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The Ultimate Organization IV

The Ultimate Organization IV

This is no longer the age of heroes. This is no longer the age of Knights in shining armour. This is the age of warfare, of soldiers and mystery men lurking in the shadows. This is a new world. A cruel world. And we have no business in it.

21858 readers have visited this universe since Nulix created it.
Topics: abandonment, adventure, betrayal of friendship, death, destruction, evil, evil x2, extreme villains, fantasy, jurger boint, mayhem, more evil, no-win scenarios, obliviate, original, pain, plot holes, sorrow, space, suffering, the dark side, and war (Add Tags »)
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Introduction

INTRODUCTION: "This is no longer the age of heroes. This is no longer the age of Knights in shining armour. This is the age of warfare, of soldiers and mystery men lurking in the shadows. The Sora System has fallen, and though its statues will crumble we still remain. This is not the world we fought the Brotherhood in. This is a new world. A cruel world. And we have no business in it."

ImageThe universe is changing, Kingdoms built upon rocks in space now turn to ash in the fire of war, and the Ultimate Organization, a group of heroes once destined to save the world now find it is no longer saveable. The Princess Vitalia used a group of Ulfirian Assassin’s known as Seed to murder the rest of her bloodline and capture the throne of Sor for herself. But Seed, led by a former Knight named Sentrius, had other plans. Bigger plans.

Sentrius led Seed into a new world where they allied a creature and weapon in one. A gargantuan plant of immense size and power, capable of conquering many worlds at once. With his new weapon Sentrius returned to the Sora System and captured the throne of Sor. But no one realized at what cost, for on his journey to the beast Sentrius unleashed a greater evil. One that the Phoenix called a God long ago. Sentrius unleashed Oblivion, and with his power and influence Oblivion raised an army in the west with one goal in mind: to conquer the world.

Following an attack by Oblivion Sentrius appeared to die, leaving when Seed needed him most. The plant perished with it’s master and his lover, Nai, assumed control of Seed and their lands. Seed, still technically a vassal of the Ulfire system though rivalling them in power, now find themselves confronted by the other systems retaliating to the destruction of Sor with war of their own. But there was a hope: a council, led by the Phoenix Wizard Wu Woon. A gathering of all heroes to try and resolve the chaos before it began. But it was unstoppable, and before the council even began Wu was murdered. The council continued without it’s leader, and at it's end the heroes realized that there was no solution. No answer. And to some, no hope. Now, six months to the day the council had concluded, and the Ultimate Organization finds itself spread out across the galaxy.

Wing and Tera Roth headed to the West into the wilds of Dark Space, and the heart of Oblivion’s newly conquered lands, to try and fight a war on their own, and save what little they could. Xane and his partner Mellodia sought to escape the chaos in the far east, to the land of the Baonauts, finding an abandoned Sorillian exploration station and using it as their own to discover new worlds. Caithe, accompanied by a small team of protectors, stayed in the North East Space despite the war in an attempt to translate her mystic book the Mürshlatan, in the hopes that a new answer could be found within it’s pages. Darius, used as a pawn and somehow connected to Oblivion, remains locked away in a realm of the Dead World, trapped forever and never to return. Nulix and Bella fled to a colony, the last construct of civilization, far south of the North East space, where they and the other colonists hope to remain until the warring forces destroy each other and the North East space is safe to return to, and rebuild.

It is currently the First of June, 2252. The new chapter begins now....

THE ULTIMATE ORGANIZATION IV: The Ultimate Organization is a sci-fi, fantasy series set in a mythical world. The threads typically have multiple storylines and confusingly complex plots. We don't really treat it like a game and don't worry about mechanics usually, the rp is mainly focused on the storytelling. Magic in our world is usually relating to Phoenix, a race of people who can control elements, mainly fire. To learn more about the history of the world you can read the History section of the previous threads, which are provided below by link.

The Knights
The Ultimate Organization
The Ultimate Organization II
The Ultimate Organization III

One of the most confusing parts of the UO is the technology - it's bad! The UO is barely sci-fi, it's essentially a fantasy series... with spaceships. The technology level is sort of a mix of medieval fantasy and steam-punk depending on where in the UO-universe you are. The guns are from the 1800's as are the space-ships, as little sense as that makes.

CHARACTER CREATION: This is a sequel to the UO III so as a new player at times it may be a bit like being a season 4 character on Lost. It’ll be difficult to keep up but there is a way for new characters to enter. The colony welcomes people from all across the North East Space, and so you can enter as a new character with limited knowledge of the threads plots who has fled the war engulfed systems to start anew there.

Code: Select all
[i]Name:[/i]
[i]Appearance:[/i]
[i]Personality:[/i]
[i]Weapons:[/i]
[i]History/Bio:[/i]

MAPS AND MEDIA:
Dejure Map of North-East Space

WORLD HISTORY: The following the suggested history in the book of Matran, though there is no way of knowing what events are true and what are myth.

The Spread of Mankind:
The planets have gone through much age, being settled and resettled over the course of time. Originally there were two sister worlds floating together in space. One planet was far more advanced than the other, thousands of years ahead. They created star-ships and flew over, making first contact between the two worlds. However, the advanced men, the race of Neahian's, did not come in peace. They conquered their sister world and enslaved those who resisted, mutating them: giving them the unnatural ability to control the elements so that they could fuel war machines. Soon the Neahian's had conquered all there was to be conquered and the two planet's had peace for hundreds of years until their fire-wielding slaves, the Phoenix, rebelled. The Neahian home-world burned along with all it's technology. The sister planet was abandoned, the citizens wanting to escape the wrath of the Phoenix by any way possible. Ships flooded into space, each of them going outward, alone, as far they could. The remnants of the old worlds scattered across the universe until they found new worlds to settle. And they would settle, on thousand of worlds, and build new lives. The settlements were comfortable think that they stood alone in the universe, the history of how they had arrived now lost. Most no longer had their ships, or the knowledge of the ships that they had arrived in.

Image


Ancient History:
They lived alone in their ignore for ten-thousand years until contact came, from either the west: from the Phoenix and the Empire they had crafted, or from the Neahian Empire in the east, which had been founded by the single surviving ship that had escaped the burning homeworld. The settlements joined one of the Empires until at last they battled. The Phoenix, this time, were defeated, and the Neahians killed nearly all on their capital. The Phoenix who survived were imprisoned in the mountains of Bao, never to escape. The Neahian's now ruled much of the known world, but on their capital, the planet of Matran, a rebellion was brewing. A messenger acting as an agent for a single, all powerful God led a revolt against the pagan Neahian's. The Neahian's, after years of resistance, were defeated and banished from their capital, which became the holy world for the Matran religion. After the fall of the Matran the rest of their empire too collapsed and the worlds were once again scattered and alone.

Matranical Period:
The rebirth of the Matran as a planet for God marked year 1 for the worlds. From the collapsed Empire worlds began to form their own Kingdoms, some growing on their own planets and some conquering many. This would continue for over a thousand years, all the while the Phoenix remained within their icy prison of the mountains of Bao. Far in the south of space the Helexicon Empire was growing and was looking for a way to conquer the Matranical Kingdom's in the north. In the year 1665 the Helexicon sent a ship to the mountains of Bao and they offered the Phoenix there, who had been turned into savage barbarians, an escape. The Phoenix accepted. They were given armour and cloaks of white, ships, ranks, swords of bronze and helms of gold, and were told to conquer the world. And they did. The Phoenix Knights conquered the Northern worlds and under the Helexicon rule the word's of God became illegal, an all it's followers were brutally abused by their Phoenix overlords. This would continue for nearly two hundred years until the year 1830 when, on the world of the Matran, the northerners revolted. After seven days of battle and death they re-conquered their holy world. Following the victory more rebellions followed. The Phoenix Knights, though more powerful, were severely outnumbered, and soon their order surrendered. The Helexicon Empire collapsed, it's home-worlds in the south invaded by the newly liberated Northerners.

Modern Period:
The liberated worlds quickly created new governments, much of their culture and way of life now derived from Helexicon. The Helexicon Empire collapsed into a small fringe in the east which was too eventually absorbed by the newly formed Kingdoms. The Kingdoms all signed the Treaty of the Crosses in Eighteen Thirty-Nine which proclaimed that all Phoenix were to be hunted and killed until their blight would be forever rid from the universe. The Phoenix Knight's were disbanded and slaughtered, and, on the Capima Islands, in the city of Sor, the capital of the newly created Sora System, the Knights were reborn, now as an order loyal to the Kingdom and open to all men and women of the system. The Sora System and the other newly formed systems prospered in the following 400 years. New technology such as steam-power and gun-powder revolutionized warfare and ships in the modern period, allowing the new systems to expand to previously unconquerable worlds, civilizing and incorporating the primitive humans on them. In the year 2244 the systems faced their biggest threat. In the seas of Wild Space an evil group of Phoenix Rebels grew. The Brotherhood, led by the villain Scourge, waged a war on the systems that threatened to bring them to annihilation. A group that was integral to stopping the Brotherhood was the Ultimate Organization, who were led by a Phoenix themselves. Once the Brotherhood was defeated the Sora System, and the King of Sor, Augustus, made a change. He formed the Church of Sor, an independent Matranical faction which stated that the Phoenix were to be forgiven. They were no longer hunted in the system, and for the first time in history, they were treated as equals. That was eight years ago. It is now new midyear 2252 and the Sora System no longer exists.

