From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Marsius entered the office of Nova Strangham, head of the Star Brigade on his homeworld of Andromeda 3, via the intergalactic portal back on Earth. Several months ago Dr. Jessica Sheppard of the Portal Corps, using the technology of Marsius’ crashed starslider and Portal Corps own dimensional portals, had been successful in building and establishing a portal link to Marsius’ home galaxy. The experiment had ended tragically for Dr. Sheppard, who had become a prisoner of her feelings for Marsius and allowed herself to become a pawn of the Circle of Thorns. She was still missing, but Marsius was sure she was still alive, albeit changed from the powers the Thorns had granted her, and he vowed that someday he would find her help, if only he could find her first.
But what had ended in tragedy for her became a vital piece of equipment for both Earth and the Kairin Empire of the Andromeda galaxy as now a union between the two worlds was being formed. The portal allowed Marsius to travel freely between Earth and Andromeda 3, and would allow others the same access. He and Grace had used the portal recently to take a much deserved vacation to Andromeda 3. The portal collapsed behind him as Nova Strangham stood up from behind his desk and came around to greet him. He was in full Star Brigade uniform.
“Marsius, thank you for coming. I realize it was short notice.” Nova Strangham said as he shook his hand.
“Not at all Nova Strangham. Your message sounded urgent when I received it, is anything wrong?” Marsius asked. Nova Strangham laughed, clapping a hand on Marsius’ shoulder. “Oh no Marsius everything is fine.” He turned and picked up a small device resembling a modern cell phone from his desk. “By the way, this is wonderful. It worked beautifully when I contacted you, but I see what you mean about its limited range. I have to be in the KEA office here for it to reach you.” he said. The KEA or the Kairin-Earth Alliance was the startup venture between Earth and the Kairin Empire of the Andromeda galaxy. The Kairin Empire was comprised of 16 worlds in the Andromeda galaxy and both the Star Brigade, the exploration and military unit of the Kairin Empire, and the Emperor and Council Elders of the Kairin Empire, were overjoyed at forming a bond with their human brothers on Earth. Recently Marsius had been able, with the aid of a well known communications company on Earth, designed a low range voice device that would allow him communication with the Andromedan office of the KEA without having to power up the portal just for correspondence. The drawback was that they only worked on the premises of the KEA offices, but he had sent one over to the Andromedan office through the portal.
“You know, Brigade scientists could very easily fabricate ones that would work anywhere on Earth.” Nova Strangham said holding his up and looking at it.
“Yes I know, but I think it’s best that we keep its use simple. I’m finding more and more that the people of Earth feel a little, overwhelmed by our technology.”
“I don’t see why, after all the Andromedan races did have several hundred years head start on them. It’s only natural that we’d be a little more progressed.” Nova Strangham said. Marsius laughed nodding his head. “I know, but it’ll take a while for our Earth cousins to fully comprehend and accept that.”
Nova Strangham smiled and set the device back on his desk. “Of course. Well now, I suppose you’re wondering why I had Marshi contact you and ask you to come?”
“I was starting to get curious.” Marsius asked. Nova Strangham motioned for him to follow him to his office door. “Let’s head over to the KEA office and I’ll fill you in there.” He said.
The flyer soared over the gleaming towers of Arisa, the capital city towards the KEA offices. Marsius still loved to look out over the city at the wide array of colors of the buildings, the constant flow of other airships moving the population of Arisa from one destination to the next, the traffic of people strolling on the walkways below, or relaxing in one of the many parks in the city.
“So I trust Marshi is content in her new position?” Marsius asked. Marshi Brax, once a White Dwarf and junior officer under Marsius’ command years ago, had been promoted to a Crimsonstar, the same rank as his, and was now acting as head of the Andromedan office of the KEA.
“Yes very much so, but again, she is very much like you Marsius. She showed an aptitude for both leadership and affinity for off world affairs during her academy training, so it’s only natural that she’d want to be in on the ground floor of the KEA.” Nova Strangham said, and then leaned over to whisper. “I’m supposed to pressure you into letting her come see Earth first hand.”
Marsius let out hearty laugh. “Say no more, I’ll talk to her today and make arrangements for her to come for a visit.” The flyer slowed to a crawl and started to descend to the landing platform behind the KEA building. Marsius and Nova Strangham walked across the lawn towards the entrance.
“And the commodities I had her send, the metal that you said Earth values as currency, what did they call it? Was it enough to provide monetary funding for KEA operations there?” Nova Strangham asked.
“Gold, and yes it was more than enough. To be honest, it was almost too much. The government of the United States couldn’t contract to acquire it all; I had to sell several units of it to other countries. That worked out to our advantage it seems as KEA now has funding in the numerous world currencies.”
