Jump to content

Legends Alliance Forums

Photo

Shattered


  • Please log in to reply
1 reply to this topic

#1 DarkJuno

DarkJuno

    Lord of the Foys

  • Moderators
  • 8,811 posts
  • Location:The News Desk with the rest of the NRR Crew
  • Gender:Male
  • Philippines

Posted 26 March 2011 - 01:02 AM

OOC: Some of this is quite a bit more vague then I would have wanted, but it was done as to not step on any toes or go over the line in pushing around the inevitable story that’s been hinted at for awhile now. Still, I needed an out, and this….would be the out.


******


“Chaos” would not be a word one would describe Koridai at the time, but to call it peaceful and idyllic, or even business as usual would be folly. It had been a few days now since the end of the battle far away, and more then a few rumors had begun to spin down through the land. The goddess was dead. The goddess switched sides. The goddess ascended/descended into a different plane of existence. The goddess turned into goat-spider-thing and now rules as their queen, ready to unleash the hordes of unnatural creatures upon the world for global domination. Whatever the case, she had not returned, and save for a mysteriously dead guard outside of her area and a somewhat rambling incoherent maid with head injuries, no one had heard a thing about her or the armies that had left with her. Even the ever dependable Vanguard and Praetorian troops had yet to return, leading some to suspect the worst. With the addition of both Lord Steel and Lord Solomon being absent for one reason or another, and the continued mysterious disappearance of the Pope, it was….not the best of times.

So now, here, stood Drake, Supreme General Magnus of the Koridai military, with his 8 accounted Vanguard leaders (as both Kalen and Rafael were MIA on assignment) and the presented military, gathered with other representatives of the seats of power of the Kingdom to discuss matters most unpleasant.

“Gentlemen, I revere Her Holiness as much a s the next citizen of this Nation, but we must face facts…..our Goddess is simply no more, in one way or another.” A rather obtuse, greasy man with the damage barely hidden by his overly fine, r ich clothing presents to the rest in a attendance, with an annoyingly over dramatic swish of his arms.

“All reports indicate, even w hen sifting away the utterly ridiculous ones, that whether She lives or dies, Lady Chikara is simply no more, even if she were to return. “

What is it you are trying to imply comrade?” Another equally stuffily dressed man responds, some member of the bureaucracy beneath the quadrate.

“It is as it sounds - gods forgive me, but Chikara is no longer fit to rule over us, great as Her Divine Gifts in the past have been. “ An audible murmur in the crowd, for such a blasphemous thought….yet not nearly as outraged as one might expect.

“You should watch your tongue, such talk would lead to instant execution were Her Holiness not wise and just!”

“And you w watch yours - come now my lad, we must look to the future. Look at all the great kingdoms of the past - all eventually ascended above their needs to a Patron deity and stood on their own, this is but a chance for us to do the same! Would Her Holiness not be pleased with Her people being able to sustain themselves in Her absence, not always depending on Divine Grace and Miracles to let the Kingdom run? All of us in this room have heard her half serious remarks about us always seeming to rely on Her far too much, after all!”

“Perhaps, but to do away with her entirely…?”

“I said no such thing! I for one would prefer Lady Chikara still lives - we would welcome her back with open arms and assure Her a comfortable life for as long as She lives, for what She has done for us in the past few years is enough to reward Her with a just and restful life!”

“Life as but a puppet!” Drake bellows, finally having had enough as he stands to his feet, his glare staring down at all the nobles and other military heads in the grand ballroom where the meeting was taking place. Staring daggers at everyone, the tall massive mountain of a man adds, the commanders behind him noticeably paying close attention. While there were still hushed tones of disbelief at the thought of forgetting the tiny one, it was more then apparent that the venom spewing from this opportunistic noble’s mouth was infecting most of the people in the room.

“I have a rather….unique contract and relationship with the tiny goddess myself, but to hear all of you who claimed fealty and your lives to her to even entertain such nonsense is sheer madness.” With a cocky smirk, the greasy man responds,

“Ah, the General Magnus….I am surprised to see you, of all people, seemingly leaping in defense of our esteemed Goddess. Of everyone here, I believed you would be the first to agree!”

“Don’t presume to know what I think, vermin, though it does pain me, to say the least, to seemingly be the only one here to wish to put a stop tot his plan.”

“If you worry this is but a power grab, Magnus, fear not - my suggestion was for you and the Lords Steel and Solomon to share power and rule as a triumvirate over Koridai. Surely three of the brightest humans in the land can rule both justly and forcefully?”

“Humph. As if I would wish to rule over a den of snakes as you have repealed yourselves to be.” Turning his attention toe everyone in the room, he thunders,

“Is this what loyalty means to you!? To only follow when convenient, but at the first sign that your happy little sheltered existence might just be slightly less bearable, you turn tail and run to another to keep the status quo!?”

