimensional race to the Bunker and the offer a special deal to his leader. Just as he was recalling the deal's specifics, an Eteno limo pulled up. Out came a dragonoid, obviously cramped by the tight space. He walked up to the Karnasaur.
"I assume you're my escort?" Inquired the dragonoid.
"Colonel Etah Owar, Karnasaur Meritocratic Federation. Member of the Galactic Senate Special Operations Corp, or GSSOC. Welcome to the team." Etah said as he escorted the dragon onto the shuttle.
"Brigadier Commando Pyro Charr, Galactic Federation. Great Horned Dragon. Listen, I didn't join any team or-"
"Do you want to bang your head against the wall with a bunch of politicians?"
"Well, no, but-"
"Then, again, welcome to the team."
"All right, when do I meet the rest of the team?"
"They're at our homebase, the Bunker, awaiting your arrival. We'll arrive in a few minutes. Karnasaur technology is the finest in the Galaxy. But while I have you alone, I was wondering if I could strike a deal with your superior."
"That would be Admiral Cinder. I'll hail her."
Pyro retrieved a holo-comm from his pocket and dialed a number. Another Dragon showed up.
"Pyro. Something wrong?" She said.
"No ma'am. I'm here with my new team mate, Colonel Etah of the Karnasaur Meritocratic Federation. He says his superiors want to make a deal with you."
She turned to face Etah. "Hm. And what would that be, Colonel?"
"An alliance, of sorts. It's called a Declaration of Friendship. It's usually a public decree that two empires are close friends, and action with one will have similar ramifications with the other. It usually implies military, economic, and technological agreements being made between the empires. The Karnasaurs would be honored if you would sign a Declaration with us. We can easily make it worth your while in military or economic, even some technological aid."
"Colonel, tell your superiors that while thier offer is tempting, I'm not going to make friends with any one yet without clear and extreme reason to do so. We just arrived in this universe."
"Of course. I'll forward a full history lesson to you later, but what you need to know is that the Karnasaurs share the title of Galactic Superpower with the Eteno Triumvirate and Dhragolon Federal Monarchy. However, we are capable of holding our own against both in a war. We are the most technologically advanced species in this galaxy. We are powerful friends, and an enemy you dont want to make."
"Is that a threat?"
"No, no, no, perish the thought. I'm just making a dramatic point. Karnasaurs are naturally charismatic, and we have a taste for theatrics, but it never gets in the way of effiency. So, what do you say?"
The Admiral was silent for a few moments, thinking. Etah took the is time to study her. He thought she looked beautiful, he gave her that... with stunning eyes... and she was a good leader by her tendency for forethought and caution... and she was assertive, not willing to take a threat...
Before he could think anymore of it, she spoke again. "Pyro, what do you think?"
"Me, ma'am? I think we should go for it."
"Hmm... I'm still not sure..."
Etah decided to make one final point. He was authorized to reveal this one piece of top-secret intl for the purpose of aquiring a Declaration with the GHDs.
"Let me tell you a little secret, shall I? The Karnasaur Emperor has been spending several millions credits on a top secret science project intended to allow Karnasaurs to secure the role of Galactic Superpower in more than this Galaxy and the 2 others we have colonized. He's funding a project that, if successful, will allow a ship to make a round trip from our universe to another. That's right, Admiral: Inter-universal travel. A declaration of friendship will allow you to keep up-to-date on out progress, and if it's successful..." He didn't have to say anything else.
"Deal. Tell your Emperor that The Galactic Federation would like to officially sign a declaration of friendship with the Karnasaurs."
"Excellent. I'll do that. So you know, this declaration will be more on the private side. The Karnasaurs aren't willing to tell the Galaxy that they're ffiliated with a faction that doesn't exist yet. I look forward to seeing you next, Admiral. Hopefully in person."
At this point the ship was touching down on one of the Bunker's landing pads. Pyro disconnected and stood up.
"Commander, I would appreciate it if you didn't tell the other team members about our little deal. Understood?"
"I suppose, Colonel"
"Please, call me Etah."
The boarding ramp opened and touched the ground. Etah and Pyro walked out of the shuttle to greet Ahrganot and Tholker.
After Cinder's fleet was fixed up, they prepared to leave the shipyards. Admiral Cinder finished up a conversation and then immediately sent Pyro a written message. After a short back and forth conversation, she put down her transmitter and began to give orders to the fleet. "Alright team," she said, "We're headed towards Arckas. Remember, we have no idea if it's colonized in this universe yet, or if whoever may have colonized it will be hostile. It's also right on the edge of Grox territory, who may or may not exist here. Be ready for anything, and the second we get there, put full power to shields."
All across the bridge, captains and higher ranking officers on video screens from other ships in turn responded in the affirmative, and then cut transmissions. The screen switched over to a view of a 360 degree sphere around the ship. One by one, in order of the smallest to largest, the fleet began to lurch forwards and vanish in what appeared to be electrical distortions, but were in fact the time space continuum fluctuating as the ships jumped through hyperspace. Finally, the largest ship, The Black Emerald, followed suite, jumping forwards and then seemingly vanishing in a flash.
All of the ships arrived in the orbit of the massive planet. "Arckas," Cinder said aloud, "What's it looking like?"
"Our scans are showing no signs of colonization, admiral," a random officer said, "But... there seems to be some kind of quantum distortion on the other side of the planet, I can't quite figure out what it is, but it's similar to the one that brought us here."
"You've got to be kidding me," Cinder said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I want you all to know that I don't give a damn about what our would be allies have said about their attempts at inter-dimensional travel; they brag to be the most advanced race in the galaxy, but perhaps it is too much for their own good. Who knows what kind of perils they're exposing them and the rest of us to. I don't care if this is them doing it, or some other race; I want to do whatever it takes to get that portal closed, because as of now, this planet is our home. We will not allow anyone's little science experiments to threated us in any way. We don't have much of a population to work with, so for now, we'll just have to make due, I want every person who is able to begin working on the colonization of this planet, and more importantly, the construction of the Drive Yards. As of now, we have a claimed planet, OUR planet, and if anyone contests that, it's an act of war. From now on, Arckas is our home!"
Pyro flipped open his message receiver and began reading Cinder's first message in his thoughts, "We are heading to Arckas now; when our "friend" is ready, he can meet us there, or not at all. Remember who you're working for, if you become aware of any secret information that threatens our safety, make sure I'm the first to know."
To which Pyro replied, "Copy that, I don't foresee a problem other than recklessness with these bragging clowns; it's never the boasting ones that become dangerous anyhow. I'll see what I can find out about this... inter-dimensional stuff, and see if there's any link to us coming here, to make sure they don't open up ANOTHER portal and let our old friend Tyranis walk right on through, probably with a fleet of Excaliburs. Morons..."
After a few moments, Pyro got a reply, "I don't care what you think of them or their people; but please try not to offend them and that you're speaking on behalf of the empire now. I do agree, opening up random inter-dimensional portals is beyond risky, but reserve your judgement, for all our sake. Heading out."
Pyro replied back once more, "Yes ma'am."
After that conversation ended, the Karnasuar, Etah, inquired to the nature of his conversation. Pyro glared at him and said, "This is private information between me and my commanding officer. I'd appreciate it if you kept your eyes clear of what I'm writing to her. Anyways, where are we going? I'd like to know what exactly I'll be doing with this... team..."
