"Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-01 01:57am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:Meridina's trial should end with trial by combat where Robert has to fight this space knight who removes his helmet to reveal A LIZARD!
...dammit, Shroom, I am not duplicating my reply to this over on O1. Read my response over there. :P
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-02 01:56pm

I bet the Darkness is actually the 40k universe's psychoplasm - like all that grimdark bullshit congealed when that universe imploded on its own bullshit.

So there's a giant spikey skull-bannered shoulderpad hormone-infused piece of shit barelling through the multiverse and Robert and co. have to blow it up.

Like the Fifth Element with Milla Jovovich's energy blowing up the blob of evil. Except the blob is a giant shoulderpad made out of pubescent horseshit.
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-03 10:02am


Captain Robert Dale Personal Log; 13 May 2642. I have spent the last two days trying to get in touch with Mastrash Ledosh to find out what is going on with the Council of the Order of Swenya, and why they arrested Meridina on charges of "treason". Despite my best efforts, I have been unable to get in contact with him.

The news from Gersal is not good. Reports of Meridina's arrest, and that the charges against her related to her service in the Alliance, have sparked widespread protests between the Dissenters and those in favor of continued membership in the Alliance. The Gersallian government is in turmoil. The Dissenters are demanding a reconsideration of Alliance membership. Meridina's charges are apparently the 'proof' they've needed that the Alliance is corrupting Gersal.

I'm also concerned with Lucy. Since Meridina was arrested she's become… angry. She's taking this harder than I thought she would.

Robert finished writing his log and looked over to his half-eaten lunch. He picked up a ham sandwich and started to wolf it down.

Nearby Angel plopped into a chair. "You know, if we were out there," she said, "at least I'd have tactical watches to take my mind off this."

"I know." Robert rubbed at his forehead. "But we're not. Scotty and the dock manager have virtually taken over the ship for now."

"Except for Little Miss Workaholic, who still can't get out of her office for all the paperwork she insists on doing herself," Angel pointed out, smirking as she did. "You need to make her take a break, Rob."

Robert smiled at that. "I already tried that. Then Jarod got abducted."

"Ugh. This last week has been one non-stop headache." Angel considered her unfinished lunch for a moment. "So, when do we go to Gersal to kick some ass and take names?"

Robert leveled a curious stare at her. "You mean breaking into a secure temple controlled by people who could bat us across the room with a wave of their hand? All to pull out a prisoner who doesn't want to be freed?"

The reply was a frustrated glare at nothing. "And there's nothing anyone can do to stop them?"

"The Gersallian government considers it an internal Order matter," Robert said. "And there's no provisions in the Alliance government for intervening."

"She's an officer of the Stellar Navy, isn't that enough?"

Robert shook his head. "She transmitted her resignation before surrendering. And since this is a private organization passing judgement on one of its members the other authorities can't do anything."

"But we're not going to leave it at that, are we?"

Robert shook his head. "No, we're not. I'm going to go there myself if necessary."

"If you go, I go."

Robert felt a warm feeling in his heart. He didn't think Angel would care so much for this, not when she already detested the influence and time sink that the entire issue was for him. But he could feel her sincerity. Whatever her feelings about Meridina training Robert, Angel considered Meridina a member of the family, and she was ready to raise hell to save her.

"I've got one last card to play on the issue," he said. "But with things so hectic in Portland right now, I can't be sure when I'll get the call." Robert let out a sigh. "I'm also worried about Lucy."

"I didn't realize how close she was to Meridina." Angel picked at a small glob of mashed potato on her plate. "The longer this takes, the more angry she's going to become."

"Which is why I'm hoping the call I'm expecting comes sooner rather than later," Robert said. He took up the last bit of his sandwich. "Until then, all I can do is wait and hope."

In the Aurora gymnasium, heads were turning at the sound of a series of furious punches against a gym bag. Some half-expected to see Angel there, familiar with the tactical officer's affinity for "beat the crap out of something to relieve stress", but they would have been surprised to see Lucy Lucero there as well.

These days she didn't go with the standard exercise wear of shorts and sports bra, or at least she didn't normally. With Meridina it was usually training vests and trousers. But today she wore something that fit the environment better. She wasn't muscular like Angela, she didn't even have Julia's build with defined, if not bulked, muscle. Her arms and stomach were solid and flat, with some slight muscular definition on her exposed belly.

The crew in charge of the gym's equipment had spent a year quietly shoring up their equipment. The joke around the ship was that Angel had destroyed every punching bag not reinforced with tritanium. She hadn't, but the gym staff had toughened them after she had wrecked two.

But those reinforcements were against Human strength. As Lucy's frustration grew that strength tapped onto the power of her life energies, the swevyra that Meridina had taught her to tap. She hit the bag hard enough to break it entirely, causing sand to erupt from the wound. She pulled her fist out and watched the sand fall, giving a frustrated cry in the process. Wordlessly she went for the broom and bucket that the crew had left nearby for such eventualities.

She had just finished the sweeping up when a voice called out, "And I thought Angel could be rough on those things."

Commander Julia Andreys was standing nearby. In contrast to the more conventional workout clothing Lucy had, she was wearing a white martial arts gi with a black belt around the waist. Her long blond hair was the kind of rich color most blondes wished they were. She had pulled it into a bun at the back of her head. "How are you feeling?", she asked.

"I'm upset and angry and trying like hell to hold it back," Lucy answered. "Meridina's done everything they've ever asked her to do. She's stood up for everything they're supposed to believe. And this is how they repay her."

"Maybe there's more to this than we thought," Julia offered.

"They wanted me to leave the Aurora and join their damned Order, you know," Lucy continued. She took the bucket of sand and the broom and put it against the wall. The punching bag was rolled to keep the hole in its surface upward and dragged over to join them. Lucy looked up after doing this and said, "Now I'm glad I said no. These people aren't half as good as Meridina thinks they are."

"That may be part of the problem," Julia murmured. "Robert's trying everything he can. He hopes to have a response to a couple of calls he made by tonight."

"Good." Lucy crossed her arms. "So, what are you doing here?"

"Looking for you. I wanted to help you."


Julia grinned. "Well, I can't teach you how to pick things up with your life energy or whatever, but I think I can teach you something to help focus your mind and body. Maybe it'll help you deal with this situation over Meridina. You've heard of t'ai chi?"

"Slowly swinging your arms around."

"Not just that. It's about focus. Learning the movements and how to do them and keeping it all in your head." Julia assumed a starting stance. "And it's a pretty useful martial art. It's about flexibility instead of power." She moved her arms and shifted her posture in an initial movement. "The point is to meet strength with fluidity."

"So, judo?"

"Judo is more about turning an enemy's size against them, this is more 'go with the flow'. Let your enemy punch and kick, but instead of trying to block everything and meet your strength against theirs, you let their strength go to waste. And then, when the moment is right, you strike." Julia made a motion that, if done at a quick speed, would have been an effective counter-attack against a foe. Julia chuckled. "How else do you think I spar with Angel? She's got the advantage in muscle, after all."

"I just figured you made her insanely jealous with that tall, statuesque figure you've got going for you."

Julia laughed at that. "Angel's not the type to feel jealousy over that. She's proud of those muscles. If she had it her way, we'd all be wearing sleeveless uniforms."

Lucy stepped up beside her. Julia kept her gentle smile at noticing that she was assuming the same stance Julia had shifted into. "Okay, let me show you one of the first forms my teacher showed me."

They began. As they worked through the series of moves together, Lucy realized what Julia was talking about, how the precision helped to instill focus even as the movements made her feel limber.

It still didn't keep her from worrying about Meridina, but maybe she wouldn't explode into anger at their continued inability to do anything for her.

The Great Temple of the Order of Swenya had been built as a place of learning and contemplation. It had never been meant to be a jail. But experience had taught those who ran the Order that sometimes, such things would be necessary.

The dungeon of the Temple was buried within the mountain rock under the main structures. There were only a few because there was never any anticipated need for many of them. Swevyra'kse - those who gave into the darkness - were more often killed than captured, and many of those captured were turned over to state authorities for criminal trial. for members of the Order accused of crimes within Order law and rules, confinement was usually house arrest, and punishment much the same.

Now the cells of iron and steel had a single occupant. Meridina was in the plain linen robe she had worn upon her arrest. She sat in the damp cold, far from the sun, with the only sources of light being the electric lights strung along the cavern ceiling. Her trintanium chains kept her locked to the middle of the room, just within range of the toilet and the sleeping pallet. And here she stayed, kept company only by a roving patrol of the Temple Knights and by the feelings in her own heart. The feelings of darkness festering there, of fear and pain and despair.

Meridina had believed so strongly that the time Swenya prophesied was at hand. Now… now she felt doubt. And thanks to Amaunet possessing her, and using her power for darkness, she felt that evil power within her as well.

"It pains me to see you like this."

The voice made her look up. Mastrash Ledosh was standing quietly in front of the cell. "I will tell them I instructed you," he said. "Then your punishment will be reduced."

"No, Mastrash. You did nothing wrong. I did all."

"Meridina, the world is shuddering from this news. A Human, trained as a swevyra'se without the Council's approval. The Senate attack, now this… " Ledosh stopped. He could see that wasn't reaching her. "Captain Dale sends messages almost hourly. I dare not reply right now, not even to warn him to stop. I think he may come here."

"That is his right," Meridina murmured.

"Meridina, we must do something I do not know what Goras has planned, but the meeting is tomorrow…"

"I will face my judgement."

"Even if it means expulsion? Or even worse?"

Meridina's heart quailed at the word "expulsion". Her entire life was devoted to the Order. She had done what she had done in the name of its future health. "I am guilty," she said. "Let the people have me as their sacrifice for this crisis."

"And if your friends come? If they come to defend you?"

"There is little they can do. But…" She lowered her head. "I would feel better if they were here," she confessed. "I feel, even now, that our destinies are intertwined."

"The whispers of destiny can be misheard," Ledosh said. "Please, do not sacrifice yourself needlessly over your interpretation of them."

Meridina did not answer that. She kept her head bowed and focused again on the darkness she felt within, trying to come to grips with it and send it out of her.

Ledosh recognized there was no more to talk about. He bowed his head and departed, leaving Meridina to her thoughts.

Undiscovered Frontier
"Whispers of Destiny"

As soon as Robert got the notification, he summoned Julia, Angela, and Lucy to join him in the bridge-side conference room. This way everyone relevant to the thoughts he had in his mind on the situation were there when Admiral Maran arrived. The dark-haired Gersallian looked no worse than he had a few days prior at the Senate, but Robert could feel his fatigue and worry. "Captain, Commander, Lieutenants." He nodded. "I received your calls. I thought it best to meet you here on the Aurora."

"Thank you, sir. I know your schedule lately has been hectic."

Maran didn't quite sigh at that. "You could say so." Maran took a seat beside Julia, to Robert's left. "The video files from the Senate Chamber have already been spread across the multiversal public networks." He looked to Lucy. "For what it's worth, I'm glad you were trained in the arts, Lieutenant."

"Thank you, sir."

"Unfortunately for Meridina, this has Gersal in an uproar. Meridina training you two as she has been is against long-standing traditions and laws for our people."

"Then why did she do it?", Julia asked.

"I can't tell you." Maran shook his head. "I've known Meridina since she was Mastrash Ledosh's star pupil. She's always been deeply committed to the Order. I don't understand why she would break its rules like that."

"I think I do," Lucy said. When everyone looked toward her, she went on. "Before the Knights came for her, she was talking about something, she was upset over it. Something about how we were supposed to be… " Lucy went through her memories for a moment. "She said we were supposed to be 'the Dawn Bearers'. Something about a shield of Light."

Everyone noticed the surprised look on Maran's face. The Gersallian admiral was clearly thinking about what had been said. "She said those words? Those exact words?", he asked.

Lucy nodded.

After taking several breaths and recovering from surprise, Maran had a look of someone who just had a slight epiphany. "I… I think I can see that point, actually."

"What was she talking about?", Robert asked.

Maran leaned back in his chair. "It is said that before she died, Swenya laid out a vision she had of the future. That the Bearers of the Dawn would come and herald a new age of peace and prosperity." Maran shook his head. "I always thought it was metaphor, or perhaps some half-remembered text that was recovered after the defeat of the Brotherhood of Kohbal twenty-nine centuries ago."

"Meridina believes this," Lucy said. "Or, at least she did. Everything that's happened lately has, well, I think it broke her faith."

"Perhaps. If she thought that you were the Dawn Bearers… then I can understand her conduct. It does make sense."

"This is all well and good, but we're not getting to the real issue," Julia said. "We need a way to get her back. They shouldn't be allowed to keep her locked up."

"The Order has no authority to imprison," Maran said. "They can only hold one of their own for a few days before a trial is necessary. And their sentences are binding only if their charge remains in the Order, and most sentences culminate in expulsion as it is. The only cases where they will act further is if internal corruption is involved."

"You mean if they argue the person has given into their darkness," Lucy said. "Which they might do to Meridina. What happens then?"

"Then they are tested. And if they fail, then the Order has leave of the Interdependency Government to kill the offender."

Lucy paled at that..

"They can actually invoke the death penalty?", Julia asked. The admission shocked her. "But they don't have state authority."

"On this matter, they do," Maran explained. "The Gersallian Knights of the Temple are recognized as having the right and duty to execute those proven to be tainted by darkness." Maran put his hands on the table. "As for getting the Commander back, we have no power to compel her return at the moment. The Order and Interdependency have laws regulating their affairs going back millennia. If the government tried to intervene, then it would cause a fracturing of our entire society that could lead to civil war."

"And if the Alliance Government got involved…"

Maran frowned at that. "The Gersallian people would turn against it. You would see Gersal withdraw from the Alliance. The Dorei might or might not follow suit."

"And other member states that like the Gersallians would be against it," Julia added. "And any state that opposed Alliance Government intervention in their internal affairs."

"But Meridina has rights!", Lucy shouted. "Under the Alliance laws too! We can't just let them kill her!"

"Could we give testimony?", Robert asked.

"Or better yet, deny her resignation," Julia added.

Maran shook his head. "I'm not sure the Order would accept that. At best, if they are only interested in her training of you, then they will expedite her trial and likely expel her. And if they believe Meridina's current problems make her a threat of falling, they'll defy any approach like that on the grounds of protecting others from the threat she poses."

"This is the kind of thing Hawthorne and Davies are waiting for," Robert grumbled. "Having the Navy and the Order butting heads would justify their entire line of argument.

"I agree." Maran nodded. A contemplative look came to him. "But there is another way. Not to get her out of the trial, but to be there to support her, and perhaps to show the Council that the two of you are not a threat."

"What's that?", Angel asked.

"It is permissible for a limited number of close friends to attend such events, by invitation of the Order or of the family," Maran replied. "By being present you could allow Meridina's advocate to call you forth as witnesses. If the rest of the Order observes you and decides you've been taught well, they might be willing to accept a defense of Meridina helping you to establish a Human discipline."

Lucy and Robert looked at each other. They got the gist of what Maran was referring to, and understood what it meant. After a moment they nodded. "We're ready to say that's what we're up to," Robert said.

"It will be not be easy to persuade them," Maran said. "My people try to be tolerant of many things, but we have a long cultural memory. Alternative approaches to swevyra led to the Brotherhood of Kohbal and its horrors. They're still watching the Dorei Orders for corruption and they were formed centuries ago. I expect they will keep a similar eye on you regardless of the trial's outcome."

"Let them. The important thing is helping Meridina."

Lucy nodded. "All we need is a jump and we can fly the Rio Grande there."

"I can arrange that," Maran said. "I'm sending the Drunal to bring Councilman Palas' remains back to his family. They live on Tanatal, but the Drunal will be jumping at Gersal. You can jump with them."

"Sounds good to me," Robert said. "When do they leave?"

"In two hours," Maran said. "And you'll need every minute of your time. Meridina's trial begins tomorrow."

"Let's go pack," Angel said.

Julia nodded. "Jarod and Scotty can oversee the repair work while we're gone."

"Commander, wait." Maran shook his head. "As I said before, the number of who can join the proceedings is limited. Only three may do so."

"So one of us has to stay behind," Lucy said.

"You and Robert must go," Maran answered. "But yes. You can only take one other with you."

Julia and Angel exchanged looks. Each could see the desire, and the intent, in the other. It was Julia who nodded. "Okay. I'll stay then."

"We'll let Meridina know you wanted to go," Robert assured her. "Admiral, may we?"

Maran nodded. "I'm not here as your commanding officer, so there's no need for formality. You needn't have asked… and yes, you may. You'll need the time."

Everyone stood up to head toward the doors. Robert, Lucy, and Angel were heading straight for the lift on the near side of the conference room, Julia was heading toward the far door leading to the bridge. As she got to it, Maran called out, "Commander, a moment?"

She turned. "Yes sir?"

"I would like you to join me at the Fleet Base tomorrow morning," Maran said. "I'll be at the main dock terminal at 1130 hours. Please meet me there. It is important."

Julia's look was carefully neutral. "Yes sir, I will."

Maran nodded and went the other way, leaving Julia to wonder what was going on when she returned to the bridge.

The three met up at the lift. For the moment they were still in uniform, with civilian clothes packed away for when they got to Gersal. "Deck 10," Robert said, and it sped its way to the ordered deck, where they filed out and headed toward the front airlock. Leaving the ship was necessary; with Aurora in drydock, and her main shuttlebay a wreck, they couldn't launch from her at the moment. The Rio Grande and their other surviving craft had been transferred for the moment to the Fleet Base pool, held as reserve craft until the Aurora was ready to depart with them aboard again.

When they came up to the hall leading to the airlock, they stopped.

Between them and the airlock, their comrades were standing lined up, Julia at the head of the line. "They wanted to wish you goodbye," she said. "And good luck."

"Thanks," Robert answered. "I know that all of you wishes you could be with us. We'll tell Meridina for you."

"Bring our lass home, sir," Scotty said. "This is where she belongs."

"She's one of us," Locarno said. Kane nodded in agreement.

"She's family," Jarod said.

"Yeah, and we can't let them take her from us." Caterina hugged her sister closely. Beside her, Violeta was nodding. She'd never seen the command crew together like this before and Cat had insisted she come too.

"We'll be waiting," Leo promised.

"Right. Don't worry, we're bringing her home," Robert promised.

"An' we'll be workin' t' get our lass back in shape while ye're gone."

Robert smiled at that. "I'll hold you to that, Mister Scott. They're telling me we've got at least another five weeks in drydock."

"Won't take more than a month, sir," Scotty pledged. "I'll see t' that."

"We'll see to that," Barnes corrected. Beside him Zack nodded in agreement.

"We'd better get going," Lucy said. "The Drunal is waiting for us."

The Drunal was waiting for them above the North Pole. Lucy brought the Rio Grande in at three quarters impulse. They only had a few minutes to enjoy the sight of the newest Discovery-class starship in the Alliance fleet. She looked every much like her sisters, including the Challenger, who were essentially built like as the Aurora's small cousins. With only two warp nacelles, angled upward, and a smaller hull altogether, it was clearly a different ship, but the layouts of the launch and recovery deck for the small fighter wing aboard, the main shuttle bay, and the proportions of the primary and drive hulls and how they flowed together were evocative of the Aurora herself.

"I wonder if they'll ever build a ship like the Aurora," Angel said from the side seat behind Robert. Technically she could manage the Rio Grande's communications and defensive systems there, if it were necessary..

"Oh, I'm sure they will," Robert replied. He was beside Lucy as the co-pilot, but that effectively meant monitoring everything else while she did the flying. "In time."

Angel nodded. Herr console let off a beep. "The Drunal is preparing to generate a jump point. Five, four…"

"We're in position now," Lucy assured them all.

As soon as Angel reached "One" space split up ahead of them. An emerald-colored vortex opened in space. The Drunal let them go first and Lucy quickly made use of that opening.

After the usual experience of transitioning to another universe, they found themselves in near orbit over Gersal. "I'm asking for landing permission now." After a moment Angel nodded. "We've gotten it. They're vectoring us in to land at Jantarihal Spaceport."

"It's been awhile since we were on Gersal,"' Robert mused.

"Somehow I don't think the reception we get will be the same as we did before," Robert sighed. "Let's put in and get a ride to the Great Temple. I'd like to see Ledosh turn down my calls now."

After Robert and the others had left, everyone dispersed to go back to whatever work they chose to do while the ship was under repair. Zack followed Julia to her office. "What can i do for you Zack?", she asked.

"Well, to put it simply… I need a Chief Engineer on the Koenig."

Julia gave him a concerned look. "Karen?"

"Derbely is going to be out for the next three months. At least." Zack frowned. "It's going to take her that long to heal."

"I see." Julia sighed. "Well, do you have anyone in mind?"

"Tom knows those systems inside and out," Zack said.

"Tom's also helping to get our repairs done," Julia pointed out. "Still, if he's willing to do the temporary transfer, I'll see if Scotty can let him go."

"Thanks," Zack answered. He remained seated in front of her. "How are you doing, by the way?"

"Well, I'm alive," she said. "That's better than some. And I'm…" She thought of the word she wanted to use. "I'm bette rthan I was a ocuple of days ago, how about that?"

"Okay. I just know how you felt about not being at 425TD."

"I had to work through it," she confessed. "And I did."

"Right." More silence filled the room for the moment. "Do you think they can do it?", Zack asked.

"Those three? There's not much they can't do." Julia gave Zack a reassuring smile. "They'll get it done. Don't worry."

"Yeah." Zack nodded. "I know I've got to think positive. I just wish we could all be there. That we could show those robed jerks what we think of them treating Meridina like this."

"Oh, I know the feeling." Julia looked to her computer. "Now I've got to get to work finalizing more leave requests and going over crew replacement."

"Yeah, I've got to do the same," Zack said. "I'll be in my quarters on-ship if you need me."

Admiral Maran's arrangements hadn't stopped with the berth at the spaceport. As soon as Robert and the others secured their things, a Gersallian air-car pulled up. The vehicle was winged near the back, with space for five or six riders aside from the driver. An older man was in the driver's seat, gray-haired and bearded in a way that reminded Robert of some of his grandfather's war buddies that had come during reunions when he was just a child. "Captain Dale and others, yes?", he asked.

Robert nodded. "Here."

"The Admiral asked me to give you a ride," the older man said. "Things in the capital are tense right now. You might not get a ride if people figure you're Alliance."

"We can change out of uniform if it'll help."

"Willing to put away your multidevices? Everyone knows the military model ones."

"Got any good replacements?", Lucy asked.

"Afraid not," was the reply.

"Then it's better that we don't." Lucy looked to Robert. "I've got things set up in case we need an emergency beam-out."

He nodded. "Alright. We'll go in uniform for now, but we should probably change if we meet Meridina's family." Robert looked at the driver. "And you are?"

"I'm Haklir," he answered. "I was a rate in the fleet for ages. I've known the Admiral since he was a ship commander. Man's saved my life a dozen times, easy. I'm one of many who'll come calling if the Admiral gives the call."

"Well, Haklir, I'm Robert, and this is Angel and Lucy." Robert gestured to the others. "I know you're doing this for the Admiral, but thank you anyway."

"You're welcome. Whenever you're ready."

They settled into the vehicle. Haklir drove it out of the hanger area where the Rio Grande would remain. Lucy's multidevice let her remotely close the hanger behind them.

Away from the spaceport, the car gained altitude and joined the thick aerial traffic over the city. Below Robert could see crowded streets. His senses helped him feel what was going on below. He could feel the anger of the crowds. They felt betrayed, angered, by a breaking of the ways that three thousand years of experience had turned into accepted tradition.

"Is everyone joining the protests?", Angel asked.

"A lot of people are, but not all are against you," Haklir said. "Some of them like the Alliance. And they think it's time that we accept not everyone's going to want to use their gifts the way we do." Haklir shook his head. "It's going to be worse tomorrow. The Order's agreed to a request from the Directorate. They're going to allow a holo-broadcast of the entire trial."

"So the entire planet will see it live?"

"The entire planet? The entire Interdependency. The Dorei too, probably. And I wouldn't be surprised if someone put it on the IU network."

"Huh." Angel crossed her arms. "No pressure then, huh?"

The vehicle flew onward, over the tall and majestic curved buildings that were shining like crystals in the light of Gersal's sun and over the pristine green parks outside the city center, bordered by towering residential arcologies. Haklir increased power to the anti-gravity field below the vehicle to increase its altitude, bringing them higher along with the winding road and pathways below. A winding river joined said roads, guiding them up toward the mountains.

It was visible for minutes before they arrived. The Great Temple of the Order was a large circular structure, joined by similar smaller ones. The architecture was like nothing you could see on Earth. The circular buildings had elegant, beautiful designs engraved into their round surfaces. Light colors dominated their color scheme, and the roofs were a nice brownish-red, like stucco in some Human architectural styles.

"The offices for the Council are this way," Haklir said, bringing them toward one of the vehicle parks. "I imagine you'll want to speak to Mastrash Ledosh. Good luck getting in with the way things are right now, but I'll be here reading over some things while you're busy."

"Thank you, Haklir," Robert said.

"You can thank the Admiral when this is over," the old man answered. "Now get going before those red robes get antsy about us."

