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Parts 1~4 - Assasination - Warfront - Settling Differences - Gods amongst Men - Conclusion - What once was - Now and again


"Gods amongst Men"
 

 Noon.
The small chapel was crowded, surprisingly many friends and even some family showed up.
Soft music played as the guests mingled.
They ate, they drank, they were happy.

The music stopped, a silence fell.
"Ladies and gentlemen..." The pastor started.
"We're about to begin."
The guests headed to their appointed places, two groups on either side of the isle.

A different tune picked up, the ceremony started.
He walked out first and joined his best man on the podium.
Dressed in his finest, his expression betrayed his nervousness, trying desperately to maintain his composure.
"Stop worrying already." His friend whispered.
"You'll be fine."

 A minute later, the bride walked in.
He caught sight of her from the corner of his eye, then turned to look, nearly gasping at the sight.
Her slender form was emphasized brilliantly by the white dress.
Her shoulders, hips and back were bare, a long layered dress dragged on behind her and a faint veil covered her head and upper body.
Slowly she walked on, holding a bouquet of brilliant red roses.
Off-world import, some luxury commodities made it down to these outskirts after all.

She reached the podium.
He carefully lifted the veil from her face and folded it behind her head, the soft fabric flower like water over her braided hair.

"Dearly beloved...." The pastor started.
He didn't listen, lost entirely in the beauty of her perfect form and magnificent eyes.
"Do you take this woman as your lawfully wedded wife, to hold her dear in sickness and in health, till death do you part?"

He took a slow, deep breath, recalling those two simple words he had engraved in his mind.
"I do."

He slipped a new ring around her finger, similar to the engagement ring but this one was cast from pure gold, and had his name engraved inside.

He saw a glimmer in her eyes, saw how she suppressed a maddening grin behind that faux smile.
"And do you take this man as your lawfully wedded husband, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?"
"I do." She said, her voice bordering against inaudible.
She too pushed a ring around his finger, baring her name in it.

"Then by the power invested in me by our baron and law, I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride."

He took a hold of her face and kisses her deeply.
The crowd cheered.
Pops of corks pulled from champaign bottles resounded through the hall.
All were yelling and shouting, their joy dominating the mood.
All were celebrating the event.
All but one....

They consummated their marriage the moment they got home again.
Tearing the clothes from each other they didn't care about the torn fabric or falling glasses and vases.
They were in love, passionately and breathlessly.
This would be their life from now on, happy and together, wealthy and skilled, liked and most important, here.
He lost himself in her as she gave herself to him, heedless of their surroundings.
He didn't care about his lost past or previous life anymore, and she cared only for him.

 Their throws of love reigned into the early hours of the following morning.
"I love you..." She gasped horsely.
"I love you." He replied softly, caressing her as he gently lifted a locket of hair from her eyes.
A thought intruded.
"And I will love you forever." He whispered.

 

Deetex and Hasarith sat across a table, their minds linked and connected to a distant satalite.
They had observed the whole ordeal, but now that it was over so was their session.
Deetex cut the link and took a deep breath.
"Now, what have you learned from that?" He asked his ward.

"That humans are disgusting vermin?"
"Yes, but this wasn't a biology lession, it was psychology. What can you tell me about their feelings?"

Hasarith leaned back, rubbing his temples while contemplating the events.
He disliked these mental linkages, but it was his only reach outside the confines of his prison.

"We witnessed a wedding, two people got married after having spend an unspecified amount of time together under the influence of love."

 

"And...?"

"And what? This whole love thing borders closer to irrational insanity than an actual emotion... like an infection, a virus that releases endorphins and suppresses common sense. Highly contagious yet strangely targeted, not everybody is susceptible."

"Oh if only you knew."

 

 

 

 


Almere Prime Orbital Structure, 6 months later.

Six officers sat in silence next to one another.
Their uniforms were stripped of command insignia but a worn down patch betrayed them as former leviathan captains.
The Special Six.

The door opened, revealing the company's president.
He took a stand opposite to them and placed a small holocube on the table.
"Gentlemen, madam, thank you for joining me on such short notice."
"It's not like we were going anywhere." Captain Lebanov remarked.
"Yeah, you saw to that." Captain Vlissing added.

"But I never do anything without purpose, I trust you've been making good use of your free time?"

"Training as per your instructions, sir." Captain Reaper replied with a sneer.

Deetex smiled, reaching out and touching the top of the holocube.
It flickered to life, glowing blue and establishing a projection field.

The President waved his hand over it, causing it to show the outline of a new ship before them.
He waved his hand past, the hologram extended into six individual ships.

They were sleek and long, a narrow profile accented heavily by a long sharp protusion extending down from the nose.

Captain Reaper whistled, clearly impressed as he touched the hologram and turned it over, inspecting it from every angle.

Another hologram of the ship appeared in front of Deetex, a larger one this time that he started dismantling in seperate sections.
"Captains, this is the Warmonger class, a brand new design warship of an entirely new generation."

"These are all uniquely named, what are you implying sir?" Captain Tessel asked, zooming in on the nameplate of his own hologram.
The other captains noticed it as well, focussing on their respective names.

"I give you the Armageddon, the Apocalypse, the Ragnarok, the End of Days, the Judgement and the Cataclysm, they're larger than the Leviathans you've been practicing on, faster, better build in terms of protection and far more advanced weapons wise... These will be your ships."

"What sort of weapons are we talking here?"  Captain Reaper asked.
In response Deetex pulled up his own hologram and gave them an exploded view of the front.
Several pieces changed from blue to red, drawing their attention.
"For starters you will have no physical munitions anymore, Torpedo launchers are gone."
"How are we going to engage at range then, what about bombardments, Jump beacons?" Captain Lebanov yelled.
He was by far the most aggresive of the six, short tempered and generally just a nasty person, earning his alias and living up to it.
'The Bastard Lebanov'


"Their primary weapons are highly refined particle cannons situated at key locations along the wings, two at the front, two port and starboard, and two aft." 
The hologram focussed on one of a set of cylindrical objects, letting everything else fade in the background.
"The focal aperture has a gimbal range of 75 degrees, enabling you to engage head-on or broadside at discression at ranges up to a lightyear."

Like children, the eyes of all the captains lit up, their interest peaked.

"Ammending that, the Warmonger class features a significantly upgraded Close-in weapons system, rather then individual turrets with two to four barrels each, the system now relies on clustered groups of several jointed quadcannons at scattered locations, thus not only a densified field of fire but also crossfire from multiple angles."

Another image appeared, a hexagonal platform with several weapon emplacements on each corner, and a larger cannon in the middle.
The six cannons had four barrels each and were locked down, all of them pointing inwards.
Deetex snapped his fingers, the turrets unfolded and extended, turning and twisting showcasing astounding flexibility and reach.
The larger turret in the middle swiffled and turned, two quad-barreled cannons hung from either side of a sensor-studded body.

The image shrank as the background of the Warmonger focussed again.
Dotted all across the main hull and along the rim of the wings tiny red specs represented the platforms, and there were certainly a lot of them.
"Wait, back up..." Captain Vlissing started.
"Those were the same quads as the levi's use?"

"They are, serially linked through a phase-staged control system, that being said, the crown piece of weapons is far more interesting."

Deetex pointed at the nose of the large ship, as he touched it the entire nose section blinked, it's sharp cone included.
Schematics showed along side the silhuette of a massive cannon assembly.
A web-like structure was connected to the barrel that extended through the cone, and powerleads branched out from behind it.

"You all know the Leviathan's Ion cannon, you've all used it in battle and know of it's drawbacks."

"Fifteen whole minutes of weakened shields, blind sensors und a drained powergrid that takes an hour to fully restore, I would say so." Captain Tessel added.

"The Warmonger is equiped with a new weapon, a Tachyon flux cannon, powered by its own reactor and entirely oblivious to the firing ship's subsystems."
"Tachyons, I thought those couldn't be weaponized?" 
"Normally no, but we had a breakthrough in our studies. This weapon recharges in mere minutes and has a range several times that of the Leviathan's outdated Ion cannon."