"A rather secret installation. And no, the location of this place cannot be passed on to anybody."
"And how will we get there?"
"A ship. We'll get there on the senate's dime. There's a landing pad out back, come with me."
"I'll explain later."
Etah turned and walked through a small security checkpoint with Charr to a waiting ship of obvious Dhragolon design, but adorned with Galactic Senate markings. The two casually walked aboard, and informed the Eteno pilot of their destination. With haste, the shuttle lifted off of the Decacrete landing pad. Rising up through the atmosphere, Etah and Pyro continued to discuss all sorts of things. Etah explained the political landscape of the galaxy, and the major powers. Dhragolon, Karnasaur, Eteno, Hunre, and Heglarean. The flight was a mere two hours, but it gave the elite Karnasaur more than enough time to discuss a wide variety of subjects with the Great Horned Dragon. When the shuttle reached the seat of the Galactic Senate several parsecs away from Herit, it set down roughly in front of a collection of ugly warehouses and storage rooms. Pyro and Etah stepped off, and Etah lead Pyro to a small maintinence shed.
"You took me on a two-hour shuttle flight to a mere shed?!"
They walked inside, and the tall Karnasaur walked up to a broom. He said his name and pushed a button that revealed itself.
A short, yellow creature had grabbed a handgun from his belt in shock as the staircase covering above him slid away. When he saw who it was, though, he immediately calmed down and put his gun back in its' holster.
"Pardon my Luuschtuntski, Etah, you surprised me."
"No harm done, pal. What are you doing?"
"I was just gonna get a briefing from Senator Gunther, and then make a few modifications to my language chip..."
'Langauge chi-" Pyro tried to ask before Etah replied to Tholker.
"Hm. Well, have fun, I guess. I have some business to attend to in The Bunker."
"I see. See you around, kolun schoif dreif dunslo."
"Sorry, our way of basically saying friend of our people, like that. I sorta blurted that out."
Ahrganot was inside the bunker reading and waiting for the next mission. He had heard the news of a the Great Horned Dragon arriving through an inter-dimensional portal, but he had never seen them up close. Soon enough, he caught a glimpse of Pyro and was stunned with fearful surprise.
The vivd images from his dream became clearer. "No, way! This is impossible. Could it really be?" Ahrganot, without Pyro seeing him, rushed to a bookshelf and grabbed a book titled Prehistoric Ucharpli and flipped to the section detailing the times prior to the Great Flood. He then saw a sketch of the Rimor, the ancient subspecies on Ucharpli that went extinct. He looked up and saw Pyro. It was an identical match. For a long time, he had thought the last figure was someone who looked like a Rimor, but now this was a Rimor.
Ahrganot and Pyro had locked eyes. Ahrganot said, "You? You are the last figure from my dream!"
Pyro replied with confusion, "What? What are you talking about?"
"Since I was a child, I've been having dreams of four figures. Two of them turned about to be Tholker and Etah. You must be the third one! Fate brought us here. But even stranger, take a look at this book."
Pyro was stunned, "That's...a Great Horned Dragon! What is the meaning of this?!" Thinking to himself he said, Well, that does make sense, actually. We are from another universe after all. "And this fourth figure?"
"That, I'm not sure of. All I know was that it was very sinister. It seemed to be one of my own kind. But anyway, we are all here for a purpose."
Pyro replied, "You are an interesting fellow, indeed. You certainly remind me of what my own people are like."
"I've heard about you Dhragolon. You have many of the same ideals that we do..."
The two of them continued a discussion lasting at least ten minutes. They were all surprised at their cultural similarities.
Etah looked at Pyro for just an instant. His cybernetic implants immediately kicked in. Time seemed frozen, and he was now assessing the organism in front of him. His implants were recently upgraded; He could tell Pyro's thoughts based on his brain waves and thier behavior. He sifted through the data the cybernetics collected until he found what he was looking for. Emotions. he looked through the data pertaining to stored information in his brain. He found an image of himself in shades and dress uniform, the image Pyro associated with him. He was somewhat insulted at the emotions Pyro associated with him, as well. He thought Etah was inept, proud, moronic, bragging. Proud maybe, but that was the nature of his species. He exited out of the interface and re-entered real time. All of that had happened in just a few milli-seconds. He began walking again, walking towards the Bunker's Command Center. The rest followed him in.
"This is where we recieve our missions, usually. We already have one coming up. In fact, I should be getting dressed in my Ceremonial Robes if we're to arrive on time. Tholker, Ahrganot, show Pyro to his quarters. I'll ahve a disguise sent to his rom, along with the briefing sent to his mail account."
"I dont have an account in this universe."
"You do now. You're an incredibly lucky sentient, Pyro. Your first month in this universe and you get to see the crown jewel of my people, one of the most beautiful cities in the galaxy, on one of the most beautiful planets. Of course, I'm not trying to brag or anything; Every Karnasaur thinks as much, and the Senatorial Commitee of Aestetics agree."
"Commitee of Aestectics? Really?"
"Well, it was disbanded about 4,500 years ago."
"I guess your the group's historian."
"Not quite. I was there."
"What? What's your species' average lifespan?"
"About a thousand standard years. I've been cursed with immortality. The ELICAN Program commssioned during the First Galactic War had 500 volunteers to undergo severe physical therapy, genetic rewrites, and cybernetic implantation. I am the last ELICAN of the ten who made it out alive."
"I doubt your actually truly immortal-"
Etah, who had heard this so many times before, pulled out his pistol and shot himself in the head. The ionized bullet lodged in his hide. He reached up and pulled it out. Squashed, but perfectly clean.
"Of course, I am not immune to rapid gunfire trained on me for a period of time. That's how one of the ten died. Corriosive chemicals still burn through my flesh. Toxins usually only affect me in massive quantities. Still have doubts?"
Pyro could think what he would of Etah. It didn't change the facts.
"So, whats this mission?"
"Read your briefing. I've had your account opened already for you on your persoanl computer in your room. If you'll excuse me, Karnasaur Ceremonial Robes take a while to get on properly."
With that, Etah walked away. He took one last glimpse at Pyro to get a reading on him. He saw what he wanted immediatly as one of Pyro's most recent thoughts: Pyro was learning to respect him, though he still viewed him in a negative manner.
"That will change with time, I think." Etah thought.
As Pyro listened to Etah continue to drag on the conversation, he listened carefully, but reluctantly. As an officer of the GHD Empire, he did have a duty to stay alert in case people like Etah spilled information critical to the good will of his species. After arriving at the base, he met Ahrganot for the first time, and looked curiously over the image, impressed with the congruent ancestry of their two races.
As Etah went on about his supposed immortality, Pyro chuckled a little, and for a short instant thought to himself, "It's a good thing I have a nice sharp sord with me then... I doubt anyone can survive very long without a head."