Rules

1. Good Grammar! Just use spellcheck, that's good enough.
2. No-Godmodding! Basically this means don't be a prick.
3. Communicate! The UO has as good story's as it does because we constantly talk to each other and create plots together. If you have a massive arc planned out or storyline make sure you ask people. If you can't post for whatever reason try to make sure there's a plot reason for it!
4. Have fun! alright...

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Character Portrait: Nulix Princeton An intellegent pragmatist bent on surviving the passing storm.
Character Portrait: Xane Swipian A former Knight with a brave and humorous spirit, off in search of hope while the universe rips itself apart.
Character Portrait: Tera Roth A hero
Character Portrait: Caithe Azleir A friendly girl uncovering the missing pages of her past.
Character Portrait: Wing (Coa Barton) The Master of Gales and Guardian of Twilight
Character Portrait: Bellatrix Esseth A newly made pacifist with an uncertain future.
Character Portrait: Raziel Once a prince and now a broken man... he may have been a hope for billions but now he is nothing...
Character Portrait: Lucinda Reiswin Don't touch the hat.
Character Portrait: bell
bell played by Esseth_Light

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These poor, unfortunate souls were once a part of this great world, but have been abandoned. Why don't you consider viewing their profiles and making a decision on whether or not you can roleplay them accurately?


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Caithe smiled and hugged Xane sadly, "I will, I promise. I'll come to visit each of you as much as possible. If there anything you need, anything at all I can do..." her words drifted off. She didn't need to finish, they already knew. Caithe gazed upon her friends sadly, "I'm so sorry."

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Nulix embraced Wing in a hug, before outstretching his arms to Xane and Mellodia, who joined him in the group hug. Bella and Caithe joined too, they all together in a huddle. "Goodbye guys," He whispered as they held each other. The hug was released, the friends standing beneath the moonlight. Nulix turned to Bella, deep into her eyes, and planted a final kiss on her lips. "...Goodbye Bellatrix Esseth," He smiled through the tears.

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"Goodbye, Nulix Princeton," Bella whispered lovingly as she stepped back, even more tears rolling down her cheeks.

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"Remember...we'll always be a family," Xane nodded at each of them. "Remember.."

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And they stood together, the members of a once Ultimate Organization- having saved the world again. They stood there for minutes that felt like hours, until at last they began to walk off- with waves, with hugs, and with love. They'd remember. They'd always remember. The Ultimate Organization said goodbye, ten years after they'd met- again beneath the stars.

***

Above the fields a cruiser glided over the air, the farmers looking up as it’s reflection shined in the water. It was old, beaten- going through war and back, but it had finally reached it’s destination. It landed carefully on the edge of the village, the Baon farmers looking over as the hatch opened.

From the hatch a young woman emerged, black Baon haired combed behind her ears, and a large sack of belongings on her shoulder. Song stared out at the village, a small smile growing on her face. Growing at the familiar faces before her, at the buildings behind them, at the bridge and the river flowing through.

She turned back to the ship, where inside the weapons and Phoenix items of her captors were kept- the glowing orb among them. And closing the hatch of the ship, they would remain there. Song walked away from the ship, leaving it among the fields, and heading toward the village entrance.

She was home. At long last, she was home.

***

Beneath the hot desert sun a mystery man walked, dunes stretching before him. The Inferno- the place it had all began. Nason Valkoven lowered his bandana, breathing in the hot air. And, one day, the place maybe she'd return.

And until that day, he'd wait- rebuilding the life Nason Valkoven left behind, all those years ago. When his ship crashed in the Inferno.


***

There was pandemonium on the streets of the Red City, citizens gathered across the cobblestone as whispers spread. The war was over. The Emperor had died in battle, and the Queen had returned in his place, with a new Empire formed.

The black and gold ships and descended upon the Red palace hours earlier, the soldiers retaking the city peacefully- most of the citizens of Ulfire welcoming the victors; for the time being at least.

They swarmed the base of the royal palace, looking up for a view of the champions. Of the new royalty. Their first glimpse of the new world. And at last, from the darkness, Anaszia wheeled forward, in black and gold, crown atop her head.

Tormand stood beside her, in a matching princely uniform. The crowd erupted, a sea of people below their feet. Anaszia flinched as she held out her hand- she’d been her many times, at her fathers side, in the background of the generals and the ministers. But never had she been here. In the centre of it all. And it would be so lonely, if not for the people beside her.

Caithe stepped forward, black and gold uniform, Argent in his royal guard armour, Mecka in his leather spymasters cloak, Grimsever in military decoration, and Nulix in his minister’s outfit. They stood above the cheering crowd, Anaszia looking over the faces beside her. She had a new family now. And they stood beside her. Ready to rule the universe.

Tormand blinked as he looked out across the crowd. He did not know what he was, but he knew Argent was a friend. There would be conquests ahead, violence and blood, and in those at least he would play his part.

Anaszia gave a casual smile as she waved, her eyes settling on Caithe. She’d made a promise to the woman, that one day a republic would rise. And perhaps it would. Perhaps it would not. All Anaszia knew was that right now, she was Queen of the Galaxy. And she would not stop until all the worlds fell to her might.

The Sentinel’s of Knowledge saved the world. And now they would rule it.

***

The key turned in the lock and a moment later the old door creaked open, daylight revealing fine Ulfirian craftsmanship within. Wood stairs, expertly carved arches, a spacious living room looking out at a lively Red City park beyond.

“Here you are, Minister,” An Ulfirian man with a red mustache said, turning as Nulix stepped in, suitcases in hand, top-hat on head and long, Ulfirian coat hanging off his body. Nulix looked around the large house before dropping his suitcases.

“It’s a wonderful district, you know,” The Ulfirian servant said.

Nulix placed his hands on his hips as he stepped forward into the living room. “I know,” Nulix smiled. “I used to speak here.”

“Oh?” The man questioned, closing the door behind them and holding out the key for Nulix to take. “Do you have friends in the district then?”

Nulix turned to the man, lost in thought for a moment before shaking his head. “One or two,” Nulix replied, taking the key and pocketing it. “Most of my friends are on far away worlds… living their lives.”

The man nodded. “I understand. I’m sorry.”

“It’s not like there aren’t new friends to make,” Nulix replied, placing his hand on the window as he looked out. “There’s a whole universe of people- happy. In peace.”

“Quite right. And radio is one hell of a thing, no?” The servant laughed with a jolly ho-ho, placing his hands in his vest pockets. “Will any family be joining you, Minister? A wife or children?”

“No,” Nulix muttered, looking out the window. And for a moment he saw not the park, but his own face reflecting in the glass. Wrinkled. Older. Nulix squinted at himself before seeing past it, to the people walking through the streets. Ulfirian smiles, immigrants from all over. A universe of new adventures waiting to be met. And somehow, though there was sadness deep in his heart, he was excited. For a new chapter of life to start. “Not yet, at least.”

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A few weeks later

A lone black and gold cruiser drifted through the darkness of space, swallowed by a sea of stars. Meteors danced around it mingled with debris from ships long past - destroyed or lost - remnants of lost civilizations at the end of the universe. One of which might've belonged to the Azleir family, once. In the distance was a lone planet of blue and green, beautiful and small, already looking significantly different from what it was just a month before. Planet X.

Within the ship a woman of blonde hair sat at it's controls, leaning back into the black leather of the pilots seat with a sense of finality. What used to take a month to get here now only took two weeks, but to Caithe Azleir it felt far too long for her liking. She was anxious, had been since before she had set off, hugging Anaszia goodbye and assuring her that she would be fine that, no, she didn't need accompaniment and yes, she truly did need to do this alone. With a final wave to the Queen she had entered the cruiser and spent two long weeks pondering her words. What would she say to them? Would they even accept her? Would they even care?

But she had to do it, if not for them then for her and, most importantly, Kahu's memory. A hand went to her stomach wistfully.

The controls of the ship beeped softly, telling her that her ship was approaching the atmosphere. Butterflies flew inside her once more, fluttering worse as she steered the ship into the planet and through the clouds, revealing a sight almost unbelievable. Planet X was no longer an unforgiving, mountainous jungle full of death and mutation, instead a beautiful world of beaches and ocean. Forest-covered volcanoes peaked out of the ground in the distance, surrounding stunning archipelagos situated in crystal blue water. The Eight were no longer here and the planet was thriving.

Caithe glanced down at the piece of paper Kahu had given her once, coordinates for his village - his home. She landed the ship gently on soft white sand and, with one last deep breath, stepped outside into the cool breeze. It was very warm here, much warmer than Ulfire. Taking off her black and gold jacket she noticed small lines of smoke lifting out of the brush of palm trees and followed them to their source - a large village.