…careful, Drake…..once this is done, there is no turning back…..

“I know that!” Drake replies, not at all bothering to hide it from the now perplexed crowd. With a furious glare, he finishes,

“This is not loyalty. Loyalty is an undying pledge to one, whether or not said one has power. You lay your life and your values on the line for this individual and unless said individual compromises the belief and creeds he or she allegedly holds true themselves, it is for eternity. I agreed to join this Nation because it had a goddess, tiny or no, who s seemed to instill some form of integrity and loyalty amongst its people, e specially compared to the heathens of Calatia. Yet now I see I was mistaken - you a re far worse!” With a swift motion, he pulls the small, silver disc out of his pocket and raises it to the sky, thundering.

“You instead hide your vices and irresponsible attitudes in a farce and mockery of true honor, and I shall have no part of this. Steel and Solomon can fight over who gets to rule this rotten Kingdom for all I care, for my service and duties were to Chikara herself.”

“General Drake….” the man responds, motioning for a ridiculously large number of palace guards to surround him and the obviously readying Vanguard commanders, “I do believe it is time for you, too, to step down from your position. Clearly the stress has been far too-”

“The terms of my contract were to be in the service of the goddess!” Drake ignores the man, who suddenly withdraws slightly in fear despite the guards pulling out their blades in a not-at-all defensive manner and aiming them at the nine before them, the military under the Magnus himself seemingly unsure of what to do next.

“Without a goddess, I do believe that it has been rendered null and void. Consider this…” With that, he crushes the silver disc in his hand with several flickering sparks, letting the pieces drop to the floor with his gauntlet wearing hand following back to his side. Instantly, the Vanguard seals on all of the commanders, as well as on the Vanguard troops themselves, change from the light, slight red glow into a fiery blaze, outlining the emblem with a bright orange hue.

“….my resignation.” Suddenly, in a flash, a loud, s harp crackle of electricity echoes across the large room, followed quickly by the sharp, glinting sound of steel slashing across flesh and bone in an instant, as, if out of nowhere, several dozen figure sin long, black cloaks seem to materialize into the air, next to several guards and nobles. Said guards and nobles instantly collapse to the ground with a thump, blood pouring from their throats and backs, dead from small razor sharp daggers from the wrists of the mysterious cloaked menace.

“The monsters! The monsters from the stories!” With a snort, Drake pulls out the Holy Arpeggio Sword, light glinting off of it into everyone’ eyes as the other commanders pull their own weapons of choice in tandem, at the ready.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I was going to present them to the tiny one, but since she has been d detained….these are my new Elite…..and this first demonstration will also be the last ever seen in this wretched hive of villainy.” With a swish of his torn half cape, Drake looks out over his now former troops, in the regular army, and commands,

“Koridai! I have instilled the sense of integrity and self into e ach a nd everyone of you, and as my last act as your General, I issue this order - follow your own instincts and your own free will, and do what you believe. Join us if you will, or stay loyal to this land you call home. Even raise your arms against us now and attempt to defeat us, all I ask….is that whatever you do, you do not for a god, or a man, peer or superior, but for yourself! Vanguard! Scatter!” With that, he lunges forward, headlong into a charging group of guards and rather artfully plows through. Not a step behind, the commanders, too, dart forward in their own directions, putting forth a plan that had long since been in place should the unthinkable happened.

And given that it was happening, perhaps it wasn’t that unthinkable after all.


******


It was madness. How could news spread amongst the Vanguard channels so quickly, almost instantaneously across the empire? Across the Arbiter’s Grounds, members of the Vanguard proper, as well as a terrifyingly large portion of the military had, simultaneously, risen up, and in a sea of blood and violence had basically run. Armories, outposts, both public and secret, erupted in flame and debris, one after another, as its inhabitants disappeared seemingly into the shadows, a ided by the dark mysterious figures - the new Elite - which had been stalking traitors and foreign spies for months, now ironically aiding someone who would surely be regarded as a massive turncoat in Koridian history in the coming centuries. All the same, as it stood, the chaos was finally here. Warriors fought soldiers, as once loving brothers in arms, disagreeing on who was right and wrong, c lashed, blood spilling and bodies falling on both sides in the wake of this defection into….something.


This is insane!” The plump noble, now looking completely disheveled in his hideaway bunker filled with loyalist leaders exclaims, “How….how is it even possible for all this to occur so perfectly and decisively!?”

“It matters not!” a stern soldiers responds, sharpening his blade and gritting his teeth,

“The traitorous dog must die for his betrayal of Koridai.”

