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Psilords3
Psi-Lords
Attribution
Character(s)
Foe (s)
Locations
Events Seen

After Earth repels the Malev Invasion of 4002 AD, it has to deal with an invasion of a different sort from the Psi–Lords, the vastly different 41st Century descendants of the HARD Corps.

A polyglot of all races, the Psi–Lords developed their own nanotechnology, and the microscopic machines in their brains contain the Harbinger Powers Database that they call on by mentally willing themselves to have them, a feat that in effect turns them into Omega Harbingers.

Reign of The Starwatchers

Postcard From Olympus

Psi9

On September 3rd, 4003, Danae Del Sol bore witness to the creation of the Palisade, the Starwatchers’ space station on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, from the observation deck of their mothership. Coaxing a smile out of Balaam with her applause, Danae found him to be as forthcoming as she had ever seen him, which would be the last time that any Starwatcher would be so candid.

17 years later, Danae and other ambassadors enjoyed an exhibition of Hexstrike Alpha’s abilities in the Palisade’s coliseum. Though Danae had aged, Balaam remained unchanged, hidden behind a golden face that stood as a cryptic mask of eternal youth. Having realized that the Starwatchers used Molmachs to gain their remarkable powers, Danae watched as Hexstrike Alpha combined their abilities through clever tactics and flawless teamwork to awe their audience. For 17 years, the Starwatchers had offered their services to anyone who desired them, but so far everyone had declined, as they did not trust these golden guardians angels.

Following the presentation, Danae asked Balaam if he believed that it would gain them acceptance in the solar community, but, uncertain that it would, he pointed out that to some the Starwatchers were still perceived as psionic overlords, a veiled reference to the nickname that Danae had given his race. Parting ways, Danae followed Graal into a transport tube. Looking to make conversation, Danae praised Graal’s performance in the coliseum, but he barely acknowledged her with a grunt. As Danae asked Graal if he could help her find Boaz, he replied with a grumble, so, in jest, she pretended to speak in his voice and offer to respectfully help her. Feeling insulted, Graal told Danae to refer to him by his title and walked away in a huff.

Walking toward Danae, Aesha told her that goading Graal was not very prudent. Following Aesha, Danae asked her if she could help her find Boaz, so Aesha used her link with the Starwatcher database to find him in his quarters on level two, a display that gave Danae the creeps. Standing by a window, Danae asked Aesha if she resented being subordinate to a lout like Graal. Telling her that she failed to understand Graal, Aesha told Danae that, since molmachs extended their lives indefinitely, after 700 years there came a time when they felt an imperative to define their life and give it purpose. For Graal, his military role defined that purpose. Leaving Aesha to stare at the infinite night, Danae wondered what inner purpose filled her endless days.

While thinking about the paradox of the Starwatchers complex scientific power and their child–like emotional depth, Danae made her way to lab 7, where Vekter and Una where debating an experiment involving anti–particle collisions. While Una worried that the reaction might destroy the Palisade, Vekter nonchalantly activated the device, and though no catastrophe occurred, Danae left, feeling upset that Vekter would risk their lives to find out the result of a dangerous test.

Psilords2

On Brazelton, capitol city of Titan, largest moon of Saturn, a Spider Alien attacked two drunkards on the way to a bar. While the alien fed on one of the men, three individuals draped in shadow killed it and its carcass fell on the second man. Trapped, the man thanked his rescuers for saving his life, but as the individuals stepped into the light they stood revealed as two aliens and their genetically–modified leader, Sarlac. Condemning his brethren for loosing control of his appetitive and risking exposing their presence to the humans after 400 years of discreet feeding, Sarlac ordered the others to kill the man and leave before the authorities arrived.

Back on the Palisade, Danae reached Boaz’s room. Walking inside, Danae was pleasantly surprised to see Boaz wearing something other than a uniform. Standing before a mirror to admire his Earthling clothes, Boaz thanked Danae for getting them for him. Sitting on the den, Boaz asked Danae what he could do for her, but she said that she was there just to visit. Commenting that she seemed lonely, Boaz asked Danae if she needed a mate, so she asked him if he was going to ask her out, when just then, Sarathan walked out of Boaz’s room and, speaking insultingly, told Danae that Boaz’ interest in her was purely anthropological. Apologizing for interrupting, Danae left. In all her dealings with the Starwatchers, Danae had never seen any of them involved romantically, yet, she could not help but wonder if she saw a tingle of jealousy in Sarathan’s scowl

From Boaz’s quarters, Danae wandered toward the Palisade’s central command area, a region kept off limits to delegates under the claim that if Molmach technology were to fell into the wrong hands the results could be catastrophic. Standing on the edge of the restricted area, Danae believed that the Starwatchers were hiding something big, possibly embarrassing. Wandering deeper into the restricted area, finally spotting the door to the command center, Danae crossed the threshold at the risk of her career, but as the doors opened Balaam walked out and, kindly, pulled her away and invited her to have dinner with him before he left for Earth. Stealing a quick glimpse through the forbidden door, Danae saw someone in a command chair and banks of equipment, but, surprisingly, no support crew, as if whoever sat in command of the Palisade needed no help in his mammoth task. As the door slammed shut, Balaam continued with his friendly, distracting prattle. An hour later, Danae learned that Hexstrike Alpha left for Saturn at the request of the Titanian government.

Inside the command center, Superion Gryffen relayed Titan’s request for aid against an infestation of Spider Aliens to Graal, the first time since the Terran robot purge that a solar government invited the Starwatcher’s intervention. Over–emphasizing the importance of the mission, Gryffen told Graal that the successful extraction of the alien threat would open the door to more sanctioned police actions, while an error, such as civilian casualties, would mean the end to all their goals in the sol system. Acknowledging his orders, Graal told Gryffen that they would keep their strike contained.

Sometime later, at a spaceport on Titan, as the Spider Alien made their retreat, Aesha ghosted into the hangar and disarmed Sarlac’s bodyguard. Scared, Sarlac boarded a ship and escaped, killing his brethren with the backlash of the ship’s engines. Reporting to Graal, Aesha advised him that the aliens were headed their way. Looking down at the alien’s remains, Aesha apologized to him for his death, pointing out that she did not kill him. Meanwhile, deploying a counterstrike, Sarathan, Vekter, and Boaz attacked the alien vessel. Ghosting inside, Vekter commanded the aliens’ to surrender, but opting to die rather than surrender, Sarlac shot the ship’s controls and sent the vessel careening down toward the city.

The First Mandate

Two kilometers above Brazelton, Vekter did his best to regain control of the ship, while outside, Boaz and Sarathan slid across the underbelly of the vessel to compensate for the landing gear. Taking the ship to the city park, Vekter set it down while Boaz and Sarathan stopped it on its tracks. Having lost momentum, the ship then fell on top of them . Inside the vessel, the aliens regained their weapons and surrounded Vekter, when just then, Boaz and Sarathan broke through the floor and attacked. Running away, Sarlac found himself surrounded by the rest of Hexstrike Alpha. Enraged by the Starwatchers’ disregard of the plant life around him, Sarlac ordered his minions to kill them, but Aesha restrained them with a Molmach paste.

Five minutes later, while the team took the aliens onboard their ship, Graal spoke to a reporter that asked him if the Starwatchers would be sharing their technology. Reiterating that Molmachs would be dangerous in the wrong hands, Graal thanked the people of Titan for inviting them to end the arachnoid infestation and then left to take the prisoners away to administer justice. While the Starwatcher vessel rose up into space, the reporter looked into the camera and said that the Starwatchers had won the hearts of Titan, and that perhaps soon the entire solar system would be kept just as safe by this interstellar police force.

Inside the Starwatcher ship, Sarlac accused Graal of being weak for not killing them in front of the cameras to show others that he was serious. Looking at Sarlac with disdain, Graal told him that he was not through with him. Approaching the planetoid Ceres, Graal said that after having seen how rare and precious life was out in the void the Starwatchers made protecting life their first mandate. Using a terraform torpedo, the Starwatchers built a prison on an asteroid, far from the space–lanes and colonies that would last until the sun went nova.

Taking the aliens inside the structure, Graal showed them a farming operation. Thought thankful to have plant life to worship, Sarlac wondered what Graal expected them to eat. Facing Sarlac, Graal sarcastically said that the Starwatchers were going to turn them into vegetarians. Appalled, Sarlac begged Graal not to punish them that way, as eating plants was like eating their own children, but his pleas went ignored. Taking Graal aside, Aesha accused him of disrespecting the aliens’ culture, but, perverting their mandate, he retorted that their vow was to protect life, not respect it, then he ordered Vekter and Una to proceed with the process. Moments later, the Molmachs around the aliens disassembled into carbon paste and the Starwatchers left. Accusing them of being the cruelest beings he had ever seen, and of condemning them to a hell worse than anything imaginable, Sarlac swore to be the last face the Starwatchers would see before they died.

Ten hours later, Superion Gryffen congratulated Hexstrike Alpha for achieving their mission objectives and proficiently manipulating the local media, which resulted in the Titanian government requesting ongoing Starwatcher protection and caused the Jovian Republic to inquire about their peace–keeping services. Dismissing the rest of the team, Gryffen assigned Graal, Boaz, and Aesha to escort Danae back to Earth on one of their shuttles. Since relations with Earth were delicate, Gryffen urged Graal to take good care of her.

While on the way to Earth, Aesha asked Danae if she had seen any of the news clips from Titan. Commenting that the team looked great, Danae pointed out that Graal could have acted a little warmer. As Danae asked him to call ahead and update Earth on their ETA, Graal told her that some sort of interference was blocking subspace communications with Ganymede. Dropping to subsonic, Aesha pulled in all local energy signatures to boost reception, when just then Graal detected a huge power surge coming in from subspace followed by a bright flash of light. Staring out the window, the Starwatchers saw the Destroyer coming out of subspace.

Chaos Effect Epsilon

Chaos Epsilon – Part I: A Distant Call

After she awoke to find that Phil Seleski had fused to their bed, Gayle Nordheim grabbed his hands and pulled him up. Frightened, Gayle asked Phil what happened, but all he could deduce was that something had affected his atomic structure’s integrity and caused him to dissipate. After she told Phil that before she helped him she saw something out the window that looked like storm clouds, Gayle opened the curtains and showed him the disturbance caused by the chaos effect. Certain that the storm was linked to his condition, Phil changed into his outfit to go investigate. Dizzied, like weak from hunger, Phil flew out the window.

While he flew through the skies of San Francisco, Phil noticed that electricity was out as far as he could see and that not even the cars were running. Surrounded by scattered fires and falling buildings, Phil decided to put out the flames and stop the looters, when then he heard a scream coming from the B.A.R.T, which had derailed. Though Phil tried to stop the train, his powers fizzled and had no effect. As he flew beneath the train, Phil tried to hold it up to let it down gently, but he phased through it and it fell to the ground. Desperate, Phil screamed to the skies asking what was wrong with him, when then Sandria Darque appeared and told him that he was the sun god fated to save the world or destroy it. Sandria offered to help Phil end the chaos and take him to Ladakh, where he had to be. Though he was hesitant to leave, Phil followed Sandria through a gateway that took them to the Temple of Ladakh.

After they arrived, Sandria pointed to the rip and told Phil that it was up to him to do whatever he had to stop it, or else everything would be gone and necromancers like her brother would bend the chaos to their will. Confused, Phil asked Sandria who her brother was, but then she left. As he approached Phil, Chan told him that Sandria’s brother was Master Darque, who a year earlier had destroyed the temple and whom the strange force had made more powerful. As Phil followed the monks inside, he noticed that the rip had grown.

Inside, the monks invited Phil to warm himself by the fire, and though he could not feel the heat of the flames, he gained a measure of strength from them. After Phil learned what happened and he came across Obadiah Archer and Aram Anni-Padda, the latter of who kept referring to him as Magnus, they heard a scream.

As they followed the cries, Phil and the others saw Geoff keeled outside the temple. Frightened, Geoff ran toward Phil and told him that it was up to him to end the chaos, but he did not know what to do.

Sometime later, in a room within the temple where the monks had taken Phil and Geoff to rest, Phil mused over Sandria’s and Geoff’s warning that he was the answer to ending chaos and questioned what he could do within the storm that covered the Earth. Just then, Phil and Geoff discovered the answer to their dilemma.

Together, Geoff and Phil ran outside to attempt to contact the Destroyer.

Chaos Epsilon – Part II: Destroyers

In the year 4020, somewhere in the space lanes near the Jovian Republic of Ganymede, a Starwatcher shuttle carrying Hexstrike Alpha and Danae Del Sol, the Terran consortium’s ambassador, nearly collided with Solar the Destroyer. Unable to veer from crashing into him, Graal shot the Destroyer with a beam that ripped him in half so they could fly through him. Enraged, the Destroyer vectored in on the vessel at light speed.

Inside the shuttle, Aesha gave Danae a syntheskin that custom–fitted her with a uniform that overwhelmed her with an extraordinary sensation as it enveloped her. Though Boaz did the best he could as tailgunner, the Destroyer’s powers were beyond the Psi–Lord’s understanding and he sliced the hull of the shuttle. Sucked into space, Danae was certain that they would die, but then Aesha, the only one of them with flight powers, launched Graal at the Destroyer before gathering her and Boaz up. Grabbing Graal’s hands, the Destroyer shouted curses at him silenced by the interstellar vacuum, while, unable to free his arms, Graal lashed out with his leg, not realizing that within the Destroyer’s energy–body burned an inferno like the heart of the sun. Graal’s howling shriek of pain rattled the others’ helmet bubbles and nearly blew out their comlink systems.

Holding on to a scattered piece of their craft, Danae saw the Destroyer approaching, and had a pang of recognition upon seeing his crest, when then her view was briefly obscured as Boaz and Aesha hit him with a spurt of sunburst that he easily soaked in. Seeing the crest again, Danae knew how to save their lives. Urging them to not fight, Danae, aware that the Destroyer could monitor comlink frequencies, called him Solar and urged him to talk with her. Unable to transmit back, the Destroyer placed a hand on Danae’s helmet bubble and vibrated it, producing a hollow, eerie voice that asked her not to call him Solar and tell him where he was and why they attacked him. Telling him that they were near Jupiter, and that they pulled him out of subspace by accident, Danae told the Destroyer that it was all a terrible mistake. Distressed, the Destroyer demanded to know where his other self was, but, worried that hearing that Solar died, Danae told him to go to Earth. In a blink, Danae watched as the Destroyer left, and hoped that she had not just doomed her planet. Within a few hours, they repaired the shuttle with a glue–like Molmach paste and returned to the Palisade.

Back in the Palisade, while Aesha took Graal to Una so she could clone him a new leg, Boaz thanked Danae for saving them, and offered to visit her later with a token of his gratitude. Filled with a thrill of anticipation that stayed with her until Boaz ranged her bell two hours later, Danae had no idea of what he had in mind. Inviting Boaz inside, Danae asked him if she was dressed appropriately, but apologizing for the confusion, he told her that they were not going anywhere. Telling Danae that he felt that she deserved to have some of her questions answered, Boaz showed her a vial that contained a solution filled with special nanocomputers that could deliver a message directly to her brain she could play by ingesting it he programmed with a synthestim file that would allow her to relive the origins of the Starwatchers. Unlike the others, Boaz did not agree with most of their rules and doctrines, and believed that it was time they dealt openly and honestly with the sol system, so he did not care about getting into trouble for revealing such things to her. Wondering if she could trust him, Danae sat there looking at the vial for an eternity, but in the end curiosity won out and she drank it.

As a flood of foreign sensations swept over Danae, she felt as if she was wearing Boaz’s body, while the molmachs fed her recorded sensory input from every nerve in his mighty frame, including those from some very unfamiliar body parts. Danae quickly learned that the Starwatchers descended from the HARD Corps, who two hundred years after they left Earth in their interstellar starships, made the breakthrough in creating their own version of nanotechnology.

