Lords of Rock

The Rockaverse

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a part of Lords of Rock, by Nulix.

The Land of Plenty

Nulix holds sovereignty over The Rockaverse, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Setting

A Rock Hard Land for Rock Hard Men.

The Rockaverse

The Land of Plenty

Minimap

The Rockaverse is a part of Lords of Rock.

24 Characters Here

Syra Onnet [101] A thrall who seeks more from life.
Captain Ash [22] A man gone wild, either by lust, by wars, or by the desert sun. Or maybe he's just clinically insane.
M'Kama [14] Life and death, two sides of the same coin. With that in mind, he crafts his own luck.
londy [6]
Neko stacy [6] I am sweet and loving, i protect and comfort
Mathis Gladys45 [6] New
lauraine [4] Today most of the people from all over the world are using the internet from different devices like PC, Laptop or smartphone etc.The internet has given birth to many online crimes, known as cyber-crimes, created by expert hackers. As each and every detail
Radio Box [2] Buying Guide & Reviews Portal

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#, as written by Nulix
"A Knigght in shinning armouur?" Mohan replied to Iomer, who was unbeknownst to him a simple legionary and no Knight. "These words meannnn nothing to me." Mohan stepped forward. On the dunes behind him the scouts aimed their rifles, Sorillian flintlock sure to deal more damage than whatever these savages were capable of. "Alll I knoooow," Mohan grinned, placing a hand on Iomer's shoulder. Suddenly, from behind the other scouts, figures emerged from the shadows of their dunes, smashing them on the heads before they could fire. "Is thaaat I knooow these duneees far better thaan you."

***

"Captain Ash... Sorillian, Legionnaiiiirrrre!" The voice echoed across the night-time sand. The Legion grouping had made barricades around their broken ship, setting up defences around their stronghold until Iomer and the scouts returned. But a voice now came, seemingly from nowhere, in the shifting sands. "Weeee haaaave youuur meeeen.... Ioomer, Pelvissss, Travonnnnn, Sendelhavot, Gamahotaaaan." The names of the scouts... all of them. "Come ouuttt Captain Asssshh... and your men will be unharmed."

***

Kanji inhaled. "I'll grant you access to the Sorillian embassy... on one condition." He folded his hands. "I'm coming with you."

Lucky blinked. "I mean I uh... I don't know that we can do that-"

Kanji grinned smugly at them. "Come on... I'll be your guide."

***

As Theory's posse geared up to leave they could see the two guardsmen at the entrance nod and retreat back inside the fortress walls. Whatever this place was it didn't seem well defended, couldn't be a gang much larger than theirs...

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M'Kama grumaced, beginning to think this method was more trouble than it was worth, but eventually he gave a resigned look, and said, "Fair enough. Lead on, then."

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Kanji stared at M'kama through the smoke that glided above the desk before pulling out a quill. He dabbed it ink and began to write on parchment before ripping the page off and handing it to M'kama. "That address. Two days from now, eleven at night. Be there."

Kanji rose. "I think our time is up."

***

Atop the wall of Gutner's stronghold a dirty looking peasant with messy orange hair walked. She paused before dropping her trousers and sitting on the edge of the wall. Suddenly green and brown shit began to projectile down the wall and into the sands below.

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"How long should we wait?" Otis said, ignoring the peasant and all that he stood for. "And... what's exactly our plan here? Show of force?"

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Suddenly the peasant stopped shitting, their gaze shifting to the dune where the Lords of Rock hid. It was at some distance but it was clear she was looking at them- or at least something beyond the sands. After a moment she began to run hurriedly along the walls, seemingly looking to alert someone...

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Price nodded understandingly. "Of course, I can understand that perfectly Mr. Arubak. Well I'll see what I can do certainly, there are some off-world contacts who I need to contact first to see how feasible some of this is. I'll also start putting together a more formal proposal of what I would like in return for some of these services, in my spare time that is, don't worry." Price chuckled slightly as he stood once more, getting ready to make his way out of the office. "Mr. Arubak, it has been an absolute pleasure, and I am looking forward to working together."

A friendly smile flashed from Price to Arubak as the industrialist held his hand out to Arubak for a moment, before quickly retracting it and pressing his index finger to his lips. "Ah, there was actually one other thing that came to my mind that... Well, I find its relevant to my own interests as we work together more. That little skirmish that happened in front of the city... What exactly happened there? What sparked it off?" Price's face became a little more serious as his tone shifted to one of concern.


