Exodus

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Exodus

Tips: 0.75 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Mon May 27, 2019 11:08 pm

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Exodus


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For your viewing and listening pleasure:
Ozymandias
Black Star
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Two chairs sit at the cliff edge of a mountain, illuminated in a light orange by a setting sun on the right, and bordered by the darkness of encroaching black clouds on the left. In the chair on the right sits a figure, a male with dark brown hair, wearing a black suit. He sits still, stoically facing the panorama laid out beyond the cliff.

The chair on the left sits empty.

A crunching sound of shifting gravel approaches from the path behind the seated man, leading up to the cliff. A man approaches from the trail behind. His hair is a lighter brown, and he is adorned in a medium grey wool suit, silver grey silk tie, and brown leather shoes, slightly off colored by the dry dust rising off the path. A glowing cigarette lazily hangs between his right index and middle fingers.

He takes a drag of smoke. His eyes dance with some secret knowledge and emotions kept subdued. What his body and posture hide so well, his eyes violently shriek to reveal.

The man places his hands on the top rail of the left chair. He gazes out at the vista before himself, and the figure in black. A slight and pleased smile decorates the face of the man in grey.

The man in grey continues to watch for a moment, taking another breath of smoke into his lungs, before coming around to the front of the chair and seating himself. His gaze continues out to the lands laid out before them.

And then the man in grey speaks.

"I met a traveller from an antique land who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert..." The man pauses and smiles a moment, his thoughts lost in nostalgia. He lingers in it for a moment, before bringing himself back to the present.

"Near them, on the sand, half sunk, a shattered visage lies..." The grey man looks over to the figure in black for a moment, taking another breath of smoke and slowly releasing it, his gaze not breaking from the figure in black.

"Whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, tell that its sculptor well those passions read which yet survive." The man in grey paused again, looked away from the figure in black, back to the vista once more. As he watched it once more, his face contorted, his lips peeling down, his teeth gritted, his eyes narrowing.

Another memory returned to the man in grey.

One which disgusted him.

"Stamped on these lifeless things, the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed." His voice trailed off, the man in grey... He flicked his cigarette to the side, and clasped his hands together for a moment.

The sneer on the grey man's face faded. His eyes became alight, the red veins that interwove over their surfaces appeared almost to pulse as something within came to life.

He began to rise from his seat, gaze fixed before him, the man in grey. "And on the pedestal these words appear..."

Now standing erect, all the world around him disappeared from his vision. All except for that which was before him.

His breath was deep, sharp. His lips peeled back, teeth bared, eyes fiery red. The man in grey now decorated his face with a wide, white grin. From ear to ear he wore his smile, and with that and his eyes, they revealed the hidden story, the secret knowledge, the unspoken emotions.

Total insanity and absolute, unfiltered hatred.

"'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings!'"
He cried out as he rose his hands before him.
"'Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'"

Before him laid a shattered city, made of sharp, broken towers of steel and glass, charred black with specks of orange and red glittering across the husks of their bodies.

The landscape was a mosaic of every ugly shade and color imaginable.

Ropes and strings of strange red, brown, and orange colored material hung across and between the shattered towers, broken buildings, even the landscape. Interwoven in the chaos were strange veins that crept across the land, pulsating as some strange matter passed through them.

Great metal spears, now broken and pathetic, faced towards the sky. Their purpose, to thrust humanity upward and onward to new lands, to new horizons, would never be realized, never be remembered.


The grin did not leave the man in grey's face.

"Nothing beside remains." He whispered to the figure in black. "Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away."

The faint sound of thunder could be heard rumbling in the distance, the black clouds to their left gently illuminated by lightning hidden within, while smoke slowly rose from the ruined city, and black, fetid water lapped at the shores of the dead city.

The man in grey took a seat once more, gazing out once more at what laid before him and the figure in black. "Ozymandias is a cautionary tale about hubris. But hubris is just a feeling... An emotion... A state of mind..." He turned once more to face the figure in black, not taking his eyes off his companion.

Silence. He received no response from the figure in black. The figure in black had no response to give. He had no eyes to see. No nose to smell. No ears to hear. No lips to speak. The figure in black bore a jagged grin on his charred face, with it's seams of raw tissue, and white protrusions of bone.

The man in grey turned back to face the scene before them one last time, smile still etched on his face, eyes still reddened by fury and madness. He stood once more, and walked back down the trail from which he came.

