You’re making this unnecessarily complicated, Hiamora said telepathically to Tresno as the two of them made their way through the top floor of the market, blending in as a pair of nycombian pilots. They’re immortals, they’re bound to see your true form at one point or another.
It is not what they see. What matters is what they hear, she responded as they stopped in front of a large doorway.
Same difference. Hiamora looked at the door in front of them, trying to locate a buzzer. Did it work? She asked after pressing an invitingly-looking round button.
A signal was sent inside. They are talking about it.
Hiamora looked at her companion in confusion, taking a moment to figure out where she got the information. Why do you even bother with mortal forms if you keep using your standard senses? Curiosity taking hold of her, she took a step back and held an outstretched palm behind Tresno’s back. How many fingers am I showing?
Three, she responded instantly, simultaneously turning her head towards a point in the ceiling above the door frame. They were not expecting us, were they.
I did say I would come back, didn’t specify when… she paused, looking at the other Type 0 Whatchu looking at?
The camera, she responded, pointing at a miniscule black circle in the ceiling.
Oh goody, then we can just do this. Hiamora looked right and left down the corridor, making sure there wasn’t anyone in near vicinity, before raising her visor to show the pink glow that came from her eyes.
You’re forgetting that this galaxy’s current technology does not pick up on our signatures. Tresno lifted her hand to grab Hiamora’s visor, putting it back down.
“Hiamora here,” she said out loud, keeping her voice low so no sudden passer-by’s would hear. “I said I’ll be back, so here we are.”
There, can we just unlock the door for ourselves now that they know? Hiamora asked impatiently.
No. Tresno didn’t give more explanation as to why, she simply stood in silence, waiting.
Maybe I just mind-talk to them? Hiamora asked after a few long moments. This way they’ll know it’s us and not some impostors.
No need, Tresno looked away from the camera and towards the door. They know it’s us and are already going to open up. As if to confirm his words, the door hissed slightly as it slid off into the adjacent walls, letting the pair inside.
“You actually never said you were going to come back,” Krestean said to the newcomers. “But it would be surprising if we didn’t hear from you again after your sudden leave. Not even a goodbye.”
“Hiamora can get easily excited,” Tresno said with a light, seemingly normal voice. She pressed on the display to close the door before continuing. “But don’t let that bother you, we all have our quirks.”
Krestean and Monsele shared a look of confusion mixed with curiosity upon hearing a normal voice. “I don’t think we met. My name’s Krestean, and this is Monsele.”
“Yes, Hiamora told me about you two, pleasure to meet,” she outstretched her hand for a shake as she introduced herself. “My name is Tresno, and I am the language expert from the four of us.”
“Is that why you sound… normal?” Monsele asked curiously.
“It’s more than just knowing the language, but it definitely helps. I still am a Type 0,” she took off her visor, revealing violet circles of energy in place of her eyes. “But I find that this way is less intimidating than talking in our natural language.”
Monsele nodded in agreement and approval. “So, was my recollection helpful to you? I don’t have anything extra to share.”
“It was. Probably more than you think, but less than we’d like,” Hiamora made her way towards the window, just as a large ship passed behind it, only to quickly vanish as it jumped to FTL speed. “I watched this market you have here a little closer on our way up, and it’s quite impressive what you have put together. Doesn’t it attract attention?“
What are you doing, sounded in Hiamora’s head as Krestean begun to answer. “The GCF mostly gave up on trying to outgun us and declared this part of the galaxy lawless. They try to infiltrate every now and then, but there isn’t anything they can do.”
I’ve got an idea, hang on. You’ll get your moment in a moment, she responded as the tariek kept talking. “As to the Type 0 that destroyed Neastia, we can’t really know. As far as we can tell, the one incident a few days ago was the only one since we created this place.”