Children played in the streets with dogs following them and barking happily. She walked through relatively unnoticed, watching Kahu's people tend to everyday chores, washing clothes, chopping firewood, preparing food and mothers lecturing their kids. A group of men in the distance dragged a boat of wood covered in nets out toward the sea. It wasn't until Caithe had reached what seemed to be the middle of the village did people start to notice her, some muttering in hushed whispers, others less subtle in their surprise. She heard a child yell to his friend, "Is that the Wordsmith?!"

Caithe swallowed, butterflies increasing as a woman holding a basket of fruit approached her carefully, "Um, I was wondering if I could see the...the leader of your village? I have news of his son."

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Wing landed his small scout ship in the middle of a field filled with thick grass and wildflowers of all colors. The Guardian's ship rested nearby, the ruins of their castle looming just on the horizon, surrounded by a crystal blue lake. The twilight sky and warm summer air filled Wing's senses with energy. He was home.

The Guardians greeted him warmly and vowed to help the Ultimate Organization reunite one day after hearing their fate. Soon after the funeral began. First for Darius, where everyone spoke about his adventures and heroic deeds. They laughed, they smiled, they cried. How can a man's legacy be confined to only a few words? Wing was last to speak, the battles they fought, the adventures they'd had and the friends they'd made together came rushing back to him. Overwhelming him. "The bond of Wind and Flame is eternal." Was all he could manage to get out as the Guardians began to lower the glass coffin into the ground. They buried Darius next to the Guardians that had passed before. All of them great men in their own right, but none could hold a candle to Darius Lionheart.

After the funeral, Wing collected his father's remains and borrowed a small wagon. He laid his father to rest beside a small pond in the middle of a wooded area at the base of an oak tree. A few feet above the ground, carved into the bark were his initials. This was the spot Wing would visit when he'd want to be alone before he was sent out into the stars and joined the Ultimate Organization. "This is where it all began for me, dad. I never want to forget that. In the end, I hope I was a man you could be proud of because I am damn proud to call myself your son." He allowed himself to break down, All the time lost being angry at a father who left. All the time he resented his father after finding him again, he wished he could go back and tell the little boy that his father would someday be a hero and that all he needed to do was have faith.

The sun set, and Wing sat beneath the stars, telling his Father of his time on Laurenska. He told him about the first time he'd met the guardians, and ho Darius had saved him from the Knights. He talked of Oxyrt and Vexneah. He told him the story of how he'd met each member of the Ultimate Organization, and how he came to lead them. He talked until the sun came up. "We're home, dad." He whispered as he made his way from the edge of the pond and back to the wagon he'd borrowed.

"Won't you stay?" A guardian asked when Wing thanked him for the wagon. "I wish I could, but there's someplace else I'm needed right now." THe guardian nodded in silent understanding as Wing made his way to his small ship. He waved down to them all one more time before speeding across the sky.

It was a short trip, but for the boy that had left so hurriedly ten years before, it was a long time coming. The former Knight Academy stood on the outskirts of the city of Cerina. He set the ship down at the edge of town and made his way through the cobblestone streets until he found himself standing at the base of Cerina's greatest attraction, an indigo colored crystal fountain. The stone was found only in and around Cerina. He tossed a small coin into the water before making his way through the streets once more. The smells of roasted coffee and fresh bread filled the air, while patrons sat outside enjoying the company of good friends or a new book from the shop across the street. This was home. He was home, and all he wanted was for his friends to be there with him, to see it.

He soon found himself outside the Knight Academy. Abandoned since he'd been found out as a Phoenix. Slowly he pushed open the ornate door only to find the building wasn't empty.

"I was wondering how long it'd be before you came home, Coa." Xeroux Falcus stood at the top of the marble staircase a smile on his face. He wasn't alone. Beside him stood his fireteam, Rena, Blake and Lance, who had all renounced Seed, and Lauren. The former Knight who'd been Wing's closest friend before he'd left for the Organization.

"Welcome home, Coa." She said, making her way down the stairs and embracing the weary Phoenix. "I'm home." Was all he could say though the tears with a smile on his face.

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"The Man Moon is expanding..." Pharell stated ecstatically as he stood on a rooftop with a large troop of agents, far larger than there had been within the last year or so. He grabbed a pot of coffee with his bare hands right of of the rooftop implemented stove and took a large swig of the scalding hot brew. "Ah, that's the good stuff...y'know things have never been better for the UPA, eh Ecko? I don't even know what an expanded Man-Moon'll do but it sure excites me!"

"Slaughterhouse, the recruit drive worked perfectly...I'm glad Anaszia realized our worth enough to allow us to expand out operations! I never thought I'd be okay with the new leadership, but ever since Anaszia took the helm, thing s have been looking up! I heard rumor that she's even writing a new book! One about the UO I'm sure it'll be a good read, but...I wouldn't mind a novel set in Kalva. You know...a hardboiled detective tale. Maybe a bout a group of detectives in a world of mystery...neon lights...advanced technology...I'm not sayin' it'd be a hit but uh...I think I know success when I see it..." Pharell grinned, glancing back towards the Man-Moon, raising an eyebrow above his mug of coffee.

***

Some months after the war...

Mellodia walked down the hall, towards the throne room of the Longbaon Empire was still being refurbished but enough of the structure still stood tall, an example of how it's people went through the greatest hardship they ever faced...but still walked out of it, stronger than before. Golden armored guards lined the room posted across from a long tapestry detailing Longbao's history, formerly destroyed by invading occupants but refurbished by the finest of tailors Longbao had to offer.

Mellodia was nervous...war was something she was used to but rulership and nobility were altogether alien to her. Moreso than some of her subjects, Longbaoans mutated by Sentrius and the Eight's machinations. They were welcomed back as all Longbaoans were welcomed back. To serve their country and restore it to it's former glory.

"Longbao was once had a long and storied history...." Mellodia began addressing her newfound people once she was ready. "A legacy and a line of strong willed rulers. It seems like an eternity since our nation stood strong...but now it will again! The Empire will live again!" Mellodia stood in spoke in a reverent tone to the crowd. While they knew nothing of their new noble house. Even is she was related to the old line of Emperors they didn't care. All they wanted was a new start...which she was.

"And I'm proud to say...a new addition to the Longbaoan royal family will be arriving soon..." Mellodia grinned. She grinned at the applause emanating from the crowd before her. "I can't wait until you meet them Xane..." she stated, smiling as she pat her stomach. "One day we'll be a family again..." she said looking out into the distance. "Until then...I have a world to govern..." she said, looking up towards her people with a proud look.

***

Caithe was led to through a thicket of tropical looking plants...there was no longer anything eerie about where she stood. In fact the strangest thing was the fact that it seemed relatively normal compared to her previous visits. Kindly looking storks flew across the sky giving fresh fish to their young, their nests located close to the village, showing off their closeness with the beasts. Caithe passed by a large canvas, carved from the skin of an deer-like beast with an array of masks hanging from it.

Caithe would find them no less disturbing given what they used to be, but none of them moved whatsoever. They simply hung motionless, a collection of relics from an age the villagers would rather put behind them. Caithe then found herself led to a large hut. There stood two figures sitting on thrones that could only be the rulers, carved exquisitely out of some of the trees in the forest. One figure was a woman with a large headdress made from the tall grass. Her face was painted in black markings and she sported several pieces of jewelry made from the teeth of various beast hanging form her ears and neck while sporting a robe made out of colorful silk. The man beside her was large and intimidating looking, with long hair reaching down to his lower back and a gruff beard. His face sported wizened eyes and facepaint and he sported no clothes aside from shorts made of silk. Tattoos lay across his entire body as well as a necklace made from the the teeth of a large marine creature. While their faces were harsh and worn looking, their voices seemed kind, "You...are the Wordsmith..." he stated, standing up slowly. "I believe...we owe you an apology...and so much more," the chieftan stated as he and the chieftess bowed before Caithe in respect

***

The crowd screamed as the concert began, chanting as over and over as security had to hold them back from storming the stage. A large contingent of them were attempting to climb over their chants of, "F.C! F.C!" growing ever louder as the artist in question approached. He was large, that was to be sure. In fact, he wasn't even human...not anymore. He was scaled, had a large toothy jaw and sported a red hoody with his initials, 'F.C' imprinted on it. Aviator glasses stretched across his wide face as he pulled up a mic to his face.

"What up, what up!" he greeted. "Hey, sway back and forth, how bout everybody go back and forth, lemme see you raise your hands...!" he artists sung along as the beat slowly started to kick off. "They thought I was dead, y'all! they didn't know I could heal, y'all!" the artist continued as he began to pace across the stage. "They tried to indoctrinate me, y'all! But ever since the big plantman died, I've been feeling more myself...after all...you can't keep yo' boy FAT CHU down!" Fat Chu stated to thunderous cheers. "Now, lemme allow y'all to be the first to witness the first song from my new record! Dedicated to everyone's favorite universal saviors....THE UO!" the crowd's cheer's became deafening, dwarfed only by the song now playing before them. The chorus and Chu preparing to lay some bars out. It went a little like this...

