Chapter 1: Genesis
Torlose, The Planetary Union Headquarters.
Over five thousand senators had gathered at the great council building of the Planetary Union, in an audience chamber spanning 20 square miles. At it's center - and bottom, really, for the room was shaped like a huge funnel, with multiple television monitors and loudspeakers letting the vast majority of the senators watch the proceedings - stood the High Speaker Genghis Varr, elected from the capital planet Torlose itself, and one of the Zion senators, an older man named Teryl Vanhele. Both wore the blue robes embroidered with golden wire that was customary in the Planetary Union, and dark miters upon their heads.
"You all are aware of why this special session has been called, my brothers and friends." Speaker Varr began. The entire room was eerily silent. "A great tragedy has occurred. Zion was destroyed by one of the Lavoid race, creatures previously thought merely to be a legend of explorers and space pirates. This Lavoid, this… Grendel, as he has been codenamed, wiped out nearly ¾ of the population of the planet, and destroyed the vast majority of it's military. Only the larger capital ships, evacuated first, survived." Varr paused at this point, to let his words sink in, as Senator Vanhele stepped forward.
"This causes a great number of problems, my friends. First is the obvious loss of life. This is… a disaster, in many ways. We actually fear that this could start a panic, with citizens fearing that their planet could be next. Riots similar to the ones that took place in my planet's final hours could ensue. A collapse of our government is possible, though unlikely." There were muffled whispers throughout the chamber at this point… whispers of fear. Civil war… the undoing of a nation that had taken 800 years to build up. Just then, a new face appeared on the monitors. Senator Kyle Dareth, of the rim planet of J'barr, had taken the floor through his seat's request switches.
"There is an additional concern, High Speaker." He said.
"And what would that be, Senator?" Varr said, somewhat disdainful at the man's interruption.
"The Sol Dominion has become more aggressive as of late. It is the fear of the rim planets that, without Zion and it's military acting as a buffer, that the Sol Dominion will attack the Union."
More muffled whispers, these even more anxious and fearful.
"I fear… that your words could well be correct. However, we must not let our people know this! It will bring about a panic, and such a panic would only guarantee our downfall." The senators in the room assented to this, some simply nodding, others vocally speaking their agreement. "These are dangerous times. We need a plan, or our downfall is assured."
At this, Senator Vanhele stepped forward again. "Speaker, I believe I may have such a plan, should war break out…"
Karis VI, The Blue Moon.
Darrell and Terra sat across from each other at a table in a rather seedy bar called the Blue Moon, drinking a kind of alcoholic beverage as they listened to the horrible `country' music being played over the jukeboxes.
Both were more than a little bit depressed, though Terra seemed better off than Darrell. As a pilot, she had spent a good bit of time off-planet, and knew how to deal with the feelings of loss and separation she was going through right now. The fact that her family had died in a plague but 14 years ago, with her there, only aided her in dealing with this. Still, she was drinking more than her share of the liquor.
Darrell, on the other hand, was filled with alternating rage and despair. He'd been orphaned at a young age, so he, too, had no family to mourn, but… he'd always hoped he'd find them one day. The chances of that ever happening had just become astronomical. On top of that, he'd only been off-planet about three times in his life, and he was having trouble adjusting.
They weren't alone in the bar, though. It was filled with refugees from Zion - for rescue ships from the Planetary Union had come in and picked up several of the stranded ships, such as Darrel and Terra's - as well as some mercenaries and traders. It was easy to tell the refugees from the locals, as the former had spent much of their time weeping, yelling curses, and buying thousands of credits' worth of beer.
"There just has to be a way to destroy that thing! There has to be!" Darrell said to himself, between drinks of beer. "But… there's so much power within it…" Terra put a hand on Darrell's shoulder. The two had been fast friends ever since they'd met in an orphanage 12 years ago, after Terra's parents had died in the plague. When Terra had heard the evac order, she'd gone to find Darrell before she went to her ship.
"Darrell… I know you want to destroy Grendel. So do I. But… you have to realize that we're just humans. The Lavoids, on the other hand…" Darrell shook his head furiously.
"No!! It is said that even the Lavoids started out as nothing, as the creations of humans!" Terra knew well of what Darrell spoke. The legend that Lavoids had been created by humans as a kind of weapon on the almost mythical planet Earth, supposed origination point of humankind. However, Earth lay almost all the way across the borders of the Sol Dominion, if it truly existed, and no one from the Union had seen any of the Dominion in a period that stretched almost longer than the time that the Union had even existed.
"There must be a way to destroy Grendel… There must be a power to equal the Lavoids." His words were quieter now, for they had drawn the attention of a few people in the bar. An undesirable kind of attention, with the kind of company that was around them.
