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Magara, The Underfall Yard
Tettra woke to the sounds of a medical room; of people speaking, Anform and AI whispering. She began to remember what happened back at Fife. The going away party, the details of which she remembered perfectly. Saying goodbye to her friends. The train ride and the subsequent fight. The agony of pain and damage.
The grizzly scene of the execution came back to her. Marlene would be contained, but most likely depleted of memory, cursed to wander her tiny cell until judgment day, like some barely sentient creature. Tettra was shocked by the apparent cruelty of it, at how cold Pyron was in doling out ‘justice’. There was no attempt at redemption, which scared Tettra. If there was a misconception about the possessed humans, they might be executed and depleted as well. If Pyron thought Tettra was involved in any way, she could have been ran through as well; no questions asked. She had heard of the stories, but seeing it firsthand was a different world completely. She was blessed she was still conscious during the end of the fight, or mostly.
Now that she had a moment to think and decompress, those dreams were truly bizarre. She had dreamed before, but not like this; not with the clarity of an oracle or prophetess. Or even a Dreamer. The first dream, she knew someone was watching her. But who? The second dream, with the black oil and strange creatures, was deeply disquieting.
What were they?
The third dream, with the Ranidae, was disturbing. She had never seen such creatures apart from textbooks. But that black ooze. It was a theme between the more lucid dreams. Attacking the Ranidae and devouring them and also attacking the strange massive bone creature. She knew it was not a heavenly being in any measure. It was most likely a demonic entity. Or even a god-like entity, heaven forbid. And then in the second dream with the holy magic made it even more bizarre. Then the slime flesh on the desert planet, Titanyia V. The emerald demon. No, it was not that weak. It was either a principality or a god. It noticed her and was aware it was being used in a vision. Only a strong divine being could know of that. Where did that happen? No, it didn’t happen yet. The god implied as much. But she knew where. Titanyia V. Tettra could only think, as her semi-fugue state kept her loopy. She disliked internalizing.
And then she had her new power. That incredible power that tipped the scales, potentially saving everyone in her party, except for one. Tettra’s stomach dropped at that. Rich was most likely mere seconds away from being rescued. She thought a quick prayer for him, in the hopes he wasn’t depleted. She would have to experiment with that power when she was better. She tried opening her eyes and saw black. Tettra blinked several times in confusion before trying to feel at her head. She was wearing an eye mask to block light and let her rest. Her sluggish fingers clumsily lifted the mask, Getting it off only half way. She stopped to shield her eyes from the blindness of the light.
“Mmphmm…” Tettra mumbled. She heard a response to her moving around.
“Please, do not move. You are injured and need rest. You are aboard the Underfall Yard and are safe.” An AI voice spoke.
Tettra let her eyes adjust to the all white and steel room. It was large, large enough to fit several hundred people comfortably, or even more as a packed triage. Her room was surrounded by a hovering curtain, giving her privacy. An AI was floating above her. He had a large head, small body with a doctor’s coat and head mirror. He was bald sporting a blank smile on his face.
“Where am I… Oh right,” Tettra absently mumbled before realizing she was a few steps behind.
“Where is everyone else?” Tettra asked sleepy-eyed, her mouth felt dry. She felt her broken leg, it was set in a cast.
“The Anforms, Stug, and Lod are currently being repaired and are slated for recovery,” The AI stated.
“Mike was picked up with the rest of the group with Bishop Lazarus. They were injured, but expecting a full recovery.”
“Newman and Rich were gravely wounded. Newman is expected to need time before a full recovery. Rich was most critical and will take a long time in recovery,” The AI stated.
He went from best to worst cases.
“The worst cases are the thirty-two missing passengers. Rescue is still scouring the train route over the sea,” The AI said, without a hint of sorrow in his voice.
“No, please God…” Tettra whispered at hearing that.
“Tettra, it looks like you have a visitor,” The AI stated as a man in black entered the domicile. The unmistakable walk and tap of a cane made his presence aware.
“I hope I am not intruding. I couldn’t help but overhear you were awake,” Pyron Dethos said calmly.
Tettra tensed up as Pyron strode toward her, his white beaked mask and glass eyes stared empty yet intense pressure into her.
Pyon felt her tense and stayed a distance back, leaning on his cane.