"I wonder how powerful these empires' weapons are exactly," he continued to think to himself, not voicing his thoughts much as he took everything in and headed for the computer he was directed to to see what his new job had in store for him, "I'd really hate to have to compare our military prowess in reality, but I do wonder: how strong are there weapons exactly? their armor? We've had lasers since near the beginning of the galactic era, but compared to what we have now, they might as well have been throwing rocks at enemy ships. I wonder if the fleet we saw was an actual armada, or if it was a simple patrol. Do they have the means of mass production we did, or can we use something like their lack of such as an advantage if we need to? If things go awry, and we're fighting the most powerful forces in this universe, can we come out on top... what's worse, if Tyranis sends excaliburs here... will our current fleet be a match? If not... we're going to need all the help we can get. These empires are all nothing but a sharp, double-edged sword to us. If their too powerful, it could spell our doom; on the same hand, if they're not powerful enough, it might be the end of us all."
Unknowing of the conversation taking place in the briefing room, Tholker walked in with a small thread of smoke rising from exposed circuitry in his arm. The cyborg carefully worked on his electronics with a pen-like utensil, until he saw the three others in the room. He smiled lightly and re-attached the 'skin plate' covering his cybernetics, and put his tool in his belt.
"I see the new member is here. What's your name?"
"Brigadier Assault Commando Pyro Charr."
"Hm. Nice to meet ya, I'm Tholker. I operate with this team under the flag of the Eteno Imperial Triumvirate, where are you from?"
"Well, we ended up here by accident. I'm of the Great Horned Dragons, and well, yeah, I'm the new member."
"I see, welcome to the team!"
"Thank you. By the way, you're the only one here who hasn't bragged about their empire."
Tholker shrugged, and replied,
"Our actions are our braggin'. Besides, it isn't really the first thing to come to mind to brag when I meet someone. If my unnervingly tall companions have been braggarts, sorry."
"No, it's fine..."
Ahrganot suddenly cut in, breaking his neutral expression.
"Since we're all here, let's get to the briefing."
"But we already have our assignment. We're going to Karnas." Etah cut in.
"Yes, but I heard the Eteno have troubling news. There's a video message that has been recorded for us by some high-ranking E."
"Well, let's see it." Replied Tholker.
Ahrganot nodded and pressed a button on a small control panel on the wall next to him. The video screen in front of them came to life with an Eteno officer standing under some camoflauge netting.
"GSSOC team, hello. I'm Field Marshal Karl Lodz. I'm sending this message from the main plaza at Prezhino Brahstav Gruscher University. As you probably know, an important particle accelerator, and a top-secret particle weapon are both here. We've learned from codebreakers at Malisk II that the Kklxin plan to invade with an army of their blasted clones. I'm aware that killing clones is useless unless you destroy the source, but if this attack achieves its' purpose, a decade of progress is lost, and possibly a window into a lightly-explored area of interdimensional science. Instead of opting for a full Battlegroup of troops to help defend this location and give away the fact that we have broken the Kklxin's encryptions, we're calling upon you guys to beat back the Kklxin, and maybe test this fancy new particle weapon. I hope we see you shortly. I have to go, goodbye and good luck."
The video ended and Ahrganot turned off the screen.
"So... we're gonna have to split up for this. Who wants to go with me to Grjdonsk?" Tholker asked casually, fiddling with Hitstick.
The two of them stepped inside a shuttle of Eteno design that took off to another star system. On the way, Ahrganot said, "You know, I've never seen this particle accelerator up close. Tell me about it."
"It can recreate the conditions of the Big Bang as well provide an artificial source of Deuterium. The accelerator itself stretches fifty miles in diameter."
"It will surely be an impressive sight when we get there." The ship suddenly shook as the computers shut down briefly. Momentarily, they came back on.
A siren began to wail. "WARNING! WARNING! MAGNETIC STORM!" The ship started shaking more violently and sparks started flying about.
"Now that's just great," Tholker replied.
"I heard that there was a magnetic storm in this area, but I had no idea it was this bad."
Tholker rose from his seat confidently and ran to the cockpit door. The cyborg kicked it open and walked up to the controls. He pulled off a square of artificial flesh from his arm, and pulled a cord and universal interface plug from the mass of circuits in his robotic arm. Tholker plugged into the control panel, and the ship quickly stopped wobbling. As the shuttle leveled and went back on its' course prior to encountering the magnetic storm, Ahrganot walked into the cockpit. All he saw was Zhevhyit standing with his arms at his side looking out the window.
"Ah... how exactly are you flying this?"
"With my mind."
Tholker turned slightly and showed his arm to Ahrganot.
"I see... so, how long until we reach the surface?"
"About ten minutes. We'll set down at PBGU and meet up with Field Marshal Lodz."
"Good. How many soldiers do you guys have defending this facility and university?"
"15,600 men. They'll set up a defense around the accelerator and university, while we mess with the Kklxin from behind."
"Alright then. Let's get the supplies we're bringing ready."
He had his ceremonial robes on, en route to Karnas, and had to spend the trip with the most stuck-up alien he had ever met. He doubted all the good things Etah said about his species, his empire, him self. He disregarded them as bragging rants. He would see. Karnas truly was the msot beautiful planet... and Sauris was the most beautiful city Etah had ever seen. Provided you could breath a 78% nitrogen atmosphere, which was an invigorating yet safe breath of fresh air for Karnasaurs... but a little stuffy for the other, oxygen breathing races.
"Pyro, what gas does your species breath?"
"Karnasaurs are nitrogen breathing creatures. Karnas has a 20% oygen atmosphere, the rest is nitrogen. You may feel slightly suffocated and tired while on Karnas. The Hunres are affected the same way. You'll get used to it."
"All right, but let me get this straight: I'm going to be underground, killing insane extremists with bombs, and your gonna sit around and whistle a tune?"
Etah scoweled out of instinct.
"I will be singing an ancient song, a song sung by my ancestors, likely before your civilization left the ground. The whispers of kings long dead and every Karnasaur who ever lived past Cain's Coup are breathed in every word of that song. The very soul of my people, of Karnas herself is held in that 'little tune'".
Etah's scowel turned to a grimace.
"An ancient legend; I won't bore you with the details, but... Baba Yetu's younger brother, Cain Yetu, was jealous of his brother's power. He staged a massive coup, killed the Son of Karnas, and claimed the throne. It was horrid; the greatest bloodline on Karnas snuffed out. Of course, the greatest coup in Sauran history was met with the greatest uprising in Sauran history the next day. The people rised up, killed Cain, mourned the true king, and decided to honor his legacy by setting up the meritocracy: Whoever proved themselves worthy of the throne, recieved it. No Karnasaur has ever been called 'king' ever again."
"But how do you decide who;s worthy?"
"Karnasaurs are naturall a proud race; but we acknowledge our superiors. No matter what. Cain failed to do that, and was killed the next day. If any Karnasaur, of any age, shows leadership, they are propelled higher and higher. Each tier, they elected by a council; first by popular vote, then by a council of peers. Up and up and up. If you reach the throne, the Emperor himself must step down to appoint you. But enough of Sauran government, I must be boring you."
"You said Cain didn't realize his superiors. How'd he beat his brother then?"
"He didn't. He snuck up from behind his brother and stabbed him in the heart, metaphorically and literally. He wouldn't have won a fair fight. That's why he failed to defeat the uprising. Ah, here we are: magna patria populi mei, The Great Home of my People; Karnas."