Now Captain de la Carta whistled, he had been known for deploying the Ioncannon most frequently at using the most ingenuis tactics to mitigate his ship's weakened state.
It didn't take much to tell what he was thinking about.

"Moving on to the aft." Deetex continued, absent-mindedly swiping the hologram around and to it's top and back.
"...Twin solid-state reactors provide the bulk of the power, they're highly efficient and can take a beating, working in tandem, another first."

"What about engines?"

The hologram zoomed in on the rear of the ship, the engine housing started glowing red.

"A Quartet of high speed Field-reactor turbines will provide the bulk of your thrust and navigation, they're capable of sustaining Supercruise for a month before servicing is required, and a newly developed Precision Jumpdrive will be enabled soon."

"Meaning?" 
"Meaning, we'll be developing a network of fixed jumppoints for our fleet to employ, as soon as the circumstances warrent."

"What's that thing just beneath the bridge?" Captain Guillermo asked.
Normally a quiet one, Captain Grant Guillermo stared at his own hologram intently and was analyzing each piece meticulously.

A devious grin crept across Deetex' face.
He snapped his fingers again, and the large hologram behind him tilted and moved, focussing on a small pedestal-like object just behind and below the main bridge.
"That, madam and gentlemen, is the heart of the Warmonger class' biggest advancement, the central processor for the Cloaking device."

All the captains suddenly bolted straight, this was news indeed.
"A cloak, a genuine viable cloak?"

"Yup, contrary to previous iterations fielded by houses Liberty and Rheinland, these still keep full sensor and shield capabilities intact, cruise and jump enabled, just keep in mind weapons fire can be used to track your location."

"Have they been field tested?" 
"You've all read the report regarding the Midnight Falls, the technology is based on its design. Now then...."

As though on que, an administrative aid walked in holding a box of datapads and several other holocubes.
One of each was handed to each of the six captains.

"These will be your ships, I suggest you study up as they are notably different in several areas compared to the leviathans you've served on in the past."

With another wave he ended his own hologram and started to leave.
"You will be the spearpoint of our navy, to strike far and deep, fast and strong, report to me once your crews have been transferred and you're ready for your first assignments."

Outside the briefing room, six individual Jumpholes opened up.
All six captains turned to look, as an equal number of brand new, gleaming smooth warships of unpresentended power emerged.

As Deetex marched down the corridor, another aid caught up to him.
"Sir!"
"Daniel, what have you got for me?"
"Selene's latest love letter, things are spurring in the Bretonian kingdom."

He took the report and mulled it over.
"A new king?"

"Closely kept secret, but his predecesor abdicated a month ago, King Dragon officially declared his reign today and his first act as king was to double Bretonia's military industries."

"Things are fast running rampant over there, hostilities between them and the Kusarian empire could escalate quickly because of this..."

"That's not all Sir, there's talk about the Bretons wanting to issue a liaison officer in our ranks, apparently several new laws passed forbit the Bretonian government to deal with foreign contractors without a native on-staff."

Deetex stopped his stride and pondered the situation.
"This is good news, what's one more agent in our numbers between the dozen already in place."
"Sir?"

"Send over a diplomat or two, give Selene some help with this mess, we must earn favor with House Bretonia for what is to come."

"Err, forgive me Sir, but Selene asked for you in person, might I inquire why you aren't going yourself?"

"I have other matters to attend elsewhere, what do you know of planet New Chernobyl?"

"Never heard of it." the aid replied, baffled.

"Good, keep it that way, it's actually quite classified."

Without another word the two men departed, the aid headed for the APOS communication center, while the corporate President reached the docking bay where his ship was located.

"There we go again, old friend." he said at nothing in particular.
The Raven's sleep black hull gleamed softly in the artificial lighting.
At the sound of his voice, the Raven sprang to live, its obsidian black hull glowing with veins of power giving it an almost liquid-like sheen.

After having performed all the requisit pre-flight checks the little ship departed the APOS and headed out to a clearing above the capitol planet.

As responsive as his thoughts could allow, the magnificent vessel acted like an extension of his own body and mind.
He dove beneath a cruiser, flew through the wings of a frigate, undoubtably causing several of it's crew heartattacks, rolled to avoid maintenance drones and supply containers and finally dashed forward with extreme acceleration.

He felt free, liberated, as limitless as his imagination could allow.

Reaching a clear spot, he fired up the Jumpdrive and send the Raven hurling through the folds in space.

Even with this miraculous Jumpdrive, planet New Chernobyl was still a few days away.
That faraway planet was not close by, wasn't even in the Sirius system... yet the Mercury Foundries own it, and made good use of it.

A binary starsystem with a single planet and two moons in it's orbit.
Night time came only twice a week in the form of a brief eclipse, and were it not for the planet's distance to it's enbracing stars the surface would have been a blazing infurno.

But it caught massive amounts of radiation, heat and light, photons and neutrons, a veritable heaven for particle physics research and energy production.
He had secretly established a covert shipping lane between here and another distant shipyard with access to a naturally occuring Jumphole.

The mighty armada was almost ready, he just needed one more thing from the New Chernobyl labs and everything would be set.

The Raven broke out of the folding tunnel and reemerged in normal space, several million kilometers too soon.
Deetex noticed, dragging himself out of his meditation and checked all scanners.

Raven's hull suddenly rippled from bow to stern as an unseen force expanded in front of them.

'Severe spatial turbulence, heightened neutronic emitions from the stars.'

Deetex could barely see through the noise of the scanners, static filled the comm system as electro-static eruptions bombarded his ship.

'Full shields, establish filters' he thought, and his ship followed.
Encasing the Raven in an impenetrable barrier, all his readings went completely quiet as the cockpit went dark.
The Raven's shields were so powerful they kept out everything, absolutely everything its master did not explicitly allow.

On feeling and memory alone he guided his ship closer to the binary system, sensing the area beyond the ship's sensors and shields.
Another ripple passed along the Raven's hull, passing right through the shields.
'More powerful this time' he realized.

He pushed the ship into hard acceleration, at nearly the speed of light he raced towards the planet.
With every passing kilometer the ripples grew stronger, more frequent, close to threatening the integrity of the Raven's outer skin.

Then... it stopped.

As Raven descended through the atmosphere no more tremmers were encountered, the rippling stopped and extreme solar emitions fell within normal ranges.
'Curious...'

Within only a few seconds Raven slowed down to merely the speed of sound, then a slow crawl as it reached the central research facility.

"Well, if it isn't our wayward landlord, back from beyond I see?" the Chief researcher commented as Deetex entered the main hall.
"Mister Schaaf, mind telling me what's going on over here?"

The researcher looked up in surprise.

"What do you mean?"

"My ship was nearly torn apart, the Twins are wreaking havoc with local space it seems."

The chief researcher scratched his balding head, piecing together all the many different projects they had going here.

"Torn apart, how...?" he finally asked cautiosly.

"Repeated, cascading waves of compression and expansion, ripples that increased in frequency and amplitude until my ship entered the atmosphere."

"hmmmm" the scientist hummed, slowly getting up from his seat and heading to a different terminal.

"In truth, we have been playing around with a type of sub-quantum cohesion field for the Mercury Cascade reactors, those ripples could be residual side effects of our..." 
His statement was interupted by a loud noise, a rumble passed through the room and echoed past.

"That's never happened before..." he concluded.

"Professor, what exactly are you doing to my reactors?"

The scientist waved him on as he ran towards the exit of the main ward.

As they ran he explained in more detail the experiments they've been conducting.

"The effect a Cascade reactor has on Mercury as a liquid and metal has always intrigued us, so at first we tried substituting the mercury for less volitile and less toxic materials, fruitlessly... when that didn't work we instead altered the entire aproach and... uhm..."

Deetex grabbed the scientist by the shoulder and pulled them both to a stop.

"Well?" he asked sternly.

"And we've managed to initialize a reaction using Antimatter instead... encased in a micro-singularity..."
Deetex had heard enough, releasing the scientist and continuing to the facility's power plant.
He knew what was about to happen, but hadn't expected events to unfold this quickly.
After all, it's been a few thousand years ago from his perspective.