They climbed out of the vehicle together. Robert gave them both a look that they returned, as if to say "Here we go", before they walked together toward the main door ahead. There were door guards present with weapons already in hand, but not activated. The man and woman, with tanned complexions of similar shade, were clad in the red robes of the Temple Knights. It was the woman who said, "These are the private chambers of the Mastrasham of the Order and are restricted. Do you have business here?" Her eyes narrowed. Robert felt himself being scrutinized and knew they would feel the energy he held within, as they would Lucy. Indeed, the two seemed to be getting a little more tense.

"You can say that." Robert looked to the others, who nodded. "I am Captain Robert Dale of the Alliance, commander of the Alliance Starship Aurora. I've come to see Mastrash Ledosh and to look into the treatment of one of my crew, Commander Meridina."

The two never looked at each other, but Robert could sense they were communicating mentally. "Your presence is not desired, offworlder," the man said. "This is an affair of the Order, not your Alliance."

"I'm not here to intervene as an Alliance officer. I'm here as Meridina's friend and student in the ways of swevyra," he answered. "I believe I have rights under your Code, correct?"

They clearly didn't quite like that either. Finally the woman tilted her head in that way Meridina usually would when accepting a point. "You are correct. I will inform Mastrash Ledosh you have come." The woman closed her eyes.

For seconds nothing happened. Angel gave Robert a pensive look. He could see why. Other red robes, and blue robes, and even a purple robe were all looking their way from around the Temple. They'd made an impression.

The woman's eyes opened. "He is coming to escort you."

"Thank you," Robert said, and he put a diplomatic smile on his face. It never hurt to be diplomatic, after all.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-04 11:29am

Ledosh said nothing on the way in. It was plain to see from the haggard expression on his clean-shaven face, the worry in his eyes, that the situation was taxing him.

The silence of the trip let the three examine the cream-white halls of the building, the art and calligraphy hanging from the walls, and the general ambience of the Order of Swenya's headquarters. It looked pre-industrial, almost, save for the electrical lighting set into the walls and the ceiling. The floor was fine wood tile with a repeating series of purple-hued carpets laid down, a few feet between each carpet. Doors on either side were marked with engraved tablets. Robert didn't bother using his multidevice to get the translations, they were too busy keeping up with Ledosh.

He brought them to an office near the center of the building and opened the door with a wave of his hand. Inside the waiting area of the office was a blond woman. They recognized her within seconds. "Gina Invieve?", Robert asked.

The humaniform Cylon nodded and smiled. She was wearing her blond hair in a large bun at the back of her head. A blue robe over a cream-white vest and loose pants were her clothing choice, and that made her purpose here obvious. "Meridina told me you had joined the Order," Lucy said.

"Yes." Gina nodded. It was easy to feel the peace within her, mingled with joy. She was as happy as she could be. "I've found a place here that I'd never have anywhere else. Peace."

"Gina is a fine student and apprentice," Ledosh noted. He continued on to the second door.

The inner office had a high, curved desk, an example of fine wood carving. A computer display and flat keyboard were set into the top of it. For Robert it was a reminder that the Order was hardly ignorant of technology, even if a part of him couldn't help but think such technology out of place. Too many movies with warrior monks, he decided.

The thought briefly brought further ones. Painful, but heartwarming, memories of sitting at the family TV and watching kung fu movies with his parents and sister and Julia. Sometimes Zack too, when he was around. He remembered teasing Julia about her martial arts fixation and it coming from all the movies they had been watching (he also remembered the grin on her face after she'd flipped him for the seventh time, proving it wasn't just silly movements). A tear started to form in his eye and Robert pushed it away.

If Ledosh or Gina had felt that brief distraction, they said nothing. Ledosh did not take his desk but approached the wall and stopped. "You've come to help Meridina?", he asked.

"We're here for her."

"I see. She has truly won your loyalty." Ledosh's voice was sad. "If only she would put the blame on me. She should. I have always encouraged her with my views of the times we're in." He sighed. "This is my fault."

"You didn't give us these powers," Lucy said. "And you didn't order her to train us."

"I could have counseled her not to," Ledosh said. "Instead I let her, because I believed. And now it may be for nothing. I fear there is no helping her, and your presence may only serve to further condemn her. It is evident to all that you've been trained in your swevyra, and trained far beyond what simple control training would provide you."

"Admiral Maran suggested that we might persuade the Council that Meridina showed us more to form our own, Human equivalent of the Order," Robert said.

Ledosh's face curled into a half smile. "Maran has always been a thinker. It makes him a great commander. That is, perhaps, the only approach that has a hope of working. But you'll need Meridina's support."

"Can we see her?", Lucy asked.

"She's down in the dungeons right now. Access is restricted to myself and those of my rank only. It is a common procedure."

"To throw someone in the dungeons?", Angel asked, a sarcastic look on her face. "Because I didn't peg your people for doing the dungeons and ye olde torture chamber thing."

"It is more of a jail, I suppose, but the word in Gersallian translates to your 'dungeon' more accurately," Ledosh admitted. "And it's not common for someone accused of the violations Meridina stands accused of. It is, however, common for those we fear have fallen, or may fall, into darkness."

"Right." Lucy breathed out in frustration. "She still hasn't shaken off what Amaunet did to her."

"Correct. And that may condemn her tomorrow. And she seems ready for it. I fear recent events have broken her spirit."

"Then we need to give her hope. Let us see her!", Lucy insisted.

"I cannot," Ledosh insisted. "It would make things worse. Our relations with your Alliance are in jeopardy."

"Meridina's in jeopardy too!"

"Lucy, calm down," Angel insisted. "Remember, we can be there for her."

"The Order will never vote to permit it," Ledosh said. "Even if I were to submit the vote to the Council, Goras and Karesl would crush it given the sentiments right now."

"Then we'll go to the family," Lucy declared.

"You would drag them into this?" Ledosh shook his head. "Her father is against you. Even if her mother and siblings rule for you, that may tear at the foundations of their family."

"It seems to me that if they want us there and he resists, he'll be the one at fault," Lucy said.

"Where can we find the Lumantala?", Robert asked.

Ledosh drew in a breath of exasperation. "You will not accomplish anything by being here," he insisted.

"Maybe, maybe not, but we have to try," Robert insisted. "We'll be respectful of your traditions, we're not here to cause a fuss. But we will support our friend…"

"Our family," Angel insisted.

Ledosh was quiet for several seconds. "Gina, you have seen where they are to go, yes?"

"I have, Mastrash."

"Take them to the Lumantala home, then. I will let Drentiya know you are coming."

A sound came from the inner office. It was a polite knock against the door. Robert opened his senses that way, tried to feel what was there with his energy, and stopped when it felt like he was shining a flashlight against a flood lamp. The two powers there were great, as powerful as Ledosh's if not moreso.

Gina stepped up and opened the door. Two men entered, wearing the same purple robe with blue trim as Ledosh's. Robert and the others recognized one as Mastrash Karesl. Meridina's father, was his thought.

The other was a bald man, with a prominent beard of dark gray color. His dark brown eyes focused on Robert and then on Lucy. Robert thought he felt bewilderment and then a calm, pleased feeling come over the man.

"Mastrash Karesl, Mastrash Goras." Ledosh nodded. "Interesting timing."

"We heard that outsiders from the Alliance had come, and with developed swevyra." Karesl looked them over. "You have come on behalf of Meridina, then?"

"We have," Robert confirmed. "We're here to support her."

A sad look came over the man's face. "Your support may have been better applied at a distance."

"Indeed." The bald man, Goras, looked satisfied at the situation. "You have no place here anyway. No standing. The Council will deny any request by the Alliance to involve itself in our affairs."

'We're not here to do that," Robert said. "We're here as Meridina's comrades and friends to stand with her in her moment of need. Just as she's stood at our side when we've needed it."

"So you say. But what can you offer her, truly? Your presence confirms the charges, undeniable as they already are. Your very presence will appear to our people to be Alliance snooping." Goras shook his head. "The Order Council must maintain its position on these matters. We must prevent even an iota of visible Alliance influence in our proceeding. The answer is no, and will always be no. Meridina will face our justice without you at her side."

"This isn't about justice and you damn well know it," Lucy said. "This is about politics. You're against her because you're against the Alliance."

Goras looked at Lucy with amusement. "Another of her students? Ah.. I see. You were the one with the lakesh. A weapon you are not fit to wield." There was clear heat in his tone on that last sentence. "If you were carrying it now I would strip you of it myself."

Thank God she left it on the Rio, Robert thought.

"Undoubtedly my daughter believed she was doing the right thing in training you," Karesl said. "I only wish she had encouraged you to come to us, and to be accepted into the Order. None of this would be necessary."

"There are other causes in life than the Order," Robert said.

"But none safer for a wielder of the swevyra," Karesl countered. "You are even now risking a fall to darkness. Especially you, Lucilla Lucero." He looked to Lucy, who was clearly angry. "I sense your anger now. Anger inevitably leads to hatred. Hatred is the source of suffering, and the wellspring of darkness. My daughter did you no favors when she failed to compel you to come to us."

"I go where I decide."

"And that is why you will one day need to be hunted down, like any other swevyra'kse," Goras said.

"You know, you don't seem the 'no anger' type yourself, Goras," Angel noted. "I don't have mumbo jumbo mind powers, but I can tell when someone's letting a little too much get to him."

"You mock our ways with every word you speak of them," he retorted.

"If that's what you want to call it." Angel smirked. "So, does this thing with your Order's leadership have anything to do with us being the Bearers of the Dawn?"

Robert felt Ledosh's surge of incredulity. And it was clear that Karesl and Goras were stunned to hear the phrase. "A delusion," Goras finally spat. "A fantasy. One that should not have been shared with you!"

"Meridina didn't tell us anything about it," Angel retorted. "We found that out ourselves. Apparently we might be some prophesied heroes?"

"It is a fiction!", Goras roared. "The Prophecy of the Dawn is nothing but some invention of the merchants looking to capitalize off of reputed writings found after the Fall!"

"Well, hey, if it's a fiction, no need to be angry about it, right?" Angel smirked at him.

"This is a waste of time with needless provocation," Karesl remarked. He looked to Ledosh. "I hope to see you in the morning. These three, I do not. They have no place at the trial."

"Indeed," Goras hissed.

The two men stomped out.

Ledosh sighed and went to his desk, where he slumped into the chair. "I have work to do. Gina, if you would please?"

"I'll go with them," Gina said. Left unspoken was the term and protect them.

Haklir nodded at the extra passenger. Gina provided him the directions for their trip back into Jantarihal and to one of the arcology districts. The return trip was quiet at first, until Robert decided to say, "No, Lucy, we're not going back for your weapon."

Lucy looked over at him, frowning. "What?"

"I felt it in your head," he said. "Hell, I'm sure the entire Order did."

"I don't like being unarmed, especially not around that creep Goras." Lucy frowned. "I wish someone would wipe that smug look off his face."

"Mastrash Goras is one of the best duelists in the Order," Gina said from the front seat. "You wouldn't last more than ten seconds against him unless he let you."

Lucy grunted in reply. But she didn't defy Gina's assessment.

"I don't want to fight Goras, I just want Meridina out of this situation."

"Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's possible," Gina said. "She's… upset a lot of people, and it's bringing all of the recent arguing about the Alliance to the forefront. Ledosh is afraid that if the Council acquitted her, it would cause a civil uprising by the Dissenters."

"You mean a civil war," Angel said.

"It probably wouldn't go that far." But there was something in the way Gina said it that made Robert think that no, it probably would.

Haklir brought them in back to ground level in front of an arcology door. "Here you are," he said. "No need for thanks, like I said, courtesy of the Admiral."

"I understand," Robert said.

"But thanks anyways," Angel added, smiling at the older Gersallian man. "That's just how we roll."

Haklir didn't quite seem to get the reference to "rolling", but he understood enough to smile back with a little nod before driving off.

Gina led them into the arcology. The first floor was a beautiful inside courtyard with sculptures, flowers, and other things that made Robert think of a grand hotel lobby. They went to a lift that brought them to the 12th floor, where they crossed through a garden placed in the middle square-shaped section of the structure. "It's beautiful," Lucy said.

"It's a common thing for arcologies," Gina replied. "The residents work together to keep their gardens and home spaces maintained." She brought them up to a door and triggered the chime.

"Hello?," said a voice from inside via a speaker. A young woman, more of a girl who was probably around the age of seventeen or so by equivalence. "Who is it?"

"Leniraya? I am Gina Invieve, and Mastrash Ledosh asked me to lead these people here."

After a moment the door opened. A woman with short brown hair and the same blue eyes as Meridina stood there, wearing a simple sleeveless ponch-like top garment and what looked like slacks down to her ankles. She looked from Gina to the others. "You're… you're Meridina's crew, aren't you?"

Robert nodded. "I'm Robert Dale."

"Angela Delgado."

"Lucy Lucero."

"Come in," Leniraya said. She led them into an outer room, a parlor for greeting guests. The furnishings were comfortable enough. A number of people emerged from an inner room. One looked like a sister to Leniraya and Meridina, midway between them in age. A young man a little younger than Meridina stood behind her with blond hair. A girl with blond hair and teal-toned eyes stepped up to join Leni, taking her hand casually. "My sister is Gamaya and my brother is Qalkrsl. This is Penrine, my dearest."

An older woman, blond-haired with gray at the temples, came out last. She was dressed in a long dark blue robe and had the same blue eyes as her daughters. She looked to them and nodded. "Hello. I am Drentiya."

"Meridina's mother." Robert nodded. "I'm Robert Dale, this is…"

I know your names, was the telepathic response. Leni shared them with me. Please, come to our family chamber.

The three shared looks. We don't want to impose…

We know you consider Meridina family, Drentiya said mentally. And I feel that belief in your hearts. That makes you Lumantala. Please, come and enjoy a warm meal. Traveling always takes more out of a body and soul than we think.

It was a gentle reminder that Robert hadn't eaten in hours. He felt his stomach gurgle quietly, as if happy at the thought of a meal, and with a quick glance and not from the others he stepped forward to join them.

Dinner was had in a dining room much like a Human family might have, with a round table of what looked and felt like wood. The Gersallian dishes were things none of the eaters had tried before, but while the tastes could be eclectic, they were palatable. More than palatable in some cases.

When the meal was over and they returned to the main family room, Robert said, "That… Leyoomi?"

"Liyume," Leniraya corrected gently.

"He has trouble with Gersallian," Lucy said, an amused grin on ehr face.

Robert shot Lucy an irritated look. "Yes. That. It reminds me of the dumplings my grandmother used to make."

"So you enjoyed it." Drentiya smiled gently at him. I am pleased I gave you that comfort. Please, take a seat."

The seats were low-backed sofas and chairs, with one chaise longue that Drentiya took to. Robert and Angel took one of the two loveseat-like sofas and Lucy a low chair. Leniraya and Penrine took the other loveseat and Gamaya her own chair. "You've come to us because you wish to attend Meridina's trial," Drentiya said.

"We want to be there for her."

"Maybe you shouldn't, though." Leniraya frowned, although not at them. "You are both proof of the charges against her."

"If Meridina were giving us instruction to help form a Human counterpart to the Order, though, wouldn't that be acceptable?"

"Perhaps," Drentiya said. "Sadly this is not about the truth. It is about the politics. Meridina is the lever the Dissenters wish to use to split us from the Alliance. They may succeed, whether or not she is convicted, or even if you are there or not."

"I think they should come with us," said Gamaya. "Once the others on the Council see them, and see that they're not going bad… they'll see Meridina was right to train them. How many might have died if they hadn't been in the Senate?"

"Your father and his friends will fight that."

"I'm sorry," Robert said to her. "We don't mean to be a source of contention in your home. If you think it'll make things better that we leave, we will. We just want to be there to help Meridina in any way we can."

"I know, Robert." Drenitya nodded. "And I am prepared to give you that permission. But first, I want to ask you… what will you do if they rule against her?"

"I'm not sure what we can do." Robert looked to Lucy. "Lucy?"

"If they expel her, we offer her a place with us," Lucy said.

"And if it's more?"

The thought made Robert sick. It made him angry, too. But he could sense this was what Drentiya was concerned with. "If there's nothing we can do, there's nothing we can do," he said.

"And you, Lucy Lucero?" Drentiya turned to her. "You are the strongest evidence in either direction, for my daughter or for my husband. If you appear prone to darkness, Meridina will be held accountable, but if you control your feelings and behave as they would expect you to, it will make her choices seem wise."

Lucy was silent for a moment. She still felt anger, anger at this whole damn crazy world for what they were doing to Meridina, who only wanted to be the best of them that she could be.

But she remembered that cold darkness and wanted nothing to do with it. And she knew what Drentiya meant. For Meridina's sake, she couldn't be angry. She had to sit there, and look at Goras' smug stupid face, and keep a neutral stoic look on her face like Meridina always had and not think about how fun it would be to wipe that smug stupid look off Goras' smug stupid face….

Leniraya giggled. That caused Lucy to look at her with bewilderment before realizing that, like her mother and sister, Leni was a mind-reader. And she's just heard every bit of that thought. A blush came to Lucy's cheeks.

"Yes," Drentiya said. A mirthful little smile crossed the Gersallian matriarch's lips. "You must be that way. Quiet. Calm. This word you use… 'stoic'. You must be that."

"Yeah," Lucy conceded. "I'll do my best."

"No, you will not," Drentiya remarked. There was steel in her quiet tone. "A swevyra'se does not do their best no more than they try. They do."

"Right." Lucy nodded. "I'll be stoic. I will be a rock."

"Good. And thus, you will be with us tomorrow."

Lucy smiled softly. And then the smile turned sarcastic. She looked over at Angel, who seemed more interested in stealing a second to play footsies with Robert, who was grinning amiably at it. "What about her?", she said. "Angel's the hothead."

"What about her? She has no active swevyra. She can call Goras a kenyak and growl that his ears are flapping against his backside, the others will not care so much." A smirk came to Meridina's mother that nearly brought Lucy to giggles. "Most will think her correct."

"What's a kenyak?", asked Robert.

"It's a beast of burden," answered Qalkrsl.

"Oh. Oh." Lucy grinned.

So did Angel. "A jackass," she said. "I get to be the one who calls him a jackass."

"With his head up his ass," Lucy added. "Lucky you."

A round of chuckling and giggling accompanied that. It stopped when everyone heard the door to the residence open.

Barely ten seconds later Mastrash Karesl strode into the family room. He noted the presence of Robert, Angel, and Lucy. A look of anger briefly came to his eyes that was frozen into nothingness by the steady look of Drentiya. It was clear the two were in mental conversation, while their children and guests looked on with patience to see the outcome.

Karesl's face became a stoic mask. "I see." His eyes met his daughters and son. "And you agree? Despite what it might mean for your sister's fate?"

"I do," Gamaya said, insistent. "They're good people. Everyone should see it."

"Meridina is family to them too!" Leniraya met her father's look with confidence. "So they should be a part of this!"

"They're good people, Father." Qalkrsl nodded. "I am for them."

Karesl nodded at their answered. "As a Mastrash of the Order, I am against them being there. As a believer in the Interdependency, I am against it." His look softened. "As family… I am convinced. I have no objection." Karesl looked to them. "I, too, will accept you in joining our family to stand with Meridina tomorrow."

Robert nodded back to him. "Thank you, Mastrash. We will behave accordingly, and do everything we must to help Meridina."

"Do you have somewhere to stay the night?", he asked.

"We were going to head back to the Rio Grande," Robert answered. "It has bunks."

"We have beds," Drentiya said. "And a guest sleeping room."

The three exchanged looks. And they didn't need telepathy to know what their collective response was.

"Thank you, ma'am," Robert said. "We humbly accept."

Given how things were going, Robert shouldn't have been shocked that he started having the nightmares again.

Some of it was the same as always. The Reich captain Lamper, but with strange blue eyes. The cybernetic Turian in the Citadel Council chambers. The girl with the red-and-gold vest and pants brimming with out of control power, her amber eyes solid white with energy. She called out to him as the power coming from within her started to become overwhelming…

Then he saw a temple high in the mountains. It looked Gersallian, but only just, with sharper lines to its structure. A large door barred the entrance and warning signs were engraved into it.

Robert looked around at a circle of people. Twelve in number, under dark hoods, and each sporting a weapon in hand. He couldn't make out what they were saying, but it sounded like an oath of some sort. He looked down at an emblem on the floor, a hexagon shape with a blade emblem fixed inside of it.

There was a howl, in the air, feral and loud. A four-legged creature moved through the shadows. As his eyes tracked it, he could hear two words being whispered faintly. Too faintly, though, as he couldn't make out what they were.

He felt Angel's hand grasp his. He looked over at her. She looked back, her hazel eyes intent on him, and said two words.

"Wake up."

A moment later she repeated those words. And Robert was no longer in the dream. He was in the dark guest sleeping room in the Lumantala home. The spare bed squeaked a little underneath from the stress on its metal frame. Angel was still gripping his hand. "You were dreaming again," she said.

Robert sighed and laid his head back. "How loud did I scream this time?"

"You didn't," she said softly. "You just kept mumbling something over and over. But I couldn't make it out."

"Mmm." Robert felt like twin weights were hanging on his eyelids. He closed his eyes. "I'm sorry for waking you up," he said. "We should get back to sleep."

Angel gave him no argument on that matter.

By the time the two of them settled back into sleep, it was Lucy who couldn't sleep. She sat up and looked around at the dark room. Seeing Robert and Angel were sound asleep, Lucy was careful in going out the door. Her footfalls barely made a sound as she followed her memory of the place out to the greeting room and then to the front door. It wasn't locked and gave her no problems in getting out.

Lucy stepped into the garden area. The flowers planted there had a sweet, soothing fragrance, and with all of the foreboding she felt inside of her, it was welcome. She found a place near the flowers and sat on the ground. She crossed her legs loosely, trying to avoid constricting the blood flow to them, and closed her eyes again. She started to fade away into sleepiness in the field.

Not that she fell asleep. She didn't let herself. She thought of what was to come in theo morning and focused on herself. She would have to control her anger, her feelings, so that Meridina was not punished for them.

A knot of anger was still strong inside of Lucy's heart. Meridina had been a shining knight to her, a brave and selfless fighter who worked to save lives just as the rest of them had. It was painful enough seeing that tarnished by Meridina's lingering doubts and fears from what Amaunet did to her. But now she had been betrayed by her own people. The people who had started a murder spree in the Alliance Senate, and now her own Order was going to strip away everything she'd worked for.

Anger won't solve this, Lucy thought to herself. It's distracting me. I have to let it go. She drew in a breath, then another, and tried to focus on other things.

A noise was the first indication she wasn't alone. She felt the energy draw nearer and knew who had come to join her. "Mastrash Karesl," Lucy said simply. She wouldn't let anger into her words.

Karesl sat down at the next set of plants, putting about six or seven feet between them. He assumed a meditative position as well. "It seems none can sleep tonight."

"I'm betting we have a lot on our mind," she answered.

"Hrm. I can feel your frustration with my people. And the anger you are suppressing."

"Do you blame me? Meridina is everything you should aspire to. Instead you're tearing her down, right after she helped save the Alliance Senate."

"The timing is not something I prefer, yes. But she has grievously violated the Code through your extensive training. That must be addressed."

"She was trying to give us direction with our power."

"She was trying more than that, unfortunately." Karesl sighed. "I suspect she was motivated by the prophecy of the Dawn Bearers. She and Ledosh have been convinced you and your shipmates are the Dawn Bearers of the prophecy. I'm not sure how much she told yo…"

"Nothing," Lucy said. "Just… that she was upset that we might not be."

"So she doubts that too. Hrm. I would be satisfied if not for that being wrapped up in the general doubt she suffers from."

"So you don't like the theory?"

"I have always considered the Prophecy of the Dawn Bearers to be questionable authenticity. It was Ledosh who convinced her we were in those times."

"She didn't say what this prophecy was about."

"There is little point going into detail. It was recorded that Swenya had a vision near the end of her life and wrote upon it. But the veracity has never been confirmed. There are indications that it was Reshan's prophecy and not Swenya's."

"And so all of this is going to happen over a dumb prophecy that may not be true?", Lucy asked.

"No. This goes deeper than that. The future of our people is at stake here. I do not believe the Alliance is our best future. My daughter feels otherwise. Tomorrow, we will see which of our visions plays out." Karesl looked at her intently. "I harbor no ill will toward you, Lucilla. I can sense the genuine virtues in your swevyra. Had you chosen to join the Order, this day may not have come."

"No, it wouldn't have. Because we would have failed at Gamma Piratus, and the Nazis would have interuniversal drives and Darglan technology," Lucy said.

"Perhaps. But regardless, the fight to come has been due to the actions of both sides. May those with the strongest convictions win." Karesl stood up and looked down at her. His voice lost some of its power and became gentle. "And whatever happens… thank you for being here in my daughter's time of need. I will stand against her errors, but I do not want to see her alone, and I do not wish her destroyed."

Without another word, he left.

Underneath the Great Temple, Meridina tossed and turned in her cell. The chains binding her rattled as she moved over and over. Inside her being, her mind, she felt like she would drown. She felt Amaunet inside of her again. She saw the carnage she'd inflicted. She saw her blade cut into Lucy's flesh and bite into her neck.


Meridina woke with a start at that. Her cell was dark and the electrical lighting was barely functional.

Meridina sat up and focused on herself. She felt so much doubt, so much uncertainty, that it was becoming too painful to carry.

This is my fault she thought to herself. "I was so blinded by my desire to be the one to find the Dawn Bearers. Now look at what has happened."

