Vol. 98: Something new and frightening
Something new and frightening…
During all of this war continued on many fronts. With the Dark Dwarves, the Xerxes, Battles between desperate megacities vying for resources and more. The hardest hit continued to be arguably the most powerful: The Dragons and Vampires.
With Crepuscular remaining in orbit around Elysium 12 the Multiversal Senate was bombarded daily by the Nighttide Trinity with reports of attacks against them. The Xerxes and the Dark Dwarves both were hunting the vampires and dragons aggressively for their magical properties. The senate found it hard to dismiss the constant stream of reports coming from the Nighttide because their populations really were being massacred. The Nighttide’s reports to the senate almost always included video of the incidents. Dragons being killed and hauled into Dark Dwarf ships. Vampires being enveloped by Xerxes weapons and taken similarly. The O-Boys fighting and dying trying to protect and rescue them. The Psi News also caught much of it and broadcast it via Psion Orb regularly. It was harrowing to watch.
The senate realized they had a big problem here. So, they tried to throw everything they could at the problem. Nearly the entirety of the Animus and Grinders forces were tasked with the protection of the Nighttide. The tension between the Grinders and the O-Boys was palpable and fighting broke out between them often, adding to the problem.
However this added protection seemed to turn the tide and soon attacks against the Nighttide began to slow… and then cease. This was eerie. It appeared to happen almost overnight that both the Dark Dwarves and the Xerxes attacks simply ended. Throughout the Multiverse reports came in that Dark Dwarf attacks against other worlds had slowed or diminished as well. What was happening in the Dark Dwarf empire and why were the Xerxes now similarly quiet? What should have been a sigh of relief for the multiverse became a multiverse holding its breath wondering what was going on.
Many reasoned it was because the Dark Dwarves had finally lost their edge, which in many ways was true. Their once invincible empire that conquered worlds at their leisure had now found themselves barely winning battles and often being repelled. The combined forces of the Allied Races represented by the Multiversal Senate had become vastly stronger. The many races working together had advanced the sciences, magical disciplines, technology, and psionic might of all the people. And with the Animus and Grinders now protecting the Nighttide they couldn’t even capture vampires or dragons like they used too. All of this led most people to believe that the Dark Dwarves had fallen back to reevaluate their strategy.
The truth of what was happening was far more…interesting… and came to light in the time that followed. The Dark Dwarves WERE discouraged about their many losses. They were furious with the “gods” that gave them power and demanded more and more power from them to beat their adversaries, but no amount of power seemed to turn the tide back in their favor. So, they did regroup. And a new plan emerged. If their goal was to conquer the entirety of the multiverse, why not collect the “lesser” beings first. Once they have conquered the “low hanging fruit” they could absorb their technologies and magic into their own and use that to conquer the Allied Forces. And when they looked out onto the Multiverse-scape one race seemed to be the easiest current target: The Xerxes.
The Dark Dwarves and Xerxes had had a sort of “silent alliance” or at least a nonaggression pact of sorts that went back countless generations. The Xerxes never seemed to be in the Dark Dwarves way so they never seemed worth pursuit, and the Xerxes saw no reason to rile up the Dark Dwarves whose allies, the robots of the Techno Empire, were immune to their possession abilities. In this way they had avoided each other for many many centuries. But now that would change. The Dark Dwarves now saw the Xerxes as a potential new power source, having unique technologies and other powers. They also knew the Xerxes possessed their own cache of dragon and vampire artifacts. They coveted these and sought to add the to their own stockpile. And so it was the Dark Dwarves turned all of their attention to the conquering of the Xerxes.
The multiverse watched this new war unfold with morbid curiosity. Psi-News was on the frontlines of many battles sending back footage of the deadly and epic clashes. The visions were terrifying. In outer space the Dark Dwarves Juggernaut Warships clashed with the reality bending Puzzleships of the Xerxes. On the ground Dark Dwarves fought with Xerxes possessing the bodies of vampires and the battles were bloody and savage. New vampire/xerxes hybrids began to appear. Some new bonding technique the Xerxes had created to strengthen their connection with their vampire hosts. These new possessed hybrid vampires looked like vampires with a Xerxes melded into them, often in the chest or on the back, or on their neck and face. They were terrifying to behold and wielded far greater power than the simply possessed vampires the Xerxes had been using for so long. Throughout the multiverse vampires watching the Psi-News broadcasts became incensed seeing their brothers and sisters being used as tools for war.
