<~ 1.8 (The Black Market) | Index | (Once Upon a Disaster) 1.10 ~>
“Great news!” Monsele said joyously as she entered Krestean’s office. “Admiral Armella just contacted us, saying she’s willing to give this place a try!”
A few weeks has passed since admiral Berlu agreed to settle within the station. Other nycombian fleets were hesitant on blindly following another fleet into what could very well be a trap, and so they stayed on the sidelines, observing how the events unfolded.
“Good, is everything ready?” Krestean asked in a distracted manner, mindlessly scrolling through cameras. She had installed simple holographic display, which now glowed in front of her with their dim, blue light, allowing her to observe the still-scarce life on the station.
“Should be all good, although Armella never told anyone the actual size of her fleet. But assuming that some of her crew members will want to keep living on their ships, the rooms we have at the ready should be plenty. Also, I can’t help but notice that your thoughts seem to be somewhere else. Whatever is going through that head of yours, you’re doing a fantastic job staring at those cameras.”
“Thanks,” she said absentmindedly as she swiped the air, switching to another camera view.
Hearing that, Monsele rolled her eyes with an amused grin. “Wake up,” she said, forming a bubble of water above Krestean’s head, letting it drop down and douse her.
“You have to be more attentive, especially when talking with someone,” Monsele chided, sitting down in front of the desk and leaning on top of the furniture, covering the lens of the holographic display with her feathers. “What’s up?”
With a sigh, Krestean evaporated the water off of herself before speaking up. “I’m just worried. I don’t expect you to share the worry, but Drakian – the Type 0 ‘beast’ that helped me with this station – still hasn’t shown up. He said it would take a couple of days at most, yet here we are, almost a month without a word.”
“At least you can be certain he didn’t die?” Monsele responded reluctantly. “I understand why you’d be worried, but I don’t think there is anything that poses a credible threat to him.”
“But what if he got captured again?”
“Have some more faith in him, given how long he has been alive, he probably knows how to avoid trouble,” Monsele paused, realizing that she’s defending one of the beasts – a realization she forced into the back of her mind. “And besides, if he got captured then I’m sure he would find a way to escape again. And if his freedom is intact, you mentioned that he never said where he’s going, which means he can be literally anywhere in the galaxy, so it’s not like you can go looking for him.”
Before Krestean could admit she was unable to do much, a short flash of light spread through the room, and from the corner came a familiar voice. “Finally, something worked,” said the dragon, his solid amber form decorated with two large purple shapes, vaguely resembling a hand-drawn circle, sitting opposite of one another on the left and right side of his body.
“Drakian? Is that you?” Said Krestean, seeing his solid form for the first time. “What happened to you?”
“I will do my best to explain everything. Hopefully this-” he raised his right wing to analyze the spot underneath. “Will give me enough time to do so.” He put his wing back down and turned around, noticing Monsele in the room, who has since stood up and was staring back at him with shock. “But I would prefer to do so in private,” he paused, cocking his head slightly as he scanned the nycomb. “Could you kindly leave us alone for a handful of minutes, Monsele?”
Unfazed by the dragon knowing her name, unlike Krestean who’s face lit up in confusion, Monsele bowed and was about to make her leave, when the lock on the door clicked shut. “She can stay,” Krestean stated. “You two know one another?”
“No,” Drakian responded, sitting down where he stood. “One’s name is often engraved in their mind so deeply, you can read it clear as day. Just as one’s energy…” He paused again, analyzing the being in front of him. “You are past the mortality threshold… That is a… Type 1?” He turned his head to Krestean, looking for confirmation.
“Type 2 actually,” said Krestean. “But she has plenty of excess energy so I can see how you’d get it wrong.”
“No matter. You have asked what happened, and it is best I explain before I disappear,” he waited for the nycomb to sit down before starting. “As you know, I went out looking for a friend of mine. He is particularly fond of earthlings, and so that is where I went to look for him – Earth.”
“Sadly, he was not there and has been gone for many centuries now. Before leaving, however, he said he would be back after the war between Earth gods was over. He said he wanted to stay away from the conflict himself to give the other gods a chance in combat, but I had a suspicion he had an ulterior motive he did not share, which was confirmed once he indeed did not show up after the battle was done.”
“What did happen, is the other gods being unexpectedly capable with energy handling. They have somehow managed to permanently chain me up to their planet,” the dragon paused for a short moment to look at the dimming purple spots on his sides before continuing. “From what we could test, it would seem I am somehow linked to Earth’s Heart, unable to go too far or it will bring me back to the surface. Our attempts at breaking the link have, so far, been futile, but we are trying anything we can.”
“We?” Monsele spoke in a small voice, being cautious and reserved around the dragon. “So did you find the friend of yours in the end?”
