Crimsonstar/Second Rikti War
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The ship was empty and silent. It’s occupants had long ago left it and scattered themselves across the area of the city now commonly referred to as the ‘Crash Site’. Energy ‘war walls’ kept the Rikti contained within this zone, but no one could refute the fact that there were still many pockets of the aliens spread throughout the zone. In the middle of this destroyed and demolished section of the city sat the huge Rikti ship. It had become as much of a landmark here as the statues commemorating the men and women of the first war were in other zones. It was rumored that at night the force field that kept the ship in stasis could be seen from as far as Steel Canyon. Everyday armed soldiers and tank battalions roamed the war torn streets keeping the enemy at bay, trying to keep them contained to this one area. Sometimes they were successful, other times not so much as reports trickled to the outside of Rikti infestation in the city sewers. Thankfully the many men and women who donned colorful outfits and displayed dizzying arrays of abilities and powers continued to patrol the city, to keep it and it’s people safe. The last several years the struggle had earned both parties a stalemate of sorts. Humanity had survived the first attack and controlled much of their world, but still, Rikti were on Earth, and some wondered if they would ever truly be eradicated.
But the ship was not dead. Down long abandoned corridors, past the central control room, beyond the dimensional drive room, lay yet one more small and previously unnoticed and undiscovered control room. Here, hidden in darkness a control terminal beeped to life. The impenetrable darkness was pierced by one flashing indicator on a control panel that had remained dead and unpowered these last few years, until today.
Was this a simple failsafe set to activate in case their invasion had failed, or simply the second phase of their attack that had already been calculated and set into motion the day the Rikti arrived?
Marsius hovered just at the edge of the zone and watched as the huge steel battle doors that separated the zone from the rest of the city closed. Scanning the landscape he could see the tank patrols as they winded up and down the streets. In the distance he saw the crashed Rikti ship, the force field around it a pale blue glow illuminating the evening.
“What do you see?” asked Colonel Brandt over the communication channel. Colonel Brandt was one of the first men Marsius had met when he came to Earth to warn of the impending Rikti attack. Brandt had been suspicious of him, not believing Marsius’ words or ready to trust him. Then, once the first portals opened and the waves of Rikti began pouring out of them, then he was all about enlisting Marsius’ aid. Marsius didn’t care for Brandt, not then and certainly not now, but he couldn’t refuse his call when Brandt contacted him about a change in the Rikti behavior. Regardless of his feelings for the man, his duty was still to help keep Earth safe from the Rikti.
“It’s as you said, they’re all gone. I don’t see any Rikti on the street, or anywhere in the zone.” Marsius said.
“So is your assessment the same as ours, then?”
“Yes, either they’ve found a way to get off Earth , or they’re preparing to launch a new offensive.”
“That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?” Brandt huffed at him.
“What else did you expect from me, Colonel?” “Aren’t you supposed to be our resident Rikti expert? Isn’t that why you came here six years ago?”
Marsius sighed. “Colonel, our war with the Rikti was hundreds of years ago. Everything I know is based on legend and speculation. Quite frankly I was lucky what information I did have was still viable. For all I know, the Rikti may have easily changed their weaponry, their technology, even their methods of dimensional travel. I can’t tell you what we can expect.”
The sound of the steel doors opening echoed below him and he glanced down in time to see two men enter the zone and look up at him. “You there, this area is now off limits to all but Vanguard sanctioned personnel.” One of them shouted. Marsius flew down, landed beside the two men. He immediately recognized them as members of the Vanguard’s Gauntlet division by their uniforms. One of them stepped forward, his eyes looking down at a small hand held computer.
“Marsius Denthar, aka Crimsonstar of Dawn Patrol.” He said, closing the palm computer and clipping it to his belt. “As of 1600 hours this evening the Rikti crash zone is under the jurisdiction of Vanguard. You will comply and vacate the area immediately.”
“You’re making a mistake, if the Rikti are planning a new attack you’re going to need Dawn Patrol, as well as all the other hero organizations of the city.” Marsius said.
“It’s out of respect for the legacy of Dawn Patrol and Hero 1 that I’m giving you the option to leave peacefully hero, and not under custody of Vanguard. If and when such time you and your companions are needed, you will be informed via proper Vanguard channels. Am I making myself clear?”
“Colonel Brandt?” Marsius called into his comm, but he didn’t receive any answer. Marsius allowed the Vanguard officers to escort him out of the zone all the while muttering ‘coward’ under his breath at Brandt’s sudden silence.
Marsius had been shown to a large office and asked to wait there for Lady Grey to see him. They hadn’t bothered to leave a guard there with him, which meant either they had enough trust in him to not poke around in her files, or this wasn’t her real office, but a facade used to interview others under surveillance. He scanned the room, studying the fixtures trying to determine which one housed the closed circuit monitoring equipment. Several long minutes passed before the door opened and Lady Grey entered with two armed Vanguard guards behind her. “I think you can wait outside.” She said to them and closed the door. She carried a large folder in her left hand and Marsius stood as she approached him.