As the man in grey made his way further and further down the trail, he passed an assortment of dioramas laid out around him.

Broken and useless fences.

Charred bodies, corpses, husks of burnt tissue and bone.

Men and women in suits of multicolored green, some clad in Kevlar armor, others in steel, laid still. They too were little more than dried up shells of once living beings.

Great steel beasts sat empty, shattered and useless. Tanks, armored personnel carriers, even a few aircraft.

Signs too he passed, some on fences, others anchored to the ground. 'Evacuation', one would say. 'Queue Protocol' was written on another. And yet another was emblazoned with the words 'Launch Site'.

The man in grey passed all of this, and more piles of humans made hollow. The skies above him were covered by clouds both grey and black, letting in only the faintest amount of light. The orange light from the vista at the cliff cast his shadow in front of him, surrounded by that orange sunset light. The light slowly faded as he continued, becoming greyer and greyer as he went. The plains and fields before him had small bunchs of green grass, moss, and lichen, surrounded by more grey that would continue to encroach on them.

The man in grey paused again, a metal sign sat depressed to the left of him, but the trail continued further onward before him.

"Ozymandias built those works and wonders... But who made the ruins?" The man in grey queried, to no one but himself. His dark, knowing smile remained as he produced another cigarette and lit it, taking another slow drag. He continued forward, passing that one final sign. Upon it, a single word in bold lettering was written:

'Exodus'

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Lord Saethos
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Re: Exodus

Tips: 0.25 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:53 am

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Hebron


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This piece is now completed. Part of a story I had created and considered turning into a roleplay, but didn't feel I would have the time for it. I hope you enjoy the now complete version. Work will start soon on my next piece for this "anthology".

For your listening pleasure:
The Door
Black Ocean
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Sometimes the tales of destruction and death aren't about folly. No hubris. No Promethean feats. No forbidden acts. Sometimes destruction simply comes for you, and whether or not you invited it upon yourself, regardless of whether you deserve it, you cannot stop it.

There is a cold, biting Northern breeze battering the stone walls of King Richard's castle. Outside, a thin layer of frost clings, trying in vain to settle into the solid rocks. Inside, the King of New Britannia sits slumped in a chair within his study. He stares blankly into the crackling fire before him, the life seemingly drained from him, save for his right hand, which was gripped on the hilt of his sword with all the force of a vice.

Destruction can come at any time, and without warning. 1000 years ago, destruction came for the kingdoms of man. The Devil must have grown tired of man's place in existence, and so sent his hell beasts, his demons, to extinguish all traces of humanity.

Humanity fought back, and fought hard. Their swords, arrows, and armor were not enough to save their world, never mind many of their kingdoms. But, a semblance of humanity managed to hold on, long enough to retreat to mountains, wastelands, and other places the demons had yet to go. Humanity has held on since then, struggling to rebuild, but refusing to die, as if stuck in limbo.

There came a firm knock at the door to the study, Richard finally pried his eyes away from the fire. "You may enter." He spoke quietly.

The door opened and a young scout entered, giving a slight bow of his head before stepping towards a table at the center of the room. Maps, scrolls, and various other written materials cluttered the table. The scout produced a piece of paper from within his leather armor, placing it on the other side of the table, closer to the king.

Richard finally stood, slowly making his way towards the table, and the new paper now lying upon it. His eyes turned down and took in the contents of what was written on it. "It looks like the other kingdoms have heard the same rumors we have." Richard spoke. "All their scouts are indicating the same then?"

The scout nodded. "And our scouts witnessed it first hand. The demons are moving northward. We're not sure when this occurred, but it seems a larger wave of them arrived on the continent recently. Rumor has it there may be small Kingdoms far to the south we haven't yet encountered, so some of the demon forces may split. But..."

"But we shouldn't rely on wishful thinking." Richard finished. "Which would explain Nieu Angilund's proposal." He rubbed his hand against his jaw as he considered the factors at play. "So they want to call a summit at Hebron? The fortress?"

The scout nodded again, more hesitantly now. "Yes sir. They're inviting all the kingdoms. Reiksland, Francia, even Gaelia and some places to the South and West. Which brings me to another piece of information..."

The King looked up to the scout again, a look of slight confusion becoming clear. "Alright, what is this information?"

Shifting uncomfortably for a moment, the scout finally spoke again. "We encountered another scout, claiming to be from a completely different kingdom we've never even heard of."