“How can you be so sure though? He could take any form he wished for, it’s simpler than you may think.” To prove her point, a pink cloud consumed her fake nycomb body – for a brief moment Hiamora’s real form was barely visible amongst the vapors, before they started to condense back into a taller yet flatter shape. In mere seconds the cloud had turned into a perfect replica of Krestean. “And with forms that don’t have an energy of their own, hiding the eyes isn’t that hard either,” she opened her eyelids to reveal a pair of infinity-shaped pupils. “And as you can see with Tresno,” she pointed her scaly hand at the other Type 0 “If one knows a language well enough, they can even imitate it without the dead giveaway that is my voice.“
Krestean couldn’t argue as she looked at a mirror reflection of herself – only without a mirror, and not reflecting her movements whatsoever. “This… is slightly unsettling… just a little…”
“My apologies, darling,” Hiamora quickly changed her form again. First to her natural one then, after a moment of consideration, back into a nycomb in case someone was to come in on them. You’re unbelievable. A voice said in her head – words she politely ignored. “My point is, you wouldn’t know an abilno unless it would want you to know. But I could detect them since they may hide their looks, but they can’t hide their energy.“
That’s your idea? To stick to a single location in hopes of the culprit randomly appearing?
“Let me get this straight – you want to stay here?” Monsele asked cautiously. “Like… in one of our rooms?”
“Yeah, that would work,” Hiamora said out loud as she responded to Tresno in her head. This place would become a trap. The moment he shows up, we’d know instantly. “It wouldn’t be me all of the time, that would be boring. But there would always be one of us in there.“
“We’d have to check if we can.” Monsele looked over at Krestean, who already was by her desk, clacking away on the countertop. “Got anything?”
“There is a larger universal room on the 6th level, #115. Barely anyone ever used it, so there shouldn’t be much of a problem with cutting it out.” A few swift motions later Krestean closed the display as a pair of keys appeared in her hand. “You probably don’t need them, but do pretend to be normal. You can act as a mute to hide your voice, you’ll just have to learn sign language.”
“I’m sure Tresno can teach me. Right, hon?” Hiamora responded turning to her friend, adding more telepathically. You wouldn’t want us to miss an opportunity to catch him, would you?
“I guess, it’s worth a try,” she said with a resigned voice while an emotionless one sounded in Hiamora’s head. You need bait for a trap to work.
But dear, this place is both. Hiamora smiled as she quickly clapped in excitement. “This’ll be perfect.“
Can we stick to the plan now?
Oh right. “Now that that’s taken care of, I wouldn’t have brought her here,” she started, pointing at Tresno and urging her to come closer, “just to ask you this.“
“Indeed,” Tresno took over, not wanting to let her partner speak more than necessary. “The sword you described. You mention it had glowing symbols on it?”
“After I handed it over to the Beast, he made it glow,” Monsele responded, thinking back “I didn’t notice any markings on it before that, so it’s possible they weren’t a part of the sword itself, but somehow I doubt that…”
“Whether they’re important or not, could you close your eyes and think back to the moment when they appeared? I would like to see them through your mind, but I don’t want to invade all of your memories.”
How considerate of you, you’re almost convincing, Hiamora said with a smile. Meanwhile Monsele hesitated before nodding and closing her eyes.
I am convincing. Tresno took off her visor and froze in place as she stared at the nycomb in front of her. The energy in her eyes swirled slightly, and before long two blobs of violet energy appeared in her hands. The one in the left hand took shape of a cane, while the other changed into a sword – both lacked any sort of color, save for the glowing symbols which Tresno fit to the color of her own energy for easier viewing. “I think this is enough.”
Monsele opened her eyes and jumped slightly at the sight of both items. “The lack of color looks much worse when clashed with a colored world…”
“We can bring color back to the sword at least,” Krestean said as she went back to her desk again, looking for the recording she deliberately saved. “There,” she said after a minute, projecting the still image from the camera feed on a wall. “You can only see a part of it, but I think it’s enough to-” before she could finish the sentence, the sword in Tresno’s hand changed to reflect what was visible on screen: brown hilt decoration and silver triangles, with the cyan gem in the middle.
