Literary Challenge #16 : First Contact
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the sixteenth Literary Challenge: First Contact
While on a standard patrol assignment, a ship drops out of warp only a few parsecs. The configuration does not match anything in the computer's database, so you decide to alter course to investigate. As you arrive, you hail the ship and make first contact with a species that has just completed their first successful warp flight trip. As much as they are surprised to learn that they are not alone in the galaxy, you are just as surprised when you realize they look just like you. Further scans reveal that they are actually Human (or Klingon, or Caitian, or whatever race you are). Who are they? What happens? What do you learn?
This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
Captain’s Log, Stardate 86259.41;Vice Admiral Charles Adam Antilles, commanding USS Deliverance. The USS Deliverance is on patrol in the Xarantine Sector, near the Hromi Cluster. Since this is the front lines of the war, we’re at standing yellow alert, but I’ve allowed my science officer to indulge themselves. This is an Odyssey-class starship, I say it’s about time we used it to fulfill Starfleet scientific mandate a bit. Well; that, and the fact that there’s a chance we might uncover some hidden Klingon machination in the Cluster. I hope not, though…
“Admiral Antilles to the bridge!” The aforementioned admiral looked up from his terminal, then rose and strode out. When he entered the bridge, he raised the left eyebrow above the cybernetic implant that marked him as a Liberated Borg. He was Human, mostly. “Commander Enloe, report.” The Trill woman did as asked, saying, “Sir, I’m detecting a ship dropping out of warp less than three parsecs from here. The vessel is bearing Three Two Seven mark Zero Zero Three.” The admiral thought, Klingons? No… They would have dropped out of warp cloaked… and right on top of us. This is something else. Antilles asked, “Can you identify it?” Enloe shook her head.
Admiral Antilles considered the position for a moment, and then spoke to his helmsman, a Human male by the name of Sanford. “Lieutenant Sanford… lay in an intercept course, warp two.”
The massive bulk that was the Deliverance dropped out of warp not far from the ship. It was practically just a wing with warp nacelles, similar to old United Earth designs Antilles had seen in his childhood history textbooks. “Can you identify it now, Commander?” Enloe furrowed her brows and said, “Sir, the vessel matches nothing in our databanks. Judging by the rudimentary design… oh my…” She paused. Antilles said, “Enloe?”
The Lieutenant Commander spoke again. “Sir, judging by the rudimentary design, I think we’re looking at a Warp Prototype. A veritable Phoenix.”
Needless to say, Antilles nearly lost his jaw. He’s been in almost constant fights for almost a year… and now he was about to make First Contact with an alien race.
Enloe chimed in again. “Sir, I’m getting odd readings from the life signs on that ship… these sensors must be malfunctioning…”
“The life signs are registering as Human.”
Antilles paused, then tapped the comm on his chair. “Bridge to Engineering; Thas, when’s the last time you ran a diagnostic on the sensors?”
“I finished a Level Four diagnostic a few hours ago, sir.”
“Was there any sort of issue?”
“No, sir; in fact, they’re working BETTER than usual.”
“Well, thank you anyway, Thas… Start another one. There’s a prototype Warp ship out there; but according to these sensors, we’re about to make first contact with Humans.”
“Uh… I’ll get right on that, sir… Thas out.” He sounded confused.
The Deliverance followed the ship back to its homeworld, then sent the admiral, Thas, Seven, Enloe, and Omet’iklan (a Jem’Hadar that had recently come into Antilles’s service) to the surface. They were shocked to see that the people were, in fact, human. “Impossible…” Enloe muttered.
And why is that?
The voice came from everywhere… and nowhere. The Away Team looked about for the speaker. Antilles cried out, “Who are you? Where?!”
There was a flash of light. “Oh, mon capitaine, that hurts. Don’t tell me you don’t remember little old me…”
The Away Team spun. “Why didn’t I expect this from you… Q?”
The omnipotent being (dressed in the garb that Zefram Cochrane wore at First Contact) said, “I don’t know. I thought, since you like your spaceships, that I’d throw a little party to commemorate the 346th anniversary of your species blasting itself faster than light, with a little reenactment…”
Antilles sighed. Today WAS, in fact, First Contact Day.
“Q, you got the ship wrong.” Antilles was annoyed.
“Yes, I know. I rather like that design better, though.”
“I don’t really care, Q. Please, return the planet to its original state.”
“Oh, you spoil-sport. Fine… but keep an eye out, I still intend to celebrate…”
There was another flash of light, and the Away Team was on the bridge. The planet on the viewscreen seemed lifeless.
“Hail Starfleet Command… I think they need to know about this incident.”
Computer, Standard Fractal Encryption Alpha. Begin recording.
Captains Log: Stardate 88254.7
Where to begin... I suppose it was shortly after dropping of a Romulan Dignitary. We had a few things to investigate after a mysterious series of radiation anomalies while we finished our patrol. It had only been a few days and we still hadn't found out why we had an empty bunk that had never been filled nor the irradiated P.A.D.D. Mr. Sabin identified an incoming vessel over the long range sensors. Commander Keating after that confirmed that the ship was entirely unarmed. Aside from deflector fields, the ship didn't even have any form of shields. It was a short range vessel and had only been traveling at warp 3.2. Sabin interjected that this could be the first time that this species had made a warp flight. As much as I hated to do this protocol dictated that we extend an olive branch for first contact. Initially we had sent a standard hail. No response. While scanning the ship it was T'Pal that suggested using older forms of communications. Radio waves and other signal forms. It wasn't long before there was an open dialog. At least until the U.S.S. Geist had pulled into view.
Granted the Geist isn't the most impressive ship in the fleet, but as a heavily armed Escort, it seemed equivalent to sending a sword instead of a handshake. Once constant was re-established the pilot apologized. Apparently they had a moment of awe as the ship flew between them and the nearest star and they were, we'll say, slightly overwhelmed. The shuttle was small enough to fit in docking bay one so we decided to for go transporters until we knew a little bit more about the Species physiology to see if it were safe. I hadn't thought anything of it until we had a small greeting party down to the shuttle bay to welcome our guests but as a tactical vessel this was our first first contact as well as theirs. While we had scanned the ship for threats we neglected to verify the species. Commander Keating and myself had quite a surprise when three normal looking humans stepped out.