No one answered. Which was to be expected.

If only she didn't have this darkness inside of her. Nothing she had tried had destroyed it. Ignoring it wasn't working. And now it had put her life in jeopardy.

Meridina didn't go back to sleep. She meditated the rest of the night.

After getting up and going through her morning routines Julia headed to the Lookout for breakfast. Her digital reader was in her hand as she enjoyed the waffles and breakfast sausage that Hargert's kitchen staff had prepared for her. Fully half of the crew was now off-loaded, taking leave time or, in some cases, getting re-assigned to other posts. Much of the crew would be off the ship by the end of the week to get the same combination of leave time or "shore" postings to fill the time before they launched again. It was with great pleasure that Julia signed and filed the medical leave approval for Jarod, allowing him to return to New Liberty to see to his family.

"You seem nervous, Commander."

Julia looked up to see Hargert observing her not-so-empty plate. "Usually you are finished before now," he noted.

"Sorry, I'm just... " She sighed. "I'm just wondering what the Admiral wants to see me for."

"Ah. I see. Do you have reason to be concerned?"

Julia nodded sadly. "Well, Hargert, I was absent from a critical operation and used my command codes to gain access to an exclusion zone that I didn't have official orders to access. So… yes, I think I have reasons."

That won her an understanding nod. "Well, I'm sure it's not that. You brought us back Mister Jarod. The Admiral is an understanding man."

"He is," Julia agreed. "Unfortunately, Minister Hawthorne and Admiral Davies are not." She checked her watch. "I'd better get to my office to finish filing things, I'm supposed to be meeting the Admiral at 1130."

"Of course, of course." The old German put an understanding hand on her shoulder. "Just remember, it's usually not as bad as your fears think it to be."

I hope not was the reply in her head.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-04 06:52pm

The next morning everyone took time to get ready. Robert, Lucy, and Angela changed into civilian clothes, essentially shirts and jackets and trousers. They still looked different than the vests and robes that were the common garments of the Gersallians for this occasion. Karesl left first. As a Council Mastrash he had duties for the trial. The others took a commuter vehicle summoned by Drentiya.

Today Jantarihal was quiet. Too quiet, Robert thought. Like the whole city was holding its breath and waiting to see what happened today. And if the wrong thing happened… a brief image tormented him, an image of Jantarihal in flames from the Dissenters and pro-Alliance forces fighting their differences out in the streets.

Leniraya shot him a sad glance. Robert had the feeling his fears were shared among the others.

The vehicle left them at the entrance to the main structure of the Great Temple. Robed men and women, cream-colored robes and blue robes and green robes and the occasional rare purple robe, were all entering amid two lines of stern-faced red robes. Four of those split off from the others to escort the Lumantala family into the building. The foyer was large and expansive, filled with artifacts of the Order's history, and a massive set of double doors stood before them.

"This place is more stadium than temple," Lucy murmured as they entered the doors. She'd been here once before, but for Robert and Angel it was their first sight of the Council and Assembly Chamber. They gazed around at the seats, all of them starting to fill up.

"Okay, so it's a large stadium."

Robert nodded. He looked down at the round stone table. "That's where the Council sits."

"Yep." Lucy looked on to the far alcove in the structure, where the Relics of Swenya remained. She kept her eyes on them even while the Lumantala family took their reserved seats in the first row. There were more than enough for all, including the trio from the Aurora.

But Lucy wasn't ready to sit yet. Seeing that people were being allowed to walk around the Council area at the moment, she prompted Robert and Angel to follow her to the alcove. They all looked up at the painting of the dark-haired woman with the brilliant shining sword. She was still standing over a fallen group of dark-robed by men. "Swenya," Robert guessed.

"Yeah. And her stuff."

He looked into the glass cases beneath the painting. The tattered robes and the sandals were one thing. The round-shaped hilt was another. "That's an odd design for a lakesh," he said.

"Well, it's three thousand years old," Lucy said. She gazed at it and wondered, not for the first time, if it still worked. She felt her hand moving toward it. Her power tentatively reached out to the weapon, as if she could sense if it were intact or not.

Robert pulled her away. "It looks like the Council is coming in," he said. "Let's go."

They walked back from the alcove and to the first floor seats. Angel was holding their seats in reserve; they would be at the end of the family, by Gamaya, with Lucy beside her and Robert between Lucy and Angela. Gina Invieve sat beside Angela. They hadn't seen her since the prior night, but Robert got the idea she hadn't gone far since then.

The Council consisted of thirteen Mastrash-rank members of the Order. The eldest one was clearly held as the leader, or at least the senior, of their numbers. Ledosh found a seat near them. Goras and Karesl sat across from them. The elderly man was handed a heavy rod with a lead end on one side. He pounded it upon the table. "The Council will come to order."

All speaking stopped. Everyone made their way to seats if they didn't already have them.

"He is Mastrash Maklir," whispered Gamaya. "The eldest of the Council members."

Robert nodded in reply and waited for Maklir to say or do more.

He didn't have to wait long. The old man started to speak again once the clattering of footfalls stopped. "We are faced with a grave occasion. One of our own has been accused of treason against the Code, the Order, and the ways of our people. Temple Knights, bring forth the accused."

A smaller door to their right, and thus to the left of the relic alcove, opened. Two red-robed Knights walked through. Behind and between them was Meridina. She was back in her blue robes as a knight, wearing a cream-colored tunic beneath the robes and matched by baggy trousers the same color as the tunic. Her limbs were in chains again. To the others, she looked contemplative more than anything. Behind her came two more of the red-robed figures, all four leading her into a position in front of her family. A chair was provided for her to sit in.

Robert and Lucy exchanged looks. They could feel her feelings, and it was clear she had no hope for what was to come.

"Meridina, daughter of Karesl and Drentiya, daughter of the Lumantala Family, Knight of the Order of Swenya, you stand formally accused of treason against the Order. Do you understand this?"

"I do."

Maklir nodded. "Then we will proceed. Mastrash Goras will direct the prosecution. Mastrash Ledosh, as the mentor of this woman, I call upon you to defend her."

Each man nodded. Ledosh and Goras stood from their chairs and walked away to opposite ends of the table. Ledosh took up a position near Meridina, close enough that Robert and the others could speak to him if desired.

"Then let us begin." Maklir nodded to Goras.

The bald man stood. He looked from Meridina to Robert to Lucy. "My brothers and sisters, people of Gersal, we face a crossroads for our people. In these times, we must consider what is best for our future. For thousands of years we have deliberated with one another on the best way to find a solution to whatever we faced." Goras held a hand toward Meridina. "But this woman decided to take that choice upon herself. She decided to defy the traditions and ways our Order has kept for millennia." Goras swept a hand out. "There are no words for this arrogance. Mitigation, perhaps, should she reveal that she was ordered into it by a superior."

At that a brief tumult came from the assembled. It was called to order.

"What was her crime, you ask?", Goras continued. "Was it enough that she abandoned our Order's neutrality and joined the Alliance Navy? No. She went beyond that. She violated one of our most important rules. And the proof of this is seated before you now, at this very moment!"

With that, Goras pointed to Robert and Lucy.

"These two have awakened their swevyra, and Meridina has trained them in our arts. She did so without the Council's approval. She has shared our most sacred laws, our most important teachings, with outsiders!"

Cries went up from the assembled. Goras basked in them. Robert found the image confusing and distasteful; Goras seemed more politician than contemplative warrior-monk. And his rhetoric seemed to be nothing but a flip of Pensley's or Davies'.

"Some may cry and say this is no crime," Goras continued. "They will point out that our people trained the Dorei in the arts of swevyra. They forget that we punished them as well, when their desire to train outstripped their wisdom. And they trained existing organizations! Brotherhoods and fellowships and religious institutions that already knew the need for discipline and control. Whom has Meridina trained?" Goras again pointed toward Robert and Lucy. "They are not in a brotherhood, not a temple. They are former renegades, former renegades given legitimacy by the same Alliance that seeks to ensnare our people!"

There were more cries. Not all were supportive. Robert could feel the raw tension in the crowd. Even these trained Knights and followers of the Order held strong feelings on the matter, and many were against Meridina.

"Look at her," Goras said, his voice lowering as his eyes bored down on Meridina. "Feel her swevyra, now weakened by darkness. Remember the day that the daughter of Karesl forged her lakesh, and how bright she was, how noble. See now what has been done to her by those who twisted her against her people!" Goras now glared toward Ledosh. Ledosh returned the glare with a quiet, stoic expression.

Meridina said nothing. She kept her head bowed.

"It is sad to see such a promising swevyra'se fall so far." Goras walked back toward the central table. He met Karesl's eyes, and his ally did not flinch. "It weighs my very essence to see that potential destroyed. That is the cost we have paid, that my colleague, her noble father, has paid for the agenda of a few prophecy-mongers! Because now we have not a noble swevyra'se with a strong destiny before her, but a broken Knight, every moment growing closer to becoming a swevyra'kse."

Goras turned back to Meridina. "But I cannot allow my sympathy for how you have been deceived to divert me from the enormity of your crimes! You are wanting, Knight Meridina! You are a threat to everything we hold dear! You have undermined millennia of our ways!", Goras raged, a finger leveled at Meridina. Some voices gave approval, others did not. "You have paved the way for the subjugation of our entire species to outside influences that can only corrupt us! You are an enemy, a traitor to this Order, to the Code, to the people of Gersal. I will see you tested! Personally!"

The Chamber quieted. Robert could feel Meridina's family become afraid and horrified. "Tested?", Robert asked Ledosh, his voice just high enough in volume to reach Ledosh's ear.

He turned to face Robert. The older Gersallian's expression was drawn with horror. "He wishes to test her, power against power, lakesh against lakesh."

"A duel?", Lucy asked.

"A duel to see if she is in control. If she can resist the darkness that has sprouted within her. And if she fails…" Ledosh gave them a sad look. "...he will certainly kill her."

Robert and Lucy exchanged worried glances.

"Of course, the Council must first approve," Goras finally continued, having let his words sink in. "So I will let them judge." He bowed to the Council table and stepped back, giving Ledosh one final glare.

Ledosh matched it. After a moment of silence he stepped forward. "If it pleases the Council?"

Maklir nodded in reply.

"We must recognize the true reason we are here today," Ledosh said. "We do indeed stand at a crossroads. Along one path is a future unlike any we have imagined in millennia. The legacy of our ancient benefactors, the Darglan, has been provided to us. The Alliance is a part of that legacy. Swenya foretold long ago that this day would come. And now that it has…" There was both supportive voices and opposition in the seating, and for a moment Ledosh quieted. "...now that it has, there are voices crying 'No! No, we must be alone!'" Ledosh now looked to Goras and Karesl in turn. "They claim that our people must stand apart. That our ways are threatened by being too close to outsiders." Ledosh waited a moment, letting that sink in, before declaring, "Arrogance! That is what it is, sheer arrogance, and it is not befitting our people!" A couple of voices accused Ledosh of the same. "The Alliance is not perfect, but it represents the best hope for the triumph of our ideals, for the victory of Light that Swenya foretold three thousand years ago."

Ledosh turned to Meridina. "And here she is. The one Knight brave enough to stand up and risk everything for that dream. Meridina was there at the beginning. She knows the opportunity before us. And she has acted with faith and nobility in reaching for it. Her training of Robert Dale and Lucy Lucero is not a betrayal of the Code, but its very essence! She has imparted the wisdom Swenya handed to us to the Human species, as Swenya herself would have done. And she has done so with people who have repeatedly spent their sweat and their blood to protect the innocent! Look at what they did with the Darglan legacy, my brethren! The Alliance is the culmination of that work, work that started with the most noble pursuit a being can have; using their skills and talents in the cause of Light, to protect the innocent and lift them from danger. They were not lording over helpless worlds like pirates, they were giving their time, their devotion, to breaking the chains of slaves and freeing the oppressed! To saving the lives of others! Their deeds strengthened the Flow of Life. And that is the very definition of what it is to be a swevyra'se."

Ledosh now held his hand out toward them as well. "Sense them, my brethren. Feel the purity of their swevyra. There is no darkness there. There is Light. Tell me you would not have seen the same done, that you would have ignored their potential as some would say Meridina should have done."

Ledosh turned about again. He walked up to Meridina. She was evidently miserable, but it was clear her mentor's words were moving her despite everything. "There is now darkness in Meridina, yes," Ledosh conceded. "It was put there by a malevolent being who seized her very body from her control, who separated mind and soul from body and swevyra, to control the latter for its own cruel and twisted means. Can you not feel how Meridina has suffered, brethren? Goras wants her tested, but what he really wants is her death, because with it he might strike at the Alliance he abhors. All this, despite the facts of what she has endured. She needs healing, not testing. And I know you will see that before we are through." Ledosh nodded to Meridina, who gave a small nod in reply. He turned to Maklir and nodded as well.

Maklir smacked his rod to the table. "Mastrash Goras. You may present your evidence."

Goras rose again. He was frowning at Ledosh. But at the right moment he turned to face Maklir. "I will start by presenting the video evidence. By rights it is the only evidence I need. It comes from the recent treacherous attack upon the Alliance Senate, and it will show the extent to which the accused trained her students beyond the instructions and laws of this Council." With a press of a button to his wrist, Goras activated a giant holo-screen above the table. Robert recognized the Senate camera footage and frowned. It had spread out too damned fast.

Lucy flew into it, having been blasted back by an initially-unseen foe, who closed with Lucy and began to duel her, lakesh against lakesh. Robert's feats during the fight were also partly visible. Goras slowed the playback to make a point. "Observe the video closely…"

Julia arrived at the terminal at precisely 1125 hours, showered again and changed into a fresh uniform and with her long blond hair pulled back into a bun at the back of her head.

The main dock terminal was a sea of activity, with uniformed and civilian personnel milling around, on their way to one ship or another to do everything from inspect repairs or ensure supply delivery. Signs pointed to various clusters of docks, and lifts provided transport to those that couldn't be walked to from the terminal.

Admiral Maran was waiting for her near the lifts. He motioned her over and she walked straight over "Admiral, sir," she said. "Good morning."

"Good morning, Commander." His expression was solid, on the quiet side, but she didn't see any reason to immediately worry. "You'll be happy to know Robert and the others are at Meridina's trial as we speak."

"They got in?"

"They did." Maran stepped up to the lift. The gray doors slid open, admitting them into the cylinder-shaped lift. After they stepped in Maran said, "Observation Deck, Dock 20."

"Isn't Dock 20 the high security construction dock?", Julia asked. Already the lift was moving upward.

"It is. I have something to look into there."

By now the lift had cleared the terminal proper. It was now in a transparent tube. Julia could look out at the entirety of the Fleet Base and its series of connected structures and docks. The lift tube was but one thread of the great spider's web of transport tubes and solid connector structures filled with storehouses and machine shops. In one direction, away from the Base, the Earth continued to spin slowly below them. By habit Julia's eyes focused on the heart of the North American continent and to the wide fields of Kansas. Even on the Earth of the Federated Stars, where megalopolises had devoured entire coastlines and regions, Kansas was still a sea of green and brown framed by the Kansas City Metropole on the east.

Maran saw the look in her eye. "You're thinking of home."

"I'm thinking that five years ago, I never imagined I could see it from space," she replied quietly. She turned away from the Earth and toward the base itself. The central structure around which the webs of transport tubes, open docks, and closed docks were located was a rough ziggurat shape over a disc. "How many people live here again?", she asked.

"As in semi-permanent residence? Something along the lines of three hundred and sixty thousand," Maran said. "Although the total capacity is closer to a million. It's not the Rings of Gersal, but it's still impressive."

"You're worried about what's going on back there," observed Julia. "I mean, with Meridina's trial and all of this political upheaval over the Dissenters."

"Always," Maran said. "My people… we're not perfect, Commander. For all that we like to play up being in harmony and balance with one another, we can be arrogant and curt with other societies. We think we have all the answers." He sighed. "Sometimes it's easy to think that way. But I know we don't."

"I guess nobody's perfect," Julia said. And she drew in a breath. "About A4P5…"

"We'll get to that," he said.

The transparent section disappeared. They had moved into one of the closed dock structures, used for high security construction. After staring at more gray bulkhead framed by lighter lines for another half of a minute, they were admitted onto the observation deck for Docks 20 through 25. "This way," Maran said, leading her out onto a hall carpeted in beige and burgundy. As they walked along other officers and personnel went by here and there. It was about a hundred feet of walking before they got to a door marked "Observation Lounge 20-21".

Inside was a well-furnished lounge, complete with a wet bar (currently unmanned), a long table for meals or appetizers, and several soft chairs and sofas. The entire room was twice the size of the Aurora's Lookout and looked like a massive one storey box built into the docks outside of the transparent aluminum windows. Straight ahead, between the windows, was a single wall of gray. "I guess these make for some good parties?", she inquired, trying to show some levity.

"Commissioning and launching engagements, certainly," Maran said. "Senators, Councilmen, Defense Ministry officials, and the command officers usually." He stepped further in, giving a view of both docks from where he was standing. "You're concerned about A4P5?"

"I admit I am, sir," Julia said. "I had no authority to enter the Earth Exclusion Zone, but I did anyway, and in a private vessel of questionable origin."

"Have you arranged to have your code changed with Fleet Security yet?"

"Already done."

"Good. Then there's no loose ends." Maran looked back to her and grinned slightly. "After all of the trouble with the Senate attack, I took the liberty of writing out orders for you to retrieve Mister Jarod. They were backdated appropriately. I'll have to pretend to scold someone in Communications for the failure to have them logged properly."

Julia refused to let herself sigh with relief. "Thank you, sir."

"You took a risk to bring one of our people home, Commander," Maran said. "And during the entire operation you made the sort of on-the-spot command decisions I trained you to make. Which is why you're here today. Look out the windows."

Julia turned to the dock to their right first. The windows had '21" written above them. Within the dock she found a ship, still under construction. But its size and shape was still recognizable.

Quite recognizable.

She went across to the Dock 20 window. The same rough shape was under construction there too. The profile was a little different, but… yes, it was still the same.

The two ships were a kilometer long, easy, and they had the familiar flat-X four nacelle layout for their warp drives. And there was no mistaking the profile, even if it looked like some fine details might not be the same.

"You're…" Julia looked to him with surprise. She smiled. "You're building ships based off of the Aurora. Directly off of her."

Maran nodded. He was smiling too. "Yes. With the success in building the Discovery-class ships, we took the next step. Granted, the war has forced us to adjust our plans somewhat. Half of the ships we're building as a first flight will be built as dedicated battlecruisers, with heavy armament. Our designers have been assisted greatly by your scans of that 'Avenger' ship you fought at C1P2 Earth." He nodded to Dock 21. "That's the first of them over there. Our designers decided to name her and her class the Excalibur."

Julia smiled softly. "Well, it sounds cool for a warship name. And it fits, I guess." She looked back out at the vessel in Dock 20. "I guess this one will be more like the Aurora?"

"Yes. An Advanced Star Cruiser, with multi-mission operational capability."

Julia nodded. Her eyes scanned the vessel more closely this time, making out the details of the hull more closely where it was complete. She found the ship's name already painted on the hull, at the spot halfway between the bow and the bridge on the primary hull's dorsal side just as it was on the Aurora.

Her eyes didn't widen, but a grin came to her face as she read the name quietly.

A.S.V. Enterprise.

"You're building an Enterprise," she said.

"It's a storied name in Human history," Maran remarked. "We have a similar ship name, Inrelen'se. Both terms mean a great undertaking requiring effort and dedication. The planners and I thought it appropriate for the vessel and the design."

"Scotty is going to love this," Julia said. She felt her smile widen at the thought of his reaction.

"She's going to be ready for her shakedown by the end of the year," Maran continued. He looked over at her. "And I want you to take her out."

Now Julia's eyes widened. Her mouth half-opened in surprise as she looked to Maran. "You… you mean you want me to put her through her paces, to test her out for…"

"No, I don't," Maran said. "At the end of this year, I want to have a launching party in this lounge where I introduce you as Captain Julia Andreys, Commanding Officer of the Alliance Starship Enterprise."

There was a clear tension in the air of the Council and Assembly Chamber when Goras finished presenting the video from the Senate and every element of it he found important. "As you can see, brethren, the charges are irrefutable. Meridina has trained students outside of the discipline of the Order. This is a violation of tradition, a violation of the Code, and an act we must punish." Goras looked up to the spectators. "Of course, this alone does not merit testing, you will argue. And I agree! It does not!" He pointed to Meridina. "It is the darkness within her that does. Regardless of where it has come from, whether from her own arrogance or from this Goa'uld entity, we all know the dangers of darkness within oneself. It twists, it corrupts, and it seduces. And it seduces the most quickly when supported by arrogance and self-importance."

Goras turned and faced Meridina. "So what are you, Knight Meridina? Are you a follower, performing your acts at the behest of a superior? Or are you that arrogant to take upon yourself the authority to circumvent this Council?"

"I did what my swevyra guided me to," Meridina answered. Her voice was quiet and reserved.

"Quite the answer. An answer I would expect." Goras stepped closer to her. "Tell me, then. What was the purpose you discerned for this? What is it your swevyra guided you to do?"

Meridina met his look. "To train them to use their powers, so that they could fulfill their destinies."

"And those destinies would be?"

"Their destinies," Meridina replied, "as the Bearers of the Dawn, foreseen by Swenya."

The spectators erupted in a babble of surprised voices. Shouts of disbelief and disapproval, audible gasps at the idea, they all came down into the center of the chamber.

"The Bearers of the Dawn," Goras said. He looked away from her and to the Council. His eyes focused on Maklir. "The Council has spoken, at some length, on whether or not Swenya's prophecy is at hand. We have not had a definitive decision on the matter. Yet you would decide that it must be so?"

"That is disingenuous," Ledosh interrupted. "The Council has in fact supported that interpretation of prophecy from Swenya. It was a Council decision to place Meridina on the Aurora."

"A decision influenced by the dedication of a minority," Goras insisted. He lifted a hand dismissively. "The scholarship on the authenticity of the prophecy has long been debated. It is hardly a convincing reason to blatantly ignore our laws. Which you, Knight Meridina, have most assuredly done." Goras turned to face her again. "And now there is a darkness within you. A core of fear and anger and guilt that festers in your swevyra. We are told it is from the Goa'uld. I would ask you if this is true. Because I can see the conscious evasion of our traditions and laws as something to prompt such feelings. And that doubt that we all feel in you now… where might that have come from? Surely not from the Goa'uld, for you are free of it. Have you finally realized your error?" Goras motioned to her. "Please, answer."

"My doubt…" Meridina's eyes fell. "I have struggled with this darkness inside of me since the Goa'uld enslaved me. I believe that it has made me feel doubt. And to see our people as they are now… we are not supposed to be this way!" Meridina shook her head. "I watched Gersallians, I watched one of our own, one with the training and control of our Order, murder innocent people! What am I supposed to think when I see this? Knowing how much of this anger in our people comes from my actions… I never intended this. I never wanted it. I never imagined that the Alliance might see our people torn like this or driven to such monstrous behavior. Yet it has, and what else should I feel? I acted to bring us the golden age foretold by Swenya. Instead, all it seems I have enabled is suffering for our people. Anger at me and at what the Alliance presents clouds so many of our people. And I never wanted this. I…" Meridina sniffled and gripped the podium to avoid slumping against it. "The Alliance is supposed to be the shield of Light. Instead we are gripped in violence. Our people are angry, other peoples are angry, blood has been spilled… and all I wonder is if I helped cause it! Because… if I did…" Tears openly flowed down her face. "...if I did…. then I must submit to the charges. I must plead guilty."

A satisfied look came to Goras' face. "We make progress, I see." He again turned to the Council. "Straight from the accused herself, my fellows. How can we deny her own judgement on making our own?"

"It appears you failed to hear her," a woman on the Council declared. "She stated she is guilty if she is the cause of the recent troubles."

"Which she is!", Goras roared. "She is the cause! Look at what her arrogance has caused our people! Look at what this submission to the Alliance has done to our society! We are out of balance because of her and those like her, who have suborned our people's' needs to outsiders and their ways! Look at what the Alliance is, my brethren! It is a collection of ridiculous states that squabble needlessly with each other when they are supposed to act for their common good. And the defendant before us today would have us become part of this!"

"I wanted to show them a way forward," Meridina said.

"No, you wanted to glorify yourself by bringing about this prophecy you insist to be so " Goras again swapped from addressing Meridina to addressing his peers. "Our ways are clear. She has violated them. And she carries the taint of darkness. Let her be tested by our best, so that if found wanting she may be struck down quickly and painlessly. It is better than letting her free into a world that has turned against her and will drive her into darkness."

Lucy drew in a breath. Robert felt her anger and shook his head at her. It quieted as, around them, the assembled voiced their agreement or disagreement with Goras. This only seemed to feed that tumult as neighbors began arguing the case for or against Meridina.

What was worse for both of them was feeling how much this was hurting Meridina. It wasn't that her people were against her, it was that her people were so clearly divided about it. Their division was something horrid.

"Can we speak?", Robert asked Ledosh, having to raise his voice somewhat just to be heard over the ongoing arguments in the assembly seating.

Ledosh looked to him. "Not directly. However…" He stepped up toward the Council, and not far from Goras. "Now that Mastrash Goras is finished, I hope I may be permitted to speak?"

"Indeed." Maklir nodded. He looked to Goras. "You appear finished."