"Sound a general alarm and prepare for immediate evacuation." He ordered.
Professor Schaaf looked stunned.
"Evacuate? Why, we have everything under control?"

Deetex linked up with the central computer system, tunneling his way through the firewalls and countermeasures with ease, and downloaded the entire database to his own memory.

"You have mere minutes left to live if you stay here, you can either stay and be disintegrated or leave for the Frame colonies and continue your work." He stated coldly in response.

After a minute of dodging questions he wouldn't answer, he reached the main reactor.
From the outside everything looked in order, all the readings were in nominal ranges, but he could see the cascade reaction growing inside the main chamber, contained within the microscopic black hole they generated.

Several canisters of antimatter had been linked to the reactor injection assembly, clearly well designed and constructed, but their safeties were already giving way.

Another tremble coursed through the building, heavier this time, forceful enough to cause all the attending scientists and engineers to pause their work and stare at the reactor first, then at him.

"Alarm, evac, now!" He commanded.
Several of the weaker-willed personnel dropped everything and made a run for the exit, others stayed a little longer to secure their work and pack up their tools... But in the end they all left.

There were several shuttles present for them to take, nothing more but glorified escape pods, they never the less had the range and speed requires to escape should anything go wrong

"What's wrong with our reactor?" Schaaf asked quietly.
"Meltdown..." Deetex replied with the same tone of voice.
Schaaf now had a look of genuine terror on his face.
It took him a second to physically react, finally stumbling on his footing before walking away, then running away for his own lab.

Deetex reached out and metaphysically touched the reactor's inner shielding, completely decayed, only by virtue of the energy barriers in place to contain the antimatter had it not broken out already.
Another tremble, this one fierce enough to shake loose several girders holding the ceiling place.
Chucks of cement came plummeting down. 
One landed on Deetex' head, with a twitch he send enough force through it to shatter the block to fine dust around him.

Holding up his hand he captured some of the dust in a bubble where his holographic eyes could analyze it.
'Severe particle decay, signs of dimension compression....'

He waved his hand towards the rampant reactor, then like a vail the dust from the shattered piece of concrete flowed out and encapsulated the main unit.
At his will, the razor thin layer hardened and densified, becoming so dense even he could no longer see through it.
The atmosphere seemed to calm down but only a little, he had bought then a few precious minutes extra time, but now it was his turn to get away.

On his way back to the Raven he encountered several more technicians and scientists that simply didn't grasp the extend of the emergency.
'Their choice.' He thought to himself, passing by aggravated faces and dismissive salutes.

His improvised barrier gave way just as soon as the Raven lifted off, a massive tremor send the entire planet vibrating with anger.
Significant portions of the research lab collapsed as their supports crumbled like sand beneath the weight.
He looked on as several escape pods blasted off, following up to some of their already-airborn brethren, but several more still remained berthed.

The Raven pulled up and fired it's engines, as fast as the atmosphere could permit his ship accelerated and broke free, putting as much distance between himself and the entire solar system.

Watching on, he knew only a handful of the escape pods would actually break orbit in time, and even less would survive.

A mental timer ticked down, striking zero.

 The unthinkable happened.

The reactor's antimatter bottles, pressurized so to maintain containment, emptied a decade's worth supply of dangerous material right into the heart of the microscopic anomaly.
With a flash, the entire reactor chamber was vaporized, sending out a shockwave that crept along the planet's crust deceptively slow.

Deetex watched on as his ship escaped, counting the seconds away as the growing ripple along the planet arced entirely around and ended.
With a lurch, his ship came to an abrupt halt.
Nearly thrown out of his seat, he quickly ran a diagnostic on the Raven's engines and shields.
The shields were gone and the engines, advanced field-reaction turbines, were having no effect on the space surrounding him at all!

"U-oh" he muttered, checking on the escape pods.
They were still equipped with conventional fuel combustion rockets, and while severely hampered they still moved away, but slowing down.

Beneath them all, the crust of the planet started crumbling, peeling away it's debris heading into the heart of where the reactor had stood.

The anomaly was consuming all matter and energy within it's reach... And it's reach was far indeed.
They had been systematically feeding an artificial quantum singularity antimatter for over a year now, without realizing it it's subspace footprint had grown to engulf the entire solar system, and now it was breaking free and leaking into normal space.

The entire planet, sucked into a tiny bright dot, was gone.
Gravity started pulling the Raven back in, the escape pods and even the two stars that had fed it for so long.

He fires up the Raven's conventional cruise engines, burning fuel as fast as he could supply it trying desperately to break free.

Swirling fountains of rampant particles arced outward from the anomaly, caressing, then embracing the two stars and in turn beginning to drain them from their matter and energy.

As the flow of dust reached the singularity's heart another shockwave emerged, a massive bloom of energy so dense it was like a growing noose of darkness.
It sliced through the stars cutting them in half, giving way to even more matter flowing inward.

The attraction intensified, the particle current grew in size and started rotating, oscillating.
He witnessed several distant escape pods losing their heading and being drawn in, scattering like so much dust in the currents of force and entropy.

A thought occurred to him.
'Break the attraction.'

With a mental nudge he pushed the Raven around, sending his ship headlong into the growing storm.
It's engines flared brightly as he send the Raven accelerating forward.
The Raven's jumpdrive powered up, straigning the already taxed powergrid to it's utter limit.
Slowly the hull started peeling away, atom by atom.
Deetex himself started feeling his body degrading, ignoring the growing pain as he willed his ship to go further.
He was funneling raw power from the force of his character straight into the Raven's matrix, hardening the shields and repairing the hull almost as fast as it degraded.... almost.

Space became denser the closer he drew to the event horizon, Raven slowed down further and further unable to compensate.
Finally he reached the edge, and with a grin and snap of his fingers, folded space around him.

The emerging flash could be seen throughout space, as the Raven took a large chunk of the anomaly with it into the oblivion of Singularity Space.
There he cruised, rushing with all his will ahead of a shockwave that would consume all in it's wake for days on end, the shockwave behind hin creeping closer...
A single drop of sweat rolled down his forehead, as he clutched the armrests of his chair and pushed his ship and body beyond their limits.

 

 

 


 Dusk.
It was a good day for Him, he managed to erect all the walls and set up the ceilings, soon all the rooms would be ready for furnishing.
The mansion He was building would be their's to live in before long.

Carrying his bag of tools and slung a shovel over his shoulder, he entered the little garrison town and set for their now-temporary residence.
There was something amiss though, a tension in the air he couldn't quite place, but it made him uncomfortable... made him feel ill at ease.

Defensive even.

Several ships had flown overhead he couldn't identify, familiar yet alien.
From their heading he judged their landing behind the town, no doubt new colonists or merchants eager to make lucrative deals with the local Baron.
Oh well, it didn't matter, he'd be home soon, together with his beautiful wife.

As always, the thought of Her brought a smile to His face.
How could He ever have deemed Himself worthy of a woman as amazing has her...
Lost in thought, He didn't notice the homes he passed had their windows blinded and doors locked.
Several groundcars were parked at random places.
Passing the last corner, he stopped.
The hair at the back of his neck stood upright, something was very seriously wrong.

There were four men standing in front of their place, each armed and unsavoury.
A fifth man was inside the building, out of sight but somehow He knew there was.
The fifth man pushed Her beyond the doorway, shoving her forcefully causing her to trip and fall.

His heart stopped, vision focussing on the man.
The blood in his veins felt like it was boiling and ready to ignite.
She looked up at her assailant defiantly.
The man took a hold of her arm and violently pulled her up, then shoved her towards his companions.
She stumbled but remained upright, clutching her arm.
He could see a red smear around her fingers, She was hurt, injured.

The men made threatening noises and gestures, one even brought up his sidearm and aimed it at her.

He felt something rising up in his psyche, an urge.... a passion... a feeling of both hunger and haste.
Dropping the bag of tools and grabbing the shovel with both His hands, he dashed towards the offending men, his silent footfalls carefully hidden.

