Crimsonstar/Homecoming: Part IV
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Nova Strangham and Marsius strode down the hall to the council chamber of the Kairin Empire. Agent Reynolds walked slowly behind them, his head constantly turning back and forth as he took in all the sights of the capital city Arisa outside the windows. Both Marsius and Nova Strangham had changed into formal dress for the meeting and Agent Reynolds thought his hand tailored three piece, which looked splendid that morning, now looked drab in comparison to the full uniform dress of the Star Brigade. He realized that he was starting to fall behind and picked up his pace to catch up.
“This is indeed an honor, sir.” He said to Nova Strangham, slightly out of breath, switching his briefcase from one hand to the other. “To be the first Earthman to step foot on Andromeda 3, and on such important business, I can’t begin to tell you how envious some of my friends in the agency are right now.” he said. Marsius frowned at Reynolds’ words. He had wished the distinction of Earth’s first visitor to have gone to Grace. He would make sure that when she came to visit that she get to see more of the planet than just the Kairin Empire council. Nova Strangham noticed his face, the disdaining look for Reynolds it held. “Don’t worry Crimsonstar Denthar, we’ll have your Binary over for her own extended visit soon enough.” He whispered to him. They reached the doors to the council chambers and entered into a large, ornate room behind it. The Kairin council were seated at a huge semi-circular table, behind each of them hung a banner representing the Andromedan world they represented. A larger banner, the sigil of the Kairin Empire printed in its center with smaller versions of the separate banners surrounding it hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room. A smaller round table occupied the middle of the floor, so that whoever sat there could easily see and be seen by the representatives. The three of them approached the table, and Marsius grinned as he heard a very audible swallow from Reynolds.
“Honored council of the Kairin Empire, I, Kenth Strangham, resident of Andromeda 10 and Nova of the Star Brigade, have requested audience so that I may present to you Daniel Reynolds, resident of Sol 3, Earth.” Nova Strangham said, his head bowing in the time honored show of respect for the council of the Kairin Empire.
A middle aged woman, the Council Premier, seated at the apex of the semi circle rose and returned his bow with one of her own. “Audience has been requested and granted. The Council of the Kairin Empire will hear cause for this meeting.” Reynolds started to open his mouth to speak but was quickly silenced by a gentle foot tap and slow shake of Marsius’ head. Nova Strangham assumed a less formal stance. “Daniel Reynolds has come to open negotiations for a formal alliance between the Kairin Empire and his governing body on Earth, the States of United America.” He said. Agent Reynolds looked at Marsius, back to Nova Strangham.
“I’ll correct it.” Marsius whispered to him. The Council Premier spoke. “Who is to provide witness for the petitioning planet?” she asked. Marsius stepped out.
“I, Marsius Denthar, resident of Andromeda 3, Crimsonstar of the Star Brigade will speak on behalf of Earth and it’s people.” He said. The council members all quickly exchanged glances among themselves, nodded to the Council Premier. She let a small smile cross her lips and waited several long moments before saying anything. “It pleases the council to see reports of your demise were wrong, son.” Marsius bowed his head in the same respectful sign that Nova Strangham had done earlier. “Thank you, it is good to see you as well, Mother.”
Two hours went by as Marsius relayed to the Council of the Kairin Empire the people and races of Earth. He told them how Earth was still a planet divided of many nations and religions, how it still had far to go to become a unified planet. That war, hunger, and disease were still a prevalent concern for its inhabitants. And he stressed that despite all of its problems, it was a planet on the verge of becoming something greater than it was now.
“Earth stands on the same precipice that we ourselves stood on centuries ago before Igaar Kairin himself led the way for change. We were fortunate; we pulled ourselves back from the edge of chaos. It is our duty to aid Earth in her quest to become all that she is capable of and not let them face that edge alone. Kairin himself would not forgive us for not leading our human brothers to reach their own utopia. Let his same teachings and wisdom he provided us now be shared with Earth.” He concluded, bowing his head for a final bid of respect. Council Premier Denthar, Marsius’ mother stood and addressed the three of them. “The Council has heard the case for the petitioning planet of Earth to join in alliance with the Kairin Empire. Will the council now offer its votes for this proposal.” The vote passed the council by a margin of twelve to four and she smiled and nodded to her son as if to say ‘well done.’
