Author's note: I used Fabula Imperium as a springboard to advance my writing skills until I thought they were... Show full author's note »
Well, well. You’ve come to me to hear a story, eh? I suppose that’s what I do best. Allow me to introduce myself; I am called Storis. Others call me the Storyteller, Fateweaver, or Futureseer. To tell you the truth, I am none of those things. I am simply a sentient being with a good idea of how a story should be told.
There are Storytellers in your midst today, whether you call them authors, artists, engineers, even… oh, how do you say it… programmers. Anyone that has creativity can be a Storyteller, but every Storyteller knows that words have power. Words can make impressions, they can stir emotion, they can inspire people to do great things, and they can alter people’s perceptions or their opinions. You can use words to make friends… or enemies. The power to alter reality itself, however, requires something that they lack. It’s called (unintelligible).
Oh, right. You don’t understand. Well, here I am trying to teach you what (unintelligible) is when it’s really something you have to figure out by yourself. Hmmm… let me see… you asked for a story. I have quite a few in my memory, but maybe I can teach you (unintelligible)’s meaning by using your own intuition.
You don’t believe that I exist, do you? You think I’m just part of the story; that this impudent Crunchman99 is making up some ominous all-seeing god that can alter reality with the word ‘unintelligible’ inside 2 parentheses. Well, I suppose it’s safer for you that way. As they say, ignorance is bliss.
I invite you to read Aegis Infernum. If I succeed in my goal, it matters not whether you believe in my existence.
And so it begins…
Below the dull gray sky, we see a group of soldiers running from cover to cover as black spheres of energy shatter the rocky ground that they had just traversed. In the distance, these projectiles shoot from the ground up, leaving trails of black sparks and fire as they reached their maximum height, and came crashing down to the soldiers’ location, detonating as they did. Each one left a great crater, burning with the same dark fire. One might observe that the soldiers were trying to get to where these projectiles were being launched. As they rushed across the fiery, rocky, desolated battlefield, one of the soldiers is unlucky enough to be hit by one of the projectiles. His silver battle armor is consumed in the flood of black. The rest keep on running, steeling their nerves, but one other tries to run back to the crater. One soldier, taller than the rest, grabs the young recruit and pulls him back. What he says to the recruit would have been lost in the sounds of battle, but for one moment, all goes quiet, as if in remembrance of the soldier who didn’t deserve such an end. “He’s gone, soldier. I don’t want you to die that same way.” The taller soldier’s voice was deep and gravelly, and filled with resolution. The recruit nods sorrowfully. Suddenly, a high pitched alarm screeches in the taller soldier’s ear. He takes in a quick breath, whips around to face one of the mortars screaming towards him. He grabbed the recruit and dove out of the way. He shielded the recruit with his body, and the outside of his armor was tinged red as it almost melted from the heat. When the soldier looked up, the fire had died down. He got to his feet, and offered his hand to the recruit. The recruit took it, and the soldier pulled him to his feet. The soldier turned to the far end of the sloping, rocky hill they were climbing and seemed to shield one eye with his hand. However, after a few seconds, we can tell he isn’t shielding his eye. He’s wearing a type of eyepiece, and he’s adjusting a knob jutting out from the side. From the soldier’s view, his vision zooms in until he can see the far side. What he sees filled him with dread. He squints out of habit, even though it makes no difference, just to confirm what his eyepiece is telling him. He takes his hand away and swipes it downward in front of his face. His vision returns to normal. “Dûm it… Crawlers incoming!” He yells, warning the rest of his squad of the approaching threat. He pulls his rifle off his back and sights down the enichad(1)-like creatures swarming towards them.
The device the soldier pulled off his back was about three feet long, and six inches high. The body looked to be unsuspecting, but the sides near the end curved to form a spherical shape. The weapon’s body went on for an inch or two before coming to the end of what could be considered a barrel. It had a thin vertical slit where there would be a circular hole in an Earth weapon. He flipped a switch on the underside of it. Two identical disc-shaped metal plates on each side of the weapon began to spin up, separating from the side of the weapon for a moment. As they had been fixed to the side, the intense glowing blue cylinder inside the chamber had been hidden. Heat waves emptied from the sides as the core activated. The discs slammed back into place with a satisfying Tuk-clank! sound. We can observe that this weapon is probably far beyond Earth technology, as the way the discs are suspended in the air when heat is vented is unknown. The other soldiers almost reluctantly pulled out their standard-looking rifles as they seemed to stare enviously at the soldier’s weapon. The taller soldier kept his eye on the target. The crawlers accelerated, and the squad waited for the soldier’s word. Eventually, another recruit spoke up nervously. “C-Commander? Th-they’re almost on top of us!” The soldier we now know to be the commander waved for the recruit to be silent. He waited for one heartbeat. Two.