__________________________________________________________________________________


Past:

The Sorillian troops stranded on The Rock had been quick to set up barricades and defenses around the crash site. A camp was set up as well, mainly coming out of and around the crashed ship, trying to ensure it had as much cover as possible from any enemy combatants. Captain Ash was still trying to devise a more proactive plan, sitting in the middle of the desert hoping the ship would arrive soon simply wasn't good enough. They needed provisions, fortifications, maybe even a spot to signal the ship from.

While the soldiers finished setting up some of the last metal barricades, Ash had quickly been cleaning gun oil off his firearms with a rag. They hadn't been in terrible shape, but a cleaning seemed in order with all the sand about, and it also gave him a greater sense of reassurance. Then the voice came out from across the sands, with no clear origin, but possibly from all around them. The men were uneasy, nervous by what the strange voice said. It knew their names, so whoever or whatever this voice was coming from, it was in an uncomfortably strong position right now.

Ash tossed the rag to the side, picked up his bolt action rifle, and fed the chamber with a familiar, mechanical clicking sound. He strode to the edge of the camp, Percy and several others standing close by as the peered out into the sands. "Gentlemen, I expect you to do everything in your power to make sure our boys make it back safe and alive. Got it?"


__________________________________________________________________________________


Present:

Ash looked over to where the sickly peasant had been defecating some foul, ill looking substance before (as if they had internal gangrene or something) only to see them rushing away from the wall. "Bugger me..." He sighed as he grabbed his own rifle. "Looks like show of force is the plan after all, and we're not getting more than a second to plan it. Horik, please get your friend and the worm to prop up the gun facing the camp, but not till we give the signal. Otis, if you know how the thing works, I suggest you sit on top in the gunner position. Syra and Seru, I'd like you to help ensure I'm not shot, and act as a second voice in what will hopefully become a negotiation."

After he finished making up his plan on the spot, Ash hoped on the back of the horse he'd acquired and sat the butt of his rifle on his hip, looking like some strange mix between a soldier and a cowboy. "Let's pray those children matter more to them than their thralls." He said morosely as he made his way to the crest of the dune.


__________________________________________________________________________________


Several Days Ago:

The night was cool, but the wind very soft, making for a more gentle, relaxing evening. The stars were out and the moon cast its bright light across the desert sands, illuminating it all in a faintly white hue. Maximilian had been traveling for a short while on The Rock now, a few days since he had arrived. Schittle had proven to be of some small use, it had helped him better understand which powers were vying for the canon, and also more likely where it would be headed.

As it turned out, the townsfolk had been right about it going in the direction of a place called the "Holy Land", some pit of degeneracy and indecency. Unfortunately, it was well gone by the time he had gotten there. But, the journey had not been in vain...

Maximilian was able to gleam a few bits of information from some of the locals, largely due to financial persuasion. He wasn't sure currently where the canon was, but he had some leads now, some very profitable ones for that matter.

The Phoenix Lord looked over a map and compass before turning to the stars overhead. "Seems we're nearly there, and still heading the right direction." He smiled under his helmet while he placed the navigational pieces into a saddle bag on his flying ant. Maximilian then walked out in front of the ant to a little patch of sand that had been disturbed. He pulled something out of it and went back to the ant and saddle bags. "I suppose this little bread crumb trail is just further proof of that." He placed a heavy, shiny, metallic object into one of the bags.

The artillery shell he had been holding had been placed securely, and safely, into a bag with some of the other missing shells he had collected since his time in the Holy Land. He'd see to it soon that they were placed somewhere more secure, but for now they would be safe with him whilst he traveled along to the Horenor. The shells, the place, and a couple of names to look into.

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There was silence from across the sands before the voice called out again. "Bring out your leeader and your men will be retuuuurned... unharmeddd," It was smooth as velvet.

Percy was prone against the ground, his steel, rectangular legionnaire's shield covering his back, and his Sorillian blue cloak covering his body as he lay. His rifle peered out from his body, through a ground opening in the barricades they'd set up. "I don't see nothin', captain," He said as he scoped the darkness.