“Agreed, but if you haven’t noticed, s oldier, things haven’t been going so well for our side. Already, most Vanguard emplacements have apparently been destroyed by the traitors’ own hands, including secret ones that none of us knew of. This was planned, simple as that.”

“Yes, it was. And it saddens me that even a good majority of the non Vanguard troops in the military unaffiliated with the other special forces have sided with him……even with some of our small victories, it leaves him with a large chunk of our military.” With a huff, the soldiers slides his sword into its sheath and mutters,

“But the Vanguard Headquarters stills stands…..taunting us. Troops have been unable to break in, so clearly, something is going on in there…..”


******


“Halt.” With a strong, firm voice, Kalen calls out to her caravan of people, as she quickly covers up the blazing sigil on her wrist guard and steps forward, prodding her horse to turn and face those following her. It had been a few days since the initial signal had come, and she had been hoping that it would not come to this. Yet now……


No.

She was Kalen Gentz, Commander of the Second Vanguard Unit, and Warrior from the High Seas. This was her duty, and it was to be carried out.

“All of you, from the Vanguard in my command, to the rest of you brave Koridai soldiers have served me, and the Empire well. It is with a heavy heart, I must question all of you, right here, right now. Your loyalty belongs to no one but the Holy Goddess Herself as a citizen of Koridai, who ahs bestowed upon us gifts and blessing. However, your loyalty, as a member of the military, also belongs to no other then Drake Uni Amirales, Supreme General Magnus of us all, instilling in us a sense of true duty, honor, and integrity. I now…” Pausing somewhat, Kalen sighs, her voice however never once wavering or weakening.

“…I now ask you to choose. Choose the Lady Chikara, or the General Drake.” A hushed murmur goes through the crowds, as the troops were rather….puzzled. The Vanguard, however, instantly all stepped forward, joining their commander unquestionably.

“No harm will come to you regardless of answer, I owe that to you as a fellow soldier.” Looking about, she finishes,

“Those who choose the General, continue with us down this path, but beware - there is no taking it back. Those who choose the Goddess, turn back and take a left at the fork about 3 miles back. It is a long, but safe direct route to the Empire…..but remember that it may not be as you recall. Regardless of choice, I bid you all good luck in the future, for whatever time…and the Goddess has in store for us.” With that, she turns, and continues on her ay. Several join her. Several don’t. Whatever the case, indeed, the future would only answer what was ins tore for them all.


******


With a loud crack, a corpse is flung through a heavy oak door, splintering the usually heavy and sturdy wooden plank into pieces. Covered in blood but seemingly none the worse for wear, Drake steps through the shattered not-so-secret passage into the Vanguard Headquarters, now dark in the chaos and insanity that had ensued. By now, the amenders had certainly taken their places in the grand scheme, and it was merely Drake who needed to play his role. The halls of the once rich building were now deserted, as the now unmanned but tightly barred and locked doors and windows held out against the pitiful battering rams and magical attempts to break in by the supposed Koridian “Loyalists.” With his sword sheathed back at his side, Drake calmly walks down the halls. Everything was working fine so far. The armories and other Vanguard strongholds had been emptied of everything important, other things disposed of permanently. While a great many members of the military had sided with him, most had served their purpose as serving as meat shields to keep the Vanguard itself wholly intact, more or less - the few hundred that out and out survived were more then worthy to be part of them. His home was emptied of all that mattered and similarly disposed of, but of course only after several agents were lured inside.

A bold move…….still, why? You could have stayed here for far longer…….perhaps start anew…..

“No, as we discussed, I tire of our eternal dance to try and conquer. We both agree that something….new was required. This, I believe, is something new?”

Indeed……very well, my dear. For now…..I shall be your aide and accomplice……as if the choice were ours….

“Of course.” At that, Drake comes to the end of the long hallway, to a familiar, seemingly plain walk between two doors on opposite sides. With a single grunt, he raises his arms and plows it straight through the wall, off to the side, as the façade seems to erupt in a shower of sparks revealing the now not so secret door….and the small panel next to it, now mangled as he pulls his arm out of the mass of tangled wires and metal.

Must you?

“It was the only way to assure only I and maybe a few others could trigger it. Whatever….” At that, he steps forward into the small, metal box, as equally metal doors slide shut, the small room, beginning its descent into the bowels of the empire. As for the proud, majestic Vanguard Headquarters….


******


It didn’t take long. Mere moments after Drake left its confines, the massive citadel erupted into a gigantic wall of flame, as fiery debris rained down from the sky for minutes after the destructive force shattered neighboring buildings and disintegrated any poor mortal who were in the way. To put it bluntly and obviously…..the Vanguard was gone.