"I am," Goras declared. He went to his chair at the table.

Ledosh, with the arguments not quite dying down, had to wait briefly as Maklir brought order back. "My brethren, Mastrash Goras has made his arguments forcefully. But let us remember the wisdom of our ways. Swenya once said that all view the world by the lights of their own thoughts. My colleague's views of the Alliance are known to us. He sees this situation in that light. Meridina and I see it in another, and I ask you to consider both in judging her."

"Because what Meridina should be judged for is not the failures or opportunities of the Alliance but her own actions. This dissension in our people does not change this fact. What Meridina must be judged for is her actions and the outcome of those actions." Ledosh looked to her. "Tell me, what have your students done with their power now that you have shown them how to wield it?"

"They have accomplished much." Meridina turned her head to look back at them. A smile came to her face, even as the tears dried on her cheeks. "They have faced dark forces with bravery and skill. They have strengthened the Flow of Life with kindness and compassion."

"Indeed, if they had not been trained, wouldn't the mission to Gamma Piratus have failed?"

"It is likely, yes," Meridina said.

"And the Darglan legacy would now be in the hands of the forces of darkness?'


"In short, you have reason to say you would make the same decision again?"

"I do."

More roaring came from above. Robert felt nervous at that. If things went sour, they could have a mob on their hands. It's hard to believe the Gersallians feel so hotly about this. But then again, they'd had this setup for almost three thousand years, so why wouldn't they be suspicious of changes?

"If it pleases the Council, I would like to speak with Meridina's students."

"I object!", Goras thundered. "The outsiders have no place here!"

"They are not outsiders," Ledosh retorted. "They are here as part of the Lumantala."

Maklir nodded.

Ledosh looked to Robert and Lucy, who stood up. "Tell me, under what circumstances did Meridina start teaching you to use these powers?"

"After we developed them." Lucy took the lead in answering as the senior student.

"Did she explain to you the dangers of darkness?"

"She did," Robert replied.

"And she trained you to control your talents."

"She did."

There were more cries coming from above.

"Why did you come today?", Ledosh asked them.

"Because Meridina is family to us," Lucy said. "She's meant so much to our lives, and she's given so much of herself. We weren't going to let her face this alone."

"Your loyalty is most befitting your reputations," Ledosh said. He extended a hand toward them. "Tell me, what do you wish to do with the talents you have attained? How will you use Meridina's teachings?"

Lucy nodded to Robert, who replied for both of them. "To make the Multiverse a place where justice, compassion, and peace rule. We'll use these abilities to oppose evil organizations like the Nazi Reich that enslave, torment, and murder."

After he said that, Lucy thought of the Quarians she and Meridina had met on the Citadel, and how that encounter had gone. "Our goal is to make the Flow of Life stronger by giving aid to those who need it."

Ledosh nodded at them. To their side, Meridina's siblings and her mother also gave nods of approval, and it was clear their sincerity was recognized by many of those present. "Can anyone see them and say Meridina's training of them is a mistake? That it is against the Code? They are acting as any swevyra'se would."

"Words mean little against actions," Goras retorted from the Council table. "If they mean to be swevyra'se, then they should join the Order! But that one expressly refused to!" He pointed to Lucy. "And you cannot tell me that the Alliance forces are a force such as our own Order. Their own superiors despise us."

"They misunderstand us, and thus feel fear. We can correct that in time," Ledosh insisted.

"Before or after they order our government to disband us?", Goras snarled. "Before or after we are enslaved to the whims of the Alliance?! How many of our people have bled and died in a war led by the incompetent?! How many ships have we lost?! How much of the Interdependency's wealth has been spent?! And how much more will we pay for this victory? We have darkness enough in our home universe to confront, the Alliance would have us spend our strength in other universes instead!"

Again a roar came, followed by further dissensions in the Chamber. Maklir struggled to regain control with repeated strikes of his rod against his section of the table.

"We're not going to solve this," Robert muttered to Lucy. "They're too caught up in their fears. They're not listening."

"Then how do we get them to listen?", Lucy asked.

"Aside from getting that jackass Goras to shut his stupid piehole?", Angel muttered.

Neither responded to Angel's muttering, as they were both recognizing what was going on inside of Meridina. She was facing the crushing of her viewpoint of her own people, indeed, of her own Order, as the arguments in the seats around and above them continued in some form or another. Their disagreements over the Alliance had been amplified by their feelings toward Meridina's actions, creating a spectrum of reactions that amplified the emotions of the people in attendance and, one presumed, outside on the planet as well.

An apprentice entered the Chamber from one of the side doors. A number of eyes followed the bald woman with brown eyes as she went up to Goras and murmured into his ear. He stood. "It is clear that we must come to some decision, my brethren," he said. "For I have just been informed that a riot has erupted in the city of Lankeran between the Dissenter and Alliance factions."

The chamber stilled. Goras looked over to the operator for the Chamber's display screens and asked, "Do we have a news feed?"

"We do, Mastrash," he answered. The man in the cream-colored robe started operating his controls.

Moments later the display became active again. Two crowds were pressed against each other and in a full brawl. Screams and shouts filled the air and it was easy to see some people were being knocked over in the tumult, a potentially lethal condition with the risk of trampling. Signs in Gersallian were being used as makeshift weapons.

"I…" Lucy shook her head. "I just didn't think they could get like this. They're always so…"

Robert said nothing. He understood her horror and surprise. It was hard to imagine a society as peaceful as the Gersallians becoming so agitated. But given the events lately, he supposed he shouldn't be surprised. The Senate attack had been proven to be a Dissenter extremist operation, and evidence showed it had clear support from institutions on Gersal even if the Changeling that had been impersonating Senator Kiang had been their primary ally in getting into the Senate. That alone was enough to be scandalous, but throwing in another military setback in a war that had already claimed hundreds of thousands of Gersallians and cost them so much in treasure and ships and lives, the disagreement over Meridina's actions…

They could feel her reaction. Meridina stared with horror at the footage of the riot. It was painful to feel the weariness in her, a sense that she was breaking before their eyes. Her normal calm was seeping away.

Goras had the footage turned off. He looked to Meridina with the air of a man who knew he had struck a blow right where he'd wanted it. "This is the fruit of your labor, Knight Meridina. For the first time in centuries, civil discord has come to our world."

"It's not her fault!", Lucy shouted, and immediately she knew she had messed up. But having done so, she finished her thought. "She couldn't have known your people would behave like this!"

Goras' nostrils' flared as he directed a steely gaze at Lucy. "You have no place to speak before this Council. Be quiet or you will be removed."

Robert gripped her arm. "Don't," he murmured. "For Meridina."

Right, she replied mentally, her jaw clenched. "My apologies," she said with forced humility.

"You're right."

All eyes turned to Meridina.

Tears continued to stream down her cheeks. She had trouble keeping her voice from breaking when she continued. "I wanted to see the Prophecy of the Bearers come to pass. I was certain this was the time. And I was certain… am still certain…" - her correction didn't quite sound convinced, but she still made it - "that Lucy and Robert and their friends are the Bearers of the Dawn. But I didn't foresee this. I… I never imagined… I would cause this suffering." Meridina forced a breath in to gain control, any measure of it, and with it some composure. She directed her eyes toward Maklir. "Mastrash Maklir, I ask to be tested. By Mastrash Goras himself. Mastrash Karesl can be our intercessor."

"Meridina, no!", Ledosh cried.

"Meridina…" Drentiya was tearing up. She could sense her daughter's intent. "Meridina, please, reconsider this."

"You are aware that you may die in this?", Maklir asked her.

"I am. If my death will bring peace to Gersal…" Meridina turned her eyes to focus on Goras. His brown eyes glinted with satisfaction. "...then it will be worth it."

Lucy had to force herself from shouting "No!"

Goras smiled thinly. It was clearly meant to be seen as a respectful smile, but there was an edge to it. "I will be honored to test your control, Knight Meridina. I assure you, if it comes to it, I will make sure that you do not suffer."

"Thank you, Mastrash," Meridina answered. A strange calm was coming over her, tinged by the sadness she felt as she heard, and felt, the shocked feelings of her family. Leniraya was being held closely by Penrine. Qalkrsl held his mother's hand. And Gamaya was pale and looking at her father in expectation, as if he could stop this.

Above and behind them all, the assembled crowd were murmuring and speaking quietly, but not arguing.

Maklir smacked his rod on the desk. "Then we shall adjourn briefly to prepare. The Temple Knights will take the prisoner to the waiting chamber and retrieve her lakesh." He stood and stepped away, a signal to everyone else to do the same.

Meridina said nothing as her escorts took her to the east side of the chamber and the door there.

Lucy finally found her voice. "We can't let her do this," she said. "We… we can't." She looked at Robert. "Goras is one of the best duelists in the Order. He'll kill her."

"I really want to wipe that smug little smile off his smug face," Angel growled.

"All we can do is be here for her," Robert said. "This is what she wants. There's nothing we can do to stop that."

"We'll see about that," Lucy said, moving away from them. Before Robert could stop her, she was already on her way to the door where Meridina had been taken.

"Should I go after her?", Angel asked.

"No." Robert shook his head. They continued to follow the family into the main foyer.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-05 07:56am

Aboard the Aurora, the ship was becoming quieter and more empty as more and more of the crew departed for temporary shore postings, transfers, or simple extended leave. Jarod was no exception to this. He had leave of his own, and an hour to catch the transport that was carrying materials to New Liberty and its nearby adjacent resource colonies. He was in civilian clothes now, wearing a brown fleece jacket and dark green polo shirt with a pair of black slacks. A duffel bag in Stellar Navy Operations beige was over his shoulder.

Before heading out, he checked up on the transmissions from Gersal, and then went to Julia's office. He found her there staring at nothing. "You don't look as busy as I thought you'd be."

She said nothing.

Jarod stepped in and took a seat. "I don't see you as the type to be staring off into space, Commander."

"Hrm?" Julia finally seemed to notice him. "Oh, Jarod. Ready for your trip?"

"The Weiss leaves in an hour for New Liberty," Jarod answered. "So I've got at least half an hour before I have to start running."


"Have you been watching the proceedings?", Jarod asked.

"Hrm? Oh, Meridina." Julia frowned. "Dammit, no, I've been.. caught up with something."

Before Jarod could say anything, the door opened. Scotty stormed in with a dark look. "I just heard what those bloody idiots on Gersal are up t'! I cannae believe they'll dae somethin' like that tae th' lass!"

"What?", Julia asked. "What's going on?"

"Meridina's going to be 'tested'," Jarod said.

"Dinnae tell me that's a bloody test!", Scotty roared. "It's a cold-blooded execution, Mister Jarod, an' make no mistake about it!"

Worry for Meridina briefly trumped Julia's prior thoughts. "What do you mean?", Julia asked.

"It's some concept for a duel," Jarod explained. "It has to do with the Gersallians' views on their abilities. They say Meridina's been corrupted and that she has to be tested to see if the corruption is too great to let her live."

"That Goras, he's just lookin' for an excuse tae kill her." Scotty kept a frown on his face.

"Well, we can't do anything about it," Julia sighed. "We'll have to leave it up to Robert, Angel, and Lucy to handle it."

"Unfortunately. Let's hope they've got something." Jarod went to stand and stopped. "What were you staring off into space over, anyway?"

"Hrm? Oh, just thinking," Julia said.

"Did Admiral Maran have anythin' tae say t' ye?", Scotty asked. "Hargert mentioned ye looked worried this mornin'."

Julia smirked at that. "Oh, he did."

"How bad is it?", Jarod asked. "Assuming it was bad news."

"Oh, it wasn't bad news. It was…" Julia took in a breath. "It's probably not the best time to talk about it."

"So you're going to make me spend my entire leave wondering what's going on?", Jarod asked, a bemused expression now on his face.

"Aye lass, ye might as well answer."

"Well, since you insist…" Julia drew in a breath. That strange mix of worry and elation and uncertainty and vindication that had come about when Maran told her what he wanted was still gripping her. "Admiral Maran's offered me one of the new ships they're currently building here at the Fleet Base. He wants me to take command of the Enterprise."

A small grin came to her face as she saw their initial reactions. Scotty especially seemed ready to light right up just at the name. Jarod slowly grinned. "Well… congratulations. I mean, that's excellent news. What type of ship is she going to be?"

"The first of a new class, based off of the Aurora," she answered.

"They're finally buildin' 'em, then? It's about bloody time," Scotty declared. "An' good for ye, lass. Ye've earned it."

"So.. you're leaving?", Jarod asked.

"Not yet." Julia shook her head. "I have another six months to accept the post. I want to talk it over with Robert first. Admiral Maran's offering me a chance to pick my first command crew, so after I talk to Robert I'll start seeing if anyone is interested."

"Lass, ye dinnae have to ask," Scotty said. "Tom's got th' Aurora well in hand, after all."

"Woh." Julia held up a hand. "Let's not start splitting the crew up yet. Like I said, I want to talk to Robert first."

"I can understand that," Jarod said. "But when it comes down to it, this is about you, and a chance to take a command you've earned several times over."

"Maybe." Julia nodded. "But I still want to talk to him about it first. See what he and the others think. I want my own ship… but not at the expense of the rest of you. A command's not as important as my family." She glanced down to her computer. "Well, Jarod, you'd better catch your ship. Say hello to your sister and dad for me. Scotty and I have a ship to repair."

It was clear she was ready for the conversation to end. Jarod and Scotty nodded and obeyed her silent request.

Lucy found the waiting chamber easily enough. All she had to do was feel for Meridina's essence. It was full of pain, and fear, but also a strong and resolved calm. When she stepped up to the door two of the red-robed Knights moved to block her. "I'm going to talk with her," she said. "I'm not here to do anything else. You can sense that."

"Yes," one said.

"And if you do attempt to steal her away, we will use lethal force to prevent it," the other remarked.

Right. Of course. Lucy made it clear through her expression that she wasn't perturbed by that. The Knights let her through.

Lucy found Meridina sitting on her knees, hands on her upper legs. Her lakesh was laid before her. "Lucy," she said.

"Please don't," Lucy said. "Don't do this, Meridina. You don't have to."

"I must," she answered. "My people must see that my way has not corrupted me. Then others might follow in my path without causing this terrible dissension. This is why I must be tested."

"But Goras isn't interested in testing you!", Lucy shouted. "He's going to kill you no matter what happens! And he'll justify it however he has to."

"Then that is his choice. And this is mine."

Lucy balled her fists and screamed wordlessly. "Why are you so stubborn about this?!", she demanded. "Don't you know there are people who care about you? People who love you and don't want to lose you?! People who will be hurt if they no longer have you in their lives?!" Tears flowed freely down Lucy's cheeks. "This isn't right. You shouldn't have to do this." She closed her eyes and bowed her head. With little effort to stop herself, Lucy dropped to her knees. "You've done so much for me," Lucy sobbed. "You've done so much for all of us."

Meridina's eyes teared up. She shifted forward and took Lucy's hands into her own, prompting her to look up. "I know," Meridina said. "I know I am hurting you. I am hurting Robert, and Caterina, and all of the others on the Aurora. I am hurting my parents and my sisters and my brother. I can feel their anguish even now. And if there was another way, Lucy, I would take it. But this fighting has to stop. My life is not more important than the lives of my people. I will sacrifice myself to bring them peace."

Lucy said nothing. She hurt too much to find words, and she could sense what was to come. Meridina knew she was die at Goras' hand, and she would not stop him from killing her in the end. All she sought to do was fight until she had proven that she was not taken by darkness.

Meridina pulled Lucy close and embraced her in a hug. "Whatever happens… I am proud of you, Lucy. You have been the kind of student a teacher can only dream of, a student who teaches in turn. Please, use the teachings I've given you to make the Multiverse a kinder and gentler place. Teach Robert well, and with him you two can change everything for the better. Because I know, in my heart, that you and the others are the Bearers of the Dawn."

"I will," Lucy said. With all of her will, she forced the sobbing to slow. She knew that she couldn't show it out in the Chamber.

Meridina accepted the answer. Even though she knew that deep down Lucy was still not accepting what was to come. It would take time. Such things always did.

The Knights entered the room. "They are ready," one said. "Come."

Meridina stood up. She was now permitted to wear her blue robes as a field Knight. She held her right palm downward and, with a yank from her will and the power bound to it, pulled her lakesh into her hand. "I too am ready," was all she said.

Lucy forced herself to stand. Without another word, she followed Meridina out of the room.

In another room not too far away, Goras finished slipping on his short-sleeved combat tunic. A bald-headed apprentice handed him his vest next and he began to pull it on. He felt the presence at the door. "Are you going to see this through, Karesl?"

"If my daughter falls to darkness, I want her end to be quick," he answered.

Goras smiled thinly and turned to face his political ally directly. Karesl, as intercessor, was also in the combat tunic and vest, with his purple-and-blue-trim Council robe over that assemblage. Both were still in the baggy trousers that the Council wore on these occasions. "But that is not the question I asked," Goras said.

Karesl didn't reply.

"If Meridina survives this, the Dissenters will assume we have backed down before the Alliance," Goras said. "It will not matter if she has purged her darkness or proven tested. Our people will face a civil war." When Karesl still didn't answer, Goras continued. "She brought this on herself, Karesl. She admits that. She made herself the symbol of the Alliance to our people, and as that symbol, she has revealed the Alliance as a threat to our ways. If the Gersallian people are to avoid a civil war, Meridina must die."

Yet again, there was silence.

"Do not back out now," Goras urged. "We will save our people this way!"

"I am committed to securing our independence from the Alliance," Karesl said. "But I fear that your path may prove a bad one. And you ask a heavy price of me."

"I do." Goras nodded and stepped up to him. His eyes were intent on Karesl, as if searching for the slightest weakness to pounce upon. "And I expect you to pay it if our people demand it."

Karesl said nothing at that. He nodded his head and left.

The apprentice stepped up beside Goras. "Is there anything else, Mastrash?"

"Go to your place. We will speak again when this is over."

The Council Table had been removed from the center of the Chamber, leaving it a bare floor save for the alcove where the Relics of Swenya were kept in their cases. The members of the Council, save Goras and Karesl, now sat at the top of the alcove, above the portrait of Swenya, and a podium had been erected for Maklir.

On the bare floor, Meridina and Goras stood facing each other. Karesl stood off to himself, ready to intercede as necessary. Everyone else was back in their seats. Robert could see the red in Lucy's eyes and put a hand on her shoulder. Penrine was holding Leniraya close as the latter sniffled. Drentiya shed silent tears and it was clear the Lumantala family were convinced they were watching the death of their sister and daughter.

I have faith in you, Robert urged mentally, looking at Meridina. You can win this.

No, I cannot, she replied.

Maklir stood at the podium and struck his rod to it for attention. "All who are here, know you are witnessing one of the most terrible burdens of our Order. One of our own has been tainted by darkness. It falls to us to test her and ensure the darkness will not corrupt her further." Maklir looked to Goras. "Mastrash Goras, know that is your duty to test. This is a heavy responsibility, and if you would not bear it, it will not be held against you."

"I will bear it, Mastrash Maklir," Goras answered. "For it is a burden that all must bear at some time."

"Very well. Mastrash Karesl, as intercessor it is your duty to aid Mastrash Goras if the darkness in Knight Meridina takes hold, and to aid Knight Meridina should she prove true in the testing. Above all else it is your duty to end the battle when it is no longer necessary. Are you ready to assume this grave responsibility? We acknowledge that you have ample cause to wish it upon another."

"No, Mastrash," Karesl replied. "I am ready to function as intercessor."

Maklir nodded. He looked to Meridina. "Knight Meridina, you requested this trial, and the Council acknowledges this. We are still prepared to postpone it if you feel it is not necessary, and to render our own judgement after deliberation."

"I am ready for testing, Mastrash," Meridina said. "It is better this way."

"Then all is decided." Maklir looked to a technician in the cream-colored robe of the laity of the Order. "Activate the field."

A faint buzz of energy rose up from the ground, continuing until it became a dome over the central floor. Only Meridina, Goras, and Karesl were inside.

"Ready yourself, Knight," Maklir ordered.

Meridina nodded. She pulled her lakesh from her belt. It made a metallic shriek as the memory metal emerged from the hilt and formed into a blade. The light blue EM field gave it a ghostly aura.

"Begin the testing at your leisure, Mastrash Goras."

Goras pulled his own lakesh and extended it.

Silence filled the chamber.

Meridina could sense the blow coming, and when it came she was barely able to get her blade up to meet it. A "whmm" sound filled the air as the EM fields of their blades met, followed by the clash of metal on metal. The power of the strike was deliberate and precise, forcing Meridina to shift her weight to hold it.

Goras' power gathered in an instant and lashed out. Meridina went flying backward into the field. It was like hitting a wall with a low electrical field in it, a field that provided a small and painful shock. If it had paralyzed her with the shock, the battle would have ended right there.

But Meridina was quick enough, just quick enough, to recover and roll away from Goras' lakesh blade before it cut into her head. She brought her blade over in a quick attack that Goras parried with ease. Her rolling maneuver brought her back to her feet. Meridina forced a breath from her lungs and steadied her blade. He went at her again, a juggernaut, and she met his attack again, and the next, and the next…

She couldn't win. Meridina was already certain of that. Goras was powerful with his life force, and his dueling skills were among the best in the Order. She was not bad herself… but against him, she was little better than a novice in some ways. Decades of experience told against her. Had this been a real duel, or at least if Goras didn't need to pretend he was testing her, Meridina believed she would already be dead.

Death. Its imminence kindled fear. As much as she believed in doing the right thing, in giving her life for her people to have peace… it scared her. She didn't want to die. She didn't want her journey to end. That fear came to her and it resonated with the darkness inside of her. All of that fear and anger that she had kept pent up over this past month.

Her will held it in. She would not lose control to that darkness. She was a Knight of Swenya. She lived for the Code. If she had to, she would die for it.

It's not fair! was the unbidden thought as she barely parried a strong blow from Goras that threw her off-balance. Lucy had been right about that, and now the thought rippled through Meridina. Tears momentarily came to her eyes as she realized how it was going to end here, no matter what she did, and after all she had done.

Why couldn't her people understand what this was about? Why did so many of them want to turn away from their destiny?

Meridina forced the thoughts away again. She forced the darkness down, even as it seemed to be on the verge of exploding, as her fear of how soon she would die filled her. She would not give in to her darkness. She would fight until she couldn't any more.

Robert didn't need to be an expert duelist to know that Meridina wasn't just losing, but that she was only alive because Goras wasn't ready to kill her yet.

"He's toying with her," Angel said.

"Technically he's not supposed to be going all-out to land a fatal blow," Robert said. "This.. it's some kind of ultimate stress test."

He glanced over to Lucy and frowned. She was watching the battle… but she was distracted. Robert glanced down to see where her right hand was touching the surface keys of her multi-device. The multi-device's holo-display had been set to a small, uni-directional setting, and was only visible from Lucy's perspective or a narrow cone around it. "What are you doing?", he whispered.

"I don't trust him," Lucy said. "If he does anything…"

Robert's eyes widened when he realized what she was doing and reached for her wrist, obscuring the multi-device. "You can't save her that way," he hissed.

Lucy frowned at him. "I can't stand by and let her get murdered, Robert."

"Intervening like this won't save her, Lucy. It will make things worse. You've got to let this play out."

"And watch her die?", she retorted in a violent whisper.

"Hopefully not. Have faith that she'll get through this. Then…" he frowned. "We'll see, okay? But this won't end well if you just go in there." Left unsaid was the fact that Robert didn't think any of them could defeat Goras, even together.

But if it came down to it, they wouldn't let Goras murder Meridina either.

Meridina's arms were hurting. Her very being was fatigued with the constant stress of fighting an opponent with Goras' power and skill.

He lunged at her again, and even as she parried the blow he turned into the movement and delivered a kick to her ribs that caused at least one to crack. Meridina let out a cry of pain and moved backward. She scrambled to get her footing again and restore her balance. Goras refused to let her, continuing his assault with increasing fury and power, almost as if he were reveling in her desperate, failing defense.

Again the darkness within her stirred. A cold feeling merged with the fear of her imminent death, a feeling screaming for her to act, to do anything to survive! For a very brief moment she wanted to hate Goras, hate him for his desire to kill her, and to strike him down as she had killed Dralan Olati just days ago.

And he knew it. Goras' eyes were not hiding his satisfaction, even if his face kept its neutral look. He was pushing her into the darkness. He wanted her to go there. He wanted her to fall.

He wants me to fall so he can kill me.

Meridina took another kick, this time to a shoulder, but she had been rolling away from the attack and the impact lost some of its power. She rolled onto one knee, blade still ready, and glanced at her father. He could feel the darkness within her too. But where Goras seemed almost animated at its presence, she could sense his fear for her. He wanted her to stay firm.

Goras' blade came at her again and Meridina stopped it. She stopped it a second time, and a third, but Goras' attack was an onslaught that kept her on one knee. He had the superior position, superior power, superior everything, and he was using it. Meridina struggled to keep up with the blows…

The flat of Goras' blade ran over her wrists. It did not cut her, but it did push her arms into a twist that gave him complete leverage on her lakesh. With a surge of power he knocked it from her grasp and sent it clanging to the floor, two meters or more away. He kicked again and caught her in the sternum, throwing Meridina onto her back. His hand reached for her as she tried to stand. He didn't grip her physically, but she felt his power close around her waist and hips, holding her in place. He pulled her into the air and flung her into the wall near the alcove, ribs first.