"UO! Uh-oh, uh-oh! UOOOOOO! UO! Uh-oh, uh-oh! UOOOOOOOOO!

Everybody how's it goin', how it do? It's time to party, hang wit' yo' boy Fat Chu!

You know I'm viscous and overly sufficient on the mic, but we here to talk about other heroes tonight...LIKE

UO! Uh-oh, uh-oh! UOOOOOO! UO! Uh-oh, uh-oh! UOOOOOOOOO!

Wing's the first! Master of Gales. Evil takes one look at him, raises the white flag and fails! Evil's goin' out thinkin' they 'bout to win? Betta watch your back, homie, that breeze ain't the wind!

Next is a dude named Xane, baddies catch his hands and then they feel the pain! Leader of the Knights, borught 'em back when they waned. Keepin' the galaxy safe, through snow, storms, and rain!

Bella's after him, this girl's off da chain! Literally, she whips it like it's nothin', it's insane. Went for rags to riches, give or take a bit a stitches! Had to be a little viscous, but now that's how still is with us!"

Nulix goes hard against the bourgeoisie, have 'em runnin' so scared they gotta bourgeoi-FLEE! HE likes the money and that's funny, but as you can bourgeoi-See, he uses that shit to help the little people off the streets!

We almost through, ya'll, but hey keep faith...the next up we rap about Caithe! Wordsmith! She's the keeper of the knowledge, and if you can't acknowledge, she'll be happy to school ya, son! She proved the book and the pen is mightier than the gun, She had a hard knock life for years, but here's hopin' now she has some fun!

Darius! Strongest and the scariest! He ain't with us no more, shame but he was never the merriest. We used to scrap all the time, 'cause WE BOTH BEASTS! I pour one out for you homie, may you rest in peace!

"UO! Uh-oh, uh-oh! UOOOOOO! UO! Uh-oh, uh-oh! UOOOOOOOOO!"

"Pour one out for Daelen Barton ,while we at it. Hey, rest in peace, Kahu, be easy," Fat Chu sung as the night when on, the crowd chanting to the chorus.

***
"How's the Pirate of Bako Bay?" Grimsever asked one of his lieutenants, Gambibi.

"Right as rain and behind bars...." Gambibi answered. "We're takin' him in for questioning and after that we're gonna hand him over to the Knights...they suspect somethin'' much larger is at play here..."

"Excellent," Grimsever nodded. "File a report and fax it to me when ready," he sighed, carrying some files under his arm as he stepped outside the fortress he was stationed in on Raejo. He hailed a carriage, taking him through streets he had become all too familiar with during his time with Seed. He was certain the carriage driver was even one he used to hire all the time during his days sneaking through the back alleys of the Ulfiran capital. In fact...the alleys were just the place he was looking for, as he indicated the carriage driver to stop in front of a ragged looking butcher ship in the middle of one of Ulfire's smallest districts.

The carriage driver glanced at him curiously before tipping his hat goodbye as Grimsever dropped a pouch of coins in his hands. Grimsever entered the butcher shop and was greeted by an old man, who took one glance at him, looking up from the cash register...before idly going back to counting his coin. Grimsever passed by his desk and entered the basement wordlessly. Descending upon a small stairwell, he eventually reached a candlelit room, a gathering of men and women before him. Citizens, military, the press. Each nodded to Grimsever in respect as he walked towards the large round table they all sat upon.

Placing the files down, he looked into their eyes and spoke sternly, "Ladies and gentleman. Let's discuss...revolution."

***
In the Ulfiran Palace, the feasts were always magnificent, if not a bit strenuous due to their frequency. Tormand did not frequent them often, the people would notice, opting instead to spend his time alone on the balcony. While his wife, Anaszia was polarizing but social enough to be beloved by many, a great number of people considered Tormand to be aloof, even to his own child. Therefore not many felt brave enough to approach him, even to ask a simple question. Bandolo was not one of the many.

"I remember you....but do you remember me?" the elderly phoenix spoke as he approached a face familiar to him, but otherwise a complete stranger. "I doubt it. Allow me to introduce myself...my name is Bandolo and I've seen and heard a lot about you, Tormand," he stated in a dark tone. "About all of you. I'm going to make this quick. I don't know how much time I have left, but I've spent most of my life guarding the world from what I believe to be the greater evil. Tormand...I'm gonna be honest, given your other selves transgressions...I have faith that you will be that greater evil. I'll be watching...Consider that a threat..." Bandolo stated, a thick cloud of dust suddenly emerging from the ground, cloaking the ancient phoenix as he made his escape.

***

The carriage driver peaked through the window of the butcher shop, seeing how Grimsever had, for all intents and purposes, disappeared and he remembered what Anaszia's intelligence officer had told him, should he see anything...suspicious out of the man known as Grimsever. And while he felt a bit nervous to make a move against a former Seed commander, the pay Anaszia promised him was so very...lucrative. He turned around quickly wanting to head back to his carriage as soon as possible and as soon as he reached the steps, one of his hands quickly found it's way off his wrist. Before he could scream, his mouth was covered and he was pulled inside the wagon, where two figures greeted him inside.

"Spies hunting the spies," Sai Ko chuckled to Farha. "Not too different from old times, is it? Now when this gentleman goes missing...I believe you have the cover up story prepared?" he asked of his partner.

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Caithe stepped back in surprise, "What? No! No. Please. There's no apology needed, none of it was your fault."

She paused for a moment, trying to come up with the right words as she looked upon Kahu's parents. Eventually she quietly spoke, "Actually it's me who should be apologizing...I came here because, well, your - your son Kahu," her eyes stung with tears, "He passed away. I'm so sorry."

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As Bandolo vanished in the gas-lit smoke of the palace Tormand's eyes went to the ground, shimmering tiles. His hand clutched his goblet awkwardly, knuckles bulbous, an unnatural grip; tapping the foot against the wooden banquet table. The fires burned in his eyes, and at Bandolo's words Tormand knew he could not hide what he was forever. Even taught, even shaved, even cleaned and adorned in such princely attire- he could not hide what he was. He was a wolf. And these were a system of lambs.

The goblet was left on the table, his sweaty fingerprints left on the jewels encrusted on the sides. He pushed his chair out, moving to an exit in a hurry, ignoring the salute of the black-coat guards as he marched. He had the urge. He had to hunt again. Before the next time he had to be.... princely.

***

Grey clouds covered Raejo, carriages and increasingly automobiles moving across the streets of the Red City, the seat of the Matranical Empire. On a balcony Mecka stood, grey hairs flying back in the winds as he squinted on the cold, metropolitan horizon.

"Eight-thousand guarners a day?" The familiar voice of Minister Princeton called from behind him. Mecka closed his eyes and smiled to himself before facing the man, who emerged with a scroll of payment request in his hand- the spymaster's signature and personal seal at the bottom. "Qulm, I'm already broke after settling with the labour unions. We've just retaken Bovum, not a cheap endeavor; Karco is shooting our ships out of the sky by their so called 'Leader of All Karcian Tribes'; and we've just backed our chosen King of Chalden," Nulix rolled his eyes heavily at the title. "Before the wars he was... a sheep herder or something, now he gets a noble house. Now he gets to be a King!" The Kingsmen paused, unnerved by how... traditional he sounded. How much like the nobility that came before. The nobility in Sor he tried to be a part of, the nobility that always saw him as an outsider, despite his wealth. But then again, he smiled to himself, they were all outsiders now.

Nulix glared up at Mecka, calming himself before handing the proposal back. "Guarner's do not grow on trees," He hissed.

Mecka casually took the rolled up scroll from Princeton's hand, the Minister turning and leaving. "...But revolutions do," The Spymaster called as Princeton re-entered the warmth of the palace hall. With a deep sigh Nulix turned to the man. "We find ourselves in a precarious situation, Mister Princeton," Mecka muttered. "The peasant's of the old countries back their chosen warlords as Kings, while the peasants of the metropolitans... back themselves."

Nulix squinted. "We... have peace."

"So did Emperor Augustus. And his family was slaughtered in the throne room," Mecka replied.

Nulix ran a hair exhaustedly through his curly hair. "How do we fight this...? Who are the soldiers in the wars within armistice? Who do battle in times of peace?"

The response was Mecka's scroll outstretched, gently handed back to the Economic Minister. "Assassins and spies, Mister Princeton," Mecka responded. "Assassins and spies."

Nulix listened carefully to the Spymaster's words before taking the document. Without a word he pulled out his pre-inked quill, signing off on the request, and handing it back. With a gracious nod Mecka took the paper before turning and walking away. Nulix sighed, looking out at the city before him. He had realized quite quickly that they were not Ulfire, or Sor. They were something grander, something not seen since the Helexicon ruled the north-west space corner to corner. And, for now, they were at peace. The Kingsmen bit his cheek. How fragile that was. The road for the Empire of the Matran would be an interesting one, indeed.

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'Home' was a word he'd forgotten a long time ago.