"This is... Interesting." Richard replied. "Perhaps we aren't as alone in the world as we thought? Where did this scout claim to be from?"

"Tuk... Tuk something, I'm sorry your highness but the pronunciation, the name itself, was very odd. But he claims they're from the far North, possibly North West. He claims they are so far beyond us that they reach a sea, one we've never encountered in our maps."

The king was pleased, but also anxious. New people could mean new allies, or new enemies, and for the moment they had no way of understanding how weak or strong the 'Tuk' were.

"But there's more sir." The scout continued. "The Tuk scout claims that several months ago, a strange, dying man stumbled into their city. He claimed... Sir, he claimed to have knowledge of a weapon that could not only destroy the demons, but possibly all of Hell itself. I think the scout called it 'Retribution'."

The King stood in silence for a moment. Not a sound could be heard in the room for a moment, save for the crackling of the fire. Richard smirked. "Is that so? Perhaps they've found a flaming sword? A magical bow? A rod powered by the sun? Ridiculous. I'm sorry boy, but when people come offering miracle weapons, I'm inclined to believe the only thing that exists is their ambition to pillage people that are desperate for hope."

The scout nodded, shifting uncomfortably once more while staring downwards. "Be that as it may your highness... They will be attending the Hebron as well. Their leader, and possibly the leaders from other distant lands, intend to sit with all of us... A summit of mankind, to form an alliance to defeat the demons. Once and for all."

Richard was genuinely stunned. He knew this could be a trap, some bitter attempt by some upstarts to claim more useless tundra for their kingdom, but there was something Richard couldn't shake off. For the first time in a long time, a dangerous feeling welled up inside him.

Hope.

"Gather the generals, my advisors, and the messengers. I want a portion of the fleet prepared to take some men and horses with me to Hebron. We leave immediately."

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The air was heavy with the wetness of melting frost, and the smell of moss, lichen and tundra flowers. Such a barren and inhospitable place, where rock jutted out of the ground as frequently as vegetation did, could still host some form of beauty, strange as it may be.

Several weeks prior, Richard and a contingent of his army left for Hebron, as did the other kings, queens, and other leaders of humanity's remnants. The trek was a cautious one, though the tundra lands could be quite level in many places, they were also unsteady at times to tread, particularly on horseback. And these lands were vast, expansive, a long journey to trek, horses or not.

Soft thudding, the sound of hooves treading the firm, yet moist ground was heard as Richard's army approached Hebron. Around them, thousands of tents and campfires had been erected, with thousands more men and women inhabiting them. There were archers firing arrows at targets, pike-men impaling straw bodies, and knights clashing swords with one another.

Women (those who wouldn't fight) and children sat watching the warriors train and fight. In another world, these women and children might be cheering as they watched, electrified by the displays of might and skill. But these onlookers stared ahead blankly, their faces gaunt and nigh emotionless. They weren't seeking entertainment. They were seeking a cold comfort that the men and women before them could stand a chance at protecting humanity.

The New Britannian army began to set up camp as well, an anxious feeling practically clung to the air. Everyone, New Britannian or not, was leery of the opposing armies, uncomfortable to be sharing such close proximity to people that may try to kill them. Richard rode past the camps, making his way into Hebron proper. Stone and wood houses, tiny shops, and bits of farm surrounded him as he entered the city. The shoreline became visible now, giving a clear view of several small islands that sat close to the city, and the cold ocean beyond them. A castle sat above one of the hills that surrounded the center of the town.

Richard made his way Northward, away from the town, and the castle. He reached a part of the shoreline where he could see more easily past the islands, into the ford, where the Hebron Fortress sat. Richard smiled slightly, but also seemed off put. "It's been a long time since I last saw that. Still looks as unnatural as ever."

The fort sat in the middle of the ocean, completely surrounded by water. It's shape was bizarre to the people, a metal box type structure sat upon a single, thick pillar made of a stony substance made from crushed rock. The structure continued deep into the ocean, into a base that is now used as a sort of keep that the Nieu Angilunders believe could be totally impervious to invasion by demons. The question is, how long could any human last within.

After a few moments to marvel at the strange structure, Richard began to make his way back to his men. Later in the day, they would use long boats to reach the fort for the summit. But before going much further, Richard took one last moment to marvel at the markings left over on parts of the Hebron Fortress.

