Into Oblivion

Making a Plan
Book the Third - "A Duke and a Knight"

Hem began explaining their problem. "Now, we can both agree that Duke Holmstet's speech was a blatant power grab.​How do you avoid signing that bill, while still maintaining your integrity in front of the Council? Do we even have other options at this moment?"​

Theodat did not answer for some time, his finger idly tracing a pattern on the table's surface. "I worry for the Empire, cousin. We are…..in a time of great uncertainties. An alien species of which we know almost nothing has destroyed one of our worlds. The Mandate have annexed the planet of Never-Look-Back, a planet with no resources other than its plentiful harvest. With no strategic value except as a jumping off point into Antian space. A planet whose independence we had guaranteed for the last 200 years."

 

Duke Theodat Kadwyn and his Cousin Hem met up at the Blue Circle, a bar on the 121st floor of Prynn tower in downtown Antia City the day after Lord Protector Holmstet's speech. 

In his address to the Empire, the Lord Protector Holmstet had revealed that the Qzin had assaulted an Antian planet and that Mandate forces had entered the Antian Quadrant. He had closed with a request for more power to be granted to the Lord Protectorship so that he could assemble yet another fleet to face this new threat.

For Theodat and Hem, time was running out. Awakening Emperor Xylus was now even more important than ever.

They fleshed out their plan to awaken the Emperor. Theodat had managed to access the Imperial Archives and told Hem that the Imperial Spire, the most heavily guarded and magicked building in the Empire, could be breached – from below.

This would require a submarine entry through Antia City's aquifers, a harrowing journey through the supposedly Vacla Orathan infested crypts below the Spire, and breaching the magical barriers that safeguarded the Spire's interior.

None of this would be possible without a good team. Theodat and Hem set themselves to dividing up the tasks of recruitment and obtaining supplies.

Theodat and Hem's meeting had not gone unoticed, and people who would rather see the Duke of Kadwyn and his cousin in an early grave had snuck an Our'ethan wearing a suicide vest into the tower. 

The Our'ethan stood, hiding his hands under his long coat. They were shaking. He had spent all of two weeks steeling himself up for what he had to do. He didn't have a choice. They'd kill his family if he didn't do what they want. He looked down the hallway, seeing the lift that had taken up away from the 121st floor, the floor that the bar he was supposed to destroy was. The explosive vest around his chest felt oppressively tight. He didn't have a choice. He activated the explosive vest and felt his thumb press down on the detonator. All he had to do was lift it.

 Now…..to enter the lift, and head back down to the bar.

  Step after step

  He felt his chest tightening, constricting. Sweat dripped down his nose.

 "You alright, lad?" A security guard, Etre'al. Eyes looking at him full of concern.

 "Y-yes." He tried to smile. It came out more as a grimace. He needed to throw up. But he couldn't. If he could just get into the lift.

 He wheeled away from the guard, stumbling over his own feet. He caught himself, and saw the lift doors open. Barging in, he tripped over a Drr'athan boy, hardly five years of age. There was an entire family in the lfit. He hadn't seen them. He stumbled and fell, clasping a handrail with both hands, to prevent himself from striking the metal floor. His detonator fell out of his sleeve and hit the floor, rolling away from him. The button no longer pressed down.

 Time froze. And an eon came and went.

Theodat felt the explosion as much as he heard it. The shockwave tore through the bar, ripping through the ceiling and then through the floor. Glass shattered and the heat blistered his hastily thrown up hands. Then he was flying backwards….backwards….

A column halted his flight. He couldn't feel anything. He couldn't hear. He tried moving his limbs, feeling panic beginning to lance through his body. Or was it pain? Blood dribbled down his nose and his lips. 

It was pain tearing through him now. His limbs were afire, his body screaming that something had gone horribly wrong. Theodat screwed up his eyes – there was too much light. Too bright. 

He let himself slip away into the soft embrace of unconsciousness, as the first emergency vehicles began to arrive. 

 

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A Tense Meeting
Book the Second - "The Warden and the Dwarf'

Orin and Kumis, now escaped from the Mandate Titan, need to acquire food, water, and weapons.

Unfortunately, their lack of supplies prevents them from being able to reach the nearest Warden base, and so they make contact with a supply ship in an otherwise inhabited system.

There, they discover a large asteroid mining operation, run by the Ahn’zt Hae Senn.

Orin and Kumis get an up-close view of an Anh’zt Hae Senn test, meet the captain of the vessel, and ultimately make a deal – they will get their ship restocked provided they take on four Ahn’zt Hae Senn trainees who failed their exam and ship them to the Ahn’zt Hae Senn home-base.

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Prison Break
Book the Second - "The Warden and the Dwarf"

After spending 10 days sitting in a Mandate prison cell aboard the massive Mandate Titan in orbit around Never-Look-Back, our heroes stage a daring escape.

Orin is shot in the head by a Mandate prison guard, and left for dead.

