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Karmmrak, Sutta Galaxy
A massive vessel exited out of a kaleidoscopic portal, signifying a wormhole gate. It was a red and silver sphere, the size of a space wharf. It was a ship class of its own, a grand capital ship. The main bridge was a black angled visor, covering most of the ship. There were four separate, horizontal wings attached. In a blinding of red light, the four wings were stored, becoming just a sphere. It was in the Sutta galaxy, around the orbit of a grey dead moon, Karmmrak. It had begun initial scans and drop parties to the moon.
Aboard the bridge, a man in black was surrounded by men, women, anforms, all in various states of clothed in robes, armored, or merged with the bridge itself. Everyone was silent, processing all information via the neural net. The man was robed in black, with a white beak mask adorned with black glass goggles. He wore a black short, round brimmed hat. He leaned on a cane of adamantite adorned with a sapphire jewel. No inch of flesh was bare; part church garment, part pressurized suit. He viewed the moon impassively. His voice was distorted with a digital edge.
“Report.” Was all he ordered. His mind was updated with statistics.
Moon: Karmmrak Galaxy: Sutta Galactic Date: 2.013.245.345 Status: Error, demonic gas cloud barrier prevents scans. Signs of demonic influence present. Immediate quarantine mandated. Warning! Quarantine breach detected. Traces of a vessel leaving via FTL. Gathering predicted flight path. Seventeen potential planets at risk. Alerts have been sent. Quarantine of seventeen planets mandated New orders: Investigate planet, prevent demonic influence. PURGE ALL DEMONIC INFESTATION CAPTURE AND EXECUTE ANY AND ALL HERETICAL SYMPATHISERS PROTECT HUMANITY FOR THE RETURN OF CHRIST
The updates ended. The man in black processed all he learned and began to rundown orders. He preferred to verbally process.
“Send all ground units to investigate. Split the fleet into seventeen, sending each to the listed planets. Set quarantine, no vessels land or leave. Destroy any that disobey. Capture any vessel in orbit. Send fifty fleets per planet, leave fleets one through one-fifty here. All fleets are to rendezvous here for wormgate leap-back transport.” The man quickly belted out orders.
He had an armada of one thousand fleets. Each fleet was a balanced brigade of two hundred and fifty vessels. This man was in charge of two hundred and fifty thousand vessels.
“As you order, so it is anointed, Grand Cardinal.” A voice feedback responded.
“Father Cardinal, Dropships have landed, the moon’s surface… It is completely covered in demon ash and crystal. There is an unknown land vessel of a sizable mass. Large enough to house a sizable fleet.” Another voice interjected it was heavily synthed and intimidating.
“There is no life on this planet; scans turn up empty. There were signs of several recent battles. We are investigating.” The voice continued.
“Prepare a ship, I shall make it planetside.” The Cardinal ordered.
“Grand Cardinal, as you order.” The ship’s AI responded more bass than voice.
The Cardinal made his way to the docking bay, his movements ponderous, favoring his left leg. The clinking of his cane punctuated the sound of the ships thrumming. He favored his time like a fine wine. He left the sizable bridge, collecting several escorts. One was an Anform made of floating platinum filigree sphere, it’s orange power glowing within. Another was a heavily robed Anform, sporting several arms all folded within its robe. Two blue dots peeked from the hood. Two others were humans in massive black power armor suits, looking akin to ancient knights. They sported black tabards with white crosses; the Knights Hospitallers. The entourage made their way to the hangar bay, which was a sizeable distance. His pace never quickened, nor did his escorts feel the need to rush.
He was in control of the timeline, and everyone knew it. He had earned their respect, their loyalty, and their devotion. The Cardinal was seen as the pinnacle of humanity, the bulwark to the dark abyss of destruction. His was not a trophy position. It was earned.
With blood and suffering.
Cardinals held their position by force.
“I can feel it. Power was used here. Demonic. Angelic. And…” The Cardinal murmured but didn’t finish.
He caught the scent of a power he recognized, but wouldn’t say out loud. He officially attributed to the church that his visit here was a by premonition, but was not truly the case. Keeping his abilities secret was why he was the fourth Cardinal in rank. No one would ask, either. The Pope had given him free rein to put down any threat to the Church’s unity.
He was the executioner, the judge and jury had been suspended.
The Cardinal made it to the wide-open hangar bay. Large blocky dropships were flowing in and out like a beehive. The hangar was a buzz of activity, from power armored Knights to support Anforms entering the ships for deployment. Massive deployment vehicles were wheeled into the large transport ships, The Cardinal followed in, slowly heading towards the transport ship’s cockpit. His Anform escorts disappear in red pixelated light, being stored in the transport’s QSD. The Knights broke off in the transport ship’s hangar, standing on the magnetic holds. The ship filled with several dozen vehicles and several hundred knights. The Cardinal entered the cockpit, which was empty, and sat down in the pilot’s seat. The AI had full control of the transport vessels, so he would sit and wait for landing.