“Then this council finds in favor of forming this alliance. I will present Earth’s petition to the Emperor for his final approval. I and the Council of the Kairin Empire will fully endorse this union.” She looked directly at Agent Reynolds. “Daniel Reynolds, resident of Earth, you have honored both this council and your planet by coming before us today. It takes a man of great faith and conviction to push for change. Your courage will weigh heavily in the decision of our Emperor.” She stepped away from her chair and came around the table to the three of them, but looked directly at Marsius. “It is my understanding that you are not here permanently, my son, that your visit is brief at best.”
“Then I request that you visit with me in my chambers before you must return to Earth.” She said, and held out her hand. “I will be honored, Mother.” And he retreated to her chamber to speak with his mother.
They entered her chamber and gave each other a long hug and kiss on each other’s cheek. “Mother, it is so wonderful to see you. I was not informed that you were appointed Council Premier while I was away. I am so proud of you.” he said.
“And I of you, Marsius. Nova Strangham was wise to send you to Earth, despite my protests. You have become a stronger man as a result of your time there. You honor the Star Brigade and the Kairin Empire itself.” She moved to her desk and motioned for him to sit down. “Marsius, you spoke highly of the legend of Igaar Kairin and his salvation of the people of the Andromeda galaxy in your argument for Earth’s requested alliance.”
Marsius took a seat in a chair opposite of her. “Of course, he is the man who led the way for change.” He said. She simply looked at him her hands clasped in her lap. “Because our history tells you this?”
“Yes.” He said, not understanding the sudden low tone in her voice.
“And history tells us that in the final days of the War for Pellisa, Igaar Kairin, tired of decades of fighting, of seeing friends, and sons of friends die in a war that no one could remember the cause, he lowered his shields, powered off his weapons and faced with a fleet of armies from the then six known worlds, screamed into his battleship’s communication system, “Enough”. And on that day, the multitude of leaders, generals and soldiers all also had ‘enough’ and the war came to end not with a bang, but with a whimper.”
“Yes, Mother I don’t understand…” She leaned up and cut him off. “Marsius, that story, that history is only history in that Igaar Kairin’s own regime wrote it and passed it as gospel. The truth of the unification of the Andromeda galaxy is a dark secret kept by only the Emperor and the Council. I tell it to you, because you have taken it upon yourself to show the path of unity for another world, and you should know your people’s true history.”
“No one remembers what had originally started the Andromeda Wars and even our history is filled with myth and conjecture on their beginnings. One popular romantic story is that is all started over the love of a woman. What is known is that they carried on for at least eight generations and that all the planets involved were growing weary. On the planet now known as Andromeda 4, one man created the ultimate weapon fueled by an insidious desire to bring the wars to an end, but one that would see him and his world as the successor. Igaar Kairin, then ruler and supreme monarch of Andromeda 4 took his flagship into the battlespace of the Pellisa war. He approached slowly, guiding his ship to the heart of the battle. War fleets from the third, fifth and sixth Andromedan planets were heavily engaged when his lone ship arrived. It was unshielded and his weapons were powered down, or so their scans of his ship showed. He opened a universal signal and screamed into the frequencies for all to hear, ‘Enough! The bloodshed, the slaughter, the deaths of our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, all our families, it is enough’
“He then let his ship simply hold position in the midst of their battle fleets and waited. Slowly one by one they gathered around him, each one ready to deliver the killing blow should he open fire upon them. But Kairin was a patient man, he would wait for as long as it would take to gain their trust. Legend tells us this standoff lasted four days. Finally, one other ship, it’s commander having long since grown tired of the wars himself, took the bait. He in turn sent a message over the same communication frequency and said, ‘Igaar Kairin you have taken a brave step, one that could have easily cost you your life, but it will not be taken by my hand. Maybe the time for fighting is indeed over.’ And he then also dropped his shields and weapons/
Then one by one, the remaining battleships also lowered their defenses, and at that moment, Igaar Kairin had his enemies where he wished them. Within seconds a energy pulse unlike any seen in any previous conflict erupted from his ship and those trusting men screamed in horror as they and their ships were ripped asunder by it’s force.