It was difficult to see from a distance, but on the side of the metal box, there was a symbol. It was a white box, with a red rectangle on it's right side, and one on it's left. Emblazoned upon the white box was another symbol, a little worn from time, but it appeared to be the shape of a red leaf. A maple leaf perhaps. Next to it, in Latin script, was written the name: Hebron.

A strange fate for this structure. At one time it was said this fort was used to obtain 'black gold' from the oceans, something more commonly known as oil, but not an oil any of these humans had seen in their lives. Strange tales exist about these structures, but it's just one more relic from a world destroyed, and now forgotten, over a thousand years ago.

Hebron
Last edited by Lord Saethos on Sun Jul 28, 2019 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Exodus

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:01 pm

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Heir


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For your listening pleasure:
We're Finally Landing
A New America
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Sometimes Evil doesn't have a justification. Sometimes it isn't for the greater good. Or for a sick, twisted enjoyment. Or a warped ideology. Sometimes it is done because the one carrying it out is entitled to, because it is a birthright.


In 2152, Kansas City is a much different place than it's unimposing, rural American name might suggest. Tall buildings stretch up to the sky, and at one point would have been absolutely gleaming. Most of these buildings aren't made from steel, or glass for that matter. Instead, they were formed from beautiful, radiant white stone, the trademark designs of Mormon architecture having been implemented in almost everything imaginable. Temples, skyscrapers, shopping malls. The refugee Mormons that fled from the fundamentalist resurgence in Utah thought Kansas City could be a place to start again, and indeed it had been. Their millions left the physical mark of these structures on the city, but life for many had started to improve with an influx of new jobs.

But, in both life and nature, it can be impossible to avoid stains. Industry exploded in the city, and with it a horrifying, thick, black smoke that encompassed every inch of the city. The once white buildings were now a hodgepodge of stains; off-color whites, greys, browns, and blacks. The air itself was so black that the sun, on the best of days, could shine through the blackness like the moon on a clear night. What little light it could give off was usually an orange, red, or brown hue, lightly dispersed in a small circular shape in the smog, a depressing reminder of the conditions of the once beautiful city.

Kansas City was a reminder of what America once was, and now is, a bitter irony for the city that so shortly served as the Capital of the Kingdom of America. But chaos often begets more chaos. When a madman is capable of superseding an entire governmental system, and crowning himself king, then anything could appear possible for those with ambition.

So America, both as a Republic and a Kingdom, had been torn apart. Infighting and civil was had led to the establishment of many new nations, including the Theocracy of Deseret, or what some call the Holy Kingdom of Deseret.

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There is a heavy thud as an armor clad soldier of Deseret collapses to the ground, his purple armor cracked, broken, and singed. The face plate of his helmet, a silver, stern looking face of a man that resembled the masked helmets of the Roman Imperial Army, was cracked and no longer offering its wearer the protection he so desperately needed. His place on the ground offered no comfort, no rest from pain, as he laid across stone steps that surrounded a mighty statue. He clutched his chest plate, trying to keep his breathing steady as his blood pooled out through the holes and gouges in his power armor, his hearing hazy, only picking up on the distant sounds of explosions and gunfire as Kansas City was reclaimed.

And then a blackness began to surround the Holy Knight, but not the blackness of the city's smog or smoke. It was a glittering, shiny blackness, the coating of his enemy's own power armor. Before long, he was surrounded by a group of perhaps twenty men, their black armor and skull-like helmets imposing and intimidating. None held a weapon up to him, no rifle or pistol or sword. He wasn't a threat, and truthfully neither was Deseret itself. After all, these soldiers represented the true order of this land, the rightful authority, governance of the lands called America.

The light sound of footsteps were heard as the Holy Knight's hearing began to return more, and before him a figure approached. He was dressed in a long black trench coat and suit, with a white dress shirt and black tie beneath. He wore black sunglasses, and had short, well kept, and truthfully beautiful blonde hair. The man finally stood before the Holy Knight, only a few mere inches away from the purple armored boots. He took off his sunglasses, placed them in a pocket in his coat, and knelt down in front of the Holy Knight, looking him directly in the eyes.

"You've stolen from me." He said with a face totally devoid of any emotion, any feeling at all. The blonde man was quite handsome, but that lack of emotion that seemed so core to his being... It made him almost terrifying to behold. "Kansas City... Once a very important citadel for the Kingdom of America before it crumbled. And here you lay on these hallowed grounds, presumptuous enough to believe you have any kind of claim."