The man with the gun pushed the activator and pointed it towards her head.

Silently he leapt and swung the shovel around, but broke the silence with a deafening roar.
"GET AWAY FROM HER!"
With a loud clang the blade of his tool struck the closest of the men.
He landed on his feet and hand, holding the tool with his spare.
Lifting up his shovel with force he brought the blade up to the neck of the second man, the swing enough to tear out his throat and sending him gurgling to the ground, clutching the ghastly wound.
Continuing the motion he turned and finally threw the shovel towards a third man.
The blade struck his chest embedding itself in his body.
With a blinding dash of speed and another jump He reached his third victim and took a hold of the handle with one hand.
With his other hand he chopped the blade of the stick and used it to deflect the fourth man's shot in his direction.

Without thinking He reached the gunman and struck his legs with the firm stick.
As the gunman collapsed He brought the stick around and slammed it in the gunman's temple, a dull crack followed as the stick broke in half.

Finally he paused for a second, slowly turning to face the last offender.

The poor man merely stood there in shocked silence, having just witnessed his companies being slaughtered in the blink of an eye before him.
He carried no weapons but a small knife, surely he'd be torn to pieces if he approached this unexpected attacker?

The fifth man drew his blade, holding it up defensively as he looked at the butcher.
Slowly He took several steps closer to the unknown thug.
"If I ever see you near my wife again...." He began.
He was almost within arm's reach.
The offender took a swing at Him.
He casually caught his arm in a lock, grabbed the knife and stabbed his victim in the arm with the broken piece of wood.
Right where the injury on His wife was.
The poor man screamed in agony.
"...The consequences will be severe." He finished.

He tossed his victim aside, dropping the tiny knife next to him.
"Go, get away before I change my mind."
The distant cold tone in his voice was enough to send the poor man scrambling for his feet and running off, clutching the wound with the sharp stick still protuding from it.

After only a second His demeanour returned and he calmed down.
His wife was already on Her way, jumping at him and embracing Him in a bearhug.
Tears filled her eyes.
Assuring her it was over, he kissed her, then carefully pulled up the fabric of her sleeve to look at the wound.
"It's only a cut, nothing serious." She commented.

"Any harm to you is serious, come, lets get you bandaged up."

 




For days Deetex pushed the Raven through the folds of compressed space, riding the all-consuming shockwave behind him.
The poor ship shook and trembled, its hull tearing open almost as fast as it healed itself.

After almost a week of travel the powergrid finally gave way, slamming through the now impregnable barrier of superluminal flight and crashing back into normal space.
Preserving momentum, the ship turned and heaved, drifting onwards.
Behind him, the shockwave emerged from the tunnel and burst out in all directions, a brilliant series of flares and flashes errupted blinding all who would see.

Shaken, exhausted and severely decayed, Deetex lay quietly on the floor of the cockpit, gasping for air.
Every cell in his body felt like bursting out and disintegrating, yet he kept his demise from taking hold.

He felt the atmosphere in his ship leaking away, lifesupport had failed.
Slowly the interior cooled down, his perspiration froze solid as the air condensed and glistened in the twilight of distant stars.

Gradually his body froze over as he remained on the floor, unmoving.
All his will was spend keeping his body together, only the smallest flicker of spare energy darted between his cells.
It was all he needed...

Cell by cell the trickle of static electricity jumped around, revitalizing the smallest portions imaginable at an imperceivably slow pace.

He had time, at least enough to take care of this... he was needed, not allowed to die just yet, least of all here... uncharted space billions of lightyears away from the nearest recognizable cluster.

This far out nobody would ever find him, not in a million years.

Not until the Empire would branch out anyway.

The tiny bolt of lightning jumped from his neck onto his coat, slithering like a worm of electricity along the fabric until reaching the floor. 
It darted over the floor plates to the command chair, digging it's way through the alloy.

The super conductive circuitry of the Raven was like a fast flowing current, carrying the solitary spark through the ship and into the main reactor.
Even by the standards of his own time, the Raven's power plant was incredibly compact yet carried with it more potential than the most powerful of starship reactors.

Arcing over the injectors, a tiny bolt if lightning sparked the initiator.

No change.

Another bolt of lightning, bigger this time shot out to another assembly, the tiny amount of searing heat enough to break the growing ice with a faint pop.
Still the reactor remained as dead as the ship surrounding it, but there was an opening now.

Creeping it's way into the main reaction chamber, the little spark spread out two arcs connecting the injector with the initiator.
A flash occurred, two more arcs of lightning shot out beginning the reaction anew.
Very slowly, volt by volt the potential grew, until finally with a whirring noise the reactor sprang to live.
The lights flickered back on, main power was restoring.

Piece by piece systems activated, first the containment fields, then the catalyst controllers.
Entirely reactivated, the ship knew to prioritize repairs.
Gradually the hull restored integrity, like circuits glowing lines slid over the exterior skin, patching holes and forming new seals.
The shields came up, a shimmering barrier briefly visible, sealing in cosmic radiation and containing heat.
Crackles and pops signaled the thawing process, as life support activated as well, raising ambient temperature and restoring atmosphere.

It's pilot remained motionless on the floor, his heart had already stopped as he was conserving as much energy as he could.
Through the floor panels, Raven send out a jolt of electricity, his body flinched, but remained motionless.

Another surge, stronger this time, caused a bolt of lighting to arc out between him and his chair.

Slowly a thought took shape inside the glimmer of awareness he still held.
'I must rise...' 

Another surge, another bolt arcing out and striking the chair and surrounding walls.

'I must rise again....'

Then a fourth bolt, violently branching out and arcing for several seconds shook him awake again.
He gasped deeply, then with a scream of rage and pain rose to his feet.

He glanced around, slapping a few stubborn icicles from his sleeve as the ship's sensors carefully started feeding him data.
'How far out are we?'

A holographic starchart appeared in front of him, lines and bits of text indicating various key locations, but the dot representing him was far outside the spiral.

With stiff joints, he found his way back to his chair, interfacing with the Raven's flight systems.

'Restoration at 83%' the readout indicated.
'It'll have to do.' He thought as he fired up the engines.

The damage done to the fabric of space from the anomaly had reduced to meager background radiation easily defeated by the Raven's regrown skin and rising shields.

Without even realizing why, he checked his chronometer.
'An entire week?'

Not only had he spend almost an entire week in transit outrunning that blasted shockwave, his ship had been drifting along aimlessly almost twice as long!

There was no more time to loose.
He pushed Raven into hard acceleration, heading towards the hollow Darkmatter cloud and the planet it contained.
A minute later, after reaching the top speed his ship could achieve, he opened a singularity and dove the ship though, once again a long trek beyond the physical awaited him.
 
He was patient enough, he could wait out the journey, just so long as nothing radical happened back home yet.




Meanwhile, far away.
The mercury foundries battlegroup Charlie encounters an Infinity Inc raiding party.
It was a stand-off, both fleets maintaining formation as they faced off.
Neither party moved, knowing full well they'd only achieve mutually assured destruction.
Mad...
Madness...
Seemingly apt, this far from the colonial borders.

The bridge of the Armageddon was at high alert, every officer on edge ready to act at a moment's notice.

"Sir!" The sensor operator yelled.
"Sensors are going crazy, a singularity is opening!"

"Singularity? Reinforcements?" The captain asked back, not taking his eyes off the opposing fleet.

"I don't recognize the signature, it's... Woah."
"On with it ensign!"

"It's huge, breach in 10 seconds" the xo remarked, gazing at the sensor readouts.
He looked up again and turned to the helmsmen.
"It's right off our bow, reverse thrust, engines to full!"

The crew scrambled to put the ship in motion.
Even with all the advances made for the Warmonger class, a ship that large and heavy would still take time going anywhere.

The tension in the air grew unbearable while they tried desperately to back up.
Before them space seemed to shimmer and fold, the emerging singularity becoming visible through the massive amounts of energy expended.
The field grew in size and could already swallow up the Armageddon  three times over, until finally the barrier broke and in a flash it's occupant emerged.