“You and your friends were brave in the actions you took, defending the locomotive and the passengers aboard,” Pyron began as he nodded his head to her, “You will be recognized as heroes upon our arrival to the Basilica of Saint Peter.”
He gestured to himself, his hand to his chest.
“I myself have given you all recommendations. Each of your teammates gave you glowing praise. These are the type of qualities Church Cardinals desire in their inquisitorial retinue,” Pyron stated, building her up.
Tettra was silent, half due to seeing her hero in front of her, half in that he terrified her like a mouse to a serpent. He continued. She was waiting for this. A Cardinal never gave one on ones unless…
“The best of blessings to you,” Pyron valadicted with a tip of his hat as he continued, “You will not be interrogated. All of the crew have accounted for your actions and bravery.”
Tettra’s stomach lurched. She felt her legs tripped from under her, her expectations dashed. She chided herself for being silly.
“Tettra, to you a blessed day, and Christ’s blessing upon you,” Pryon stated curtly as he nodded, leaving with both a boot step and tap of his cane.
Tettra let out all of the tension she was holding onto. The pressure she felt near him was immense. His was a genuine power and temperament. How he reached such heights was beyond Tettra.
And Pyron was the fourth mightiest. There were others that surpassed him.
His name and title was Gammoroth The Joyous. It wasn’t for all the correct reasons, though. He was always smiling, always content. Smiling with a group or party, smiling when celebrating, smiling when solo drinking a keg and smiling when twisting a demon in half and bathing in the innards. He was slow and strong, playing into the immovable object trope. Most of the fights were one-sided affairs and even the Cardinal Tournaments had him defeating the other candidates one-sidedly. He did make it look good and give them plenty of chances. His number one rank was not for show. A Cardinal’s title was given to them by the demons they fought, showing the terror they inflict upon rebelling gods, deities, and demons. Gammoroth’s was obvious; destroying demons with a smile on his face earned him that title. The rebelling gods could do little to affect that smile. He was the only Cardinal without any native métier or job, which remained a mystery.
Tettra did not know what Pyron’s title The Suffering, meant. He kept most of his abilities secret. His mind was a sealed encrypted datamatrix. Tettra knew that he was very effective against magic users and effective in melee with his rapier. There was one Cardinal Tettra never wanted to meet and that was Lilith The Cruelty whose unsettling personality was disturbing from what others had said. She was one of the few in the galaxy to reach the final tier, God Tier mastery of her Oracle métier and was one of the main strategic brains of the Advent Church. She needed to only see someone and could then track them throughout the galaxy at will. Every Inquisitor must meet Lilith at least once, for loyalty and safety reasons. It was insurance against potential heretics. She had not only reached not one but two God Tier métier, the second being the Ingressitor, giving her the ability to teleport anyone, anywhere. She was also one of the few Cardinals to own a pair of Orhicalcum weapons. Orichalcum or God’s metal was a mythical metal whose creation was a mystery. Each piece was worth a planet’s fortune.
Tettra would make sure to avoid her at all costs, out of principle. She knew she would meet her one day if she joined a retinue. The Immortal was a Cardinal no one spoke of. He had vanished eons ago. Some speculate he became a heretic, which would have been an embarrassment to the Church, as he was third ranked in power. Others theorized he was lost, some suspected that Lilith knew, but had never spoken of it.
No one had filled that third position as of yet.
And she met her hero, Pyron and her image of him shattered the moment he plunged the sword through Marlene.
“Tettra, we will be dropping you and the rest of the refugees off very soon,” Galen stated.
“Can I see him? See Rich?” Tettra asked.
“I advise against it.”
“Please… Galen.” Tettra pushed.
“Very well. As I said, he was worse off of the survivors.” Galen relented.
A medical antigrav chair was materialized from white pixelated light. Tettra’s eyes went wide for a brief second, she would never get used to seeing that. Quantum storage was fascinating to her. One day she could afford it.
Anform nurses assisted in seating her, the ankle was still cast, the hairline fracture would take a few days to repair, with her body’s natural healing properties common to all Faithful Ones. Tettra was on the slower side of regeneration, many who specialized in physical combat would have gained accelerating healing beyond the norm. For someone like Pyron, it was most likely timed in seconds.