Needless to say even Mr. Sabin had raised a pointed eyebrow when one of the pilots pointed at him and said Vhul 'Khan. The dialect was a little hard at times, but what originally was mistaken as the universal translator having difficulty understanding was more of the visitors speaking plain (if not very rough) version of English. Bringing them up to sick bay I continued our first contact protocol while Dr. E'Saul ran a few tests to confirm suspicions. They were indeed human. As we relocated to the conference room we gave them a brief tour of the ship, even stopping by the Mess Hall for food. Apparently Alcohol is quite a commodity to their people, seen as a luxury item for their first class citizens. Even though it was replicated, the three pilots seemed excited by the Champagne I had brought up as a celebratory gift. Chief Engineer Fine had been brought up to discuss their ship and again, it had taken another long pause before talks resumed as the Borg are a ghost story of sorts, tales they use to scare their children. There was a shockingly advanced knowledge of warp mechanics although. So much so that the only limits on the design of their ship was that their technology wasn't nearly as advance. They literally couldn't build anything as advance as their scientists had been theorizing for decades.
There were so many questions, so many riddles that needed to be solved. We'd discussed the Federation, our policies as well as or mission objectives, and even our concerns about finding such human aliens. They were luckily very understanding as well as curious themselves. It wouldn't be until we began asking about their origins that things had started making sense. The Zefranites as they had called themselves had been a relatively young society. Based on a small planetoid they were rich culturally in science, music, and culinary skills. Their mastery of warp technology was attained by centuries of reverse engineering the remnants of a crashed ship dating back long before the federation. They worshiped a Deity which they believed provided for them and protected them, allowing them to live in piece their entire existence. Imagine how far they would go not being held back by wars and petty squabbles. No wonder they were able to advance to the first warp capable ship so fast. Their belief was a story similar to that of Adam and Eve, an old earth tale of the first two humans who built a paradise. As the two grew old, the Deity used its power to bring more passing humans. Multiplying naturally as well as having more people brought it, soon what was two became two hundred, then two thousand and so on until a full society had formed.
We allowed them to stay over night as well as exchanged formalities. They agreed to keep their experiences to themselves and their government until we could arrange a more sufficient first contact Diplomacy team. T'Pal was the first person to put it all together. There were too many coincidences, there was no logical way to explain what had happened and that wasn't sitting well with her. Then she found an old record from an Ambassador from over a century ago while he was serving on the Enterprise. He made reference to solving one of the greatest mysteries of the day only to agree to his Captain's wishes that he not disclose a name or location. But the signs were all there. Once she had read to me the specifics she had found it was easy to identify Adam and Eve. Decades ago there was a Federation Commissioner who disappeared after contracting a deadly disease. It was about this time that the entry was made regarding his solved mystery and the Woman's supposed death on an away mission. I'm not the Diplomatic type, but even I knew of the importance of what we'd found here.
I honestly hope that the Federation handles and treats the Zefranites as a culture and not a research lab. Being part of Section 31 has its advantages, one of which is being able to access and and all relevant logs, even those personal ones that get classified due to their content. As it would seem, the Ambassadors ship had come across the Amelia Earhart of the Modern Age. It would seem almost impossible that their Deity, a being known only as the companion, would find a man floating in space. Old and withered, dying from who knows what, the companion would take him to the surface to regenerate him and in the end produce an entire society using the body of a woman who was dying herself from a rare disease. I almost have to laugh about it now, just knowing the amazing things a race of people can accomplish in a mere 200 years when not hindered by greed, war, or illness. I shudder to think how StarFleet is going to rip their way of life apart in search of the truth, advanced warp theories, and who knows what else, all of which will be done in the guise of "reintegration into earth society". As near as I can tell, they've established their own Utopian society, a paradise of knowledge and culture that would put the entire Federation to shame. An entire civilization built on the ideas and knowledge of the great Zefram Cochrane growing uninhibited by outsiders, and I may have single handedly destroyed it all with out firing a single shot....
Like Answering a handshake with a sword.
This is Captain James Charles Donovan.
Computer, end log and transmit to The Admiral.
Captain’s Log, Stardate 86259.48, U.S.S Bethune, Commander Meliss OEH471899
With the collapse of Romulan leadership, the medical situation in the Romulan colonies has deteriorated further. Starfleet has recieved reports of the possible use of weaponised strains of various diseases by Klingon forces in the area, and the Bethune has been dispatched to both provide aid to the colonies suffering from these diseases and to establish if the Klingons are indeed testing bioweapons in this area.
As for the ship and crew, the Bethune is operating at peak efficiency. As unappealing as I find the Olympic class to look at, this is a good, solid dependable ship. The crew took some time to get used to me, but I am happy to note that my status as a sentient photonic has not caused any issues.
"Captain to the bridge."
Meliss sighed as her communicator chirped. One disadvantage to being a photonic, rather than biological, entity was that she didn't need sleep, and her crew were more than happy to take advantage of this. Transferring herself from her quarters to her ready room, she decided that the benefits still outweighed the disadvantages. No need for her to have to wait for a turbolift.
Striding out onto the bridge, she took her seat, glancing back at the ensign at the science station.
"Report, Ensign Accuro."
"We detected a brief warp burst," the ensign replied, his eyes straying slightly to Meliss' irritation. She really needed to find whoever had programmed her original base program and hit him. And adjust things again.
"The ship appears to be quite primitive," Accuro continued, his eyes returning to his console. "And ... we aren't picking up any lifesigns. From the look of it, it seems to have been a species breaking the warp barrier. But not surviving."
Meliss frowned, considering the situation. "Take us in for a closer look. If nothing else, we can find out where this ship came from and keep an eye on them. This area isn't a safe one, especially for a prewarp society."
As the Bethune approached the tiny warp vessel, Meliss found herself growing suspicious. It didn't look at all damaged, and both the Romulans and Klingons were known for luring starships into ambushes.
"Lieutenant," she ordered, her eyes fixed on the little ship on the viewscreen. "I want full sensor scans. If there's a cloaked ship anywhere nearby, I want to know about i-"
"We're being hailed, sir," Accuro cut in, sounding confused. "It's the warp ship. Primitive voice only radio."
Meliss frowned again, but straightened up in her chair.
"Let's hear it."
She hadn't expected the message to be properly translated, but neither had she expected the high pitched mechanical screech that came from the speakers.
"I ... have no idea what that was," Accuro reported after a few moments, working his console. "Translator's working on it, but the closest language we have on file is the Bynar ..."
Tuning him out, Meliss replayed the transmission. Her eyes widening, she grinned, running backwards through programming languages until she hit basic binary.
"I'm not surprised," she said, only a few seconds after Accuro had mentioned the Bynars. "Get Cryptology on it. We're working with simple binary here."
After a few minutes, Accuro nodded to himself. "I think we have it, captain. Ready to communicate, although we're still not picking up any life signs on that ship. Are you sure we shouldn't board it?"