“Lady Grey.” He said offering his hand to her. She took it politely. “Thank you for coming Mr. Denthar.”
“Please, call me Marsius.”
She gave a slight, business nod. “Very well, Marsius.” She moved around to the back of the desk, dropping the thick folder on top of it. It made a loud smack against the wood that echoed throughout the room, which Marsius assumed was her intention. She wanted to make sure that she had every piece of information available on him.
“So, we have Rikti all over the city and I don’t have time to mince words, so let’s get to it. I’ve reviewed all the information you’ve supplied the United Nations on this Kairin-Earth Alliance you’re working on.” She said, taking a seat in the chair behind the desk.
“Great, then you know that our goal is to aid Earth in just such an event like this. I can have several Star Brigade troops here in hours…..”
Lady Grey held up her hand to cut him off. “No sir. We will handle the Rikti invasion of Earth.”
Marsius was taken aback by her quick answer. “What? You don’t want Andromeda’s help?”
“That’s exactly right. This is an Earth matter, and Earth will handle it. The United Nations Security Council has given Vanguard full authority to deal with the Rikti as we see fit. And since I’m head of Vanguard, that means I’ll decide when, how and who takes part in our offensive against the Rikti. And I personally don’t want any more aliens on Earth then we have already.”
Marsius crossed his arms, glared at her. “We’re human, just like you, just not residents of this galaxy.”
“To the general public that doesn’t matter. All they know is that aliens are once again attacking their home, and at this moment, there is no distinction for them between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aliens.” She pointed her finger at Marsius. “And that includes you.”
“I disagree, and quite frankly I don’t see how you can even assume that you or Vanguard has any say over KEA.” Marsius said, leaning over her desk.
“Oh really?” she reached into the folder and grabbed a huge stack of paper in one hand and a smaller stack in the other. “In my right hand here, I have a full report of your little adventure with both the U.N. Security council which was followed by your visit to Camp David and the ensuing battle with Eagle’s Claw….”
“Not this again….” Marsius started.
“AND…in my left hand, I hold your current Extraterrestrial Exempt Status, you know, that governmental edict that recognizes you as a non aggressive entity and allows you to live as a free citizen, and allows you to register as a metahuman?”
“You bitch.” He muttered. She didn’t flinch at his words as she simply placed both piles of paper back in his folder.
“Listen, Marsius, I’m willing to allow some concessions. I know you’re not some evil alien here to take over, or wipe out humanity. But right now, any alien is suspect not only to the public, but to most of the world’s governments. You don’t want to even know what some countries are pushing for with these new Rikti attacks.”
“Why don’t you tell me.” He said coldly. She looked him directly in his eyes. “It’ll make the American determent camps of World War II look like a Caribbean vacation. And trust me; if they get their way,…” she stopped to tap the folder, “…you’ll be at top of the list.”
She pulled out her glasses from her vest pocket, slid them on her nose. “Marsius, any attempt by you or your Kairin-Earth Alliance to bring forth troops from the Andromedan Star Brigade will be viewed as further alien hostility by both Vanguard and the United Nations Security Council.” She walked across the room to the door. ”You’re better off fighting the Rikti with the other heroes here on Earth, and with Vanguard forces. You’ve already earned a temporary membership with Vanguard due to your work in the War Zone. I suggest you be content with that.” She opened the door and motioned the two guards inside. “Please show Mr. Denthar the way out.”
Marsius slowly walked across the room and paused just before exiting. “This isn’t over, Ms. Grey.” He said.
“I hope to Hell it is, or life will get extremely uncomfortable for you.” And she stormed off down the hall in the opposite direction.
Plans made in Secret
Atlas Park, the embassy offices of the Kairin-Earth Alliance. 3:00 am.
The illumination of the light from the portal to Andromeda lit up the entire room as one by one they entered the large staging area where the portal was housed. They quickly walled in and moved to the back of the room allowing space for whoever followed in behind them. Marsius shut down the portal and turned to look at the men and women of the Star Brigade that had volunteered to come to Earth to fight off the Rikti in their latest attempt to conquer Earth. In all, fifty of them had come forward to aid in the war, including Crimsonstar Marshi Brax. She had once been a junior officer under Marsius’ command years ago when he was still a star cruiser commander in the Star Brigade. Upon her promotion to Crimsonstar rank she asked to be assigned to the Andromedan office of KEA, and was the first one to volunteer. He turned his back to the portal and faced them all. Here in this room were some of the brightest and most talented officers of the Star Brigade.