The bridge crew gasped and stared in awe as they beheld the bow of a truly gargantuan ship, silently looming over them in the cold vacuum of space.
It's pitch black hull was highly segmented, dotted here and there with red glowing field emitters.

Several large compartments slid shut as the ship slowly seemed to come to life.
Two giant wings flanked it's squat angular hull, each ending in a sharp tip at the front and a pair of equally massive engines at the back.
The top of the hull had a bulge, covering the command center, around it in four clusters sat countless launch bays, and scattered around gigantic sliding hatches could be seen, opening and emerging from them a pair of enormous cannons.

The very front of the hull was adorned with a familiar sight, the sigil of the Grey Paladins.

The comm system suddenly sprang to life, hacked in by the newcomer.
"This is the Black Knight to all attending ships. Disengage your weapons and retreat to your respective secures areas. Failure to comply will result in your destruction, aggressive acts taken upon either fleet or this ship will be answered in kind."
With a beep the channel closed.

"Sir, the Infinity fleet..." The helmsman pointed out.
The crew shifted their attention to the forward window, gazing at the distant fleet as it took up a scattered formation.
Several of the massive black ship's turrets rotated towards the fleet.
The lead vessel, an omega class carrier, launched a volley of missiles.

"Oh boy..." The captain muttered in disdain.

Sure enough the missiles races towards the black ship and impacted against its shields, detonating harmlessly.

The black ship fired a single turret, it's massive bolts, like a metal rod or spike surging with energy, reached out and pierced straight through the Omega's hull, striking it's core and causing the otherwise powerful vessel to burst out in flames and ending it with a single shot.

"All ships, stand down, I repeat, Stand Down!" The captain yelled into his comm.
More ships from the Infinity fleet opened fire, cannon shells and torpedoes shot forth all towards the new vessel and each one failing to harm it.

The smaller missiles were dispatched by the BlackKnight's defensive turrets, cannons on turrets otherwise fielded by gunboats as primary weapons, they send out a hailstorm of projectiles and completely engulfed the small weapons.
Torpedoes too were destroyed, but the cannon shells bounced off its shields without any effect.

The giant ship's main cannons took out each offending vessel, a single shot for most, a second volley for some, but none made it to a third salvo.
Each spike was perfectly aimed, a clean hit on the target's central power plant, the follow up shot taking out the bridge.
It didn't take long for hostilities to end, humbled the Infinity fleet ceased action, while the Mercury fleet stood by and watched on.

The comm system was again hijacked by the new vessel.
"This is your final warning, stand down or be destroyed."

"So, not just directed as us, then..." The captain stated.
"Open a channel, all frequencies."
With a beep, the captain stood up.
"This is the Mercury Capitol Vessel Armageddon, we will comply with your instructions, please state your intent so we may be of assistance."

He gestured to close the channel, and sure enough within a second the view screen activated and the familiar face of the company's Vice President appeared.
"Captain Reaper, we have an operation of superior interest in this sector, you are ordered to withdraw to Mercury claimed space."

The captain was stunned, rebuffed by an officer he had sworn allegiance to so many years ago, and being casually dismissed.

"With due respect sir, this military operation was sanctioned, we have..."
"You have your orders, captain. Failure to comply will result in your destruction."
"Sir!"
"This ship operates with elevated jurisdiction irregardless of forces present, I warn you not to test my patience you will find it sorely lacking, withdraw your ships or I will open fire."
He closed the communications channel.
Through the viewports,  captain Christopher "Grim" Reaper saw several of the BlackKnight's turrets turning to his ship -and his alone.

The captain inhaled sharply, then say down again and issued his orders.
"Bring us about, set a course for the Mercury border, and not a meter further! We'll wait this one out..."

 




The mercenary named Dante sat alone at a bar, quietly enjoying his drink.

'Why did I come here...' He thought to himself, regretting his decision to look for a job in Bretonian space.
Now he was stuck, the new king had stepped up a lot more than just the arms industry, new laws were being implemented almost as fast as he could make them up and one of them now demands a valid visa for all foreigners to conduct business bordering on military operations.
All mercenary groups, freelance unions and even the otherwise neutral arms manufacturers cries foul.

'And here people thing the Kusarians are xenophobic...'
He took another swig from his drink, then regretted that too as the stout liquid forced it's way down.

The bar was quiet and deserted, only himself and a handful others.
Two soldiers clearly off duty enjoying war stories, boisterous claims and grandure he was sure was 90% exaggeration, and a hooded figure at the far end, sitting alone at a table without a drink.
She was obviously female, possible waiting for someone.

Dante decided to try his luck once more.
He summoned the barkeep, and ordered an expensive drink for her.

Next he walked over and sat down across from her.
"Hey... " he started.

She glanced at the drink, then bowed her head again.
"I couldn't help but notice a lovely lady sitting all alone, thought you could use some company."

She didn't reply.

"You a local?"

"Mister Dante." She replied quietly.

"Do you know me, miss...?"

She stood up and walked gracefully across the table.
From the corner of his eye he observed her, a slender figure in a fancy dress, it looked fashionable but functional at the same time.
"You have been judged and found worthy of our cause." She said.

Without another word she thrust her hand against his chest.
Her eyes started glowing brightly, an eery hue formed around her body as a slither of light crawled it's way from her back along her arm and made it's way to him.

None of the patrons present reacted, only one of the soldiers cared to give the ordeal a quick glance before returning to his drink.

It was over in only a minute, Dante gasped as she removed her hand from him.

"We'll need a ship, and a pilot..." He stated.
Beneath her hood, she smiled.



One week later.


"Now is the time to strike!" Deetex yelled.
All the attending soldiers and sailers, officers and specialists stood firmly at attention.
"We're at the dawn of victory, one final surge into enemy space, to strike Infinity at the heart."

Behind them troops and weapons were being loaded, thousands of dropships landing and departing like clockwork.

"Stop at nothing, destroy everything in your path, we can not be stopped now, today we will conquer our enemy and end this conflict, once and for all!"

The crowd cheered, a thunderous orchestra reflecting their passion and  and hunger.
Deetex threw his hand up and waved towards the waiting dropships.

The formations turned and scrambled for their designated ships.
Deetex too jumped down from his podium and marched towards the Raven.
Several Leviathans passed overhead, having been refitted with new shields and weapons.

Infinity's days were numbered, and this would be their last.
He would see to that himself.

Space above the Capitol planet was more crowded than it had ever been.
Thousands of cruisers and corvettes, hundreds of leviathans, six Warmongers and a solitary Juggernought sat in formation awaiting the final order.
Two ships flew through the ranks at high speed, the comparatively tiny Raven in the lead and the Midnight Falls tailing it like a dutyfull puppy.

Taking the lead, Deetex gave the signal.
"All ships on me."

Gradually all the attending ships turned and fired up their engines, following the little Raven in tight formation.
"Prepare for jump."

Raven's hull started glowing along it's rim, gradually forming a singularity around it.
The Midnight Falls behind it followed suit, taking the energy from the Raven and expanding the anomaly between them, then extending it wider and larger.
At full speed all the ships careened with the singularity and one by one the ships, with a flash, vanished in the folds.

In an instant they traversed the vast gulf of space and emerged on the other end, immeasurably far away heading towards a distant planet and full thrust.

The Infinity fleet was already engaging the advanced ships Deetex had deployed weeks ago, missiles and shells flying out in all directions striking targets.
Since the upgraded shields had been deployed enmass the previously deadly missiles were again nothing but pinpricks to the might of the Leviathan.

Witnessing the approaching armada, the vanguard fleet broke formation and formed two lines, holding the Infinity ships at bay.
Rushing on, the Raven shot out several energy bolts that struck one of the straggler Alpha class battleships, breaking it's armor and punching large deep holes in its main hull, crippling it.
Deetex turned his ship into a roll, leading the assault.
Next the Midnight Falls opened up, three massive bursts of furious fire lunged out and completely annihilated a Beta class.

The rest of the armada, still heading forward at breakneck speed joined the fray, torpedoes and particle beams striking hard and fast on any ship they had in range.