***

The Horenor was a hilly city, sprawling outwards. It was also a city of levels, it's neighbourhoods built up within tight walls like swirls on a cinnamon roll. If one were to spend any significant amount of time in the city they could tell it was never meant to be what it now was, instead starting life out as a fortress, or a castle, or some sort of defensible structure, with the houses inside the walls growing and growing until one had a town. Ant-paths from the smelters to the servants quarters were now streets, guardhouses now built into blocks of attached hall houses, with pathways leading to all manner of baths, halls, docking bays, squares, markets, granaries, forges, mills, bakeries, workshops, stables, carpenters, masons, and, naturally, inns. M'kama's inn of choice, Rick's Remedies, stood at the end of Armoury Way, where the street curved unnaturally around a mess of timber framed buildings.

The Horenor, being at this point well defined as a jumbled, overcrowded mess, was thusly not a place where one could expect much personal space- each of these buildings bleeding into each other, each facet of life spilling into the other. But still, on nights like this, when the sun's warmth could still be felt just beyond the horizon, and the fires were lit up in the streets, there was something quite calm about the strange Skylander city in the sand.

Stars shimmered in the sky, the distant outline of a ship in it's twilight hue. A trio of ginormous lightning bugs sailed through the sky, seemingly going at an ants pace from so far away. M'kama and Thellani sat at the tables of Rick's Remedies, the eating area sprawled out on the cobblestone street outside the inn beside the ceaseless flow of city-dwellers. Falcon sat on the edge of a staircase further up the way, where the street ascended and eventually merged with another. People passed behind her but her focus was instead on the two she overlooked. Though she was some distance away her ears were attuned to the conversation M'kama and Thellani were having.

"So, the Matran as it were my boy... well, I'd say it's Ulfire in blood, but what was Ulfire even? I was from the red worlds, Raejo and the like, but Ulfire stretched so many worlds we had to... we had to call all sorts of cultures as brothers, even if they weren't, you see," Thellani mused. "We always had the Matran, though- Ulfire always had the Matran, God watched the world through us, that was always a point of pride... don't know that he has much to watch now, Anaszia has the blindfold on him. The Sorillian worlds, the shipyards, though, thats a money maker. She got them through Tormand, her husband, husband of the last queen of Sor, Vitalia... a tenuous connection but... well there aren't a lot of royals left after the war. Unpleasant chap, I heard him once over the radio... rumours are he doesn't even speak Ulfirian. The Emperor doesn't speak Ulfirian, god help us."

Falcon's attention slipped away from the two, instead focusing on Lucky further down Armoury Way. The guardswoman had said goodbye to them a few minutes earlier and had met up with a shockingly attractive Longbaon woman. Lucky was a small person, a plain person, and yet somehow she was meeting up with this blossom. And as they disappeared in the crowds... they held hands.

Peace.

For what it was.

Friendship.

For those she travelled with.

Suddenly, a figure tripped over Falcon. They caught themselves a few steps down and looked back at her. They wore a hooded shawl and a nomad mask. "H-hey, you're masked too!" The figure exclaimed as Falcon stood. "Fancy that!"

The figure paused as a few guards of the Horenor Militia patrolled passed, making their way down the stairs onto Armoury Way. "Nice night, isn't it?" They commented. "Seems like your friends are happy." They nodded their head down the street. "Course it all seems a bit easy, don't it? Like M'kama has been making new friends every day since he's arrived here..."

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"You say there aren't many royals left...implying there are more," M'Kama pointed out. "I've heard rumblings of such things, in fact. How do the remnants of the old rule feel about the new?"

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"Oh, who knows," Thellani frowned as he cut his kabab with a knife and fork- silverware he'd brought from home, and was very keen to show M'kama when he unveiled it from a purple handkerchief. "We have peace, that's the point. The rulers ought not matter... as long as we are united, culturally. Ulfire... must preserve the spirit of the people she tames, not destroy. Their ways, their languages- documented, written, curated, put in museums, they should be." Thellani put a piece of meat in his mouth. "Thh eye owf Gohd whatches all, nott- mm, not just the Ulfirians," He said as he chewed. He swallowed heavily and took a swig of wine from a thin goblet. "If Ulfire- or the Matran, took over this world, your Rock, and gave your people a voice- access to the galaxy, surely you'd embrace it, no?"

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M'Kama nodded respectfully at the display of silvereare, wondering if it was common for all foreigners to refrain from eating with their hands as he picked up the kabob by the skewer and biting into the beetle roast.

"Believe me, I want nothing more than peace for this world," M'Kama answered between bites. "But I do not speak for myself when I say that if Ulfire or any forein nation tried to completely impose their will upon us there will be war."