Another rib cracked. Meridina cried out in pain before falling hard to the ground. Her left hand reached over her torso to clutch her wounded right ribs. She looked toward Goras. His eyes were still grinning, and though he tried to hide it, satisfaction was coming through his feelings.

He was about to kill her. She had to act! She had to do something!

The darkness stirred within. Fear, anger, hate… it wanted her to lash out with it, to strike down her foe, to save herself! It is him or you! her own voice, hard and cold, insisted. You'll never get another opening! Do it!

Meridina was, at that moment, more scared than she had ever been in her life. And she might very well have done it.

But her eyes moved over to her father, looking impassively at her, duty and love warring on his countenance while Goras stepped toward her. She moved on to her mother, her brother, her sisters, all looking at her with horror and sadness at what Goras was doing to her.

And then there was Angel, a comrade-in-arms. Lucy and Robert, her students, her charges. The ones who would carry her legacy on even after today. A legacy that the voice inside of her would taint if she listened to it. She felt their sadness, their pain and anguish… and their faith.

It hurt to think she might fail them. That the darkness would take her. She knew she couldn't let that happen. She couldn't listen to this darkness, this festering power that she just couldn't get rid of, that Amaunet had planted within her, it wouldn't go away! It was still inside of her, like it had always been inside…

A memory came to her in those seconds. A flash of thought. Perhaps more than that… perhaps her swevyra using her memories to bring her wisdom.

The memory was a voice, that of the Zigonian Kasszas S'szrishin.

"Darkness comes from many sources, dear Sister. Perhaps you must look inward to see where this comes from, to truly understand it, and thus to deal with it."

"I feel it within you," Goras said. "I feel your darkness yearning to break free. Clearly you are failing your test. Say it, Meridina. Recognize that the darkness has started to claim you, and I will make this end quickly."

She didn't answer him. She remained on her knees and looked only inside, at herself, at that darkness. That fear and anger, that hatred, all festering inside of her since Amaunet had enslaved her.

It all came roaring back. Her helplessness. The Goa'uld firmly controlling her body, holding her swevyra as if it belonged to her, and letting Amaunet's hate and anger and rage play out upon the helpless victims that came before her.

All of that had gone away with Amaunet's death. But the darkness remained. Those emotions remained.

Meridina looked to her mother, even as Goras again offered to end her life quickly if she admitted to her darkness. Drentiya had tried to tell her of how to deal with it, but she hadn't listened. She'd thought only of burying the darkness, of hiding it away and locking it down and ignoring it.

Now she knew she'd been wrong. She'd been ignoring her own feelings. She had been ignoring everything that Amaunet had caused her to feel. The darkness is mine, she thought to herself. It has fed itself on my control. Because I would not face the feelings…

"Accept it!", Goras shouted. "Accept you can't control it! That the darkness within you cannot be held back! Do it, Meridina, and don't draw this out! Do it and you will die painlessly!"

Meridina looked at him while tears began to flow. Her heart felt like bursting. Those feelings fueling the darkness… she couldn't hold them back any more.

So she stopped trying.

"I'm angry!", she screamed. "I'm afraid! And I hate what was done to me! I hate what Amaunet did with my body! I hate it!" Meridina let out a sob while the tears flowed until they obscured her vision. "Amaunet violated my body. She violated my mind. She violated my swevyra. She hurt me and hurt others with me and… and it hurt so much… and there are more out there like her, and… and I can't…" She kept her tear-filled eyes locked on Goras. Nearby her father watched her break down with a quailing heart. "I can't go through that again! I'm afraid of it! And I'm angry that it happened, I'm angry she caused it and that I couldn't stop it, I… I had to watch her fight Lucy, hurt Lucy… hurt people… and then I doubted, I doubted when it wouldn't go away…"

The crowd was silent. No words were being muttered. No sounds being made. Even Goras took a step backward, as if unsure about whether to attack or not.

"The darkness was mine all along," Meridina confessed. She sobbed. "I should have known that. I should.. I should have accepted my feelings, I should…" For a moment she became inarticulate. "I should have been a swevyra'se. I should not have doubted myself. I should not have tried, I should have done."

Goras held his blade up for an overhead stroke. It was clear his mind was made up. He started to approach.

"I am in control," she said to him. "This darkness is mine, and I control it. I can. I will. And I will heal." She looked again to the others. A small smile came to her face. "My family will help. All of them."

They all nodded. Goras wasn't looking to see that Karesl was as well.

She put her eyes back on Goras. "You're not just testing me, Goras. This is to kill me. You want me to die because of what I believe, because you're afraid of it. Because you're afraid that things are changing."

Goras kept approaching. He was within a few steps.

"I will gladly die for my people," Meridina declared. "But I will die fighting for what I believe."

Goras ignored her. His blade swung down for her skull.

Meridina's power, the core of her life force that all present called swevyra, rushed to meet the blade. It slammed into the weapon and into Goras with enough force to send him flying to the opposite side of the battlespace. She stood to her feet and pushed the pain of her broken ribs away for the moment.

"Go get him, girl!," Angel shouted. "Go get that jackass!"

Meridina's arm extended toward her lakesh. It flew through the air to her hand.

And just in time to. With a look of frustration and anger on his face, Goras was charging. Again his blade went for her head, and again she parried the blow. His strikes were as furious as ever, powerful, quick, deadly. He was fighting to kill.

Meridina held her ground. It took everything she had. But she wasn't giving up. Her arms protested, her body ached, her broken ribs screamed for succor. Her body just wanted to stop and end the fight.

But the rest of her carried on.

Her arms moved and his blade caught every blow. Her legs remained steady. Goras' offensive fury was a wave, and Meridina was doing her best to become a rock to break the wave. She couldn't endure this forever. He was too powerful. But if she could hold out just long enough…

Then she saw it. Goras' frustration was giving way to fury. He was balancing on the edge himself now, and while Meridina didn't want to send him over into anger and darkness, she did take advantage of it. He made a swing that was a little too off, a little too wild, and she was able to evade it instead of having to parry it. Her blade seemed almost to sing as it slashed through air in a quick cut aimed at his exposed right side.

There was resistance. And a flash of blood.

Goras actually cried out, in shock more than pain, at Meridina's lakesh striking home. He backed away and he was off-balance. Meridina acted immediately with a swing of her arm. Energy from the core of her being reached out and caught Goras' legs before he could summon his own power. He tripped over and fell on his back.

Had Meridina not been wounded and tired from the fight so far, she might have won a formal duel at that point simply by getting in range before Goras could recover. But her injuries were enough to slow her for the moment. Goras had time to get back to his feet. He put a hand to his bleeding wound and concentrated. The blood began to slow until he pulled the hand away, revealing the bloody cut now mostly healed.

The Chamber was alive with energy. From the Lumantala family's section it was all positive. Hope and joy sprung from seeing Meridina hold Goras off like that. "She's overcome the test!", Leniraya shouted. "End this, father!" Around them it was clear many others felt the same way. Even some who had not been favorable to her on the charges against her seemed ready to agree that she had proven herself in the test.

Goras and Karesl exchanged looks. There was a mental communication between them. Goras frowned and shook his head. He looked back to Meridina with an intensity in his brown eyes that told her that she had humiliated him. "I am not afraid," she said. "Do you still wish to test me?"

"Yes," he said simply, although it was clear that testing wasn't what he had in mind. A susurration came from the crowd as Goras charged again. Meridina held her ground once more. It was even harder this time. She did not let herself doubt, but it was clear that Goras still had the advantages in power and skill.

I will not give up, she insisted. If you mean to kill me, I will fight.

You can't resist me, child!, Goras retorted mentally. And you and I know you must die for Gersal to have peace!

Their blades clashed again, over and over. Goras felt the advantage steadily go back to him and pressed it. Meridina showed no fear in reaction, not even as he began to drive her back again.

From the attendees, voices and thoughts were being raised. They were satisfied: Meridina had passed the test. It was time for the fight to end.

Goras refused. He sent blow after blow against Meridina, fighting with all of his power, all of his skill, no holding back. His wound was not as severe as hers. He was winning handily. After another pair of parried strikes he forced Meridina up against the wall and started pressing his blade against her, forcing her blade back toward her throat. "You should have let me kill you before," he rasped. "It would have been quick. Painless."

"Why do you hate me so?", Meridina asked.

"I do not hate you," Goras insisted, but it was clear it wasn't true. "But I will not let you win. Our people must be free of the Alliance."

"But my death won't end that," she insisted. "There are many thousands, millions, of our people serving with the Alliance. They believe in it. They won't let you destroy that."

"Then they will suffer the consequences. Just as you are…" The blade drew closer to Meridina's neck.

And there was nothing she could do to stop it.

Suddenly the two fighters were wrenched apart by a powerful force that erupted between them. Goras was knocked backward several steps, out of blade range of Meridina. Meridina went to one knee in relief and looked up.

Karesl now stood between them, one hand on his lakesh hilt, and his eyes fixed on Goras. "This battle is over," he declared.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-05 02:57pm

Silence reigned in the Chamber.

It ended when Karesl spoke.

"As intercessor, it is clear to me that Meridina has proven herself in control," Karesl announced, his eyes fixed on Mastrash Goras as the other man regained his balance. "It is clear that darkness has no hold on her. I declare the test concluded."

Goras frowned deeply at him. Frustration flashed through his brown eyes at being denied. "Do you speak as intercessor, Karesl, or as a father?"

"Intercessor." Karesl looked back toward Meridina. "As father, I add that whatever my disagreements with her, I am proud of my daughter."

At that Goras stood to his full height. "The people of Gersal will see it differently," he vowed. "They will see a man who acted out of bias. Who kept the violator of our traditions from being given the full and rigorous testing her crime demanded."

Karesl shook his head. "The people of Gersal are watching, Goras. Do you think them blind? They can see that you have made this personal. You desire Meridina's death because of her belief in the Prophecy of the Dawn."

"And you would have our people shackled to the Alliance to humor your daughter."

"I am still against our membership. I believe Gersal should have kept itself separate from the Alliance and acted instead as its guide and friend," Karesl answered. "I believe that we should withdraw from it, if not from the war with the Reich. But that is not the issue here." He sighed. "I'm sorry, old friend. But this has to stop. Or you'll be the one falling to darkness."

For a tense moment nothing was said. Goras let out a grunt, and then he sighed. "I'm sorry too," he said. "Old friend." He lowered his weapon.

Karesl turned to Meridina. He reached down and helped her back to her feet. "You've done well," he said.

"Thank you, Mastrash." Meridina smiled weakly. "I… I still feel that darkness there. But I can manage it."

"Sometimes the solution isn't control, it's acceptance," Karesl said. "Now…."

The next word never finished coming from his mouth. Instead there was a "hrrrgk" sound from it. Pain stabbed through Meridina's chest, coming perilously close to her lung. She looked down.

The blade had buried itself into her torso.

And it was sticking through her father.

"I'm sorry, Karesl," Goras said. His arm was still outstretched from the motion he'd made to throw his blade into Karesl's back. "I am sorry you are so weak." He pulled his arm back toward himself.

A sucking sound accompanied the blade pulling out of Meridina and Karesl. Karesl collapsed into Meridina's arms. The pain of her wound was already driving her to her knees.

Robert looked to Lucy and nodded. He needn't have bothered, as she was already rapidly operating her multi-device. "C'mon," she murmured. "Come on…"

Maklir's rod slammed on his podium. "Goras, what is the meaning of this?!"

"I will not allow this charade to continue," Goras said. "The traitor must die and our people must be kept free!"

"No! No, this is wrong!"

"Goras, have you gone mad?!", Ledosh shouted.

"No. I simply see clearly the truth." Goras elevated his hand toward the Council in their place above the alcove. "You are traitors! You would bind us to the Alliance and take away everything our people have become!" He looked to the audience, and presumably into the devices transmitting the trial elsewhere. "Loyal children of Gersal, this moment has come, and we must accept it! The Order of Swenya and our government has been stolen away from us by fools and traitors! We must stand firm if we are to redeem ourselves, if we are to remain free!"

"Lower the field!", Maklir ordered. He turned to the technician. "We must stop…"

An energy beam struck Maklir in the back. He had no time to cry out before he disappeared in a haze of yellow energy.

A bald-headed apprentice with a disruptor pistol leveled the gun that had just killed Maklir toward the technician controlling the shield. The technician raised his hands and stepped away.

Lakesh blades extended across the Chamber as a number of those in attendance, many bald like the first attacker, turned their weapons toward others. A pair of red-robed Temple Knights placed blades to the throats of two Council members. A third, blue-robed bald woman placed a blade up toward Ledosh.

And all the while, on the first row of seats, Lucy was struggling with her multidevice. "It's not working," she muttered. "I can't get the harmonics…"

"Let me," Gamaya hissed.

The three Aurora crew looked toward Gamaya. "What?"

"Give me the device, I can make it work." Seeing their look she sighed. "You're trying to briefly disrupt the field to get inside and help Meri, yes? Let me do it!"

Robert turned inward for a moment. The situation in the Chamber was so tense it was hard to focus, but he let his instincts direct him here. "Do it," he whispered back to Lucy.

Lucy pulled off her multi-device and handed it to Gamaya. She immediately took it and began working.

Inside the dome Goras looked back toward Meridina and Karesl. Meridina was busy trying to heal his wound to the best of her ability. "What have you done?", Karesl rasped.

"What needed to be done," Goras said. "What you were too weak to contemplate, 'old friend'."

"But… Maklir…"

"An old man past his prime." Goras looked back up at the captive Council. "Indeed, I might say the same for many of you. I was certain there would be trouble, but you are so complacent that we Dissenters in the Order have you completely at our mercy." Goras shook his head. "And you would have us believe you could protect us from the Alliance?"

"We don't need protection from the Alliance!", Meridina yelled despite the pain in her chest. "No more than the Order needs protection from Gersal!"

"Oh, but it is clear we do, on both counts," Goras said. "The Interdependency has been allowed to fall into the hands of those who would give away the traditions and ways of three thousand years. How can we trust such a government?"

"They'll be on their way," Ledosh said. "Security forces are watching now."

"They're busy," Goras said. His blade went back to his belt for the moment. "As soon as I acted, my compatriots did as well." He looked to Meridina and held out his free hand. Her lakesh flew into it. "A pity that you didn't die as I asked you to, Meridina. Your death would have made this unnecessary. Now the true children of Gersal have no choice but to seize control to save our people from the Alliance." He raised a hand. "Gersal needs a leader with the vision to lead it through this new era. And it falls upon me to take that mantle."

Meridina glared up as Goras held her blade above his head. "You are a traitor, Meridina, daughter of Drentiya and Karesl. I strip you of your rank I strip of you of your place in this Order." He gripped the tip of the blade, using his power to absorb the edge so he didn't lose his fingers, and kept his other hand on the hilt. With one solid burst of effort he brought the blade down until it struck his upper leg, rising to meet it. A loud snap echoed in the air as the blow, assisted by Goras' great power, broke the memory metal blade in two. Goras tossed both ends of the broken blade away and retrieved his own. With a metallic shriek, Goras' blade extended to its full length. "And now, traitor, I strip you of your life. In the name of the people of Gersal, I proclaim you unfit to live for your crimes against us." He brought the blade up. "Time to die."

As Goras spoke, Gamaya's fingers flew over Lucy's multi-device. Her face was blank with concentration. "Have you adjusted for the harmonics of the…", Lucy began.

"Yes." Gamaya continued to work. "I've almost… got it…"

The others looked to where Goras was approaching Meridina and Karesl, his killing intent clear from the way he held his blade. "Gami…", Lucy said nervously.


"Gamaya, we're out of time," Robert hissed.

It proved unnecessary.

As he said that, Gamaya hit a key on Lucy's multidevice. "Now!", she cried. As she did, energy erupted from the multidevice via its built-in transmitters. The burst fried the machine immediately.

But it still had the intended effect. For a brief second, the force dome over the central floor of the Chamber disintegrated in front of the Lumantala seats.

Robert and Lucy jumped through it in that instant, Angel beside them.

The moment they were through Goras brought the blade down toward Meridina's head.

Lucy and Robert lashed out with one joint burst of power. It was a wild shot, one Goras hadn't seen it coming, and it had enough power to send him flying until he hit the western side of the alcove wall and collapsed onto his hands and feet.

Meridina looked to them with worry in her face. She tried to move, but it was clear her wound was severe and she was in no shape to fight. All she could hope to do was keep her father alive.

And hope that they could defeat Goras.

"Okay, now what?", Robert asked Lucy.

Lucy responded by going over to where Karesl and Meridina were laid out. "I'm sorry," she said, pulling Karesl's lakesh from his belt. He was too weak to respond verbally, but she sensed him understand and consent. She flicked a switch and the blade activated, extending out to a length greater than the one she was used to. That's not good, she thought. This weapon would be heavier than her lakesh and harder to wield. And she was already at a major disadvantage.

Goras roared in anger as he got back to his feet. He looked to Lucy first and charged at her. Lucy caught the attack with Karesl's blade. It took almost everything she had to resist his sheer power. He was pouring his life essence, his swevyra, into his body, making him stronger and faster and more resilient.

Lucy was doing the same, of course, but it meant focus, and focus while a pissed off swordmaster was trying to kill her was not anything close to an easy task.

He put her on her backfoot almost immediately. A second swing pushed her blade nearly out of position and she might have taken a follow-up stab to the gut if Robert hadn't reached out with his power at that moment. He grunted as he tried to focus on Goras' right leg, immobilizing it and throwing off his posture.

Angel, meanwhile, tried to do what she did best. She came up to his blind side and threw a punch.

Her fist never connected.

Goras briefly turned and glared her way. With not even a move of his hand he generated enough force to stop Angel's punch in its tracks, just an inch from his face. His power gripped her wrist and held her in place for a moment. Her hazel eyes widened in surprise.

This allowed Lucy the time to recover her footing. She swung her new blade in Angel's defense, trying to keep Goras from exploiting her immobility. Robert swapped targets and felt out with his power for Goras' right arm to grip it, keeping his sword swinging off-target.

It worked, for the moment. A swipe from Goras went wide, missing Lucy. Lucy recovered and made a slightly off-balance swipe at Goras that didn't connect either, but which forced him to divert his attention from Angel. With her wrist freed Angel recovered her balance and lunged with her whole body. Goras hadn't found his footing yet, not with Lucy swinging at him again and having to be parried; Angel plowed into him and brought him to his knees. Robert dashed in and grabbed Goras' left arm physically, restraining his blade and exposing his right side. "Lucy!", he shouted. Now! Won't get another chance!

The follow-up mental commentary hadn't been necessary. Lucy knew she only had a second to land a hit to put Goras down. With all of her power, all of her might, she swung the lakesh at Goras' right arm, aiming to cut him at the elbow and deny him the use of his primary hand.

She was a second too late.

Goras screamed. It was a rage-filled, horrifying scream, and it had power. Indeed, his entire body vibrated with it, and in one massive pulse it struck all three and sent them flying. Angel and Robert went into the far shield dome and went down. Lucy was thrown back against the northern side, near the alcove.

"I considered letting you go!", Goras shouted. "To return to your people in peace! But no. No, I will destroy you too, and in your names I will punish the Alliance for this interference in our affairs!"

Robert and Angel were starting to get back up. Lucy was already getting onto her feet. Goras went after her first. Lucy got the blade into position to block his first attack and then his second. She could feel the sheer fury radiating from him, and it was terrifying.

And more than fury. She could feel the cold. The vicious, cold darkness that she had once felt, and which had horrified her. Goras was falling to it. In his anger and frustration at the way events had gone, at the way he was being continually defied in his goals, he was losing control of his emotions, of himself.

"Look at you!", she cried. "You're supposed to be a Mastrash! But you're falling to darkness!"

"You have no right to judge!" Goras' blade slammed down on Lucy's again. She strained to hold him back.

Robert and Angel were running. They operated in tandem, Angel going for his legs again and Robert reaching with his power to grip Goras' sword arm. Goras let out a frustrated growl and whirled about for a moment, just a moment. But it was enough. Angel had to jump to her side to avoid his blade. Goras gestured with his hand.

Robert felt like he'd been hit by a truck. He went flying back into the dome field from the power of the invisible bolt of energy that had hit him.

Lucy tried to take advantage. But Karesl's blade was too heavy. She wasn't used to the weight and her attempt to hit Goras' weak side was easily evaded. Goras brought his blade around with one hand while the other smashed across Lucy's cheek. Pain covered the side of her face from the impact and she fell to one knee. She already felt the next blow coming and brought the blade up to meet it, stopping Goras from decapitating her in a single swipe. But the way she had to shift her body and arm made her grip weak. The impact of the blow sent Karesl's blade flying from her hand.

Goras smirked and brought the blade back around for a swift swing. Angel kept it from connecting by going at him again. Her fist went for a point on his arm. She'd wanted him to drop his sword from the impact, but all it did was make him change which hand held it. She adjusted quickly, bringing her leg up and kicking at his open throat.

But again Goras' power caught her by the limb, this time the ankle, and she was helpless to stop a hard blow from his free hand from slamming into her rib cage. Angel's scream of pain was involuntary from the sheer shock of the fierce blow as it snapped ribs. She flew backward.

But she'd bought Lucy the second she needed to get Karesl's sword back. She summoned it to her hand and caught Goras' killing stroke against her just before it landed. She tried to stand back up, to get room, but he bore down on her with his power. "Poor fools," he growled. "You should have never matched power with me."

Lucy didn't reply. She couldn't. All her strength had to go into holding back Goras' blade.

But even there he held an advantage. He'd landed his blow at just the right spot on Karesl's longer sword, and given their positions, he was starting to overwhelm the memory metal's flexibility. The metal felt like it was giving way, even as the two blades' EM fields continued to go "whmm!" Lucy cried out in effort as she tried to push him back. She summoned all of the power within her to do it.

But Goras met it. And he pushed harder.

There was a loud snapping sound. Karesl's lakesh broke into two in Lucy's hand, and Goras' blade descended on her shoulder blade. Her clothes caused little resistance as the blade cut into the soft fleece and the polyester beneath until it met warm flesh.

Lucy was pulling backward and twisting, keeping Goras from driving his blade through her arm or shoulder. He cut along the shoulder and upper left side of Lucy's torso, ending just below the armpit. She spun away as her blood flowed onto the floor from the cut.

For a moment she looked up, to see if any more help would be coming. But there was none. Even though Goras' people were in the minority, they had the advantage that they were ready to fight, and anyone who moved first would certainly get someone else killed.

This is pointless, a part of her thought. He's too powerful. And now we don't have any weapons. She looked up. Goras was no longer looking her way. Robert had gotten his attention again by grabbing at his legs while Angel, despite her broken ribs, was coming in close to land a punch. Goras sent her flying with another movement of her hand.

Don't give in!, she heard. She looked to Meridina, still tending to her father. Meridina's blue eyes were locked upon Lucy's. Feel with your swevyra, Lucy. Find a way. You must!

There was no time for meditation. Almost no time for thought. Goras was winning, and with every blow they were getting weaker. Lucy didn't even closer her eyes as she might have otherwise done. She felt within herself and pushed through the distractions, particularly the fact that she would probably be dead in a minute or two, to see what was within. To see if the energy inside her, the insight and power, would know of some way to get a weapon again, to have a fighting chance against Goras. But the two other lakeshes were destroyed. There were no other weapons...

She stopped the thought. As she did, Robert grunted in pain as Goras batted him against the force dome again.

Lucy's head swiveled to her right… toward the alcove where Swenya's relics remained in their containers.

This is so not going to work went through her head as Lucy got back to her feet and ran toward the last weapon left to her.

Goras didn't see her immediately. He was too busy slamming Robert and Angel up against the force dome, over and over, knocking the air out of their lungs and in general wearing them down to the point they would fall unconscious. He only turned when one of his followers screeched an enraged, "Blasphemy!"

By the time he turned, Lucy was already bringing the full strength of her power down upon the glass case before her. It shattered at the impact. Her right hand darted in…

"YOU DARE?!", Goras roared. He left Robert and Angel to fall, nigh-unconscious, to the ground. He charged with near-superhuman speed toward the alcove, his lakesh raised and coming down…

...on the empty display case, as Lucy rolled away from him and to her feet.

Swenya's Blade was in her right hand.

Stunned looks and gasps filled the Chamber. No one could fathom it, could believe that anyone would dare to take up the relic.

With nothing left to do, Lucy's thumb found the switch on the hilt and pressed it.

Nothing happened.

Her mind registered the lack of the familiar metallic shriek of a memory metal blade flowing into form and hardening. She looked down at the useless paperweight in her right hand.

Goras' eyes were focused on her. And she could see the gold starting to form in them. "There is no punishment severe enough to avenge the atrocity you just committed, alien," Goras spat.

"Um… sorry?", Lucy offered, even as her mind raced. She wished she had her multidevice. If she could scan the weapon maybe she'd see what was…

Goras' power lashed at her. Lucy tried to resist it. She put everything into it. But Goras was still too strong. His life force energy became a vise around her neck and around her trachea. She wheezed a last gasp of air as he lifted her up. She tried to cry out, but she couldn't. The air simply wasn't inside of her anymore. Her feet cartwheeled helplessly in mid-air, four feet off the ground, while her hands instinctively went to her throat. Swenya's Blade hit the floor, forgotten in her moment of panic while Goras choked the life from her. The pressure continued, on and on, and Lucy was convinced he was about to snap her neck like a twig.