He pulled on a grip on the underside of the weapon, similar to the pump action on an Earth shotgun. If someone were to listen closely, they could hear a short, quiet zapping sound coming from the device before it shot a vertical glowing blue disc of plasma at a crawler. The crawler tried to dodge, but it wasn’t quick enough. The disc struck it and detonated, incinerating the target and severely burning several close by. The other soldiers, taking this as an order to attack, fired on the enemy. Their weapons could almost be comparable to an Earth weapon, however it was obvious there were some advancements. They shot rapid-fire bolts of red plasma. It took them several shots to take down a single crawler, and that may explain why they envied the commander’s weapon so much. The commander, however, was busy. He had taken out a significant chunk of the approaching force. A bar of green light on the side of his weapon had begun to drain the moment he fired his first shot. Another meter, this one glowing yellow, showed the rapidly growing heat the weapon was generating. However, as this one grew bigger, the shockwave from the plasma bolts grew larger and more powerful. The commander knew how difficult a balancing act it was. The less heat the weapon generated, the less danger of overload. However, the more heat that was generated, the greater the potency of the projectiles. In fact, the commander was to know. He had designed the thing, after all. It was one of his greatest achievements. He pulled the grip and blasted two crawlers to his left. He whipped around and incinerated one that was trying to sneak up on him. He turned to the bulk of the force and fired.
He cursed under his breath, and pulled a cleverly concealed lever on the side. The discs separated again, and the depleted core was ejected. He pulled another from his belt, and rammed it into the holder. The discs clanked into position again. He tried to pull the grip, but it was jammed. It was only experimental, but he hadn’t told the inspectors that. He cursed again, louder this time, and yanked on the grip. At this point, a crawler was almost on top of him. He backed up rapidly, but the crawler accelerated. The commander was breathing hard. He kept pulling on the grip, but it wouldn’t budge. He lifted his head to see the crawler leaping up to his shoulder level, and attempting to stab him in the face with its razor-sharp limb. The situation triggered a flood of memories. In the split second where the crawler was leaping towards him, the commander relived many years of pain, suffering, and determination.
Tarichis almost nodded off for the fourteenth time. He blew his jet black hair out of his eyes. Unfortunately, it was too stubborn to stay that way for long. Half the class was already asleep. His history teacher was blabbering on and on about their civilization, and how it got to where it was. He looked down, and tapped thoughtfully on his desk. The entire room was shaped like an amphitheater, but it was only a semi-circle. Rows of seats stretched back to the end of the room, but for this class all the students were clustered near the center. Being able to see wasn’t a problem, as each seat had a holographic display in front of it. It showed whoever was speaking at that time. Tarichis moved the image of the professor into the corner of his display with his finger, opened a blank notepad, and started doodling idly. He made a vertical curve to the right, one to the left, and two half circles connecting them at the top. He made five circles in the middle of the figure. He started drawing to the right, making a long, pointed cylinder. He drew designs on it, and switched its color to black. He made the figure to the left blue. As for the inner circles, he made one red, another light blue, the third gray, the fourth yellow, and the fifth purple. He started to save it, but something stayed his hand. Seemingly without his will, his hand drew a perfect circle inside the others. He hadn’t even changed the settings, but still the circle in the middle was black. His hand began writing strange characters in the bottom left. Tarichis couldn’t read them. When it was done, the notepad just closed. He didn’t even know if it had saved or not. He looked at his hand. It was normal looking, and he was pretty sure his nervous system hadn’t malfunctioned. He was still pondering this when the professor stopped talking. He looked up. The professor was just about to start on another long ramble. “And now, for the REALLY fascinating part! Religion and theology,” He announced. The professor had a very brash voice. Unfortunately, this didn’t help him make his lessons any more interesting. The entire class (those who were still awake, anyway) groaned.
