“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……
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.
“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.