The Holy Knight coughed, a light spattering of blood beginning to coat the inside of his helmet. "You... Have no legitimacy... You're nothing more than... A Pagan... A usurper... We stand for God, and y-... You stand only... For yourselves..."

The blonde man's face remained neutral. "You are entirely correct. And I stand for myself, and for my family, because we earned this right to rule. We didn't get it passed to us by a fickle population. We didn't acquire it by using religion like it were a tool. We took this country by force of our own will. We earned it. It rightfully belongs to us. And it always will."

A small thud was heard as the Holy Knight's head fell back against the steps, his life force nearly drained. "I'd say you disgrace this statue you lie at the feet of, but then perhaps it's fitting that you die before my father, the true King of America." The blonde man spoke.

The Holy Knight was merely gasping now. "There... Will always be those who... Stand against you... You're all... Psychotic..."

Standing up once more, the blonde man gazed down as the Holy Knight's breathing rattled, the last bits of life fleeing from him. "No. I'm King Victor Bentley, Sovereign to the Kingdom of America, the Rightful Ruler of all who inhabit this land, and any land I decide is ours. And you? You're just another traitor."

And then there was silence once more. No more debate. No more discussion. One stood while another fell. Victor Bentley turned to the soldiers who stood with him. "It is fitting that we come to this spot today. To stand in my father's presence on the day we reclaim what is rightfully ours. Bring honor back to America; finish off these traitors, and let us begin the long journey of returning this land to glory."

As the army marched off to deal the finishing blows to Deseret, Victor took one last look up at the statue of his father. No smile, no sign of fondness, or emotion at all. Victor was quite different from his father, in many ways, but... Just as brutal and cold nonetheless.

He turned away and left with is guards, ready to prepare himself for the next steps in the reclamation of the Kingdom of America.

The grey statue of America's First King stood mightily, and strangely untouched, by time or war. On the base, above the corpse of the Holy Knight, was a plaque;

Adam Bentley
The True and Rightful King of America


The statue itself portrayed a man who was dressed somewhat strangely for a king. Rather than a crown, or flowing regalia, his outfit was a relatively simple one. Though the statue couldn't quite convey it without color, the king's attire would have been a medium grey wool suit, silver grey silk tie, and brown leather shoes...


Heir

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Lord Saethos
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Re: Exodus

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lord Saethos on Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:47 pm

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Abyss


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Work In Progress

For your listening pleasure:
Project Locus Arcadia

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"Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein."

And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.
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Kamchatka, Russia - 1995

A strong, cold wind assailed the frozen, desolate wastes of a far east Russian state, carried over the land from the bitter Bering and Okhotsk seas. Snow was beginning to cover the ground, and eerily outlined the nearby shapes of both dormant and active volcanoes. The black soil and sparse bits of grass and lichen only served to give the land a more corpse like appearance.

Beneath the soil however, a mighty fortress of old Soviet steel and concrete hummed with energy, both mechanical and human. Ex-Soviet scientists, engineers, workers, and military elites worked busily on a project that seemed almost beyond the understanding of some of those present. Some oligarchs and politicians made their way through here too, but only those who had committed their vision, their ambitions, to the restoration of Russian glory.

For some, it was hard to have that goal truly in sight. The oppressive concrete walls, stained with bits of rust, and held up by blackened steel beams, almost all the glass windows that appeared inside were held together by internal wire meshes. Altogether, a depressing and oppressive environment.

A stark contrast to the work that occupied them.

The sound of clacking keys could be heard as a middle aged scientist worked away at a brand new computer operating on Windows 95 system. A great deal of American technology was brought in (or replicated) for this project, even for things as simple as calculations or writing up reports. This fact stung for many of the Russians working here, but it was considered a necessity to achieve their goals.

Yuri paused from his typing long enough to rub his eyes and take a sip of coffee. He'd worked at least 10 hours he was sure, but at this point he couldn't remember. No sense in complaining though, they were close to finished with the project, so everyone was working around the clock to make sure it all went off without a hitch.

"Hey Yuri, you feel ready to have this piece of American crap blow up in your face?" The question came from a fellow workmate, Petya, who grinned from ear to ear. He sat at a desk across from Yuri, both finishing off their parts of work on the project.