The antigrav thrusters fired up with a snap. The blocky vessel lifted off. It resembled a flat triangle with a brick shaped cockpit atop the tip. The black and white color was of the Knights Hospitaller standard color and the vehicle sported the white crosses across the hull. It exited the hanger with a snap, being guided in place by the AI’s ship management modules. The Cardinal pondered what exactly happened on this moon and had several theories.
“Now how did this planet become so infested with demon corpses? We’re the Angels victorious? Failed? Did a human vessel visit and free them intentionally? Unintentionally? Did they find a stranded vessel and leave of their own accord? Or were the Angels victorious; leaving upon a borrowed vessel?”
“Commander Lissar, are there any other signs of life? No matter how miniscule the clue, it could tell us what happened.” The Cardinal conjectured.
“Yes, sir. A temple was discovered. Signs of fighting, as well as Demon ash and Angel blood, was collected. Human and animal blood as well. There are several empty emergency rations as well and abandoned emergency utility equipment.” Lissar stated.
“Pirates? Explorers? Missionaries? Marooners, perhaps?” The Cardinal murmured.
The dropship hit the moon’s grey albedo and rumbled with turbulence. It took a minute of flight before the Cardinal could see the grey waste of a dead moon. It was all demon ash.
“Marooners.” The Cardinal corrected.
No civilization would have survived this. Pirates would avoid the planet. Explorers would cartograph the planet as a no-go zone and leave immediately. Missionaries would flee. Only marooners would be forced to deal with the wastes.
There he saw it on the horizon. The massive skeleton of a metal mountain that dwarfed most space vessels, apart from his own. He could house it inside one of the hangers, filling it completely. With QSD, that would have been a waste. The uplink feed from dozens of mounted cameras filled his head; the temple, the mountain of steel, and the wastelands.
“Drop us off at the skeleton, I wish to see for myself.” The Cardinal ordered.
The vessel raced across the empty wastes, dropping off near the massive skeleton leg of the alien land vessel. Knights and vessels filed out, armed and ready for combat. Red light formed outside of the ship, deploying the support and scout Anforms. The Anform spheres flew out, and swarmed around the structure, surveying and documenting. The massive vessel looked like the ancient remnants of a beached whale.
A whale the size of a mountain.
The Cardinal didn’t feel the need to step out, he let the scouts report to him what it was. He sat there for over an hour, viewing the vessels stripped out the internals. He sighed with disappointment. The tech on this looked too alien for him to recognize. The structure looked advanced and could be broken down for other discoveries; if it was whole.
He saw enough of the stripped out the skeleton and decided to see the temple. The mental command was issued and the dropship flew off towards the newly discovered temple.
“There was no damage on that vessel. It was scuttled for sure, via QSD as welding marks were absent. Who was victorious? Begin storing that vessel.” The Cardinal mused before ordering. His mind was updated with readouts of Anforms storing the rest of the vessel.
He made his way ponderously to the exit ramp, the clicking of his ornate cane adding to the thrum of the ship. The ship dropped down, where the Cardinal met with Commander Lissar and a squad of knights. Lissar was clothed in a black flowing armored trenchcoat, with a cybernetic collar that went to his nose.
“Lord Cardinal.” Commander Lissar hailed with a salute and a bow.
“Commander Lissar, show me.” The Cardinal stated curtly with a nod. His blank white beaked mask was impassive of emotion.
“The fight reached it’s height here,” Lissar explained as they passed several Anforms collecting samples and scanning the ash scorched marble.
“The ceiling and walls are also scorched, meaning it became aerial. The fighting began in the downward corridor. My theory is the group, the Angel, human, and dog were ambushed by demons…” Lissar kept going, but the Cardinal walked over to a bare floor. There was a glimmer, barely perceptible. Lissar stopped to see what the Cardinal found.
He bent over and picked up a black ash crusted item and turned it in his gloved fingers. The ash was gently brushed off, revealing the tip of a steel finger. There was still the cabling muscle attached, implying it was torn off.
“And an Anform. I recognize this model. It is an old Excertius power armor model.” The Cardinal spoke softly as he turned to Lissar.
“And you said Angel, singular?” The Cardinal queried, looking to Lissar as he stored the finger in black light to his QSD.
“Yes, Grand Cardinal. The blood samples match a single Angel. About the demon ash. The crystal and gas are all from a single demon.” Lissar stated plainly. The Cardinal looked down at the ash, at the ceiling before speaking.
“Chances of victory for the angel’s group was small to none. Where are the bodies?” The Cardinal asked.