Flanked by the six Warmongers, the Imperial Sword opened all of its launch bays.
Hundreds of bombers flanked by thousands upon thousands of fighters spread outwards like the feathers of a pair of wings, racing out and scattering wildly.
Their task was perhaps the most dangerous one, to intercept incoming heavy munitions, dispatch mines and engage enemy fighters.

"Warmonger group on me, follow and engage the orbital platforms." Deetex broadcast.
The six vessels accelerated, quickly gaining on the agile Raven as it broke for the planet.

Several leviathans focused fire on an Omega class carrier, several beams of bright particle fire striking the same section cutting it clean off.
With exposed hull one more leviathan brought the finishing blow.
The Silverwing, one of original leviathans fired it's ion cannon.
Within the blink of an eye a brilliantly bright and massive bolt of light shot forth and into the gaping hole in the Omega, instantly destroying the entire vessel.

As the armada came in range the planet's orbital platforms activated.
A hailstorm of cannon shells and swarms of missiles branched out and headed for the incoming ships.
Another leviathan dove in between the planet and the Silverwing, taking the brunt of it but surviving the onslaught.

A wing of Decimator class bombers grouped into a tight formation and took a dive over a platform, releasing their bombs all at once and pulling away before ramming the station.
Taking a page from Infinity, the standard bomb on these ships had been replaced with a directional cluster warhead, prior to detonation the Brenidium armored tip would split up, sending 8 individual spiked explosives down like a clusterbomb, covering a substantially larger area with minimal loss of explosive power, while the armored tips, the same hard alloy used in battleship covering, would bury the stakes deep inside a target before detonating.

The station crumbled as the clustered warheads performed their task, the armored dome shattered and internal mechanics broke apart.
One down, a dozen more to go along this hemisphere.

As the Raven came in range Deetex again send the ship spinning and turning, gracefully avoiding every projectile that came its way in a series of maneuvers that should've been impossible to survive.

Then the Warmongers came in, taking every shot to their bows and remaining unharmed.
They broke formation and took a platform each, firing their Tachyon cannons one by one.
While the Leviathan's Ion cannon was a blunt weapon at best, short in range and wrought with disadvantages, the Warmonger's significantly more advanced Tachyon cannon was as close to flawless as Deetex could've designed it in this era.
He had actually laughed when one of his engineers compared the two super weapons to a club and a spear respectively, complimenting the man for such an apt comparison.

The warmongers suffered no critical drain on their powergrid when the weapon fired, it's range was nearly ten times as high as the leviathan and recharge times were measures in mere minutes.
Not only that, due to the nature of Tachyon particles there was practically no means to defend against, the volley had struck before the shot was registered.

Gradually the sum total of the Mercury fleet had mingled in the fight, now at low orbit Deetex ordered his Warmonger escorts to join the conflict and keep the Infinity fleet at bay.
"Destroy what you need to, leave intact only when reasonably practical."

At several times the speed of sound, the Raven descended through the layers of the atmosphere, it's bow glowing brightly from friction as he guided it down to his destination.

The Infinity Incorporated home planet was surprisingly sparsely populated, and there were barely any defensive structures at all.
'All the better' Deetex thought.
He glanced around, the ship's sensors feeding him real-time data from all around.
He heard the chatter from up above, saw the battle in full detail.
Ground following radar and atmospheric data was available when he glanced forward and down.
Shields and armor data at his left hand, weapons and propulsion around his right.
From bow to stern the Raven had been designed and build -and some parts even grown- specifically for him.
Only he could interface with the central computer, only he could guide it, and only he would go down with it were there ever a foe that could harm it.
The Midnight Falls wasn't as specific, while there were features present he could exploit more effectively than anyone else, that massive battleship had a number of functions that could be manned by others... If he chose to let them.

The planet's Capitol city came in range, he could see it through the sensors of his ship, but the thick deck of clouds limited visuals.
He plunged the Raven down, dove beneath the clouds and into a veritable monsoon.
This planet's atmosphere was the chief reason barely anyone wanted to settle here, bad weather ranging from tornadoes to entire weeks of hard rain were common, during the winter periods settlers would have to wade through meters of nigh Unbreakable ice caps.
Terraforming could have fixed most of the issues, but Infinity was not invested in that industry.
'But we are.'

Without so much a twitch Deetex fired retro thrusters and extended then Raven's flaps, sharply reducing it's speed as he approached the city.
Several landing plateaus were scattered around inside the city's towering walls.

Suddenly a streak of fire rose up from the city, an anti-air cannon had locked on.
Deetex decided upon a show of force, taking the shell directly to the hull of the Raven and continuing it's descent.
He turned his right hand, palm up.
Gesturing with his thumb he selected a missile from the Raven's variable arms, and fired the guided warhead at the cannon on the ground.
It exploded overhead, sending a hail of shrapnel raining down and cutting the cannon and it's crew to bloody pieces and smoldering scrap.
Flèchette rounds were once outlawed, but had made a sizable reappearance since many factions started building ships bigger and better protected than anything else before.
Simple explosive charges loose too much energy spreading outward, and honeycomb superstructures made regular armor piercing warheads ineffective.
Micro munitions were once again making a comeback.

He circled around the city, scanning for more turrets or launchers, but found none.
'Maxwell you fool.'

He selected a landing platform, hacking into the flight control tower and clearing himself for landing.
Several security agents awaited him as the Raven's access ramp dropped.
They fired their rifles at the figure emerging without even checking who it was.
Deetex dove and leapt, turning and jumping avoiding all that was shot at him.
In a flash he appeared behind one of the soldiers.
The soldier, nothing more than an up-armed security agent, carried several grenades with him.
Without being noticed Deetex pushed the ignition one of the grenades, then disappeared again in a flash of movement further behind them.
Now they noticed him, turning and readying their arms.
The poor soldier finally realized what happened.
Frantically, close to a panic, he fumbled at his belt and tried to pull the grenade out... Too late.
A blinding burst of a growing plasma fire engulfed most of the soldiers, the last one perhaps the least lucky being caught in the blast of air and shrapnel.

Deetex walked up to the doorway leading into the tower.
It was a heavy set of sliding doors, big enough to allow decent sized cargo containers to pass through with ease.
He took a deep breath, a gust of wind sending his long coat waving around his armored body.
Usually dressed in a casual suit, for this event he had donned a standard issue armored suit but kept his coat on, covering it down to his ankles.
He reached inside it, pulling out his sword.
Any bystander would swear it was just another Kusarian ceremonial katana, it's only differentiating feature the Foundry's circular barcode logo adorning the hilt, but the milky-white blade was far from standard.
In one flawless swipe, he carved a gash through the heavy doors, cutting the locking mechanism in half.
Like a choreographed dance he gracefully turned and slammed his fist against the doors, a massive blow that send the doors folding in half and separated them from their rails, flying away.

Several leviathans flew overhead as he entered the building, the battle had turned entirely to their favor, now they were on a seek and destroy assignment and gleefully pursued any target they found.
Heavy torpedoes and bombs slammed into distant targets, sending enemy encampments into fiery oblivion far away.

Standing still for a moment, he waited for the soldiers before him to regain their posture and take aim.
"Kill him!" One of them yelled.
They opened fire each with an automatic rifle firing small darts at near light speeds.
The torrent of nails would have cut any other man to ribbons yet their adversary was anything but a man.
Faster than an eye could blink Deetex deflected most of the darts heading his way, dancing and jumping around those he could not connect to his blade.
Through his moves he drew several meters closer, pausing only twice in his stride to counter several particularly skillful shots.
A few soldiers stopped their assault as they reloaded their rifles, empty magazines hitting the floor with a hollow thud after a fresh one was already loaded.

They had been practicing, it was obvious in their stance and control, the efficiency with which they cycled the rifles and shot at him.
They were good but not good enough, with every salvo he drew closer until finally within reach of the first soldier.
"My turn." He said quietly, as he leveled his blade to his eyes and switching to an underhanded grip.