"There are many tribes, many clans, here on this planet. Barely any get along, nearly every one fights, but we all survive....we coexist. To force us all together against our will. To demand we embrace a culture not our own, while our customs and beliefs are made to be as relics....would be a chaos," he continued.

"My people, in particular, have very strong believes. The God of All sees with more than just his eye. Everything ends and dies, but it is never truly the end. Even at the end of our cycle, when everything crumbles around us, there will always be those who remember traditions, cultures, the and keeps them intact when the end of one cycle gives rise to a newborn era," M'Kama spoke wistfully.

He leaned forward slightly to grab his own wine goblet and took a sip. "Tell me, friend...what do you know of Yybal beliefs?" He asked.

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Character Portrait: Syra Onnet

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Syra nodded quickly, knowing they had to act fast if they were going to pull this stunt off. "Whatever your play, I'll back you." She ran her finger over the smooth pistol she'd found at the bunker they'd stumbled across. "We don't have long before things can turn sour...these men don't seem like they negotiate well."




****

"Once upon a time, not too long ago mind you, but rather what feels like a lifetime ago now, there was a man. This man was different than other men, he controlled great power, power than many feared and despised. This man sought to change the world, to show others with such power that they did not have to cower in the shadows any longer. He gathered like-minded individuals and waged his war against the powers that sought to end those with power over the elements. Broken, and alone, the man barely escaped with his life, but he did not stop there. He once again gathered an army, this one, far larger than the one before, and made of those with powers and those without. Proof that others had seen what he was trying to do and wanted to join in his fight. Together they shattered the system that had held them in contempt, that sought only their destruction. However, these brave young men and women were not done with their fight. For soon they'd discover the plot of a far more powerful army that sought to fill the vacuum caused by their war. A group that wanted those with powers in control of those without. This Organization could not allow another faction to rise, and the two groups of Phoenix clashed, The Dark Brotherhood falling in the end. However, the war was not over as others who sought power began to make their intentions known. A Prince from the world of Iceving Falls made his play during the chaos and gave his life for his ideals."

"End lesson, this is all stuff we know! I didn't come here for a history lesson, I know how the Ultimate Organization got started and why, I don't need a fancy, boring recording to recount it for me, I'm not a child," the energetic youth began, the sleeves of his pristine white robes covering his dismissive gesture. "The Ultimate Organization helped start and stop wars, yadda yadda, they disbanded because of some stupid curse, the worlds changed it's all so boring!"

"Ah, but see, it is only through studying and understanding the past that we might predict and protect the future," A black hooded man spoke from across the crystalline room. He took a few steps forward, his light plate armor clinking with every step under his black robe. a warm breeze filled the room, charged with some power the youth couldn't place.

"You are here because destiny had predicted it, fate has willed it. You seek to be a beacon of hope in this otherwise dismal time. Those robes you wear are proof of your potential, and your eagerness to move forward with your training, however, you must understand everything before you can see the vision I have. Now, return to the lesson, or face expulsion. All who have joined our ranks have lived this history, have heard and helped shape it." The hooded man turned his shadowed face to the now crestfallen youth, "So, shall we continue?" The boy simply nodded, "Lesson resume."

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"Fascinating, an obsession with the human condition, mortality- a circular notion of life. Your people are rich in spirit if not in fortune." Thellani plucked a piece of kabab off his plate, not elaborating further. "There is a reason I became an archeologist, I want to... understand the worlds around us, preserve the cultures we find for all time." Thellani rose his glass. "I truly am out here now, aren't I? At the edge of the world. One day you may see the stars, M'kama. See that the Eye of God watches you... it's hard to comprehend when you've never looked down on the world as He has."

Thellani paused. "Do you trust that man in the Longbaon Embassy to stick to his word? Seemed a bit shady, from what I saw."

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Horik rushed on over to Clorik who seemed less than impressed with the plan. However, the clone got on top of the old de wormo de facto and rode on its head as it prepared the canon. Horik stayed on the ground to assist Otis if needed.

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M'Kama looked down on his plate and then up at the archeologist. He inwardly gritted his teeth in derision at his words, but even then he could not bring himself to hate the old man himself. Ignorant, but well meaning. A odd combination of traits, that lead to polarizing results.

But what he had to say did at least give interesting insight. Perhaps the reason the old Kingdoms fell was because they had the arrogance to assume they could view the world the same way as their God.

Nowadays, with this Matranical Empire, it seemed that it was much of the same. Except instead if relying on empires spanning the stars, the last great empires of mankind were pulling together the scraps. Not unable to face the truth, for they do not know, but unable to see it. The bell had already rung.