"Petya, you really need to learn to shut up. The KGB might not come to shoot you now, but I sure will. And you're expendable enough that I'm sure you won't be missed." Yuri responded sardonically.

Petya raised his hands. "Calm down space cowboy, no need to get so mad!"

"Once I'm in space, and far away from you, I can promise you I won't be mad anymore." Yuri smirked. "And besides, isn't the guy behind all this a Croat or something? That's the rumors I was hearing."

"American, Croat, same difference; it's not properly Russian made." Petya said with a shrug.

Yuri shook his head and went back to typing. "Well, we are the ones making it Petya. The American-Croat might have been the one to design it, but I frankly don't care. The pay on this is good, the glory even better, and if this thing works like it's supposed to, I'll come out alive. Which is best."

Petya grinned as he raised a cup to Yuri. "Well you'd better come back alive Comrade Yuri, Earth would be a lot less fun without you."

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Yuri stood staring through a glass window that peered into a large, concrete, cylindrical room with a large, Russian Space Shuttle at the center of it. Around it were various cranes and lifts that allowed workers to do final checks on it. Additionally, there was a platform on the ground to one side, meant to hoist up cargo to be placed in the shuttle. And the cargo that sat upon it was a large, black, spherical object of some kind. The thing was heavy, several tons Yuri knew, but it wasn't much more than six feet tall when you included the base it sat on.

There was a tap on Yuri's shoulder, and he turned to see Petya grinning at him. "They're ready for you space cowboy. Time to get to space."

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Weightless. That was how everything felt. The shuttle had made it into space without any complications, and Yuri could feel for the first time what it was like to truly be without gravity. Smiles and cheers filled the crew's cockpit as congratulations were made all around. Now their real mission could begin.

The rocket slowly pushed it's way out of Earth's orbit as it directed itself to a point a short distance away from the Moon. Hours passed as the crew adjusted the ship's direction so as to properly dock when they reached their destination. This would be the first time Yuri and most of the crew would see the 'destination' they were embarking towards, many parts of the project had been kept classified between departments, seemingly to avoid letting this discovery make it into the hands of other interested parties (namely America).

After a long while of waiting, the destination began to become clearer to the crew of the shuttle. Almost hidden by the darkness of space around them, there sat a large, black, monolithic ship. Getting closer, they could make things out in greater detail. It was very clearly designed for some kind of space travel, but the design of this vessel seemed odd. It was all black, and had strange ridges along its body on the outside. It gave it an incredibly menacing look, and truthfully didn't seem to serve much purpose from what the crew could tell.

And there was the color. Why all black? And what material had been used for the vessel? It seemed thick, heavy, almost like industrial steel or something. There was Russian name written along the side in white: Vorota. Gate. The crew felt uneasy, but it was all part of the plan. They docked the shuttle with the Vorota, and moved their cargo inside.

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The crew had begun to settle into the Vorota, with a few staying behind in the shuttle to ensure it made it back to Earth. Onboard the Vorota was already a small crew that had been finishing it's construction and preparations as well. It was determined a ship like this would be too difficult to launch from Earth, so they had it constructed in space instead. Yuri watched as engineers put the strange, spherical cargo into what was essentially the 'engine room' of the ship. Once installed, they began running checks and diagnostics to ensure everything was working correctly, and Yuri left to take a final look out the windows towards Earth.

He felt a wave of melancholy pass over him, a sense of feeling homesick. Not only was he away from his home, his homeland even, but he was now completely separated from the very Earth itself. And soon, he and the rest of the crew would be further from the Earth than any other human before them.

The titanic ship hummed as it began to come to life, and slowly but surely it pushed itself away from its orbit near the moon, like a child learning how to swim for the first time. It crawled along its path, arching itself in a route around to the other side of the moon. For all intents and purposes, the Russians wanted to keep everything that was to occur as secret as possible, meaning they wanted to ensure no prying eyes on Earth, or in the satellites surrounding it, could catch a glimpse of their project.

Hours would pass, the crew would keep themselves busy with checking and double checking the strange mechanical structures of the ship, or making small talk, whatever they could do to ease their unease and nervousness. Yuri remained quiet. If he could simply walk, he would be pacing across every inch of the ship, something that helped him take his mind off stress, and give himself the chance to get a little more clarity. If all went well though, he just might have that chance.