Callus and Kumis release all of the prisoners on their level, and then disappear into the ship’s bowels, making use of maintenance tunnels to reach a docking bay where they can steal a ship.

Unfortunately, the docking bay is heavily guarded, and Callus and Kumis are located by a Mandate kill squad.

When all seems lost, Orin returns, along with Corde – who had been believed destroyed with the ship.

One angry magic-filled firefight later, our heroes steal a battered smuggling vessel and flee the Mandate Titan and the system.

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The Imperial Court
Book the Third - "A Duke and a Knight"

Duke Theodat Kadwyn greets his cousin Sir Hem, newly returned from a tour of service in the war against the Traxos Trade Confederacy.

The two Kadwyns catch up on lost time and eventually their conversation turns to politics, and the fate of the Empire.

The Empire hovers on the brink of total annihilation, or so Theodat believes. The Mandate have been making inroads into the Quadrant and the Qzin, an engimatic insectoid species of the galaxy’s far edge have launched incursions into Antian space.

Theodat enlists Hem in his mission to awaken the Emperor Xylus, who has been sequestered away from all contact for 80 years, to the plight of his Empire.

The duo then head to the Imperial Senate building, where the Lord Protector will address the gathered Council of Nobles and the Senate.

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Awakening
Book the First - "The Boy and the Smuggler"

Tensions build and composure begins to fray aboard the Mercurial Lady. Aderyn Tetas and Zaith Da’Havelza work together to ensure that the vessel’s entry into the high-value and even higher danger planet of Tarentian remains undetected by Elite Stellar Planetary Enforcement.

Meanwhile, Malcolm discovers that he has warding ability and is given some basic instruction in controlling and practicing his burgeoning powers by Elorion.

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Rescue
Book the Second - "The Warden and the Dwarf"

Orin and Kumis infiltrate the heavily fortified capital of Never-Look-Back: Oshkásh in order to extract Callus.

They venture deep into inner city, finding the shady bar at which Callus was to meet them in a particularly lovely (READ: Horrible) area of the city – replete with underage prostitutes, trash filled alleys, drug dealers, and run down tenements.

Just as they prepare to leave, our three heroes are swept up by a sudden Mandate raid of the slums (which immediately turns into a gang-war).

Along with other malcontents, they are transported into high orbit, where the massive Mandate Titan awaits.

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Landing on Never-Look-Back
Book the Second - "The Warden and the Dwarf."

The Shadow arrives at the quiet agrarian world of Never-Look-Back.

Orin and Kumis travel down to the planet in search of Callus, a mercenary who worked extensively with the Wardens but has now retired.

Callus is initially leery of taking up work for the Wardens again, but being bored witless by the daily life of managing a small homestead, he agrees to join up with Orin and Kumis.

He travels to the capital city of Never-Look-Back to send a message composed by Orin to the Warden higher ups.

Unfortunately, Callus’ arrival coincides with a Mandate invasion, with a massive Mandate war fleet, commanded by Dynys Glaive, descending upon the planet. Trapped in the capital city, he calls Orin and Kumis to come and pick him up.

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Missionaries
Book the Second - "The Warden and the Dwarf."

Orin and Kumis become acquainted with Corde, the somewhat snarky AI assigned to the Shadow.

Far away from any major shipping lanes, they discover that they are being followed by a strange vessel.

After demanding that the other ship announce its intentions, Shadow is assaulted by a wave of magical attacks, its warp wards disabled.

Having no other options, Orin and Kumis close with the strange vessel and board it.

The vessel is empty of any life. Organic life that is. Our duo are greeted by a bubbly drone that is overjoyed to “convert” them. To what? you may ask. To drones as well, their souls extracted from their organic bodies and put into machines.

Orin and Kumis pretend to go along, but once they get a chance, launch their escape, destroying the drone.

Then follows a pitched battle with various robotic foes of all kinds culminating in an explosive showdown with what can only be called a “massive death robot.”

Our heroes, in the end, escape, keeping their flawed and squishy organic bodies.

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Recuperation
Book the Second - "The Warden and The Dwarf."

More than a little battered and shaken after their near escape from Wayfarer’s Rest, Orin and Kumis decide to hit the Shadow’s rec room and blow off some steam.

Much drugs are done and magical artifacts that are most certainly not toys are misused.

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A Quick Stop
Book the Second - "The Warden and The Dwarf"

Orin reveals his Warden Affiliation to Kumis.

The duo explore their vessel, now christened the Shadow, and stop off at Wayfarer’s Rest, a trading settlement, to get supplies and information.

Orin and Kumis split up once they enter the station.

Orin breaks into a tradebroker’s office and attempts to steal a ledger detailing shipping manifests. Unfortunately, it goes explosively awry, and the station is put on high alert.

The station then comes under attack by Qzin. Orin and Kumis barely escape the carnage as hordes of alien beasts rampage through the station.

Even more troubling than the Qzin assault is the individual leading it, an incredibly powerful female caster and a one-time compatriot to Orin: Marisei Za’Nell, who vanished during a mission into Qzin space.

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