"He has ulterior motives, that much is clear," M'Kama answered the old time's question. "Regardless of anything he tries to pull, we still have an ace in the hole," he went on, nodding at Falcon.

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Falcon smiled slightly at the masked figure, but didn't respond for several moments, her eyes simply staring unblinking at whoever lay behind the cloak and shadows. As M'Kama nodded at Falcon, her steel gaze turned back to the dinner table below, and the slightest breeze touched a tendril of loose hair, spilling it forward onto her mask.

"Some men," Falcon said softly, the smile widening, "make their own fate. Others step to the tune of another's. And some..." Falcon rose easily, stepping forward to pat the masked figure on the shoulder gently. "Some stand outside it. Which one is the lone swordsman before us? Only time will tell."

Falcon laughed gently, then brushed past the figure as she started up the stairs, away from M'Kama and Thellani, her footsteps making no sound on the concrete.

***

"Gunner, right," Otis said, nodding to Horik as she moved towards him. "I can at least make it sound real if we need to, ah, 'fire' this thing."

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"Hmm... Indeed," Thellani murmured, downing the last of his wine. On the staircase further along the street Falcon spoke to a hooded figure, though at such a distance their words were illegible.

As Falcon walked passed the hooded figure they suddenly grabbed hold of their arm. "Listen to me- this is a city full of secrets, no ones help is free. If they are not already listening in they will soon. Your new friends are not to be trusted." The figure released Falcon. "Kilakanji will make an offer to M'kama," They warned. "He should say no."

***

Gutner entered from the balcony into his office. A red room: ruby walls and a red carpet coated in dark spots- where the blood had never truly washed out. Leaning against the walls of the office were rifles and portraits that had once hung, rough things of old Horenor generals and lords. Phoenix all of them. Bookshelves stood on either side of Gutner as he walked through, many of the books thrown to the ground and replaced with empty dishes, pieces of weaponry, or treasures Gutner had happened to set down in the once luxurious space.

"Boy," Gutner called, picking a capritot off from his table and biting into it. "Boh," He repeated, his mouth half full of fruit as he stepped further into the study.

He was calling out to his son. The only true family Gutner had out here, in the desert's last rest.

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Falcon paused, her gaze turning back to the hooded speaker as he grasped her arm. Her eyes narrowed slightly as he spoke, then she nodded slowly.

"A warning I take well heed of," Falcon said, the light breeze still tickling the ends of her silvery hair. "Yet I have no ready alternative. Nor do I believe that M'Kama will listen to a warning I give. He is, hmm, strong-headed?" Falcon smiled reassuringly. "But rest assured, although I have as of yet stood by the sidelines, I have an interest in what will soon occur. Tell me, stranger, do you know what Kilakanji is plotting?"

***

Settled in the study was Gutner's son Tatim, or Tate for short, a young man of sturdy build who probably resembled Gutner as he was a few decades prior. Seated on the carpet rather than one of the chairs in the room, Tate was concentrating on a small object in front of him. As Gutner entered the study, he could see that the object was a small wooden model that Tate was painstakingly piecing together, using small bits of string and glue his father had been able to acquire for him.

Upon hearing his father's voice, Tate looked up, his expression turned from one of focus to one of delight. Springing to his feet, Tate wrapped his father in a hug, his sticky fingers leaving traces of paste on Gutner's shirt.

"Dad, dad," Tate said, grinning and pointing to his creation. "Dad, horse. Horse." Turning back to his model, which did indeed resemble a horse (although missing one of its legs still), Tate seated himself again, picking up his work and displaying it Gutner proudly. "Horse!"

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"That's... that's real nice boy, you ever seen a horse? A real life horse?" Gutner questioned. Tate was a young man, a few years senior of Argo, but still a boy. "Them offworlders brought some back in the day... like an ant but... but twice as narrow, faster too once they build up enough speed."

***

"He is in the information gathering business, Falcon," The masked figure replied. "He knows M'kama has connections to the group with the cannon, as do I- whatever he wants, it will not be good."

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Past:

The Captain swallowed hard as he gazed into the darkness. He turned to Dervene, who was standing nearby some boxes of equipment they had close to the ship. Ash nodded to him and pointed to one box. Dervene quickly grabbed something from inside, and ran over to the Captain, handing him a hefty looking kind of pistol, which Ash then slipped into his belt. "Thank you Dervene. Gentlemen, if things start to deteriorate, follow my lead." He tapped his hand against the pistol.