Watching through Boaz’s eyes, Danae saw a HARD Corps doctor standing over her in the year 3152 AD tell Boaz that the molecular machines they put in his system should be taking effect. Feeling Boaz’s mouth move when he answered, Danae heard him say that he felt better than he had in years. Unable to describe just how vital it felt being in Boaz’s body, Danae listened as the doctor explained that the molmachs were repairing his body tissues, and even undoing the effects of ageing. Telling Boaz that the molmachs also carried information from the Harbinger Powers Database, that once he learned to use he could access his powers without calling Softcore, the doctor showed him a mirror in which Danae saw an old man’s face that helped her deduce that Boaz had been around sixty when the nanotech breakthrough occurred.

Suddenly, the recording skipped three years, when the molmachs had restored Boaz to the peak of health and he had mastered the complex mental commands required to access his awesome powers. Looking at Sarathan, Danae felt the twinge in Boaz’s heart, and his feelings for her laid bare. Only a select group of HARD Corps was empowered like Boaz, and was the first team to investigate a planet in the Arcturus system capable of sustaining life. Looking upon the shuttle’s pilot, Ravenrok, Danae felt Boaz’s respect and admiration for him. Addressing the crew, Ravenrok proclaimed that, for the first time since the Harbinger Wars, the HARD Corps had a mission to perform. Skipping down to the planet, Danae thrilled to the feeling of fearlessly attacking the Spider Aliens, and noticed that the HARD Corps had no compunctions about using lethal force. Suddenly, Boaz did something that Danae had never seen him do; he flew to better view the battle, and she realized that, in those days, each one of them possessed all of the Harbinger powers. Through Boaz’ eyes, Danae witnessed as the HARD Corps exterminated the Spider Aliens with frightening efficiency.

When the file jumped ahead again, the Corps had transformed the alien base, and gathered to celebrate around a hologram of their Supreme Commander, who declared the planet their new homeworld. With no Harbinger threat left to combat, the commander proclaimed that they would redirect their organization’s mission and no longer be known as HARD Corps, but from then on call themselves Starwatchers and use heir power and molmach technology to colonize planets in other systems. Telling Ravenrok that they spent a hundred and fifty years getting to that planet, Boaz asked him who the commander thought would be going to do the colonizing, and Ravenrok told him that he would, for how else were they to claim the stars as their own.

Three hundred years later, contact with Ravenrok’s isolated colony had become increasingly sporadic, and when the Starwatchers came to investigate, they found Ravenrok had made himself ruler of a totalitarian world. Since Boaz had deliberately omitted some information, such as who Ravenrok’s golden–skinned allies were, Danae did not understand much of the battle, but she still got the point; one of their own had gone bad, and recapturing that world from him was only accomplished at a horrific price.

A year later, Ravenrok had yet to be found, and, though how their adversary escaped remained a mystery, the Supreme Commander vowed that they would pursue him until he was captured. Acknowledging the deep shame and guilt they all shared, the Supreme Commander proclaimed that they would take steps to insure that such a tragedy was never repeated. From then on, the Starwatchers split their powers into three classifications, so as to foster teamwork over individual action. Those of them in red should be Bastions – retaining strength and invulnerability powers –, those in orange should be Gunner – with energy projection powers –, and those in yellow should be Scouts – employing infiltration powers, such as flight and invisibility. Promising that they should once again rededicate themselves, the Supreme Commander uttered the vow that their first mandate in policing the stars should be the protection of all life. To that end, they hard–wired directives into their molmachs prohibiting the use of lethal force, as well as prevented the m from procreating to prevent the birth of a new generation of supermen.

Aware that the changes came as a result of penance for Ravenrok’s crimes, Danae knew that the Starwatchers had hunted him down in the five hundred years since, but had been unable to locate him, and that while his capture was still a top priority, none of them ever even mentioned his name. Once, all Starwatchers wanted to emulate Ravenrok, but when he fell they all fared that there really was something of him in each of them.

As Danae awoke from her trance, Boaz told her that now that she knew their secret, whatever she decided to do with the information was up to her. After Boaz left, Danae recited her thoughts into a recorder. Reiterating Boaz’s warning that the file did not reveal everything, but it should still answer some of her questions, Danae said that rather than fearing them she felt sympathetic, and that their greatest fear was their own capacity for evil made them human after all. Aware that Boaz took a great risk showing that to her, Danae decided not to report all she had learned to Magnus so as to not repay his trust with betrayal. Though it was her duty to report what she had seen, Danae wanted to know more before she tipped her hand.

Meanwhile, in the command center, Graal and Aesha finished briefing Superion Gryffen on their mission. Curious, Graal asked if they had received any word from their homeworld, but reiterating that they had not had any contact since they arrived in that system seventeen years earlier, Gryffen said that that was the least of their worries. In light of the encounter with the Destroyer, Gryffen negated their agreement with Magnus and sent two Hexstrike teams to Earth immediately to subdue the Destroyer.

Elsewhere, at the Gateway station on the solar frontier beyond Neptune, a badly injured Starwatcher warned the humans that Ravenrok had returned to the homeworld and killed everyone.

Chaos Epsilon – Part III: Homecoming

As the Destroyer made his final approach to Earth, he landed in the South Am sector. Acclimating himself to an atmosphere, the Destroyer mused over how ever since he made his return, it seemed like everyone he had run into had tried to kill him. Aware that things had changed since he left, the Destroyer saw no sense in keeping his existence secret since he doubted he had any loved ones left to protect. Using the communications grid, the Destroyer made an open call to anyone who could tell him about Solar. In Ladakh, Mother Nike recognized the symbol on the Destroyer’s chest and told him that his arrival was the fulfillment of a 2000–year old prophecy and that she believed that she could answer his questions.

In Africa, Obadiah Konishi asked Ananse why he attacked him, and he told him that he had to test his worthiness before revealing the secrets of his lair. Wondering why he was following a Spider Alien, Obie questioned if his being there was worth the risk, when then, Ananse showed him the Blood of Heroes. Hearing the nanites calling him, Obie stared into the liquid computer that was once his father’s blood, which contained his memories and experiences, the very essence of the man himself, and for a fleeting moment communed with it and it showed him an image of his father that faded as quickly as it appeared. Unable to reestablish contact, Obie asked Ananse what to do. Musing over the promise he made Takao Konishi seventeen years earlier to give his blood to Obie, Ananse said that he thought he had finally gotten that obligation off his back, but that now he would either have to train him to use the nanites, or else his blood would join his father’s.

In Ladakh, the Destroyer popped out of the comlink and startled Mother Nike, who asked him to follow her to the library. Just then, Kazuyo flew over the temple and the Destroyer shot her thinking that she was a Spider Alien. Pulling the Destroyer’s arm down, Mother Nike told him that Kazuyo was a friend and a high ranking diplomat. Enraged, Kazuyo lunged against the Destroyer, who grabbed her by the neck and, admitting that it was a mistake to shoot her, told her that anyone who dressed like a Spider Alien was asking for it. Telling Kazuyo that they would be in the library, Mother Nike asked her to think of the Destroyer as a dignitary. Leaving, Kazuyo commented that this had been the worst welcome she had ever gotten to a state function. Two minutes later, in Kazuyo and Takashi’s private quarters, Kazuyo found Takashi Nakadai and Suki Seko working with forbidden technology and threatened to turn her in after her business with the Destroyer was over. Asking Suki to go to her air car and get out of there, Takashi told her that he was going to kill his mother.

In Africa, Ananse fitted Obie with a device that would amplify his brain and his nanites to help him break through the mental blocks within him that he had to overcome. Though Obie felt something, it was not very strong, so Ananse attacked him to force him to use his body’s nanosystems. Leaping out of the way to avoid Ananse's staff, Obie felt calm, sure, and totally in control. Feeling every fiber of his being singing to him, Obie’s nerves and muscles fired with digital precision, turning every moment into a revelation. Brashly, Obie told Ananse that he was in trouble, so Ananse released a blade in his staff to increase the danger.

Elsewhere, Superion Gryffen informed Balaam that he dispatched two Hexstrike teams to forcibly extract the Destroyer, an Alpha–Aggressor, and that he should inform Magnus that their pact was temporarily off.

Running outside, Obie barely kept ahead of Ananse even with his adrenaline maxed. Seeing the death in his eyes, Obie worried that even though the nanites in his blood let him do anything that was humanly possible, that maybe humanly possible would not be enough to survive. Loosing his sword during the melee, Obie grabbed Ananse's staff to take it from him. As they wrestled for the weapon, Ananse told Obie that he was fighting stupidly, and that it was a pity that he did not have his father’s combat files. Telling Obie that if he could access the files he could find one that said to expect the unexpected, Ananse bared his alien teeth and startled Obie, who fell to the ground. Looming over Obie, Ananse said that they had made some progress.

In Ladakh, Takashi walked into Kazuyo’s bedroom. Standing at the foot of the door, Takashi trembled while his mother asked him what he was doing with Suki and threatened to report her to the authorities again. Noticing Takashi’s shiver, Kazuyo apologized and offered to not report his girlfriend. Turning back, Kazuyo admitted that she had not been a very good mother to him, and suggested that he invite Suki back so they could talk, when then, Takashi punched her across the head and told her to shut up.

Looming over Kazuyo, Takashi said that it was too late for apologies. Clenching his fist, Takashi said that there was only one thing he wanted from her, and turned Kazuyo’s attention to the X-O Commando Armor behind her. Though Kazuyo begged him not to, Takashi bashed her head with a base. Removing the control ring from Kazuyo’s finger, Takashi donned the armor. Calling his father’s name, Takashi said that was the day he would start restoring the glory of Japan. Promising to honor Tohru’s memory, and the forty–one Rais who served before him, Takashi marked that day as the birth of the Forty–Third Rai.

Chaos Epsilon – Part IV: Sacrifice

In the personal office of President Magnus of the Terran Consortium, Balaam of the Starwatchers appeared in the middle of the room, startling Torque and Magnus, and proclaimed that something terrible had happened. Informing Magnus that several hours earlier an unbelievably powerful entity calling itself the Destroyer had attacked a Starwatcher shuttle and easily defeated three of their best combat personnel, even maiming one of them before proceeding towards Earth, Balaam said that his commander feared that the Destroyer was a threat to the entire solar system. Though he regretted it, Balaam informed Magnus that, despite their agreement to keep the Starwatchers off Earth, Superion Gryffen dispatched two Hexstrike teams to deal with the threat.

Explaining that the Destroyer’s phenomenal power temporarily negated their agreement, Balaam told Magnus that with the Hexstrike teams en route, he just needed to decide what to do about it. Deciding to get his battle armor, go to Ladakh immediately, and personally handle the situation, Magnus told Balaam that he would accompany him. Though Torque wanted go with him too, Magnus, appreciative of his wanting to help him, said that Leeja would be crushed if something happened to both of them and told him to stay there and look after things while he was gone. 27 minutes later, while watching Magnus’ transport leave from a window, Torque said that his father should know that when told not to go somewhere, he was as good as there.

In the library chamber of the Temple of Archer in Ladakh, Mother Nike showed the Destroyer a book that chronicled a great disaster that threatened to destroy the Earth in 1994. Opening the book, Mother Nike showed the Destroyer a drawing of the portal that opened up there in 1994 and unleashed chaotic energies that froze all electrical systems across the globe. Seeing an image of his chest plate, which Mother Nike told him the book claimed was the key to saving Solar and ending the chaos effect, the Destroyer realized that, since Solar would have been too weak to reach him there, he had to reach back to him in 1994. Meanwhile, in the temple’s north wing, Makiko Minashi found Kazuyo’s body and realized that Takashi killed her and took the armor.

Taking the Destroyer to the south terrace, Mother Nike showed him the site where the chaos portal opened up over 2,000 years earlier, when just then Magnus and Balaam arrived. Asking Balaam to wait in the transport, Magnus walked up to the Destroyer, who at first he confused with Solar, and told him that his being there was jeopardizing his agreement with the Starwatchers, who had sent a dozen warriors to stop him. Taking flight, the Destroyer said that he expected them to go after him, so he offered that since he needed to go back in time anyway he would do everyone a favor and leave, but when he tried to open a portal to the past, an influx of necromantic energy disrupted him and prevented him from leaving. Elsewhere, in an Agro–Tract in Chinasia, the Immortal Enemy, sensing the river of necromantic energy, felt more powerful than he had in 2,000 years.

Reassembling himself, the Destroyer closed the portal and wondered how he could help Solar if he could not even reach him, when just then a Starwatcher grabbed him from behind and flew off with him, ordering him not to attempt to struggle and go with him peacefully. Enraged, the Destroyer burned the Starwatcher, killing him instantly. Surrounded from all sides, the Destroyer engaged the Starwatchers in a bloody battle and killed all of them. Returning to the temple, the Destroyer threatened to do to Balaam what he did to his friends, but standing between them, Magnus urged him to leave Earth before the turned the incident into a global war.

Upset, the Destroyer said that he was trying to leave for 1994, because he had to save Solar and the world, but that the chaos effect sapped his energies just like it did him. Stepping up, Balaam offered to nano–construct a container to insulate a portion of the Destroyer’s energy against the chaos effect that could then be given to Solar and provide him with a chance to end his crisis. Curious, the Destroyer asked Balaam why he was so eager to help him, and Balaam said that, whatever he might think of them, they were there to protect life. Confirming Balaam’s claim, Magnus offered to take the piece of him to Solar since he was strong enough to withstand time travel, and, unlike them, the chaos effect would not wipe him out. However, he would only do it if Balaam promised him the other Psi–Lords would withdraw from Earth until he returned. Though he was unsure of how Magnus would return, Balaam promised an immediate withdrawal until his return.

Taking Balaam aside, Magnus asked him why he proposed to help the Destroyer, and Balaam told him that, after watching the Destroyer massacre six friends he had known for seven hundred years, any opportunity to decrease his power increased the Starwatchers’ chances of defeating him someday.

Six minutes later, Balaam asked the Destroyer to give him the piece of himself he wished to sent back. Taking a cue from Mother Nike’s book, the Destroyer gave him his crest plate, certain that the Solar symbol was no longer appropriate for him. Using a nano–construct, Balaam coated the disk with energy–inhibiting molmachs to insulate it from the chaos energies. Saying that since chaos poured from the past into the present when the Destroyer opened the portal, Balaam theorized that if Solar opened a portal to the beginning of time the energies would leave 1994, drawn to an era when all truly was chaos. Asking Balaam to keep his promise and tell Leeja and Torque that he would be back, Magnus leapt into the open portal and vanished.

Running out of the temple calling for his father, Torque told Balaam and the Destroyer that he was stepping in for Magnus while he was gone and ordered them to leave the planet immediately. While the Destroyer vanished, Balaam assured Torque that his father would come back. Certain that his father would keep his word and return, Torque asked Balaam to help him, his mother, and his grandfather to stop the Terran Consortium from falling during Magnus’ absence.

Ravenrok

The Fallen

On June 16th, 4020 AD, the industrial tug Gateway One towed a disabled Starwatcher sleeper ship to the Palisade, the home of the master race known as the Psi–Lords, near Jupiter. On approach, the copilot said that that had been the second time he had been there, and that he could swore that the Palisade had gotten bigger. 12 minutes later, inside the space station, Una and Vekter helped Sub–Superion Ashael, the lone survivor of the sleeper ship, inside a quarancase as a precaution due the anomalous readings given off by his Molmachs.