Pyro and Etah both looked outside thier transport. They were looking at a lush green world with vast seas, and were descending past the clouds, and when they cleared, Sauris, the Throne of Karnas, Capital of the Karnasaur Meritocratic Federation, was displaying all its beauty to them. Towering, glistening skyscrapers, golden in hue with the setting yellow sun, floods of black Karnasaurs in the streets, the Halls of Regality, palace to the Emperor when on Karnas, towering high above the streets, it's magnificent minarets rising above it's catherdral-like base, with it's great, mighty dome in the center. At the very top of the dome, looking out over all the lands of Yetu, was the Throne Room, Etah knew.
They left this splendorous sight as they descended further to a landing platform; huge swathes of Karnasaurs, sreaming in excitement and anticipation, were crowded behind force fences, with a walkway cleared in the street for Etah's undoubtedly monumentous ride to the Shrine of Yetu, where the Old Guardians, a asect of priests dedicated to protecting the remaining shards of Yetu's reign. would meet with him, pray with him, bless him, make sure he knew the song by heart as all Karnasaurs must, and make sure he fasted and was prepared for the ceremony that night. It was an overall 5 hour process from the exiting of the shuttle to Etah's entrance onto the stage to sing to the millions of Karnasaurs in the Shrine, and the billions waiting outside, and the trillions watching on the television. Every Karnasaur was going to watch him sing except those engaged in combat or can otherwise not watch him at all. Pyro had plently of time to ID and eliminate the extremists. Neutralizing the bombs they likely set in advance, however, would be the nail-biter, let alone any exremists intl may've missed. Pyro looked at the crowd.
"Looks like you've got quite the fan club."
"When you live for as long as I have, you generally get used to everyone knowing you on an almost personal level."
The shuttle door opened, and the full blast of the crowd hit them, To Pyro, it was annoying.
Pyro hopped out of the craft, and on to the ground. He began to pat himself down, checking for all of his gear, and dropped a sack onto the ground next to him. He tightened up all of his armor, and then hit a button on an armband of the suit. The whole thing started to glow blue, and then slowly the light became duller and duller as a strange substance seemingly built up on the armor.
"What's with your suite Pyro?" Etah asked curiously as he prepared for his ceremony.
"Infantry scaled neutron armor," Pyro said without stopping, taking out different pieces of equipment and clipping it onto his belt, "Nothing's gonna kill me unless it's got the word proton in front of it." Finally he pulled out his weapons, a large black metal sword, and clipped the hilt onto his belt; two small laser blasters; and an LR-3200, along with 8 fully loaded clips attached to a bandoleer. The rifle had a shoulder strap attached to it, and he whipped it around to his backside, and tightened up. The last thing he pulled out was a small ear-piece attached to a small transparent screen that flipped in front of his right eye.
"Locked and loaded," He said as he threw the bag and everything left in it back into the shuttle, "Is there going to be any help once I'm out there, or am I on my own for this?"
Tholker bolted towards a surface entrance with Ahrganot close behind. The Eteno tried to open the door to the small elevator room, but found that it was locked. Disappointedly, Tholker smashed it in with a hard kick. It split vertically into two pieces. As casual as he was on the shuttle, Tholker walked into the elevator room with his Dhragolon partner. Zhevhyit pressed a button for an elevator, and one promptly arrived. The doors opened, and the two commandos rushed inside as the short one rapidly pressed the 'close door' button. The elevator doors closed and it began to descend. Ahrganot noticed that there were some tools in a box resting on the floor. Some thirty seconds into the two commando's ride, they heard a boom, and the elevator's doors opened. A couple of seconds afterward, one of the cables on the elevator snapped, causing it to fall shortly, and get stuck at an angle. The toolbox slid and stopped against one of the walls, and Ahrganot and Tholker held onto the handrails to keep from falling down the dark shaft.
"Ah... what do we do know?" Ahrganot asked.
"I think... yes, there's a grate over there. If we can get in that vent, we might be able to crawl through it to one of the maintinence rooms. Stay where you are, I'll break the grate."
Bathed in a red emergency light, Zhevhyit slowly inched towards the toolbox across the elevator. When he got within reach of it, he grabbed it with one hand and looked inside. There was an assortment of tools inside, but what Tholker liked the most was the red crowbar. He grabbed it with his other hand, leaning against the wall of the elevator, and noticed some writing on it.
"Property of G. Freeman... huh. Oh well."
Tholker slowly moved to the opened doors of the elevator, and leaned towards the large grate while holding onto a handrail to prevent himself from falling. He smashed in the grate with the crowbar, threw the crowbar in the vent, and then climbed into the vent himself.
"Come on, tall guy." He said to his partner still in the elevator.
Ahrganot nodded, and inched towards the opening, clinging to the guardrails. When he got close enough to the vent, he grabbed onto the edge of it with both hands, and pulled himself in. Mere seconds after, the other cable holding up the elevator car snapped, sending it falling down the shaft.
"That... was close. So, where does this vent lead to again?"
"It leads to a maintinence room."
"How do you know all about this place? You're a soldier!"
"I have a hard-drive in my brain loaded with crap like that."
"Unfortunately, I can't get anything I want from the Emperor. I requested Karnasaur Assassins to be sent to back you up, but Emperor Clar decided that he couldn't risk Assassins being seen in the Shrine's underlevels. 'It could cause massive public unrest about the Shrine's security'" Etah responded.
"Well if a bunch of terrorists can turn it into a sinkhole, pretty sure that you need some unrest about that."
"That was my argument. He already made up his mind though. You will, however, have the Old Guards." Etah gestured to the priests to his left, wearing ceremonial white robes, with red runes etched across them, hoods up.
"Great. What're they going to do, throw holy water and recite incantations?"
"We are unaware of how the priests in your empire go about thier mandate, but we use lethal methods on those who would threaten to destroy the Shrine." One of the priests hissed, almost whispered out. Etah always hated how they speak like that; he had seen some of the most insanity-spawning sights this galaxy has to offer, but no matter how many times he's worked with an Old Guard, thier voice always sends chills up his spines and makes his blood run cold for a few seconds. He looked at Pyro.
"So you know, these extremists are often very protectionalistic. If they must detonate the bombs in thier clothes to kill you, they will. Expect more than a few "gifts" rolling by your feet. But the number one rule is-"
"Don't let them set off the bombs, I know."
"No. That's priority one. Rule number one is to never get caught off guard. I've fought with these kinds of people before..." Etah began to sink into memories... well, more like be flooded by them. They rushed all at once, flashing by his eyes; the scar tissue on the Karnasaur's back, the laughing Karnasaur on the balcony, the daggar with long, flowing lines etched on its surface sticking out of his friend's back, the Karnasaur falling into the vat of necronis... suddenly, he snapped back to reality.
"I need to go. The rehearsal begins soon."
"You rehearse this?"
"To aquaint myself with the acoustics, as the reasoning goes, but the traditional reason is that I can call to Yetu, and give him my personal thanks and regards."
"You Karnasaurs really like your tradition."
"Indeed... Pyro, may ask you something?"
"Depends on what it is."
"I noticed that you and Admiral Cinder seem rather close. She referred to you for advice. Curiositas mea obest... do the GHD have rules against fraternization?"
"Yes. We're not close that way, Etah. And why do you keep talking like that?"