Tarichis thought the class would never end. The professor must have thoroughly explained fifteen different religions and their beliefs by this point. He was about to fall asleep himself. That is, until the professor brought up Aerism. “In times long past, this was the most prevalent religion. It even has certain effects on life today. It focuses on three deities coming to Isum shorty after its formation.” Tarichis perked up. He didn’t know why, but now he was interested. “One was male, another female, and the third… the third was a force known as the Hades.” Tarichis could picture it in his mind. Isum after its formation, craters of molten stone covering the surface, its atmosphere not quite habitable, rings still yet to form. He saw time passing, molten craters cooling, vegetation just beginning to form. Krystallite(2) started collecting in giant deposits. Soon after, he saw a bright light just outside the atmosphere. It was almost brighter than the sun, and Tarichis had trouble looking directly at it. The light seemed to launch something down onto the surface, and then it just disappeared. Time passed again. Tarichis could see Hûmins down on the surface creating primitive shelters. He frowned to himself. Didn’t they evolve from lesser creatures? He pondered this. Maybe the light was some kind of superior being, and Hûmins were a sort of ‘seed’ race. He saw two other lights appear in much the same place, except now he could see a silhouette inside each. One male, and the other female. The male stretched out his arm and opened his hand. He was holding five orbs. One red. One light blue. One gray. One yellow. One purple. The male turned his hand and let the orbs fall to the surface. The female touched her fingertips to her forehead. She pulled them away and faced her hand towards the planet. She seemed to let go of something, but he couldn’t see what. The two disappeared. He watched as the years went by, and how the civilizations prospered greatly. Farms sprang up, and then cities, and then megacities. They were prospering almost TOO greatly. He wondered if that had something to do with the things the beings had given them. All of a sudden, Tarichis felt cold dread weighing on his shoulders. A strange feeling of panic almost overwhelmed him. He looked to the horizon. One by one, stars started winking out. It happened gradually, but picked up speed as time went on. Darkness engulfed entire constellations, nebulas, and solar systems. On the surface, the people could see it too. He felt their fear almost as keenly as his own. The darkness seemed to be working its way towards Isum. Eventually, it arrived.
Black meteors rained down from the sky. Not many survived the first salvo. Fortunately, the force didn’t seem interested in the people. It swept across the planet, seeming to search for something. Eventually, it gathered the five orbs together one at a time and absorbed them into itself. The darkness lifted from the surface. Little did the people know, however, it wasn’t finished. Before leaving the planet, it began leeching something from it. The sky turned dark. The air became foul to breathe. Finally, after weeks, it withdrew. But something was gone. Maybe it was the luster of the buildings, or the beauty of the gems. But something was missing. There was only one answer. The force must have taken it with them.
Tarichis watched as the advancement of the civilization slowed to a crawl. They just didn’t seem to have their enthusiasm for knowledge anymore. He watched as they slowly gained interstellar travel, high-powered weapons, and grew in technological understanding. Then, he came. He was the most brilliant scientist of his era. Unfortunately, his name had been lost to time, but there was still record of his accomplishments. They said that he was blessed by the deities, and before he died, he made the final breakthrough. An FTL drive design. Now all they needed was the location of the dark force, and they could be there with an army within a month instead of decades. They amassed multiple fleets of ships. They weren’t taking any chances, that was for sure. After years of preparation and scouting missions, they had the location. Well, not the exact location. They had a brief transmission of ‘Help’ and then static, but they figured that was good enough. They were ready. Tarichis was amazed at the sight of frigates, battle cruisers, and swarms of small fighters left Isum. He saw the light of the ships’ engines blaze to life before disappearing completely. He knew that they were on a mission to recover something infinitely valuable to them. They were determined to regain their past glory…
One way or another.
(1)Enichads have round bodies and multiple eyes like Earth spiders; however, that’s where the similarities end. Enichads have four legs, are about two Earth feet tall, and can spit acidic venom up to twenty feet. They’re very dangerous and unique to this planet; however that only makes their fangs all the more valuable. Enichad hunters can be very successful, or have very short careers. It really comes down to how good they are at dodging.
(2)Krystallite is a very highly valued resource, unique to Isum. It has almost infinite uses, from producing power to a very valuable jewelry item. Its refining process is expensive, but not prohibitively so to most corporations, or even relatively wealthy citizens. Mining operations are hugely successful most of the time, as the distance towards the core of Isum seems to have no effect on how much krystallite is present. In fact, there would seem to be a larger density deeper in. Some people (mostly corrupt politicians) speculate that the entire core of the planet is pure, molten krystallite. In fact, many individuals would like to see that, as the melting point of krystallite is extremely high. However, in many cases the act of melting krystallite is quite common within a company, for sale purposes of course.