“I’m sorry, did you say numerous world currencies? They have more than one, for just one planet?”
“Amazing isn’t it? Yes there is still more than one form there, but they are making strides in working towards a common world monetary unit. The Euro for instance…”
“I’ll explain in detail later, sir.” Marsius said as they walked into the entrance hall of the KEA building. They stopped at a door marked as a reception hall and Nova Strangham opened it. A roar of applause filled the room as Marsius saw a multitude of people, both from the ranks of the Star Brigade and the Council of the Kairin Empire stand from their tables. Nova Strangham gently nudged Marsius inside and led him to a platform at the front of the room that held a long table with a podium at the end. The front of the podium was decorated with the seal of the Star Brigade and an immense flag of the Kairin Empire draped the wall behind it.
Marsius stepped up on the platform where his mother, who was also the Council Primogen of the Kairin Council, and Marshi Brax, the young girl who had once been under his command and now a beautiful woman, both stood and greeted him with hugs and kisses.
“What is all this?” he asked.
“It’s called a surprise party Marsius.” giggled Marshi who led him to a chair at the end of the table closest to the podium and then sat down beside him. Nova Strangham took his place behind the podium and waited for everyone to be seated.
“Officers of the Star Brigade, members of the Council of Elders for the Kairin Empire, friends and honored guests, thank you for joining us today. Six years ago, I sent Marsius Denthar, a newly appointed Crimsonstar, to the planet Earth in the ….” Looking down to check his notes…”Milky Way galaxy, as it’s called by it’s inhabitants, to help them defend against an attack by our ancient enemy, the Rikti. Crimsonstar Denthar’s ship was badly damaged in that mission and for years we at the Star Brigade feared he had been lost to us.
Several months ago we were happy to learn that not only had we been wrong in that assumption, but that his mission had been a success. Crimsonstar Denthar, along with thousands of brave men and women of Earth, fought back and drove the Rikti off their planet.” Nova Strangham paused as the assemblage offered another round of applause.
“Only Marsius’ mission didn’t end there. While he would have been perfectly within his right to return home to us, in the years he had been stranded on Earth, Marsius found something else on Earth, a second family. Although we’re separated by thirty million light years, Marsius found that the men and women of Earth are still very human like us, and like us, they face many of the same burdens that we once did. Marsius felt that while he may have completed one mission of keeping Earth safe from the Rikti, the mission of the Star Brigade and our own Kairin Empire was just starting. That mission is to provide a strong ally to our human brothers, and to show them that while they at times may feel alone in the universe, they are not, we are here for them, and they for us.
Marsius showed wisdom beyond his years, and the Council of Elders along with the Emperor himself agreed that the next step had to be the formation of a union between Andromeda, and Earth. You stand in what is a testament to Marsius’ belief, the embassy of the newly formed Kairin-Earth Alliance. There is a similar building on Earth and working with the men and women of Earth, we will be there for them should there ever be a threat like the Rikti to their world again.”
Nova Strangham turned to Marsius, indicated for him to stand up. He pulled a small wood box from the podium shelf.
“Marsius Denthar, resident of Andromeda 3, for your exemplary service both to the Star Brigade and to the people of Sol 3, and for your role in establishing the Kairin-Earth Alliance and to all the promise it holds for both our worlds, I hereby promote you to the rank of Pulsar and all the privileges entitled to said rank.” He pinned a new rank pin to Marsius’ outfit as the room again filled with applause.
The ceremony had lasted another hour with all the attendees congratulating Marsius and wishing him and the KEA a long successful life. Nova Strangham told him he looked forward to seeing how Marsius’ work with KEA would progress and again congratulated him before excusing himself to return to his own duties. Slowly everyone had left so that soon it was just he and Marshi at the KEA embassy. He was due to return to Earth, but wished to make one stop before he did.
He stood for a long moment, letting the soft breeze that was blowing down over the hillside toss his hair, the cape of his new Pulsar uniform flapping out behind him. “I was promoted to Pulsar today.” He said, looking down at her grave marker. “I should be happy, but I found that during the entire ceremony my thoughts were occupied by the discussion you and I had years ago. Do you remember that talk, Tanna?” he asked yet not expecting an answer. He leaned down, picking up the numerous leaves and twigs the nearby trees had discarded.