He found himself under a simple roof, sitting across from a young girl unfamiliar to him as they shared their first meal together. For almost an hour only occasional glances were exchanged between them, and only the sound of clattering silverware to keep them company. Stern finished the rest of his food, leaning into the table as he watched the girl aimlessly push around bits of salad with her fork.

He opened his mouth to speak, but was suddenly interrupted by the girl’s voice.

“You’re not my dad,” she said without looking up.

Stern pulled back slightly but his expression did not change, continuing to level his gaze at the disinterested girl. He paused for a moment, and then let out a sigh, closing his eyes.

“You’re right, I’m not,” he said. “But I can be.”

When he opened his eyes again, he found her looking back at him. There were a million questions in her stare, and a million sorrows behind them. Why?

Why did she have to be alone for so long? Where was he when she needed him? Why did mom die? Did he have to leave? Does it matter anymore?

Stern wasn’t going to give her any answers, because she wasn’t going to ask any of those questions. Long ago they burned inside of her, yearning for the truth and for a purpose, but even for a child - especially for a child - the years were not kind, and the fire subsided. The pit of flame was submerged, deep under layer after layer of exhaustion and apathy.

She changed the topic, instead pointing to the gray, hollowed-out lantern sitting on the shelf.

“What is that?”

“A reminder,” Stern replied, excusing himself from the table. He grabbed his dish and utensils, making his way to the other side. “. . . of everything I lost to stand here with you.” He put his fingers around his daughter’s plate. “Are you going to finish this or not?”

“You didn’t have to leave,” the girl said, averting her gaze. “It didn’t even make a difference, did it? In the end, it was the. . . UO that saved everyone, right? They didn’t even mention you.”

“Well, I suppose I must’ve been quite the fool,” he answered, disappearing into the kitchen but his voice still audible.

“Are you going to leave again?”

A few moments of silence.

“The Guardians want me on board,” he said as he reappeared from behind the wall. “I’ll let you be the one to decide.” Walking back to his seat, he opted to stand, pressing his weight into the back of his chair. “Do you want me to leave?”

“I can’t believe you would say that,” she hissed, throwing her spoon at him. It narrowly missed his head, clanging against the wall. “Didn’t you just say you fought to be here with me?” She shoved the plate off the table and it shattered on the ground, burying her face in her arms as she hunched over the table. “Go! Just go!” she screamed through her tears. “I don’t want to see you again!”

Stern pulled the lantern from the shelf, and it lay hanging at his side just as it always had.

He wasn’t a father. He couldn’t be a father. That much seemed apparent.

So he offered help in the only way he knew how.

“Why don’t you come with me?” he said, looking over his shoulder. The girl looked back incredulously.

“. . . What?”

“The doctor supervising you before I came here. . . he told me you were quite gifted. Lightning, is it?”

“I’m not interesting in taking lives,” she glowered.

“You tried to take your own.”

He wasn’t supposed to tell anyone that!” The girl shot up to her feet and slammed her hands on the table, her breathing heavy as they locked eyes.

“It’ll be a chance to turn your life around,” he continued.

“I don’t want to fight,” she insisted through gritted teeth. “I don’t want to be like you.”

Stern began heading for the exit. “Then I don’t know what to tell you. I’m sorry I couldn’t be the father you wanted me to be.”

“Wait!”

As he reached for the knob, he stopped in his tracks, still facing the door in front of him.

“I don’t want to fight,” the girl repeated, crying on her knees behind him. Her body shook with each breath, her chest rising and falling erratically as she tried to contain her sobs. “I don’t want to be like you. . .” Futilely wiping away her own tears, she looked up at the man towering above her. “. . . but I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be alone anymore. . .”

Weakly, she pulled herself up and clung to his back, staring down at her feet. As she held onto him, she held onto a lifetime of loose ends, and the thread to tie it all together. Maybe it wasn’t what she was looking for, but she knew she wouldn’t find the closure she needed anywhere else.

“I’ll go with you,” she said with a quivering voice. “I’ll go with you.”

With something like a smile, Stern opened the door.

“I’m glad you changed your mind,” he said with a surprising sincerity in his voice, letting natural light flood into the room. “Come on, Hope. We could use someone like you.”

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Kahu's father looked upon Caithe, a sweat pouring down from his head. as tears welled up in his eyes. Kahu's mother began to weep as well, both parents rising as they cradled in eachother's arms. "We've failed him...in our fervor we've failed him. We served the Eight...because we thought they would bring peace to the world...slay the demon...we soon learned the scope of their madness the longer we spent time in their head...wearing their masks."

"Our son never wanted to be a part of this...to be a thrall to the Eight...and we ignored his pleas, we didn't listen to his arguments in favor of monsters," Kahu's mother explained. "He was right...and now we'll never get to apologize to him."

"He loved you, yes?" Kahu's father asked of Caithe. "He overcame the Spite Mask and betrayed the Eight, in part, because of you..." he continued. "You were wrong earlier Wordsmith. We should be bowing before you. You've lead our son to the light before the Eight could lead him astray. And for that we are forever grateful..." he stated, before extending his arms over towards the village. "We are rebuilding...finding our place in the world without The Eight. You are welcome here at any time, Wordsmith Caithe. To you, we will forever be grateful. To us, we will forever be family."

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Tears streamed down Caithe's cheeks, no words able to express how she felt at that moment. They talked for hours about the adventures of the Sentinel's and the UO, finally ending with Oblivion's defeat. She told them she was with child, his child, and after many more tears and joy at the news they walked outside into the darkness together. In the cool air of the night they buried Kahu under the stars, surrounded by family, mourning his life and celebrating new life just how her love would have wanted. He was home. They both were.

**

The black and gold cruiser flew slowly overhead the Red City, passing the ruins of the Sentinel's Keep in the distance and landing gently on the landing pad just outside the Royal Matranian Palace. Caithe stepped outside and was greeted by a soldier holding a overflowing file of papers ready for her to took at, "Good morning, Minister. Sorry to bother you as soon as you're off the ship but these are the urgent documents I was ordered to give you."

"Just the urgent ones?" Caithe raised an eyebrow, already exasperated. She took them from his hands and began to skim through some of them as they walked, "Thank you. I'll be sure to send them forward when I'm done."

"Her Royal Highness also wishes to see you as soon as possible," he said, "That is, of course, when you've rested from your trip."

"Right, right," she nodded, "I'll meet with her tonight."

The soldier stopped and hesitated, "Minister?" Caithe turned to face him in confusion, "I...I hope you found peace."

His words shocked her. The fact that he knew where she had gone, for one, but knowing that even soldiers were concerned enough for her well being touched her grief-stricken heart. A weight had been lifted from her shoulders after she had visited Kahu's family and she felt lighter, more hopeful than she had felt in weeks. She still cried herself to sleep most nights, nightmares of Oblivion plaguing her dreams until she reluctantly wore Kahu's dreamcatcher, but each time she did a new sadness enveloped her and brought her back to mourning. It would take a long time - months, maybe years - but one day she would look upon their memories together and not feel her heart break. One day.

Caithe smiled and looked down, her fingers brushing the charm tied around her neck, "Yes, I think I did."

**

"Of course," Farha huffed, placing a hand on her hip as they held the spy hostage, "I'm not a child anymore."

A grin escaped her lips, breaking her facade. This new world suited the two assassins just fine.

**

Caithe visited the disbanded Ultimate Organization often, bringing them news from the Empire, some bad but mostly good, though she knew the news they really wanted to hear was something she had none of. Many times she had gone to Shaman Noporta, offering the elder her assistance in finding a cure for the curse but the Shaman preferred to work alone and shooed Caithe away any time she tried to help. After the fifth or sixth visit the Wordsmith eventually gave up and sent letters instead, asking the Shaman for frequent updates. When Noporta did respond, however, there was never any good news.

She saw Nulix the most. In their shared loss of their significant others they found quiet support in each others company. Caithe never asked him how he felt about Bella and in return he never asked how she felt about Kahu. They both knew - no words were needed - so instead they just sat together in the same room, chatting idly and taking care of Empire business.

Much to Anaszia's subtle disappointment, Caithe's child was a sweet, healthy baby boy. He looked like Kahu in every way, but as the years went by and he steadily grew older he took on Caithe's temperament. Quiet, cunning and curious, when he learned how to speak he asked Caithe hundreds of questions about everything. When he wasn't asking questions he was reading books. She named him Roen Azleir. There were many people she could've named him after but she figured he had enough of a burden being the son of the Wordsmith, First Minister of the Crown and Spite Mask, a powerful and intelligent Phoenix who also happened to be a Sentinel and a revered war hero. No, Roen was his own person and she made sure he knew it.

The night she gave birth to Roen was a beautiful late summers evening. Cicadas chirped softly in the distance and a gentle breeze coming from the open balcony door blew white silk curtains into the room. Sweat cooled on her forehead while she leaned back into the pillows of her bed and cradled the newborn in her arms. Everyone who had come to visit had left her to rest so she closed her exhausted eyes and listened to the soft chime of wind charms in the distance, lolling her to sleep. She dreamed that night of Kahu sitting beside her and Roen, simply caressing her hair as they talked about everything and anything they could think of. Caithe looked up at him, the man she loved, the father of her child, the friend she had lost and whispered softly into the night, "I love you too."