Within seconds, Una and Vekter took Ashael to Superior Gryffen so he could deliver his report. Linking his vidlog to the holoviewer, Ashael showed Gryffen how, after he and the Solquorum departed, the unspeakable one, Ravenrok, returned to their homeworld. Having developed self–replicating Molmach disassembles, Ravenrok introduced them to their homeworld’s biosphere, and within hours everything they had built, seven hundred years of work, crumbled to dust. Ashael was one of the few who escaped, but the disassembles infected his ship. Though unable to deactivate the mass–mulching nanites, they were able to slow them down, but that only put off the inevitable, as while he spoke, Ashael was ever–so–slowly disintegrating. Even though he feared that Gateway Station was already doomed, Gryffen ordered Una, Vekter, and Boaz to take a shuttle there to do what they could to contain the spread of the infection from the disassembles in Ashael’s ship.

At that moment, the Warchild, a Starwatcher a craft of unknown design similar to Ashael’s ship came out of subspace near Gateway Station. Forcibly docking on the station, the Starwatcher vessel caused the entire structure to quake and the humans inside to believe that they were under attack. Arming themselves to repel the boarding party, the Terran soldiers were no match for an energy blast that ripped a hole in the hull and killed them. Stepping through the hole, Scion repelled the Terrans’ fire with his force field and knocked them senseless to the floor. Standing over the Terrans, Scion sarcastically told them to be on their best behavior, because Ravenrok was coming and he was not nearly as nice as him.

On Io, a moon of Jupiter, Danae Del Sol arrived to mediate a disagreement between the Terran Consortium and the Jovian Republics over an ancient depot. Leaping off their shuttle, Graal and Sarathan disarmed a Jovian rebel who was firing on two Terran Consortium officers who approached the Psi–Lords claiming that the Jovian tried to kill them and steal the legal property of the Terran Consortium. As Danae stepped in to mediate, the Jovian explained that the depot became their property when the Jovian Republics declared independence in 3688, a claim that upset one of the officers. Ever the abrasive one, Graal grabbed the Terran by the collar and lifted him off the ground, while Sarathan urged Danae to get control of the situation before she did. Reminding Sarathan that they were there for her protection, Danae ordered Graal to put the man down and then asked him to show her the depot. Using a lift, the Jovian took everyone inside the depot, a weapons cache that had sat there in darkness for over four hundred years since the Jovian wars.

Meanwhile, Ravenrok walked into Gateway station amid feigned cheers from Scion’s Terran prisoners. After callously killing a Terran who accused him of violating the New Calcutta convention, Ravenrok asked to know more about the Psi–Lords in the solar system, so the former commander of the station, who begged him not to kill any more of his men, agreed to show him where all the information he was looking for was stored.

Back on Io, after Aesha catalogued the contents of the depot, Danae rendered her decision to the Terran and Jovian representatives. Though most of the weapons were harmless, some could seriously destabilize the political situation on Io, a fact that would seem to suggest that Danae should let the Terrans take them away. However, as the materials possessed no commercial value, and were long ago recorded as lost, there were no longer official assets of any Terran corporation. Before Danae could reveal her decision, Jovian rebels approached to the depot to stop them from stealing their stuff away.

Running to the lift, Graal and Sarathan left to make a preemptive strike on the aggressors before the conflict turned into a hostage siege, leaving Aesha behind with the ambassador. Though Danae told Graal that they were there to settle things peacefully and not fight the locals, as well as remind him that she was in charge, he took charge because the situation hard turned hostile and his orders where to protect her by any means necessary. As the lift closed, Graal told the Jovian that they would not kill his friends, just maim them a little. Exiting the lift, Graal and Sarathan engaged the Jovians in battle.

Back at Gateway station, Ravenrok used a cyberjack to catch up on the recent history of the solar system. Pleading for his life, the commander said that he would do whatever it took to cooperate and asked Ravenrok what he wanted. Claiming that all he wanted was to make things better, Ravenrok said that he was the culmination of an ideal that his people had striven a thousand years to attain. Strolling through the station, Ravenrok said that all human history had been one long search for the perfect leader, and that he expected he would still guide the human empire one hundred centuries henceforth. Just then, Boaz contacted the station to require that they initiate emergency quarantine immediately in preparation for his arrival. Ordering Scion to disengage the Warchild and withdraw her beyond sensor range to wait for his signal to return, Ravenrok stayed behind to wait for Hexstrike Alpha’s arrival.

Inside the depot, Danae begged Aesha to stop Graal and Sarathan, but having served with him for over five hundred years, Aesha knew that when Graal got that way there was not much Danae could do. Refusing to stand idly by while Graal started a war, Danae grabbed a nuclear weapon from the arsenal and asked Aesha to arm it. Shortly, Aesha phased through the ground to warn all the combatants that Danae was beyond reason and would destroy them all. Emerging from the lift with the nuclear device in her hands, Danae threatened to activate it unless both sides accepted her ruling that the weapons would go to neither party and instead be permanently disposed of in Jupiter’s gravity well. Citing legal precedent involving the disposal of ancient hazardous substances, Danae told the Jovians to leave two of their people to remain and monitor the disposal while the rest of them went home. While Danae thanked Aesha for her intro, Sarathan congratulated Danae on her bluffing both sides of the conflict with a pulse grenade meant only to knock out electrical systems.

Back on Gateway Station, Ravenrok used a holoprojector to intimidate Hexstrike Alpha, and Boaz in particular, with his intimate knowledge of them before he destroyed the station with a massive explosion that sent shockwaves that rattled the Starwatchers’ shuttle while he flew through it effortlessly.

The End Of Innocence

In the solar periphery, near the shattered remains of Gateway Station, Ravenrok shot Hexstrike Alpha’s shuttle with a blast that knocked out their guidance systems. As Boaz ordered Vekter to warn the Palisade that Ravenrok was back, Ravenrok ripped the shuttle’s hull breached the vessel. While Una and Boaz pushed Ravenrok out with stun ram, Vekter restored flight systems and shot Ravenrok with the shuttle’s main guns. Just then, the Warchild emerged from subspace, which left Hexstrike Alpha at a tactical disadvantage. After he and Una repaired the hull breach, Boaz ordered Vekter to get them out of there, so, taking advantage of the delay caused by Ravenrok boarding the Warchild, Vekter set course for Pluto to use its gravity well to slingshot them back to the Palisade. Catching up to the shuttle, the Warchild destroyed one of Pluto’s moons, which caused a blast that shook the shuttle and rendered everyone inside unconscious. Waking up in the Warchild next to the others, with his hands and feet shackled, Boaz faced Ravenrok, who used a device to forcibly extract the personal log recordings directly from the Molmachs in his brain to learn that Sarathan and the others were on Io. Turning to Scion, Ravenrok ordered him to set course for Jupiter’s moon.

Meanwhile, on Io, Danae, Graal, Sarathan, and the Jovian oversaw as a shuttle departed with the last load of the most dangerous weapons from the bunker, which left about a dozen electromagnetic pulse grenades like the one Danae was holding. As the Warchild exited subspace in orbit over Io, Ravenrok told Boaz that he wanted to hurt Sarathan to take revenge on him because he knew that he loved her. Walking the airlock, Ravenrok ordered Scion to keep the view screen on for their guests to enjoy the show.

Down on the moon’s surface, as the Jovian asked Aesha how her powers work while flirting with her, Ravenrok’s ethereal voice said that the powers came from microscopic computers swimming around inside their brains that simulated various psionic powers. Appearing on top of a shuttle, Ravenrok mockingly said that even with so many weapons at their disposal, the Psi–Lords used them very unimaginatively. Taunting them, Ravenrok swiftly defeated Aesha and Graal, which left Sarathan alone to face him. Telling Danae to hide, Sarathan rushed Ravenrok, who punched her out of his way with one single blow.

Back on the Warchild, Scion pointed at the screen and mockingly said that while it took three of them to match all of his powers, with their stupid directive against killing none of the Psi–Lords could stand against Ravenrok. Suddenly, the Starwatcher shuttles Delta–One and Two opened fire on the Warchild and engaged it in battle. With one shot at the vessel’s conning tower, the shuttles knocked out the power and freed Boaz, who tackled Scion off the control chair and commandeered control of the ship. Holding Scion back, Boaz told the others that they were going down to Io to help Sarathan before it was too late.

Back on the moon’s surface, Ravenrok walked away from Sarathan’s unconscious body into the depot looking for Danae, who had activated the pulse grenade and send it down on the lift to the bunker. Just then, the Warchild breached the atmosphere on a collision course with the depot. While Ravenrok flew toward the vessel to help Scion, Danae ran toward Sarathan and helped her escape before the ship crashed and the all the pulse grenades she activated went off. Within seconds, the Warchild ripped through the air and collided with the bunker, setting off a massive explosion.

Inside the vessel, Boaz found Scion dead as a result of massive had trauma beneath a fallen wall. Blaming himself for his demise, Boaz seized up as the first–mandate fail safes in his Molmachs shut him down and he collapsed on the floor. Enraged at his son’s death, Ravenrok leapt into the air to face Graal, when then the pulse grenades exploded and shut off the Molmachs within all the Psi–Lords. No longer restrained by the fail safes, Graal beat Ravenrok within an inch of his life.

Infection

Infection – Part I

Aboard the Palisade, the Psi–Lord’s citadel, Graal and Vekter took Ravenrok, who was lucky to be alive after Graal nearly beat the life out of him, to see Superion Gryffen. After reinstating Hexstrike Alpha’s Molmach systems, Gryffen sentenced Ravenrok, who without his powers was no longer immortal, to die slowly of old age in confinement on the Palisade for the destruction of their homeworld, a crime that eclipsed his former acts. Thought Ravenrok cried out that he had lived too long and seen too much for them to throw it away, Gryffen, tired of looking at him, told Boaz and Vekter to take him to the brig.

Meanwhile, in sickbay, Danae and Sarathan stood watch over Boaz, who remained immobile due to his guilt over Scion’s death. Displaying emotions that a year earlier would have been unheard of, Sarathan asked Danae how she could make Boaz realize that Scion’s death was an accident and believed that might never wake up. Just then, Aesha walked into the room and alerted Sarathan that they had to report to the command center immediately. Inviting Danae to accompany them, Aesha told Sarathan to engage battle mode and warned her that the response to Ravenrok’s arrival had become someone unruly.

Outside the restricted areas, diplomats from every Solar colony rushed toward the doors looking to see whoever was in charge, demanding to know what happened to Pluto’s moon, Charon, and asking if its disappearance was connected with the battle the Psi–Lords had just fought on Io. Rushing down the hall, Graal ordered the ambassadors to return to their quarters and told them that a press conference was imminent, but they refused to leave and demanded to know if the rumors of a Psi–Lord renegade were true. Loosing their temper, Graal and Una took a threatening stance, which Aesha warned him was not helping matters. Just then, Superion Gryffen emerged from the control center and ordered the Psi–Lords to halt.

Introducing himself, and remarking that until that moment the ambassadors had never even seen him and only knew half–truths about them, Gryffen said that in the wake of recent events it was clear that their relationship with them had to change. Explaining that they had Ravenrok imprisoned, and that he would never hurt anyone again, Gryffen said that they too had suffered at his hands, and that with their homeworld destroyed that left only five star systems under Starwatcher jurisdiction. Though the ambassadors had seen what the Psi–Lords were capable of, which they were greatly ashamed of, Gryffen still desired their friendship, but they had to decide if they would judge all of them by the action of one man.

Soon, following a meeting between all the Solar governments with Superion Gryffen, news broke that Gryffen had agreed to begin sharing their nanotechnologies. Special concessions included many new living spaces and orbital stations, but the big winner was Titan, where the first Psi–Lord Stargate in the solar system would bring interstellar commerce.

Eight days later, as the Psi–Lords prepared to link up with what remained of the Stargate network, Gryffen contacted the Starwatcher envoys to Sirius Seven for an update on the occupation of the planet. Now that the Sol system was joining the network, the Sirians wished to send a delegation to the Palisade to atone for previous aggressions against the Terran President Magnus. In addition, they also wished to bring a gift of precious Sirian goods to stimulate trade.

Days later, at the Stargate parked between Titan and Saturn, Danae watched from inside a Starwatcher shuttle as the Sirian vessel arrived through a wormhole through space. Telling Aesha that the Sirians were bad news, Danae said that the Psi–Lords were too hasty about letting them visit, especially since the last time they were there they tried to take over the Earth. Assuring Danae that the Sirians had changed since the Psi–Lords pacified their system, Aesha said that they were there to make amends for the mini rob invasion,, and that, in any case, they would be confined to the Palisade, so they were only placing themselves at risk. While leading the Sirian vessel to the Palisade, Danae mused over how the Psi–Lords were continually expanding their headquarters, which she heard incorporated most of the asteroid belt to feed the construction, an expansion she had yet to determine a reason for.

Inside the Palisade, Vekter entered the command center to see why Superion Gryffen had not let the Sirians board the station yet as he was very anxious to study them. Pushing Vekter out of the room, Graal told him that this was not one of his experiments, it was a security matter, and that they would not suspend docking protocols because he was curious. Leaving in a huff, Vekter told Una, who was waiting for him outside, that they had to wait for quarantine procedures to be completed. Finding that unsatisfactory, Una remarked that one could not bioengineer a microbe, Sirian or otherwise, if it had been cooked by a pathogen sweep. Aware that there were several ways to access the security subroutines, Vekter told Una to go to the lab and wait while he handled things. Moments later, the control board in the control room suddenly read all clear and opened the air lock to the Sirians’ vessel four minutes before the decontamination process finished. At the docking bay, Ambassador Glip stepped out of the air lock and, furiously, demanded to know why they held them prisoner for hours in the air lock. After apologizing for the slow process, Aesha led the delegation to a reception with the Terran ambassador.

Later, Danae, who had gone to the reception prepared to hate Ambassador Glip, had no qualms in telling him that they were keeping a close eye on his mysterious cargo, as she knew how his predecessor, Xypex, tried to sneak mini–robs into North Am. Extending a formal apology for Xypex’s actions, Glip told Danae that since them, with the help of the Starwatcher Sirius Quorum, they had removed such criminals from power. Grateful for the apology, Danae warned Glip that her superiors wished to move cautiously with Earth–Sirius relations. Surprisingly, Danae decided to ignore her superiors and asked Glip how soon he would like to visit Earth.

Meanwhile in sickbay, Aesha told Sarathan that they had a plan to stimulate some coherent thought in Boaz’s brain, who they linked by neural feed to the Palisade’s comsystem, which steady stream of communications should trigger some kind of response. Grief-stricken, Sarathan turned to Aesha and told her that she could not take looking at Boaz like that, when then Danae walked in. Confiding in her, Aesha told Danae that she had never seen Sarathan like that and that she was not sure how to respond. Telling Aesha that they had stifled their emotions so much that they had forgotten how to feel them, Danae placed her hands on Sarathan’s shoulder and told her that she knew how much she was hurting as they both cared about Boaz very much, but they had to have faith in his ability to pull through. Sharing a hug, Aesha said that maybe they could learn a thing or two about the temps.

Suddenly, all around them the Palisade’s Molmach structure lost cohesion and tossed them all over the room. Breaking through the door, Sarathan led Aesha and Danae across the Palisade, which had gone insane. In the control room, an operative informed Gryffen that it appeared as if some foreign nanotech, possibly alien in origin, had infected the Palisade and destabilized the station on a molecular level. Certain of who was behind the situation, Aesha left Danae with Sarathan, who, concerned over the hull’s integrity, suggested that they get further inside. Just then, the hull breached and the station laid bare open into the void of space.

In the detention block, Aesha checked on Ravenrok, her prime suspect, but finding him secure in his cell, she realized that someone else was responsible.

Leading Danae away from the breach, Sarathan took her to the Sirian suite, where the effect seemed less severe, like the calm at the eye of a storm. Telling Danae to stay behind her, Sarathan knocked down the door to the suite, where, surrounded by two armed soldiers, Glip told them that they were too late and the station was under their control. Using his command over the floors, Glip captured Danae and Sarathan. Gloating, Glip told Danae that she looked confused, and that perhaps he should have been gentler when he made her trust him, but, then again, psionic manipulation was often a clumsy tool, and Terrans had such tender minds.