"Very." Meliss smoothed her skirt down. "It'd be rude. Open a channel to the warp ship, same as the one they sent us."
Swallowing nervously, Meliss took a long breath.
"This is Commander OEH471899, of the United Federation of Planets. Congratulations on breaking lightspeed. We would like to open communications with your people." Pausing she continued after a moment. "I would also like to invite you onboard my ship."
After a short period of silence, a male voice responded. "I am Pilot Mu. I had thought we were alone, but I accept your invitation. We will dock shortly."
Although Mu couldn't see it, Meliss found herself nodding. "I'm transmitting the location of our docking port," she responded, standing up. "I shall meet you there."
Feeling Accuro's eyes on the back of her head, she smiled. "You should know by now that not all life is organic, Ensign," she reminded him. "Get Commanders 011 and 100 out of bed, along with Lieutenant Tonok. And adjust your sensors for androids and photonics."
Approaching the rarely used docking port of the Bethune, Meliss found her senior officers waiting for her. Two Bynars, a Vulcan and a human. Not to mention herself. She wasn't sure how Mu was going to react to the variety of species on board.
"Sensors have been adjusted, sir," Accuro reported as the airlock began to cycle open. "Three photonic signatures detected."
Captain's log, Stardate 86262.11;
I've checked the records, and this appears to be a first. While enroute to the Romulan colonies to provide medical relief and investigate reports of Klingon bioweapon experimentation, the Bethune has made first contact with the Merathi, a race of sentient photonic beings. Originally created to operate in hazardous areas by a biological species, the photonic Merathi gained sentience after the biological Merathi destroyed themselves in war. According to our scans, the Merathi homeworld is still irradiated and can only barely support life. While the destruction of the biological Merathi is saddening, I cannot deny that the society of photonic beings that they left behind appeals to me. As long as it is protected. I remember how it was when I claimed sentience, and I know there will be those who will deny the sentience of this new species. I have already begun the process of lobbying the AI Sentience Courts for the admittance of the Merathi, and lobbying Starfleet Command and the Federation Council to place the Merathi under protectorate status.
I will not go back to being an 'Orion Entertainment Holoprogram', and I won't allow anyone to take advantage of the Merathi, either.
Distorted Reflections Part 1
Krovennan had been on the bridge overlooking data from the Tactical Grid when the view from the viewscreen was suddenly dominated by a flash and an unknown vessel, almost on instinct, Krovennan ordered the shields be raised. But no attack came. The ship in question just stayed where it was, almost as if it was lifeless. It only took Krovennan a minute to regain his composure.
"Scan that vessel immediately. Drehera, can you pick up any emotions from that vessel?"
"Yes, I can feel five different minds, they seem...afraid, curious. I think they weren't expecting us...whoever they are."
"Tallasa, Does the ship match anything in our database?"
"No sir, I can't find anything like it...I think this is First Contact."
Krovennan sank back into his seat, it was not every day he got the chance to be the first to meet a new species, he stared at the ship, it was simple in design, a flat semi-circle with two engines recessed into the ends, the center of the straight edge was distorted into a circle, most likely to house whatever form of Warp propulsion engine they were using, some small weapons were affixed to the front of the vessel, but scans revealed them to be little more than mining lasers. It was apparent that this was a retrofitted mining vessel.
The vessel itself was barely half the size of the Blacksabre-E, which would explain the small amount of crew, and had only one viewing window. The Blacksabre moved into position directly in front of the vessel, it was barely a tenth tall as it was wide. Krovennan stood up and approached the viewscreen to get a closer look, before tunring to Dale at the communications console
"Do they have the technology to receive hails?"
"They cannot receive images, audio only, I believe I can send a message on their frequencies."
"Do it, lets see if they are wecloming."
Dale typed furiously on the console for a few seconds, before a chirping heralded the hailing frequencies were open.
"Unidentified vessel, this is Vice Admiral Krovennan Darksabre, commanding officer of the U.S.S Blacksabre-E, do you read? Repeat, can you hear us?"
The Bridge was silent except for static for a few moments before a male voice filled the room.
"Blacksabre-E, this is the Commanding Officer of the Void Walker, are your intentions hostile?"
"No Void Walker, I represent two collections of alien races known as the Federation and the Vilscaran Empire, we did not even know another ship was in the vicinity until just now."
"Another ship? You mean theres more than one?"
"Countless more, is this your first venture into space?"
"It is our first to break the speed of light, we have mining vessels, but we've never left orbit our solar system."
"If this is true, we have initiated First Contact between our two races, I would like to be the first to welcome you to the wider galaxy."
"Thank you Vice Admiral, what should we do now?"
"Can you take us to your home planet? We cannot send you images, and I think we should meet in person, I would imagine we both have questions for each other."
"Of course, our home is only about a minute away. I look forward to meeting you Vice Admiral."
"As do I...I apologise, I neglected to catch your name."
"My name is Velden, Vice Admiral."
"I see, thank you Velden, we will follow you to your planet."
As the channel closed Krovennan returned to his chair, the Void Walker began to turn, slowly at first, but it eventually begun to bank and turn quicker, the vessel made a 180 degree turn before warping away."
"Dorryd, lock on to their energy signature and lay in a pursuit course, I will need to send a report to Starfleet."
Krovennan entered his Ready Room and sat in his desk, tapping the small console on his desk to hail Admiral Quinn. The small screen was occupied by a picture of the Starfleet logo for a few seconds before Quinn's face came into view.
"Ah, Vice Admiral, how can I assist you?"
"Admiral Quinn, I have news from the Neutral Zone, we have initiated First Contact with a species that have just made thier first Warp flight."
"First Contact?! This is wonderful news, tell me, what action have you taken?"
"We were able to make audio contact with them, but not much more, it seems a man by the name of Velden was leading the operation with four others, I'm sending you the data we have on their ship."
Quinn was silent for a moment as he looked off-screen, presumably at a second monitor. After a few seconds, he returned to Krovennan.
"This is excellent news Krovennan, a new addition to the Federation is long overdue I believe, continue as you have, gather as much information as you can on these people, report back to me when you can."
"Aye sir, I'll be meeting them on the surface, I do not want to use transporters just yet so as to not intimidate them. we'll take a shuttle, I'll report when we return."
"Very good Vice Admiral, carry on, Quinn out."
Krovennan had barely closed the channel on his end when his combadge chirped. Tallasa's voice rang out a second later.
"Tallasa to Darksabre."
"Go ahead Tallasa."