It had been a bold move by Kairin, for in order to fire his weapon his own shields had to be down or the energy weapon would have torn his own ship apart when released. He gambled heavily with his own life and it was a gamble that paid in his favor. The majority of the fleets for those three planets had been at the battle, for Pellisa was the newest discovered planet in our system rich in resources and all of the Andromedan worlds with space capability wanted to claim it.
With their fleets all but destroyed, none of the remaining Andromedan worlds could offer much resistance to Igaar Kairin and the destructive force he controlled. In four short months, he had taken control of all the then established worlds. Only he did not stop there, he spread his fleet over the system, enslaving the people of each new planet as he did. In its first three years, his new empire killed as many people as it enslaved. He forced them to mine the natural resources of their worlds solely for his use, leaving little to nothing for them. He took many wives and they sired him with many sons and daughters. A descendant of the Kairin family sat on the throne as emperor for the next hundred and sixty years.
Then, in the eighth year of the reign of Xantes Kairin, there was a revolt on Andromeda 12. Word spread across the system and with each new planet that received the news of the uprising, another planet joined the cause. Xantes Kairin was overthrown and in the months that followed the assembled masses of the Andromeda worlds, vowing that never again would one man or family hold power, redefined the Empire. The council was established as ruling body to work in concert with the new Emperor, the Articles of the Kairin Empire were drawn up, and our people begin its journey toward the civilization we have now. It was decided to keep the name of the Kairin Empire to serve as a reminder to the people of the oppression during the Kairin family’s reign and of lessons learned from allowing any one person ultimate rule. Peace swept quickly across our galaxy as the people embraced the new axiom that has become our belief, ‘The only way to exist peacefully, we must all learn how to coexist.”
The Council Premier having finished relating the truth to Marsius on the founding of the Kairin Empire, came around her desk to place a hand on each of his shoulders. “Marsius, son, I tell you this in order to stress what you should know already. The way to peace and contentment for Earth and its people will be through their hearts, not yours. Always remember that as you work with them to form this alliance.” Marsius nodded, stood and hugged his mother for a long moment.
“If only you had been there to guide me when I tried to be their catalyst for change, I could have avoided so much.” He said. She grabbed his hands and started to lead him back to the main council chamber. “I believe it almost time for you to leave. Come, I will travel back to Star Brigade command to see you off.”
Marsius and Agent Reynolds had been back on Earth for two hours and had completed the extensive set of tests that Portal Corps medical ran them through. Late evening had arrived and they were finally being allowed to leave the labs. Marsius stopped Reynolds outside in the parking lot before he got into his car.
“Reynolds." He said, his voice cold and weary from the long hours of the day. “The alliance between the Kairin Empire and your United States government is certain to be granted.”
Reynolds flashed him a broad smile. ‘It looks that way thanks you to you. You really did a great job in speaking on our behalf. I’m sure The President…”
Marsius held up his hand to cut him off. “I have done the job requested of me. I will act as formal liaison, and I will be your first point of contact to the Star Brigade and the Kairin Empire should Earth have need of us. However, as of this moment, I will no longer involve myself in the affairs of the governing bodies of this world. My first mission here was to provide assistance to ALL of Earth in the Rikti invasion. My mission is still to protect this planet and it’s inhabitants. My goals are above just your nation. I am here for the people of this world, not its ruling bodies.” He rose into the air and hovered. “Tell your President that my debt to him and his country for my previous actions are paid.” And he flew off without allowing Reynolds any chance to respond.
