Volume 61: The Second Crush - FIN
The Second Crush - Fin:
A haze of confusion seemed to permeate everything in these days. It seemed the walls were closing in from every angle. The acceleration of the Oblivion was sending more and more refugees to new universes and new people to the Elysium, all of whom were seeking aid and representation. The robots from the Techno Empire continued their terror attacks at an alarming rate, and with them brought more and more hate crimes upon innocent robots just trying to live their lives. This in turn created more robots who identified with the Techno Empire which offered protection from “The hate of the Organics”.
The Xerxes also seemed to be popping up everywhere, and escaping with alarming frequency even after being discovered. But they were being found with less and less frequency now. The main method for exposing Xerxes was still Traxt enchantment and with less and less of the Trinity available to create these enchantments more and more Xerxes were going undetected.
With chaos in the Elysium, “The Council” began to gain strength again. The elite families from the major races began to express a lack of confidence in the ability of the Elysium to lead, especially now that nearly anyone of them could be a Xerxes agent in disguise. The Council boasted daily Xerxes testing for its core members as most of them still held enough influence to have enchanted T-Traxts able to detect Xerxes possession. This new iteration of The Council was much more mob like than its predecessor. Rumors abounded that the leaders of The Council were involved in shady dealings and perhaps even murders. On top of this they seemed to have aligned themselves with the O-boys who began showing up more and more around the Elysium.
Regardless of all this people began turning to The Council anyway when they wanted things to get done. For a price The Council seemed to be able to make amazing things happen quickly. People were growing more and more desperate and were willing to pay almost any price for protection and security. Newly refuged races and beings from across the multiverse began turning to The Council to ask for help with finding new home worlds, gaining representation, sometimes even just acquiring food, water, and energy, and more when they found the Elysium to slow or unable to act in their interests. The Elysium tried to downplay the influence of The Council, but the truth was they saw them gaining influence every day, while they struggled just to plow through the daily bureaucracy.
Snish had completely disappeared with Lunar 1. The Technorganic Conglomerate was in disarray. They had pinned all their hopes on Snish’s return and on his son Lunar 1 who was to lead them. Now they were leaderless again and with seemingly no hope of Snish ever returning. They were falling apart. The Synths tried to rise up as leaders, and made many attempts to reunite the organics and the robots on their many worlds across reality, but for whatever reason were unable to do so. The division between the organics and the robots seemed to grow every day.
The 5 were completely unreachable as was Raine the younger. The reappearance of Snish had rekindled they fame behind them but since his disappearance The 5 quickly began to slip back into the realm of legend and fairy tale.
The only caveat to this was a rumor that The Council was perhaps having private meetings with Brazz and Raine the younger. If it was true it was being done in absolute secrecy. But it seemed some members of The Council were unable to help themselves and many of them bragged about late night “parties” with Brazz and Raine the younger that often went on for a day or more and were “out of control”, involving drinking, drugs both normal and magical, and raucous orgies. None seemed to be able to offer any proof of this so most considered this to be typical Council Boasting which they were known for. It still led leaders in the Elysium to wonder if something more was happening.
Time passed and the pressure continued to build. The only saving grace during this time was that the Dark Dwarves remained at peace. Or so it appeared. They were rarely heard from. This in itself was disturbing to many, as the Dark Dwarves had been a people at war since the beginning of recorded history. What was happening in the Dark Dwarf Empire? They would all find out soon enough.
But first something else climactic happened. The Elysium had called the remaining leaders of the Trinity to them, looking for answers to what was happening with them, to find out the state of Traxt Magic, and to see if there was anyway to increase the amount of T-Traxt enchantments available. A delegation of the remaining leaders arrived as well as members from each of the major guilds, The Smiths, The Jewelers, and the Weavers. The Elysium was jam packed as delegates form nearly every race clamored to hear what the Trinity would report on all these matters. As the leaders of the Trinity took center stage a silence fell upon the Elysium. A Smith rose first and took to the podium. His Cosmic Hammer glowed brightly at his side. He stroked his full thick beard and looked out onto the masses gathered before him. And he spoke.