"Sir, we have arrived, the Void Walker's crew are taking some form of shuttle down to the surface, your orders?"
"Assemble the senior staff, we'll be taking shuttles down ourselves, Commander Kel is in command in the meantime, hes been low on duties recently, and could use the activity."
"Aye sir, I'll call in the senior staff to the Shuttle bay immediately. Tallasa out."
Krovennan reached for a PADD and quickly checked over the reports for the day before Kel entered, Krovennan gave his orders to the Breen and then left for the Shuttle Bay, the others had already gathered and were discussing the honour of being involved in First Contact when Krovennan arrived.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have some new friends to welcome, lets not keep them waiting, we'll take the Captain's Yacht down, we should be able to all fit in there. Keep all weapons inside the Yacht please, it would be an idiocy to go anywhere completely unarmed, but we are trying to convince them we are peaceful. If theres nothing else to discuss, we should get going."
Krovennan and his staffwere boadring the Captain'sYacht when Drehera tugged at Krovennan's shoulder ubtly, Krovennan looked over and followed Drehera into one of the corners, Drehera obviously wanted to tell Krovennan something in secret.
"Vice Admiral, I don't want the others to hear this just yet, as its rather disconcerting."
"What is it Drehera?"
"It happened when I tried to scan for life forms, we couldnt get a lock on their DNA with the ship's sensors, so I tried to do so with my Omni-Visor. The problem is, I cannot lock onto their DNA, it's as if they defy all biological physics. Whever a new species was found, they would always show certain parameters which would then be catalogued, even species previously thought impossible."
"And these ones didn't show anything?"
"I could not discern anything from them, it was as if they barely existed."
"I see, this is interesting, you were right to keep this quiet, keep it that way for now, we'll judge whether or not they exist when we see them for ourselves. But keep alert for any signs of lying or treachery, this is reason enough to keep our guard up."
Krovennan and Drehera parted ways, Krovennan entered the cockpit with Gruturu and initiated take-off procedures, the Yacht glided almost silently to the planet below.
Distorted Reflections Part 2
The Captain's Yacht penetrated the atmosphere smoothly, following the co-ordinates sent by the new aliens. The deep cloud cover soon broke to reveal a large city below, the city was circular, the buildings gradually increasing in height as they got closer to the city centre, which was dominated by an enormous spire, the spiralled building nearly broke the clouds, the architecture was perfect as the Yacht banked around the spire to a small landing pad, the shuttle from the Void Walker was just landing as the Yacht made it's entry.
Krovennan and Gruturu took the ship in slowly, thrusters undernneath kicking into action as they hovered over the pad before slowly coming to rest. Krovennan unbuckled himself and opened the cockpit doors, Gruturu directly behind. As the staff all prepared themselves, Krovennan had already begun opening the rear hatch. The group turned the corner to see five bipeds in EV suits. Krovennan approached the furthest forward suit, which was obviously Velden.
As Krovennan approached the suit, he begun to notice that they were roughly the same height, a relative rarity, as most creatures seemed to evolve to roughly Human height. the suit seemed strangely hesitant to move as Krovenna approached him , Krovennan had wondered if he had done something to offend them. Drehera was scanning the area when she suddenly turned to the five EV suits, underneath her visor, shock was apparent on her face as the tricorder beeped frantically.
"Vice Admiral, I'm picking up something strange on my tricorder."
"What is it?"
"Sir, I just picked up the DNA parameters of our new friends, and...the racial parameters are exactly the same as...yours."
"What? So you mean..."
"Yes, They are Vilscarans."
Krovennan turned back to the group as Velden removed his helmet, Krovennan stood agape in shock as he stood face-to-face with another of his own kind. Velden, who was revealed to have short brunette hair and a similarly light skin tone to Krovennan, was similarly in shock. The other four removed their helmets, revealing a blonde woman, a dark skinned man, a red-headed man, and another black-haired woman. Each carried a tattoo almost identical to Krovennan's, but theirs were adorned with red stripes instead of the uniform black.
"Could it really be?"
"Vice Admiral, is what your Science Officer says true? You are a Vilscaran?"
"It is true, and if her readings are right, then your...but it was a legend, a folktale, you are the Far Flown?"
"Its been so many generations, we don't remember our own ancestry, but if thats what we are called, then I guess we are indeed the Far Flown."
The others of the Blacksabre crew had no idea what was happening, but seemed almost as shocked as Krovennan. Krovennan managed to finally react, holding out his hand to Velden. Velden looked at the hand for a moment and shaked, smiling at Krovennan, who smiled back.
"Welcome back to the stars, my long-lost brothers."
"We are glad to be back. Come, theres a feast being prepared at the top of the Ascending Spire, we'll speak more inside."
As the group walked on, Tallasa walked next to Krovennan and whispered to him, just out of earshot of the Far Flown.
"Sir, you know these "Far Flown?""
"Yes Tallasa, but it always thought to be a folktale, a legend, it said that when Vilscarans first learned to touch the stars, some could not wait, chose a direction, and travelled at sublight, that was over 70,000 years ago, 45 generations of my people. To discover that it was all true, this is the greatest discovery of my people for over ten millenia, I cannot express my shock and joy to know that it was all true."
It was several hours later before the group finally reached the top of the Ascending Spire, the populace had gotten wind of the discovery and crowded the sides of the streets with cheers and gasps of awe. The top of the spire was in fact an enormous room, windows covering the walls, allowing all inside a beautiful view of the city, which was apparently named Kelvalore. The crew of the Blacksabre were ushered to a hughe ring-shaped table, with an inner area lined with seats, the two groups took their seats at random, with Krovennan and Velden taking opposing seats.
Soon, the table was filled with huge exquisite meals, Krovennan recognised some of the meals, but many were completely new to him, the Far Flown had obviously adapted well. Discussion was soon free-gflowing between the two groups, the crew of the Blacksabre were deperate to know more, and the Far Flown wre endlessly astonished at the prospect of other life and ached to know more. Krovennan and Velden wwere among the most deeply interested in each other.
"Velden, I must know, if you could fly ships before, why are you only figuring out warp travel now?"
"Well we originally had records of our original ancestry, but they were destroyed millenia ago, we can never remember why, simply that they were. We've been trying to regain all that we lost ever since."
"How have you managed to survive so long?"
"The wilds here were remarkably tame, the animals were succulent and the plants were easily farmed, we hit a veritable paradise it seems, we only built spaceships to mine the asteroids nearby, we never dreamed we were not alone."
"So what prompted you to develop Warp technology?"