She lay on the floor in pain. Her flesh felt as if was going to burn off her body. The bedroom of her apartment was illuminated by the bright green light that poured out of the jewel on the necklace around her neck. She felt something running down her cheeks and she realized she was bleeding from her eyes. The glowing from the gem got brighter, the light now starting to light the hallway as well. She screamed as she felt the gem fuse to her neck. The gold links that made up the necklace melted and fell away in pieces, the gem now burned into her skin. Only it wasn’t done. She felt a force pull her down onto her back and she watched in horror as the gem burrowed itself further and further into her, sinking entirely into her body. Then the light went out as quickly as a candle flame blown out by breeze. Her limbs contorted as the bones and muscles broke, snapped and reformed. When the pain finally left her, she stood up slowly, limping to the door length mirror. She looked the same, but she felt immense power coursing through her body.
“Now Marsius Denthar, now you’ll be mine, as you should have been long ago.” and she hissed at the mirror spitting vile green bile that melted the glass.
“No, please. Don’t do this. I’m begging you.” she cried, his hand dug into the flesh of her arm dragging her behind him.
“But this is what you want, isn’t it? To be with him? To marry him, bear his children?” he screamed and he shoved her up the ramp into the waiting ship. The floor of the star dock was littered with the bodies of the workers that had died by his hands just moments before. She could hear the pounding on the bay doors that sealed off the launch bay. He had destroyed the computer terminal that controlled them, they would have to find the necessary machinery to cut them down. If only she could stall him long enough for them to get through.
“Janus, please, I DO love you.” she implored. He continued to push her into the craft.
“Yes I know, you told me. In fact, you used love as your reason to leave me.” He pushed her down hard into one of two seats as the command console, bending down to bind her feet and hands. “Isn’t that what you said? ‘Janus, I love you, but I can’t marry you. Marsius is alive and I have doubts that you and I belong together.’ Wasn’t that it?” he left her tied to the chair and went back to the ship’s hatch door. “Well if you have doubts, then we should go and see your long lost love and have you decide. Me or Marsius!” he screamed.
The inner bay doors blew inward as the remaining star dock workers started to storm into the launch bay. They had several members of the Star Brigade following behind them. They were all Cluster ranks, new recruits that were probably fresh out of the academy.
“He couldn’t have been content with just ruining my career, my Star Brigade enlistment? No, he has to reappear from the dead and take the woman I love. Well, I’ll not lose anything more to him. Nothing!” He lifted his hand and to Tanna’s surprise, twin rays of dark energy flew from his fingers and cut down the approaching men.
“Janus? How did you….” her voice trailed off.
He slammed the door of the star craft closed, turned to her. “How did I get powers? That’s what you want to know? After all, I never made the rank of Crimsonstar to get my own star insertion like your beloved Marsius. No, that honor was denied me. Are you so blind as to not realize that I’m not the only person in the Brigade to hate him? I have friends that remained loyal to me, Tanna. Powerful friends. Friends that enabled me to receive a protostar insertion of my own.” He seated himself at the command chair, powered up the star craft. He turned his head briefly and smiled at her. “How fortunate for me that the Star Brigade was able to push forward the completion of this new Star Slider.” And he launched the star craft through the outer bay doors and immediately activated it’s jump drive before Star Brigade space craft could close in on him.
She leapt over the rooftops of the buildings in King’s Row. Her movements had an agility she never knew before. With each new leap she felt her confidence growing, her new powers flowing through her body. A pack of the members from the Outcast gang could be seen in the alley ahead of her. They glanced around, checking the streets for anyone that could be watching and soon she saw why. A young woman with auburn hair was walking down the street, her coat pulled around her like some kind of protective shield. It was well past midnight and she shouldn’t have been out on the streets. She heard their laughs and catcalls as they surrounded the poor woman, their words to her making their intentions clear.