“No, Bast is helping me out,” assuming the others wouldn’t know who Bast is, he turned towards Krestean and said “She is to Ra what you are to me. And Ra is one of many names that my friend uses: Garuda, Hraesvelg, Huitzilopochtli; just a few other examples, and all of them on Earth alone. Unlike most of us, he prefers to be known by a different name within every pantheon he takes a part of.”
“Sounds like he would be trying to hide something…” Krestean said, sharing a glance with Monsele. “Why did you go out looking for him again?”
“Well, something within the story you shared with me seemed off. I do not know of any Type 0 that would kill so many innocent lives, even with a good reason.”
As Drakian spoke, Krestean could see that Monsele’s beak was clenched shut, just the same as whenever she was holding herself back from saying something. Guessing what was bothering her, and assuming that she may simply be too anxious to say it, Krestean spoke instead “Do you suspect Ra could’ve caused the fall of Neastia?”
The question took the dragon by surprise, but he quickly responded with a firm, albeit slightly uncertain voice. “No… No, he would not do that. Unless the nycombs were planning to invade Earth in some way, then perhaps. As I said, he is very fond of those bipedal creatures,” he paused to look at Monsele, who shook her head to indicate there were no invasion plans in the works – they were focused on trade, not combat. “I went to him because of the only lead I had on what was wrong with the infamous catastrophe. It all went down too quickly, yet seeing the state Lednah is in, whoever it was that decimated the Nycombian Empire was extremely powerful. While I would be capable of destroying a planet like so once, maybe twice, not only would I require exponentially more time to do so, I would also be utterly exhausted afterwards. Yet the attacker continued forth – planet to planet, colony to colony, space station to space station.”
Krestean looked at him with a mix of worry and confusion. “So how does Ra tie into all of this?”
“He has a knack for what we call artifacts – great devices made by civilizations more advanced than yours. Ones whose strength is equal to, or even greater than our own. He could know if one of such devices could have been at play here.”
“How do they look?” Monsele spoke up, her curiosity winning over anxiousness.
“I am not in possession of any, nor have I ever been, so I am unable to tell you. What I do know is that there are supposedly hundreds of them, scattered across the universe. They are said to be things ranging from tiny rings or bracelets, all the way up to huge structures, even ones larger than this station,” he gave a glance under his wing, seeing that the patch of purple was beginning to dilute significantly, white light peeking from underneath. “I hoped for a little more time… Krestean, I need you to promise me something. Again.”
“What is it?”
“That you will not go near Earth. I do not know how this link works, and you and I share the same energy. I wouldn’t want you to get trapped as well.” Krestean pouted but nodded without a word. “If you need me, you can send Monsele to get me, I will keep an eye on the sky,” the nycomb’s facial expression made it clear that she didn’t want to do it, but she kept her thoughts to herself. “I promise that I will appear every now and then to check up on all of you,” with those words, he disappeared with a quiet pop.
“Not even a goodbye, like always,” Krestean sighed, waving her hand to unlock the door.
“Don’t expect good etiquette from a primordial creature,” Monsele responded with a smile, glad that the dragon left. “So he’s the one that helped you with the ship?” Krestean nodded again “Well I can’t deny that – aside of his energetic looks, the aura of power, piercing yet non-existent eyesight and voice; he does seem like ‘just a being’.”
Krestean rolled her eyes at the remark. “Get used to the idea of him being normal, it makes it easier to talk if you ignore the differences and prejudice you may have. Any merchant should know that.”
“Oh I do, but I also don’t see myself having any business with an ancient beast made of solid energy.”
“Well better prepare for it, because if he won’t show up in a year you’re going to Earth to check up on him.” Krestean gave Monsele a devilish grin, seeing the nycomb pale slightly.
“Let’s just focus on Armella’s fleet for now…” She said quietly, trying to not think about the possibility too much. Krestean nodded and begun preparations for their advancing plans.
The fleet of Admiral Armella smoothly settled inside of the market, and a handful of months later Admiral Xeila announced she’d be willing to join them as well, an announcement that was soon followed by Admiral Rezul joining in, exactly as Monsele predicted they would. “Xeila and Rezul are close friends, the moment one of them makes a choice, the other will follow.” The remaining fleet, commandeered by admiral Hestul, wasn’t as cooperative as the others. Being of age, Hestul did not trust anyone outside of his own crew – not even other nycombs. It took nearly twenty years before he passed away, leaving Nyla in charge of his fleet, who instantly reached out to Monsele to arrange them joining rest of their kin. Finally, with all the nycombs in one place, the market thrived like never before.
Having a secure place to call home, the nycombs expanded their range of operation outside of the borders of old Neastia, which caught attention – both wanted and unwanted – from the rest of the galaxy. Other shady dealers would locate the market to sell their contraband or to simply check out what the big fuss was all about. On the other side of the spectrum the Galactic Control Force, tasked with keeping order within the galaxy, took interest in locating the source of the illegal trade. After years of searching, they found the station and were foolish enough to attempt to seize control over it.