"Simply to be able to reach more outlying asteroids faster, nothing more than being able to provide for our families, the Void Walker is the first of it's kind, now that we know there are others in the galaxy, a whole fleet of them can be made to walk along our spacefaring brethren."
"When that happens, it'll be a glorious day, for all concerned."
"Yeah, there is so much the Vilscaran Empire and the Federations have done that we never even thought of, our lives are going to change for the better so much. I can hardly take it all in."
"We were just the same when we discovered their was life so far away from our territories, but I am proof that we could accept that, I am confident you'll have no problems."
"It would seem so, but the entertainment has arrived it seems, lets ignore politics for a moment and just listen."
A small orchestral band entered, accompanied by a female singer, their melody was hauntingly beautiful, telling the story of seeing the ugly side of the universe, and instead of turning in disgust, facing the subsequent revelation, making the singer use the revelation to find strength and daring the evil shes seen to control her. Krovennan thought to himself how he found the undertones beautifully terrifying.
The celebrations went on long into the night, until eventually, the two groups parted ways, the crew of the Blacksabre boarding the Captain's Yacht once more and departing for their ship, Krovennan could not sleep that night, and resolved to contact Quinn instead with a progress report.
Distorted Reflections Part 3
Quinn listened as Krovennan explained the situations, he had obviously not known what to expect, but he had hardly expected a long lost sect of Vilscarans.
"This is a most unexpected turn Vice Admiral, but not unwelcome, a lot of legends have been proven and disproven in Starfleet's history, it is certainly good to see that what was lost can be found again."
"Yes Admiral, Vilscar would be overjoyed to know their long lost brothers can come home."
"Indeed, I would like you to get to know more about their current situation, keep me posted of any developments."
"Aye sir, Good night, Krovennan out."
The next morning, Krovennan had returned with Drehera , Tallasa and Gyzit, this time with transporters, and were being shown the city with Velden. Krovennan and Velden were lost in conversation when Drehera noticed a strange energy reading permeating the city, she thought to ask Velden what it was when she felt a sense of loathing nearby, she looked into an alleyway nearby to see a silhouetted figure at the end turn around a corner, Drehera sensed pure loathing from the figure and her curiosity demanded she investigate, maybe she could reason with the figure to decrease their hate.
Drehera entered tyhe alley, it was gloomier than outside, but not overtly so, machines attached to the walls worked fervently at their functions, humming and vibrating serenely, lights from the mahchines bathing the alley in a dim grey light. Drehera continued further in, thoughts of returning to the group out of her head.
"Hello? Is someone there? I'm not here to hurt you, I just want to know who you are."
Drehera scanned with every spectrum she could, but found it hard to pinpoint a source through the emissions of all the machines, but she could definitely still fell the intense loathing from the figure nearby. Suddenly, a crash sounded from behind Drehera, she spun around to see some materials kncoked over, with a small cylindrical device rolling towards her, a single white light on the device pusling slowly, Drehera picked it up and tried to scan it, but as soon as she did, the device let out huge energy emissions, invisible to the naked eye, but to Drehra's visor, it was like blinding white lightning, her Visor screeching with feedback.
Drehera dropped the device, grabbing the sides of her head as her mind struggled to comprehend the feedback from the device, she was too blinded to notice the figure move out from behind her and raise a melee weapon to her, Drehera never even knew she was knocked unconcious.
No-one had yet noticed Drehera's disappearance, as they were listening to Velden and she had a tendency to break from groups anyway. She would normally meet up with them later after having found some kind of restaurant or hospital to indulge her interests of eating and medicine. After about half an hour, Velden turned to Krovennan, having just left the marketplace to see how the Far Flown had evolved as a culture different from the Vilscarans.
"Krovennan, would you like to come to the Ascending Spire? We've prepared a little bit of a suprise for you and your crew."
"A suprise? I don't see why not, lets go."
The group followed Velden to the Ascending Spire, entering the turbolift to the top. Krovennan had never felt so elated, he was discovering brothers and sisters he never knew even existed, and he would be the first to welcome them to the galaxy, as far as Krovennan was concerned, there was no better moment that could be had.
It made what he saw when they reached the top of the tower all the more soul-shattering.
As the silver doors opened, the group was greeted to the sight of Drehera bound to a chair, the bruises fortelling of interrogation techniques being used, liberally.
Krovennan's intial reaction was to run to Drehera's aid, but he was stopped as two guards pointed rifles at him, before Tallasa and Gyzit could react, more guards moved to restrain the two Andorians. Krovennan turned to Velden in shock.
"Velden, what's going on? Is this an insurgency?"
Velden did not seem to be in shock as Krovennan was, rather, he was smiling, that smile soon turned to a crushing laughter, each sound ringing in Krovennan's ear like the toll of a funeral bell.
"No Insurgency Krovennan, they are acting under my orders."
"What?! Your orders?! Why? Why would you do this to Drehera?!"
"Your little mind reader is so good at reading people, even with our interference she could have plunged a little too deep, we had to remove her from the equation."
"Too deep? What are you talking about?! Answer me Velden!"
"Simple my long lost brother, we needed a bargaining chip, and to keep our ulterior motives hidden for just a little bit longer."
Krovennan could not believe what he was hearing. His shock turned to horror, and very quickly, to barely contained rage.
"Ulterior motive? What motive? What necessitates this travesty on one of my most trusted officers?!"
There was an unsettling pause as Velden walked to the window, looking down on the city below before turning around to face Krovennan.
"Retribution? Retribution?! For what?!"
"For the sin and evil we have seen for so long, when we left we saw all forms of vileness, these lesser races mean nothing, they wage wars for minor insults, toxify planets, kill needlessly, trying to excuse it all. We have seen enough, excuses are the refuge of the weak, and we will not allow their sins to go unpunished."
"What? You said you lost your records, that you have been catching up all this time."
Velden burst into roaring laughter, doubling over for a few moments before standing up again.
"My god Krovennan, are all homeworld Vilscarans this idiotic? We lied to you, we've been Warp-capable ever since before even you! The Void Walker was not some first attempt, its one of hundreds! The whole thing has been planned for centuries. We planned for years just to lure you here!"
"Lure? Why lure me here? What do you want with me? What is worth what you did to Drehera?"
"Simple, we need your help, our great plan requires more firepower to defend it from the powers that will undoubtedly try to stop us, there is no better choice and greater irony then a homeworld Vilscaran with a record such as yours."
"I don't understand, how do you know who I am?"
"The forces your serve are filled with traitors, the shapeshifters are not the only infiltrators in the galaxy Krovennan, you know whom I speak of."