“These symbols… they’re not from any recorded language…” Tresno carefully studied the sword and the cane. “You said the sword only glowed after the attacker touched it? Perhaps the symbols relate to them somehow.”
Yeah, I’m not buying any of that. Hiamora spoke as she took the sword to examine for herself.
Not a word. The less questions the better. Tresno handed the sword over to the other Type 0.
Yes yes, now what does it say? Hiamora pretended to inspect the sword for herself.
Ujataroth Lor Gortazar, Ast Guatu Lor Astazor.
You know I don’t speak that language, she responded telepathically, simultaneously speaking up so the others wouldn’t get suspicious of the long silence. “Would you like a copy for yourself?” Before anyone could answer, she put both of her hands on the hilt and pulled them apart, ending up with one sword in each hand.
Roughly translated it means ‘to break entropy is to fix the world’.
Simple language please? Hiamora asked as she passed her copy of the sword replica over to Krestean.
That’s as simple as it gets.
Well then what about the cane?
Hard to say. She didn’t see it all. Most symbols are cut off or obstructed. I can make out ‘magnify’ though, which is more than enough.
Before Tresno could respond, Monsele unknowingly interrupted them. “So do you think these could be two of those ‘artifacts’?”
The two abilno’s gave each other a questioning look before Hiamora spoke up “Come again?”
“Well these are definitely more than what they look like on the surface. This hilt for instance,” she held the sword by its dull edge, pointing the bottom of it at the Type 0’s. “It’s not meant for regular use. And what it did during the Catastrophe only shows that it’s no regular sword,” she brought the weapon back towards herself as she looked at the symbols. “Now it’s odd that you don’t recognize these symbols, but perhaps the civilization died off before you became interested in languages. Or before you got to them at least.
“But whoever made them had to be very knowledgeable. Whatever it did to create the bubble, it was strong enough to fool the Beast – which may be the strongest of your kind, judging by the destruction he caused.”
“Yes,” Hiamora spoke up after the surprise wore off “I didn’t think you’d know about these…” She paused to look at Tresno It’s best not to pretend that we don’t know about them, she said to her.
“After looking around the space that had once been Neastia’s territory, we found two anomalous planets. Each of them housed a strikingly similar abilno, walking around in a physical body,” Wait. Tresno’s voice rang in Hiamora’s head, but she continued talking. “Both seemed to lack older memories, and knowledge of what they were.” I thought you meant to explain the archtools. “By all means, it seemed as if they were copies of one another, so we set off to find how that could’ve happened. We found a sword, but it looks nothing like this one,” she raised the sword in her hand before putting it down on the nearby desk, to free her hands for gesticulation. “It was an odd find. Closer to a tool than a weapon – a tool we had no idea how to use properly.” Good. Now don’t say too much. “We set out to look for answers. What we got were more of these ‘artifacts’ as you call them. We tried to gather or copy any we could find, setting up a small library on one of the odd planets.” That’s enough. “You’re right in saying that whoever made them was knowledgeable. They’re made with precision unlike anything else I’ve seen.” Hiamora, enough. “Moreover they’re spread throughout the entirety of the universe. There is not a single civilization that moved past their galactic cluster, yet these are everywhere. It’s-” Stop. Talking. Hiamora glanced at Tresno, who’s face showed no sign of her telepathic anger. “It’s just so weird. We don’t really know what to make out of it all.” I’m reconsidering if leaving you without supervision is a good idea.
Relax, Hiamora picked the sword back up and handed it over to her companion I won’t say too much.
“Speaking of which, I should take these there,” Tresno said calmly. “I’m guessing Hiamora wants to stay, so I’ll head there now. Until next time.” With that, the fake nycomb vanished into a small puff of violet smoke.
“I guess we should show you your room then,” said Krestean, standing up and heading for the exit. Hiamora nodded and followed. “You may not need it, but take this,” she gave the abilno a keycard as the pair reached the room. “Access to all the floors, this place, and our office. Also this symbol,” she pointed at a seamless pair of white and amber that spiraled next to one another on the side of the card, “will help you in case some admiral or guard asks questions, so don’t lose it because it’s made to not be replicable by energy.”