And then it was over, and Lucy was falling back to the ground. She had inhaled her first gasp by the time the pain registered in her knees that she was back on terra firma.

Robert and Angel, battered and bruised, were back on their feet, and the two had tackled Goras to the ground. Robert was trying to hold his sword arm in place while Angel's arms wrapped around his neck in a sleeper hold. Lucy could feel their sentiments. They knew this wouldn't work, they knew they couldn't stop Goras, but they were willing to buy her the time she needed if it gave them the slightest hope of victory.

Lucy reached her hand out and pulled the broken relic to her. She looked it over, she felt into it with her power, with her insight and all of the technological knowhow she had. There was a reason it had stopped working. Why? Was a circuit broken that was keeping electricity from reaching the memory metal? Was the blade emptied of the substance?

Robert went flying into the alcove, where he slammed into the stand holding Swenya's sandals and toppled over. Goras got to his feet, still conscious despite Angel's strength holding his neck and throat, and turned his back toward the alcove. Angel screamed at the first impact, and then the second, as Goras kept slamming her into the solid wood surface. Her grip weakened.

Lucy looked back to the weapon. There had to be something…!

And then Angel was out of it. She slumped to the ground, utterly spent, bruised and battered and completely helpless. Goras turned toward Lucy. His nostrils flared and his eyes, now firmly gold with darkness, bored into her.

It seemed incredulous that Goras' people hadn't turned on him. His followers had to feel his loss of control. They had to know he was becoming a monster right before their eyes. But still they did nothing, whether out of fear or momentum or simply dogged determination to the course he'd proclaimed for them. They still held the Council and the present members of the Order captive, leaving none to challenge Goras. No one but Lucy.

Lucy… who had seconds to live as Goras rushed at her, intent on cutting her to ribbons as she fumbled with the useless relic in her hands.

Energy caught him by the ankles and Goras fell over. Lucy looked that way in time to see Meridina and Karesl, wounded as they were, throwing their power in at the last moment to trip Goras. It was clear they were spent as well, and Karesl may even be dying. But they had bought her a few more seconds...

Somewhere between her swevyra and the insight that energy gave to her, and her technical knowledge, Lucy sensed something. There was a part inside the weapon. It wasn't right… like it was out of place. And not from any damage, as the weapon looked intact on the outside. It was as if someone had intentionally used the energy of their life to shift a piece out of alignment.

Lucy could do the same. But it wasn't the best choice. She would have rather opened it, scanned it, made sure she knew what was inside and if she might be breaking something. But that required better circumstances than what she was facing at the moment, with just seconds to act.

Without options, Lucy reached inside the dormant weapon with her energy. Her power gently gripped the piece within and moved it back toward what she felt to be its proper place.

Goras got back to his feet. He ignored the others. He could feel Meridina and Karesl couldn't do anything else. Angel was out of it. Robert was still struggling to get back to his feet.

And once Lucy was dead, they would all die in turn.

His blade came up. Goras once more charged at her. She had seconds before his blade came down again. Maybe a few more if she dodged far enough.

But her attention was entirely on Swenya's Blade as, with a moment of satisfaction, the piece within slid back into its proper place. She could sense that the millennia-old weapon was once again intact.

That didn't mean that it would work, though. It was three thousand years old. It hadn't been touched in millennia.

But with Goras' lakesh seconds from her skull, Lucy simply had no other choice. Please work please work please God let this work please! went through her head as she brought the ancient hilt up toward Goras.

Goras yelled in animalistic triumph as his blade came crashing down on Lucy.

There was no time left. She triggered Swenya's Blade.

And once again, no memory metal flowed out to meet Goras' weapon. There was no shriek of memory metal hardening. No gentle "Whmm!" of EM fields clashing.

Lucy should have died right there.

But she didn't.

An electronic snap split the air and lingered off with a hiss, followed by the harsh high-pitched buzz as Goras' blade made impact against the bright sapphire light that now filled Lucy's vision.

In the place of the memory metal blade that Lucy had expected, a solid blade of blue light had surged from the relic.

"What…?" The surprise was complete on Goras' face. He backed away for the moment.

And indeed, the surprise had gripped the rest of the Chamber. Everyone stared in wonderment and surprise at the shining blue light of Swenya's Blade. The restored weapon filled the air with a constant electronic buzz. The buzz increased in pitch and volume when Lucy moved it in the air as a consequence of getting back to her feet. She looked into it for a moment, ignoring the strain on her eyes. Her mind was processing this weapon in her hand, this… beautiful piece of elegant technology. She thought she could feel the photons and plasma bouncing about within the blade, kept in place by the field that gave Swenya's Blade its shape.

Goras overcame his shock. He would not back down now, not when so much had happened, not with his rage so pure. He struck at Lucy again with all of his power and fury.

Lucy met the attacks with Swenya's Blade. The weapon moved more like an extension of her arm than any other sword she'd had. It had virtually no mass. That meant no weight, and that meant freedom of movement. Goras' skill advantage was still great, but now Lucy could meet his attacks more rapidly. Indeed, Goras seemed reluctant to truly press their blades against each other. He had no idea what the weapon in her hands could do. She wasn't even sure.

Goras could still kill her. He was more powerful than her. The darkness seizing him made him even more powerful. And he had skill. Lucy had him at her advantage from surprise, but that would fade soon. She had to win quickly, and she had to do so by enduring his onslaught. She had to beat him with flexibility.

The thought brought a little smile to her face. Thank you, Julia, for the t'ai chi lesson. She put Julia's forms to use. Using her size and the lightness of her weapon to parry and deflect Goras' swings and cuts kept him from landing hits. She moved her body in a continuous flow to evade further blows, letting him waste his strength on empty air or easily-deflected blows.

All eyes were on them. All eyes on Gersal, across the Interdependency, would see this, would see Swenya's Blade alive again after three millennia and wielded by an outsider trained in the Gersallian arts.

And it would be for nothing if Lucy failed

The battle moved back toward the alcove. Lucy was giving ground, but doing it willingly. The buzzing of her weapon contrasted with the continued "Whmm!" sounds that came when it was struck by the EM field of Goras' lakesh. He remained quiet, but it was clear from the fury in his eyes that he wanted to kill her, and he aimed to do it.

His superior skill soon weighed in. He adjusted to Lucy's flexible movement and shifted his posture, cutting her off and pressing her back toward the alcove. With several blows of his blade he pinned her in before she could escape. Lucy caught a swipe aimed right for her forehead with her blade. Again it buzzed angrily as the lakesh pressed against it. Goras snarled and pushed himself against Lucy, putting all of his power, all of his strength, into using his blade to press hers back into herself.

And all she could do was resist. Her arms screamed in protest as they held firm, preventing Goras from finishing her off. The shining blue energy of Swenya's blade filled both of their eyes.

At first neither noticed it, but it was Lucy who did first. At the point where their blades met, Goras' lakesh was now glowing red. She felt a surge of elation at that. The lakesh's EM field was failing, and the energy of her weapon was burning into the memory metal. The elation gave her an extra spurt of strength, reinforcing her will to hold firm as Goras literally destroyed his weapon in trying to cut her with it.

Moments later, there was a loud metallic snap in the air. The top half of Goras' lakesh flew past Lucy's head and embedded itself into the alcove wall.

Lucy summoned everything she had to move, and to keep Goras from recovering. She twisted away from him as Goras fell off-balance to what had been her right, and was now her left. He started to turn back to her, his broken blade still in his hands. But Lucy's blade was already in motion, swinging upward as it approached Goras' wrists.

There was a scream, a cry, and two little thuds joined by the clang of metal against the floor.

Goras fell before Lucy. His arms now ended at burnt stubs at his wrists. He screamed in inarticulate rage and pain at his dismemberment.

Lucy stared at him in shock. She was still alive. She looked down to the blue energy blade shining in her hand and laughed lowly. She stopped paying attention to Goras in that moment, absorbed completely in her miraculous achievement.

This was a mistake, as Goras started to gather his energy. Even with no hands to focus his power through, he could hit her hard enough to do damage, perhaps to kill.

But there was a sudden and fierce movement and here came the fist of Angela Delgado right on target. The shock of the blow knocked the crazed Mastrash unconscious.

The sound of the impact jolted Lucy's attention back to the here and now. She looked down at her foe, now unconscious, and at Angela beside him. She was on a knee and fierce pain was written all over her face, such that Lucy didn't need her gift to see it. Angel gave her a pained smile. Her hazel eyes looked over Swenya's Blade, still shining brightly. "Cool sword," she managed.

"Yeah," croaked Robert, who was crawling his way over to them. He smiled weakly at them. "Good job getting it to work."

"Thanks," Lucy answered. She extinguished the blade before she reached down to help Robert to his feet. "So, it looks like we won."

"Yeah, we did," Angel said. "Look."

Lucy looked upward at the Chamber where, much to her pleasant surprise, Goras' followers were surrendering to Ledosh and Gina in one wordless group. Without his life being threatened, the technician was allowed to lower the forcefield. Green-robed healers rushed to Karesl and Meridina alongside their family.

"Well, we lived," Robert said. He grimaced as he held his left arm with his right. It looked like it was broken. "I guess pain never feels so good than when it means you're still alive."

Angel forced the grimace from her face and answered, "Pain is weakness leaving the body." She snorted. "At least that's what Commander Kane told me."

"Yeah… I think that's a bit.. Off…" Robert winced at trying to move his arm. "Because I feel pretty damned weak right now." He looked to where Meridina was being treated. "What do you think?"

"Pain is pain," Meridina answered. Her voice was weak, but the tone behind it was triumphant. "It reminds us we are alive. But it can break as often as it strengthens." She looked to where Goras lay unconscious on the ground. "Sometimes in ways others don't see until it is too late." She lifted her eyes to look at Lucy. "You have wielded Swenya's Blade in battle against darkness. My people cannot deny the correctness of your training now."

"So… we win?", Lucy asked, favoring her injured arm.

"Every one of us," Meridina agreed. A sad look came over her as she looked to where her critically wounded father was being prepared for a stretcher. "Although the cost may be high."

The others became respectfully silent at that. Due to their silence they gradually became aware that, save for the healers, the rest of the Chamber's occupants were staring down at them. The trio stopped speaking and looked to the seats..

One by one, the Gersallians of the Order of Swenya bowed their heads in respect and admiration.

"You have achieved something I did not think possible," said Ledosh, who walked up to them.

"You mean two students and a non-powered fighter beating a Mastrash?", Lucy asked.

Ledosh shook his head. "No. That was always possible, especially as he descended into darkness and lost his way. No, your achievement is that you have won the acceptance of the Order today. You stood here, in the eyes of all, and reforged Swenya's Blade. And with it, you defeated the greatest threat the Order has faced in centuries." Ledosh smiled at that. "The Council has voted. Meridina is clear of all accusations, and you two have been recognized as the likely progenitors of a Human swevyra tradition."

"Well, good to know we won after all that."

Ledosh nodded to them and moved on.

"So… who do I give this to?", Lucy asked. "Because I bet it's not 'Finder's Keepers' with a cultural artifact."

"We'll let Ledosh figure that out," Robert said. "Right now, we need good food and a soft bed."

"You don't even have to ask," said Lucy. "But first, I want my multidevice back." She looked down to the round hilt in her hand. "I've got some scanning to do."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-06 12:54pm

I don't know whether I love the "in the end Angel punches em in the face" convention or think it's ridiculously corny or yes. :P
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-06 02:24pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:I don't know whether I love the "in the end Angel punches em in the face" convention or think it's ridiculously corny or yes. :P
Given she hadn't landed a single hit save a tackle the entire fight, and was generally getting tossed around like a rag doll... I wanted to give Angel something for her trouble. :mrgreen:
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-06 02:34pm

Captain Robert Dale Personal Log; 15 May 2642.

We're all alive.

And that is news, because we fought one of the most powerful members of the Order of Swenya, a member going mad with power, and we lived.

We've spent the night in the medical ward of the Great Temple having our wounds treated. The Order's healers are astounding with how much they can do without technology and most of our injuries were dealt with by their healing methods.

Although some wounds are not so easily healed.

The four crewmembers from the Aurora stood quietly in the bedroom of the medical ward while an apprentice healer used both his senses and medical scan technology to check on the status of Mastrash Karesl. He breathed slowly and weakly. Around his bed Meridina's mother and siblings had gathered, holding a quiet vigil.

"What have the doctors said?", Lucy asked Meridina. She was in a second set of civilian clothing, fetched from the Rio Grande the prior night, and Swenya's Blade dangled openly on her belt.

"He was examined by a medical expert from Jantarihal early this morning," Meridina replied. She was back in proper tunic and vest as a full-standing member of the Order, with the blue robes of a field Knight. Her lakesh hilt was on her belt even though it had yet to be repaired. "He suffered severe internal bleeding from Goras' attack. They are hopeful for his recovery, but depending on how his body heals, my father may be unable to keep up his duties with the Council Mastrasham."

"I think he's strong enough to pull it out," Angel remarked. She was back in her civilian clothes, which hid the bandaging around her damaged ribs and the bruising from all of the pounding Goras had inflicted on her. There was no hiding the wince whenever she moved a certain way, though.

"Regardless of the outcome, we will be here for him." Drentiya looked up from her chair. "Thank you all for your bravery last night."

"Thank you for giving us the chance to be there," Robert answered. His left arm had been mended by the ministrations of the Temple Healers, but it still ached and he refused to move it unless he had to. Even rapid healing couldn't keep him from feeling pain from the injuries.

There was movement at the door. Gina stepped in and bowed his head respectfully. "I am glad you're all well," she said. "The Council has summoned you. All four of you."

Meridina looked from Gina to her slumbering father. She wanted to wait and see him wake up. She wanted to talk to him, to thank him, for being there for her, and for understanding her.

But she had duties still, and Karesl had raised her to fulfill duties above her own wants. "I'll be back shortly," she said to her family.

"We'll be here, Meridina," Drentiya said. "Take as long as you need."

A reception was waiting for them in the Council Chamber, as many of the seats were filled again with blue and green and cream-robed members of the Order. Workers had already put the Council's table back, but the scars of battle damage hadn't yet been completely removed.

Sitting in Maklir's place was another older Mastrash with a balding head and a long, beakish nose. The seat for Karesl remained empty, but that of Goras was also filled by another Mastrash, and woman with short graying brown hair and a light complexion.

"Knight Meridina. Lucilla Lucero. Robert Dale. Angela Delgado." The old man bowed partially to them from his seat. "We thank you for your bravery. I am Mastrash Tinaran."

Meridina made the same bow in return. The others bowed their heads instead. "You're welcome," Robert said. "What can we do for you?"

"There are a few orders of business the Council wishes to discuss with you," Tinaran stated. "The most pressing being the issue of Swenya's Blade." He directed his dark amber eyes toward Lucy. "You have achieved something remarkable, Lucilla. No one has ever imagined it possible to bring life to Swenya's Blade. Many of our greatest have tried and failed."

"It was a matter of thinking the right way, sir," Lucy answered. "I just had the right background in understanding technology."

"So you say." Tinaran folded his hands together. "It has created quite the stir among our people. Many in the citizenry believe we should offer you a purple robe. Alas, that would require you committing to the Order."

"I figured. I have a place already." Lucy looked to the others briefly.

"Yes. Of course, this means that Swenya's Blade must be returned. It is a relic of our Foundress and a treasure of the Gersallian people. It does not belong to any one person."

Lucy felt the others looking at her curiously. But she merely smiled and unclipped the ancient weapon from her belt. She used her power to gently levitate it over to Tinaran. "I understand," she explained to them. "I don't have any problems with returning it."

"Thank you for your understanding." Tinaran looked over the Council with some relief.

Robert tried not to frown. He got the feeling that the Council wasn't exactly about to throw them a ticker tape parade. As he contemplated the reasons, he asked, "Can I ask a question before we continue?"

Tinaran looked again to the others. Nods were the only answers he got, though not from all. "That is acceptable."

"Goras claimed his followers would attack the government as well," Robert said. "But I haven't heard anything about this."

"The Interdependency Security Force was prepared," Ledosh replied. "We are told they received word from the Alliance Government warning them of an imminent Dissenter attempt to overthrow our government. Curiously, it came from the Office of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations."

The four shared bewildered looks. The idea that Davies would help thwart a coup that was going to give him what he wanted was… bizarre.

"Either way, the attack failed to seize the Director or any of his subordinates, and the Assembly was unharmed," Tinaran said. "Goras' madness ended last night."

"And Goras himself?"

"Incarcerated," another of the Council members, a tan-skinned woman with graying brown hair, said. Robert felt Meridina's mind communicate a name to him: Hadisina. "We will decide his fate later."

"Testing Goras will be a difficult prospect.."

"Last night seemed like quite a test," Angel guffawed.

The Council didn't react to that.

"There are other points we must address," Tinaran said. "Specifically, the issue of the Prophecy of the Dawn."

"What about it?", Robert asked.

"We ask that you not speak on it in public," the old man said. "The Council once voted to investigate whether your existence and your actions were signs of the Prophecy's fulfillment. We encouraged the Gersallian government to resist your removal from the Aurora on the strength of that belief. But in light of recent occurrences, we now feel that this issue is too potentially disruptive to the populace. The Council has made an official public ruling; the Prophecy is not coming to pass at this time, and we will no longer make policies based upon that calculation."

Meridina couldn't hide her disappointment. "We all saw them," she said. "None can deny what they are. Who but the Bearers of the Dawn could re-ignite Swenya's Blade?"

One of the other Council members answered immediately. "As Lieutenant Lucero herself pointed out, she merely used her technical knowledge. There is nothing of the swevyra about her insight." Meridina identified him mentally for them: Verairos.

"I didn't mean it was just…"

Before Lucy could finish, Tinaran raised a hand. "This is our decision, Knight Meridina, and it is final. The Order, for the moment, holds that the Prophecy is not coming true. Its authenticity will still be debated until we see further indications that Swenya's vision is coming to pass."

Meridina bowed her head. "Yes, Master."

"Why?", Robert asked. "Are the Dissenters that powerful? Their leader just got outed to the entire Multiverse as having become a madman falling into darkness. Their coup fizzled."

"Not all Dissenters were violent," Tinaran said. "Many rejected Goras' path. But they are still our people, and their beliefs and feelings must be considered."

"Even some of those who support the Alliance are not comfortable with the idea of the Prophecy," Hadisina added. "We must consider their views. If the Order, if we, continue to follow this line, we will only further damage the balance of our people."

"And it is clear that others in the Alliance have their own concerns about our actions on the matter," Verairos added. "Even now, legislators for the Alliance Council are proposing an act that would bar members of our Order from serving in the Alliance Government while remaining in the Order. It is clear that we have invited hostility in the Alliance that we must act to dispel. And that means withdrawing ourselves from the Alliance's direct affairs."

"You're just going to what, go isolationist?", Lucy asked.

"No, not at all," Hadisina said. "But we will no longer show interest in the internal affairs of the Alliance, we will merely offer our services when and where it is needed."

"And this extends to the issue of the Prophecy of the Dawn, and of the Aurora," Tinaran said. "Our people spent valuable influence in shielding you from the hostility of your own superiors last year. We cannot do so any longer. The Prophecy, true or not, must not dictate our approach to the future."

Robert couldn't argue with Tinaran. He didn't like the thought of trying to judge situations through things like prophecies. His own nightmares and dreams had been a mixed bag so far. They'd helped at Gamma Piratus, but 33LA had been a different story.

But he felt there was more to it than that. He thought he could feel something else in the Council. A nebulous sort of… fear? As if these Council members, given a reason, wanted to dismiss the Prophecy of the Dawn because something about it…

...scared them?

"Additionally…" Tinaran leaned forward in his seat and put his hands together. "There is the matter of your current position. The Council has debated the matter extensively."

"What is the Council's decision, then?" Meridina looked to Ledosh. He had lowered his eyes. Whatever was going on, he had been outvoted.

It was Tinaran who answered. "The charges have been cleared, as Ledosh informed you last night. However, in keeping with our decision on restricting our affairs in the Alliance, it is our choice to recall you from field service from the time being. You are hereby instructed by the Council to resign your commission in the Alliance Stellar Navy and to return to Gersal."

"You will be assigned to the Temple Knights," Hadisina added. "Knight-Commander Hajamar will assign you where you are needed while you work with the Healers to finish purging the darkness that remains latent due to your experience with the Goa'uld. In time, when you have served your proper time with the Temple Knights, we will see to a new field assignment."

Meridina drew in a breath. Her heart hurt at hearing their decision. She looked to the others, who all looked to her with worry and sadness, particularly Lucy. "I see," she said.

"You have proven a valuable and loyal swevyra'se. It is unfortunate that your devotion to the Prophecy helped to cause this strife," Tinaran said. "We will do everything in our power to help you recover from what has happened."

"No," Lucy said. "Meridina, you…"

Robert set a hand on her shoulder. "Lucy, it'll be okay. You and I can carry on together." He looked to Tinaran. "The Council won't object to Meridina remaining in contact with us, will it?"

"Within reason, no," he answered vaguely. "She has a right to association so long as it does not impact the Order."

Angel rolled her eyes. "So basically, the answer is 'yes, but only if we like it'."

"Swevyra'se have responsibilities," Hadisina said. "Sometimes they require us to restrain ourselves."

Meridina had remained silent through this exchange. Her mind raced with the implications of what was being said. She bitterly imagined Goras would laugh when he learned; he might not have split Gersal from the Alliance, but the Council was certainly tilting toward his side of things. They wanted to pull away from the Alliance. And Meridina couldn't understand why.

But they were the Council. The Code required she obey them on matters like this, just as she would one day be obeyed if she sat upon the Council.

She turned her head to face her comrades. By the scale of her life, her involvement with them was not terribly long. Just a few years, and mostly the prior eighteen months. But that was enough time to build the bonds she felt toward them. To enjoy the wonder and delight of Caterina at seeing new things, Jarod's daily happiness at having a place and identity of his own, Zachary's confident growth as a commander, Commander Kane's curious mixture of straight professionalism and exuberant camaraderie…

The crew of the Aurora had become more than colleagues. They had become her second family.

Meridina's heart threatened to split at the weight of the choice before her. She closed her eyes before tears could form in them.

"Meridina?", Robert asked. "What is it?" He could feel the turmoil within her as she weighed two parts of herself, and judged which she would have to rip away.

"You don't have to do this," Angel insisted to the Council. "Let her stay with us. We work well together. And we won't talk about this Prophecy or whatever."

"The decision of the Council is final," Tinaran declared. "Knight Meridina, you may say your goodbyes. We will arrange for anything you left on the Aurora to be brought to your new quarters here in the Temple."

Robert and Lucy were both looking at her. Lucy could feel the pain building in Meridina's heart. Tears filled her eyes at that feeling. She said nothing about it; there was nothing to say.

Meridina had a choice to make, it was that simple. And her nature demanded she make it decisively, with no doubt, although either choice would almost demand such doubt. Because she had already known doubt, and felt what it could do to her. How it could undermine her and weaken her.

"Meridina…?", Ledosh asked.

"Mastrasham of the Council," Meridina said. "I hear your commands. The Code of Swenya, the Code I have sworn to live my life by, to give my life for, requires I obey them." She turned to face them. Her eyes focused on Ledosh. "Mastrash Ledosh, I can never thank you enough for your patience as a mentor and a teacher. You taught me to listen to the wisdom of my swevyra. That is what made me the swevyra'se I am today."

Ledosh was paling as he realized what was going on. "Meridina…," he began.

As he said her name, Meridina was already gripping the right shoulder of her blue robe. In a gentle, quiet motion, she pulled her right arm out of the sleeve, and then her left arm out of the other. In several motions she folded the robe reverently into a flat square and laid it gently upon the Council's table. They were all staring in disbelief as she took her lakesh hilt and laid it on top of her discarded robe.

"My heart and my swevyra lead me in the same direction," Meridina said. Tears were already pouring from her blue eyes. "My place is on the Aurora. I cannot obey your order. I have no choice but to renounce my Oath to the Order of Swenya."

The air seemed to grow chilled. The Council members looked at each other in utter surprise. For all of their power, their supposed vision, they hadn't seen this coming.

"I will remember my service to the Order fondly," she said. "It was everything I wanted in life. And though I am compelled to renounce my place as a swevyra'se of Gersal, I will still honor the Code of Swenya until my dying breath." Meridina bowed to them with genuine respect.

"You can never come back," Tinaran warned. "You have chosen this course to evade a proper Order from this Council. Therefore you will be regarded as having left this Order for selfish reasons and you will be treated accordingly."

Meridina nodded in acknowledgement. "Mi rake sa swevyra iso."

And without another word, she walked away.

Robert, Lucy, and Angel looked to the Council. "Have a good day," Robert said, and he managed some sincerity in it despite himself. Afterward he too turned, as did Lucy and Angel, and the three walked briskly to catch up with Meridina and joined her in exiting the Chamber.

The four Aurora crew emerged from the central structure of the Great Temple and walked on toward the stop for the commuter service. Robert and Lucy shared uncomfortable glances; they could feel the pain inside of Meridina.

"Those sons of bitches," Angel growled. "That asshole Goras is going to laugh his ass off when he finds out."

"They're scared," Robert said.