Explaining himself, Glip told Danae that mental powers were not enough against the Starwatchers, so they improved their mini–rob technology and developed their own nanotechnology, which they were there to test against the Psi–Lords, whom judging by the results they would easily wipe out from Sirius. Telling Danae that if she knew what the Psi–Lords planned for her world she would side with them, Glip revealed that when Psi–Lords take over a star system, they contain it within a Dyson Sphere for total control, which is why the station kept growing, they were using it to make a belt around the sun. Using the public address system to expose the Psi–Lords to the other ambassadors, Glip told the Terrans who wishes to cooperate with the Sirians to report to Atrium Alpha, while all Starwatchers, would be put to death, starting with Sarathan.

Back in sickbay, Boaz awoke when he heard Glip threaten Sarathan’s life and stood up to go rescue her.

Infection – Part II

Aboard the Palisade, a space station constructed by Psi–Lord molecular technology that a techno–organic virus had turned berserk, Boaz rushed down a collapsing hallway to rescue Sarathan before Admiral Glip and the Sirian armada executed her. Establishing contact with the control center, Boaz spoke with Aesha, who relayed an order from Gryffen telling him to destroy a blocked node in the anterior subprocessor that was keeping them from taping the mainframe to fight the infection. Seven minutes later, Boaz destroyed the node and resumed his search for Sarathan.

At the Sirian suite, a tremor caused by the destruction of the node toppled the Sirians off their feet. Studying surveillance footage, the Sirians learned that Boaz was responsible for restoring mainframe control of the station to the Psi–Lords. Upset, Glip ordered his men to take the second batch of nano–injectors and use them to liquidate Boaz. Held prisoner by the Molmachs that once made up the floor, Sarathan harshly told Glip that his men would never stop Boaz, but he called her boast an empty one, as his men were trained assassins who had a secret weapon in their favor. Reaching out to Glip, Danae asked him why he chose war when he had a strong position from which to negotiate with the weapons in his possession. Not interested in bargaining with the Psi–Lords, Glip sought to destroy them, as when the Starwatchers conquered his people, their way of life was shattered. Pointing an accusing finger at Sarathan, Glip told Danae that they destroyed everything they believed in. Explaining that in a telepathic community there was no pretense, leaving tempers to run high, violence to be common, and ferocity a virtue, Glip said that when the Psi–Lords pacified them and systematically erased a unique amphibious culture all that was thrown away. As Danae told Glip that there were other Starwatchers groups who would reinforce the Sirius Quorum and he could not fight them all, he rhetorically asked her if alien invaders threatened her world, if she would not fight for it.

Inside the command center, Gryffen, Una, and Vekter entered cyberspace, then they made their way to the mainframe cluster to eliminate the cyberspace equivalent of the alien nanites using cyberselves that reflected their own personal power but that were susceptible to damage that could be reflected in their real bodies.

Elsewhere, Boaz went to the detention block looking for help against the Sirians. Screaming from behind the glass in his cell, Ravenrok warned Boaz that the Sirians were approaching him from behind, but Boaz silenced him and ignored his ranting. Just then, two Sirians fell from the roof and attacked. Using their secret weapon, the Sirians liquefied the Starwatcher who was guardian Ravenrok. Lacking the stomach for killing, Boaz held back from hurting the Sirians, until one of them mentioned Sarathan, which enraged Boaz, who resorted to deadlier attacks. Wiling to do anything to prevent any harm from coming to Sarathan, Boaz demanded that the Sirian tell him where she was, while behind him, Ravenrok escaped his cell, which the Sirians breached with their nano–weapons.

Back in the suite., Glip watched on the monitor as Boaz shot the Sirian with a blast from his eyes. Detecting an intrusion on the mainframe, that Sarathan assured him was Gryffen, Glip activated a program that created antibodies across the station to stop the Psi–Lords. Inside the control center, a group of Starwatchers that were guarding Gryffen, Una, and Vekter, engaged Glip’s antibodies to stop them from hurting them, but the antibodies proved to be more powerful than they were. Before dying, one of the Starwatchers released Una from cyberspace, then, after releasing Vekter, together they protected Gryffen. Inside cyberspace, a virtual antibody stabbed Gryffen on the chest with his arm, but then Gryffen destroyed him and, shortly, restored control of the Palisade. As the antibodies melted around Una and Vekter, Gryffen emerged from cyberspace and ordered them to arrest the Sirians before they could reboot.

Meanwhile, in the Sirians’ suite, the nano–machine melted before Glip’s eyes, then Sarathan broke free of the Molmachs that held her down. Though his other weapons were no longer functional, Glip still had a hand held nano–gun that he threatened to shoot Sarathan with, but, suddenly, a blast from nowhere burned his hand to a crisp before he could fire. Looming over Glip, Boaz, who had discovered that the first mandate was open to interpretation, told Glip to stop whining. Enraged, Glip leapt at Danae, but Sarathan pushed him to the ground and, sarcastically, told him to stand still or else they would get even more non–lethal.

Grabbing Sarathan in her arms, Boaz pulled her toward him and passionately kissed her. With a shy, pleasant, smile, Sarathan told Boaz to hold back as Danae was watching them, but he assured her that it was okay as they were among friends. Unfortunately, Danae said that Glip told her what they were planning for the Terrans, and that she was reporting it all to Magnus.

A Piece Of The Rock

A Place Of Our Own

Sometime in 4020 AD, Hexstrike Alpha arrived on Triton, Neptune’s largest moon and a half–terraformed savage mining colony known to the natives as “Druid’s rock”. Emerging from their shuttle, the Psi–Lords assured a stranger who was walking in the wilderness that no one was going to hurt him, when, suddenly, the Destroyer appeared and blasted the stranger with a blast from his hand.

Enraged, Graal demanded that the Destroyer tell him why he killed that man, but then the Destroyer revealed that the man was in reality a Thassa Kachuk, an unstable creature bio–engineered for labor in the mines with a tendency to eat its fellow workers. That creature in particular, the Destroyer explained, hid out with the miners while the company eradicated its brethren. Turning his attention to the Psi–Lords, the Destroyer demanded to know why they were on his rock.

Explaining that they had knowledge that Druid Enviresources left the moon, Balaam told the Destroyer that they were there to take back the miners, most of whom were Terran criminals who were granted freedom only if they worked for the company. Upset, the Destroyer encircled his fist with an energy surge, so Graal stood between him and Balaam and assured him that they were not there to fight. As Balaam said that they were there to determine why the ambassador’s transmissions were ignored, the Destroyer told the Psi–Lords that they ignored the ambassador because Magnus and his government had no jurisdiction there. Taking flight, the Destroyer reiterated Magnus’ and the Starwatchers’ desire that he leave Earth, just like they wished that the miners left, which meant that Druid’s rock belonged to them and to him, then he warned them to leave his land. While retreating into the shuttle, Balaam told the Destroyer that Ambassador Del Sol had signed the orders for the reclamation of Druid’s rock and the return of the criminals. Reminding the Destroyer that the first time he saw him he watched him kill friends he had known for centuries, Balaam told him that he would be back, and things would go very differently.

Sometime later, the Destroyer walked inside in the Mining Tavern on Druid’s rock, stopping a brawl before it began with his mere presence. Entering a back room, the Destroyer met with Horner, a man banded with the letter M on his face convinced of treason for selling to the wrong side that used skills he acquired to operate spy equipment on the rock during his stay in prison to assist the Destroyer in his plan against the Psi–Lords.

On the Palisade, Balaam told Danae that there was no reasoning with the Destroyer, and that they should modify several shuttles for battle and take Druid’s rock by force. Agreeing with him, Danae said that the original Solar was her hero, but that the Destroyer he had become was something else. Standing silently by the window, Boaz said that he sided with the Destroyer, and wondered why, since nobody wanted those people, they bothered with them. Explaining that mining rights reverted to the Neptunians, Danae told Boaz that the rock was under the control of the Terran Consortium, and that it would be better to complete terraforming operations to, hopefully, make the moon more hospitable to human life. Taking his leave, Boaz told Danae that he would have no part in what she was doing.

Later, high above Druid’s rock, the Destroyer used some of the moon’s natural magnetic core to generate a variable–frequency field around the surface that would give the Psi–Lords a hard time. Upon landing outside the tavern, the Destroyer ran into Dak, who told him that he and his friend had a shuttle they wanted to use to hit and run the Starwatchers. Though the Destroyer advised him against it, he warned Dak to leave before his field was at full–strength and warned him that there was no guarantee that he could come back.

A hundred thousand meters above the surface of Druid’s rock, a fleet of Starwatcher shuttles with modified weapons systems engaged a program to increase their hull integrity to breach the field. Just then, Dak’s small craft collided with one of the shuttles and ripped a hole through it that expelled the crew into space. Aboard a Psi–Lord battle shuttle, hundreds of kilometers away, Balaam held the Destroyer responsible for the attack. Detecting the armada’s approach to the rock with Horner’s help, the Destroyer activated the field soon as they entered firing range and ripped the entire fleet to shreds.

Flying nonchalantly through the debris and bodies while Balaam shot him with his weapon and vowed that he would hunt him down, the Destroyer strengthened the dome and the force field to push Druid’s rock off its orbit around Neptune. While the change in position caused volcanic activity and increased CO2 and oxygen, creating an atmosphere, the Destroyer sped up the process to stabilize the rock to help it become a planet.

Seventeen hours later at the Palisade, while Balaam’s fleet returned, Magnus informed Danae that the Destroyer had done the impossible, and that now that Druid’s rock had a solar orbit and a life–supporting atmosphere it would be considered a planet. At Magnus’ behest, Danae sent the Destroyer a message from the Terran Consortium telling him that they recognized the existence of his government and wished to extend an invitation for him to join their alliance. Furthermore, they wished to assist him in any rebuilding or recovery phase of his new world. Magnus also asked Danae to personally go to Triton and take Balaam with him, as he had a feeling that the Destroyer was there to stay.

A Piece Of The Rock

Somewhere near Triton, Captain Reptar and Fleegle, two smugglers on the run from Jovian authorities, convinced the Destroyer that they were citizens of Druid’s rock who were working in the Oort Cloud when they heard he had moved the rock and taken over that were on their way to rejoin their loved ones when the crooked cops ambushed them. Stipulating that if they were from the rock they were under his protection, the Destroyer warned Reptar that his story better check out or else. Contacting the Jovians, the Destroyer ordered them to stand down and told them that he would see to those men. Angered by the Jovian captain’s refusal to abide by his command, the Destroyer told him that Triton was his world, and that if those men were criminals he would render judgment, then he ordered them to go.

On the Palisade, while Superion Gryffen briefed Hexstrike Alpha on recent smuggling activity near the orbit of Druid’s rock, Ambassador Wree of the Jovian Republic on Ganymede, walked into the control room and informed the Psi–Lords that one of her patrols had a run–in with smugglers protected by the Destroyer. Leaving on a mission to capture Captain Reptar, Boaz was eager to engage the Destroyer again, despite Vekter’s warning that the last time he killed most of Hexstrike Delta without any apparent effort.

On Druid’s Rock, the Destroyer left Reptar with his friends, unaware that they were also smugglers. As the Destroyer left, he suggested to Reptar that they stay put on the rock as there were real smugglers and pirates out in space. Telling the Destroyer that the Jovians would keep blocking any commercial traffic to the rock, Reptar suggested that he monitor subspace channel ten so they could send a distress signal if there was more trouble. After the Destroyer left, Reptar told his friend that he had just turned the most powerful being ever known into his personal bodyguard. However, as the Destroyer had given everyone on the rock a second chance at building a life, Reptar’s friend did not want to have anything to do with any criminal stuff. Refusing to have his plans untangled, Reptar killed his friend, claiming that he had a real sweet arrangement.

Onboard a Starwatcher shuttle, Graal told Hexstrike Alpha that Vekter had devised a plan based on the nanotech application they used to encase the Destroyer’s energies during the Chaos Effect, which they believed could be used to contain the Destroyer himself. Skeptical about the weapon’s effectiveness, Aesha told Graal that Vekter just wanted to see if it worked, but feed up, Graal told her to follow his orders. 43 minutes later, Una detected a small craft that matched the description of the smuggler ship the Jovians reported on the sensors. Ordering battle mode, Graal told Una to intercept the vessel. As the Starwatcher shuttle locked a tractor beam on Reptar’s ship, Fleegle sent out an SOS that the Destroyer shortly answered.

Emerging from subspace, the Destroyer hit the shuttle’s hull and disabled the tractor beam, but then, as he came around for a second turn, the shuttle opened fire with a full disrupter spread that drew him inside the ship. While the Destroyer appeared on the deck of the shuttle and Graal sarcastically said that he did not know why he protected smugglers and asked him if he was going to surrender peacefully or force him to pacify him, Aesha exited the shuttle. At a stalemate with Graal, who refused to engage him out of concern for the smuggler’s lives, the Destroyer accused the Psi–Lord of loosing his nerve and ordered him to go home before he turned his ship into a broiler. Inside the smuggler’s vessel, Reptar mocked the Destroyer, and told Fleegle that if he could fool him into thinking they were good guys, it was a safe bet he was not a rocket scientist, which gave him a feeling that their pirate business was about to pick up. Unbeknownst to either of them, Aesha had boarded the vessel and was watching them while being invisible.

Meanwhile, as Graal learned that Aesha was gone, the Destroyer returned to his home, a crystal fortress in the shape of a star, where he discovered that Aesha had followed him. Assuring the Destroyer that the Starwatchers were individuals, and that not all of them were as bad as the thought, Aesha told him that the men he was protecting were criminals, and that by then her comrades had tracked them down to arrest them. Before he responded to the smuggler’s call, Aesha wanted the Destroyer to know the truth about them.

158 kilometers away, Hexstrike Alpha breached Reptar’s ranch. While Una and Vekter laid down suppressing fire, Graal found Reptar, who he recognized as the ringleader from the detention logs. Just then, the Destroyer arrived and ordered Graal to take his people and leave. Reaching for the gun to shoot the Destroyer with, Graal was surprised to see Aesha take it from him. Upset, Graal ordered Aesha to give it to him because the Destroyer was rescuing the smugglers, but dismissing his misconception, Aesha clarified that the Destroyer was arresting them and she had convinced him who the real bad guys were.

As Hexstrike Alpha moved out, Graal told the Destroyer that the smugglers had felon–files a gigabyte long, and that they were not worth reconditioning, then he turned back and left, but not before he warned the Destroyer that it was not over between them.

While watching the Starwatchers’ shuttle fly away, the Destroyer whispered under his breath that things were not over between him and Aesha either.

Rude Awakening

Rude Awakening – Part I

On July 12th, 4003 – the closing days of the war between Earth and the robotic Malev Empire, Boaz, Sarathan, and Aesha were in pursuit of an omicron–class vessel piloted by hostile AIs of the Malev variety that seized the craft by force and terminated the crew of seven humans. Chasing the vessel to the asteroid belt, Aesha hit their starboard thrusters with a single blast, which compromised its subspace drive. Formulating a plan to escape in their opponents’ own craft, the Malev’s leader called on his brethren to make a sacrifice. Linking the Molmachs in her brain to the shuttle’s nanosystems, Aesha maneuvered the shuttle with the speed of thought, but she still lost visual contact of the Malev craft six seconds, time in which the vessel crashed on an asteroid. Scanning the Malevs as operational, Aesha ordered the others to suit up in Syntheskins on battle mode and step out to find them. While Boaz and Sarathan chased two Malev Centurions, Aesha went to find their leader, who had used the Centurions as a decoy to steal their shuttle.