Tettra was pushed along out of her curtained sanctuary, revealing the massive medical room. The walls and ceiling were a white sterile plasticine with soft blue glowing lights. The room was filled with curtained sanctuaries, possibly housing the other survivors. The room was quiet, despite having so many Anform, AI, and people.
She was pushed along by an Anform attendant to another sheet covered sanctuary. She broke through the outer barrier, seeing inside. A man lay on a bed, missing both legs and an arm. He was fully encased in a vented plasticine cast. He was surrounded by others.
“Rich…” Tettra murmured, her eyes going wide at seeing the broken Faithful One. It was a testament to their toughness that he was as whole as he was, having fallen and struck the water at terminal speeds. Mike, two Anforms, and Bishop Lazarus were all there surrounding the bed. Lazarus stepped to Tettra, gently grasping her shoulder.
“You’re awake, this is good, yes.” He greeted her with a sad smile.
“Will he be alright?” Tettra asked, her voice wavering.
‘He is…” Lazarus began as he turned to look at Rich.
“Help me…” Rich mumbled through the bandage.
Mikes face contorted, on the verge of tears on hearing that. He held Rich’s last hand, rubbing it comfortingly.
“Come on buddy, we’ll see Thyme together, drink their ale. You’ll meet a good girl, I’ll go to your wedding; be your best man. And…” Mike said as tears streamed down his face. He couldn’t finish.
“Tettra, he suffered total mind depletion,” Lazarus explained grimly.
Tettra’s eyes darted left and right, trying to process that. She didn’t know him for long, but still, she felt for him. He sacrificed everything to protect them.
After Megiddo, death was no more. However, there was still peril. Faithful Ones would not experience death but would hemorrhage memory upon receiving fatal wounds, exhaustion, mental trauma, or in Tettra’s case, all three.
“The medical AI stated you suffered some depletion, Tettra.” Lazarus interjected.
Everyone looked to her at that.
“I did, yes. I’m not sure what I lost. They did say it wasn’t much.”
“It is fortunate that we all survived, yes,” Lazarus added.
Tettra noticed he was missing his right hand at the wrist.
“Holy father, what happened? Who would do such a thing?” Tettra asked, going wide-eyed at seeing the new pink flesh over the stump.
“Oh, this? Not the first time I’ve lost a limb, hmm…”
“I suspected there were two groups, the first I intercepted, it was a demon of average power and imps. It was trying to either divert the train or crash it all together, hmm yes. Marlene, the serving girl, was tasked with pacifying the crew. It seems she did a poor job of it. If she started summoning imps in our car, we might not have made it.”
“She must have gone to where the densest number of travelers were. There were demon-possessed people, afterall.” One of the Anform stated.
“Stug?” Tettra asked, catching on the speech of the Anform.
“And Lod. We were both given new chassis. I do prefer this over my previous.” Lod described.
Stug was just as bulky as before, except he was smoother, with a more refined silver alloy chassis with smooth inlay. Lod was a floating cube, held aloft by orange glowing corner antigrav nodes. A single orange eye stared at Tettra.
“She couldn’t have known any of our combat expertise, I suspect,” Mike added.
Mike’s arm was back to normal, Tettra suspected his métier aided in that. Which begged the question of Bishop Lazarus.
“Why isn’t you arm healed, holy father?” Tettra turned to ask.
“Because I didn’t deem it necessary at the time. The demon took my hand, and I took it’s life, hmm a good trade. A good warrior knows when to heal, a good one can stave it off, awaiting medical treatment to prevent memory burn or using natural inbuilt talents, such as Mike. It will grow back in due time. I do like saving my memory for something important, yes.” Lazarus explained.
Tettra’s eyes went wide at that. She knew about healing tied to memory burn, the very being would attempt to repair damage, first through the body’s natural means, then through memory, if the damage sustained was too much. But hearing that some could cease healing to prevent memory burn was new to Tettra. It was the issue of living in a small village.
“Because for a warrior-” Lazarus began.
“-Every minute counts.” Mike finished, looking to Lazarus.
Lazarus raised his eyebrows at Mike.
“Which division?” Lazarus inquired, breaking out in a smile.
“Pansword. Just a small stint of a cycle. You?” Mike explained before shooting back the question.
“Beidenhänder. Twelve.” Lazarus stated.
“Beidenhänder… Those were some of the best.” Mike explained.
“I’ll be staying for a time in Saint Peter’s. Will you?’ Lazarus asked.