She landed in the middle of them, their intended target behind them. “So look who managed to get out on parole and looking for fun.” She said, recognizing them. One of the gang members smiled, the corner of his mouth pulling back into a sneer. “Hey baby, we were hoping to see you again. We never got to have that party last time.” He said rushing her with his arms outstretched to grab her. She leapt up, rolling over in the air and came down with two well placed feet into his face. The alley echoed with the sound of his nose breaking. “Yes, let’s have that party. You’ll find me more receptive now.” she hissed, spinning around and landing a backhand on another of the Outcasts. She looked quickly from one to the other counting their numbers. She had taken down two, but eight still remained. “Lovely.” She whispered her eyes ablaze with light green flame.
She jumped up and dove straight at two more, her hands slamming into their necks. There were more snaps followed by muffled screams. The ground became slippery as blood spilled from their necks. She pulled her hands back, and looked at them. Her fingernails had changed, what were these, claws? She stopped, the sudden change almost frightening her. It was short lived as three more started to charge her and she yelled and surprised herself even further when the same viscous green bile erupted from her mouth, covering the thugs. The air became thick with black smoke as they started to melt, their voices echoing down the alley and out into the street with their screams. “My God!” said the woman behind her cowering in the doorway of the building. The remaining gangsters forgot about her turning to run out of the alley. “Oh leaving so soon? I thought we were just starting to enjoy ourselves.” She said, leaping into the street and quickly rending their flesh as she did the others. She came back to the woman, now crouched down crying. She put her hand out to her, watching in amazement as the claws shrunk back becoming just fingernails again.
“It’s okay, you’re safe.” She said. Only the woman didn’t move shaking her head back and forth. “No, no, go away. You’re…..you’re horrible. You killed them……ripped them apart….”
“I saved you!” she yelled furiously, leaning over to glare in her face. It only made the woman slink further down to the ground. “Fine! Next time I’ll let them have you.” she hissed and leapt over the building leaving her crying in the darkened doorway.
Everything was ringing. His telephone in the apartment, his cell phone, the doorbell to his apartment, even his gauntlets communicators were beeping indicating a message was coming over the private frequency he only gave to select people. Marsius crawled out of his bed and stole a quick glance at his alarm clock, three am. He ignored the phones and went to the front door. One of Reynolds agents was there in the hallway.
“Crimsonstar, sir, I’ve been dispatched to bring you to Portal Corps. We have a problem.” He said.
Marsius entered the lab, Agent Reynolds and Bobby were standing in front of the portal, which was powered up and showed Nova Strangham and one other person he thought he recognized.
“What’s going on? Who activated the portal?” he asked when he joined them. Agent Reynolds turned on him, his face stern. “They did. You mind telling me how they did that?” he asked, his brow knitted as he stared at Marsius. He sighed, and opened his gauntlets and pulled up a three dimensional schematic of the portal. “It was a simple matter to reverse engineer the device. Jessica provided me the necessary documentation for Nova Strangham and the Star Brigade scientists to create their own.”
Agent Reynolds leaned in close to him. “And when exactly were you and Nova Strangham planning to tell us of this fact?” Marsius leaned even closer, his face now inches from Reynolds. “Look, if you want this alliance then the information and the portal gateway has to be a two way street. Your government doesn’t get to be the only one with the technology. So either deal with it or you can tell your President that you’re the reason the alliance doesn’t get made.” He turned to the portal, looking through it at Nova Strangham. “It was set up for them to use in the event of an emergency. The fact that they have activated it means we may have trouble. I would suspect with the proposal of your requested alliance.” He looked around the lab. “Where is Jessica? Shouldn’t she be here?” he asked.
“We haven’t been able to reach her. Her assistant Bobby was alerted by the overnight crew when the portal powered up.” Reynolds said, having now stepped back from Marsius' counter challenge. Marsius stepped up to the portal, turned to look back at Reynolds, then continued in and was transported back to Andromeda 3.