"What do y- Oh, yes. It's Sauran. I tend to start speaking it more when on Karnas. That phrase I said is translated to 'My curiousity is my bane'. Now, if you will answer me again-"
"No. You have a rehearsal, I have this freaking massive place to sweep by myself- twice. Ask me later." Pyro cut in. He hen proceeded to walk out into the Shrine's underlevels, with the Old Guards following him. Some stayed behind to atted to Etah's needs.
"Colonel, we do need you on the Shrine grounds for the rehearsal." One of the Old Guards said.
Etah smirked at the alien walking way from him, and thought in Sauran for the first time in a while.
Commemorat meae se paulo minor nimis.
He reminds me of my younger self a bit too much.
"Of course, Brother." Etah said as he turned around and walked off towards the Singer's Elevator.
Pyro jumped down into the underlevels off of a sort of balcony type area. He looked around, his eyepiece giving him a few different types of imaging as he made sure no-one was there. The old guards seemed to prefer the stairs, and walked down towards him before splitting up. As he began to run forwards, he saw a man walk across a hall, seemingly unaware of the dragon's pressense. "You, halt!" Pyro called out as he held his rifle aimed at the man.
The man stopped, dropped what he was carrying and ran back where he came from. Pyro wasted no time, and let a few charges fire form his weapon, decorating the underground walls with small craters as the target dodged the gunfire.
The dragon charged, and ran around the corner with great speed. Once the target was in clear site, he took aim and fired a single shot, hitting the man in the leg and dropping him to the ground. Pyro ran up to him, grabbing him by the collar and throwing him against a wall. "Alright you," he said to the captured target, "You're going to tell me where the rest of your little terrorist party is, and where you set up explosives."
"What explosives?" the man said back, rhetorically.
Pyro's mouth began to smoke up, the crackling noise of a fire brewing inside of him. "Oh..." the man said fearfully, "Those explosives... gladly..."The man pulled out a map from his pocket and handed it to Pyro. "Don't kill me... please?"
"That is not up to me," Pyro said as he took the map and ran off, looking for his first target.
The maintenance room was rather circular and small. Tool racks and levers were everywhere. Then, the ground began to shake slightly.
"Do you feel that?" Ahrganot asked.
"Yeah. They're coming. Brace yourself."
They stood back to back to give themselves a 360 view of the room. The ground started to shake more violently. Somewhere in the distance, they heard an explosion; it sounded like a pod emerging from the ground. They waited there for several minutes. No one came through nor did either of them sense them going anywhere.
Ahrganot suddenly heard a single footstep down a nearby corridor. He quickly tossed a few energy shruiken down the hall. He heard two Kklxin collapse to the ground, though he heard the third shruiken keep whisking down the hall.
"Impossible. I couldn't have missed," Ahrganot uttered.
Then, the third shruiken came whisking from the other side.
Tholker shouted, "Ahrganot, duck!"
Ahrganot quickly lowered his head. The shruiken had bounced off of something. Soon enough, something else had emerged from the dark corridors. Tholker's brain started going hairwire at the sight of it and Ahrganot was equally shocked.
Tholker said, "What in Marana's name is going on?! I'm standing right here!"
From the corridor came a similar voice. "No, I'm over here!" The figure emerged from the darkness. It looked like an identical clone of Tholker.
The cloned Tholker said, "Well, well. It's nice to see another fellow Eteno here."
Ahrganot said, "Who are you? What is the meaning of this?!"
The clone Tholker replied, "Tholker, you really shouldn't let that motor oil spill. That one cult really gave us the upper hand in this battle."
Tholker said, "No way. How did you replicate my DNA like that precisely? We don't even have that kind of technology."
Ahrganot said, "And what cult are you talking about?"
The clone replied, "Those aren't questions that should be troubling you any longer. Anyways, I have some business to attend to so my boys will have to take you down."
After the clone teleported away, armies of Kklxin came emerging from the corridors. The two of them braced themselves for battle.
As the Dhragolon and Eteno waited anxiously, Tholker spoke up, still in in a state of shock.
"So they took the blood that was mixed with the motor oil... remade my organic parts... and then put in the same robotics I have? I'm really worried here... I mean, I'm pretty awesome." Tholker tried to chuckle, but only managed a nervous 'eh'.
The first Kklxin troops ran down one of the halls with guns blazing. Tholker leapt behind some metal boxes, and his partner slid right behind. The Eteno opened fire with his assault rifle, sending explosive bullets across the room. The Kklxin still alive ducked for cover, but found none due to the blind tossing of incendiary grenades, which also killed more of the beasts. Ahrganot seized the opportunity and broke from his cover, ready to strike. He cut precisely and quickly, killing the remaining enemies.
"Let's get out of here before any more show up!" Tholker yelled to Ahrganot.
Ahragnot nodded, and ran down the hallway lined with bodies, intent on finding that Tholker clone. Zhevhyit caught up quickly, using his robotic legs. Tholker heard faint Kklxin voices, and signaled for Ahrganot to slow. The two carefully made their way to a split in the hallway. Tholker went ahead thorugh the left hall, and Ahrganot through the right.
Tholker followed the speaking Kklxin as they got louder and louder, eventually reaching a cracked open door. Curious as to what they were talking about, the Eteno cyborg cautiously peered inside. A scientist was laying on the ground in a small pool of blood as two Kklxin interrogated him.
"Where's your big, bad particle weapon?""
"I... I've already told you, Harold was in charge of the project, and he was the only person aside from the director that knew where it was!"
"Well, since he's dead and we don't know where that director guy is, you're gonna have to think hard!"
Having heard enough, Tholker burst into the room, and slammed the first Kklxin in the head with Hitstick. The second turned, only to have his skull crushed, painting the wall behind him with small patches of sickly yellow blood.
"Who are you, and do you require medical attention?" Tholker asked the scientist.
"I'm Doctor Kalvin Reinhardt, and yes I need medical attention, simpleton!"
Etah perked up. The Old Guard around him did, too. They all smelled it:
It went by several names, but they all started the same. It was chemical that only affected Karnasaurs because of thier unique nitrogen-based physiology. It broke down Sauran cells into basic forms, making the poor victim seems to melt away. Gory, hideous, painful death it is. Fortunately, it only existed in liquid form and Karnasaurs could smell it a mile away. Someone was trying to assassinate Etah, but had done so poorly. Disregarding it, Etah tested the microphone before being sent into the massive coloseum-like Shrine grounds. He began to hear the music of the song... the beating of the drums... the tinkling of the bells... and he began to sing.
"Baba Yetu, yetu, lieu, mbinguili yetu yetu amenia, Baba Yetu, yetu-" He stopped suddenly. He felt a small vibration in the ground. A small explosion. The extremists were starting to roll gifts out... he was concerned, but he knew it meant that either Pyro or the Old Guards had engaged the enemy. Then his cybernetics focused on a target at the top of the Shrine walls. He zoomed in and saw a sniper. Only this wasn't a Hunre... it looked cybernetic. Upon focusing the zoom further, curiosity turned to shock which in turn turned to horror.
It wasn't a Hunre sniper.
It was a Kklxin scout watching him.
He knew he had to think fast; Kklxin on Karnas; it's never happened before. Then something smashed into him like a starship at FTL:
What if the Kklxin were helping the Hunre? It made sense... The Hunre to distract the team while he was left out in the open... the Shrine would be destroyed, the Karnasaurs would be devastated and go waste time and resources hunting down the Hunre. Etah would be incapacitated, easily captured... Of course, this was all speculation. He continued to sing, watching the Kklxin.