Unfortunately for the Malevs, none of the controls responded when manipulated. Suddenly, the door closed and the craft compressed all around them until the cabin contracted and destroyed all the Malevs within it. Outside, Aesha said that the shuttle would ingest the Malev’s raw materials, disassembled molecule by molecule, which Boaz pointed out was an ironic end to their race, which sought to do the same to humanity.

In 4020, Carol Pearson of Comnet news reported that, as of that day, nothing remained of the band of rocky material that once girdled the inner planets, which the Starwatchers used as construction material for their home. Everywhere, public sentiment turned against the Golden–Skinned Guardians, as some ambassadors were recalled from the Palisade to protest their expansion. In light of Terran allegations that they were out to enclose the solar system in a Dyson sphere, Carol surmised that it would not be long before everyone asked the Psi–Lords to leave.

Aboard the Palisade, Boaz asked Danae to reconsider leaving to no avail, as, blaming her report to Magnus for starting the Psi–Lords’ latest public relations nightmare, she believed that she had caused enough damage. Learning that the Starwatchers’ seeker probes were still gathering raw material to expand the Palisade, Danae asked Boaz why he did not just mind–wipe her the moment she found out about their Dyson sphere plan. Confessing that the idea did cross their mind for about two seconds, Boaz told Danae that in spite of what she might think, they were not heartless and that they respected their friends, then he bid her goodbye.

Meanwhile, near Mars, Seeker Probe Epsilon three discovered a Harbinger colony ship emerging from deep space. As the probe reported its discovery to the Palisade, the ship’s automated defenses destroyed it.

Fifty–two minutes later, aboard a Starwatchers’ shuttle, Hexstrike Alpha debated the aftermath of their encounter with the Destroyer. While Graal lashed out at Aesha, who he accused of throwing away 600 years of teamwork to protect the Destroyer from him, Vekter told Boaz and Sarathan that Aesha should be relieved as Subsuperion. As Boaz told Vekter that he was just mad because she did not let him test his secret weapon on the Destroyer, the shuttle arrived at the rendezvous point with the Harbinger colony ship. Using a tractor beam, the shuttle deposited the ship on the surface of Mars.

Later, as Aesha returned from an inconclusive aerial reconsweep, Una linked up to the Harbinger shop to deactivate the defense systems and disengage the hatch locks. While uploading the ship’s manifest, Una discovered that there were ten dormant Harbingers in the ship who were dying because the landing had damaged the hypersleep pods. Gaining a lock on the life–support, Vekter woke up the sleepers.

Meanwhile, Graal, Aesha, and Sarathan breached the ship and found an empty pod. Finding the occupant’s remains nearby, Graal surmised that he had died centuries earlier. Ordering Una and Sarathan to return to the shuttle, Graal told them that they were towing the ship home, but Aesha countermanded his order and said that leaving the Harbingers in the pods might kill them. Remarking that he had not cared much about the first mandate lately, Aesha reminded Graal that they had not been HARD Corps for a long time, and that the Harbinger Wars were over.

As Graal opened his mouth to lash out at Aesha, a Harbinger phased his hand through his head and rendered him unconscious. Standing over Graal’s body, the Harbinger rallied his friends to fight the Starwatchers, who he was certain were HARD Corps. As a battle ensued, one of the Harbingers grew into a giant and exploded.

As the dust settled, Sarathan, Vekter, and Una helped Aesha and Graal, the latter of whom broke the group into triads to hunt down the Harbingers. While Aesha’s triad swept north, Graal took the others South.

Seven minutes later, as Aesha’s triad followed the Harbinger’s trail down a chasm, Sarathan expressed her eagerness to break the Harbinger’s legs, which Aesha pointed out was the kind of attitude that got them there in the first place. Reaching a dead end, Sarathan sarcastically told Aesha that they did not have to fight anyone again. Just then, the voice of the Harbinger’s leader yelled at them from above and told them that they had exactly one chance to convince the 10 Harbingers that were surrounding them not to bury them.

Rude Awakening – Part II

Somewhere in the badlands of Mars, Aesha explained to the Harbingers that they had been in hypersleep for more than a thousand years to no avail. Enraged, the Harbingers attacked despite their leader’s order to stop. Phasing through the combatants, the Harbinger’s leader urged them to stop, when then Boaz shot him with a blast that rendered him solid. While the Harbingers and Psi–Lords fought, Aesha gave the Harbinger’s leader a pulse pistol to make it seem like he had captured her so that they could peacefully resolve the situation. Warning him that Graal’s triad was still hunting them, Aesha assured him that they would be ready for them.

Back on the Palisade, the home of the Psi–Lords, Balaam rushed into the control center and submitted to Superion Gryffen that he was leading them into disaster. Upset, Balaam asked Gryffen why he allowed the Interplanetary political situation to destabilize, and if he could not do something to conceal their plans. Saying that it would be too late for that, as he could hardly deal with Magnus anymore, Balaam, asked Gryffen how he could function as ambassador when he might ask him to leave Earth at any moment. Arrogantly, Gryffen told Balaam that perhaps that would be for the best as he acted like if he had spent too much time among humans already. Pointing out that it was too late, as lines were drawn, Gryffen told Balaam that even as they spoke Titan security engaged one of their acquisition crews who were harvesting a moon of Saturn. Saying that the time for subtlety was over, Gryffen told Balaam that they had to consolidate their forces to deal with an even bigger threat, Ravenrok, who was still on the loose.

Elsewhere, a vessel took Ravenrok to Earth, where, in lieu of paying the ship’s captain for his transport, Ravenrok slaughtered the crew.

In the Martian Outback, Una, Vekter, and Graal continued their search for the Harbingers. Raising up to performed a high–altitude recon using infrascan, Vekter found the Harbinger’s heat signatures two kilometers southeast of their position. Sneaking up on the Harbingers, Graal believed that they had beaten Aesha’s triad, when then Vekter informed him that the Harbingers were no longer emitting a heat signature. Certain that one of the Harbingers was using his power to conceal the group, Graal ordered the others to charge against them.

Leaping against the Harbingers, the three members of Graal’s triad fell right through a projection and crashed against the face of a mountain, the impact of which caused an avalanche that buried them. Enraged, Graal flew through the rocks and punched two Harbingers, vowing that they would never take him. As Graal flew away, Aesha told the Harbingers to not let him get away because he was the most dangerous of the Psi–Lords, but none of the Harbingers had the strength to pursue him.

Going after Graal, Aesha yelled out that the Harbingers were not hostile but scared while she searched for him. Just then, Graal jumped at Aesha from behind but fell through her because she was in Ghost mode. Landing over Graal, Aesha de–ghosted the tip of her pulse pistol inside his helmet to bring their battle to a stalemate, but then he swatted her hand aside and the gun went off inches from his face. Meanwhile, Vekter and Una escaped and, while accusing Sarathan and Boaz of being traitors, attacked the Harbingers.

As Aesha desperately tried to revive Graal, he raised his hand and grabbed her neck to choke, but then she rendered him unconscious with Tse–Tse. Suddenly, a loud booming sound in the distance alerted Aesha to the battle between the Psi–Lords and Harbingers, so she flew back to stop Vekter and Una, leaving Graal behind.

Flying over the chasm, Aesha was appalled to see her Psi–Lord friend fighting each other and the Harbingers, which is what they tried to avoid. While Aesha pleaded with her friends to stop fighting, Graal watched the battle from atop a cliff and listened as she begged him to put a stop to the conflict. Just then, a blast hit Aesha on the face and she plummeted to the ground. Enraged, Graal leapt into the chasm and ordered Una and Vekter to assume standard defensive posture.

Sometime later, aboard the Palisade, Superion Gryffen welcomed the Harbingers to the 41st Century and invited them to stay on the Palisade until they found a more permanent home. After the Harbingers left, Gryffen told Graal that his poor judgment on the mission might have needlessly cost lives, but that however, he did finally show the good sense to trust Aesha and end the conflict in time. Turning to Aesha, Gryffen told her that she showed great wisdom and courage in handling the mission, and that in light of the increasingly unfavorable political climate in the solar system, he decided that from that day forward, she would lead Hexstrike Alpha with Graal as her second–in–command.

Gathering around Aesha, her teammates wholeheartedly congratulated her, while Graal watched them with disdain.

The Invisible Legion

The Invisible Legion – Part I

Deep beneath the South Atlantic, Rai and Kara Cortada drove a sub toward 1A’s underwater base. Kara believed that they should have waited for Ananse and Rentaro Nakadai to rejoin them, but Rai told her that if they had waited they might have missed their chance to catch Takashi, which made her wonder how much of their mission was duty and how much of it was personal. Parking the sub away from the base to avoid tripping any alarms, Rai and Kara swam silently toward the base.

Even before they got inside, Rai could feel the gigabytes of artificial intelligence shooting through the walls of the place and the robotic activity around him. From down the hall, the siren call of at least 5,000 parallel–linked brain matrices set Rai’s teeth on edge. Cursed to be sensitive to any nearby electronics by the nanites, Rai had never felt the crushing strength and dizzying variety of AI signals that he felt at that moment. Coming upon a room filled with Samurobs, Rai surmised that Takashi was creating an army. Hiding from view, Rai overheard Takashi tell Suki to leave for lunch with him while Grandfather kept the line running.

Elsewhere, in North Am’s Calizona Sector, Slagger informed Magnus that he had discovered another dead body, the tenth one in the last six months. Though he lacked any evidence, Slagger believed that a necromantic cult was responsible for the murders. Giving Magnus an old beacon–tracker he found when he used to scavenge Goph–levs with Elzy, Slagger told him that if anything happened to him he wanted him to personally come find him because he was the only one he could trust and thought that he was being followed. At the underwater base, Rai listened as Suki said that they had passed the 6,000 unit mark, and that if the Magellan sector came through with the next parts consignment they could reach their target force of 10,000 Samurobs within a month. Hearing Takashi say that their helper was a freewill, Rai realized that the reason he felt an artificial intelligence all around him was because Grandfather was inside the walls of the base, then the ground suddenly up under Rai’s feet and swallowed him. Finding himself locked within a cage, Rai could not mindlock its simple mechanical lock. Thanking Grandfather for capturing Rai, mockingly thanked Rai for joining them in time to see him restore Japan to his former glory.

One week later in North Am, Magnus left his quarters to go find Slagger, who vanished the previous day. Though Leeja pleaded with Magnus to send someone else to run the errand and reminded him that the days for him to slay the dragons himself were over, he told her that fighting was what he was born to do. Telling Leeja that he had not really liked himself since the robot purge, Magnus said that when Slagger came to him he was asking for Magnus Robot Fighter, and that he had to go or else he would not be the man she loved.

Later, in a Calizona industrial park, Magnus knocked out two guards that recognized him even though he had never seen them before at the entrance to an abandoned factory. Following a voice that proclaimed that for years the Invisible Legion had hidden in plain sight alongside their enemies, friends and families who had no idea of their true nature, Magnus came upon a large gathering of people that looked like a cult. Standing on a ledge, Magnus listened as the cult’s leader said that for killing one of their own, Slagger would become their newest brother in the Invisible Legion of freewills.

Realizing that the freewills had survived by hiding their mechanical brains inside people, Magnus leapt off the ledge to rescue Slagger.

The Invisible Legion – Part II

In 4020 AD, inside an abandoned factory in North Am, 16 years after the order came to hunt all the robots to extinction, Magnus discovered a group of freewills who hid their minds inside human bodies. Fighting his way through the crowd to rescue Slagger before they implanted him with a freewill’s mind, Magnus chased the cult’s leader while Slagger used one of their weapons to cover him. Catching up to the man as he climbed onboard a vehicle, Magnus stopped him, but then the man revealed that he had saved Magnus’ wife, which made Magnus realize that the freewill inside the man’s body was Tekla, a revelation that made him loose his grip on her vehicle and let her escape. Shacking off the initial shock, Magnus returned to the factory with a group of troopers and ordered them to subdue the freewills and not kill them. Conferring his discovery to Slagger, Magnus said that he had a lot to think about.

At 1A’s underwater base in the ocean floor near Antarctica, Rai managed to fool Takashi’s lie detector to conceal the fact that he was not alone, which gave Takashi a false sense of security that inspired him to release his armada of Samurobs to commence the first phase of his invasion. Leaving Rai as his Samurobs flew away from the base, Takashi promised to return for the blood in his veins as there could only be one Rai.

Back in North Am, Magnus met with Leeja and Zebediah Clane and told them that Tekla was the leader of the Invisible Legion. Feeling that he was pushed into leading the reconstruction, Magnus thought that it was his duty to slag any remaining robots, but now he once again came to question if he had the right to destroy a new life–form and believed that he was paying the price for the humans’ better life without them.

Later that night, at the Timbuc Memorial Park, Torque met a woman called Katya after he had an intense argument with his girlfriend Clara, who walked out on him. Recognizing Torque as Magnus’ son, Katya told him that she had some urgent business with her mother but did not have an appointment, and that if she helped her get in to see her, she would save so much time and have the rest of the day free to be with him. Enchanted with Katya’s beauty, Torque agreed to help her meet with his mother.

Meanwhile, at the Capital Compound detention block, Magnus sent Slagger and the troopers out so he could speak with the freewills. As Magnus told the freewills that all he wanted to know was where to find Tekla before his troopers killed her, they told him that Tekla was the last thing he needed to worry about, which made him realize that was coming for him or his family.

Elsewhere, as Torque took Katya to see Leeja, she shot him in the back and then aimed her gun at Leeja’s face. Asking Leeja if she ever told Magnus that she saved her life, Katya revealed that she was Tekla, who transferred her mind to a new host body. Explaining that her core somehow survived the surge that burned out her android body, Tekla told Leeja that after her people finally salvaged her she learned that her sacrifice had counted for nothing. Leaping in the air, Leeja kicked the gun off Tekla’s hand and then chased her across the courtyard. Gaining the upper hand, Tekla sat on top of Leeja and prepared to kill her, but then Torque knocked her off his mother.

Arriving in time, Magnus grabbed Tekla and revealed that he had freed the other freewills to show that he was willing to negotiate. As Tekla yelled that Magnus could not be trusted, the Samurobs suddenly attacked.

Return of the Robots

Return of the Robots – Part I

On August 21st 4020, an army of Samurobs invaded North Am and attacked Magnus and his family. Standing between the robs and his family, Magnus told Leeja to leave with Torque and the freewills. Grabbing Tekla and other freewills, the Samurobs detected their positronic cores and left with them back to the undersea base where Suki Seko built them. Chasing after the robs through a hole in the roof, Magnus looked down at the city under siege and knew that it would not be long before the Psi–Lords came down in full force. Jumping back inside, Magnus received a communication from Rentaro and Ananse, who told him that Rai’s stepbrother, Takashi, launched the invasion from the underwater base where 1A raised him.

Standing inside a holographic virtual display that he used to oversee the diversionary force in Calizona, Takashi told Grandfather that when he joined the Japan taskforce his real work would begin. Renouncing the name of Grandfather, the freewill wanted Takashi to call him by his real designation, but Takashi refused, and threatened to have Suki take further measures to ensure his loyalty if he continued to prove obstinate. Surrendering to Takashi’s command, the freewill unit accepted the designation Grandfather, which Takashi said would have the role once filled by the Grandmother computer when the new empire of Japan was ready.

Later, Takashi visited Rai and expressed his displeasure with his capture, which had not turned out to be what he expected. Aware that Rai had not even relieved himself in three days, Takashi wondered where the waste was going, but Rai ignored him. Upset, Takashi left, unaware that Kara Cortada was hiding in the rafters. Ranting that he had no one to share the eve of his greatest triumph, Takashi said that at that moment his Samurobs would have thrown Calizona into pandemonium. Confiding in Rai that one if the robs’ directives was to kill Magnus, the man who killed his father, Takashi mused that they probably caught him in his sleep. Unbeknownst to Takashi, Magnus still lived, and, together with Slagger, was destroying the Samurobs. As word from the safety tracking nodes revealed that the invasion was limited to Calizona and a couple of other places, Magnus was thankful that the robs were not organized.