"Of what? Goras' crazy supporters?"

"No." Lucy shook her head. "Something else. They're scared of something else."

As they approached the stop, an aircar pulled up. Its doors opened. "Please, come with me," Gina said from the driver's seat.

The four looked at each other, although Meridina barely glanced as part of that.

"Please hurry," Gina insisted. "We don't have much time, they're going to get suspicious."

"Well, since you put it like that," Robert sighed, climbing in on one side. Everyone joined him and within five seconds, the aircar was zooming away. "Where are we going?", he asked Gina.

"The countryside," she replied. "Mastrash Ledosh's family still owns a small cottage in the mountains. He's going to meet us there in a few hours. Privately, away from the Council and the Order."

"What's going on?", Angel asked. "Why all the secrecy?"

"I don't know why," Gina said. "But I know he thinks it's very important." Gina glanced back at Meridina, who was squeezed in between Lucy and Angel. "I'm sorry, I didn't know you would be coming. I… well, Ledosh didn't think you'd actually leave the Order."

"I almost didn't," Meridina admitted. Her reddened eyes briefly looked to Lucy and then to Robert in the front seat. "But I felt I had to."

"Hopefully we're about to find out why they forced that choice on you," Robert said.

The Lookout was mostly empty when Julia arrived to have lunch. Even most of the usual staff seemed to be gone.

But not Hargert, of course. Never Hargert. He approached her with a tray, on which there was a steaming bowl of sausage stew and a plate of lunch finger foods that looked delicious as always. A glass of fruit juice rounded out the lunch. "Don't you ever take days off?", Julia asked him as he settled the tray before her. She smiled gently. "You always seem to be here at work."

"And what would I do with my days off, Commander?", Hargert replied amiably. "I would be here anyway. This is not work to me, it is pleasure." A smile creased his wrinkled old face. "That I am compensated for it makes it all the more enjoyable." He slid into the chair opposite from her. "I hear congratulations are in order to the Captain of the new Enterprise."

Julia shook her head and grinned. She picked up a spoon and dipped it into the stew. "I'm sure Scotty's told everyone on the ship. Although I honestly haven't said 'yes' yet."

"Ah. You wish to discuss things with Robert, yes?"

"Among other things." Julia took a bite and savored the delicious, rich taste. "I swear to God, Hargert, you are the greatest cook I've ever known. You would have given competition to Rob's grandmother."

"Danke schon," he answered. "I suspect we learned the same way."

"Maybe." Julia stirred the spoon in the stew again.

As she took her next bite, two more figures walked up. Caterina and Violeta were in uniform too, wearing uniform skirts instead of trousers. They were holding hands. "Can we?", Cat asked.

Julia nodded. "Sure."

"I shall be right back." Hargert got up and walked off, presumably to get two more sets of food for the new arrivals.

Cat and Violeta took chairs beside each other. "I heard from Angel that she was okay," Cat said. "But I'm still not sure what happened. Something about a fight and a bad guy with mind powers?

"Apparently one of the leaders of Meridina's Order went nuts and tried to kill everyone. Rob and Angel and Lucy helped put him down."

"Lucy, you mean Lieutenant Lucero, right?" Violeta's face brightened up. "I was watching a video this morning over the IU extranet. She had some kind of energy sword!"

"Don't ask me, I'm still wondering about it myself," Julia replied.

"When are they going to be home?"

"Maybe later today, maybe tomorrow."

"Oh." Cat nodded. "Well, then maybe… well, actually…"

Julia crossed her arms and adopted something of a half-smile. "I can hear it in your voice Cat. What do you need?"

"Not me. Violeta. She, well, she needs… she's new, so…"

With Cat clearly nervous about the request, Violeta spoke up. "I haven't been on the ship for longer than six months, so I'm not automatically eligible for a leave time I'm getting temporary assignment to the shuttle pilot pool at the end of the week. But until then… well, Cat was telling me she's never been to Paris or Venice, and she has a few days of eligible leave, and I was thinking…"

Both of the girls were blushing by this point. Julia smiled softly. "I think I can manage a few days of leave time for you, Ensign Arterria. You might have to do some extra duty once the ship's underway again, though."

"I'm fine with that," Violeta said. "Completely."

"Ah. Well. I'll have your leave papers arranged tomorrow. You'll need to be back in time to report to the Fleet Base Piloting Division, of course."

"Of course!" Violeta nodded and grinned. "Of course, I'll be back on time, I promise you Commander."

Cat let out a little squee and left her chair to give Julia a tight hug. "Thank you, Julie. Thank you so much. I'll make it up to you!"

"You always do," Julia answered. "And you can start by letting me get back to my lunch? Hargert's already on his way with your's."

And indeed, he was.

The cottage was small, a structure that at its largest was the size of the living area of Robert's quarters. Gina escorted them to the door and saw them inside. "I'll be waiting out here and watching," she said. The furnishings were spartan and simple. A pantry in the far left corner of the rectangular room included a small stove and an icebox or refrigerator. In the opposite corner, to their right, was a simple cot, and to their left were a couple of chairs and one small couch that looked like it could also be used for sleeping.

In fact, the only thing that made the cottage look like it didn't belong in the 20th Century was the technology in the far right corner. A computer system was present, beside a mantle with holo-image bases instead of photographs and what looked like a stand for a lakesh hilt. Beside it was a big book.

But the final item was the real breaker of the image of quiet, pre-space age living. A transporter pad.

White light appeared in a burst on the pad. Ledosh appeared from within the burst. His purple-with-blue-trim robe was still over his white vest and brown tunic and trousers. He looked to them and nodded. "It is good to see you."

"Mastrash Ledosh." All nodded back in some way, although Angel's as more one of acknowledgement than any deference.

He nodded back. "Thank you for coming." Ledosh turned his head slightly to face Meridina directly. "Meridina, I am sorry. I tried to vote against it."

"I know," she said. "If Councilman Pensley has his way, I would have faced this choice anyway."

"Senator Pensley, now," Ledosh said.

"What?", Robert asked, incredulous.

"Admiral Maran and I have been sharing updates since the coup attempt. Last night the Tetzelian National Assembly voted to appoint Pensley to replace Senator Marswell, one of those lost to Goras' madness."

Robert nodded. "I'm guessing Goras was behind the attack on the Senate, then?"

"According to the Temple Knights, yes. They found evidence on his computers of his collusion and Alliance Naval Intelligence corroborated it with the evidence they forwarded to the Interdependency this morning. Unfortunately the apprentice he used, Intalarai, was one that he did not have present at the attack. She has gone missing."

"I still can't believe Davies helped with that," Lucy said.

"I am fairly uncertain of his reasoning myself. But that is not the matter at hand. The Council will become suspicious if I remain here too long."

"Wouldn't they suspect you for leaving the Great Temple anyway?"

"No, Lieutenant Delgado. It is a practice of mine to come to the cottage and meditate when I am agitated by my colleagues. But I am never gone for very long in those circumstances."

"No, you wouldn't be," Meridina said quietly.

Ledosh's eyes brimmed with compassion when he looked at his student. "They were wrong to react as they did to your departure. Although even I wish you had stayed. Though the Council and many older Mastrasham are in agreement on this policy, the younger ranks of the Order see you as a heroine. Many now believe the Prophecy is coming true and are upset by the Council's choices. Given time, I may persuade them, and with you to rally the field Knights…" Ledosh sighed and shook his head. "I will not criticize you for following your swevyra's direction, though. I've trained you too well to have you ignore it."

"So why is the Council scared about the Prophecy?", Lucy asked.

"The real reason," Robert clarified. "Because I felt that fear. This isn't about society and politics."

"For the same reason Goras and Karesl are against it being true. They don't want/i] it to be true, and they are afraid it is."

"That makes little sense to me," Meridina said. Her voice became the most animated it had been since they left the Great Temple. "I have never understood why anyone would oppose the idea of the Dawn Bearers. It is a prophecy speaking of a new Golden Age, it is not something to dread!"

There was something in Ledosh's expression that made Robert realized there was more to this than even Meridina could see. "Is there more to it?", he asked.

Ledosh sighed. "Yes. There is."

Meridina stared at him. "What? I have read it, how could there be more?"

"Well, what is the Prophecy?", Angel said. "I mean, is it something like the Book of Revelations? Or some of the prophecies the old Hebrew Prophets would give?"

"It is best described as a poem, reciting Swenya's statement on what the future held," Meridina said. "I memorized it years ago. I shall attempt to render it into your English." She drew in a breath and began to speak.

"In the final days of Swenya
The Grand Foundress felt the future.
The ones who would come
Kin of the Lost People
The Bearers of the Dawn

She cried onto her people
"Seek them, children of Gersal
Their Light shall bring salvation!"
The forger and the leader
The commander and the sage
The builder and his teacher
The healer and the gifted
The unforgiven and the redeemed
And the sisters of fire and heart
United by the Light of their bonds
That none shall break

Their travels will be many
Their trials will be great
Their triumphs will be grand
They shall find the wanderers and the shepherd
And the explorer and the emissary
The masked one stands as their ally
The timeless one shall be their friend
One with a Spirit of Light shall guide them
As generals and rulers alike stand beside them

The forces of evil shall shudder
When faced by the Light they forge
Their Light a holy shield
Driving away all that is horrible
And bringing forth the golden rays of the Dawn
Under which all of Creation shall flourish

Seek them, children of Gersal
Let nothing deter you
For with the Bearers of the Dawn
Comes Hope and Victory

When Meridina finished, the other three looked at each other. "'Sisters of fire and heart'," Lucy said, looking to Angel. "Well, I can see that with you and Cat, I guess."

Robert smiled gently at Angel. "You're definitely the sister of fire. It's one of the things I love about you."

She returned the little smile, but there was an edge to it. Angel clearly felt uncomfortable with all of this.

"And Julia and Zack are both Commanders," Lucy continued. "But then again, I get the feeling it means something else."

"It would," Ledosh said. "These words were written in the High Gersallian dialect of Swenya's time. We are fortunate that they survived the Uprising of the Brotherhood."

"The Brotherhood of Kohbal, you mean."


"I know they caused a lot of destruction in that era, but until last night I never realized how much," Lucy continued. "I mean, I'm betting they're the reason that the Order went from something like Swenya's Blade to the memory metal blades in a lakesh. It was the best replacement the survivors could find after they lost the knowledge."

"It would appear so. And undoubtedly the Council will spend the next several weeks deliberating whether to allow technical examination of Swenya's Blade or avoid the risk of damaging it."

"The power cell lasted for three thousand years, I'm not even sure that naqia devices could manage that."

"I'm more interested in this issue with the Prophecy," Robert pointed out.

"Oh, yeah." Lucy sighed. "Okay, so that sounds… I mean, it talks about evil, but it says we'd beat it. I'm not scared by it "

"That is because it is not the original version," Ledosh revealed.

Meridina looked at him with surprise. "Mastrash Ledosh, there's more?"

"Not much," Ledosh said. "But the original version has an extra line in the final stanza. A line that we have kept hidden for thousands of years."

"Holy crap," Lucy said. "What does it say, something about the sun dying out or something?"

Ledosh nodded grimly. "Something worse. Simply by telling you this, I place myself at jeopardy before the Order. But I believe the Prophecy is coming true, and that you must be informed of what it truly means." Ledosh turned again to Meridina, who was staring at him in horror. "I'm sorry for not telling you, Meridina. I argued for it, but the Council refused me. Just as they demanded we hide the existence of the Prophecy from you and your crew, Captain."

"I'm guessing the Prophecy is why Meridina was assigned to us in the first place," Robert replied. He looked to her. "And she was ordered not to tell?"

"And she was ordered to avoid any act to promote your knowledge of swevyra should you have power with it," Ledosh confirmed.

"I am very sorry," Meridina said to them. "It was thought necessary while we determined if the Prophecy was actually coming true."

"And since I am certain that it is, I am ready to reveal the true version of the Prophecy to you."

"Well, okay then," Angel said. "Lay it on us."

Ledosh drew in a breath and spoke the final stanza, adding a sixth line.

Seek them, children of Gersal
Let nothing deter you
For with the Bearers of the Dawn
Comes Hope and Victory
When the Darkness come again

There was a gasp in the room. It came from Robert. His mind flashed back several months to Gamma Piratus and the Darglan Facility there. A Facility filled with the wreckage and damage of an ancient battle, and in its secured databanks, a partial message left by the defenders.

"'Stop the Darkness'," Robert murmured. When all eyes turned to him, Robert explained in a louder voice, "It was the only line left of a message left by the Darglan in the Facility on Gamma Piratus. The end of a spoken sentence with those three words. '...stop the Darkness.'"

"So what is the Darkness?", Lucy asked Meridina.

"I do not know," she said. "Although.." A memory came to her mind. "Years ago, Caterina showed me the holographic chamber in your Facility."

"Which is when it told you about a prize for the Gersallian species at a blue sun," Angel said. "I remember. Looking for it is how we came into contact with the Galactica and the Colonial Refugees."

"Yes. But there was a message with it. A warning about the use of the Darglans' drive technology, and how we must always respect the limitations of the drives, or we might be exposed to a 'darkness' that dwells in the deepest voids of the dimensions. And that if we did so, 'Ancient Ones' would punish us." Meridina shook her head. "I reported this at the time, but no one spoke to me of it."

"That is because the Council restricted this knowledge long ago," Ledosh said. "One of the surviving writings from Kohbal's Uprising spoke of an ancient war. All that we know is that Swenya led a group of devoted swevyra'se to fight at the side of the Darglan against the Darkness, and that few returned alive with her at the end of the war. Not everything from her account survives, sadly. From what we have left, we know that the Darkness could not be reasoned with, could not be negotiated with, and indeed never even communicated. They only strived to destroy all Life that they found, and Swenya claimed to have watched them annihilate entire stars."

An image flashed in Robert's vision. An image from his dreams, of stars dying out in never-ending waves until entire galaxies had gone dark.

"If they could destroy stars… why weren't they listed as an Omega-level threat by the Darglan?", Lucy wondered.

"Maybe the Darglan never had time to update the list?", Angel speculated.

"Or maybe there was no point in updating the list once the war was over," Robert said. "We know the Darglan were from E5B1, and that the First Ones of that universe's Milky Way banned them from ever using the IU jump drives again."

"This explains the warning they left in their message to us," Meridina added.

"And why they asked the Asgard for weapons technology." Robert shook his head. "And Thor's warning to me about using the IU drives. The Asgard knew something of the Darkness, even if he didn't say anything about knowing their name. Thor said they even allied with the Goa'uld at the time to resist them."

"What I want to know is how the Darglan could beat something that destroyed stars," Lucy said. "That's.. I mean, it's nearly impossible."

"That mad scientist Tolian Soran could do it," Robert said. "He destroyed one star and almost took out another."

"He didn't destroy the stars, actually, he just changed them," Lucy pointed out. "I wouldn't call that annihilation."

Ledosh spoke next. "We know Swenya spoke of beings who came to the Darglans' aid due to the threat the Darkness posed. Ancient races and species that sided with them, some just as terrifying as the Darkness in their power. Races that could manipulate space and time, races with enormous mental powers, even beings made of pure energy."

"And they what, beat the Darkness by blowing them up before they blew up suns?", Angel asked.

"We do not know." Ledosh shook his head. "Which only serves to feed the fears of the Council. This is why they wish the Prophecy to be wrong, and why they do not want it revealed. The fear it would generate among people to imagine such a powerful enemy returned to threaten us could make our current upheaval even worse."

Meridina nodded. "I… I never knew, I…" Her eyes fell. Her face was pale. A tear started falling from her right eye as she closed them. "This is what Father meant when he said I would be broken if the Prophecy came true. He knew that I was hoping for this horror to return to threaten us without knowing it."

"Yes, that is like him." Ledosh bowed his head. "I cannot give you access to the writings right now. The Council would be suspicious of my access at this time. But when I can, I will do more to teach you about this threat, while I hope and pray that the Prophecy is in error."

"Yes," Meridina said. "I hope so too."

"I have told you all that I can. I'm afraid you must go, and go quickly. As it is, the Order may suspect you were up to something if they realize how long your ship has remained," Ledosh said. As he did so he walked to the side and concentrated.

The door opened. Gina stepped in. "You're done?", she asked.

"I am."

"You can't tell me what was said," Gina remarked, and this was aimed at the others. "If the Council found out I was informed, Ledosh and I would be punished."

"Well, we won't," Robert said. "Just us knowing is risk enough for him."

"Yes." Meridina was staring off into space. "Let us depart."

"I have contacted an Order vessel equipped with an IU jump drive, they will provide you a jump back to Earth L2M1 upon your arrival to orbit," Ledosh said. "Gina is more talented with the transporters than I am, she will help you transport back to your ship."

"I'll go back and beam the rest of you at once," Lucy said.

While Gina and Lucy worked, and Robert and Angel stood to the side holding hands, Ledosh stepped up to his student. He felt her turmoil and sadness and frustration and it made him feel shame and guilt. The Council had repaid her devotion and faith with narrow-minded cowardice… and he had repaid it with deception. "I am sorry," he said. "I lacked the courage to defy the Council. I feared that Goras and Karesl would prevail if I did defied the Council's instructions."

"I know, and I understand." Meridina shook her head.

"I feel your pain, student. Please, don't hold it in this time. Give it release."

Meridina didn't reply to that.

"Will you say goodbye to your family?"

Meridina nodded. "I wish to. But I will not be welcome in the Temple, and they are with my father."

Lucy heard that and looked over to her. "I think I can make the transport work," she said. "The Great Temple's got passive anti-beaming fields, of course, but Ledosh's systems are tied into them with the frequencies that aren't blocked, just let me get the right frequency and I can send you over once we're on the Rio Grande."

"We'll send you as soon as we're back," Robert said. "And you can take all of the time you need."

"Thank you," was her quiet reply.

"And I've got us ready to beam over," Lucy said. She stepped over to the pad. "I'll go first. I'll signal when I'm ready to beam you over." She nodded to Ledosh. "It was nice meeting you again, Mastrash Ledosh."

"The same to you, Lucilla Lucero."

With a press of a key, Gina beamed Lucy away.

"Good luck with the Council," Robert said. "Let us know if we can help you with anything."

"I will," Ledosh said. "And be mindful. The knowledge I have given you is disturbing, but do not let it weigh down your heart. The Darkness can be stopped, should they return. Continue your training in the meantime. Your visions may give us further insights into the path we are treading upon."

"We'll keep that in mind," Angel said. Robert felt his heart twist a little at the tone in her voice. She would not take him continuing training very well, not when he had promised it'd be over soon.

Before he could say anything about it, his multidevice chimed. "Lucy's ready for us."

Meridina looked to Ledosh. She bowed and, with a tear in her eye, she gave her farewell. "I hope to see you again, Mastrash. Mi rake sa swevyra iso."

Ledosh nodded. "I wish the same, Meridina. Mi rake sa swevyra iso."

Robert pressed a key on his multidevice. They all transported away.

Nobody said anything when Meridina beamed into the hall of the Great Temple's medical ward, just outside her father's room. Inside she found her family gathered. Despite everything, her heart felt lightened at seeing Karesl's eyes open.

"We heard," Drentiya said. "I can feel your pain, Meri. I am so sorry."

"The Council are a bunch of kenyakam," declared Leniraya.

Meridina stifled a chuckle that would have been full of pain. "We're preparing to launch to return to the Aurora," she said. "But I wished to say goodbye, and to see how father was doing."

"I am recovering," Karesl said weakly. "The healers tell me another minute and I would have been beyond saving." He turned his head in a stiff motion. "Tinaran told me what the Council ruled, and what they have done." He frowned. "And what you have done."

"I am sorry, Father, for disappointing you."

Karesl shook his head. The motion was as stiff as his movement earlier. "Do not concern yourself with it. I can sense the hurt in you, you do not need more from believing me angry with you." A sour look came to him. "Ledosh told you, didn't he? He told you about the Prophecy."

Meridina didn't reply. She knew Karesl could only be hurt if their family found out.

"I am sorry," Karesl said.

"Whatever it is, what's done is done," Drentiya said. "Please, Meridina, come home again sometime. We wish to see more of you."

"I am no longer in the Order, but I still have duties on the Aurora," she said. "But now that things have changed and my presence will not bring any disruption… I will return, and I will visit you whenever I can."

That brought smiles to her family. Qalkrsl spoke up next. "We're proud of you, Meri. Always. Even though you're no longer in the Order, we know you're a swevyra'se and always will be."

"Always," Karesl agreed. He reached his hand up and Meridina took it. "I have always loved you, daughter, but know that I am also proud of you, Meridina, and I always will be. You are following the calling you feel within, and I hope it brings you the destiny that you seek. May the Light of your swevyra always guide you well. And if the Prophecy is true… I will be there to help you, in whatever means is necessary."

"Thank you, father." Tears welled up in Meridina's eyes. "Thank you very much."

And she embraced him gladly, comforted in the knowledge that regardless of how things had turned out, despite all of their disagreements over the prior two years, her father still loved her and was proud of her.
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"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-06 02:37pm

I really did enjoy their valiant attempts at support though - and how they were both on the surface futile yet totally not in vain and vital in giving Lucy several seconds, which meant all the difference... I guess it was a show of control that Goras didn't cleave the directly, physically-engaging Angel into twain. Despite going all Sith, "It's treason then!" and being on the verge of doing Palpatine's Sith-Psychocrusher w/ blade, he had the presence of mind not to strike down an Alliance officer...
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-06 02:49pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:I really did enjoy their valiant attempts at support though - and how they were both on the surface futile yet totally not in vain and vital in giving Lucy several seconds, which meant all the difference... I guess it was a show of control that Goras didn't cleave the directly, physically-engaging Angel into twain. Despite going all Sith, "It's treason then!" and being on the verge of doing Palpatine's Sith-Psychocrusher w/ blade, he had the presence of mind not to strike down an Alliance officer...
He saw her as a gnat to squash at leisure. Lucy and Robert were the main threats, primarily Lucy because she had the weapon. And later, her "blasphemy" to take a relic of Swenya set him off.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-06 02:51pm

Motherfucking hell... why is the edit window so damned small?!
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-07 10:48am


The first thing Robert did upon their return to the Aurora was head to his quarters and soak in a warm bath. Having a bath tub/shower unit instead of just a shower was a perk of his rank that he didn't often partake in, but with all of his bruises he simply couldn't resist.

He still ached when he left. He had dried off mostly when his display lit up. There was an incoming call, private, that wasn't being routed through the bridge like most calls would be. He pulled on his bathrobe and, with his hair still wet and uncombed, plopped into his chair wearily and tapped the key to accept the call. "Ah." He smiled. "It's good to see you."

"Likewise," replied Commander Elizabeth King. "I hear you had quite the adventure on Gersal."

"And I have the bruises to prove it," Robert answered. The smile stayed on. "I figured something was up with Davies' office helping the Gersallian government."

"Yes. Although it has certainly cost me Admiral Davies' support, I thought it an act of necessity to forward our information from the Dissenter safehouse we found here in Portland." King's face remained neutral, but there was a hint of a satisfied smile coming to her face. "The Gersallian Interdependency is a critical member of the Alliance, after all, providing numerous troops and ships and material for the war effort. We can't afford to let them fall into civil war or an anti-Alliance dictatorship."

"You'll get no disagreement from me on that. But if Davies doesn't want you around anymore, what will you do now?"

"I will serve where I am needed, as always." She checked something off-screen. "I thought you should know that we still haven't found Goras' apprentice Intalarai. She was the powered woman who got away from the Senate attack. Wherever she is, I imagine she will prove dangerous in the future."


"Well, I'll let you get back to settling in and healing from your battle. King out."

She disappeared from the screen. Robert entertained himself with the thought of how Davies had reacted to what happened.

His door chime went off unexpectedly. "Come in," Robert called out. When Julia entered he said, "Hey, Julie. How did everything go while we were gone?"

"Oh, fine enough, I guess," Julia said. She smiled gently at him. "I watched the video making the rounds on the 'net. I should slap you for nearly getting yourself killed again… but that would make me a hypocrite since I nearly got decapitated by a cyborg ninja last week."

"Heh, yeah." Robert nodded. "It all worked out for the best anyway. We brought Meridina home. Although I think she's going to be hurting for a while." He frowned. "She had to leave the Order to come back. They were going to make her resign her commission and come back for duty at their Grand Temple."

Julia nodded in understanding. "I can see how that hurt her." In her heart Julia found that Meridina's choices reflected her own. My friends and family or my career.

Robert wasn't actively sensing Julia's emotions, so he didn't sense the thought in any way to define it. But he could tell Julia was conflicted about something. "What's wrong, Julie?", he asked.

"I… well, you might say I received an offer I couldn't, or at least shouldn't, refuse." Julia shifted in her chair and sighed. "And since Scotty will ensure you get this news sooner or later, I might as well tell you."

"Tell me what?", Robert asked.

"Admiral Maran met with me yesterday," Julia said. "He's asked me to accept a promotion and take command of a starship. A new one, the Enterprise."

For a moment Robert didn't say anything. But just a moment. Slowly a smile formed on his face. "Well, that's… that's incredible," he said. "I'm so happy for you. I know you want your own command."