Damn it, Pyro. Get your objective done, because this op just got alot more interesting
As Pyro ran through the underground halls, looking at the maps he had just been given, he stopped, and turned to look around, having come to where a bomb should have been located. "It should be here," he said aloud as he looked through the maps over and over. He suddenly stopped and turned around as he heard footsteps and clicks behind him. He turned araound to see a line of Kklxin soldiers with their weapons trained on him.
"I don't know who or what you all are," he said to them, "But you've got about 10 seconds to surrender yourselves, or I'll kill each and every one of you."
A few of the soldiers there chuckled as they prepared to fire. Pyro jumped back, wings unfolding as he flew backwards, breathing out a blast of flames before him and covering himself in smoke. He quickly landed further away and pulled his side arm quickly aiming and firing 9 shots and bringing 9 of the blindly firing soldiers to the ground.
"This is not good," he said to himself as he stayed low to the ground, "They knew we were coming, and where from." He clicked a few buttons on his wrist, and then ran back towards where he came from.
As he ran, he came across one of the elders who had come down with him. "Sir," he said in a very militaristic, objective driven tone, "Get your men out of here, I'm going to dust the tunnels."
"Dust?" the elder said in his odd voice, "I don't know what you mean by that, but very well." After speaking the elder went off to communicate and warn his brethren.
Pyro got to the tunnel exits where his U-150 was waiting for him. He tapped a few more buttons on his wrist band, and a missile popped out of the fighter's missile compartment. He took the missile and began to unpack a few of his things, loading them into the missile.
He returned the missile to his fighter and turned around to see the elders leaving the tunnel. "Just in time," he said, "This ought to smoke the little bastards out."
"I must now what it is you intend to do, our spontaneous ally," the first elder said to him. Right as he finished talking, Pyro hit a button and the missile fired into the tunnel.
"Don't look at the tunnel," Pyro said casually, "That stuff will sting your eyes like no tommorow. What it is, is simply a sand filled explosive." As he said that, a huge explosion sounded and dust and sand shot out of the tunnel exit. "It won't hurt anyone too badly unless their right next to the explosion, but the point is that the sand will create massive electromagnetic interference, and... temporarily stop anyone from detonating anything rigged down there. The game has changed, they were ready for us, which means that they probably have a backup plan ready above ground."
The elders stared at the hazey tunnel entrance, "You're insane," one of them said.
"Good, it takes a little insanity to be a good warrior," Pyro said as he hit a few more buttons and his fighter flew up and began to scan the city for signs of trouble.
While that was going on, a lone terrorist came running out of the tunnel with his hands to his face, caughing and screaming in agony, "Gaaah! My eyes!"
Pyro got up and pulled his pistol again, shooting him in the leg as he walked up to him. The man cried out at the pain and fell to the ground. At that, Pyro withdrew his weapon and pulled out a smaller water pouch, taking the victim by his head and forcing his eyes to stay opened while he washed them out with the water.
"I know that hurts," Pyro said to him as he held him still, putting the water away, "I think that we can find medics somewhere that can help you, but you're going to stay here and tell us where your men are; and no lies this time."
The man looked up at him through barely funcitoning eyes and swallowed, "Snipers... Kklxin snipers... ready to take out their target."
"Where are they?" Pyro asked mercilessly.
"The.. the shrine walls...." he said in pain.
"Where is that?" Pyro turned to ask the elders as he let the captive out oof his grip.
The elder he was looking at turned and pointed towards the structure, "Good luck getting there in time," he said, "You'll need it."
"Luck..." Pyro scoffed, "That's what this is for," he said as he hit a few more buttons on his arm band. Very quickly, his fighter flew by and was hovering in front of the sniper. "The sand haze should last for another 20 minutes or so," he finished off, "After that, the little terrorist party will be able to set off their explosions, so as soon as this guy is done with his little song, there should be an army ready to move down into the tunnels."
"Don't you think any of this is a little excessive," the elder said to him.
"There's no such thing as excessive force when it comes to our people," Pyro said, "If I had it my way, I'd have just used a fuel air explosion to scorch out the whole tunnels. The only reason I didn't open with the dusting was because I wanted to make sure I was getting all good information from everyone here."
Tholker said, "Alright, Doctor Reinhardt, let me give you some of these medi-packs. Hopefully, your injuries weren't too severe."
Ahrganot said, "Reinhardt, I do not want you to be worried, but there is an imposter of Tholker running around here."
"Really? I'm sure I can tell them apart."
Tholker replied, "Sadly, it's not as easy as it sounds. The imposter is a near-perfect replica of me."
Reinhardt said, "Oh dear. How is that even possible?"
Ahrganot replied, "I don't know, but the imposter mentioned a cult of some sort. He did not say more than that. But anyway, do you know how the defense is holding up?"
"From what I've heard, they are in need of an extra hand, but these Kklxin won't stop coming. We can't destroy the sphere that is currently at the planet's core without leaving the particle weapon undefended."
Tholker said, "I hate to say this, but we are going to have to split up. One of us is going to the sphere, and the other will have to assist the defensive forces."
Ahrganot objected, "That's out of the question. There's an evil twin of you running about this place. We can't risk the two of you getting mixed up. You'll be in even more danger when the defenses don't know who is who."
Tholker replied, "Don't worry, I'll be fine."
"Are you sure about this? Who knows what that imposter will do?"
"Ah, stop being so pessimistic. What, are you trying to spy on me or something?"
Reinhardt shouted, "For Marana's sake, make up your mind! I don't care what you do so long as those Kklxin don't torture me again!"
Ahrganot said, "My apologies, Tholker. You know the layout of this facility better than I, so perhaps I can instead go to the sphere. What is your decision?"
"Yeah, I think I'll hang out here. I'll try to inflitrate the Kklxin ranks and get them to think that I'm the imposter."
"Alright. I'll do my best to get to the sphere and destroy it." Ahrganot said back, already running out one of the doors.
Tholker turned to Reinhardt, and handed him a pistol.
"Well, thank you I suppose. I know the location of our experimental weapon here, so I'll make my way towards its' hiding place. You can't come with me, however. I can't risk you being this imposter you spoke of with your Dhragolon friend." The scientist said.
"Suit yourself. I'll get in the ducts and try to track down the other me."
"Up there?" Reinhardt pointed directly above himself to a grate ten feet off the floor.
"How will you get up there, you can't possibly jump up there!"
"Sure I can."
Zhevhyit walked below the vent, and crouched. He sprang upwards, smashed through the grate, and held himself in the vent with his hands and feet. Climbing up, Tholker activated his night-vision in his one robotic eye, closing the other. When he climbed into the horizontal vent section, he accessed his extensive plan of the facility with the intel that he had mixed in inside his head. Deciding to move North in the direction that the Kklxin had come into the maintinence room from, Tholker started off crawling.
Tholker came across little inside the vents aside from dust bunnies and Kklxin camera drones. He crawled for about ten minutes, until coming across a grate above one of the larger labs. The Kklxin had converted it into a command post. Several officers were in there, but the imposter Tholker was nowhere to be seen.
