Book the Second - "The Warden and the Dwarf"
In the Antian Sector of the Unaffiliated Realms, Kumis Algul, a junior prison barge pilot, is dragged into a seemingly impossible mission when his fellow crew member, and superior, Orin Raith, reveals himself to be a member of a secretive organization, the Wardens.
Masquerading as an Antian crewman on board the prison barge, Orin triggered a break-down in the warp wards of the vessel, the Oblivion Herald. The ship broke down in the Adaira system, home to a frontier world of the Antian Empire of the same name. Under the guise of repairs, Orin lured Kumis on board a seemingly abandoned smuggler station in orbit around Adaira’s moon.
The station’s population had been slaughtered. Further investigation led to Orin and Kumis fighting for their lives against waves of angry Qzin – enigmatic aliens from the galaxy’s far edge. The Qzin had been unwilling research subjects on board the station – now revealed to be a clandestine Antian research base – and had broken free of their fetters and slaughtered their jailers.
Orin and Kumis fled the station with whatever scavenged parts they could carry. Effecting hasty repairs to their ship, they sent out a distress call to the planet of Adaira. Unfortunately, an incoming Qzin war-fleet that had just arrived in-system, detected their distress call first. The Oblivion Herald was sliced in half by the Qzin warships, and Orin and Kumis had to crash land the half containing the bridge onto Adaira.
They had landed in a war-zone. The Qzin were launching a full on planetary invasion and Orin and Kumis – their injuries swiftly patched up by Antian medics – were conscripted into the desperate defense of the planet.
With the Antian defenses crumbling under the sudden onslaught and Qzin ships blocking the evacuation transports attempting to flee the planet, the Antian high command in Adaira ordered a desperate frontal assault to break through Qzin lines and reach a missile array that could open a gap in the Qzin fleet for the transports to flee through. Orin and Kumis were attached to the “Last Battalion” a motley unit consisting of the remnants of Antian planetary defense forces. They were also the only two survivors of the Last Battalion’s assault on Qzin lines, and faced off against a Qzin warchief – getting severely injured in the process. However, they managed to reach the missile array and activate it, buying enough time for some evacuation transports to flee Adaira.
Orin and Kumis were taken to an Antian base where they were congratulated on their success by the Antian planetary commander, General Arte Daest. Orin took the moment to cut and run -assassinating General Daest, stealing a ship from the base’s hangar, and fleeing Adaira – with Kumis in tow.
Orin and Kumis headed to the trading station of Wayfarer’s Rest to pick up supplies and information. A Qzin force assaulted the station, ultimately destroying it. Orin and Kumis fled during the attack. Orin had an encounter with a mysterious caster who appeared to be leading the Qzin, and fainted in the cargo bay of the Shadow right as it blasted away from the station. He later identified the caster as Marisei Za’Nell, an ex- Warden believed to have died on a mission deep in Qzin space.
While travelling in wild space, the Shadow’s detection wards picked up a ship rapidly closing. Orin’s hail to the incoming ship was responded to by a sudden magical and electronic intrusion into the ship, which docked with the Shadow. Orin and Kumis, heavily armed, boarded the vessel, meeting a representative of the Anti-Death League, a fanatical organization that believes it has a holy duty to convert organic beings into synthetic life.
As one can expect, Orin and Kumis had no intention of being converted. They fled the ship, battling a giant security drone in the ship’s hangar.
Orin and Kumis discovered the presence of Corde aboard the ship. An AI, she had been installed on the Shadow just a few days before Orin and Kumis stole it. Reticent about her background, Corde admitted that she did have Mandate origins but had been heavily modified by Antian scientists.
Battered and more than a little shaken, our duo reached the planet of Never-Look-Back, a prosperous agrarian world on the edge of the Antian Sector. There they tracked down Callus, an ex-mercenary currently eking out a living as a homesteader deep in the planet’s boonies.
Initially hostile and only moments away from blowing away his unwelcome visitors with a shotgun, Callus relented and listened to what they had to say. Bored with life as a homesteader, Callus let himself be talked into helping Orin and Kumis with their mission to kill Xylus.
Callus headed to the Never-Look-Backian capital city of Oshkásh to transmit a message to Warden High Command for Orin. This coincided with the invasion of the planet by Mandate forces led by Lady Dnys Glaive. Trapped in Oshkásh, Callus asked Orin and Kumis to come and extract him.
Orin and Kumis met Callus at a shady bar deep in one of the Oshkásh slums. Their reunion was interrupted by a Mandate raid that captured all three men.
The main cast:
Orin Raith, a member of the Wardens. His initial mission was to assassinate the Empire Xylus of the Antian Empire. However, now with the Qzin invading the Quadrant and butchering every human in their path, the Antian Empire may be his only hope for successfully thwarting the invasion.
Kumis Aigul – Short and stocky pilot on board the Antian Prison Barge Oblivion Herald. Transformed into a fugitive within the boundaries of the Antian Empire, he has become Orin’s somewhat unwilling protege.
Callus – A mercenary who once undertook work with the Wardens who now owns a small homestead on the planet of Never-Look-Back. Although he swore to never again do work with a Warden and wants nothing more than to farm in peace, he was cajoled by Orin into joining with him.