"I do," she said. "And not at your expense either. And that's how it felt last year when… well, when you were lost in the past meeting Captain Archer. Or when you were on Gamma Piratus." Julia shook her head. "Every bit of me wants to jump for joy and say 'Yes!' in the loudest voice I can while still keeping my personal dignity. Every bit of me but my heart." Her green eyes fell. "Because… even if I brought some of the crew with me, you can't all go. And I know that the more who follow me, the more alone you and the ones left behind will feel. And I don't want to do that to you."

Robert had to admit he did feel worried about the idea of having her leave. He'd have to find a new First Officer, and if it was one he hadn't served with… that meant months of building up a trust like the one Julia and he had shared for decades. He relied upon Julia so much that he wasn't sure he could do the job without her.

But he couldn't bring himself to say that. He couldn't crush her dreams. Because this wasn't just any ship she was talking about, it was the Enterprise. That was a name that anyone would want on their career file. And to be Captain of the Enterprise?

"I think you should go for it," he said. "If that's what you want."

Julia blinked. "Yeah, I thought you'd say that. But we both know how much harder it'll be for you with a new XO."

"I'll find someone. Maybe one of the old Facility hands who's climbing the ranks. I hear Gabriel's son Jose made Lieutenant Commander. Maybe he'll be available when.." Robert stopped. "When would you be leaving?"

"The end of the year. I have about six months to give Maran my answer."

"Right." Robert nodded. "Well, I won't lie. I'll miss you terribly, Julie. We've been side-by-side almost all our lives, and if this happens we won't be seeing each other beyond an occasional fleet operation or if we get lucky and go into the dock at the same time. I'm… well, it'll hurt. But I could never let myself stand in the way of your dreams."

She nodded in reply. And smiled a little. "Thank you." After taking in a breath she said, "So, your message when you jumped back was that some big things happened."

"Well, beyond the failed coup d'etat and the Order of Swenya deciding they wouldn't have our backs anymore…" Robert took in a breath. "...we also found out that the Gersallians can't tell whether or not we're the figures in a three thousand year old prophecy predicting the return of a horrific and powerful alien force that tried to exterminate all Life in the Multiverse three thousand years ago."

He'd kept his voice level. As if he were sharing the weather. Julia blinked and her face betrayed her disbelief. "Wow," she said. "Okay, maybe you need to start from the beginning?"

"Okay," Robert said. "Well, when we got there the other day…"

Meridina had dutifully reported to the Security Office upon her return to the ship. She sent a signal to the Stellar Navy rescinding her resignation - Admiral Maran had kindly tied it up in bureaucracy before it could be accepted - and looked over the reports by her subordinates and by Commander Kane. There were virtually no security issues present save a reported fight between some of the crew and a few dock workers, which could happen whenever they put in.

Soon she was done at the Security Office. Meridina walked to her quarters and into her bedroom, where she sat on her bed silently. She'd left her things before departing, including her spare blue robes and other clothing issued for her use in the Order. Her book of the recovered writings of Swenya was still in its place on her bedroom bookshelf. Looking at it no longer gave her satisfaction. The Council had edited one of those works, after all. How many others had an "official" version for everyone else and the Council's original copy?

How much of her people's knowledge about Swenya, about their history, had been rewritten by the Council over the millennia?

It wasn't those thoughts that ended her silence, though. It was simply all of her pent-up feelings on the day's choice that came bubbling up. She started to weep as the enormity of her choice came to her.

All of her life, since she was a child, Meridina had wanted to walk the path of Swenya. She'd wanted to be a swevyra'se, to uphold the Cold and help the innocent, to live to the highest ideals of her people. The Order had been her purpose, her life.

And now she had walked away from it. No, she'd been pushed away from it.

She'd had a good reason, yes. Her heart, her swevyra, still told her this was the right path for her. That this was the way she was meant to go. But that didn't mean she could ignore what she had just done. She had just slammed the door on her whole life, casting herself off into an uncertain future away from the Order.

It hurt. It hurt like few things had hurt before.

And as she dwelled upon it, it hurt even more, for the simple fact that she couldn't even be sure of what she believed even more. Growing up, the Order had been a beacon of Light itself, an institution wholly devoted to the betterment of not just the Gersallian people but of all species.

But now she had seen that it was not. The Order was fallible. It could be divided. It could be distracted. It could be misled. It could, for the sake of convenience, turn against everything it was supposed to be, and it could deceive to fulfill its own ends or prejudices.

And if the Order could do those things… what did that mean for the Code? Was the Code something they'd just written up for their own benefit? How much of it was genuine, from Swenya, and how much of it was added by the Council over the years to serve their own ends and not the truth?

For that matter… what about Swenya herself? Could she have been the heroine that history claimed? The Order wrote the history, after all…

These two pains, contradictory as they were given her decision, nevertheless meshed into one terrible harmony within Meridina; the understanding that she had seen years of belief burned away. The old certainties that had governed her conduct were gone now, stripped by the reality of what she now knew and what she had done. She felt adrift in a raging sea of uncertainty about the future, about her fate.

But even in a raging sea, one could find the sanctuary of an anchored vessel.

The unlocked door to her quarters opened. Someone locked them quietly. Meridina didn't look up. She could feel Lucy and knew Lucy was feeling what she was going through.

Lucy entered, still in her civilian clothes of jacket, shirt, and pants. She said nothing as she walked over to the bed and sat down by Meridina. Her blue eyes focused on Meridina's tear-filled eyes. A sympathetic tear rolled down her right cheek.

Lucy could have assured her it would be okay. She could have encouraged her in the knowledge she made the right choice. She could have said any number of things calculated to make Meridina feel better.

But she knew that wasn't what Meridina needed. Lucy wordlessly opened her arms and let Meridina embrace her. Meridina continued to cry even as she tightened the hug, resting her head and face on Lucy's left shoulder. Gratitude filled her even amidst the pain she felt; she didn't have to put up a facade of control, she didn't have to hide what she felt. When Lucy had just been her student and a possible piece in the puzzle of the Prophecy, Meridina had to be strong around her, and had only slid from that after Amaunet had taken her.

But now, she didn't need to impose stoic calm. Meridina could let her pain show. She could let her emotions out without undermining what she had to be for Lucy's sake, or for Robert's, or even for herself. Here, with Lucy, she could be vulnerable.

And Lucy… understood. She understood what Meridina needed from her, and what she needed her to be.

When Lucy finally spoke, it was with the only two words that truly mattered. The only thing that would truly ease Meridina's pain.

"I'm here."

In her quarters on Deck 4, Julia Andreys sat in her blue nightrobe and stared at the screen of her computer system. Robert's story to her, about the Gersallian prophecy and how it had already impacted their lives, had her thinking about everything. Everything that had happened to them over the past four years.

Four years. Barely one out of seven she had lived. But the changes she'd faced had been so stupendous that they defied comprehension. Her best friend in the world, the closest she had ever known to having a soulmate, had found something incredible, and now she was out here, living on a spaceship currently docked over a 27th Century Earth, part of a vast alliance of worlds and nations and systems from different universes. She had once dreamed of taking personal responsibility in some fashion - maybe as an elected official, or a businesswoman, anything really - and now she was being offered command of an advanced and powerful starship.

Given what Robert had told her, they might be in for even more changes in the coming years. Especially if there really was some terrible threat out there in the Multiverse capable of causing mass destruction.

With these thoughts going through her head, Julia keyed the computer system.

Personal Log: Commander Julia Andreys; 15 May 2642.

It's been a busy week. So much has happened in the last several days especially, things that I think will remain with us for a long time. Sometimes it seems so easy, the way that change can come to our lives. Sometimes it's a good change, something that we've been wanting to see. A dream that's coming true…

The atmosphere in Carranzo's on New Liberty was as festive as ever. One of the cheering tables was particularly festive; Jarod sat between his father and sister, laughing with them while Broots' daughter Debbie shared a story from her school at her father's urging. Jarod, with one arm on Charles' shoulders and the other on Emily's so he could hold them close, held a glad feeling in his heart at getting to live this day.

Beside Charles, Sydney smiled gently at him and nodded. Better than anyone else, he understood what Jarod felt, and felt the same.

It was always good to be with family.

....or finally getting to experience something we've been missing…

A brilliant glow lit up the sky over the City of Lights, and contributing to that glow was the Eiffel Tower.

From a balcony at a hotel that, while quite expensive, was run by people who were also quite willing to demonstrate their appreciation for those fighting "the Nazi Boche", Caterina Delgado and Violeta Arterria held hands and looked out at the brilliance of one of the most beautiful cities that Human civilization had ever produced. Paris shined in the splendor of its lights, its avenues and boulevards and the museums and universities that had long made its reputation, while the Seine River reflected those same lights to add to the ambience. Their bellies were content with a shared dinner and the half-finished wine bottle on the balcony table testified to the further enjoyment of the evening.

Caterina turned her head. Her hazel eyes met Violeta's exotic, gene-engineered purple eyes, made to match the similarly-engineered purple hair. They both smiled and blushed at each other. Violeta waited patiently, sensing what the shorter young woman was preparing to say, but making sure it came from her.

Cat's heart was pounding in anticipation as she spoke the two words that Violeta had been waiting for.

"I'm ready."

Their eyes closed as they drew close and began to kiss intently. Violeta would be the one to close the balcony door while Caterina pulled off her jacket and backed up into their hotel room. They embraced and kissed again. The kiss ended in a brief pair of giggles as they fell back onto the waiting bed.

....and sometimes it's bad. We find out that the things we believed true, about ourselves, about others, are not true.

In the darkness of her quarters, her tears spent and fatigue sending her off into sleep, Meridina looked at the book of Swenya's writings again. And the look on her face made it clear she didn't know if she could trust that beautiful calligraphy ever again.

We endure pain, we endure loss, and we see the people we care for… the people we love… get hurt.

The Fleet Hospital's visiting hours were flexible, so no nurses were surprised or disapproving of the five figures that remained in one of their rooms. The sign on the door gave the room number - 2478 - and the name of the occupant.

Lt. K. Derbely.

The patient on the bed was still wrapped in bandages, fresh from the first operation to repair or replace the damaged flesh from her horrific injuries. Her eyes were slightly glazed over from the pain medications she had been given, but they could focus enough to show gratitude for her fellow officers from the Koenig. To her right, Lt. Creighton Apley held her hand affectionately while Lt. April Sherlily was sitting beside him, smiling sadly at her wounded friend. On the other side, the Koenig's Dorei medical officer, Doctor Roliri Opani, kept glancing at the medical readout panels as if unable to resist doing the job of another with her own skills, even as her eyes glistened with unshed tears at the sight of her comrade. Seated beside Opani was Lt. Magda Navaez, showing a supportive smile while unable to hold back the tears at her friend's condition.

Tears were also evident in the eyes of their commander. Zack Carrey stood at the foot of the bed, looking at his chief engineer with sadness, but some relief that she was on the road to recovery.

But that couldn't make up for the pain in his heart at seeing her in this state and knowing that, in many ways, she was one of the lucky ones, and that once again he had lost some of his crew. And even one was too many for him.

But whether change is good or bad, we know it's coming. And all we can do is roll with it, no matter what it means.

A handful of officers and enlisted personnel were still watching, and listening, as personal items went into a box in one of the working offices in the Naval Intelligence section of Defense Command, halfway up Tower 2 of the giant six-towered structure along the Columbia River by Lake Vancouver. The nameplate for the office had already been removed by its now-former occupant. Some considered stepping up to express condolences or good wishes, but the nearby scowling visage of Captain Soveral cowed them into saying nothing. No one wanted to be the next to face the wrath of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Commander Elizabeth King emerged from her former office with a quiet, dignified bearing. She ignored her former colleagues, an act of defiance to those who supported her ouster and an act of quiet benefit to those who didn't, lest they show any sympathy. She had no worries about it. The Stellar Navy was a big organization and she was devoted to the success of that organization and of the Alliance that it defended.

There were other jobs in the Navy, after all, and she had gotten quite a taste for command in her time with the Sladen...

Because change can be useful. It can create new opportunities for us, if we're ready to take them. If we want to take them.

While Meridina was sound asleep in the bedroom, Lucy went into the living area and activated her multidevice. The repairs she'd made after the fight with Goras (and while fussy Order healers had been treating her) were holding well.

But Lucy's real business was with the data saved after the repairs were made. With a few presses to the keys of the multidevice's hardlight controls, the holographic display brought up multiple images of the same object, all from the results of the different specialized scanners in her engineering-issue multidevice.

Lucy closely examined the various images of Swenya's Blade that now hovered in the air, lighting up the darkened living area of Meridina's quarters. A pleased grin began to cross her face, lit up as it was by the holographic images hovering in front of it. An idea was starting to come to mind, an idea turning quickly into a plan…

After all, she wasn't just a swevyra'se or Gifted person or whatever they wanted to call it. She was an engineer.

And engineers built things.

Julia's lips pursed as she thought about what she had just said. For her, the question of taking the opportunity was the big question. After several moments of thought, Julia continued to speak into the log. "The thing is, if you survive to the end of the day, that always guarantees one thing: another day comes. And you never know what changes it can bring. You can face things that make the world you know change, things that challenge you..."

The Inner Library of the Great Temple was quiet. Only a single light illuminated its spaces and the shelves of volumes present there.

Mastrash Ledosh rarely had time to go through the Library due to his responsibilities. But with everything that was happening, he knew he would have to start making the time. He had questions of his own, questions that could only be answered by examining the remaining knowledge of the past.

His hand searched along a line of old tomes and books until he found one. The leather binding was old and cracked. Even the best restorationist work couldn't keep a book intact forever, and these books had to be reprinted every several hundred years, a millennium at most, and each time one needed reprinting, it had to be done by order of the entire Council. It looked like the book he pulled out would need such a reprinting soon. His fingers ran over the gold calligraphy of the title.

The Life of Reshan.

Ledosh tucked the old tome under his arm and walked on. A slight feeling of unease filled him. His swevyra felt unsettled. The library did have that effect on him, unfortunately. It represented secrets, and he was displeased with that secrecy that still governed the Council's thinking.

But he couldn't help but feel there was more to it than that.

...and if I've learned anything from my time out here, it's that you can never guess where those challenges can come from.

The dungeons in the underground of the Great Temple were the lowest levels of the complex. Given the general demeanor of most of the dungeon's occupants, the lack of light was fitting.

In the one occupied cell, Goras fumed impotently at his mutilation. He burned with rage at having been defeated, a rage that was turning into hate. Hate for Meridina, for Ledosh, for Karesl, for the Order of Swenya and the government and many others.

But none of the hate was greater than that he felt for Lucy Lucero. The outsider who had mutilated him. He would not rest until she died screaming.

There was movement outside the cell. Goras looked up and frowned. "Who is there?", he growled at the shadows. When no answer came he shouted, "Show yourself!"

A single figure emerged from the deep darkness of the dungeon hall, clad in a dark cloak and hood. Goras sensed the swevyra of the figure. It was hidden well and he got the sense that he had been "allowed" to see her.

The figure's white-skinned hands reached up and removed the hood. A young bald woman looked at him with intensity. Goras' attitude became one of bewilderment. "Intalarai?", he asked.

She smiled at him. "I've brought you something of interest, Goras. It should help you pass away your time in here." She put a book into the cell between the bars. "I warn you that you should keep it hidden. The Order will not appreciate it."

"Where have you been? Why are you leaving me here? Why are you here at all?!"

"Because, Goras, your time has finally come." She looked back to him and smiled. "You have been chosen."

Goras stared at her. He stared because he got the sense that she was not the same person he had started to train. Indeed, that she had been of greater power than he had known.

Because here, with her finally looking directly at him in his cell, he could finally see what he had never seen before: the blue of her eyes was gone, replaced by the savage gold color of a swevyra'kse fully fallen into darkness.

"We've been watching you for some time, Goras," she purred. "And now you are ready for the truth."

With that said, she stepped backward and soon disappeared into the shadows of the dungeon.

Goras looked down at the book. Without his hands he had to focus harder for fine control, but he found little difficulty in lifting the book and pulling it closer to him so he could see it in the dim light of his cell. It was colored like browned rust. Simple crimson lettering provided the title, while an equally crimson symbol dominated the rest of the cover. It was a hexagon segmented into twelve parts, each of the six rough sides of the hexagon split into two. A sword ran through the middle.

The title of the book simply said, The Secrets of the Brotherhood.

He opened the first page, finding a note within joined by a little scribbled facsimile of the emblem on the page.

Rest and learn, Brother Goras. The day of your vengeance will come.

Goras didn't know what this all meant, but he did know one thing. His fight wasn't over. And one day… one day, his enemies would suffer for what they had done.

Meridina once told me that destiny was a matter of finding the place you're meant to be in and following the path it lays out for you. Maybe she's right. Or maybe there is no destiny, no fate, and we're free to make our own lives by our own will. To follow our own path.

But either way, whether it's by destiny or fate or free will... you still come to the same simple truth. You have to keep walking the path before you if you want to get anywhere.

The lights in Robert's bedroom were dimmed to the compromise level that he and Angel had accepted for when they shared the bed. He was still sleeping on his back while Angel, in her sleep, had turned away and on her ribs, a decision made in sleep that would undoubtedly make her tender in the morning.

Both were sleeping soundly for the moment.

Robert's sleeping mind, however, was not given the same respite.

The dreams resumed. The strange Turian with cybernetic implants, standing in the flames of the Citadel Council chamber. Julia dragged into a cell by SS soldiers and shocked until she fell into it. A large robot aiming to shoot Caterina and a tall figure in a long brown coat. He saw hooded figures giving an oath over an emblem, a hexagon divided into twelve pieces with a sword in the middle, and further hooded figures dragging a screaming figure into a spacecraft he couldn't recognize. The young woman in the tattered vest and pants, colored red with gold trim, crying in anguish until solid bright energy replaced her amber eyes. Julia stood beside him, in tattered clothing of her own, yelling, "We have to help her!" as power started to push them back. An animal's howl echoed through the scene.

And there was the four-legged creature again, and the faint whisper of two words. A human figure appeared in the shadows with it. The shadow obscured the figure's features, but something of the shape told him it was a woman. She seemed to turn toward him. Her voice spoke with an accent that, in his dream-state, he had trouble deciphering.

But this time, he could hear the words.

Robert jolted awake, confused and disorientated, with the two words somehow burned unto his conscious. As if his very essence had imprinted upon them. The force with which he sat up was sufficient to wake Angel, who groaned as she felt the pain on her healing ribs. She twisted in the bed and sat up beside him. The gentle fabric of her nightgown rubbed up against the bare skin of Robert's side. Angel didn't say anything; she could tell it was another nightmare.

"I…" Robert shook his head. "I heard them this time."

"Hrm?", Angel asked in a groggy voice.

"There were two words. I've… I've been hearing them in my dreams lately. And a howl. But they don't make sense."

"Huh. You've never mentioned words before." Angel yawned. "What were they? I mean, what doesn't make sense."

Robert blinked. He kept trying to think through the haze of sleep still in his brain. "They just… they don't make sense. I don't understand why I'm hearing them. But at the same time… it's… I don't' know…"

"Important?", Angel suggested.

"I guess."

"Well then." Angel crossed her armed, which flexed her muscles in the process. "What are they?"

Robert blinked. The sleepiness in his head was still slowing his thinking down. But the request from Angel, and the look in her face, soon helped him focus. He pulled the words from his brain.

He mumbled them at first, but knew she hadn't heard him. So Robert turned to face Angel, confusion written all over his tired face. And this time, he spoke the words aloud.

"'Bad Wolf.'"
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-07 10:52am

Aaaand there we go. 2-09 is complete and is now the largest nUF episode so far, at 42,600+ words. It's just crazy how the last three episodes have just exploded past the 30,000 word mark that I was hoping to keep myself under. But given the duels with Goras ran to 10,000 words along, I shouldn't be surprised.

I hope the Tag sequence works, I was trying to evoke a voiceover montage like various shows have had when going for a season or mid-season finale conclusion.

And, of course, I just had to give you more meat to chew on the ongoing story arcs. Especially those last two words... :twisted:

The series is now on hiatus for a while. I'm going to focus on my Rule the Waves LP that still needs completion. But I think I'll resume writing Season 2 by the end of March, if not earlier, so we may get the final nine episodes by summer.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Borgholio » 2017-02-09 11:03pm

I giggled in nerdy glee when I realized you had given Lucy a freaking lightsaber. With all this "life force" stuff in your story, I was wondering when you'd take the next obvious step. :) Oh and the tag sequence worked very nicely too.
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-13 12:07am

Borgholio wrote:I giggled in nerdy glee when I realized you had given Lucy a freaking lightsaber. With all this "life force" stuff in your story, I was wondering when you'd take the next obvious step. :) Oh and the tag sequence worked very nicely too.
Thank you. :)

And yeah, I wanted to make the revelation of the true nature of Swenya's Blade a Crowning Moment of Epic Awesome. As I've told Burak Gazan, if it were a show and I was doing the score, I would have had the musical score shift from the dramatic, hard-hitting action music to the theme for the Force by John Williams just after the lightsaber flashed to life. Then perhaps a more up-tempo version of the same, or something similar, as the duel picked up for its final moments.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Burak Gazan » 2017-02-13 01:26am

The Duel of the Fates works well in several pieces. Especially the section at 2:30 on. Parts of it, the rising action, fit the battle perfectly

"Of course, what would really happen is that in Game 7, with the Red Sox winning 20-0 in the 9th inning, with two outs and two strikes on the last Cubs batter, a previously unseen meteor would strike the earth, instantly and forever wiping out all life on the planet, and forever denying the Red Sox a World Series victory..."

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Luke Starkiller » 2017-02-13 10:17am

I've been reading this for a couple weeks now on my breaks at work and just got fully caught up. I've constantly had some relevant piece of music or other running through my head as I read; not least of which is a fully orchestra version of the original BSG theme when Galactica and Pegasus make their big entrance over the Darglan facility.

Can't wait for more.
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-13 10:38am

OMG I realized this series can be called...

Steve's Multiverse... or Stephen's Multiverse! :P
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-13 10:46am

Shroom Man 777 wrote:OMG I realized this series can be called...

Steve's Multiverse... or Stephen's Multiverse! :P

I know the reference you're making... but consider that I've written at least three Multiverses over the last ten years. :wink:
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-13 10:50am

We are the Aurora crew
and we will save the day
and if you think we can't
we'll always find a way
that's why the people of all Earths
believe in...
Robert, Julia, Zack and Angel
And Cat!

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shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-02-13 12:58pm

To those who don't know it, Shroom is adapting the theme song for "Steven Universe" to refer to nUF. :P
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Steve » 2017-05-19 01:29am

You know what? Fuck it. Fuck my distractions, fuck my inability to focus. I'm going to light a fire under my own ass.

I've spent the last ten weeks trying to write these episodes. I should be on fucking 2-15 by now, or at least finishing 2-14. But no. Distractions, sleepiness, it's all messed up my productivity, my pace. I'm still 60% or so through 2-12. This is un-fucking-cceptable. And yeah, that even accounts for that time I spent playing Mass Effect: Andromeda. And for the episodes all breaching 30k words again because fuck these stories are getting huge.

And then I recall how I did the last three episodes, finishing them on the weekends of their actual proper release because dammit, i was going to finish them on time. So you know what? Fuck it, that's what I'm going to push for again. Starting the first Friday of June, the second season is being released, even if I write the last five of them on their actual weekends of release because of this damned problem.

So here's the release schedule for the last half of Season 2, starting June 2nd!

2-10 "The Path Before Us" - June 2nd
Robert, Lucy, and Meridina each face new challenges with the changes in their lives; the Aurora crew are sent to parley with the Clans of Kerensky to prevent a new outbreak of war.

2-11 "Under Fire" - June 9th
Leo faces tough decisions while working in a field hospital under Nazi attack.

2-12 "Common Ground" - June 16th
The Koenig comes to the assistance of alien wanderers during training exercises with the Citadel races; Robert and his crew attempt to negotiate peace with the Batarian Hegemony.

2-13 "A Tale of Two Sisters" - June 23rd
Angela and Caterina help a group of alien-seeking 21st Century Londoners being stalked by an alien monster.

2-14 "Solarian Nights" - June 30th
The Aurora crew visits the city-moon of Solaris and gets caught in a game of intrigue with an enigmatic billionaire.

2-15 "Blast from the Past" - July 7th
The Aurora crew must protect an Earth seeking Alliance membership from a powerful empire.

2-16 "All That Remains" - July 14th
Robert and Meridina seek out the rebel telepath Lyta Alexander to learn more about the Darglan and their connection to the First Ones.

2-17 "Between Two Fires" - July 21st
The Aurora crew struggle to repair their crippled ship while helping the alien traveler known as the Doctor investigate a mysterious army of ghosts.

2-18 "Choices" - July 28th
Caught in the crossfire between the Daleks and Cybermen, Robert and his friends face decisions that will change their lives forever.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Burak Gazan
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Re: "Whispers of Destiny" - "Undiscovered Frontier" Season 2 (Multiverse Space Opera Crossover)

Post by Burak Gazan » 2017-05-19 01:34am

Considering how much awesome we left on, I don't think anyone could be annoyed with how long you are taking to work on the next chapter. It's not like we have to deal with a writers strike or something :D Take as long as needed
"Of course, what would really happen is that in Game 7, with the Red Sox winning 20-0 in the 9th inning, with two outs and two strikes on the last Cubs batter, a previously unseen meteor would strike the earth, instantly and forever wiping out all life on the planet, and forever denying the Red Sox a World Series victory..."

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