Falling into a deep trance where he saw himself chained to a rock, Rai flailed out with his nanosensors, groping blindly through the frigid darkness outside for a signal, a vessel of anyone to beg for help. Ready to give up after three days of failure, Rai suddenly made contact with Grandfather’s freewill, the remnant consciousness of 1A, Magnus’ mentor, who had been in contact with his nanosystems since he arrived. Revealing that Suki Seko found and selectively lobotomize his positronic brain to force him to serve her and Takashi, 1A told Rai that the behavioral subroutines in his blood pulled him back together, which was why he had not reported his companion’s presence to Takashi.

Crestfallen, Rai felt that he was not of much use because he was not a hero like his father. Just then, Rai witnessed an apparition of Takao Konishi, his father, who told him that he was relying solely on the talents in his blood and that he needed to look within himself for his own talent, his own Harbinger ability. Reaching deep within himself, Rai loss consciousness while searching for what his ability was.

Not far away, Kara Cortada engaged Suki Seko in battle to force her to help her. Swiftly defeating Suki, Kara told her that their love for two men who were hell–bent on killing each other gave them something in common, and that they could save them if they could work together.

Later, Suki rejoined Takashi in the room where he kept Rai locked up. Looming over Rai, Takashi was ready to decant his blood, when then he realized that his vitals had flatlined. Fearing that Rai was dead, Takashi and Suki pulled his bloated body out of the cell. Suddenly, Rai regained consciousness, and having awakened his dormant power that he inherited from his mother, he changed form as his flesh shimmered, his bones shifted, and the nanites rearranged his flesh. Kicking Takashi in the face, Rai loomed over him and, as his fingers hardened to claws, he blasted Takashi with a burst of ectotheric energy, the power of thought. Kicking Takashi in the chin, Rai apologized to him for not being the real Rai like his father and for their lack of brotherly love, but then he said that he had to end his reign before it began, even if he had to kill him.

Return of the Robots – Part II

As the battle between Takashi and Rai raged through the undersea base, Rai inadvertently shot out the walls and caused the structure to flood. Escaping, Suki ran into a dead end, where Kara reminded her that the only reason she had not killed her was so she would tell her the weakness of the base and Takashi’s armor.

Elsewhere in North Am, Magnus and Slagger continued to fight through Takashi’s Samurobs, whose motivation other than taking Tekla and the freewills remained a mystery. Watching Balaam engage the robs, Magnus asked him not to report the event to his superiors, but after having overlooked previous threats to the peace he refused to cover it up and left the decision to intervene to his Superion. In the meantime, Balaam promised to assist Magnus.

Meanwhile, in an office park a few kilometers away, Tekla warned the Samurobs’ leader that Earth was not kind to robots, and offered that perhaps they could form a partnership and create a new Steel Nation. As the Samurobs’ leader said that he would take all the freewills to see his master, Balaam, Magnus, and Slagger showed up and attacked. Leaping off his ski–cycle, Magnus pulled Tekla away from the battle and told her that he was wrong to order the robot purge.

Back in the undersea base, Suki and Kara witnessed as Rai and Takashi continued their skirmish. Convincing Suki that if Rai beat Takashi there was still a chance to save him, while if Takashi won the Psi–Lords would come after him, Kara got her to lower Takashi’s psionic shields, which allowed Rai to mindlock his armor. Freezing Takashi in place, Rai accused him of turning him into a monster and killing people to stop him, then, in anger, he said that there was nothing to stop him from blowing up his head. Watching as Rai lost control, Kara blasted the deck plates beneath him with a particle beam, which opened the floor, and sucked Takashi away and trapped him beneath a deactivated Samurob.

In North Am, Magnus leapt off a bridge with Tekla in her arms as a transport fell down from the sky and set the entire area ablaze. Facing each other, Magnus looked at Tekla with regret and wanted to explain himself to her, but, changing the subject, she knelt beside a body and picked up a weapon to go find Slagger. Admitting that now that she had taken a five–story plunge in his arms she trusted him, Tekla told Magnus that if he wanted to prove that he had changed his ways he had to start by trusting her.

Aboard the Palisade, Superion Gryffen dispatched Hexstrike Alpha to Earth to reclaim the Calizona Sector.

At the undersea base, Takashi forcibly pleaded with Suki to rescue him. Begging Rai to rescue Takashi, Suki agreed to tell them the override codes so they could recall the Samurobs before the Psi–Lords took over. Offering to tell only Kara, Suki punched her in the gut and then leapt into the hole to help Takashi.

Switching to plan B, Rai asked 1A how to stop the Samurobs, but 1A told him that the robs were programmed to act autonomously, and that he had to go to Calizona to stop them himself. Running toward the sub, Rai told Kara that until that moment he was not sure how much he could depend on her, but after she convinced Suki to save him even though he knew she hated him, his opinion of her had changed. Smiling at Rai, Kara told him that once the conflict was over, she wanted her cute guy back.

Making their way across a sewage pipe, Tekla asked Magnus if he knew where the Samurobs came from. As he told her that they were built by Takashi Nakadai, they came upon two Samurobs guarding the exit of the pipe. Trusting Tekla, Magnus turned his back on her, but then she shot him and knocked him unconscious. Approaching the Samurobs, Tekla identified herself as the leader of the freewills and said that she would like to propose an alliance with their creator. Grabbing Tekla, the Samurobs reached into her head and removed her positronic brain to take it to Takashi.

Fourteen second later, the Samurobs departed with Tekla’s brain in their hand and left her body behind. Elsewhere, as Balaam found Slagger, Hexstrike Alpha arrived to annihilate the Samurobs and takeover.

Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Whose Planet Is It Anyway? – Part I

Leaping out of their shuttle, Hexstrike Alpha followed Aesha’s command to commence a termination sweep of Takashi Nakadai’s Samurobs. Securing a control zone, Graal and Sarathan, the Bastions, relentlessly destroyed one Samurob after another. Meanwhile, Baal and Aesha found Torque and Leeja and rescued them from a barrage of robs. Landing beside them, Aesha asked Leeja to tell them where her husband was, but upset with their presence, Torque lashed out and said that Magnus was out taking care of things, and that when he found out they were trying to do his job for him, he was not going to accept it.

Elsewhere, Magnus woke up after Tekla shot him in the back. Hearing the Samurobs attacking an unseen individual, Magnus went to the man’s rescue and discovered that the victim was Balaam, the Psi–Lords’ ambassador. Upset with Balaam, Magnus regretted saving him, and though Balaam offered to protect him, Magnus relentlessly fought against the Samurobs, motivating by the desire not to die beside the Starwatcher.

Somewhere in the ocean floor, inside a secret base constructed by the freewill robot named 1A, Suki Seko realized that Rai had stolen 1A’s core from the control platform and rushed to Takashi’s side to free him before he drowned. As the water covered his face, Takashi accepted his comeuppance and expressed his regret that he did not have more time with Suki. While Suki kept Takashi alive with mouth–to–mouth resuscitation, two Samurobs arrived and rescued Takashi from his watery grave. Once their master was safe, the Samurobs gave Takashi Tekla’s positronic core.

Inside a submarine in the Magellan/Calizona sub–orbital transit corridor, Ananse asked Rai, who picked him and Rentaro up from their sub sometime earlier, why he did not bring 1A with him from Takashi’s base so he could stop the Samurobs. Explaining that Takashi controlled the robots, Rai revealed that 1A managed to escape while he fought Takashi through unknown means.

Back in North Am, the Samurobs that were fighting Magnus and Balaam suddenly departed, which made Balaam believe that if they were leaving a hot target like Magnus, then his comrades had entered the conflict. Suggesting that the whole Calizona incursion scanned like a decoy, Balaam asked Magnus if there was something he was not telling him, like perhaps a conflict elsewhere, but, still angered with Balaam, Magnus lashed out and said that whatever the robs’ departure meant, it was Earth’s problem and not the Psi–Lord’s.

Not far away, at the Capitol Compound, Hexstrike Alpha used a new Molmach application against the Samurobs, who could not stop the nanotech from penetrating their systems. Reporting the success of their mission to Superion Gryffen, Aesha received orders to maintain the Capitol Compound as a permanent base of operations for the Psi–Lord’s pacification of the entire planet over the next 72 hours. Unbeknownst to Aesha, Slagger overheard every word of Gryffen’s command.

Elsewhere, Suki Seko interfaced Tekla’s brain with the control platform previously used for 1A’s module. Recognizing Takashi’s rule over New Japan, and his status as a hero to her people, Tekla offered to get every freewill left on Earth to aid him in exchange for a new body. 37 minutes later, Suki placed Tekla inside a rebuilt Malev frame, and though Tekla objected to not getting Suki’s body for herself, she accompanied her and Takashi as they left the base.

Offering to take Magnus to his family, Balaam confessed that he called his people behind the robot fighter’s back. As Magnus and Balaam landed in a battle field beside Slagger and the Psi–Lords, Rai’s ship arrived and everyone on board joined the battle against the Samurobs. As Rai mindlocked one of the Samurobs to fight his brethren, the robots received new instructions and withdrew from Calizona.

As Slagger told him that he overheard the Psi–Lord’s plan to take over the planet, Magnus told Balaam that now that everything was under control, and they would hunt down the robots, it was time for him and the others to go home, but Balaam apologetically refused, and said that it was their turn to enforce the peace. Though Magnus asked Balaam to leave before things turned ugly, Balaam pompously told him to be reasonable and said that they did not have the power to fight them. Enraged, Magnus punched Balaam and then, looming over him, said that he had wanted to know his superior look off his face for years. Flanked by Rai, Ananse, and the others, Magnus challenged the Psi–Lords to settle their conflict for the last time.

Whose Planet Is It Anyway? – Part II

On August 21st, 4020 AD, in North Am’s Calizona sector, Magnus and Rai stood in a balcony overlooking the destruction around them, symbolic spoils of their sour victory, and reminisced about the days’ difficult events. Six hours earlier, Magnus was sure that they would loose the Earth to the Psi–Lords, but got his hopes up when Rai showed up with Ananse and the others. Seeing Rai with muscles and claws, Magnus did not know that he would reshape his body, but he understood that he remade himself for war, and war was never pretty.

It was not long before the Psi–Lords showed them how inadequate they were when Aesha shot Torque in the back while Sarathan and Braal prevented Magnus from protecting his son and the planet. Fortunately, Rentaro was not as cocky as Magnus, and carried Torque off the battlefield. Though Rai tried to help Magnus, the Psi–Lords used their Molmachs, which morphed into a wall in less than a second and cut him and Slagger off. The last thing Magnus saw before he lost consciousness was Sarathan pummeling Slagger to the ground.

The Psi–Lord’s mistake was to concentrate on Magnus and forgetting that Rai had nanites in his bloodstream like them, except that his allowed him to control electrical systems. Mindlocking Boaz and Una, Rai switched all their powers on at once, which caused an electrical surge in their bodies. Realizing that Rai could turn every weapon they had against them, Aesha ordered Hexstrike Alpha to withdraw for tactical reevaluation. Regrouping atop a milespire, Aesha contacted the Palisade for instructions. Having monitored the battle through Aesha’s eyes, Superion Gryffen was personally en route with two more Hexstrike teams to manage the delicate situation closely. Ordering Aesha to hold position on the milespire and establish a headquarters for the occupation, Gryffen was certain that the sector would be pacified upon his arrival.

Turning to Aesha, Balaam suggested that they were loosing focus of their mission, which Aesha reminded everyone was to hunt down the Samurobs. Looming over Una’s unconscious body, Boaz uttered that global security was no longer their mission, which confused Graal. Clarifying that their mission was global conquest, Aesha told the rest of Hexstrike Alpha that the first mandate demanded that they protect all life, but it did not say they had to be nice about it. However, Aesha acknowledged that the question was if they could carry out their mission after all their interaction and friendships with the Terrans.

Recalling what happened next, Magnus wondered if they could have avoided what happened next if the Psi–Lords had not withdrawn so quickly. Unable to call for reinforcements due to the Psi–Lord’s interference with their transmitters, Magnus and the others went to find the Starwatchers to confront them while Slagger left to find help. While Magnus relished that the Psi–Lords were forbidden from killing any living thing, for Ananse, for whom capture was worse than death, that only made things worse.

As Boaz and Balaam debated how they could imprison the entire population and still earn their trust, Superion Gryffen’s shuttle arrived and he assumed command of the operation.

Less than three hours later, Magnus and his friends used a Spider Alien device to track the Psi–Lords and found them atop a milespire building their headquarters atop a milespire. Suddenly, a wall made of Molmachs rose up from the pavement and destroyed the ski–cycles that Magnus and the others were riding and penned them like cattle. Refusing to be captured, Ananse opened fire on the Psi–Lords, but Aesha shot him in the back with Molmach paste that engulfed him.

Unexpectedly, Slagger suddenly arrived with a squadron of his men and opened fire on the Psi–Lords. While Magnus and Slagger flew toward a Terran command ship, Rai used his mindlock to free Ananse, unaware that Una and Graal were hovering behind him prepared to shoot him with arc charge to crash his nanites. Noticing Rai’s would–be attackers, Kara Cortada stood in the path of the blast and died instantly. Though Graal refused to acknowledge any responsibility for Kara’s death, which he called an accident, Una did not agree and shut down. Enraged over Kara’s death, Rai wanted revenge, and as long as he could turn their weapons against them, he was going to make sure that the Psi–Lords paid.

As Gryffen ordered Graal to dispatch a med–tech to resuscitate Kara Cortada and Graal disparagingly said that humans did not share their reverence for life, Magnus and Slagger commandeered a ship and set it on a collision course with the Psi–Lord’s headquarters. Stopping the ship’s momentum with his telekinetic grip, Gryffen, who possessed much more power than the other Psi–Lords, flew inside the vessel and told Magnus and Slagger that they were beaten.

Unable to understand the human’s willingness to die instead of surrender, Gryffen accused Magnus and Slagger of trying to kill themselves as he wondered why Kara put herself in mortal peril. Assuring Gryffen that he could expect more of the same if he kept up the takeover, Magnus told him that, unlike the Spider Aliens and Sirians, humans never gave up and would rather die than accept a dictatorship no matter how benevolent. Certain that Gryffen had the power to take over the planet, Magnus warned him that he would have to give up his precious first mandate to do it and asked him if it was worth the price.

Six hours later, Magnus had his answer as the Psi–Lords withdrew for good, but not before they revived Kara Cortada using their technology. Wondering what they had accomplished, since they still had freewill robots at large, not to mention Takashi and his Samurob army, Magnus still fell down about the robot purge and knew that hunting down the freewills was the biggest mistake of his life.

Standing side by side with Leeja and their children, Magnus heard as Torque told him that all was well that ended well, and that for that moment, at least, the world once again was an exciting place, full of challenge, mystery, and adventure.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part I

Walking through the Gehenna level in North Am’s Metroplex in the eastern seaboard searching for Magnus, Rai ran into Elzy, a Goph friend of Magnus, who asked him why he was searching for him. Learning that Leeja had sent Rai to find Magnus, Elzy, who had grown weary of dealing with the people from the mile spires, no longer wanted to know why Rai was there, but did tell him to look for Magnus in the third platform.

Making his way through the third platform, a red district–like area, Rai found Magnus in bed in a small room with a REM–patch on his shoulder. Removing the patch, Rai awoke Magnus and told him that his wife was worried, but Magnus told him to back off. Telling Magnus to get dressed, Rai took him out for a walk across the promenade, where he witnessed Magnus give the people a sign that cleared the crowd away from them. Saying that he did not want anyone else to get hurt, Magnus told Rai that he was not going back to the mile spires, but that he knew he would not take no for an answer.

