Volume 51: The Second Crush: Sparks
It wasn’t long before the entire multiverse heard about the attack. There had been great advancements in Psion Orb Technology, which allowed communication between universes. A massive battle had taken place. Dozens were dead or injured, caught in the crossfire. The Elven prince, possessed by the Xerxes and given its power added to his own, unleashed ground shaking psionics against those around him after realizing he was exposed. He killed his sister with the initial attack and killed another of his formers friends in the blink of an eye before the others rose to act. The battle lasted for nearly 20 mins before the Xerses realized the battle was lost to him. The building they had been in had been reduced to flaming rubble, and the dead and injured lay strewn about.
“Discovered sooner than I had hoped...” The Xerxes said telepathically to those gathered around. Its voice was melodic and crystalline. The Elf prince’s body was broken and bleeding from every orifice yet continued being animated like a broken puppet by the Xerxes. “No matter. We are everywhere! The living shall be ours!” and at that the Xerxes detonated the body in an explosion of guts, sinew, viscera, and light and scurried off into the shadows escaping while those around him tried to regain their wits. The Elf prince’s disembodied head lay at the feet of his dead sister.
A search was conducted but it was halfhearted. With the sheer destruction around them done by incredibly powerful members of The Council (all of whom were still quite high and drunk) and the dead and injured laying about them, pursuit was not a priority.
Less than a day after the attack the majority of the Elves declared war on the Xerxes. Several other races followed. The family of the prince and princess were powerful and had great influence. They began to call to arms many different factions under their banner.
But despite all of this, actually LOCATING the Xerxus still proved problematic. No other race knew of a “Home Universe” for them, nor indeed had anyone besides the Trementians every even seen one. Frustration mounted. Time passed.
With the harsh blow dealt to The Council many turned back to the forming “Multiversal Senate” for help. And now it seemed progress was being made. The Graze were asked to step in and help organize things here and with their help a fledgling senate was created. A large moon was hollowed out and the inside was made into a massive meeting area where representatives from across the multiverse could meet and discuss issues. The moon itself was fitted with engines and a massive Reality Drive, the largest ever constructed. Anti-aggression magics and powerful protective spells where placed on and glyphed into the moons inner and outer surface, attempting to provide a safe place for all to meet. They began calling the moon “Elysium.”
A large number of animal humanoids had recently been displaced by the Oblivion. Mostly humanoid cats and dogs but a scattering of other animals as well. They called their race “Animus” and they had powerful ships and noble intentions. They were asked if they would like to travel with Elysium and be its protectors. Negotiations were made and the Animus agreed, and their mighty fleet began to travel with Elysium. They began to be called “The Paws” of the Elysium, in kind jest, but the Animus embraced this nickname for their fleet, naming themselves the P.A.W.S Fleet, which they said stood for, “Protective Animus Warriors Syndicate.”
The protective spells placed on Elysium worked better than expected. Very soon after the enchantments were placed 2 Xerxes possessed individual were detected entering Elysium! One of them exploded the body it was in upon being detected and escaped, how it escaped Elysium however was never discovered and led to troubling rumors. The other however was captured alive and interrogated. The body it inhabited was that of a Swaft Female, a representative from one of the elite Swaft families. The Xerxes lashed out with her body injuring many before being subdued. They placed it in a stalwart holding cell and observed it.
A wave of discontent once again swelled through the multiverse. Opinions about what should be done with it varied intensely. The Dark Dwarves offered to take the Xerxes to one of their home worlds for interrogation, that were sure they could make it speak. The Elves called for the creature to be given to their people in repayment for their lost prince and princess. The Swaft announced no one would be taking one of their people anywhere, she was a sovereign citizen of the Swaft people regardless of whatever possessed it. Tensions ran high.
The Sliders and Trementians, being less directly involved, had the prisoner moved to a more isolated part of the Elysium and placed it under PAWS protection, to be watched around the clock. Days passed. Many attempts were made to speak with the prisoner. The Xerxes simply smiled and laughed and did vulgar things with the body it possessed. It refused to eat and the Swaft’s body began to look thinner. Fearing they would lose her, and under great pressure from the senate, the Swaft relented and agreed to allow “more aggressive” interrogation techniques to be used. Psionics were brought in. They began to try and probe the mind of the creature. They were met with colossal pushback. The Xerxes have access not only to their own power but also the power of whomever they possessed. The Swaft woman had had an incredible will in her real life, that now added to the Xerxes own substantial will proved hard to crack. When not being probed however the Xerxes now began to speak. It began screaming about how it’s people would claim everyone here. It would scream in fits about the opulence and power of the Xerxes! It began to use the sharps claws at the end of its spider legs to carve random symbols into its flesh. It smiled taking joy in the pain it inflicted on this body. They attempted to restrain it but the Xerxes threatened to explode the body if they insisted, so no further attempts were made. The Xerxes laughed and continued drawing haphazard lines into the Swaft’s skin.
There were those who specialized in exorcism magic for one reason or another and had been on call for just such an occasion, the various races believing their specific type of magic may be able to pull the Xerxes from a host body. The nearest one was called as soon as the Xerxes was captured and was on their way. But on the way to Elysium the Exorcist’s ship was crippled. The engine was booby trapped and the ship would have exploded but for the 2 centaur engineers on board who were able to diffuse it in time. When the crisis was over they found a shuttle craft had been taken from the ship and the 2nd Officer and the ships Navigator were missing. Also damage had been done to the ship. The engines were unrepairable, and their communications array had been burnt out. They were on the edge of a largely unknown universe when the attack occurred so they would be waiting a long time for rescue.