Tholker slowly and quietly removed the grate, and waited patiently until a Kklxin officer stood under him. When one moved into position, he dropped down onto it and smashed its' head in. Very rapidly, he took his gun and shot five or six Kklxin. The remaining soldiers fired back at Tholker, who used the dead officer's body as a shield. He took cover behind a freestanding bank of computers, and slowly crept around. The cyborg Eteno walked in a circle with the Kklxin, silently moving behind them, until he was no longer amused and saw fit to kill them with his rifle.
He scanned the room, and not seeing any more threats, ran to one of the computers that the Kklxin were using.
Etah had just finighed his rehearsal when an Old Guard approached him.
"Colonel, I believe that your companion would like to communicate with you." The Old Guard said as he handed Etah a holo-comm.
Once Pyro's image fizzed into focus, he began talking.
"Etah. Things just got alot more interesting."
"I know. The Kklxin are here. I doubt that this is a coincidence. I think that our dear old friend Renr has concocted another plan to get me into his grasp."
Etah felt the sting at his heart again.
"Yes... an old comrade of mine. He was captured by the Grox shortly before thier termination, and was... implanted. Heavily, by my guess. He now works to secure the members of the GSSOC Team for some reason, with a particular interest in me. And I am not bragging. Ask Tholker or Ahrganot when we see them again. He orchestrated the Genodraco attacks by controlling the General Drakko, and now he is orchestrating the Kklxin attacks."
"So, you're saying that he's a cybernetic Karnasaur who somehow has come to control the two most dangerous, non-politically affiliated forces in this galaxy, and is currently going to great lengths, includingthe destruction of his people's most sacred grounds... This happen often around this universe?"
"Eh, every century or so some mastermind hatches some brilliant plan to take over the Galaxy only to be foiled by some fatal flaw in his plan. Only this time, there is no fatal flaw; only weak links in the strategy. Have you dealt with the extremists?"
"Generally. I detonated a sand-filled explosive. It-"
"I'm familiar with the design. I did a bit of engineering in my free time. Disorients everyone in the tunnels, intereferes with electromagentics... et cetera. I take it you'll be leaving the explosives the the Old Guard, then?"
"Pretty much. I already told them to-"
Suddenly, a shout was heard on Pyro's side. Pyro looked and the last thing the transmitter sent was a holographic image of Pyro getting hit by an explosion from the right. The image fizzed out.
"Pyro!" Etah shouted. He looked at the Old Guard.
"How much longer until the ceremony begins?"
"One standard hour and 30 standard minutes."
"Plenty of time. Get me down there, I need to check on him!"
"As you command, Colonel."
The elevator took him down. He asked the nearest Old Guard where Pyro was. He pointed him towards the place where Pyro put his fighter. Etah immediatly dropped to all fours and sprinted. The haze was heavy, his lungs were burning, and his eyes stung, but he refused to leave a team mate to die. When he reached the chamber, a battle was going on between the Old Guard and Kklxin forces. Pyro was behind the Old Guard line, on the floor; while the explosion didn't manage to pierce his neutron armor, it was heavily weakened, and piece of his right shin plating had cracked and implanted it's metal edge into Pyro's leg. In addition, the right side of his face was charred and a few small pieces of shrapnel manaed to dig into his scales, along with his whole right side being bruiesed up under his armor.
"Etah? What the hell are you doing here?"
"I never leave a comrade to die. Never."
He then began to administer first aid to the GHD, hoping that his lack of knowledge on GHD physiology wouldn't be a heavy issue. Etah reached for a first aid kit that had fallen out of Pyro's gear and dug through it trying to make estimated guesses as to what would be useful. Pyro turned 'round and used his good arm to dig through the kit, pulled out a few things, shoving them in Etah's arms, "This will stop the bleeding and act as a painkiller, this shot will help the shock damage, this metal brace is for my leg, its broken," he said, naming them off so that Etah could make better use of them.
"You got it," Etah responded as hen started working.
Once finished going through it, he shook his right arm a bit to try and pull it out of its twitching numbness before he unfastened his shin guard, and pulled it off and out of his leg whilst biting back a scream of aganoy. He took some more of the medical equipment from the kit while leaving his leg to Etah, and began slowly pulling the shrapnel out of his face. Etah dumped a powdery substance Pyro has given him across his leg wound, which began foaming up and plugging the bleeding up, he then looked up, and waited for Pyro to finish pulling out a piece of shrapnel to inject the shot into his gut. Pyro cried out briefly and then glared at him, "A little warning would be nice..." he retorted before grabbing another packet of power and smearing it over his bloody face.
After that much was done, Pyro tossed Etah his rifle and himself took out his side-arm, backing away and slowly getting up, leaning against a wall behind him to continue firing. One by one, a charge of about 10 terrorists was shot down and dropped to the floor. "What's the situation?" Etah asked one of the old guards.
"The situation here is resolved for the most part. Just get those explosives. Pyro's taken care of the snipers. I doubt that Renr planned any more surprises; he likely planned the snipers and explosives to be a two-pronged attack and a double-assurance. I'll hail GSSOC HQ to pick him up and get him back to the Bunker. There's better medical equipment there. I'll have to depart after the ceremony to tend to him further."
"No," Pyro said, "I'm fine as it is; Etah, since we needed to make plans to go meet with Admiral Cinder, we ought to head straight there after your cermony is over. I'll get a medical professional knowledgable with my species to finish me up." After he finished talking, he picked up his dropped equipment, repacking it and heading out, "I suppose the HQ would be more entertaining though..."
"Alright," Etah said, "We'll meet back there." Etah turned and left for the grounds again. When he got there, the Shrine was filled with people. The Ceremony commenced.
Meanwhile, Ahrganot was on his own now. He perked up, listening for the sounds of footsteps. Somewhere nearby, he could hear large masses of them concentrated from one spot. It had to be the spot where the Kklxin were coming from.
After dashing through making his way through mazes of metal pipes and generators he saw a metallic pod emerge from the floor releasing hundreds of Kklxin. Ahrganot used his super speed to quickly go inside the pod just before it closed. The pod began to descend a hole going down for miles.
"Ow!" Ahrganot had zipped to the ceiling because the pod's speed leaving a bruise on one of his wings. "This can't be good. I can't fly anymore. Oh well, I'll see what I can do."
Ahrganot had waited at least twenty minutes. As the pod continued he felt it heat up slightly. Then, there was a sudden burst in temperature. The pod had entered the the liquid Inner Core. He felt the gravity slightly increase. Then, it suddenly changed direction. Ahrganot had slowly fell to the floor.
"What is going on? Why has the gravity changed?"
The pod arrived inside a gigantic metallic structure. The pod reopened. Immediately, he heard a voice say, "Pod 5C now at docking bay." Ahrganot had looked up. Gravity was opposite of what he expected; it was going away from the center of the sphere. He could see armies of Kklxin scurrying to different pods on the ceiling and walls of the structure. A large glowing red ball of energy was situated at the sphere's center.
"Of course. Gravity is going the opposite direction to neutralize the intense pressure of the planet's core!" He continued observing. The red energy ball seemed to be producing embryos which were being taken through a glass tube and being grown into adult-size Kklxin within minutes. "And that ball of energy seems to be a part of a star. That explains why these Kklxin can be produced so quickly! But how do I stop it? And an even better question. How do I get out once it's stopped? The sphere would implode if the gravity was shut down."