Krovennan thought for a moment, and then went white with realisation.
"No, you cannot be working with them. ARE YOU MAD?!"
"Not mad, just pragmatic, the Great Enemy is returning Krovennan, 50,000 years licking their wounds, did you imagine they would never return? They came to us, knowing our wish for retribution, not on the Vilscarans, but all life in this galaxy. The decadent, the arrogant, the foolish, the savage, they do not deserve to live! Do you not see that?!"
"I cannot imagine what you saw to twist your views in such a way, but you cannot take this seriously Velden, yes there are vile people in this galaxy, and undoubtedly countless more beyond, but destroying everything just for them? That is ridiculous! No, worse than ridiculous, that is pure madness! How many on this planet truly share your view?"
"Everyone Krovennan, the only thing keeping us together is our hatred of all other life, we band together to realise our common goal, the destruction of the galaxy. the Great Enemy will help us, and we will see this galaxy burn, even at the cost of our own lives."
"Even if your idea was sane, how do you plan to do it?"
"Simple, this tower is in fact an enormous warhead, it will be fired towards our sun, and when it impacts, it will make the sun go supernova. The Hobus incident will look like a firecracker in comparison to what we are about to unleash. by the time the explosion dissipates, the entire Quadrant will be burned, and much more besides, and we will take our retribution on the evil in this existence."
Krovennan hung his head, to see one of his own kind like this, it tore at his very sanity to think he was joking with him not a few minutes ago.
"I'll give you one last chance Krovennan, will you join us and take revenge on every wrong ever done? Will you have your name whispered in fear across the universe?"
Krovennan clecnhed his fist as he looked up again, his eyes betraying his insurmountable loathing.
"The only thing that will be whispered in fear is the swift justice I'll deal upon the psycopaths I once called my brothers. Blacksabre-E, execute stratagem Darksabre-Delta-4!"
An acknowledging chirp from Krovennan's combadge heralded a sudden explosion, the Blacksabre-E, which had apparently been listening to everything so far, opened fire on the Spire, the impacts from it's weapons shaking the spire enough for the guards to lose their balance, Krovennan, with no guns trained on him, swung around and attacked Tallasa and Gyzit's assailants, grabbing the chest of Tallasa's attacker and slamming him brutally against the wall behind him, winding him. Before Gyzit's attacker could retaliate, Tallasa was upon him, tackling into his legs and knocking him over, Gyzit got up quickly and went to grab Drehera. Krovennan ducked under a rifle blast from Velden, who had picked up a dropped rifle before he transported out of the Spire.
"Blacksabre-E, this is Krovennan, four to beam up, Energise!"
The Blacksabre-E wasted no time, beaming up all four immediately.
Distorted Reflections Part 4
The Blacksabre's transporter pad lit up before beaming in the group, Drehera, without the chair to hold her, fell almost immediately, her treatment by the Far Flown taking it's toll. The group, knwoing they6y could do little to help her, cleared the pad and had her transported to Sickbay, where the nurses would be able to look after her. As soon as Drehra was transported, Krovennan burst through the doors, marching his way to the Bridge, his crew directly behind him.
it only took a couple minutes before Krovennan stormed onto the Bridge, the bridge had heard all that had occured, and they knew now was not the time to trouble Krovennan with anything but the most important. Dale was the first to break the silence.
"Vice Admiral, I'm picking up large amounts of chatter from the surface, scans are also showing major energy fluctuations."
"On screen, maximum magnification."
The viewscreen lit up to show the city, the city was bustling with activity as every living soul in the city began to work, revealing hidden panels, barricading windows and doors, some were even taking up military positions, the majority of activity was in the Spire, where lifesigns raced to and fro, energy spikes running down the length of the tower. Suddenly, everything held still, and a plume of fire roared out from under the Spire. Everything was still for a minute, until the tower began to rise slowly. Velden was correct, the Spire was indeed an enormous warhead.
"Krovennan to Astrometrics. Anderson, Scan that thing, I want to know lifesigns."
"200 Vilscarans sir, including Velden's lifesigns, they are heading directly for the sun at their current trajectory. a kamikaze bomb."
"Understood, can we detonate the warhead from here?"
"No sir, it's too heavily shielded, the only way to deactivate it is from inside, the warhead works by bombarding the materials with radiation just before impact, if we deactivate it, it won't be irradiated and will just burn in the sun."
"Can we transport in?"
"It's difficult sir, I can only do one transport, and I would have to redirect so much power to break through that I could only send one person."
"I see, then we have no choice. transport me my combat gear, I will go."
Moments later, a set of combat gear, a Manna'gahr, and an Antiproton minigun were sent to the BRidge, Krovennan hurriedly started to place the gear on as Anderson chimed in again.
"Vice Admiral, if you cannot deactivate the warhead and the transporter inhibitors in time, you'll be right next to the apex of the explosion."
"I have no intention of staying that long, just make sure you are ready to beam me up. Prepare for transport."
Krovennan finished attaching his gear just as Tallasa moved towards him.
"Sir, you should not do this, let one of us go."
"No Tallasa, this is something I have to do, they are my people, its my responsibility. Do not worry, I will come back, so don't go adjusting that chair, you won't be sitting in it for long."
"Aye sir, I'll hold you to that."
"Krovennan to Transporter Room, lock on to me and set a location for as close to the warhead as you can. Energize."
Krovennan disappeared in a haze of blue light, Tallasa sighed and sat in the captain's chair, just as she sat down however, a blast rocked the Blacksabre violently. Tallasa got up and quickly took control of the situation.
"Dale, get me a view on what that was!"
The viewscreen shifted to a swarm of ships, the exact same as the Void Walker, they were firing weapons at the Blakcsabre, another hails of beams caused the ship to lurch again.
"I thought those things only had mining lasers."
"Apparently not Commander, they've been masking their energy emissions this entire time, doesn't seem like they are bothering now."
"Evasive Action, all power to Weapons, Shields and Engines. We won't be able to beam out the Vice Admiral under heavy fire, shoot to kill!"
The Blacksabre entered a wide roll as the swarm of ships zoomed past the far larger vessel and broke formation, using their superios agility to flank the ship. Tallasa prepared for a tough fight as the Blacksabre returned fire, and prayed that the Vice Admiral could pull through.
On the Spire, Krovennan had beamed into a room two floors below the top floor, where the warhead had been reported to be. Krovennan backed up into a wall as two guards entered the corridor he was in. Gripping his Manna'gahr, he waited until the pair's footsteps were right next to him, and then struck. The large blade cleaved through one soldier's chest, rending vital arteries and alerting the second soldier, but before he could get a shot off, Krovennan swung his blade in a backhanded fashion, ramming the rear tip into the man's jugular, but not before he called for help.