“None. There were no signs of defeat for either side.” Lissar explained.
“Keep your wits about you, commander. One group might have remained.” The Cardinal replied.
They had made their down the center corridor to the lavatory. The Anforms parted as the Cardinal entered the room, seeing the damage and signs of pulse fire shattering against the strangely impenetrable marble. He looked at one of the rations. There was branding to one side.
Super Nutrient Dense Emergency Rations
Surf and Turf
Made ONLY by Primetech™
“Fascinating. This is fresh. What was the dating?” The Cardinal stated.
“We dated it from within six months.” An Anform stated.
“How..?” The Cardinal was genuinely surprised.
“Unknown. There are no signs Primetech factories so far.” The Anform responded.
The Cardinal went deep into thought, his mind going into overtime at the possibilities.
“Who were they? What happened here? What demon was powerful enough to have produced so much ash? Did it escape the planet? Was it defeated? Was this ash the remnants? How are there new rations from a bygone era?”
He needed to capture that ship to discover the true purpose.
“Grand Cardinal, we’ve discovered a major anomaly; HUD updated.” An Anform reported.
The Cardinal could suddenly see a transparent golden path which he followed. He was led to the left corridor inside the temple. After being led down a winding labyrinth, which fascinated him, he made it to the exit inside a large empty shrine. Sphere Anforms were floating around the far end of the shrine. The Cardinal noticed the shrine was empty, ash dust had settled on the empty pedestal. He slowly made his way to the corner and looked up. There was a chrome silver blade peeking from the corner, the marble was shuddering and wobbling, like it was phantasmal. It now dawned on the Cardinal, this marble wasn’t just unscathed, but time locked. The Watchers of old were geniuses of such spells. He touched the marble and felt it like a blanket, it was so subtle he would have never noticed until now.
“Dispel.” The Cardinal ordered, his power released into the marble. He saw a transparent sheet being dispersed around the room, flowing out of the shrine, like the popping of a bubble. It sounded like the tinkling of thousands of glass shards.
He broke the ageless time lock on the marble temple.
“Retrieve it,” The Cardinal ordered.
The Sphere Anforms sprouted drills to dig around the silver blade. They worked quickly, the room filling with Marble dust and shards. The Cardinal saw that it was the blade of a winged spear. He gasped audibly. The blade tip was a chrome silver and the shaft a reddish-orange metal with harlequin engraved designs.
“Orichalcum…” He murmured with reverence. It was one of the most precious metals known. God’s metal. Adonai himself made such artifacts and only several individuals could craft or even work with the metal. As the Anforms completed their work, they gently grasped the spear shaft and pulled it free. The spear was massive, at ten feet long. The butt of the spear was adorned with a ring that held another item. An Orichalcum lantern. He had just found several planets worth of wealth.
He didn’t just find one Orhicalcum Throne artifact, but two. He stored his cane in black light and picked up the spear gingerly, it felt lighter than it should have been. It must have weighed five to ten pounds. It should have weighed a hundred or more. He leaned on it, feeling it unwieldy due to the size. He would need to save this for someone else. Or return it to it’s owner. For now, it would stay comfortable in his collection. The lantern he could find a use for. He would need to speak to the artifacts later to discover who owned it; they were sentient after all. He unhooked the lantern and ponderously made his out of the shrine, out of the labyrinth and to the main entrance. Everyone stopped and looked at what the Cardinal held and was silent. What he held had no value in that nothing of value could have been used to buy such a thing. A Throne. Not only that but there was two of them.
“Grand Cardinal, how?” Lissar asked, baffled by what he was seeing.
“The angel. This must have been the angel’s armaments. They were not part of the fight here, so they must have been lost some time ago. I shall return to the ship, keep up your investigations.” The Cardinal stated, his emotions were hidden by his mask and imposing presence.
He summoned several Anform servants, they wore black robes and had a single orange eye. They knew instantly what to do and gently carried the Throne like a plank on their shoulders. The Cardinal rematerialized his cane in black pixelated light. He limped his way to the dropship, with the Anform servants staying in the hangar vessel’s bay. As he finally reached the cockpit he sat.
For a time he was motionless, the only sound was the clenching his gloved fist. Then he made a mental uplink, opening up communication. The view screen sat for a time, telling him it was pending.
The face that eventually made it on was that of an ancient man. He was rail thin, clothed in white with gold. He wore a red Camauro, a soft hat lined with white trim. His saggy eyelids and bushy eyebrows gave everyone the impression he was fast asleep. He had a bulbous nose and a simple trimmed beard from his chin to his ears. He spoke in a slow wispy voice.
“Pryon Dethos, Adonai’s blessing, and Christ’s return, what honor do I have speaking with you this day?”