Hiamora looked around as sho took the card. “Anything can be replicated if you know it well enough,” she spoke as quietly as she could, which was still far from a whisper. She stayed in the room for a few fruitless weeks, occasionally coming out on a stroll around the perimeter of the market, before deciding to get other Type 0’s on duty so she could occupy herself with other things. Nonetheless, she spent majority of her free time on the station, much to Tresno’s dismay, learning more about mortal affairs by chatting with the immortal pair running the station “That trade seems suspiciously cheap,” Hiamora said as she stretched her pink neck to see over Krestean’s shoulder. “And it’s coming from outside Neastia. You sure it’s a good idea to accept that?”
“It’s called getting supplies,” Krestean smirked as she inputted the proper clearance codes. “Mortals need to eat, and we don’t have farms on the station.”
“Doesn’t explain the price-” Hiamora turned her head away from the screen, looking out into the cosmos.
“It’s more that everything here is ridiculously expensive. When you get used to expensive stuff, suddenly reasonable pricing seems cheap,” Krestean turned around to look at the abilno sprawled behind her. “Do I need to explain more?” After only getting silence in response, Krestean tried figuring out what the being could be looking at, but saw only darkness. “Hia, is everything alright?”
“No,” she responded as her form lost its solid outlines, becoming a long pink cloud. “It’s… It’s like someone slammed a sledgehammer into the fabric of space-time…” She turned around, and the screen behind Krestean started to flicker as windows opened and closed, settling in on a map of the galaxy. “Here,” she said, selecting the star F9V X42583-65809 “I’ll be there,” she added, and then promptly disappeared with a quiet pop.
Krestean and Monsele shared a look of confusion and worry, before hastily heading down to the hangar. They took the fastest ship available, and were quickly off, accelerated by state-of-the-art thrusters. After what would normally be a three hour journey, over in mere ten minutes, the familiar blackness of outer space re-appeared behind the ship’s windows. Monsele opened her beak to ask where to go now, when Hiamora came into existence in front of the ship, grabbing it with her hands. “Head towards the star,” she said, pointing with her wing at the fireball behind her. “The others are already there, I’ve got your ship protected.” As she spoke, the ship got covered in a thin layer of pink, visible from the inside only as a very light tint on the windows. “In the meantime I’ll go get Drak. We may need him.” Without a word more, she disappeared.
Even more confused and worried, the pair headed towards the star. It grew and grew, until the raging ball of fusion filed the entirety of their vision. True to Hiamora’s word, the ship didn’t even notice the enormous heat and light outside of it, calmly flying forward as if the star was nothing more but a figment of imagination, ignoring even the effect of its gravity.
“What are they doing here?!” a faint voice sounded through the ship’s hull.
“The Market crew. Where we got the copy of that one.”
“Oh! I knew it looked familiar!”
The voices seemed to lack a source, and were hardly distinguishable from one another. “I never noticed how similar they all sound,” Krestean said to Monsele, receiving a nod of agreement in return. She kept the forward course until amongst the orange and reds of the star, small patches of different colors appeared. At first a violet and a lime shape were the only to stand out, and only after coming close to them a third, red, shape could be made out.
All three of them were standing and moving normally, as if they had invisible ground below their solid forms. The violet one walked on four long legs, and had a tail longer than its body, that split into two part way down. Its head was crowned by two straight horns, completing the v-shape started by the triangular face. Additional sharp horns hovered above its back, disconnected from the rest of the body.
On the other side of the now stopped ship stood an abilno who bore a hunched insectoid form. Although it was clearly red, as evident by six thin legs and the enormous sickle-shaped horns, there were various other colors forming swirling patterns across the large like wings that covered the being like a regal cloak dragging on the non-existent ground behind it.
Finally in front of them was a lime orb, with 6 tentacles emerging from it and floating out in equally-spaced directions. Two of them that, from the ship’s point of view, were in the middle were stretched out in front of the sphere, before wrapping around and disappearing behind its body.