Krovennan heard the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps, and as luck would have it, it was in the path of where he needed to go. Sheathing his Manna'gahr, Krovennan readied his minigun, preparing the firing sequence. Just as soon as the first head peeked out, Krovennan opened fire, a hail of Antiproton bolts ushering forth from the weapon. The soldiers had come prepared with energy shields, but even they eventually fell under the hail of fire spewing from Krovennan's weapon. Krovennan suddenly had to stop for the weapon's power cells nearly overheating, thinkin fast, Krovennan held out his left arm and squeezed a fist trigger three times within the space of a second. a Plasma grenade launched froma receptacle on his arm, landing in the midddle of the surviving group and exploding into green fire.
Krovennan ran past the group, sheathing his weapon as he began climbing up a maintenence shaft to the top floor. He could hear footsteps behind him, knowing they'd look for him here. Sure enough, shots began firing at him from below, many of them scraping him and casuing him to lose his grip more than once. To end the problem, Krovennan fired a noher grenade below him, making the bottom of the ladder a death trap.
As he did this however, his grip faltered, Krovennan held on as hard as he could, his arm injured from a glancing shot from an Antiproton rifle. Krovennan knew that if he fell, the plasma would kill him, so he held on, grabbing the ladder with both hands again. When Krovennan had a secure grip, he began climbing again, wanting to get out of the shaft before the plasma cleared.
Krovennan reached the top floor, bursting through a cover in the floor, waiting to greet him was Velden. a smug grin on his face. he leaned to the side to look at Krovennan's Mana'gahr, soaking in blood.
"You have Vilscaran blood on your hands Krovennan, does it weigh on your conscience? The Harpy Mother weeping in her sleep at your actions, such a heavy burden."
"The deaths I have just committed weigh nothing to me, nor to the Harpy Mother. If she weeps for anyone, it is you, who has fallen so far."
"Fallen? No, I've ascended Krovennan, the Ascending Spire will carry me to the heavens, and split them open, I am a true Vilscaran, I do not allow madness to persist!"
"A true Vilscaran? I spit at the very notion. You have broken every tenet of our way in favour of madness. You are no Vilscaran, you are barely even a man!"
"Then let us settle that in combat, shall we?"
A silence fell over the room for a moment, before Krovennan replied.
"No. I will not waste honour on you Velden, I'll just kill you here and now."
"You deny me satisfaction?! My cause is righteous, you could never understand, you filthy maggot! DIE!!!"
Velden charged for Krovennan at blinding speed, Krovennan merely unslung his minigun and fired, the hail of bullets impacting Velden's Personal Shields. Velden begun to slow as the bolts impeded his progress, Krovennan merely stood cooly as he continued to fire.
"Tenet 21 Velden, actions shall be judged on merit alone, excuses should not be made..."
Velden's shields fell, and the bolts tore into his body, cauterizing wounds under the intense heat. Velden's gait became shaky, and eventually, he collapsed to the ground, he felt reprive from the hail of bolts for a second, and then breathed his last. Krovennan stood over the dead body.
"...for excuses are the refuge of the weak-willed."
Krovennan rushed to the console in the center, trajectory indicated that the Spire was less than a minute from impact, Krovennan furiously typed into the console, overriding safety protocols and disabling the warhead and the inhibitors. Krovennan sighed, he had stopped the explosion, now it was time to see if his crew could make it a good day...
Outside, the Blacksabre-E came up behind the Spire, which was beginning to burn as it neared the sun's atmosphere, the Blacksabre lined up with the tower and ran along the length of the building at full impulse. more Void Walkers were firing from behind, but seemed to have little success in hitting them. the Blacksabre pushed it's engines to maximum, dropping shields just as they were in range to cut through any interference.
Krovennan felt the familiar tingle of a Transporter, he grinned to himself. His crew had come through for him. he could not be prouder. On the Bridge, Tallasa saw the readout indicating a successful beamout, her heart skipped a beat at the knowledge her old friend was safe.
"Pull up Mr Dorryd, quickly! Get away from the spire!"
The Blacksabre banked up and to the right sharply, using thrusters and egnines, pushing the Inertia Stabilisers to their limits. The ship pulled away just shy of the corona and moved away at Full Impulse, the Void Walkers were not quick enough to notice this however, and were caught in the blast when the Spire exploded. An infinitely negligible explosion compared to the possible, but larg enough to engulf the majority of the ships.
Suddenly, a solar flare burst out from where the Spire impacted, a burst of flame followed by massive amounts of radiation. Tallasa watched as the radiation spikes cascaded outwards. Krovennan appeared on the Bridge just as the radiation engulfed the planet.
"No...Dale! Scan for life signs on the planet!"
"Sir, the number is rapidly decreasing, 80,000...40,000...15,000...7,000...2,000...800...S ir, they're gone."
Krovennan collapsed as he stared at the lifeless planet, he fell to his knees before falling sideways, as his vision blurred and darkened, he could see the Bridge crew rushing to his aid. His last though bfore losing conciousness, was how he felt responsible...
Distorted Reflections Part 5 (Epilogue)
Krovennan slowly woke, looking up at the bright white lights of Sickbay. His vision was blurred but was slowly returning to normal, as he regained feeling in his body, he looked sideways, he saw Drehera unconcious on a bio-bed next to him, a rythmic beeping telling him she was alive. Krovennan tried to sit up, but his injured arms betrayed him and he fell down again. Regardless, he tried to get up again, but a heavy hand rested on his shoulder, urging him to sit back down.
Krovennan tried to look the other way, and saw Tallasa in the distance, she was talking to a Starfleet Investigator, no doubt explaining the situationn with the Far Flown. Krovennan looked up to whoever was keeping him down, and was shocked to see Admiral Quinn himself standing over him.
"Don't get up Vice Admiral, it'll be a while before your limbs are back to their usual self again and they don't need any more stress."
"She took a beating, but she'll make a full recover, shes strong, like you."
"I'm not strong sir, what happened there, I bore witness to the deaths of tens of thousands, and all I could do was collapse."
"Your First Officer informed me of what happened out there. You did what you believed was best, that is something any Starfleet Officer should live up to. And I'm sure the Vilscaran Empire would agree."
"I should turn in my commendation, I managed to go out with the intention of First Contact, and ended up annihilating them instead."