As if to show Darrell that his efforts to subdue himself were without merit, a large human walked over to their table and sat down. He was probably about 6'7", and easily could have weighed 300 pounds. He had long brown hair and brown eyes, eyes that seemed to look everywhere at once. A blaster rifle was slung across his back, and he wore it with ease.
"Are you a seeker as well, friend?" Darrell's eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Are we friends, then, sir? And just what is a `seeker'?" The man grinned, though there wasn't much humor in it, and proffered his hand.
"I believe we could be, sir, if we seek the same thing. I am Cynewulf." Terra raised an eyebrow.
"You don't have a last name, too?" her words were sarcastic, but they didn't seem to affect Cynewulf's disposition in the least.
"Perhaps I do, perhaps I don't. It matters very little. What matters is the search."
Darrell sighed. "Again, this `search' and `seeking' bit. Just what are you talking about?"
"Why, the search for the ultimate power, of course! The search for a power capable of destroying even the Lavoids, even Grendel." Darrell's eyes widened, as did Terra's.
"There is such a power, then?" Darrell said, still attempting to take Cynewulf's words with a grain of salt.
"Yes, there is, and I believe I may have discovered what it is. But," he continued, looking about him suspiciously, "We should not talk here. As the saying goes, the walls have ears. Let's talk about something else for a while, then you can come to my ship later, eh?"
Darrell shrugged. "You can talk if you want to, I guess."
The three ended up talking over all sorts of things, ranging from the weather on Karis VI to how horrible the destruction of Zion had been. By the time Cynewulf was ready to leave, Darrell found he liked the man quite a bit. He was somewhat jovial, though not gullibly so, and more clever than he looked at first glance.
"So, will you talk to me about the search later?" he asked hopefully.
Darrell nodded. "Yes, certainly."
Terra shook her head. She too had enjoyed their chat with Cynewulf, but knew better than to trust how things seemed at first glance. "Darrell, this is insane. He's just trying to lure us into private so he can kill us, or rob us, or something equally cruel."
Darrell, though, didn't even seem to hear her. His eyes had a faraway look to them, as though he was picturing avenging the people of Zion, and of the countless other planets Grendel had undoubtedly destroyed.
"When should we meet you, Cynewulf?" The big man smirked at Terra.
"As I mentioned earlier, we will talk on my ship. It's not too far away from here. Meet me at hangar 647 in… say… an hour. I suppose you might have some personal possessions to get, and you may not have time to go back after you here what I would suggest." Darrell nodded, and the man known as Cynewulf left the bar.
"You really want to do this, Darrell? It seems more than a little risky." Terra's words were spoken partially out of habit to argue, because she knew how stubborn Darrell was. Once he made up his mind on something, there was no convincing him to do otherwise.
"Terra, just what do we have to lose?"
1 hour later…
Darrell and Terra stood before a rather large spacecraft, one with a huge assortment of laser cannons and even gravitonic weaponry mounted all across it's hull. The ship itself wasn't all that impressive, probably due to the amalgamation of circuitry that laced it, but one could tell that it contained a good deal of power.
"Custom-built, it is. Welcome to The Blade." The voice startled both of them, and they whirled about, Darrell's hand on his pistol, and Terra's fists raised. Though she didn't look the part, she was an experienced martial artist.
Her skills would not be necessary, though, for it was Cynewulf who stood before them. In his arms was a plastic bag filled with foodstuffs.
"I'm glad to see you came. Looks like you might be cut out to be a seeker, even." As he spoke, he pulled out a small control device, and punched some buttons on it, causing the airlock of his ship to open to grant them entrance. "Please, do come in. It's not much of a ship, but it's more comfortable than standing out here." The two nodded in acceptance, and followed the large man in.
They were greeted upon entrance with a small living area, such as wasn't found on most more modern spacecraft. They were rather costly, and - according to some - a waste of space that could be used to hold engines. Cynewulf disappeared for a moment into the next room, which appeared to be a kitchen, then came back and sat down in a wooden chair, throwing his rifle down into a rack to his side.
"It occurs to me that I don't even know your names… how rude of me not to have asked back at the bar."
"I'm Darrell Shanning, and this is Terra Lyles, formerly of Zion." Cynewulf nodded.
"And you wish to learn of the power?" Darrell nodded eagerly, even as he sat down across from the older man. Terra remained standing, her arms crossed, but she too listened intently.
"Very well, then. It is a long and complicated story. Perhaps it would be best to begin with this question: have you ever heard of the Finori?" Darrell shook his head, confused; Terra simply shrugged. "I didn't think so. Very few have. They are a multi-dimensional race of shapeshifter… I suppose one could call them a wave existence, in scientific terms." Darrell cocked an eyebrow.