“I don’t want to kill them, I really don’t,” Krestean said as she fired projectiles that traveled at nearly the speed of light, going straight through one of GCF’s capital ships. “But if we play the weakling here, they’ll never stop coming. We need to show them we’re just dangerous enough to pose a threat, but at the same time not problematic enough to excuse the waste of resources.”
Indeed, news of the nycombs having a new home spread like wildfire, yet no military forcestrength agreed to help GCF’s efforts in shutting down the market. Instead, the news only increased the market’s popularity, with some brave souls attempting to get through the lawless space in order to purchase something they would otherwise not be allowed to buy or have, leading to the diversity of the ship going beyond even that of Acro, with the nycombs dominating the local population of the station.
“Hey, look!” Monsele said pointing at the camera feed. “You always ask how humans look in the different places I visit looking for Drakian – well now you have a live specimen on the ship!”
Curious, Krestean came over to Monsele’s desk, made in the corner of her own office as if the nycomb was her personal secretary. On the display she could see the bipedal creature leaning on what looked like a decorated tree branch, topped with a large translucent stone. His body was mostly hidden behind his black robe, making it hard to see more detail. “Wait a minute,” Krestean said with a realization, turning to Monsele. “Didn’t you say that the last time you were there, the humans were still in the stage of fighting religious wars with swords? Why is one of them here?”
“You know, sometimes beings that consider themselves more intelligent will steal a few inhabitants of a less evolved planet. Cheap workforce and all that, but sometimes they overestimate the capability of an evolving species and just leave it to fend for itself. Perhaps this guy was-” Monsele paused her hand in the middle of pointing at the human on the camera feed. “Keep an eye on him,” she said tautly as she stormed out, galloping down the hall.
Krestean was confused but turned back towards the screen. The human has stopped by a stall and was now discussing something with the nycomb within. On the counter laid an object resembling a sword – one with an extremely intricate hilt, featuring a large gem that joined two equilateral triangles by their tips, with the remainder of the hilt and the sword’s blade obstructed by the human. There was a brief exchange between the two beings before the nycomb pointed somewhere to his left, to which the human took the sword and continued on his journey. Krestean opened another holographic panel to keep track of where the human went, whilst keeping the original one open, in case she would need it.
The human moved swiftly through the market, his black robes making him difficult to track. Thankfully it didn’t move far, entering a nearby relic dealer. With no cameras to look inside, Krestean turned back towards the original one, where now Monsele hastily came up to the seller. He bowed slightly and again, pointed to his left, indicating where the human went. She hastily followed the directions, reaching the shop and going in, only to emerge back out a minute later, slowly heading to the closest elevator shaft. Not before long her hooves could be heard outside of the still open door to Krestean’s office. “Soooo…” she started as soon as Monsele entered the room, watching the nycomb sit down behind her desk and rewind back the footage. “What was that all about?”
“The sword of Gwi’rnul,” she stated emotionlessly when she got the footage back to when the sword was on the table. “It was kept securely in a temple up until the catastrophe-”
“Excuse me, but who’s ‘Gwi’rnul’?”
Monsele stared daggers at Krestean, but sighed in resignation. “He’s a legendary, four-armed warrior. Before dying he is said to have infused his four swords with his powers, giving one to each of his students. They then gave them to their student and so and so on. As with all things of legends, most of nycombs will see it as nothing more than a fairy tale. But while personally, I came from an environment that shunned those who believed in myth, I can’t help but to question how much of the myth was true. Hard to remain sceptical once you learn that gods of the past were real and that you can make things come to life with your mind, especially when you’re studying all that in a temple where one of ‘his’ swords was held on display in a protective case.”
“I understand,” Krestean brought herself a chair to sit down on next to Monsele. “And you’re sure that that was that sword?”
“It was, or a really good replica. Whoever that was was asking the shopkeepers if they saw a sword like that, so he’s either looking for the original, or the other three…”
“Speaking of which, what happened to the human? Both of you entered but you were the only one to leave.”
Monsele turned off her displays, still looking in the now empty space they used to occupy. “He noticed I’m looking for him, and vanished the moment we made eye contact,” she looked at Krestean with sad eyes. “Even if the real sword held such power, he shouldn’t be able to do that, Krestean. No being, mortal or not, is capable of teleporting like that. Aside from one…” She looked at the ground, gathering her thoughts. “I don’t think that was an ordinary human, if a human at all…”
Krestean didn’t like seeing her friend in such a distressed state. “What do you know about the swords?” She asked, worried.
“Not much, I haven’t had too long to study before the Beast attacked. But I do know what happened to the sword, and if that was the original, then we may have a big problem on our hands..”
“Well let’s hear it,” Krestean said, forcing the door lock to engage.
<~ 1.8 (The Black Market) | Index | (Once Upon a Disaster) 1.10 ~>