This new weapon gave the Xerxes the edge for a very short time. But it did not last. The Dark Dwarves fought with a religious fanaticism and it soon became apparent that the Xerxes were no match for them. The whole of reality watched the Dark Dwarves roll over the Xerxes, decimating them at every encounter. It looked like they may drive them to extinction or at the very least total slavery.
Aboard Elysium 12 the Multiversal Senate also watched these happenings with much interest. They could already see that the Dark Dwarves had begun integrating the reality bending weaponry of the Xerxes into their own ships. They feared they would soon also learn the other technologies and magics of the Xerxes and quivered thinking about the day when this new more powerful Dark Dwarf empire turned their gaze back to them.
This continued for some time. Then one day during a meeting of the entire senate a strange thing occurred.
In the middle of the meeting an Animus officer entered carrying a large box. Conversation stopped as she strode toward the center of the room.
“Sorry for the interruption senators and visiting dignitaries.” The Animus Officer said with a slight bow. “But we thought it imperative that you see this immediately.” She set the box gently on a white marble table in the middle of the room.
“What is it?” A Trementian said, standing to try and get a better look at the box.
“It appears to be a gift… from the Xerxes.” The officer said, sending off a wave of conversation throughout the chambers.
“And you thought to bring it here?!” A Naga shouted above the din.
The officer looked at him dryly. “We are in no danger. We have done everything but open the box. There are no spells or traps of any kind on it or in it.”
“Still…” the Naga said looking away. “We know little about the Xerxes and their magic. It could still be a trap.” He paused but the officers statement seemed to calm the room.
A human senator said, “Where did it come from?”
“The ECC (Elysium Civilian Corps) say it was dropped off by a cloaked vampire inside of Unity. They tried to question them, but the vampire left in a hurry. We have so few Animus or Grinders available these days at either Unity or Puissance, so security is not what it used to be…” The officer allowed her gaze to linger on the place where the Nighttide representatives sat. 2 O-Boys flicked her off. The vampires sitting near them giggled and smiled.
Some chatter arose throughout the senate floor. “Well what’s inside?” a centaur asked.
“As I said we haven’t opened it. But scans show it appears to be something biological and highly magical.” The officer said turning towards the centaur.
The Naga from before spoke again. “Sounds like a weapon to me…”
The Animus officer sighed and said, “I assure you our scans are quite thorough senator. Beside our scans, the enchantments of Elysium 12, as you know, also protect against weapons of all kinds. We are all quite safe.”
Just then the doors in the back of the senate chamber swung open and a figure in a dark cloak and hood strode about halfway in. “I’ll open it.” The figure said in a young powerful voice.
Everyone in the place turned to look at this figure. The Animus officer gripped her stun pistol in its holster. “And who are you?” she demanded in a strong voice. “How did you make it past security? No unauthorized persons are allowed in this room you will have to leave.” She began walking toward him never taking her eyes off the figure or her hand away from her stun pistol.
“Now now no need to upset things.” The figure said reaching up and drawing back his hood, allowing the entire cloak to smoothly fall to the floor around him. A gasp rose up from many in the senate. Before them stood a young-looking man, or perhaps a mature boy. It was hard to guess his age. Regardless many instantly recognized the person before them. Several vampires hissed in unison. Raine the younger looked at them and smiled. “I am Raine. Some of you may know me as Raine the younger…” voices sprung up in a cacophony of noise as he said his name. But when the young man spoke again his presence seemed to quell the masses into listening. “I have important news for the senate. Might I address you?” Raine smiled and bowed with a flourish. The Qazferatu had returned.
About the Illustrations: Today we see a sad and lonely Trementian and a sketch of Bastion!