“I’ll be here as long as… -as long as Rich needs.” Mike stuttered on that last line, looking to the man in the bed with sorrow.
“Please…” Rich rasped. Tettra looked at him with pain. He had done so much for them.
“Why does he keep saying that?” Tettra asked quietly.
“That is what all depleted peoples say. It is unknown why I suspect their very barest instinct is all that remains; self-preservation. Hmmm.” Lazarus explained, stroking his beard with his only hand.
This was Tettra’s first time seeing a depleted person. It disturbed her greatly. It could have easily been her. If she hadn’t called upon that strange magic inside of her, it would have definitely been her too. It had felt wrong to call upon that magic, but it also felt correct at the same time. She didn’t truly understand what she did. Hopefully, the scholars would know.
“Come along Tettra, we should be above Saint Peter’s soon.”
“Wait! What about Newman?” Tettra exclaimed, turning to the rest of the group.
“He is still comatose but expected to recover. He’s right next door. Shall we?” Lazarus explained.
Tettra nodded with a determined look. She needed to say her valedictions to everyone first.
“Mike, thank you for helping,” Tettra said. Mike looked away, blushing.
“Stug, Thank you for rescuing me. And Newman.”
“The honor was mine, good Tettra,” Stug replied with a tip of his head.
“Lod, thank you for your good aim.” Tettra turned to address the floating Anform.
“You are very welcome, good Tettra.”
“And Rich… Thank you for everything.” Tettra said, a tear running down her eye. She sniffed back her tears, allowing Lazarus to push over to the next curtained dormitory.
There Newman lay, hooked up to a vitals machine. Several hovering Anform spheres turned to look at the new visitors.
“Patient Tettra, holy father Lazarus, the patient is still comatose. Fragments from the pulse sabot ricocheted to his brain and spine. Nanomachines are removing the splinters. Depletion appears to have been minimal.” One of the medical Anforms stated. It was a white and steel plasticine sphere.
Newman’s armor was removed, Tettra got to see his face for the first time. He didn’t look older than his twenties, with dirty blond hair, beige colored skin, sporting a scruffy goatee. Tettra sat for a minute, quietly watching him. She used the chair’s controls to move in, grabbing him by the hand. It was warm to the touch.
“Thank you for your help. Be well. Hopefully, you get recruited by a Cardinal.” Tettra encouraged with a tight smile, fighting back tears.
She only knew the group for what was less than a day, but it felt like years.
She wiped her eyes and turned to Lazarus.
“I am ready, holy father.” She said with a sad smile.
“As you wish, dear child,” Lazarus responded, a frail echo to his voice; he was starting to well up.
They made their exit, out of the large medical bay. An escort of four powered armored Knights Templar awaited to show them their dropship.
“Holy Father, please allow us to escort you to the destination.” The leading sergeant requested.
“It would be an honor, my sons, yes.” Lazarus acquiesced with a grateful nod.
Tettra was pushed along, the metal stomping of power armored knights in tow adding to the din of shouting and marching. All hands aboard were prepared. Tettra suspected the train was being disassembled and inspected for potential devices, sabotage, or demonic remnants. They would also be scouring the seas, looking for any survivors that may have fallen or jumped overboard.
Or were thrown out by Marlene.
With how Rich explained his increased healing, she suspected many of the patrons wouldn’t be so blessed to survive intact as he did.
“Let the others be well,” Tettra said the prayer allowed.
“And let the mastermind be found, hmm,” Lazarus added.
“Marlene or that demon wasn’t the ones who planned this?” Tettra asked, wide-eyed.
“Not in the least. A demon of low caliber couldn’t have planned further than devouring the closest thing. He had orders. Both of them did. Hmm, yes, I fear this is just the start.”
“But do not worry yourself with that, a cardinal is here, their schemes will be rooted out, yes.” Lazarus finished.