He recalled hearing a tale of how a bounty hunter once destroyed a Kklxin sphere. He could not fathom how he did though so many had often disregarded it.
Not wanting to know what would happen after, he immediately took cover inside a nearby hole in the wall as some Kklxin troops came running to board the pod that he used to get down here. Skillfully, he grabbed the dog tag from the Kklxin who was last in line. He explored discretely looking for ways to shut down the sphere. He noticed six generators all arranged around the sphere. Bolts of lightning had occasionally shot between the energy ball and the generators.
"Shutting down one of those should be enough to destabilize the system." He made his way to the nearest generator and proceeded to hack it away with his sword, but it was no good. The generator was somehow harder than even Dragonrock.
However, he saw a nearby machine with a slot for an ID card. Quickly, he inserted it giving him access to a holographic terminal. He was looking for a command to shut down the generators only to be interrupted by a Kklxin general.
"What the hell do you think you are doing down here, Dhragolon?"
Ahrganot turned around. "What intricate craftsmenship you have here. I had no idea your people could construct something like this."
"Don't play any tricks! You obviously plan to shut down this place. How do you plan to accomplish that anyway? You don't even have the secret pa-"
Ahrganot once again quickly swiped the Kklxin generals ID and quickly overrid the command to shut down the facility. Soon enough, the alarms wailed and the gravity have shifted to the center of the sphere. Ahrganot quickly grabbed a nearby handrail, but the Kklxin general fell and burned at the energy core.
"WARNING!!! WARNING!!! GENERATOR 3 IS DOWN!!! GRAVITY IS COMPROMISED!!! INITIATE EVACUATION!!!"
Not long after, magma started to burst through the sphere's outer hulls. The pressure had caused the sphere to begin to collapse on itself. Ahrganot was holding the hand rail dangling above the burning energy core, gripping for his life.
"I've got you right where I want you, ya little weichaun..."
Tholker had pinpointed his duplicate roughly ten minutes ago in the computer room. Taking to the vents, he tracked him to a hastily installed elevator that went all the way down to the core of the planet. In an effort to follow the imposter, the short cyborg exited the claustrophobic ventilation system, and killed a Kklxin for his ID card. He rode down in the elevator car, and exited to the sight of lava pouring into the sphere he had entered. He walked out onto a metal catwalk, and looked below to see if there was anything of interest. There, he spotted the imposter on a catwalk below.
With narry a second thought, Tholker fired his handgun at the duplicate cyborg. With the same exact level of skill that the real version had, imposter Tholker dodged, and also pulled out a handgun. Running across the catwalks, they fired at each other, always missing or getting obstructed.
"You fool! You'll never manage to defeat us! We have new allies, new technology, and new targets!"
From behind a supply box, the real Tholker replied,
"None of that means anything here! I'll end you! You may be identical to me physically, but I have the superior intellect!"
"Well, use that intellect to think again! Look at your situation! Even if you kill me, which you won't, you'll die! Lava is flooding the entire sphere, and nobody will let the likes of you out!"
"Then I'll just kill you and impersonate you, if that makes any sense!"
Imposter Tholker, who now was on a higher catwalk, leapt off and towards the real Tholker in an attempt to tackle and kill him. He missed, but hit the ground running towards him. Tholker tried to smash his head with Hitstick as he approached, but the imposter ducked and rammed into his opponent, sending them both to the steel walkway. They wrestled, and the imposter managed to cut the real version's arm with the knife he took from his belt. Fortunately, Tholker managed to kick him off, sending him off balance. Tholker stood up and aimed his gun at the imposter. There they stood, waiting for the other to make their move, knowing full well that one clip wouldn't kill with their armor and ability to dodge.
Out of nowhere, the tearing sound of straining metal filled the huge chamber, and subsequently heard a yell. Both imposter and real Tholker looked up to see a Dhragolon falling. The real Tholker ran to catch him, and the imposter ran to get out of the sphere. Zhevhyit caught Ahrganot above his head with a loud grunt from his comrade. However, he showed little sign of real physical damage when set down, most likely due to the way Tholker caught him.
"Shall we go now? I think we have an army to fight."
Ahrganot and Tholker arrived back at the facility via the elevator. Immediately, they were greeted by armies of Kklxin. They were completely surrounded on all sides. Ahrganot hacked his way through while Tholker blasted away effortlessly. They fought for at least an hour until Tholker had received a holographic message.
Good work, GSSOC! We'll manage from here, but that imposter got away.
Ahrganot said, "You really didn't have to rescue me. You should have gone after the imposter. You let him get away!"
"I am somewhat offended. I would never leave a comrade behind!"
"Guess you are right. I'm just not used to that concept of yours. We Dhragolon are willing to sacrifice ourselves for everyone else. That's what we were taught back at the Combat Institution."
"You can't be reckless like that. We are GSSOC! We work together! I couldn't have let you die from something like this!"
"I've never seen you express your emotions like that, Tholker," Ahrganot said. "You do seem to have a serious side to you?"
"Meh, it was nothing. I'm just doing my job, that's all. Let's go home now."
After conclusing their debriefings, the GSSOC Team was unwinding for a minute in the Bunker. They were watching the news to see how things were progressing. Pretty soon, a bulletin appeared. The Karnasaur anchor says:
"In other news, it seems that today's Ceremony at the Shrine was given a secret shock: Hunre extremists were preparing to set off explosive devices in the hopes of destroying the Shrine of Yetu on Karnas. Also, it seems that Hashaeon snipers were in place in an attempt to assassinate Colonel Etah. However, both attempts were thwarted by the efforts of the rumored "Galactic Senate Special Operations Corp", a multi-species team comprised of the Galaxy's best dedicated to galactic stability. Rumored members of the team include Colonel Etah himself, the Eteno Tholker Zheviet, Dhragolon Ahrganot Skizgo, and an unknown fourth member who was present in the catacombs under the Shrine."
"Not only that, but it appears that Kklixin attacks have resumed with an assault on an Eteno particle accelerator. The Eteno and Dhragolon members of the GSSOC Team were rumored to have played a role in the defense of the facility along with the destruction of the sphere."
"In addition, it seems that the fiasco over one of the Eteno colonies where a crippled fleet of massive warships mysteriously appeared has ended. The official statement is that the fleet was nothing but an Eteno training exercise to see how the Eteno Navy can handle a sudden invasion. Officials list the exercise as a success."
When the anchor was finished, Etah and Pyro, who was in a wheelchair and was bound to it for the next few days until his leg healed, upped and readied to leave.
"Where're you guy's headed?" Tholker asked.
"Pyro needs a medical expert in for his own race and I need to speak with Admiral Cinder on Arckas; we both need to got to Arckas."
"Huh... well, get back soon. I'm sure we'll have another mission quickly." Tholker replied.
"Relax. Renr has lost an entire army; it'll be weeks before he can fully replenish his forces. We have plenty of time to find out where he's cloning the bastards. In the mean time, I think I could use some R&R." Etah proclaimed.
"Eh. It'd be nice to go a week without getting shot at." Said Tholker.
"Or narrowly evading plummeting to my death." Adds Ahrganot.
"Come, Pyro. Have you been through a wormhole before?" Etah asked, as he walks away, pushing Pyro's wheelchair.