Too long it would prove. The thin emaciated body of the possessed Swaft woman was a horror to behold. Every inch of her body covered in inflamed bright red scratches and puss leaking wounds. The Dark Dwarves began making a scene on the senate floor, demanding the Swaft be given to them while there was still time to interrogate it. She may seem near death to all of them, but the rest assured the Dark Dwarves had ways of keeping her alive…
It was at this time something unexpected happened. The Xerxes was requesting a meeting with them. It had something to say. Several interrogators ran to the holding cell and stared at it, holding multiple recording devices on and active, ready to capture whatever it might say. The wretched thing smiled a nightmarish smile and spat another tooth out of its mouth onto the floor.
But now when it spoke, it spoke telepathically. Not in a normal pleasant way as most telepaths did but with a voice that started like a scream and ended like cat claws on a chalkboard. More than one of the interrogators left the room unable to handle the sound in their mind.
“This is the end.” It spoke.
“We’ve heard all this from you before Xerxes. Did you call us here to say something important?”, a PAWS Captain said setting his jaw.
“The weakness of the living. You always think its about you!” The Swaft’s body convulsed while the Xerxes sent off peels of horrific psychic laughter.
“Regardless, before I leave, I wanted to give you some advice.” The Xerxes said snapping the Swaft’s body to attention letting the head flop forward and back. Many in the room later said they thought they could hear the neck snap in two. The Xerxes reached up with one of its arms and grabbed the Swaft’s head pulling it up so it could look at them. “You should give up now. We are quite gentle with those who give themselves over freely.” The face of the Swaft looked like it was attempting to smile but for some reason the signal wasn’t going through correctly, so the mouth just twitched convulsively, stretching tight on one side of the face.
One of the Elven representatives was there, and he snorted in defiance. “You are the one who will be giving yourself freely! To us!” The Elf wheeled on it’s heal and addressed the PAWS Captain. “Get the Dark Dwarves in here! Politics be damned!” he wheeled back around to face the Xerxes. “I am giving you to them! My people have been dealing with the Dark Dwarves since The Dim Times and we know they have ways of making you speak!” The Elf trembled with rage slamming his fists on the prison door that kept the Xerxes locked up.
“The Dim Times?!” The Xerxes cackled violently. “And where do you think we were?! We were wearing the skins of Dark Dwarves while the Elves were still living in caves! There are none that escape us! All you do is in futility!” the Swaft body crumpled in laughter and the many wounds covering its body began to glow.
It was at this time 3 massive Dark Dwarves arrived with a gigantic black coffin floating between them. It was covered in lights and displays and puffed gently with a cold smoke. 2 of the Dark Dwarves had large crimson scorpions emblazoned across their chest and they stepped aside as a slightly shorter Dark Dwarf stepped forward wearing a blue glowing glove with vialed syringes on each finger, each vial filled with a different colored, glowing substance. “We’ll take it from here.” He said in a deep voice, stroking his beard.
The PAWS Captain looked from the Dark Dwarves, to the Elf. He sighed curtly and turned to unlock the cell door. No one could see it, but as the Xerxes heard the door begin to creak open, the Swaft’s face once again contorted into a smile.
Just as the door was swinging open there was a commotion in the hall leading to them, and the door burst open. A Presence Reveler, reeking of the leaf and barefooted, ran screaming into the room. “Nooooooo!!!!” he yelled awkwardly lunging towards the opening cell door, dodging every attempt to constrain him with ease as he swayingly meandered at great speed toward the door. The PAWS Captain grabbed him in a bearhug, and the Presence Reveler kissed him on the nose and used their combined mass to slam into the door, closing it with a startling noise.
The Xerxes Screamed a “NOOOOOO!!!” of its own as it felt the cell reverberate from the slamming door. It’s entire body glowed intensely from the scratches and wounds covering it and it fell hard to the floor, swelled and exploded in a blinding flash of light. The entirety of Elysium shook. Power was lost for long moments and there were screams and brief panic. But light quickly returned, and it revealed the cell that once held the Xerxes prisoner all but destroyed. The advanced PAWS defense system had contained most of the blast so there were no physical injuries. The inside of the cell however was incinerated ash. No trace of either Swaft or Xerxes remained. The room was swept meticulously for any biological material but not a single cell was found. The Dark Dwarves found themselves impressed with the absoluteness of it.
In the following days and weeks there were many questions. It was decided that despite the haphazard nature of the marks carved into the Swaft’s body, that they must have been the Xerxes language. Recordings of the entirety of the Xerxes stay were copied and given to code crackers and language specialists to see what they could decipher. Recordings were also sent to Historians to check the historical record for similar marks and symbols.
The Dark Dwarves were indignant on the senate floor, calling those who were there cowards. Unwilling to do what needed to be done to stop this new adversary. Heated debate broke out, and then almost turned into a brawl. However just before it could happen the chief Dark Dwarf delegate stomped his foot loudly and let out a short shout. The eyes of the senate turned to him and he stared back at them momentarily before speaking. “The Dark Dwarves rescind our membership to the senate!” There were a few stifled gasp but then the Dark Dwarf continued, “And to the Alliance!” He shouted spitting on the floor.
The senate erupted in comment, but every Dark Dwarf present immediately turned and walked out returning to their ships. Within an hour every Dark Dwarf in the Elysium had departed. The Alliance had been dealt a serious blow.
No one could see him, but Arc floated just outside the Elysium looking in. And as he faded away a single bright tear rolled down his frowning face.
About the illustration: Today have again included 2 illustrations. The first is a Trementian, and Elven Princess, and, of course, Bastion. The second is just a doodle page gone wild ha ha! It turned out interesting so I thought I’d include it as a bonus 😊
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