When she woke up the baby had been placed in his crib and Caithe's pillow was damp, but as she sat up in the white sheets and basked in the warm morning sunlight, she knew everything would be alright.

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"Another rough night?"

She looked up from the bushel of apples she had collected, Nasriel leaning against the tree beside her. He could see the bags under her eyes and noticed her clothes looking a little tighter than usual. The chains she had once wore around her waist were collecting dust once more and aside from visiting her apple orchard, Nasriel knew Bella had barely left the house since the UO had departed a couple of months ago. Caithe and Bella's uncle had also visited but he knew she spent a majority of her time alone in her large home, typically in her room where old photos hung on the walls.

Bellatrix didn't respond to his question, simply leaning down to pick up the bushel.

"I dropped by to tell you they made that statue to honor Alexandros finally," he added as he stepped forward to help her. "And the others who helped you escape as well. Well, I mean, there were several things your uncle had made since y'know, a lot of people did die back then cuz of your brother and all. I wanted one made for me too but he said no."

Nasriel grinned but Bella simply nodded.

"Your brother's story has also been officially been made into a cautionary tale although I don't see why," Nasriel continued as they passed a few more trees, her back door in sight. "I mean if anything, that guy should be forgotten. I mean he was your brother and all but the stuff he did was fucked up and its not like it can really happen again, thanks to you. Your family's name is back to legit status. Well, even more so than before now that its officially recognized by the system."

"By Anaszia," Bellatrix corrected. "And her empire."

"Right," Nasriel said as he was glad Bella had even responded. "Well, either way, there isn't as much at stake for your uncle as it was for your parents. He also wanted me to tell you that if you ever feel like heading out again, he's got some work you can help him with."

"And he couldn't have told me this, why?" she asked as she opened the back door.

"Because he's off doing said work and I just happened to be in the neighborhood ever since Ialak dropped me off," Nasriel responded as they put the bushel of apples down in the kitchen.

Bellatrix looked up, suddenly curious as she realized something she had been completely oblivious to.

"Where is Ialak anyway?"

~*~

"THE LAST OF THE MATERIALS HAVE BEEN GATHERED, SHAMAN. WILL THIS BE ENOUGH FOR YOUR EFFORTS?" Ialak's dual voices boomed in the small cave, Shaman Noporta sitting beside a desk full of various texts and journals. There were also several glass vials and tubes around her filled with strange liquids. What was even stranger was that for once, the Shaman wasn't in the middle of a cloud.

"Yes, Ialak. Now go and slumber once more," Noporta dismissed him a little irritably as she set to look through the new material. Ialak retreated to outside of the cave and laid down. "So many helpers and not enough Lords."

Despite Noporta's best efforts, even going so far as quitting her herbs for a clearer mind, the Ultimate Organization remained separated. For all her knowledge and wisdom, memories of the other Lords, and her own hand in the process, undoing the curse seemed like an impossibility still. They had found a way to alter fate once and yet, Noporta could not alter it again.

She had been given a lab and equipment and full use of any and all texts she desired. Anaszia fulfilled any request and if she did not, Caithe was sure that her request was fulfilled as soon as it reached her ears. She had even borrowed a creature of death in hopes that it would lend help but even the creature was unsure of how the curse could be undone. It only knew that what the Lords had done was unnatural and should not have been placed upon those who had stood against a great evil. It understood that they had been perfect candidates as heroes were for fate. They were reliable when danger called and such a group defied odds time and time again. However, should danger ever come for them again in the lifetime of the UO, Ialak was certain that the scales would not tip in their favor once more.

Noporta had shared his sentiment but didn't appreciate the death demon's judgment. Other heroes would rise, she had countered, and there had been other groups involved. Ialak had agreed that there was but sometimes, just a few extra people made the difference between the end of a universe and the rescue of it.

The old woman huffed.

"Well, I'm not dead yet," she muttered angrily as she poured over the texts once more. "But I'm going to be if I don't find this damn cure."

~*~

Nai looked up from the book, her mutant child sleeping on the other side of the room. Despite its monstrous look, Nai had begun to feel some kind of love for it. It was a piece of Sentrius and her. It was one of Sentrius' last remaining pieces in fact and Nai could not bear to hate the child for it had done nothing wrong. Sentrius had mutated it and for all her reason, Nai could not bring herself to hate the man who had wished to change humanity for an illusion of improvement.

The child was bigger, growing, for she had guarded him carefully for months. Nai knew she had turned her back on humanity the moment she had decided the child had a right to live and as a result, was very withdrawn from the village her and the child had landed in. It had been Sentrius' will she stayed safe and Nai didn't have the heart to fight his last wish. Nai was used to being dropped in places she had never seen before and so she had grown accustomed quickly. It also helped that these people somehow sensed she was to be helped and was left alone when she wished to be.

It was very lonely however.

Rising from her chair, Nai crept closer to the sleeping child. This wasn't Sentrius' last piece though. If anything, even if Sentirus had really died, he lived through those he had created. He lived still through them and Nai knew some still existed. If her child still lived, then perhaps some of Sentrius' brethren did as well.

With the idea driving her, Nai spent the next few weeks preparing. She gathered materials and information and getting the ship her and her child had come in up to shape. When the time had come to depart, Nai knew she could not take the child with her. It would be a risk and the though of losing her last bit of sanity was terrifying. And so, she lingered for a few more days even though she was ready. She lingered and read the child to sleep. She taught it Sentrius' name and that of his sister's and her own but when the child pointed to himself, Nai had nothing to teach him.

As the week came to an end, Nai knew she had to go. She had already spent so much time preparing and she was uncertain of how many would remain now. It was time and so she gave the child a kiss on the forehead.

"My little one," she whispered as she caressed its face. "I will be back, okay? I will have Zarian with me and you and her and I will be a family again. Maybe your dad will be with us too. He has children too, did you know that? But he created those children. I'll them about you. I'll tell them how you're a wonderful boy and they'll love you and we'll be a family. A happy family."

Nai rose and paused.

"Altus. I'll them about you Altus," she whispered and kissed the child's forehead once more. "Don't forget I love you. I will be back. Be good, okay?"

Nai started walking away, tears in her eyes.

"Mommy loves you Altus."

~*~

"A mother's love is rather lovely, don't you think?" Argent said casually to a guard as they walked through the halls. The two were walking to the front doors, Argent itching to get some fresh air. "I mean, it makes them a rather fierce and I gotta say, they tighten up rather nice when they see hear their children crying."

The guard threw up violently in the street.

"Ah but I must say, they are rather trusting when a man is in rather nice clothing," he continued, used to the guard's reaction. As much as Argent talked about rather unlawful behavior, he wasn't out enough to really be a cause for concern. He hovered around Anaszia and Caithe when he could but on some days, playing lapdog did get rather tiresome.

When he did go out, he was typically accompanied by guards and he typically swapped stories with other men or paid for services with money he was given. It was simply to appease him but didn't satisfy.

Argent was not a young man and while he did find the fine life to be rather relaxing, there was still an itch he couldn't scratch being around the two women. He had grown accustomed to the life of the Rock and the constant excitement and danger. Not that the palace life was all boring. In fact, Argent smiled, there were some rather interesting parts he was starting to notice, particularly with the king. Argent chuckled and began to whistle. Tormand and Argent were best friends after all.

~*~

Alarisset hummed as her ship flew under the stars, looking out the window as she thought of Valkoven. He had come from the stars and now she dived into them, doing what he could no longer do. She did not miss the sands and while she longed for the natural heat of the sun, the ship's heat from the steam room was enough to keep her from freezing to death.

Tracking Nai down had been more difficult than she had thought and Alarisset knew she was running low on time before her beauty could gain her favors. Information was easy to come across as she knew how to connect to hidden networks but information on Nai was practically impossible. There were rumors but most placed her as having died along Sentrius or hiding in what had once been plant worlds. Nothing specific however.

Years would pass before Alarisset would hear of a woman with black hair and red eyes being spotted with what remained of Sentrius' influence. There were rumors that the remaining monstrosities of Sentrius' so called revolution were being gathered, some fearing that more creations would come from it. There were also a few whispers that the woman was looking for a little girl and had even contacted some of the same people Alarisset had been working with.

And so, she fed them information. Alarisset had known for some time that Anaszia had given Zarian to a a couple who had been sworn to never mention Nai or Sentrius' name to the girl. She knew where they resided and soon enough, Nai came looking.

When Nai entered the house however, she would find Alarisset sitting in the main room, the buxom woman looking slightly older than when Nai had read her file.

"And so the bitch comes," Alarisset smiled as she motioned for Nai to come closer. "Zarian however, isn't here. Shame because I really wanted to kill her in front of you."

The smile dropped from Alarisset's face as she glared at the stunned woman before her.

"Just as you killed Aud."