Tettra was maneuvered outside the docking ramp of the dropship. The blocky vessel a resembled a flat triangle with a brick shaped cockpit atop the tip. The vessel was a bright red, representing a specialized flight vessel as opposed to the others. Lazarus pushed her aboard, getting her strapped in. The docking station of the landing craft accommodated the antigrav chair, sealing her in. Lazarus sat down, the straps forming around him comfortably. The craft took off, Tettra’s stomach lurching briefly in the process. The craft zoomed out of the Underfall Yard, the window ports flashing with the color of the hangar bay. Tettra turned around, peering outside in wonder at her first flight. The flashing stopped, and the horizon of the Magara sky opened up. The triple suns were past noon, splayed like cards. Night had come and gone. Tettra felt full of energy, lack of sleep and injuries did little to dissuade Faithful Ones. A Faithful One’s list of strengths were almost limitless. No need for food, no need of sleep, almost infinite stamina, constant upbeat energy and the only way to age was to work one’s calling until stalehood or dulling. Even then, aging was temporary, one only needed to move on and find a fresh calling to regain their youth again. They were as mankind was meant to be from the start.
“Tettra, I regret what happened,” Lazarus interjected, interrupting Tettra’s thoughts.
She turned to look back at Lazarus, seeing him idly peering outside.
“I know I had said if you found any threat to return immediately. However, I should have had better judgment to know you wouldn’t be one to leave others behind. Hmmm.”
“I understand, holy father. It sounded like that demon was terrifying- with your injuries and all.”
“It was a close fight, indeed. I wished I had finished it sooner, otherwise more may have been saved.” Lazarus added, with a voice of regret.
Tettra was silent at that, wondering how things could have been if Lazarus was present. They may have beaten Marlene without effort. It was best not to think of the what-ifs.
“Holy father, we all did what we could. I was out of my expertise, and only speaking to you now because of the other five. I could say the same. If we understood no survivors were present, would you have used our help?” Tettra explained.
“Ah, a clever girl indeed, indeed if we all focused on one side, we would have most likely emerged unscathed, until the train crashed from the unfought party. We did what we could. Keep those wits sharp, you’ll need them. The House of Cyaxares awaits its new pupil, yes.”
Tettra couldn’t help but feel Lazarus was testing her.
House of Cyaxares, home of the archeology guild. They managed all excavations throughout planet Magara. They housed and processed all found artifacts, documenting all known written languages found and tying together the lost of the history of the old world.
The dropship landed along the massive land bridge. Lazarus took his queue and assisted Tettra in leaving the vessel. She looked up off of the drop ramp, seeing clouds of drop vessels, probably housing the other survivors, Stug, Lod, Mike, Rich, and Newman. The massive moonlike sphere vessel, the Underfall Yard, hung like doom itself upon a wire. Tettra’s stomach fluttered upon seeing i’s awesome size and power. The vessel flowed away into the upper atmosphere, gone faster than she thought possible of such a vessel. How it left the area it inhabited undisturbed was a testament to the ancient technology. Lazarus’ eyebrows shot up.
“Curious. I must admit I was mistaken. I really did suspect Cardinal Pyron would be investigating, yes.” Lazarus said with a mumble.
“Where could he be going to?” Tettra wondered aloud.
“Only Adonai knows, dear child,” Lazarus added as he turned her about, pushing with one hand to the entrance to the Basilica Conurbation of Saint Peter.
The massive spiral city resembled a nautilus in design, with interconnected side roads for ease of travel. The buildings shook hands with the sky itself, the gleaming silvery stone marble spires adorned the breathtaking city. In the Somathenoic existence, there were many breathtaking views, but not like Magara’s Saint Peter. It was a city of heaven made manifest. The massive landbridge stretched for what seemed miles. Tettra and Lazarus both didn’t mind the walk. The view was awe inspiring. The silvery marble stone glistened from the ocean breeze. The call of gulls and fish rang out. The sweeping of waves against rock was a metronome to their pace. There a statue sat along the bridge, welcoming all to the mysteries of knowledge and technology. The statue was of an elderly man with a cybernetic arm and half of his face, clothed in majestic billowing robes, he held a strange filigree sphere with both hands as if presenting new insight to the world. Lazarus stopped, seeing the large placard, carved in rock and gilded with gold. Written in a mysterious language. If one could read ancient languages of the old world, one would understand.
Dedicated to the Basilica Conurbation Saint Peter
Remember the Victory of Emmanuel’s Return; After Megiddo
Donated by former President, Emperor, CEO of Primetech
Mikial T. McDonough
In memory of my lost, beloved son Gideon McDonough: 9906 B.M.-9930 B.M.
Tettra wondered what was written on that most ancient of monuments.