“Hiamora and her mortals.”
“Your voice is audible in the ship, do keep that in mind.”
“Relax. They’re helpful, aren’t they?”
“More than you. You were supposed to protect the archtool. Explain how it’s here.”
“I don’t know, no being, mortal or immortal, can go through Kayin.”
“It’s really hard to make out who’s who,” Monsele said to Krestean, and it was her turn to nod in agreement.
“We do not sound so alike.”
The violet head turned towards the red entity. “What are you on about?”
“Oh, are you not listening to the two in the ship? I thought you’d be the first to do that.”
“Trying to figure out what happened here. Take something seriously for once.”
“Oh but I am always at the highest of seriousness my liege.”
“By which you mean you’re never serious.”
“Precisely. Now the immortals here are greatly baffled about who is who, don’t you think it would be beneficial to explain the situation?”
The quadrupedal abilno lowered its head, shaking it slightly. “Charles, move away.”
“Better idea,” instead of following the instructions, the lime being stretched out one of its tentacles, grabbing the ship and pulling it closer. “Someone placed these here, and they appear to be locked in space,” as the ship came around the lime mass of solid energy, the two beings inside could see what the entity was holding on to.
Both of his tentacles had a firm grip on the hilt of one of two swords, placed in an X-shape against each other. One was instantly recognized by Monsele, but the other looked like an ordinary sword, save for a brightly glowing white gem.
“We don’t know who put them here, and we can’t take them apart.” To prove the words, the space between the swords lit up with lime light seeping through. The two tentacle stretched out as the Type 0 attempted to pull the swords away from one another, to no avail.
“Is it just me, or do I see some… grid?” Monsele pointed at faint lines, barely visible behind the tinted window of the ship.
“You are quite observant. Indeed, the swords seem to lie on the outside of an enclosure around the whole star.” The swords begun to shine an additional vibrant red. Slowly, cyan and white lines came out of where the two hilts met, stretching out in a square pattern, splitting and joining together as they reached further and further out.
“Enough,” both lights disappeared and the tentacles relaxed. “What we know: The culprit had one of these. We had the other. What we don’t know: How they got here. Why they’re here.”
“Very methodological, as always.”
“You say that as if it’s a bad thing.”
“No, not bad. Just… stiff.”
“How about you two figure out things here, wait for Hiamora to come back, and I will take the immortals to Threa, see if we can find anything.”
“Have you gone mad?! We can’t just let anyone into the library.”
“Tresno, that’s impressive. You have to teach me how you did that.”
“Don’t worry if you don’t understand, immortals, it’s just that things Tres can do with their voice are astounding.”
“They should understand everything they need to.”
“Actually…” Krestean started, uncertain if all of the Type 0’s can actually hear her despite being outside of the ship. “This entire conversation has been hard to follow. Could one of you explain perhaps?”
“I will on our way to Threa. Tresno’s on edge and I don’t wanna be close whenever they blow a fuse.” The lime abilno phased in through the wall of the ship. “Charles is the name in case you couldn’t figure it out,” he said, solidifying mid-air before extending tentacles simultaneously to Krestean and Monsele, shaking their hands. “I hope you don’t mind me not making a mortal body. It’s simpler this way.”
“We’re used to it at this point,” Monsele said casually, taken by surprise by the lack of sliminess of Charles’ tentacles. “So, what happened here?”
“I’ll explain everything, but first set a course for here,” he stretched his tentacle to the screen showing the map of the current star system, and put it in a seemingly empty area.
“But… there is nothing there?” Krestean asked in confusion, nonetheless setting the course.
“The anomalous planets don’t appear on any maps. They were either removed, or were made after the creation of the maps, we don’t really know.”
“Anomalous? In what way?” Krestean questioned as her finger hovered over the autopilot button.
“You’ll see,” Charles said, using his tentacle to press her hand against the screen and engage the low-speed thrusters.