“Greetings beings from across the multiverse…” he began. And then he was gone. Not just him but every member of the Trinity in the Elysium disappeared. There was no sound, no lights. One moment they were there and the next they were all gone. A gasp welled up from the people inside the Elysium, and then across the multiverse as others watching VIA Psion Orb broadcast also witnessed it. And then panic. Commotion moved like a terrible wave through the Elysium as they tried to figure out what had happened. Reports began to scream in from all corners of the multiverse. The Trinity were gone. All of them. Every member of the Trinity in the all of reality was now gone. Ice cold fear began to set into the bones of people everywhere. Without the Trinity there was no Traxt Magic and without Traxt magic there was nothing to hold the Oblivion at bay. The noise inside the Elysium was deafening. Just when it seemed it could get no louder an alarm began to sound. The PAWS issued a warning throughout the Elysium that dozens of Dark Dwarf warships were entering the solar system and were being accompanied by an equal number of ships claiming to be from the Techno Empire! This gripped the Elysium’s attention.
“They are hailing the Elysium.” a PAWS captain announced VIA hologram which now stood on stage where the Trinity had been moments ago.
“Put them through here.” A delegate from the Lizard People said to the hologram.
“As you wish.” said the PAWS captain fading away. A new hologram took his place. Two in fact. Before the Elysium stood a large Dark Dwarf in full military dress. Slightly behind him stood a robot with no facial features but covered in spikes and blades. The Dark Dwarf stood erect and studied the crowd as he seemed to wait for them to fall silent. Which they did.
“People of the multiverse. Hello. I was hoping to arrive in time to hear from the Trinity, but it seems we all arrived a bit late to hear from them.” A smirk danced across the Dark Dwarves face.
“How dare you bring your warships into this space? The Elysium is a nonaggression zone!” The Centaur leader exclaimed at the holograms before him.
“A nonaggression zone for the allied races. Which we are not one.” The Dark Dwarves face returned to emotionless stone.
The ranking PAWS member on the floor rose and spoke, “Even with this fleet you can’t hope to win a battle here. Our PAWS ships outnumber you two to one, and as you know the Elysium itself has formidable defenses.” This statement seemed to ever so slightly release the tension in the room. The Dark Dwarf smiled again despite himself.
“There will be no need for our ships to attack.” The Dark Dwarf said flatly. “One way or the other…”
“What does that mean?” the Elven delegate said standing up herself.
“We have figured out how to stop the Oblivion” the Dark Dwarf said. A wave of indignation spread throughout the Elysium but was quickly quelled as the Dark Dwarf spoke again. “It was obvious from the beginning. We are, quite frankly, ashamed as a people that it took us so long to realize it.”
Quite murmurs bubbled up around the Elysium. Defeat the Oblivion? Impossible! How could they know how? What had they missed? Would they share this information? An endless stream of questions rippled through the people. Indeed, across the multiverse people were tuning in VIA Psion Orb and asking these questions.
“Well. Let’s have it then!” The representative for the Naga people said.
The Dark Dwarf glanced at him but said nothing. “I have arrived to accept the unconditional surrender of the allied races.” The Dark Dwarf said without emotion. And as a roar grew inside the Elysium he added, “And the Techno Empire will be recognized as the only nation of robots.”
“Are you insane?!” one delegate said above the noise.
“And since when do the Dark Dwarves have allies? What happened to ‘The Dark Dwarves alone will conquer all living things’?”
The Dark Dwarf looked back at his robot companion and smiled. “Technically the Dark Dwarves do not consider the robots to be “living things” and the TE agrees with us. The TE will rule the robots, we will rule everything else.”
A Synth representing the TC stood up slamming its hand on the table in front of it. “The Robotic people are alive! And We the TC represent them!”
“We disagree” the robot hologram said in a deep electronic voice.
“You are both insane...” The Merfolk delegate said.
“And what does this have to do with stopping the Oblivion?” a member of the C.F.O.B. said honking a tiny horn at the end for emphasis.
“It was hard for us to see too.” The Dark Dwarf started. Just as he did the PAWS captain’s hologram reappeared.