Nai lunged forward but Alarisset sent her flying back with a wall of water, Nai landing with a loud thud. Alarisset stalked towards her, water in her hand.

"How did you do it?" Alarisset spat as Nai struggled to get up. "How did you trap my daughter?"

"I... I told her to come see me," Nai said quietly as she sat up. "She had trusted me, learned to listen when she worked with me. I had her drink a poison that would make her sleep but would kill her slowly too. She wouldn't have survived either way and you won't either."

Alarisset dodged the knives that flew from Nai's hand and sent a ball of water to Nai's face, breaking her nose. She screamed and tried to lunge for Alarisset but the woman quickly put her down with a wave of water.

"Those poison dipped daggers are nice," Alarisset said softly as she summoned more water. "But you've clearly lost your ability to fight just like you lost your chance at living the moment you took my fucking daughter."

Water surrounded Nai, the woman holding her breath and trying to escape her water prison. Alarisset watched as she struggled, seeming to give her an opportunity at times but snatching it just as quickly. She watched as Nai slowly drowned, making sure to say one final thing before Nai slipped away.

"You didn't have to kill her you know."

~*~

She didn't miss the sands nor the heat. Her days of fighting were gone and while she aged well, youth was almost through with her. Alarisset, former ruler of the Rock and Lady of the Dead, was simply a weary traveler looking for home.

Her task was done however. Her daughter avenged and Valkoven would be at peace as she was.

As her feet settled upon the sands that which she missed still seemed so far away. But she knew he was there, waiting as she had once done.

And so she began walking once more upon the sands, finally walking home.

~*~

Her life had been a quiet one, dealing with politics every now and then, but a quiet one for the most part. While Bellatrix didn't have the exciting updates the others constantly had, she was content with her life of peace even if it had been on her own for the most part. Caithe, Nasriel, her uncle, and new friends visited often but those she truly longed for were mere voices on the radio now. It was strange, seeing people in person when those she had been friends with the longest were so far away, unable to be seen in person. The last time she had seen Caithe she had told Bella that Noporta had stopped responding and that it was impossible to visit her without Ialak interfering. The beast however had reported that Noporta needed concentration and had confirmed the old woman wasn't dead yet. It had only been several years after all.

Bellatrix sighed as she prepared her letters on her desk and looked out the window. The apple trees were bare now and there was a slight chill in the air. She shivered and felt a tingling over her body. It was strange but Bella didn't dwell on it, hearing the roar of a ship's engine outside.

She took one last look at the portraits on her desk and smiled at the familiar faces before heading out, blowing out the candles and shutting the door.

~*~

Dear Caithe,

There is news I must share with you as soon as possible. Please let me know when I may see you in private.

Sincerely,
Shaman Noporta.

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Years later...

"Ah, I've never seen a planet so...unmolested by anything," Passere chatted idly to himself, glancing once over at the tall grass covering the green hills, dotted with purple and red flowers that showed the coming of Spring towards the region. Things had not changed much for the Guardians after they returned to Laurenska, barring a powerful new ally or two. 'Business as usual' the others called it, and that's what Passere loved best. No wars, maybe a small skirmish here or there between two villages, but that's something they were used to. Slaying beasts, getting paid, stopping conflicts before they got too large...and to most of them, the Civil Wars brewing up within Anaszia's new empire were already too big for their britches.

Getting too involved with politics was never their strong suit anyway. They killed things that normal people couldn't kill, saved the day, and got payed for it. What more could they ask for? Coasting on their skills and repertoire, the Guardians prospered, though Passere always feared that one day some new adventure would dawn upon and them and test them once more. "Well..." Passere spoke aloud. "It seems like that day is upon us now, eh?"

Reports had been delivered to them of sightings of a Baoan woman in navy blue armor spotted on a new region of space...a planet that a small Sorillian and Neahian joint colony seeking to escape the Wars of the Eight, had only recently begun to venture out into. Ad she was with child, only...the child was said to be...unusual. Later findings would report that Nai's found in a small shack on an Ulfiran satellite world. However, no reports of a child, mutated or otherwise, were ever confirmed.

With nothing conclusive coming from their search, the Guardians abandoned it to pursue other endeavors...until word popped up about a man, matching the skin tone of Nai's child had surfaced. And so the Guardians deemed it their job to investigate this information, a few of them being sent out to search the man's last known whereabouts. Passere, was relieved to hear that he'd be the one sent to scout out this potential colonial land. He liked seeing new places and at the very least, he'd be one of the first Guardians to see a new world expand.

And he had to say, he was impressed. There was some civilization on the planet already. No where near achieving space flight and the colonial scouts managed to keep their distance...so far. The village was built along a swamp, wooden planks crafted into a surprisingly sturdy series of boardwalks and bridges alongside a murky, green, algae covered swamp. Passere was surprised to learn that between the dank, bayous of this world that there were hills and green fields of such beauty.

His guide, a child from the village was patient, letting Passere take in the sigh of the fields and sun slowly began to set. Passere was a bit perturbed by how the village seemed so...used to outsiders, though he was certain they'd never hosted them before. Their language was surprisingly simplistic to learn. A bit like Pluuan, Passere thought.

"The man you seek is on an island past the bay," the guide spoke with a shrug. "You gotta take a boat though and...and don't hit the kraken. It's tryin' to sleep!"

"....Kraken, eh?" Passere noted, gaining an irritable feeling that a certain other Guardian who was, like him, sent out to investigate this mystery and would very much fit the description of a kraken, would rear her bizarre head soon. "Ah, well. I'll deal with this kraken when I see it, eh my friend! Now let us move onward. I believed we've dallied enough.."

***

Bao. The Knight Compound.

The Knight Elder Supreme Xane Swipian would not be many's first choice for his position. Though, he would argue that despite that, he was the best. It was a difficult thing to argue, given his drive to restart the order that had nearly died out years ago. As one of it's last surviving members and one that held onto it's true and key values, Xane's presence was a powerful force in weeding out the corruption that had plagued the Knights of the past...though many would say his strong sense of morality could also be to his detriment. The dark skinned Knight began to dress and armor up for the day's ceremony where hundreds of Cadets gathered to graduate into full fledged Knights.

As Xane placed his mail over his shoulder, he took a moment to admire himself in the mirror. particularly his beard, once black as ink and now streaked by a shade of gray. To many, this would be a sign of getting old, but to Xane..."Cool! he stated to himself, excitedly. "I think the streak's shaped like lightning!"

"Sir?" a voice knocked on the door to his chambers. Xane shouted, "Yeah, I'll be there in a sec, hold on!" and quickly suited up by placing on the last piece of armor aside form his helmet, the chest plate, this one a shining blue with golden adornments highlighting it's hull, just like the rest of his armor, complete with the emblem of the new Knights of the Realms as they were now dubbed. Sor no longer was their sole concern these days, after all. Then, tucking his helmet under his arm he hurried to answer the door.

Xane quickly opened the door, spotting a Knight in red armor who saluted him before she spoke, "Sir a call on the communications room. It is the Lady of Longbao. She said she knows your busy, but she had a quick message to relay before you made your speech."

"Woah!" Xane stated, so loud that the Knight almost reeled back in shock. "Mellodia was calling?! Why didn't you say so sooner! Are you some type of idiot?!" Xane asked the young Knight who appeared instantly regretful and had begun the steps to apologize for her tardiness, but Xane interrupted her with a hearty laugh, stating, "AHA! Nah, that's a joke, don't worry, Madam Knight! But yeah uh...you're uh...Leesa Roddigan from Malkini Academy ,right?" he asked of her. "You rescued all those kids in the Fire of Bako Bay, right?"

"Y-yes sir!" the Knight responded, proud that the Elder Supreme would remember her name.

"Good job, if you haven't gotten promoted yet, it'll probably happen tomorrow," Xane noted to her, nodding respectfully. "But, I think I've kept Mellodia waiting long enough..."

Xane exited his chambers, walking down the hall past several Knight recruits, who saluted him as he passed by. As he walked, he took a passing glance outside through an open window where the cool Baoan breeze flowed through. Despite being located on the top floor of his wing of the fortress. the courtyard was so large and so expertly divided and planned out that he could easily tell what group of Knights were practicing what. Red Knights were initiating target practice on several training dummies while Blue Knights practiced hand to hand combat maneuvers, presided over by Knight Generals. Black Knights took up a large section and were taking part in a little miniature tournament, a competitive exercise that tested one's aptitude for quick thinking on their feet during a fight.

Though he could not see them, Xane knew the White and Green Knights would be inside, studying in their respective fields of medicine and linguistics on the second floor and that the Gold and Violet Knights were harnessing their abilities of phoenix magic and studying knowledge of the arcane and unknown respectively. The latter of which, had been the most recent division of Knights implemented by Xane, one that he thought a necessity given all the threats from the unknown the world had come to face years past and how cripplingly unprepared they had been to deal with such a threat. Though, Xane perhaps, had some ulterior motive to pushing a more public study of such knowledge. And unlike most ulterior motives, this once stemmed from something entirely benign.