Meanwhile, not too far the madness that was gripping the Arbiter’s Grounds, on a cliffside facing away from the city, a low rumbling can be felt, emanating from the ground itself. Slowly, but surely, it swells, as small pebbles, then rocks, then entire boulders begin to tremble in the ensuing tremor. With a loud groan, the rock face itself seems to begin to crack and fall apart, as the ancient stones laid down by long distant winds and floods collapses onto the dry riverbed below, the hundreds foot tall face splitting apart into pieces. Anyone who bore witness to the event would be instantly mystified and awe struck by the sight they saw before them. Rather quickly for something of its size, a massive, sleek, and incredibly eerie….thing seemed to float out of the massive hole on the cliff face. With a loud but surprisingly not deafening roar, the massive behemoth - perhaps a monster? Or a mountain? - slides out, clearly to those who saw it as what looks to be a long, main central body with appendages of sorts situated to its sides facing outwards, and a stumpy, bulky, yet compact tower situated near the rear above it all. The Vanguard seal adorns its predominantly white body on its….fins? As dark blue and black markings adorn the rest of its body.

All the ones who had speculated on what exactly “Project: Omega” was had certainly not thought of….this. With frightening speed and a louder groan, the gigantic unnatural titan lifts straight into the sky, increasing its angle to plow into the heavens itself, and soon enough was gone from view, mysteriously disappearing as quickly as it appeared. As for the hypothetical witnesses……the string of massive explosions coming from within the now empty unnatural cave would serve as little warning for the wall of flames that soon followed, caving in the structure and sending a massive shockwave out to the surrounding landscape, one that the people of Koridai would have heard had they not been busy dealing with the chaos in the city itself.

Within the bowels of the massive structure, in the tower itself, several people, in a large room that was half a massive gigantic window to the sky outside, milled about, staring intently at their current predicament. The room was bright and sleek, as consoles lined the room, placed carefully and ergonomically , levers and buttons willing the panels and readouts coming from seemingly everywhere. Workers - a crew of sorts - sat at each station, monitoring a multitude of levels and items that many were mystified at despite being competent in running their portion of the workload. The science that the tiny one had instilled within Koridai had certainly come in handy, it seems, as they relay messages to one another. At the head of the room, on a long corridor of sorts that jutted out forward above a glass floor that was part of the massive forward window, a female pilot holds steady, as she questions the other members behind her.

“Leveling out. How’re we holding up?”

“Pressure is stable, locks are secured. “

“Engines and mechanisms are green, all normal and expected.”

“Running at near perfect efficiency. “

“Good.” She nods, somewhat distracted despite her best efforts.

“….worried about him?”

“…a little. But right now….I’m still a little….weirded out by all this.”

“I can’t disagree. We knew this was a possibility, but I can’t believe it actually happened.”

“Yeah….plus just all….this! I mean, we’re all trained to do this, but….I’m till a little confused how this…all this even works!” She exclaims fearing to the ship.

“Again, can’t disagree. But the General…erm, Commander? What’re we calling him now?” Interrupting the navigator’s somewhat scatterbrained thoughts is the hiss of the large double doors situated at the very rear of the bridge, as Drake, Cif, Stargov and the other Vanguard commanders enter, seemingly in mid-conversation.

“….ile there will be more time to get a proper survey of the Ark later, I trust everyone has settled well, all things considered?” Drake steps forward out of the elevator. Cif nods,

“Yes sir, It’s just….a bit much. Even with us always having planned for this as an inevitable thing…” She was clearly awestruck by this ship, this “Ark” as Drake referred to it, from the very second she had led her Vanguard and the loyal troops who had followed her into the massive secret construction yard beneath the Arbiter’s Grounds. Stargov finishes her thought,

“The troops will need to be spoken to, sooner rather then later.” Nodding, Drake steps forward towards a rather decked out large chair , raised above the rest of the bridge somewhat in a stair like fashion, with pilot on her jutting peninsula being on the lowest level. Taking a seat, he flips open a panel on the right side and punches in….something on the strange, glowing keys, as with a hiss, a long, angular conference table rises before him, with smaller versions of the seat rising alongside on either length. Motioning towards his commanders to sit, he concludes,

“We should first pick up Kalen and Rafael at the rendezvous. Rest assured, I will put everyone’s fears to rest….as well as all of yours. I……may not say this enough, but genuinely, I am……pleased, all of you trusted me enough to take part.”


Why….is that……emotion I sense?

With a quick glare to the side, Drake shrugs it off, as he sees the commanders gingerly, still unsure, take a seat the long table.

“We have much ahead of us, my Vanguard. Big things, such as our future, as well as little things, such as hot showers and a change of clothes. But be confident and rest assured…..where we go, no one can foresee, and this world has forever been changed…..”


******




OOC: -goes off to edit wiki-

Edited by DarkJuno, 26 March 2011 - 01:18 AM.