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The ship began to slow to a halt as it hovered in the darkness of the Moon's unseen side, the only light outside the ship now being the stars, planets, and other celestial bodies flung far away from themselves. An uncomfortable silence hung in the ship as its crew members stared at the sphere in the engine room. The engineers worked slowly, carefully, as they began to turn the black device on.

As the sphere began to slowly turn and rotate, the tension rose, every last man and woman being frozen in place as they waited for either resounding success, or certain death. It began to move in a greater amount of circular motions, in increasing speed, and as it did so a comforting feeling began to return to the crew. It was a tug, a physical pulling sensation. Their bodies were being pulled towards the 'floor' of the Vorota. An audible sigh could be heard as the crew began to clap and applaud.

Yuri allowed himself a small smile of relief as he turned to everyone else. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Russian Federation has just achieved artificial gravity in space!" He shouted as the crew went into a fervor of cheering and excitement.

One of the female crew members spoke up after. "And soon faster than light travel!" She cheered in excitement.

"The space race has been won by the Russian People!" Another man called out to greater cheers from the crew.

The smile remained on Yuri's face as he allowed himself to enjoy the moment. It was hard not to imagine what the strange American-Croat might be doing back on Earth right now though. So far he had come through on one promise, so Yuri had no doubt he'd come through on the second. But what was the man going to gain from all this? The Federation wasn't exactly known for having money right now, so if he wasn't after money, what could it be?

His thoughts were cut short as the crew prepared for the next, and most important, stage of their mission. The sphere was turning at an incredible rate now, a strange glow emanating off of it that somehow managed to appear both white and black all at the same time. Seeing a 'black glow' was almost impossible to describe, but even seeing it was nearly impossible to comprehend. The engineers called out a count down, five seconds to go.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

A blackness erupted from the sphere. Every bit of light completely disappeared from around the crew. They could see nothing. Not the ship. Not themselves. Not even the backs of their eyelids. It was as if all existence had disappeared for a moment.

______________________________________________________________________________________


Moments later, the crew was hit by a jarring eruption of light as the world around them returned to view. A small moment of confusion was permitted as they all looked back to the black sphere. It turned much more slowly now, the glow was gone, as was the blackness that had blinded them all before.

Crew members quickly ran to the view ports on the sides of the ship to look out at their surroundings. "The moon is gone! We did it! We actually did it!" The one woman had called out.

Yuri went to look out the windows and smiled in a way he hadn't since he was a child. "We- Russia has made it... Made it further into our universe than any other human before us! We were the first to step into space, and now... We truly have faster than light travel. We have bent space and time to our will, and with it we shall explore our universe in a way that was previously thought impossible! Not only have we restored glory to our nation, but we have propelled our species into a new age!"

The sensation of unbridled joy fill the ship as the crew congratulated each other on the monumental achievement, but curiosity was starting to get the better of many, who took to the view ports to see the new corners of space they had discovered. What they found was...

Blackness.

Utter and complete blackness.

No stars. No planets. No galaxies. No gaseous clouds. No asteroids. No bits of debris.

It was absolute and complete blackness, with nothing in it, save for the ship.

"H-hey... Where are the stars?" A crew member asked. "There should be some... Points of interest? Something to see and let us know where we are?"

Yuri looked out the window again, his face a little stern as he tried to observe their surroundings. All he saw was blackness. "Odd... I was told the coordinates should have put us in Alpha Centauri, at a safe enough place where we wouldn't be at risk of debris, stars, or planets. We should be able to at least see the stars..."

"Maybe it's something to do with the sphere? Maybe it hasn't turned off fully?"

An engineer shook his head. "There's nothing wrong with the sphere, it's already powering down to its passive state. Captain Yuri, permission to send us back to Earth's orbit?"

Yuri nodded. "Go ahead, we may have just gotten the coordinates wrong. Best to just head home and report this."

After a few minutes of setting the controls up to power up the sphere again, nothing was happening. The Sphere sat still now, dormant. The engineer became more flustered now as others began to join him to get the device back up to launch mode. Nothing happened.

"Captain... It's not turning on." The engineers were pulling the machines open, checking every wire, every bolt, every piece piece of silicon. "Nothing's been damaged... It's in perfect working order..."

There was a tight sensation in Yuri's chest, one that began to be felt in everyone else quickly. "Alright, not to worry. We'll get it running again. For now, we ought to send someone to check the outside of the ship, maybe we took some damage or something."



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Lord Saethos
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