“I want to express my gratitude for all of you having elected to take this mission. First off, forget everything you know or thought you knew of the Rikti. These are not the same aliens our ancestors fought out of the Andromeda galaxy centuries ago. They’ve adapted, their weaponry improved. I won’t candy coat it…”
Marshi Brax raised her hand. “Pulsar Denthar, candy coat?” she asked. Marsius laughed and nodded his head. “I’m sorry, seems I’m getting more comfortable with Earth sayings. Candy coat means to express a dire circumstance with positive undertones. Many of you many not survive this. The Rikti have also adapted in their aggressiveness. I won’t hold anyone at fault if they’d like to reconsider and return to Andromeda.” He said and waited. One of the Brigade officers stepped out from the back of the crowd. “Pulsar Denthar, what are your orders, sir?” he said and adopted the Star Brigade stance of ‘at ease’ and all those remaining followed his lead.
Marsius smiled. “Okay then, let’s get to it.” He crossed the room to a computer terminal separate from the portal controls. “Everyone please tie your gauntlet’s computers into the file marked Vanguard and upload the clothing specifics to your matter transmuters.” He stepped back and let them start accessing the computer files “For your remaining time here no one is to be dressed in Star Brigade color or ranks. You are not to refer to each other by rank from this moment, and that includes me. At this moment you will refer to me as Marsius or my Earth call sign of Crimsonstar.”
One of them raised his hand. “But sir, I mean Marsius, Crimsonstar is a rank of office in the Brigade.” He said. Marsius nodded and continued. “I’ll explain that later. You all will adopt the uniform of a Vanguard Gauntlet officer. This is to ensure that we don’t arouse suspicion as to your true origins. You’ll keep interaction with other Vanguard personnel and Earth’s heroes to a minimum. If you happen to run into these other groups, aid them if necessary, then move out before questions can be asked or your faces memorized. You will be fighting directly in the area designated the Rikti War Zone. The Rikti forces there are considerable and greatly outnumber us, yet our target is there.”
“What is our target, Marsius?” Marshi asked even as she activated her own matter transmuter changing her outfit to that of the Vanguard. He accessed another computer file and a three dimensional holographic display filled the room.
“This, a downed Rikti ship from the first war against Earth five years ago, which up until a few days ago, was believed dormant and held in stasis.” Marsius said. Marshi looked at the display, slowly circled it, and looked back at Marsius. “This is it, isn’t it? This is the portal ship you crashed your first starslider vessel into that caused you to be stranded here.” She said. All of them turned to look at Marsius. He didn’t say anything but continued on. “Just before the attacks this ship powered up and a new portal opened that provided a new gateway for the Rikti to come through. Vanguard believes that the computer systems on this ship hold the data that will allow us to tie the portal here to the Rikti home dimension. I agree with them. Our mission is to get inside that ship and find the energy signature that opens the Rikti portal to their home dimension.”
“We’re taking the fight to them!” Marshi exclaimed, quickly catching on to what Marsius and the Vanguard organization had in mind. Marsius exited the file and the holograph faded. “Marshi has been previously briefed on several Earth nuances and customs you’ll need to be familiar with, as well as mission protocols. She’ll be second in command to me. We move out in four hours, I suggest you all follow her now to the conference room one floor below where she’ll present the mission detail to you.” Marsius watched as they slowly left the portal staging room and headed downstairs.
“Nice group of people, they look like they’ll do a good job.” Came a voice from the back corner of the room.
“They’re Star Brigade, they’ll fight till they win, or die.” Marsius said. He tuned to the corner and watched as a man, dressed in a long leather duster, dark sunglasses and fedora hat emerged from the dark. “Still, it’s not easy asking people to die, especially when it’s not even their planet.” Dark Watcher said. He stepped up and peered out into the hallway. All of the Star Brigade officers were gone. “Lady Grey wanted me to extend her thanks for yesterday.” He said.
“So her ‘meeting’ with me was sufficient?” Marsius asked.
Dark Watcher nodded. “Very much so, yes. The whole thing fed to the UN Security Council and they totally bought it. As far as they know, no Andromedan forces will be coming to Earth. It’s a scary time for them, the UN. The assembled nations are already scared shitless of the Rikti. They still have certain prejudices about all alien races, regardless of their intention. At this tine any other extraterrestrials on Earth will only add to their panic. She also wanted me to stress that their opinion is not one she shares.”
Marsius nodded. “Tell her I understand. Even when my own home galaxy was unifying our worlds there were those who feared it happening and spoke out against it. Some were convinced it would mean the end to their culture, their history. I don’t fault the nations of Earth for having the same fears.”
“She’ll be glad to hear that.”
“Let’s just pray this plan we’ve concocted works.”
“Pray, to that Kairin fella you’ve mentioned in your dossier?”