#2 DarkJuno

DarkJuno

    Lord of the Foys

  • Moderators
  • 8,811 posts
  • Location:The News Desk with the rest of the NRR Crew
  • Gender:Male
  • Philippines

Posted 14 May 2011 - 05:28 PM

The night was stark, cold, and clear, as the several fires crackling about the large encampment toyed with the shadows of the mighty pines surrounding the area. The stars above shone brightly, with the ominous full moon casting its own light onto the land below, reflecting off the large lake nearby, separating the tree line from a large, open field. Around the camp, the wounded who had elected to go with the Vanguard were being tended to by the medic and some aides, as others stirred about, doling out and consuming the small prey they had caught to serve as dinner for the night. Some had already begun to turn in, weary and exhausted given the battle and the long march afterwards, while others stayed up, on guard against what maybe lurked in the night.

The march had gone on for another day and a half after having split from the regular troops who had chosen to return to Koridai - all in all, a handful less then half had left on the other path, the rest accompanying Kalen and her regiment to where they now lay. Speaking of the commander, with dark hair somewhat messily pulled back out of her eyes save for a few wild stray strands, the woman sits by one of the fires close to the edge of camp, and indeed, the forest, rather robotically sharpening her massive blade. Something about this whole situation still did not particularly sit well with her, regardless of her convictions of her assuredness of her loyalty. Certainly, she had sworn loyalty to the General…..rather, to Drake and this had always been a distinct possibility, yet Kalen never once believed it would truly pass. Whatever the case, it was the known procedure to, if sent the signal while away from the Arbiter’s Grounds, to meet at this rather out of place and odd location, far to the border of the Empire where the desert had begun to give way to the surprisingly lush temperate rain forest near the sea.

This was where Cif and Valhuron had been not two weeks ago, seeking out one of Drake’s artifacts. What did those items have to do with anything anyway? Certainly, Kalen was more savvy to the goings on behind the scenes then most people in even the Vanguard, but at the same time, the now former General Magnus had never mentioned the specifics of that particular group of items. Kalen, however, does not have much time to mull over this quandary as a slight commotion begins to stir at camp. Reflexively, the dark haired warrior flips the claymore up to a ready position at the first hint of noise, though her muscles visibly relax as she hears the somewhat pleased cries ringing about.

“It’s Lord Rafael and his Vanguard! The First Vanguard Unit has joined with us!” With a visible smirk to anyone who might’ve been watching at the time, Kalen re-sheathes her blade onto her back and hurriedly makes her way to the opposite end of camp. There, sure enough, a similarly rag tag bunch of still ridiculously organized troops was making its way in on foot and horseback, her old comrade from the Fortress at the lead. Dismounting his steed, Rafael notices Kalen and calls out.

“Ah, you’re a sight.”

“Rafael. It’s good to have you here.” Noting the usual expression of emotion coming from the woman, the dark eyed man observes the camp’s newfound life in the moon and torch light, and silently commands his own troops to ease up and disperse, attending to the various needs of their own and their comrades.

“I for one am glad to see you made it out all right as well. I certainly…..did not expect this day would ever come.” Shaking her head slightly, Kalen replies, the two beginning to walk towards the center of camp.

“Neither did I. We had no troubles separating from the main force at the battle beyond having to deal with some of the Praetorians, but we got here anyway.”

“I see….” Something was clearly bothering Kalen, as she was beginning to slip back into her usual tone of voice and mannerisms from before they joined - and, Rafael supposes, defected - from the Empire, but that was to be expected, to be fair. For her part, the warrior frowns as she can clearly see her comrade’s somewhat tattered state of well being despite his intentions to appear firm and grounded as usual. Glancing aside at the First Commander’s own Vanguard and realizing they, too, like her own unit had probably had better weeks, even on a presumably quieter mission then an all out battle. Grasping Rafael’s shoulder with her firm hand, she nods.

“Well, we can talk about that later, all of you look like you need some rest.” With a somewhat surprised yet bemused look in his eyes, the male commander nods and walks down the campsite with Kalen, the moon above continuing its quiet vigil over the forest.



******


“Gener…..Comman…..Lord Drake?” The pilot exclaims, her navigator to her right silently chuckling to himself at her inability to just ask what Drake wanted to be referred to. The bridge of the Ark was now somewhat more calm, as the excitement and activity of the departure was beginning to die down, a day later. The glow from the consoles are beginning to dims lowly, as the rising sun outside the massive forward view began to bathe the bridge in natural light. The night crew had just recently rotated out, the original pilot from the escape having retaken her place at the helm with her comrades, trained in secret the past year or so for this occasion. Truth be told, when she had been selected from the masses of regular Koridian troops on that day so long ago, as she sparred with her old childhood friend to be part of something special, she was mystified. She took pride in being a tough fighter, but she never really aspired to be part of the Vanguard, just be a good soldier in the Goddesses’ army. As it turned out, she was sought after more for her coordination and analytical skills then her Koridai tough battle skills, and she and the rest of the crew had been hand picked for….well, this.