"Understood sir." Dervene and the other men nodded in affirmation.

"Good. Percy, everybody, keep your eyes peeled for any movement out there. Pick targets carefully though, the scouts could be out there too, and I want them back unharmed." He turned his gaze back to the darkness, and stepped around the barricades and into the darkness. The Captain walked forward, rifle tightly held in his grip, pointed downward but in the ready position. The wind blew softly across the sands, causing his blue cloak and officer's sword to sway gently back and forth.

"Alright Old Chap, you went to all this effort to meet me. So let's talk, shall we?" Ash called out loudly into the dark.


__________________________________________________________________________________


Present:

A shrill whinnying noise was carried across the sands as Ash's steed reared back at the top of the dune outside Gutner's fort. The Captain was, for no apparent reason, smoking his pipe once more, gazing over the fort before him. Theory's men seemed to be gone at this point, and the fort was likely to be alerted to their presence shortly, so no time like the present to start the negotiations.

"Greetings and good morning folks! Is the lord of the manor available?" Ash called out in a cheerful tone as his grip tightened on the rifle he held.

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"Oh yeah, yeah," Tate agreed, smiling and rocking a bit as he tried to recall. He grasped his wooden horse and clumsily made his way to a small box, where he reached in and pulled out another one of his creations: this one resembling an ant.

"Ant better," Tate said proudly, tossing the unfinished horse into the box and returning to his father. "Ants nice, like Jasp."

Jasp was Tate's ant, a gentle female that seemed to grasp that Tate, despite his size, was still a child at heart. Tate gazed fondly at his wooden ant, then seemed to remember something as his stomach growled.

"Hungry," Tate said, rubbing his stomach. "Food soon, Dad?"

***

"It's always that cannon, isn't it?" Falcon said, her voice amused. "It's big, I'll grant you that. I'll pass on the message, stranger. But don't get your hope up. M'Kama is like an oak tree - stubborn, strong, and uncaring of the axe until it is too late."

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Argo hands had turnt white by how tightly he gripped his rifle. He found himself face to face with a trio of Duthneks, large, lizard-like creatures with two massive hind legs and small forearms, originally from the wetlands and now saddled and ridden by a duo of lackeys. They wore the forgotten colours of a Sorillian legionary, though their armour was far from the standard of the old troops- half of it modified with gold and silver and steel, and the other half stolen off whoevers corpse they had last looted. Whatever these remnant riders were they were now no better than bandits, and everyone knew it.

"Argo."

Chilf's cool voice. Argo turned behind him, back to the open gate of the Last Rest's walls, where the warlord himself marched forward. Crown Prince Theory, as large and dumb as Argo had always assumed he would be- dragging behind him the still somewhat bound Blacksun. At the left and right of the gate were two men Argo knew well. Mr Weer: big, bald, and not too bright. He wore an ill-fighting steel chest plate, already quite dented with bullets hits. On his back a greatsword hung, and off his hip a pistol-holsted dangled loosely. Then Mr Chilf: a thin wisp of a man. His eyes were almost always hidden, though they glimmered from beneath the brim of his large sombrero. He wore a loose poncho, hiding the many guns hidden on his person. He had a long, dirty blonde beard- curling to a tip right by his dingus, which was hidden by the flaps of his poncho.

The two guards watched as Theory walked back to his riders.

"Sorry 'bout the whole kidnappin' business, Mister Blacksun," Argo called as Theory helped the man onto the back of his Duthnek. "Now hopefully you and Last Rest don't cross paths again!"

Blacksun gave Argo a disheveled glare but did little else as as soon as Theory cracked his reigns the trio of riders were off, the Duthnek's powerful legs kicking up sand as they shot down the dune. Argo exhaled slowly before turning to the two older gunmen. "Now havin' the remnant leader here... ain't we gettin' a bit too friendly with a bit too undesirable of folk?"

"We gave him Blacksun to keep us off his radar," Chilf said through pursed lips. "Hopefully that will be the last unexpected guest for a wh-"

The sound of a horse whinnying cracked through the air. The three men turned as Ash's steed bounced into view. "Greetings and good morning folks!" A sorillian man called out to them, smoking a pipe with one hand and gripping a rifle with another. "Is the lord of the manor available?"