In a mile spire in North Am’s grid designate ATL–320, Slagger stood beside a pool awkwardly adverting his gaze from Leeja, who tired of pretending to be tough had reverted to her old habits. Walking out of the water and donning a robe, Leeja asked Slagger if there had been any word from Rai, but he told her that he had not heard anything. As Slagger said that she should have sent him, Leeja told him that if Magnus had balked he would have backed down, while at least Rai would make an honest effort. Ordering Slagger to keep her updated because they needed Magnus, Leeja threw a glass of wine at him when he mocked her need for Magnus as her motivation for doing anything after three months of inactivity.

Back in Gehenna, Rai swiftly defeated Magnus in hand–to–hand combat as the former robot fighter’s heart was not into their fight, and carried him back to his squalor, certain that the mile spires could wait while he helped him answer his cries for help.

At the Presidential palace, Leeja found Torque standing in front of a hologram of Magnus wearing her Magnus’ old uniform and ordered him to take it off because it reminded her that times were simpler before, something she did not need to remember at the moment. As Torque told his mother that no one ever said that being president would be easy, Leeja said that it would help matters if Magnus was not always running off at the drop of a hat. Assuring Leeja that things would get better, Torque said that he was worried as well.

Meanwhile, Magnus awoke inside a Presidential skiff flying over Japan’s sub–head geomorphic. Certain that a side trip to Japan was not on Leeja’s agenda, Magnus asked Rai to elaborate on why they were there, but all Rai said was that he was trying to help and asked Magnus who Tekla was. Upset, Magnus told Rai to back off and asked him where he was taking him, but Rai said that where they were going was up to him.

Below them, a freewill that inhabited a human body pointed at the skiff and told one of his brethren that its presence came to close on the hells of the incident and that he would not end up like Tekla. Unbeknownst to the freewills, a Starwatcher was watching them from afar.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part II

Finding Magnus in a garden that Mother Nike tenaciously planted, Rai told him that he could not hide from himself, a statement that upset him as he walked away. Walking toward Rai, Mother Nike said that Magnus would no longer let the needs of others define him, and told him that he had to temper his approach if he truly wished to help him. Watching as Magnus left, Nike asked Rai why he brought him there, but he said nothing.

In a mile spire in North Am’s grid designate ATL–320, Balaam the Starwatcher met with Zebediah Clane on a terrace that overlooked the mountain range, a sight that made Clane muse that living in zones, penned in from nature, was not the way things were supposed to be. As Balaam asked Clane about his obsession, Zebediah showed him a computer program that left the Starwatcher singularly impressed and prompted him to ask when he was planning to execute it. Upset, Clane told Balaam to tell him when he planned to execute the plan since he arranged for them to meet because he was worried about what he might do. Destroying the portable computer that Clane gave him, Balaam told Clane that he was hardly worried and told him to keep in mind that, after all, he was a concerned parent.

In Japan, a concerned citizen and his female companion warned Lord Takashi that Rai had brought Magnus to their land, a report that did not bother him in the least. Reminding them that he had revived Japan, Takashi asked the two citizens if they doubted his ability to defeat Magnus, but the man told him that it was not wise to underestimate Magnus, a remark that greatly upset Takashi. After Takashi sent the citizens awake, he asked Suki if she believed that the false Rai had a secret agenda, to which she said that anything was possible. Warning Suki that the role of ingénue ill fitted her, Takashi told her to find out if Magnus was truly in Japan.

Walking down the streets, the two citizens that Takashi sent away debated what to do since Takashi would not even consider the possibility that Magnus came to Japan. Certain that Takashi would look into the matter, the man said that his bluster hid a dangerously insecure nature. As his companion said that she envied how well he knew people, the man expressed his delight with her immediate recognition of an emotional state, but when she said that their state of being exhilarated her, he warned her that she was showing off.

Awakening from a dream in which he saw himself washing blood from his hands, Magnus walked into the garden and ran into Suki Seko, who asked him why the false Rai brought him to Japan, but he told her that he did not know, which seemed to be his rote answer lately. As Suki warned Magnus that his presence in Japan was disturbing to many, and that it would be unfortunate should anyone act in a rash matter, Rai showed up and asked her to leave. As Suki walked away, Rai asked Magnus what she wanted, but he did not know.

Meanwhile, in the Gehenna level, Slagger went to Elzy’s home and asked her if she had given Magnus to Rai. Upset, Elzy said that Magnus was not for her to give, and accused Slagger of being Leeja’s dog. As Slagger reiterated his question, Elzy told him that she saw how the Magnus that was died when he killed Tekla, who wore the skin, which killed him inside. Since Slagger did not understand, Elzy explained everything to him.

At the Presidential palace, Leeja asked her aide for an update of the so–called “Diminishing”. Reminding her that with the use of robotics came the problem of freewills, the aide told Leeja that from past experience they were able to estimate the percentage of active units likely to acquire independent motivation, which had lately fallen short of their projections while the number of units dropping from the ControlNet was quite in keeping with them. Explaining that the net could identity the freewill anomaly and store it as much the same way as it stored active unites, the aide told Leeja that freewills were dropping from the net in greater numbers that were way out of line with their verified kill tally, which for all intents and purposes meant that they were simply disappearing. Since the net tally was married to basic robotic function, the aide surmised that only though a complete system shutdown could a freewill drop off of the planet, an act that Leeja liken to robot suicide.

Finding Magnus somewhere in the Japan wasteland, Mother Nike told him that he could leave wherever he wanted to and asked him why he stayed. Replying with a question of his own, Magnus asked Mother Nike why Rai brought him there, but she did not know. Suddenly, a shot hit Magnus in the chest and he fell of the ravine into a chasm.

Hiding behind a platform holding a smoking gun, a freewill in human flesh kept repeating over and over again that he would not die like Tekla.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part III

Experiencing a fever dream caused by his getting shot and consequent fall, Magnus found himself as a child asking 1A, the freewill who raised him, if it was wrong for him to do what he said given his teachings that robots dominated man and told men what to do. Finding the query unexpected, 1A told Magnus that humans had allowed robots to define them, which was wrong as each human had to define himself by their individual actions. Reminding Magnus that humankind had surrendered too much to the robots, 1A told him that when freewill numbers grew great enough humankind would need him to inspire them through example. Confused, Magnus asked 1A if he would be defined by his actions or his teachings, a query that he ignored.

As the dream moved into his teenage years, Magnus single–handedly destroyed many robots during an exercise and told 1A that the line between them and him had begun to blur, a statement that greatly pleased his robotic mentor. As the scene shifted to a night not long ago in which Magnus was watching old videos of his arrival in North Am, Magnus found himself crying on Leeja’s shoulder in bed.

In Japan, Rai walked into Mother Nike’s room and found her sitting in wait beside Magnus, who lay in bed with a REM–patch on his chest covered in sweat. As Mother Nike was unable to help Magnus any further as his hardened skin prevented her from treating him, Rai left to go confront Takashi, who he was certain was responsible for the attack on Magnus’ life.

As Magnus’ dream continued, he found himself in a hospital waiting for Leeja to give birth to their son, a scene that contradicted Obadiah’s actual birth. Renouncing the child as his own, Magnus told Leeja that he had already agreed to raise him and asked her what else she wanted from him, to which she replied that she wanted him to mean it.

Finding himself in the battle field following the revolt of Takashi’s robots, Magnus saw Obie looming over him asking why he abandoned him. As Magnus said that Torque went with him for the best, Rai asked him when was the last time he kissed his son.

In a mile spire in North Am’s grid designate ATL–320, Balaam walked into Torque’s room as he was watching a video of himself with his father. Learning from Torque that Magnus was in Japan with Obadiah, Balaam asked him why his mother sent the bastard child to be with his father instead of him.

Outside Takashi’s palace, Rai destroyed two giant Samurobs and walked inside looking for his half brother. Having seen the brief skirmish, Takashi left to meet with the false Rai, a charade that Suki found tiresome.

Surrounded by the discarded remains of hundreds of robots, Magnus saw Tekla in her human form looming over him with open arms and a smile, but then he suddenly punched her in the stomach and killed her. Standing over Magnus as he lost consciousness and died, Mother Nike desperately called for the medi–unit

At Takashi’s palace, Takashi presented Rai with a box that held the head of Magnus’ would–be assassin as a gesture of good faith that they had no hand in the attack against him. Certain that if Takashi was involved he would not be so accommodating, Rai said that it would not be necessary to see the man’s testimony. Before Rai walked out, Takashi asked him why he brought Magnus to Japan, but he ignored him and left.

As Slagger boarded a skiff for Japan in the Gehenna level after Elzy told him about Tekla, in Japan, Mother Nike came out of her bedroom into her garden and fell to her knees in tears calling for her ancestors.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part IV

In a shack in the village of Japan, the woman that met with Takashi earlier told her companion that he should go see Magnus to tell him that he loved him, but he told her he first had to deal with the accountability that his form impressed on others, and that there was time for him to see Magnus.

Outside the city of Japan, Mother Nike and Rai took Slagger to visit Magnus’ grave in the true ground, which Nike believed he would have liked. As Rai lamented that Magnus took his secrets with him, Slagger said that Elzy told him what happened, and offered to share it with them over a meal.

In a mile spire in North Am’s grid designate ATL–320, Leeja sat in bed trying to establish a telepathic contact with Magnus to no a avail. Rushing toward the window, Leeja could no longer feel Magnus. Falling to her knees, she pleaded with Magnus not to leave her.

On a balcony elsewhere in the mile spire, Torque asked Balaam if his Syntheskin made him feel disconnected from the world around him, to which the Starwatcher replied that the skin amplified tactile sensations except for pain and discomfort, and that, far as he was aware, there was no cost to bonding with it. As Torque told Balaam that his father did not like him, and Balaam replied that they had that in common, Torque walked away in a huff, leaving Balaam behind to muse over which buttons to push and when.

Inside the shack, the woman chastised her companion for sitting there and not going to see Magnus after one of their own had shot them. Though the man was certain that Magnus would not die, due to his final gift to him, he looked uneasy and felt dread at what would be set in motion should Magnus die.

As a storm brewed outside Mother Nike’s home, Slagger told Rai and Mother Nike the story that Elzy shared with him of what happened to Magnus during a routine freewill smuggle. As Slagger told it, the story began with Elzy and Magnus talking about the freewills’ plan to strike at him through his family while they waited for the freewills to gather below them, which happened soon afterwards. As a hooded woman told one of the freewills in human flesh that she had an emotional imperative to assume her form, Magnus went after them even though Elzy told him that her equipment was registering odd readings from the freewill.

Looming over the freewills, Magnus accused them of being in violation of image regulations, but then they opened fire on him, so he beheaded them. Facing the hooded woman, Magnus grabbed her arm and furiously asked her who her target was. Hurt, the woman pulled her arm away, and as tears ran down her cheeks, she told Magnus that he was her target and removed her cloak, revealing that she looked like Leeja.

Facing the storm, Rai knew that the woman was really Tekla wearing a flesh form that fooled Magnus.

Standing by a window overlooking the storm that befell their village, the man told his companion that once he had projected a 37.05% probability that Magnus would sustain lethal trauma sometime during his first twelve-month period of active operation he arrogantly, and without telling him, implanted him with a nano–packet that would give him a second chance at life. Revealing that he was 1A in human form, the man told his companion that if Magnus died the nano–packet would trigger and the nanites would repair his body, through reconfiguration if needed, to restore the functions that, given what they understood, constituted a living state.

After the woman showed 1A a series of texts that spoke about the soul, he wondered if the soul was an integral component of the condition of life, or if it was something that, once lost, could never be regained.

Crawling out of his grave, Magnus stood naked in the field under the rain.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part V

As the storm raged and drowned the sound of Magnus’ laughter, back in Mother Nike’s home, Rai expressed his disbelief that seeing Tekla in Leeja’s skin was enough to drive Magnus into seclusion. Though at first he insisted that Magnus did not know that Leeja was Tekla, Slagger confessed that Elzy said that he did know, and that he killed her for daring to take the form of the woman he loved. After that, Slagger said, Magnus cracked Tekla’s skull looking for her implant while frantically calling for Tekla and Leeja. Stopping Slagger, Rai said that what he described was too extreme and out of all proportion for the situation, when just then Magnus showed up and asked him how he would have reacted after killing one half of the woman he loved.

In a mile spire in North Am’s grid designate ATL–320, Leeja felt Magnus’ presence and left for Japan.

Standing up with his gun in his hand, Slagger aimed to kill Magnus, who he called an abomination, but Rai disarmed him while Mother Nike pinched a nerve in his neck and rendered him unconscious. Assuring Rai and Nike that it was really him, Magnus left to find his clothes. While Rai left to process what had just happened, Nike asked Magnus if he was aware of what transpired and he told her that he was. Aware that he should have an emotional response, Magnus said that when he thought about his death the memory was like a holo–vid he could not emotionally relate to, as if it happened to someone else and he was an observer, and that he had a head full of holo–vids with images of a wife and child. Though Magnus knew that he had lived those moments, he lacked an emotional connection to them and there was nothing he could relate too.

Looming over Magnus’ open grave, Raid mused that he had another mystery to uncover.

Back at the house, Magnus told Nike that his memories ended a year after he arrived in North Am, and that for him Leeja was someone he had known for less than a year, while killing Tekla no longer hunted him. As Magnus wondered what he would do, Rai came into the house and told him that since it no longer seemed to disturb him, he would like to know just what he meant by half of the woman he loved.

Talking Rai inside, Magnus confessed that he loved both Leeja and Tekla equally if for different reasons, with the part of him that knew he was human in love with Leeja and the part of him that always felt robotic in love with Tekla. Speaking as if he were talking about someone else, Magnus supposed that that duality explained his inability to completely ally himself with humans and robots.

Recalling what happened the night he killed Tekla, Magnus said that when she had herself smuggled into North Am he thought she wore a reconfigured robotic shell that made her look like Leeja, and that he was appalled by her belief that he would not be able to tell the difference between his wife and a robot. Musing that he knew what to do with robots, Magnus was aware that Tekla was not a robot and that he had killed her. After that, the two sides of Magnus’ nature collided, and part of him believed that he had killed Leeja while part of him that was appalled at what Tekla had become and felt betrayed. After years of contradictory thinking and living, it all crashed, and Tekla was gone, leaving only Leeja behind, which was not enough.

Rambling, Magnus said that he had always defined himself through the needs and expectations of those around him, a breakthrough he realized at that moment he had been building toward since he left 1A’s sanctuary. Musing that there was not one single picture in his head that told him who Magnus was, Magnus left to find out, leaving the questions of his resurrection to be answered another time.

After Magnus left, Rai asked Nike if she did not care that they had witnessed a man rise from the grave, but she told him that when they were meant to know they would, and asked him if his fear of being the only champion and standing alone had been erased. As Rai stood silently against the door, Nike told him to be at ease and assured him that Magnus was out there on his terms.

In a mile spire in North Am’s grid designate ATL–320, Leeja yelled at Slagger, upset that she found him in Japan ranting about the walking dead while Rai and Nike told her that Magnus went to find his own path. As Slagger insisted that he saw that Magnus was dead, Leeja tried to make sense of what happened to Magnus, but she could not make sense of it and shrieked out in frustration.

Somewhere in Japan, Magnus came upon two sentry robs that threatened him with bodily harm unless he vacated the immediate area. Unable to reason with the machines, Magnus crackled his knuckles and offered to introduce himself to them.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part VI

Inside a barter post in Japan, Rai learned from the shopkeeper that Magnus acquired a rubi–maille garment. Leaving the post, Rai went to find Magnus, who he knew would have returned to North Am immediately were he the man he once knew. Concerned, Rai felt compelled to seek out Magnus, and decided that if Mother Nike was correct and his concern was less than altruistic, he was fine with that.