Looking down at the richly forested land far below, moving by at a steady and deceptively slow pace, the dark haired pilot’s ears perk at the expected gruff reply by Drake who, by all accounts, hadn’t left the bridge at all since she had departed for the night hours ago. The ex general, ignoring what should have been a majestic and awe-inspiring sight of the land at daybreak speeding by below from a completely unnatural and unheard of view, replies,

“Sir’ will suffice, helmsman.”

“Yes sir. We are approaching the rendezvous point and will arrive in approximately 10 minutes.”

“Good. Prepare for landing, with crews ready to receive new passengers. Kalen and Rafael should both be there by now.”

“Aye.” With that, everyone began to scurry about, to work on their designated tasks that was expected of them. Noting that this would essentially have been the first time for almost all of the crew, even if they had been trained for this sort of thing for years now, Drake was still all around almost impressed by how the somewhat nervous crew expertly handled their duties as the ship began to make its decline. It was a long time coming, but once the last wayward Vanguard members were reacquired, the plan could finally truly get started.

…you know…far be it from me to inadvertently seem caring, but perhaps you should, temporarily, take your leave…..perhaps put on the proper attire, especially if you expect others to stand by you….

Somewhat thoughtfully, the man sighs inwardly with a grunt of approval. Rather fortunately, at that moment the hissing of the bridge's doors interuppt his thoughts before he can continue.

“You have the bridge..."


******


Surprised was not a word used to describe either Kalen or Rafael’s reaction towards much anything. From their days before in their upbringing, to their adventures on the high seas and finally to their service in the Empire, the two had seen quite a bit of marvels and nightmares, from stunningly beautiful wonders, both manmade and natural, to horrific abominations, similarly of the two origins. This sight, however, had been warranting the look of surprise that crossed their faces as the massive…..thing descended from the clouds onto their position, and while their troops had reacted accordingly to being ambushed or otherwise surprised, all of them shared the same sense of awe. It had been surprisingly quick, as the massive craft touched down upon the grassy meadow’s flat plain, and its equally titanic side extrusion’s doors slid open, crewmen and fellow troopers pouring out to aide their comrades in.
The sick and wounded, their horses, equipment, all of it was taken in expertly and efficiently, by several familiar faces and other…not-so-familiar ones belonging to the new Elite’s members, hidden beneath their jet black facial plates as they stoically and mechanically pushed the proceedings along. Walking past what looked like an off duty member of the flight crew fawning over/making fun of one of the wounded regular troopers her corps. had brought back from the battle, Kalen for one is almost numb from the event. Certainly, she and Rafael, within the highest circle of trust with Drake had known of this ship far earlier then any who was around her at this location, but seeing it in action was mind boggling. As explained by one of the engineers beneath Koridai, this was the culmination of the artifacts that the Vanguard had been secretly gathering for the past few years plus whatever information Drake had collected and applied into his own design. Not that that explained things, as she had basically told the spectacled man to stop as soon as her eyes began to glaze over during the explanation of details about the engines and propulsion, whatever that even meant.

Still, as she walked through the long, clean, and wide open silvery hallways of this….”Ark” as some had been referring to it, noting the bright lights emanating from the ceiling above even as the wide long windows lining this outer passage filled the corridor with natural light, it still seemed oddly clinical and off putting, impressive as it was. There was some attempt to keep the halls and interior somewhat warm, and certainly pleasant to look at, but ultimately it was what it was - whatever strange ship this vessel was, it was a military one, and it showed. Her deep blue pools shifting at the sudden tell tale hiss of door sliding open that she recognized from the secret construction yard, they dart to the left as, even with the hustle and bustle of various troops and crewmen getting tot heir places, she spots both Cif and Rochelle exiting from what looked to be some room of importance. Upon seeing their fellow Vanguard commander, they both light up in their own unique way, the elegant redhead nodding in approval with a small smile, and the comparatively huge taller blonde smiling broadly and calling out.

“Kalen! We saw Raf, so we were looking for you!” Without giving the warrior much time to respond, to either her inquiry or the nickname to her counterpart, the tall princess curled woman covers her comrade with a bear hug that probably would have crushed the wind out of most other people, her affection showing through as the raven haired commander coughs in the grip in response.

“Yes…it’s….nice to see….all of…you……” Rochelle, noticing the ragged breaths coming from their friend, coughs, hinting to Cif to release the still armored incoming Kalen from her overly friendly welcome. Somewhat ambivalently she lets go and smacks her on the back all the same, still cheerily smiling as the more level headed of the two adds to the sentiment.