"What?! Multi-dimensional existence? Scientific theories have concluded that such a thing wasn't plausible!" Cynewulf shrugged.
"You say not plausible, and that is true. However, it is possible, and it is the case. The truth of it lies in the term wave existence. You are, of course, familiar with such waves, such as are present in electro-magnetic radiation?" Darrell nodded. "I thought you might. You look well-read. Well, these wave existence creatures… the Finori, as I told you… work in the same way as this radiation, but they pierce the very bounds of the Multiverse."
The theories involved in that statement boggled Darrell's mind, as had this term `Multiverse' that Cynewulf had used. "How… is it possible for such a creature, being sentient, to exist on multiple planes?"
"It's quite simple, really. They must bind themselves, or `anchor', to something on one plane to be self-aware, for otherwise, as you said, their existence would be spread too thin. And here's where the part about the ultimate power comes in.
"The anchoring process requires that the Finori exert a great deal of energy, and give a great deal of their life-force into an object. The objects they bind themselves to are thus given incredible abilities." Darrell's eyes widened.
"All of the forces associated with such energy… incredible." The young man's words were mostly to himself, but Cynewulf nodded in agreement anyway.
"Indeed it is. The recorded examples of such anchorings have all been to rather inert objects, such as swords and the like. The result was an explosion of ether-type energy, which I'm sure you've heard of."
Darrell had indeed heard of ether energy. It was but legend in the Union, where all was technology-based, but there were confirmed reports of `magic' being used by members of the Sol Dominion. If they had knowledge of this anchoring process, it was suddenly obvious just how they'd gained that power.
"Thus, anyone equipped with such Finori-powered weapons would gain supernatural abilities, perhaps even to a large enough extent to defeat a Lavoid."
"But just how are we going to find a Finori, if they exist `in every dimension', like you said? They can't be easy to find, or we would have already heard of them." Cynewulf nodded at this.
"Truly, it is incredibly difficult to come upon them, and almost all recorded examples of their existence come from within the Sol Dominion. However… I know of one Finori that is within even our reach, but I had not the strength of numbers to consider going after it before."
"Why not? Travel within the Union is unrestricted." Terra still seemed doubtful of the man, mostly because most of the scientific mumbo-jumbo he'd just spouted meant very little to her.
`That's because this Finori isn't within the Union. It's in the Sol Dominion." Darrell's eyes widened yet again, which seemed impossible.
"Are you insane? No one goes into the Sol Dominion and comes back alive! Their border patrols are beyond huge!!!" Cynewulf nodded.
"Indeed they are. However, this planet is located right along the rim. I learned of the Finori there from a trader I have… associations with from time to time. It is possible to make planetfall, I know. However, the Finori itself is located within a governmental facility, impossible to get to without coming into direct conflict with the Dominion." Terra snorted.
"You must be insane if you think we're going to pick a fight with the dominion."
"Now wait just one moment, madam. I have a complete plan. The trader I know on the planet… which is known as Yrrs II, by the way… has helped me in my escape plans. Once we get in and get the Finori, I know just how to get out and back off-planet. Thing is, there will be a few guards with the Finori, and we'll have to get rid of them."
"Where's the guarantee that the Finori will even come with us?" Darrell asked.
"It seems it's being held prisoner by the Dominion… something they've done is keeping it from removing it's anchor on a weapon there, and it's bound to it."
"And just how are we going to help it in that?"
Cynewulf smirked. "We destroy the weapon it's bound to, of course."
Darrell rested his chin in the palm of his hand, and closed his eyes, thinking.
"I think you can be trusted. All of the theories you've put across make sense… and what's more, you have nothing to gain by lying to us. I'll go with you, if it means I can get a shot at Grendel."
Terra sighed deeply, and looked up at the ceiling. "And I don't think you can be trusted. I think you're a double-talking con man, but Darrell's right. You don't have anything to gain by lying to us. Besides, I can't let the guy go off on his own, even if you are lying." Cynewulf's smirk changed to a broad, guileless grin, and he nodded.
"I thank you from the bottom of my heart. We'll leave in the morning, then, eh? Believe me, you won't regret this!" With that, the large man started to hurry off into the pilot room, undoubtedly to fine-tune some of the controls. As he did, he seemed to think of something and turned back to the two. "Oh, and you can sleep here if you want. There're some guest quarters towards the back… and there are manual locks on them, Miss Terra, in case you still don't want to trust me."
"The wave existence… the second foundation of our principles, for only the Lavoid could surpass Zohar…" - From The Wave Existence by Darrell Shanning.
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