“You told me that you knew I loved the Brigade, that I wanted to spend my tenure on a star cruiser, seeing the collected worlds of the Kairin Empire. And I remember what you told me then, that you were content to be the wife of a Star Brigade officer if I would only promise that when I reached Pulsar rank that I transfer to a position at Star Brigade command. A position that would ensure I was home with you and not still cruising around our galaxy.” He sat down next to her headstone, looking out over the field of her family’s cemetery plot. “Guess we both didn’t expect me to be sent away on a mission outside of Andromeda, or that I’d be lost there for years afterward. I sometimes wonder, late at night back on Earth, how my career would have been different had I been able to make it back, or had never been dispatched to Earth to begin with.” He leaned over, crossing his arms on the top of her headstone, resting his head on his forearms. “I do know one thing; I looked forward to the day I would make Pulsar and spend the rest of my life in our home, with you.”
He stood up making one final inspection of her grave, and laying down the bouquet of flowers he had brought with him next to her headstone. “I have to go now, but I’ll be back whenever I can.” And then lowering his head he whispered. “I have always loved you, I will always love you, that will never change.”
He flew back to the KEA embassy, his heart and thoughts heavy. Tanna Ceran had been his fiancé when he left for Earth six years ago. Four months ago she had died, killed by Janus Darron in a fight with Marsius. Janus Darron had once been a White Dwarf under Marsius’ command, and he blamed Marsius for his being labeled a Black Hole and dismissed from the Star Brigade. Then once Tanna learned Marsius was alive, Janus also blamed Marsius for the doubt in Tanna’s mind about her love for him. Janus had come to Earth, looking to enact revenge on Marsius and in the end both Tanna and Janus were dead.
He found Marshi waiting for him in the portal room of the KEA embassy when he returned. “Are you okay, Marsius?” she asked him softly.
“Yes. It was hard for me to visit her grave. I haven’t been there since her funeral, but I felt I should go to see her. When we engaged, when she was alive….I had made a promise to her, when I reached Pulsar rank…” he stopped, not finishing sentence. “Well, my life were to take a different direction on this day had she lived.” He nodded to the portal back to Earth, which Marshi had already powered up and set for his transport. “I should be heading back. I didn’t tell any of my teammates in Dawn Patrol about this visit and I’ve already been gone longer than I expected.”
“Of course.” She said and walked him back to the portal.
“Marshi, I’ll be contacting you in a couple days to arrange for you to visit Earth.” He said. Marshi’s eyes lit up. “Marsius, really? Oh thank you! I’m so looking forward to seeing it.”
Marsius laughed a little. “So I’ve heard. Thank you for allowing Nova Strangham to host a ceremony for me here.”
“Marsius, as far as I’m concerned, this is no different than when you were my commander on your star cruiser. I’m just another officer on your staff.” She said. They leaned over to hug each other goodbye when it happened. They both turned their heads to kiss one another goodbye on the cheek when their lips met. Neither of them pulled back immediately, lingering a few seconds longer than either expected.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Marsius.” Marshi said pulling back suddenly.
“It’s okay, it was an accident.” He said and slowly turned toward the portal. Just before he entered he said. “I’ll call you in a couple days.” And he stepped through returning to Earth.
Robby jumped up from his desk back on Earth in the KEA embassy there. He quickly adjusted his shirt, running his hands through his hair, trying to hide the fact that he had fallen asleep. Marsius smiled as he came down the ramp that led up to the portal.
“Robby, you don’t need to hide the fact you were asleep. I know I kept you here longer than either of us had anticipated.”
“Oh no problem, Marsius.” Robby said fighting back his yawns. Marsius powered down the portal, shut off the computer system that ran it. “Take tomorrow off. I’m sorry to have kept you so late. Maybe we should work on automating the portal.” Marsius said.
“I’ll get on that.”
“Come on, let’s both go home.”
Stepping outside they heard the quick shuffle of feet and the sounds of glass breaking and saw a figure suddenly run out of the alley.
“You there, stop!” Marsius yelled. He pointed his arm at the fleeing figure and a shaft of white, pulsating energy flew from his hand, striking the figure in the back, sending him reeling into the dumpster.
“Geez you didn’t have to do that. I was just looking for some food.” The astonished figure said. Marsius studied him, he was just another of the poor homeless souls in the city, looking for any way to survive. “Go to the Courbier Foundation in King’s Row. Ask for Grace and tell her Marsius sent you.” he told the man helping him to his feet.
Robby watched as the man nodded and left for the tram station. Marsius was too busy staring at his hand, as if he’d suddenly grown a sixth finger. “Marsius, I didn’t know you could do that.” Robby said turning back to him.
“Neither did I.” Marsius answered.
“Oh? Then how did you do it?”
“It would seem the powers my star implant grants me are, changing.”
“What’s that mean?”
He looked at Robby. “I don’t know.” He said.