“Indeed, Lady Kalen, we are all happy to see that the two of you were unharmed after….the situation.” With a nod, she responds, rotating her shoulder somewhat and her dirty armor still glistening a little in the light of the hall.

“It’s something we were always ready for, so we did what we were supposed to, aye? I take it that the others in Koridai didn’t take too kindly to our leaving?”

“I would think not. To be honest, I never believed that we would actually engage in the Gen….Commander’s fallback initiative, yet here we are.” Kalen was about to respond when Cif, in her happy go lucky glory and attitude interjects,

“Buuuuuuut we can talk about all that later! C’mon Kalen, you need to get yourself cleaned up and take a look at the new place! I think they already shuffled Raf off onto his fancy new threads so you should do that same!” Hmmm. Cif and Rochelle were in fact wearing different uniforms then typical, though their signature weapons were still within reach all the same, sheathed carefully on their backs in a precarious but oddly stable balancing act.

“Yeah, I probably should, the former pirate responds, her resolve to watch her speech patterns crumbling surprisingly fast, even to herself, “but I need to see Drake….the Commander first, I just want to……see what’s going on, exactly. Not that I want to question him!” With a knowing nod, the elegant Rochelle places a hand on her shoulder and retorts,

“Of course, what of the goddess and other details. Come with us dear, he will be addressing all the troops soon, and he will want us all to be by his side then. You must look the part, for remember - Drake Uni Amirales is now no longer merely a military head of state, he now has the lives of all of the Vanguard entirely in his hands….and we, as his commanders need to show a united, strong front to instill confidence in our men.”

Of course she was right, Kalen somewhat glumly nods silently, as she allows herself to be led deeper into the bowels of the ship’s central body.


******


“My Vanguard……my people, attention please.”

Standing in front of his command chair on the Ark’s bridge, Drake stands, focusing his attention on a small, curious lensed object standing on its three little mechanical legs atop the ornately designed table that the 10 other leaders sat around. Clad in a dark, navy uniform that was far less ornate then his proper Koridai military uniform but still with just enough trappings to show his rank that, along with his presence and air seemed to out and out command respect from everyone around him, the Vanguard leaders strongly and unflinchingly speaks out. Throughout the vessel, his image is projected out via seemingly magical surfaces that adorned walls of various shapes and clarities, from the storage areas and vehicle and horse stables, to the personal and living quarters and the armories and training areas. With the image notably including both Rafael and Kalen on far opposite edges of the projection, he thudners forth, everyone crowned around the closest viewing area in rapt attention, from the lively and nervous and/or excited troops to the injured in the medical bay.

“I thank you for your continued support in this endevour and I believe an explanation is well deserved to all of you. To those of you not in the Vanguard, I give my most……heartfelt thanks, and welcome you into our organization. Your actions, bravery, and quick thinking have all but proven your worthiness to be with us in our fold, and as of this moment, you are all members of the Vanguard.” He says this uncharacteristically genuinely, surprising himself and the being most of all. He continues,

“To settle any and all rumors, Koridai has fallen to the vices and despicable greedy actions of mankind, that which we have always strived to cleanse this planet of. Her holiness, the Lady Chikara has merely disappeared, and already the nobility cowardly disowns her and attempted to wrest control for their own greedy selves. Koridai, Calatia, it matters not, by and large humankind is all the same….but I have not given up my hope. Never. So yes, we have abandoned that monstrous growth of cancer that calls itself a nation, and whatever it intends to do, I care not. You see, my fellow soldiers….no, my warriors, we stand here today, on this magnificent feat of human ingenuity and engineering to start anew! I have instilled in all of you a sense of order! Integrity! Responsibility! And have always been proud of how we spread these ideals across those we face, but no more shall we be content with passively showing the true proper ways to live and survive.”

“From this day on, the Vanguard will take advantage of this corrupt, sick, malformed world for our own purposes and proactively spread the true influence and status of humanity’s true potential! Do not mistake me for a and conqueror or a tyrant out to rule the planet - far from it! We are not here to govern, rule, or otherwise be above the peoples of this planet, we are here to serve as a shining example of what those pathetic fools can be if they release the shackles of laziness and undeserved feelings of entitlement. The Vanguard shall rise and be respected as a military force without a nation, one to be feared by the heathens and monsters of this land! One to be admired by those who demand justice! Even one to call upon as an ally…..if they are able to make it worthwhile.” Choosing his words carefully, Drake looks sternly into the strange object’s lens, his steely gaze piercing into everyone who saw it on the images on the opposing end.