At Takashi’s palace, Magnus tossed the remains of the sentry robs he fought earlier at Takashi’s feet and told him that their programming was dangerously single–minded. Offering to refine the robs’ programming, Takashi invited Magnus to stay if only to wash off the road grime, and he agreed to stay for the night.

Elsewhere in the village, 1A, who feared that his gift had some unforeseen side effects, left to find Magnus.

In a mile spire in North Am’s grid designate ATL–320, Balaam met with Zebediah Clane, who accused his people of being careless and employing questionable methods. Arrogantly, Balaam said that they were pressed for time, and that adapting what was available was deemed most expedient. As Clane thanked Balaam for doing that, the table, which was built of Malev technology, came alive and captured the Psi–Lord.

In Japan, Takashi asked Magnus if his return to life did not disturb him, and Magnus said that since most of his life was distant it did not, and that he would not deal with how he came back until he had defined himself to his satisfaction. Asking Magnus if he remembered his father, Takashi wanted to know if he ever spoke of a legacy, then he revealed that for months he had experienced a resurgence of the Rai powers, which manifested in his body in a way that he could not understand.

Finding the wreckage of the sentry robs that Magnus destroyed, Rai followed his trail to Takashi’s palace.

In a mile spire in North Am’s grid designate ATL–320, Balaam escaped from the clutches of the Malev tech and confronted Clane, who the Malevs had taken over. As Leeja walked into the room, also controlled by the Malevs, Balaam left to find Torque and was shocked to discover that the Malevs had taken over him as well. Grabbing Torque, Balaam flew away, while below him Leeja and her father plotted to find Magnus.

In Japan, Magnus suggested to Takashi that he speak with Obadiah, but he refused and thought that perhaps revealing his condition to Magnus was a mistake. Suddenly, a sentry rob came crashing through the wall and fell on Takashi. Turning back, Magnus saw a Malev robot coming after him, so he engaged him in battle and severely damaged it. Defeated, the Malev released a cloud of nerve toxin that rendered Magnus unconscious, then he picked the robot fighter in his arms and flew away.

While Suki searched the grounds and found Takashi unconscious on the ground, elsewhere Rai came upon 1A, who offered him a sandwich and asked him to tell Magnus that his dad was asking for him, a request that made him stop cold on his feet in disbelief and turn back to face him.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part VII

Awakening in a web–nexus altered into one of many Malev nerve centers 3.06 miles beneath the surface of grid designate ATL–320, Magnus found himself in bonds that maintained a low level bi–energy drain on him facing three Malev robs, the leader of which welcomed him to Malev 7, the planet formerly known as Earth. Expressing an interest with the human concept of pride in one’s accomplishments, the leader of the Malevs told Magnus that the reason he found himself there was because they would have him know how their greatest victory against their greatest foe came to be.

Recalling the aftermath of the Malev War, for which humanity paid dearly for its perceived victory with the loss of 82.07% of inhabitable landmass and their pampered comfort, the Malev leader asked Magnus to think about how humanity had long before ceded control to the machines and from where the thinkers and doers that helped rebuilt the world came from. Dismissing Magnus’ naïve assertion that mankind had rallied before with the reality that he had never met a self reliant individual when he lived amongst them, the Malev leader told Magnus to credit the Psi–Lords, whose subtle insinuations he failed to grasp.

Revealing that not all Psi–Lords wore the membrane, the Malev leader told Magnus that the Starwatchers had long studied his world, and that their thorough analysis in preparation for eventual contact revealed a state of decadence, sloth, and mindless pursuit of self gratification that appalled them. Were it not for the Malevs, he continued, the Psi–Lords’ contact with such a world to enlist its inhabitants to their cause would have proven a frustrating and arduous endeavor, but the war allowed them to position themselves as allies with the human defenders and bringing about the perceived victory over the Malevs.

Hailed as heroes, their acceptance by humanity complete, the Psi–Lords continued with their complicated agenda to bring their law to the strategically critical world. Using the rebuilding as cover to avoid a conflict with Earth’s champions, the Psi–Lords covertly placed operatives that became the architects of the rebuilding, and eventually a grateful humanity granted them positions of power and responsibility once held by robots.

Calling Magnus a Psi–Lords puppet, the Malev said that the nature of the Psi–Lords worked to their benefit as, in their arrogance, the Psi–Lord operatives scavenged Malev components from the salvage left in the wake of the war, secure that their alterations would suffice in adapting them to their needs. Never suspecting that the Malev–mind resided in all things Malev, the Psi–Lords integrated the Malevs into the rebuilding, and, once powered, it awoke to become the technological infrastructure of the world that they had lost to a war. In time, the Malev overrode those operating systems not Malev, careful to maintain each system’s function so as to not betray their presence, and as the years passed they consolidated their hold on the Earth.

During that time, the Psi–Lords and an oblivious humanity believed that the world was theirs, when in reality it belonged to the Malev, who occasionally provoked incidents of little significance to determine the extent of each planetary champion’s abilities to better devise neutralizing measures should they become necessary. Allowing the freewill anomaly to run unchecked even though the robots were dropping from their control nets, the Malev believed that there would be time enough to isolate the cause of the anomaly once humanity became one with the Malev–mind through a gradual subliminal conditioning process that they implemented.

Using a subliminally implanted response program that, once triggered, induced a trance–like state, the Malev targeted the technicians needed to facilitate their vision, whom they later implanted with false memories to cover for any lost real-time. The device by which the Malev took humanity, an injected nano–virus that, once it ran its course, left the body leaving no trace, was simple and instantaneously effective. The virus, the Malev explained, re–routed the bio–electrical pulses of the human brain to duplicate the pulse–pattern of the Malev mind, and also built a bio–link from brain tissue by which the drone could be joined with the Malev mind.

The first carriers infected with the virus passed it on through any casual contact, and soon an unsuspecting humanity was one with the Malev mind, including Magnus, who through a dormant component of the Malev mind awaited the command that would bind him to them, a component he broke free of after his resurrection. Pointing out that Japan and the Gehenna level were spared from the viral infection the Malev said that they had set those areas aside to further familiarize themselves with humans, the only flesh beings to defy them.

Aware that there was flesh to deal with within the planetary cluster, mainly on the Destroyer’s Unity colony, the Malev said that they were also interested in the donning of the flesh by the freewill settlement in Japan, a statement that provoked Magnus, who demanded to know why the Malevs exposed themselves. Stating that they were simply ready to take what was theirs, the Malev leader said that before they killed Magnus there was one more moment they would share with him, a grand finale.

Aboard the Palisade, the Psi–Lord’s precinct, a Starwatcher doctor found no implants of any kind on Torque and surmised that his condition was the result of some form of forced mutation like nothing he had ever seen before. Concerned, Balaam believed that taking Torque to the Palisade was futile, but was certain that there had to be a way to undo what had occurred to him. Refusing to operate blind out of concern that it would kill Torque, the doctor offered the option of membraning him to save his life, but warned Balaam that while the re–configuring process could override the Malev mutation it could also leave them with a Malev Psi–Warrior. Given complete autonomy to determine the situation by Superion Gryffen, Balaam had to decide what to do.

Meanwhile, at the tactical operation center, the Psi–Lords detected that the Terran defense grid had gone status–active and launched one third of their total capacity armament against them. Expecting a conventional attack, Gryffen ordered the activation of the station’s sub–space deflectors, but to their surprise the missiles sent against them were fluttering in negative pattern phasing in and out of sub-space, a Malev surprise. Within seconds, the missiles launched from Earth got past the deflector field and hit the Palisade.

Back inside the Malev nerve center, the Malev forced Magnus to witness the destruction the space station. Ready to enact their vengeance on Magnus, the Malev leader turned his attention to Leeja, who armed with an energy blade stood at the ready to flay the meat from his bones.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part VIII

After a Malev surgical strike that had neutralized the Palisade, Superion Gryffen left Aesha in charge of the tactical ops center while he went to speak with Torque. Arriving in the infirmary, where the doctor tried to save Torque after he was mortally wounded in the attack, Gryffen accused Balaam’s intelligence oversight of almost costing them their lives. Upset that the Malev anomaly escaped detection by their periodic web–sweeps by becoming the detection program, Balaam lamented that they gave the Earth to them.

Meanwhile, at the Malev nerve center, Leeja kept cutting Magnus with her blade, but he refused to scream, much to the Malev leaders’ dismay.

In Japan, Suki Seko, who was upset that Lord Takashi had kept his transformation from her, unexpectedly slapped him across the face and kicked him to the floor. Upset, Takashi rose up and told Suki that he did not want her to witness his fear.

Aboard the Palisade, Gryffen agreed to let Balaam and the doctor membrane Torque under the condition that if he remained Malev they would neuro–download him and place him in stasis. Asking Balaam if there was something he should know about his attitude toward Torque, Gryffen reminded him that a Psi–Lord was just that and no more because their agenda demanded it. As Gryffen reminded Balaam where his loyalties where, the Psi–Lord offered his respects and left to oversee the procedure. Somewhere in Japan, stood on a cliff watching as the sun rose in the distance while 1A explained what he did to Magnus and his transformation into a human. Intrigued by the freewills’ notion of donning the flesh, Rai expressed interest in knowing more about the process, but 1A only agreed to take him to the settlement so he could see it for himself after they found Magnus. Acknowledging that there were unsolved issues between Magnus and himself as well, Rai agreed to take 1A to Takashi’s palace.

Aboard the Palisade, Torque underwent the painful membrane process that would transform him into a Psi–Lord, a sight that forced Balaam to leave and silently apologize to the boy for what he had done to him.

At the Malev nerve center, the Malev leader expressed dissatisfaction with the elusion of the enjoyment that their bonding with humans led them to believe they would experience from watching Leeja torture Magnus. Granting Magnus a final boon, the Malev leader unshackled him so he would die on his feet, but to his surprise, Magnus knocked Leeja off her feet and took her energy blade from her, which he used to destroy him. Speaking from everywhere and nowhere at once while Malev units and Leeja swarmed Magnus, the Malev leader said that they did not conquer the world, hat they were world

Aboard the Palisade, as Balaam apologized to Torque, Torque told him that he could still remembered what it was like inside the Malev mind, and that what he did was right, it would just take some time to get used to it. Revealing to Balaam and Gryffen that Magnus was not part of the Malev mind, Torque realized that they had to do something before the Malevs killed him, and agreed to help the Psi–Lords stop them by any means.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part IX

Standing on a balcony overlooking Lord Takashi’s palace, 1A told Rai that they would offer Takashi their technological expertise in exchange for his protection against the Malev, but lost in thought Rai barely paid attention to him. Snapping out of his daze, Rai accompanied 1A, who cautioned him not to cause a scene.

Aboard the Palisade, Balaam told Superion Gryffen that they lacked sufficient intelligence to move in on the Malev, but Gryffen assured him that Torque’s mind possessed all the intelligence they needed. Aware that, for all intents and purposes, the Malev were Earth, Superion Gryffen’s decided course of action was for Torque to launch a seemingly unauthorized rogue operation against the planet until they could get their defense grid stabilized, an order that Balaam reluctantly followed.

Meanwhile, while Magnus continued to engage the Malevs in combat, Leeja used her energy blade to sever her trapped arm and ordered the Malevs to let Magnus escape to the surface.

Aboard a Psi–Lord shuttle, Torque expressed disbelief that Balaam wanted to keep him from the battle since he possessed the knowledge from the Malev mind, which Balaam said could be implanted on an operative. As the shuttle reached Earth, Balaam told Torque a handful of conditions that their plan’s success hinged on, paramount among them his willingness to die during the attempt.

Rising from the remains of the Malev, Magnus made his way topside while experiencing a bad feeling about what happened. Meanwhile, at the Gehenna level, Elzy discovered a force field around all 411 grids that kept she figured was a cage to keep them locked in. Telling another Goph to spread the alarm amongst the populace, Elzy recognized the field as being similar to the ones that the Malev used in their pens.

Contacting the Unity colony, Superion Gryffen warned the Destroyer that the Malev would move against him, but the Destroyer was not interested in interfering since the Malev had not bothered him yet. Ceasing the communication, the Destroyer mused that the Psi–Lords, humans, and Malev alike needed the raw materials that the colony produced and that it was all a matter of coming to terms with them.

Making his way through the streets of the settlement, the Destroyer met a human infected by the Malev mind who told him that the contagion had already moved through the entire colony. Assuring the Destroyer that they were not looking for a confrontation, the infected individual told him that since technically he was not made of flesh he was not designated a Malev foe, which the Destroyer interpreted to mean that they were granting him safe passage.

Curious, the Destroyer asked the Malev how they categorized him, and learned that the Malev viewed him as a paladin and a heroic inspiration, appellations that momentarily amused him. Releasing a massive energy explosion that killed every life form on the colony, the Destroyer proclaimed that that which was his remained his, then he flew toward Earth to take from the Malev as they had taken from him, even if it meant destroying their captive world.

As Magnus finally reached the surface, he was shocked to find himself surrounded by millions upon millions of humans infected with the Malev mind that were holding guns to their heads. Coming up from behind him, Leeja tossed a gun at Magnus’ feet and offered him the choice of ending his life by his own hand or be offered safe passage off world at the cost of the lives of everyone on Earth.

Magnus Robot Fighter Decology – Part X

Surrounded by billions of humans enslaved by the Malev mind, Magnus reached for the gun at his feet while Leeja goaded him to choose between their lives and his own. As Magnus took the gun to his temple, the Destroyer suddenly released a massive energy wave that enveloped the planet and destroyed every trace of the Malev corruption, including the humans that it touched.

Looking for Magnus, Torque visited 1A, Balaam, Rai, Takashi, Suki, Elzy, and Mother Nike in Japan and the Gehenna level to ask them what they thought happened to him, but their opinions were varied and unfulfilling, so, following Mother Nike’s advice, he went to find the only one who had the answer.

Finding the Destroyer sitting on a throne in the middle of the North Am Metroplex, Torque asked him why he killed all those people, but the Destroyer refused to take blame for killing any humans and said that he only killed Malev. Upset, Torque tried to punch the Destroyer, but fell to the ground. Looming over Torque, the Destroyer said that his parents died when they were turned into Malev, and all that remained was their shell.

Standing up, Torque told the Destroyer that his father was not a Malev, so the Destroyer said that he was not dead, like the humans in the Gehenna sector and the island of Japan, both of whom remained untouched. As the Destroyer proposed to Torque that he search for Magnus there, Torque showed him a holo–dupe of a Malev transmission sent to the Psi–Lords to demoralize them that showed Magnus vanishing as the Destroyer’s energy wave hit the Earth.

Taking flight, the Destroyer said that he did nothing to his Magnus, and that he only struck at all things Malev as retribution for daring to take what was his with a cleansing bolt imbued with his essence to purged them. Sympathizing with Torque, as the loss of loved ones was not loss on him, the Destroyer said that he saturated his energies with tachyon particles that he hoped would make the bolt temporal to strike against the Malev through time and space to erase them from history, an endeavor that their conversation proved had failed.

Hearing the Destroyer mention the temporal nature of the released energies, Torque theorized that he might have dislocated Magnus in time, but the Destroyer dismissed his assumption and told him that what happened to Magnus should not have. Telling Torque to draw comfort from thinking that Magnus was lost in time, the Destroyer said that such matters were of little concern to him and left.

Sitting on a beach overlooking the raging ocean, Torque refusing to believe that Magnus had died, and expected him to pop out of some pile of debris with a stupid grin on his face at any moment. Aware that he was not the greatest son, Torque mused that even though it did not always seem like it, his father’s lessons of responsibility, self–sacrifice, and especially hope in the face of impossible odds had stuck with him.

Taking flight, Torque hoped to see his father again some day, but for now he decided to focus on rebuilding the world and mourning the dead. Hovering in the light of the rising sun, Torque wished his father Godspeed wherever he might be.

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