“2 more fleets have just entered the system! And long-range sensors have picked up 3 more only minutes away!” The hologram flickered as the captain seemed to be rushing about issuing orders.
The packed Elysium once again broke out into a sea of voices but as the Dark Dwarf spoke, they died quickly. “You see we have known since the beginning of time that we were meant to rule. The Multiverse needs someone to bring order to it. Our gods have told us that it is us.”
“What?” a member of the Blobkin bubbled.
“You see the Oblivion is the punishment for our inaction. We have angered the Multiverse. We tried to be friends with the other races but look what it has brought? The Oblivion continues and now the Trinity has disappeared. What is left to stop the Oblivion now? Only us!” The Dark Dwarf said standing up straight.
“Your religious mumbo jumbo can’t save us!” The Mer representative shouted back. “Rejoin the Elysium! Stop this insanity and help us stop the Oblivion!”
“You poor fools. Can’t you see we are helping! When we have conquered all the races then the Oblivion will subside! We are the heroes of this story! The Dark Dwarves will save the multiverse!” the passion in the Dark Dwarves voice was undeniable. By this time the Elysium was completely surrounded by Dark Dwarf and TE ships. The PAWS ships had set up a perimeter around the Elysium. Weapons ran hot on both sides waiting for someone to take a shot. Onboard the Elysium a PAWS commander flipped a switch and the entirety of the Elysium transformed. On its outside weapons of all kind sprouted and a visible honeycomb of electric blue shielding surrounded them. Inside the Elysium many trembled in fear.
“It is not to late!” The Dark Dwarf seemed to plead, which in itself was unsettling. “Surrender now! You should know we know longer see ourselves as conquerors but saviors! Your people will still serve the Dark Dwarf empire but if you do as you are commanded your enslavement will be mild. You can continue to go about your normal lives and be free from the Oblivion!” The Dark Dwarf hologram looked around the room at the various representatives with searching eyes.
“We will never surrender!” A Destiny Elf said levitating above the crowd to better see the holograms.
The PAWS commander also spoke, “Even with these ships you have brought you can not win. The Elysium is an invincible Juggernaut. Even if you wipe out the PAWS forces you will not prevail against the Elysium!”
The Dark Dwarf shifted slightly, and his face went stern once more. He gave but a brief glance to the robot next to him and it disappeared. He looked back at the Elysium and its people. “So it seems you have made your choice. I have to admit I knew it would come to this.” He paused as if waiting for a response, but none came. So, he continued. “You see the robots have proved to be incredible allies. As you know they are everywhere these days.” Suddenly the Elysium shook. The hologram of the PAWS captain flickered and turned on the stage and then disappeared in cloud of holographic blood and sinew. Several in the crowd gasped. “Do you know they let one of them in this morning with 6 Dronebots and they barely even questioned him?” The Dark Dwarf looked at his fingernails disinterested, and a powerful explosion gripped the Elysium. People began to scream.
Outside the PAWS forces saw the forcefield surrounding the Elysium shimmer and then break. Then all of its armaments slowly sunk back into the surface like wilting flowers. The Elysium was defenseless.
“One final chance.” The Dark Dwarf said staring out into the middle distance. “Surrender or be the first destroyed.”
The delegates all looked at each other for long moments. Telepathic communication seemed to be happening among them very rapidly. The crowds sat in rapt silence and waited. Finally, the Elven leader stood and faced the Dark Dwarf. “You think you can bully us into surrender. That we will roll over for you. Well we will not! We are the allied forces of the multiverse and we represent something greater than your false gods!” These words caused a look of anger to appear on the Dark Dwarf hologram. “We are a united people from countless universes, and you will never defeat us! We will defeat you and the Oblivion! Together we are unstoppable!” her voice rang out bolstering the will of those around her. The people cheered. People watching from their homes across the multiverse found themselves cheering too.
“Then together you will die!” the Dark Dwarf spat as his hologram faded and a volley of blaster fire shook the Elysium. The Elven representative slammed her fist down onto a button in front of her and shouted, “PAWS forces return fire! Protect the Elysium!”