“Watcher, at this moment I’ll pray to whichever deity will listen.”
Marsius’ comm channel was filled with the sounds of discharging weapons, explosions and muffled voices yelling in chaos. “Team Alpha report.” He called into it.
“Team Bravo has joined several other members of the Vanguard along with a multitude of the city’s heroes in attacking the Rikti pylons that generate the new shield matrix around their ship.” Marshi’s voice yelled back to him through his comm. “They’ve managed to take all but two of them out. Those should be coming down soon. Marsius…” she paused briefly, “The casualties for the Alpha team are going to be heavy. The Rikti have proximity sensors on the pylons and jump through a portal almost immediately once they’re attacked.” He could hear more explosions in the background as she spoke. He let out a sigh, put a hand on his hip and looked down at the computer terminal where he and Robby were preparing it to receive the data feed they hoped Marshi and her team would be acquiring for them.
“What’s the numbers look like?” he asked solemnly.
“About forty percent. If it wasn’t for the other heroes in this war zone having jumped in to assist them, they’d be closer to eighty.” She answered back. Marsius clenched his fist, and turned away so Robby couldn’t see the anger filling his face. “Get identifying badges if possible. I’ll prepare the deceased report for Nova Strangham once the mission is complete.” He said. He heard a strange high pitched hum that ended in an explosion followed by Marshi yelling ‘Go, go!’ in the background.
“Marshi, what’s going on?” he called into his comm.
“Team Bravo has disabled the last of the Rikti pylons, the shields around the ship just dropped. I’m recalling the remaining members now to join us in the ship assault.” Marsius leaned over the computer terminal quickly keying commands into its interface. “Marshi, you all need to get in and out of there quick, estimates are that the Rikti will have those pylons repaired and the shield back up within ten minutes. Marshi,….someone will have to break off from your assault team and head to their central core, possibly alone.” He said.
“I’m on it.” she said.
“Marshi, no! Stay with your team! Send one of the others, you’re mission commander. Your job is to coordinate your attack efforts.” He yelled but didn’t receive any reply over his comm. There was a low but distinct sound of a Rikti plasma weapon being fired and the comm went dead.
Marsius slammed his fist on the top of the mainframe console of the computer.
“Whoa, easy there Marsius.” Robby said. “If you smash the computer then all this data we’re getting will be useless.”
“Data? You mean she’s made it to the Rikti’s computer core?” he said and moved over to look at the data feed coming over their connection.
“Her or someone else, the hard drive’s about to burn up from all the information flooding into it.”
Marsius stood on the rooftop of the building that housed KEA and watched as the remaining Star Brigade troops descended from the sky and landed. He counted their numbers when they were fully assembled. Nine. Out of a full deployment of fifty Star Brigade officers that had left to infiltrate the Rikti ship, nine came back. They slowly walked up to him, some limping, some helping others walk, supporting their weight on their shoulders. “Marsius.” Said one of the Brigade officers that stepped to the front of them. “Can we assume that our mission was successful?”
“Yes, the data came through and was downloaded onto our computer. We have what we need to open a portal of our own to the Rikti home dimension.” Marsius answered. He looked over the officers there, his eyes searching them. “Where is Marshi?” he asked.
“Crimsonstar Brax, I mean, Marshi didn’t return with us.” He answered. Marsius felt all the air leave his lungs, his legs buckled and gave up from under him. He stumbled back and he was forced to fall onto his backside on the roof. He had trained Marshi Brax under his command years ago. He saw her as one of the most promising Star Brigade members to come along in a long time and it was his recommendations that helped earn her a promotion to Crimsonstar after he had been sent to Earth. “How…how did it happen?”
“She stayed behind to build our cover story with the Vanguard officers on site while we made our exit from the war zone.” The Brigade officer said, looking at Marsius puzzled. “Are you okay sir?”
Marsius’ head quickly jerked up to look at his junior officer. “She’s alive?”
“Of course I’m alive.” Said a woman’s voice and Marsius looked up to see Marshi flying down to land beside him. “Someone had to distract the Vanguard command while our team snuck out.” Marsius leapt off the roof, grabbing Marshi and hugging her. “I thought you had died. I mean, what was the plasma weapon I heard discharged just before your comm went out?”
Marshi laughed and returned his hug. “Oh that, I decided to take the quick route to their central core, so I took one of their weapons off a fallen Rikti and blasted a hole through the bulkheads of the ship. Unfortunately the feedback took out my comm.” She patted his arm. “Besides, you know I can’t die until I’ve passed you in rank.” She joked. Marsius laughed with her and said; “And I’ve no doubt you will.” He turned to the rest of them. “Okay men, get your wounds tended to, and get your rest. The first phase of our agenda is done. We have briefing tomorrow on the next mission.”