He took one step, then in a flash stood in front of the first soldier.
With a clean swing he slashed the hapless agent, cutting deep enough to sever his heart from his aorta.
Another step, another flash, now he stood behind the next soldier and continuing his swing, brought the tip if his blade through the soldier's chest.

The agents quickly realized and reacquired their target, bringing rifles to bare and firing frantically.

Deetex dashed beyond the rain of shots and ran along the wall, even taking a few steps over the ceiling as he pulled his pistol from his coat.
It's split-second pre-charge made an unmistakable whine as he fired.
Striking the soldier below below him he fired again, another hit, and again.
Landing on the floor, his motion blurred as his speed picked up.
Almost like another one of him there, walking out of phase with him, the other figure pulled out another pistol and ran with the first, shooting volleys at targets his sword couldn't reach.

In less than a few seconds the firefight ended, the enemies were slain and assailant stood.
Both shimmering visages holstered their weapons and faded back into one as he continued marching down the hallway.
He reached a corner, seeing the air move before him.

As he turned at it, a lone soldier thrust his knife at him.
Unfliching, he caught the knife in one hand, squizing the blade like so much putty and grabbed the soldier's throat with his free hand.
Barely granting him a thought, Deetex lifted the soldier and tossed him aside, dropping the deformed knife next to him.
As he started walking away the soldier pulled out his sidearm and placed several shots straight in Deetex' back.

He stopped, taking each shot but showing no signs of feeling them.
Growling, he turned to face the soldier.
next he took a few steps to the helpless man.
He drew his own pistol, the elegantly crafted weapon formed in his hand in a series of clicks and beeps, each tiny part sliding out from his sleeve in place.
It charged up, a growing light emerging from it's barrel signalling a critical mass of energy.
As the soldier remained laying down, looking at his attacker with anger in his eyes, Deetex stared back.
After a long pause he lifted his weapon and discharged it, smiling softly as he turned and walked away again.

The long hallways were messy and barricaded, clearly some effort was made in erecting as many obstacles as possibly in as little time as could be had.
Their efforts were in vain, as he passed through all of them with no trouble at all.
Debris he picked up and tossed aside, doors he tore from their hinges, force fields shorted out as he passed through them.
A platoon of Mercury soldiers caught up to him.
With a few swift hand gestures he silently ordered them to strike the Infinity barracks.

It took him a few minutes to reach the final ward, a spacious set of hallways surrounding the central office.
'The boss always has the best office, top floor, centre room' one of his intelligence agents had told him.

There was a sniper at the far end of the long stretch.
He fired, the blazing projectile shot out and headed straight for Deetex, who merely slapped the slug away with the back of his hand, still steadily marching on.
The sniper fired again, and again his target backhanded the shot.
A third shot.
This time Deetex lost his patience, thrusting his palm against the slug and sending it back perfectly with enough force to send the projectile entirely through the helpless man and tear away the wall behind him.
Through the massive hole in the wall, a wind picked up as the air conditioned atmosphere leaked out from the tower.

He finally reached the office entrance.
With force, he pounded on the doors, breaking the locks and sending the doors flying outward.

Two soldiers stood at either side of the entrance, barely missed by the doors as they flung open.
Both of them raised their rifles and took aim.
Deetex grabbed both rifles and pulled them from the soldiers' grasp, then in spite slammed them both against their helmets, knocking them both out cold.
With a clatter the rifles hit the ground, as broken as their owners.

"Well at least you knocked first..." Maxwell quipped.
Deetex slowly walked forward, heading ominously towards his target.
"People have been storming in and out of here all day...."
His adversary reached inside his longcoat.
"Quite a stir you caused here...."

Deetex reached Maxwell's desk, placing a single sheet of paper he just pulled from his coat in front of the Infinity Inc director.
"Maxwell Benningfield, in accordance with the agreed upon terms of conflict, I hereby demand you release all assets to the Mercury Foundries."

Maxwell leaned back, defiantly crossing his arms.
"What, no hello? No long-time-no-see cliché?"
Without delay, Deetex slammed a pencil on the desk, glaring at his rival.
"Sign it!" He demanded.
"No."
"I WILL kill you if you don't, I would very much rather take everything over but do not try me further Maxwell, it is by my will alone you should survive this encounter, do not test me!"
Maxwell smiled, an infuriatingly smug grin that seared it's visage in Deetex' mind.
"All that I have, you'll have to pull from my cold dead hands, but the way things are going that will be an inevitability regardless of my actions here."

The Mercury Foundries director blinked, revealing the holographic patterns circling around his retina for a moment before blinking them away again.
"You are dying."
"Yunko's disease, stage three..."

Deetex mentally brought up the repercussions.
Yunko's disease was a form of cellular decay, every cell in his body would produce minute amounts of organic waste during mitosis that the body could not break down or digest, slowly killing him.
There was no known cause, no pattern of infection, and no known cure.

"I can help you, if you'll let me."
"There's only one way you can help me, Deetex... Are you brave enough to follow through with that promise?"

The two men stared at each other in long silence.
Finally Maxwell grabbed the pencil and signed the document.
With a sigh he handed both to his adversary.
"I await oblivion..."
"It will be forever yours, old friend."

After a long hour, Deetex finally left the building, and headed straight for the Raven.
There he stood alone, taking a moment to consider what he had just done.
On an open channel he send a broadcast system wide, making sure all the ships at his disposal transmitted it to the colonies and all related parties.

"This is Seraphine, we have won."

 

 

 

 

 Dawn.
He tossed and turned.
Now and again waking up for a brief moment, taking that chance to check on his wife.

Still there, laying right next to him, peacefully asleep.

His night had been long and difficult, sleep would not come, and when it did it wouldn't stay.
It wasn't because of nightmares, or the heat, or his troubling half-remembered past... there was something else.
A gnawing sensation at the back of his mind, something ominous he could not identify.

His eyes slowly closed again, ready for another few minutes of blissful lapse.

Something thumped in the other room.
His heart pounded in His chest only once as His eyes shot wide open.
Clear awake now and entirely focussed, He remained still and listened intently.
His senses had always been supremely intense, He could hear the faint whistle of a barely sealed watertap in the kitchen.
She didn't think anything of it, but He had warned Her that, given time, that tap would start leaking if left unchecked.

He heard footsteps, muffled whispers, the clatter of a knife in it's sheath.
Definitely not sounds that ought to come from their living room.

Taking a deep breath, he carefully pulled Her arm from Him and left the bed.
It was still dark, but He could see the entire bedroom as though lit by the sun itself.
He also found He could see the next room.
'From memory I'm sure' he had always thought to Himself, nobody could see through walls after all, even if they had senses as acute as his.

More whispers, he wasn't imagining it.
Quietly he slipped out of bed, his bare feet gradually easing the pressure on the wooden floor, as not to make the boards creak.
The door to their shared bedroom was left open, giving him silent egress as he made his way through the hallway.

He reached the door to the main room, thankfully also left open.
Careful not to make a sound, he leaned against the doorpost and pushed it open slightly, peering inside.

There were three men inside, looking around.
They were armed, he could tell by the folds in their clothing.
One only carried knives with him, but a lot of them, the other two had handguns and rifles.
The one with the knives seemed to be in command, directing his two associates as they quietly searched the place.
"It's in here somewhere, find it!" he hissed quietly.
He looked on as the men opened drawers, cupboards, closets.
One threw the pillows of their couch away.

A creak behind him alerted him.
Turning away and to the doorpost of the Kitchen, he sensed another man in there, about to enter the hallway.
Also armed, but with just a pistol, his heart rate betrayed a medical condition.

The door opened, the man stepped out.
Without making a sound, He slammed a flat palm against the invader's chest, just slightly to the right of the middle.
He used enough force to stop the invader's heart dead.
As the invader collapsed He caught him and dragged him back into the kitchen.

Listening on, He could hear them becoming impatient... or at least the leader was, and his men were getting arrogated.
He looked around, his eyes and ears taking in all possible details.
The kitchen window was shut but unlocked, there was a rain pipe next to it.
As He walked up to the window, He quickly dove beneath the windowsill..
There were two more strangers outside, their sights surely set on the building He occupied.