“Adonai’s blessing and Christ’s return, Holy Father. The planet I investigated, Karmmrak was highly infested with signs demonic activity; the planet itself was covered in demonic gas, ash, and crystal. The entire planet was compromised.”
What stood before the Cardinal was none other than Pope Urban, the spiritual father to mankind. The man who held humanity itself together. The weight of the entire existence of the human race weighed on him. And it showed.
The Pope went silent at that and listened. He leaned back in his golden chair, steepling his hands.
“The planet itself was empty. There were signs of fighting, with traces found of a human in his mid-twenties, Excertius, a dog, and an unknown angel. A vessel was traced using FTL to leave the system, however, the tracks are months old. There are an estimated seventeen planets theorized that are within reach of this vessel. I suspect the demon defeated and captured these individuals and is fleeing to more dense game.”
“That is troubling. But it sounds like you have more?” The Pope cocked his head, revealing the briefest smile.
“Yes, we discovered an ancient Temple of Christ. And two Thrones. Made of Orichalcum.”
The Pope opened his eyes went wide at that, they had a milky substance over the irises. Pyron continued.
“It was a spear of massive length and a lantern. What shall be done with these artifacts?”
The Pope went back to his sagely position, thinking over the details. Fifteen minutes of silence went by before he responded.
“You have no official retinue yet?” The Pope finally asked.
“None, but the search continues. I have found one promising girl, but she was not mature enough to join. This was months ago.” Pyron explained, slowing down on the last part.
The Pope let out a chuckling laugh at that.
“Ah, being turned down again this time. Did you ask nicely?” The Pope humorously jumped to conclusions, thinking she had turned him down. He let out a gentle laugh.
Pyron responded by clenching his gloved hand. As if sensing his emotions, the Pope continued.
“Don’t be that way. I can feel it. You will find a retinue worthy of Adonai. Maybe this girl will come around. I do not feel Adonai one way or the other on this, so hold on to them until you are convicted to find an owner.” The Pope encouraged.
“Now about this boy, his comrades and this demon. There were no bodies found? No depleted souls discovered?”
“Then there are two possibilities. The boy and his group were victorious and the ash is the remnants; they fled the system. The second is that the demon possessed the boy and threatened the rest if they did not submit; they all fled the system with the demon in control. I would say option two is most likely. You will now need to quarantine each of these planets before the demon can find a hold and vanish.” The Pope explained calmly.
“I too have deduced that. I have the entirety of the fleet beginning their route to these planets. We will capture this vessel, the boy, the dog, the angel, and the demon. We will judge them if there are any signs of collaboration. We will free them if they are held against their will.”
“One last thing, we found a vessel of massive magnitude. It resembled a metal skeleton structure the size of a mountain. It was scuttled, so I am unsure who or what made it.”
“Fascinating, it is possibly lost ancient tech. Please store any and all that you find for study.” The Pope nodded his head in thought. He sat there for a minute before speaking again.
“Pyron, gather the technology. Capture all involved. Use your judgment on the correct method if they resist. No demonic activity makes it to church space.” The Pope ordered.
“As you ordered, so it is anointed, Holy father,” Pyron responded, bowing his head as the video feed was cut.
He flexed his gloved hand at the idea of being given full control of the crusade.
They would begin preparations to find this boy and eliminate any demonic activity.
Gideon and his group had no idea who was pursuing them.
And this ends the Karmmrak Arc.
End of book one
You may now read the Book of Soltana, the story of an ancient automata trapped deep under the earth. Rescued from her prison by a strange creature, she begins to unravel the mystery of her own creation. Soltana journeys to remember who she was as she begins to explore a strange world, deep under the earth of an unknown planet.
You may now read the Book of Tettra, the story of a young woman with a passion for archaeology and a habit of being visited by strange dreams. Along with her journey, she unwittingly uncovers a larger conspiracy that threatens to send her world into chaos. While catching the eye of a certain Cardinal, Tettra’s dreams begin to come together, the One who sent them is calling to her.
And there you have it. The end of the book. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.
What does that mean for the future?
I have several books planned, with the Book of Soltana underway as we speak, as well as The Book of Tettra.
Writing multiple books at once? That’s crazy!
Yes. Madman. It’s in the description.
The intent was to make it a “choose your own novel series”, in which you read the first book, then you can read either the second book or third book in either order before going to the fourth book, which continues Gideon’s trek and his eventual meetup with the others. Whichever order you read it in will color your view of the next book, giving you different perspectives.
I’ll begin with small previews, continued epilogues of Gideon and his crew, author’s notes, and more as we near the release. For now, a small break from the nonstop writing and also because I have recently obtained a new job; good timing.
I can assure you all, this is not a fad I can get tired of. It has been life changing writing books and I intend to keep going.
I have almost a dozen planned.
Good day, and thank you for reading.