“We are neither mercenaries, nor are we soldiers of fortune. We are merely keepers of an order of humanity that others can only dream of understanding. We will not do just any mission, and how said missions are completed are up to us and us alone. The world is corrupt and broken, so why not use it to survive for our means? I, Drake Uni Amirales, may be your leader, but know this - what we do, we do not for me or my ego, and not for the whims of a deity, but for humanity itself. The goddess was a boon to the Empire, that even I cannot deny, but it is clear that such a gift was wasted on such a ragtag pile of fools. This ship is but one example of what we can achieve, as “mere” mortals when we stop hoping for help from the gods, and take care of ourselves! I am not telling you to stop believing, or to even stop revering them, whether it be Lady Chikara or some other alleged power, just that we collectively watch out for ourselves, and not just wait for handouts or blessings.” With a smirk, Drake sits, still looking intently at the object and, with a few punches on the console on his chair, the image projected across the ship splits somewhat, showing what looks like a map of the area of the world they were in.

“We shall stand and make an impact. What better way then to make an example out of one of the most wretched holes of debauchery and vile pleasure in the world?” The map - and the obvious view outside the windows of the ship - clearly showed they were now over the wide open ocean, the continent behind them quickly fading into the horizon as the unnatural titan of engineering flew swiftly in the skies, miles above the gentle waves below.

“Rest easy, my Vanguard. Today, we make our first move……and soon this planet will know our very name, and nothing shall ever be the same!” At that, the bridge erupts into cheers and applause, as the flight crew nods in approval at Drake’s speech. Across the ship come similar sentiments, as soldiers, medics, crewmen nod and cheer, hooting and hollering and looking at one another with smiles and grins all about. It would be wise to assume most did not quite realize the magnitude of what Drake meant by “making an impact,” yet all the same, all were in agreement - this was the Vanguard, and the world would know it. Somewhat…..overindulged by the stirring feelings of it, Kalen for one feels all her fatigue wash away as she nods with her fellow commanders. Yes….yes, she thinks, this is truly the natural extension of the teachings they as a group had tried to exemplify.

Whatever her feelings of Her Holiness, Drake was also one to be admired and followed. For now, she would do so, and willingly be a weapon in his hands against this world.

“My commanders, now that we are all present, we shall make our way to our new base of operations. I apologize for keeping this a secret from all of you, he lies slightly, neither Kalen nor Rafael peeping about their advanced knowledge, “but secrecy was a must, and I knew I could trust you all. First, however…..business…..”


******


Evenar. If there was ever a place in the world where one could go and forget about life and its hassles for even just a small amount of time, this was it. A shining example of a small nation turned resort if there ever was one. Shows, Musicals, gambling, high stakes thrills, all of it could be found here, and as a result the island had become very wealthy very quickly, and was infamous for being a place where inhibitions could be released and you could essentially do everything you wanted, and once you left, it would be as if nothing occurred. The island made a point of keeping its image clean, and even having destinations for all, even the young ones, but all knew of the small dark underbelly that resided within. Still, so long as you knew which part of town to avoid, you would be fine. Otherwise…..well, they did say anything and everything was allowed, even if only in certain parts of the resort island. All in all, there is literally something for everyone.

Or rather, there was.

With wide eyes and disbelief, a small ship of passengers stares dumbfounded at what’s before them. This was one of the regular passenger ships that departed from the nations around the planet for the sole purpose of coming here, for a time of rest and relaxation, whether temporary or permanent. However, this was not the land of joy and pleasure they were promised, not the paradise away from troubles they were told of. This was, to put a fine point on it…nothing.

Nothing at all. This was where the island was located, as the ship’s crew had been here dozens upon dozens of times, but they knew something was amiss after they noted that the tall spires and surprisingly majestic mountain range of the island were no seen on the horizon as they came close. Convinced they had somehow gotten lost, the navigator had taken a quick look to the skies the night before to ensure their position, and sure enough, this was the correct place. There were no buildings filled with bright lights and splendor, no streets filled with dancers and entertainers for all, no chance to be enamored by the famous landmarks and shows the island offered.

It was simply nothing. Nothing but the waves gently lapping onto a large patch of land barely a foot under the clear water, the sunlight playing with the shadows beneath by trick of light and perspective. The ship had anchored nearby in order to gain its bearing, but there was no doubting it - this was Evenar. The large patch of land beneath the waves did, however, seem to deepen somewhat, creating a channel of sorts that evened out on opposite ends of the former island, and there were some pieces of debris floating about, but nothing to ever suggest the existence of a civilization to anyone. There was, however, one thing that remained: a lone, tall flagpole sticking straight out of the shallow landmass across the decidedly unnaturally “perfect” channel, its colors waving high above as a claim of who was responsible.

The seal of the Vanguard.

“Making an impact” indeed…

Edited by DarkJuno, 11 June 2011 - 10:53 PM.