"-The hell!?" Weer grunted angrily, his hand reaching to his back for his greatsword. Before Argo or Chilf could get a word in the door inside the gatehouse flung open, Sickly Saly having run down the stairs from the top of the fort's battlements. Her red hair was disheveled, her robes covered in shit and sand, and her pistol was drawn. "It's an ambush! More of 'em, up on the dunes!"

Chilf nodded at the words. Before anyone more had time to speak a pistol was drawn in each hand, bullets flying out toward Ash's horse. It whinnied violently, flying to its hind legs and threatening to throw Ash off. The banditos ran to cover as the gunfight broke loose. "Argo!" Saly said, ducking behind a barrel situated outside the wall. "Close the gate!"

***

"Yeah son," Gutner replied. "Mrs Mason gonna fix us somethin' right. Mr Vix said he'd hunt some good game for us." Gutner paused, raising his ear to the wind. A distant echo. Gunshots? Gutner pulled out his pistol. "Boy, you stay here," He ordered, running toward the study entrance. "You stay set, ya hear?"

***

The Duthnek's ground to a halt on the sands as gunshots echoed across the dunes. "Boss?" One of the remnant riders spoke up, turning to Theory to see what to do.

***

Back in the past...

Out of the darkness a figure stepped out. The desert seemed to whisper around him, the winds blowing at his feet. "Myyy naaame... is Mohaaan," Mohan introduced to the Captain. There was a gun and blade on the short man's figure, but neither were drawn. No doubt he had as many shooters in the dark as Ash had behind his barricade. "Who are you?"

***

The masked figure grunted at Falcon before continuing on, disappearing into the passing crowd moving down the staircase...

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"Just a group of bandits who went and made off with what weren't originally theirs no way," Arubak explained to Price. "They thought they could pull a fast one on me, but they ain't slick. They gonna learn some good 'ol fashioned rock justice soon enough, believe you me."

***

"What...what in the blue hell is that racket?!" Hasaru screamed, covering his ears over the noise as it echoed across the farm, he emerged from the barn, where he had decided to sneak in a nap atop the haystacks.

"The Last Rest is under attack, it seems!" Ohibi informed him, rushing yowards her brother in order to help him head to safety. "They want all the thralls to gather with the hired hands!"

"...what for?" Hasaru asked, perplexed.

"I don't know, but I can't imagine, it's anything good. Come on..." Ohibi frowned, grabbing her brother by the wrist and taking him to their assigned destination.

"Barely been thralls for a day, and here we are..." Hasaru couldn't help but mutter as he struggled to cover his ears.

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"You misunderstand me Mr. Arubak. I didn't mean what happened, but how it all started." Price frowned slightly as his tone darkened. "I haven't been on this planet long Mr. Arubak, but no matter where you go in this universe, you'll find people whose lips are often times a little too loose. I know that some people have talked about a gunman from inside the Holy Land taking shots out at Zambob's men before the fighting started. In fact it sounds like this is why the fighting started. An inside job by the sounds of it."

Price grew quiet as he gazed cautiously up and down the sides of the room. It was as if he was waiting to see if the walls had ears or not. "Mr. Arubak, I came to The Rock out of consideration for my well being. It behooves me to tell you that I consider you, and The Holy land, to be somewhat capable in providing a location that meets those needs. So it also behooves me to inform you of things that I consider to be threats to that." There was another quiet pause as the words were allowed to settle in. It was all coming at Arubak somewhat fast, but before he could speak up himself, Price added more.

"Several hours before that battle, I was attending a party here in the Holy Land. Lovely soiree, put on by a Mr. Blacksun. Fabulous party, though I never ran into him sadly. I did run into someone though, and accidentally spilled my drink on them quite embarrassingly. Well, a while later while I socialized with some other guests of the party, I was informed that the man I bumped into was in fact a Sorillian warlord here on The Rock. A gentleman by the name of Crown Prince Theory. Perhaps it's not strange for you to host such people here in your city... However, it is quite strange that both he and Mr. Blacksun have been missing from your city ever since the battle outside took place."

Price rose a hand to ask for one more moment to finish what he had to say. "I have a feeling that this isn't perhaps what you want to hear. You value your business, but more than that, your family. Safety, protection, and peace are important for you. I'm not trying to encourage a war here Mr. Arubak, but I would be putting myself in danger by not telling you that there may be more players in this game than just those thieves. Maybe they were working alone, maybe for Theory, or maybe Theory is using them to achieve his own goal. Either way, if we are going to work together, and I'd very much like to, then to be honest... I need to make sure you and your people are safe too."