So that made five, plus the one He already killed six.
Instinctively, He kneeled down and placed a hand flat on the ground, closing his eyes.
Listening... He gauged the area, unsure what He was doing but feeling like this was the right thing to do.
Sensing the environment, He could tell there were two more outside, behind the building.
One more on the roof, another one close by, and three more in the garden trampling Her plants.
"Oh, She won't like that..." He muttered to himself.

Slowly He got up again, His mind and sight lost entirely in the experience of sensing everything around him, every last smallest detail was right there for him to witness...
So lost in fact he did not observe the man so close to Him now, holding a rifle and swinging it butt-end towards Him.
With a dull thud, His world went black.

It felt like only a moment had passed, but as He came to from his oblivion, He noticed He was being dragged by two men outside and into the garden.
They had Her as well, She had waken up and was struggling impotently against the strong men holding Her.
Her garment was torn, they had been very rough on Her, and they were enjoying it!

Looking up at His captors, He noticed the tell-tale signature scar of the Xenos, a band of terrorists firmly opposed to colonists and outsiders.
From their garment, facts snapped together, the men a week earlier were Xenos as well.
Forcefully, they threw Him down in front of the man with the knives, their leader.

"This the one?" he asked.


"Yeah, that's him." another replied.

The man He had left alive!
'so much for mercy...' He thought.

The man with the knives stepped up, taking a hold of His jaw in a vice-like grip, lifting His face to equal height.
"You killed my men."
"You harmed my wife." He replied.

Knives looked at Her, nodding.
"Wife huh? How's a shmuck like you make off with a gem like that?"
One of the men holding Her gave her a firm shove.
The other man there was still holding on, her garment ripped apart as she stumbled forward.
Half naked, she landed in between her plants and vegetables, trying to cover herself.
He struggled against his captors as he looked on.
Anger was building inside him, a blood-boiling rage that threatened to consume him.

"Don't you harm her!" he growled.

"Now see, the way I figured... you killin' my men hurt my operation, so I figured I hurt you in return..."
The man leaned down and shoved a small knife between His ribs.
The surge of pain rushing through His body was almost enough to douse the burning sense inside him...
Almost...

"Boys..." Knives continued.
Some of his men laughed, pulling out various weapons and stepping closer to Her.
"I swear if you harm Her...."
Knives raised a hand, his men stopped, looking anxiously at him, ready to continue.

 

"What... was there a part two to that statement?"
As Knives snapped his fingers and his men continued, something snapped inside his victim.
The anger had reached a critical point, now there was no more sense, no more casual life.
Instinct was taking over, taking absolute control... like a deeply rooted program activating His body prepared for a ballet He had no control over.
"If you harm her, I WILL hunt you down and kill you all, I promise you..."
There was an eerie calm to his voice, unnerving and intimidating.

The two men holding Him raised him to watch, holding His head so He couldn't look away.
One of the assailants raised his gun at Her.
He heard the weapon charging up, saw the projectile growing from the barrel and shooting forth.
Now was Her turn to impress Him.
Within a moment's notice, She took hold of a rock and held it in place, blocking the projectile.
A shower of sparks scattered around, She threw the glowing rock at the man closest and struck him right in his face.
Crying out he dropped his gun and grasped as his face, the searing rock having burned his flesh severely in only the brief moment it touched.

'Get out of here!'  He thought as She looked at Her work for only a moment before realizing Her peril.
Scrambling to Her feet She ran off towards a hedge, diving over and behind it.

"Well don't just stand there, GET 'ER!" Knives yelled.

And that was it... the final straw.
The snapping threads in his mind holding him calm gave way all at once, like a clattering crescendo coming to an end, His entire world stopped and there in focus, all He could see where the seven men He now had to end.
"Too late." was all He could whisper before He was entirely lost.

With one firm jerk, He pulled His arms free from the two men behind Him, drawing them closer through the movement.
He smashed them both in their faces with His fists, crushing bone and sending them flying back.
With a dash and partial jump He pinned the man He let live earlier and slammed His fist against his lower back, severing several vertibrea.

Grabbing some dirt, he threw it in the face of Knives and took a blade from him.
As Knives screamed, his men stopped, turning to look.
One of them was struck by a thrown knife, the tiny blade sunk entirely into his chest straight through his sternum.
"Wha...?" His companion started, staring at the knife as it's victim fell back with force.
"You okay man?"

In a flash, He stood behind His next victim, grabbing his head and turning it entirely around.
A scream distracted Him.
He turned and ran to the noise.
It wasn't Her, the voice didn't match.
As He turned the corner He saw She had grabbed a garden tool and had stabbed it in the leg of one of the Xeno's.
But there was one more...

Time stopped as He witnessed him pulling the trigger.
The blazing bright projectile arced outward and struck Her in Her chest, a faint vaporous mist of spend energy emerging from behind her.

In a dash faster than the human eye could follow, He ran up to the last man and slammed into him with enough force to crush his rib cage and pulverize his intestines.
He came to an instant stop, dust following his wake and blow the corpse away with a powerful wind.

Leaning down at Her body, the moment slowly settled in.
"No...." He whispered, bowing down to hold his wife.
"No...." He said again.
Tears were swelling up in His eyes.
She didn't move, Her body was limp.

Something else boiled up inside Him.
Slowly She slipped from His grasp.
He leaned back and threw His head, howling in pain a blood wrenching scream of agony.

Knives stepped around the corner, smiling.

"Now that's taken care of, let's talk reimbursement..." 
He lowered His head, taking another long glance at His fallen wife.
Even in death her beauty was astounding... but He wasn't finished yet.

Slowly He got up, flexing His neck back and forth with a loud crack.
Knives drew a pair of daggers from his sleeves.
"Now don't you go startin' nothin', I'm warning you." he said threateningly, holding the two gleaming blades at eye level.

Without a word He stepped towards Knives, who slashed his blades at Him.
Like a dancer he avoided the two knives, a third slash He caught below His arm.
Slamming His head against Knives', He took a told of his throat and pulled him down.

Releasing Knives' arm, He grabbed one of his blades and stabbed it through Knives' wrist, pinning him down to the ground.
Another knife, another wrist, still holding his throat.

Both his arms were spread wide, nailed down to a single piece of wood.
Knives tried to kick at his foe, fruitlessly.

Finally letting go of his throat, He grabbed both Knives' legs and held them together.
A third knife was drawn, a long one this time which He thrust through Knives' ankles.

Without a pause so much to admire His work, He took a hold of the woodwork and punched a few planks away, then took to dragging it to the City centre.

The entire assembly was like a crucifix, which He erected upright in the middle of the town square.
There was still something missing, something about this man's...
'no, you're not a man... you're not even human.' He thought to himself.
There was still something missing, his screams of agony were not enough.

He left the scene, heading for His ground car.

By the time He got back, a small crowd had gathered to gaze at the macabre scene.
Quiet mutters fell silent as He marched through the crowd, stopping at the foot of the Crucifix.
They gasped as He emptied the can of fuel He removed from his car at the base of the structure.
Next He climbed the contraption.
He slapped Knives' in the face, drawing his attention.

"I want you awake for this, because this is what I'll do to all you filth." He quietly said to the helpless man.

Knives cursed at Him as He jumped down.
As He landed, the fuel ignited, seemingly on it's own, engulfing both Him and His Victim.
Knives laughed nervously at first, but started noticing the flames weren't harming His killer.
He slowly turned to look at Knives, and with a deep, empty stare turned and walked away.
The flames covering His body stopped burning almost as soon as He left the scene, while the fire itself continued to creep its way up the crucifix, finally reaching Knives.
He howled and cried, wrestling against his restraints but causing only further pain with each twitch.
The crowd looked on in horror, all were appalled but everybody knew not to interfere.
Not with the Xenos, and certainly not with this man who had just punished one of their elite.

He reached the cottage, finding His fallen wife where He had left Her.
He dropped to His knees next to her, sobbing softly.
There He was... Alone and in despair...
It could all end now... If only He could will Himself to make it stop.
But it wouldn't.
Life was forever His....