And with that a terrible and long battle began. Many ran to their own ships and fled. But far more ran to their ships to join the fight. Bolstered by the ships from the Elysium the allied forces made a final stand. Inside the Elysium battle also erupted. Several bots revealed TE symbols hidden on their bodies and began killing indiscriminately anyone near them. They targeted the Synths most of all.
In the bowels of the Elysium PAWS forces battled to retake their command center in an effort to bring the Elysium’s defenses back online. But the Dronebots inside were entrenched and put up a fierce fight. The Dark Dwarves had used their powerful metal enchanting ability to power up the Dronebots and other TE forces making them far more threatening than they would normally be. These new metal allies appeared to be the perfect choice for the Dark Dwarves.
Outside for a short time it looked like the allied forces would prevail. Fortified by the ships of nearly every other race added to the PAWS forces they managed to push the Dark Dwarf and TE forces slightly back. But it was not to last. Most of the delegates and other visitors’ ships were not designed for battle. The Dark Dwarf ships were. And they along with the TE ships began to mow down all the ships who opposed them. Just as the PAWS forces began to be overwhelmed those inside the Elysium prevailed and retook the control center. They began to energize all of the Elysium’s defenses, but it was too little too late. The Elysium’s surface was riddled with blaster fire and bombardment scars so many of its defenses failed to come online. Its honeycomb shield flickered on in patches doing little to block the continued onslaught.
In the end the allied forces could not hold out. When the last PAWS ship fell the Dark Dwarf and TE force began an all-out attack on the Elysium itself. The Elysium remained crowded as few were able to escape. Even those that had made it to ships were mostly cut down by the enemy forces as they made their getaway. The Dark Dwarves were making an example of this.
The Dark Dwarf’s hologram reappeared in the broken remains of the Elysium and looked about at the destruction. He also reappeared on Psion Orb broadcast and addressed the multiverse directly.
“People of the multiverse! See what happens when you stand against the might of the Dark Dwarves! We have taken your most protected space and made it our own! Submit to us and live! Otherwise…” The Dark Dwarf hologram disappeared from Psion Orb broadcast momentarily but remained in the Elysium where it turned to look upon the people that remained there. He looked at the Elven repetitive who despite being a bloody mess herself was attempting to free a Naga trapped underneath a fallen pillar. “You have made a mistake today” he said to her. She did not turn to look at him but did respond.
“You are the one whose made the mistake. What has been done here will not be forgotten. You will not prevail!” she shouted freeing the Naga and holding his broken body in her lap. She turned to look at the Dark Dwarf. “We will always be stronger together.” The Naga she held looked up at her and smiled and then passed away. The Elf closed her eyes and a single tear rolled down her face.
The Dark Dwarf looked sad himself as his flickering and jolting hologram walked up next to her. He seemed to reach out gently for her and tried to place his holographic hand on her shoulder but it phased right through. She never looked up to see him. “You poor fools. Don’t worry. We will save you from yourselves.” And then to someone behind him he said, “End this.”
The Dark Dwarf once again returned to the Psion Orb broadcast and addressed the people. “Behold the end of Elysium! Behold the power of the Dark Dwarf empire!” and the view switched to the outside of the Elysium. Being broadcast now from several enemy ships the broadcast showed multiple views of the broken Elysium. Derelict and destroyed ships floated haphazardly around her. One of the lifeless ships collided with the Elysium sending up a fiery plume. Dead bodies floated like frozen dust in the space around it. The people of the multiverse looked on in horror.
6 warships took position around the Elysium and the multiverse watched as they deployed massive cannons from their fronts. They powered up and began to glow with a white blue intensity and a few moments later let out a tremendous blast in unison. A final scream echoed as the Psion Orb net picked up the last moments inside the Elysium. Outside the multiverse watched the Elysium collapse into a bright ball of energy. And then there was nothing. A few stray sections of ships and a scattering of frozen dead bodies was all that remained. The Elysium was no more.
Thus ends the Second Crush. Thus begins The Panic!
About the illustration: I’ve included 3 today. One is of course Bastion ha ha! Then we have some Trementian Sketches and an Elf, then some more Trementians and a Human Warrior!
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