A weary smile grew on the industrialists face as he gave a slightly bow of his head. "I hope you understand. And... I hope this information actually helps you."


__________________________________________________________________________________


Past:

"Captain Logrem Percival Ashefield of the Sorillian Imperial Navy." Ash spoke with a steely tone. "Captain Ash works fine too. Now, what exactly did you want to see me about Mohan? You say you have our men, where are they?" The Captain kept a tense grip on his rifle, but left it in a lowered position and made no attempts to make threats with it. At this moment, he was trying to keep things calm and cool.


__________________________________________________________________________________


Present:

Ash's steed bucked wildly as he struggled to maintain his grip, bullets whizzing his way. "Otis! Horik! Get that bloody thing into position! Syra and Seru! Give me cover!" He shouted out in a dazed rage as his body was flung about. Eventually, the Captain slid off the horses back, and was now wrapped around it's left side as it bolted towards the gates of the Fort. The guards were taken completely off guard, seeing this riderless horse bolting off past them. They assumed the rider must have been flung off.

These guards had seen plenty of wild things in the past. But it wasn't until the horse was already going by did they see the barrel of Ash's rifle poking up over the side. Until this moment, they had never bore witness to such Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship.

Several shots rang out, slamming into the chest plate Mr. Weer wore like a freight train. With that, and the combined weight of his sword, it sent him toppling backwards into the sand. Another shot rang out and blasted a hole through the barrel Saly was hunkering behind, just narrowly missing her right ear. In a panic, she made a dash back inside the fort, keeping low to avoid being hit.

There was a mad attempt to get the gate closed, but as they worked at this, they could see the horse making its way back towards the dunes from which it came, and a figure standing in the middle of the sands, rifle raised straight at them. More cracks could be heard in the air as bullets were launched through the gates.

The guards returned fire, but Ash wasn't slowing down, nor were his bullets.

From where they stood, it was clear he intended to kill them.

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"Blacksun..." Arubak scratched his chin, before pointing a finger at Price. "Blacksun, that sunovabitch, I knew somethin' was off! A few meetings missed here or there, some supplies not dropped off. An' here I thought that Theory's bastards was raidin' his farms but if those two are in cahoots..."

Arubak looked over and nodded, stating, "It appreciate yer business, Mister Price. Gave me a lot to think on. Stop by the front desk an' tell the secretary you get a beverage of yer choice, on me."

***

As day passed into night in the Horenor, M'Kama sat atop his bed, his eyes closed in a half sleep, half meditation. He hadn't gotten much in the way of rest, even during the previous couple of nights spent in the inn. Tonight he had chosen to retire early, so he could meditate on the events that had transpired ever since the 'Lords of Rock' first met up, and then even further back, to days long past.

The mountains behind the Necropolis held many secrets. His father often told him, there were giants I'm the forrested foothills. Giants and other things that were not the children of mankind, even if they shared a shape. The other children would dare eachother to take the furthest step into the forest, nearing the Giants' territory.

Of course most would turn tail at the slightest sound. But one day, even scared out of their wits, they pressed on. And in the depths of the jungle they could hear rumbling like deep and heavy drums. They didn't hear it with with their ears, but with their feet, they bones, their heart. Then the bushes began to rustle and they all turned tail and the ran.

Everything has a cycle...and within that cycle things died and eventually were renewed. Not unlike the phoenix. A never ending wheel, M'Kama's father would say. Death would not be the end. Even the broken empires of man would fall, but humanity would survive.

The wars had proven that. Even in their death, they had lived. But their death was their death all the same. They had lived to see a new dawn that was not theirs. It would be small at first and they would not know it. But even the most dangerous of beasts emerged into the world as newborns.

Sa. Ka. Ti. Ri. Here, they lay once, now dead, gone, and forgotten.

Here they will rise, long forgotten, but not dead. Sa. Ka. Ti. Ri.


M'Kama awoke to daylight. A cold breeze flew through his window, in contrast with the sunlight.

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Syra threw herself into the sand and drew the pistol she'd been given and started providing some cover fire for Ash, who had taken to being dragged into the fort by his scared horse. "Please tell me this is all part of your plan!?" She called over the gunfire.



****

Theory smirked at the echoing gunfire, "Keep moving, whatever those idiots are up to is no concern to us. We have an obligation to make sure Blacksun here returns home safely!" He urged his Duthnek forward with a gentle kick to the side. "We should be there by nightfall, keep up men!"