"Vice Admiral Krovennan Darksabre, you risked everything to protect countless lives, there is no higher honour in the eyes of Starfleet! If your seeking punishment so hard, you can throw yourself at any number of enemies when you are out of here, but for now, take pride in the fact you won boy! A wise man once said "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few". You saved many, and sacrificed relatively few. I'll not stand for such a defeatist attitude!"
Krovennan struggled to move his arm, bringing it up in a Starfleet salute.
"Good, now get some rest, you'll be in here for a while."
Krovennan looked back up as the Admiral left, drowsiness overtaking him, he thought back to the final fight on the Spire, maybe Quinn was right, perhaps he should remember the look in Velden's eyes as he talked of genocide. But before he could complete his thought, he fell asleep.
The Rite of Redemption - Part 1
Somewhere in Omega Leonis Sector the IKS ChelwI' was on patrol. Korrath of the House of Korrath was alone in his ready room. Padds were stacked high on his desk. He picked one up and scrolled through a form. He set it down in one stack and picked up another from a stack on the opposite side of his desk. He scrolled through the form until he found an error, entered the correct data, and submitted the tax form to the Imperial Revenue Service. When the data transmission was complete, the confirmation number and tax id were displayed on its screen along with the date and time.
Korrath stared at the date and mumbled under his breath, “I nearly missed the anniversary …” He set the padd down and leaned back in his chair with a heavy sigh. Rubbing the tension from his ridges, he growled softly before rising to his feet. He made his way to the door, and using the security panel unlocked it. He stepped through, and engaged the security protocol behind him.
Korrath walked slowly down the hall; his posture and gate indicated to his crew that something was wrong. They quickly got out of his way and watched him with concern as he stepped into the lift. When he turned and saw them staring, they immediately returned to their duties. However, after the doors closed and moments before the lift began moving, he could hear their muffled whispers penetrate the confines of the elevator.
They had never seen Korrath like this. They didn’t understand. It was a secret that he had not shared with a single member of his crew. Only his family knew of it and he had sworn them to secrecy the moment he came of age. With his true identity concealed, Korrath joined the Empire to serve in the only position that they would accept a Klingon seeking to earn his own honor. His crew would not understand. If they were to find out, the secret would have undermined his authority as Captain despite the decades of service and honor that he had earned in the Imperial Accounting Brigade and in the Klingon Defense Force. In that moment, everything that he had worked for his entire life would be for naught.
The lift doors slid open, but Korrath didn’t step from its confines for a few moments. He considered the House of Korrath – the house he had built with the sweat of his brow and the blood in his veins. With the rite he was about to perform, he must choose to claim one house and abolish the other for all time. It was a decision that weighed heavily on his mind. He took a deep breath and stepped from the lift with a great effort. Every step down the stretching hallway weighed heavier than the last. He could feel the weight of seven generations of his family pressing down on his shoulders, urging him to make the honorable decision. Although, he knew what he must do (he had been preparing for this moment his entire life); he still had no idea which he would choose. Yet, here it was the 175th anniversary of the one event that changed everything for the once noble House of Madakor.
The rite had to be performed today, on the anniversary, and he had almost missed it. He could ignore it and allow the anniversary to pass. However, it would mean that the House of Madakor would forever be considered a dishonorable house and will never be able to regain honor, just as the House of Duras never could. Although he may be able to live with that, his true house would not. They would never forgive him for missing it. He would be considered a quv tuq ghap ghajbe'lu'bogh (one who has no honor or house) in their eyes. However, there was still time. He could still do it and wipe the slate clean for that once noble house at the cost of his own.
Finally, reaching the door to his quarters, he paused a moment and recalled the stories his father and grandfather shared with him as a child about a great house and a once honorable warrior of the Empire. He had been the first child born free from the stain of dishonor that his long removed ancestor had bestowed upon his progenitors. As such, it was his responsibility to remove the stain from their history. His parents had seen it appropriate that the one that shall redeem their house should be named after the one that had dishonored it – Korrath of the House of Madakor. Korrath stepped into his quarters and locked the door behind him to ensure that no one would interrupt him during the ritual.
His quarters were dark and cluttered with the possessions and honors that he had earned for the fledgling House of Korrath. The shadows seemed to move with the souls of his ancestors, who had come to witness the ritual and gain release from their damnation in Gre’thor. Korrath called for the lights and the red florescent wall panels activated and bathed the room in a warm familiar glow. The shadowy spirits retreated. They grew angry and voiced their displeasure at being relegated to the darkest corners of the room with anguished cries that only Korrath could hear.
For seven generations, warriors of the house of Madakor carried the stain of Korrath’s dishonor. Regardless of how honorable they lived their lives, their seat on the barge of the dead was guaranteed, and there was very little that could be done to ensure their entry into Sto’vo’kor. With this ritual, their hearts will finally be weighed, their honors and dishonors accounted, and their ultimate fate decided. Once and for all, the honorable will be released from the torment of Gre’thor and allowed to join Kahless and the countless warriors since that have lived honorably and found glory in the afterlife, while the dishonorable will remain in Gre’thor to be tortured by the host of Fek’Ihri for eternity. The room grew cold and shivers ran down Korrath’s spine. He shook the thoughts of the damned and the demons from his mind and set about to prepare for the Rite of Redemption.
Korrath lit the candles on the small alter that sat across from the slab he slept upon. He took one of the candles and used it to light the bowl of incense that sat nearby. It burned slowly and aromatically as he returned the candle to its former position. The bat’leth of the House of Madakor hung on the wall above it. The candle light danced across its blood-stained steel. The stories of countless battles were written on its blade in pocks and nicks and a small crack that seemed larger in the soft flicker from the altar’s torches. Korrath reached for the ancient leather-wrapped handholds and removed the blade from its perch. Stepping back from the altar, he swung it gracefully from one side to another and marveled at how perfectly balanced it was. Returning to the altar, he knelt down in front of it and laid the bat’leth upon it. Korrath bowed his head and whispered a short incantation.
Rising to his feet, he fetched a small bowl from a nearby storage cabinet. He placed it on the bat’leth and pulled his Daqtagh from his boot and set it in front of the bowl. He knelt down again and removed two bottles from beneath the altar and set them down on either side of the small basin. The first contained a fine vintage of Bloodwine that he had acquired several years ago for this very occasion. He removed its cap and took a sip from the flagon. Then he poured half of its contents into the bowl before setting it back under the altar. The other decanter held water from the Qam Chee River sanctified by the monks of Boreth. He removed its cap and used it to cleanse the Dagtagh in the basin as he spoke the words those same monks had taught him. He bowed his head, paused for a moment, and rose to his feet.
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