It was a good thing that becoming, not simply a Knight, not a general, but an Elder was such a demanding job and one Xane found worth it. As one of the youngest Knight Elders in history, he was tasked with bringing one of the most powerful orders of peacekeepers in the galaxy back from the brink of annihilation. And his will was just strong enough to allow him to do so, after all he had his own ideas of how to change the Knights ever since he had found out just how corrupt they were.

And it was this drive to do good that carried him through one of the most disheartening days of his life. Xane missed his friends, he missed the woman he loved and the thought of never being able to see them again angered and upset him greatly, even if, deep down he had hope that this supposed curse would break, it was a hope buried very far. Visits from Caithe had helped to ease the pain as well as the occasional talks to his old Organization friends through the communication arrays. The title of Knight General Supreme, in fact, was a joke stated by Nulix on a conference call with the UO, that Xane decided to take far too literally, deeming it an actual title much to everyone's derision, though in truth while there was still a Counsel of Elders, Xane was more or less the defacto leader. It was Mellodia that had drove him out of his funk, completely. She had called him a few months after they had each settled into their own separate ways and told him that she was expecting children. Her and Xane's children and twins at that and heirs to an empire. Xane could never have been more proud. Knights whisper that that day Xane was prone to crying at a second's notice. not from sorrow but from absolute joy.

Xane waltzed into the his communications room, where leaders from around the world contacted him and he and his fellow Knight Elders and generals deployed troops and set their strategies to provide peace throughout the universe. Mellodia was currently still on the line, Xane was happy to see and quickly picked up the receiver to greet her. "Lady of Longbao?" Xane asked in a mock formal voice. "What do I owe the pleasure today?" he stated.

"Taco Supreme..." was Mellodia's immediately reply.


"It's..it's Knight Elder Supreme, c'mon....it's a cool name..." Xane stated, sounding genuinely disheartened for a second. "But, it's been a while. I heard Longbao's been busy, tryin' to stay out of the civil wars popping up all around Sor. I don't blame you for that one"

"I heard that the KNIGHTS were busy trying to stay out of them as well," Mellodia added snarkily.

"Yeah, well...listen..." Xane shook his head "It's kind of a messy business, Anaszia's been pressing me, but thankfully Caithe's been keeping her off my back. But at this rate, I don't think Anaszia's gonna keep listening to her anymore, things have been getting...rough, to say the least. I mean how are the Knights of the Realm supposed to protect the Realm when The Realm's the one fighting itself?" Xane sighed.

"You do what you think is best. The Knights aren't as bound to Anaszia's Empire as they once were to Sor," Mellodia answered. "They're different. They're less like soldiers and more like protectors. Maybe instead of favoring a side, you may have to look for a way to protect the people from themselves."

"Well, that's what I wanna do, but..." Xane frowned. "Eh, things were so much easier when we were fighting pirates and wanna-be warlords. Not to mention, the Guardians have started bothering me night and day about something ...everything's weird now, but y'know what...I'll sort it out..." he said with an exasperated, but optimistic smile.

"I know you will, honey," Mellodia laughed cheerfully. "Anyway, I jsuty wanted to call you before your speech and talk to you about your sons..."

"Oh, yeah? How are the boys doi-," Xane began as a fax immediately began to be sent to him, his eyes scrolling down to look at the contents of the paper as it was being sent. His eyes widened slightly as he read, "WANTED CAPTURED: SUPER SWIPIO BROS. FOR REPEATED TRAIN ROBBERIES ACROSS THE ULFIRAN BORDER."

"They're..." Xane began, seemingly speechless.

"Yes, I can't believe they's disrespe-," Mellodia began.

"YEAH! They're doin' it! Makin' it big time!" Xane chuckled loudly. "They almost wanna be as famous as me, but they oughtta keep tryin'! It's a nice attempt though..." Xane folded his arms, continuing to laugh loudly until he notice the prolonged silence on the opposite line. "But, uh...lemme check where they were last seen? Oh uh, I'll get someone to that to bring 'em in here..."

"Ugh, sometimes I wish I could be there..." Mellodia laughed eventually. "Someone has to watch you to make sure you don't embarrass yourself."

"Hey! I'm still respected out here...as far as I know!" Xane quipped. "But...I wish you could be here too..." Xane paused as the trumpets blared outside. "Well, that's me...Later tonight...I'll call if you're not caught up in all of that ruling a planet mess. I love you!" Xane said warmly.

"I love you too," Mellodia answered back, just as warmly before the communications faded. Xane turned around and placed his helmet on, an intimidating design, inspired by his former mentor's in the Knights.


***

Xane's entrance was followed by a chorus of fanfare. Trumpets, drums, and the chants of thousands of Knights followed him as he made his way at an even pace alongside a long stone bridge. The sun shone brightly against the radiant Baoan design of the Knight Fortress, and upon the twin Golden Lion statues that guarded each and every door in the facility served as a fearsome yet noble sight, reminding all that the each and ever Knight was expected to have those very same two qualities. Golden lion heads now adorned the armor of each and every Knight as their symbol and as a sign of remembrance to one of the strongest warriors who ever lived.

Xane walked down what was known in Bao as the Bridge of Zhèngyì. It and the Knight Fortress were once a facility long abandoned by the Knights during a war long before Xane's time, but the UO warrior managed to use it as the linchpin that held the new Knights of the Realm together, refurbishing and expanding upon what the facility had before, and with Rogay-Yamortia being deemed as somewhat of a bad omen for many in Bao, Xane felt it was right for the Knights to get a somewhat fresh start.

Rows and rows of Knights lined the Bridge of Zhèngyì, each one saluting Xane without missing a beat as he strode past the long walk towards the end of the bridge. Below him were Knights from various academies raising their banners with their own emblems that were variations of the Knights' Lion emblems and cheering boisterously as Xane walked on. Xane, smirking under his helmet, raised a fist in the air, giving acknowledgement and greeting to each of the academies, many named after fallen friends and allies that served bravely in battle. As each was spoken too, the respective academy erupted in cheers.

"Malkini Academy!"

"Ha! HOO!" the respective school practically exploded in response.

"Alette Academy!"

"Ha! HOO!"

"Joachim Academy!"

"Ha! HOO!"

"Daelen Academy!"

"Ha! HOO!"

"Kahu Academy!"

"Ha! HOO!"

"Dragoon Academy!"

"Ha! HOO!"

"Darius Academy!"

"Ha! HOO!"

Xane continued to give shout outs to the various schools as they waved their banners high and presented arms, until finally, he reached the end of the bridge, where simply a podium stood that overlooked the entirety of the Knights present below.

"No longer...are you cadets!" Xane began. "Today, forever more, you are Knights!" he started simply, causing the entirety of the Knights present to erupt in cheers and ovations. "But to truly be a Knight, you must remember what that entails. A Knight is not simply a soldier. A Knight does not stand for bloodshed, conquest, or power! Nations, politics...we respect them, but to us, we're all united in the pursuit of two things! Justice and Peace! We do not revel in the fight, but we protect those instead who cannot fight for themselves! Not...to say y'all can't enjoy a scrap or two now," Xane added, causing the crowd to chuckle. "But, we not only exist to protect the weak...but to set an example for any who see injustice and want to something about it. A sign that those who've watched their families die to cruelty or natural disaster that there are those who won't hesitate to provide them aid. And deal out justice when necessary!"

"You all have a responsibility! To protect the weak, help the helpless, especially now! Things are changing,tensions are brewing and our years of peace won't last forever, in it's no secret that in many planets, things are about to come to a head! As Knights,m you're going to have to learn that the road to justice is never easy...there'll always be some bumps along the way. There will be hard choices that you have to make...but you must steel yourselves. And remember, first and foremost....why you wanted this and what it stands for..." Xane continued. "I've seen many Knights fall...become less than what they could be...and I've seen some rise again and remember what they were." Let's pray that you always remember what you are and always look forward to what you could be! Thank you Knights! Knight Elder Xeroux will arrive shortly to read off your respective assignments! Godspeed...I trust you all will find success and bring honor to our order," Xane stated as he turned away and stepped off the stage to roaring applause.

***

The boy from the village led Passere to the bay. Night had fallen upon the small world, and the stars seemed to dance in the sky nearly as much as the fireflies as they skipped across the water. Passere was disturbed and slightly impressed by how much the water appeared nearly as murky as Sor's when it was nowhere near as polluted. The boat he'd needed to take was right in front of him, though it appeared more than a little dilapidated. "So..." Passere chuckled, beginning to joke with the boy, "I don't see your kraken yet..."

"It's there," the boy insisted. "It's always asleep, it didn't used to be that way..My pa says it brought a lady here one day. A ladt from the stars," the boy spoke, scratching his head.

"What?" Passere asked of the boy, taking a knee to question him. "What do you mean? What happened to this lady? Was anyone else with her? And where is this Kraken now?!"

The boy shrugged and placed his hands behind his head in thought, before saying, "It's right there," he stated pointing out at the bay, towards the wide open sea it led out too. It speaks to me sometimes in it's sleep," the boy offered without prompting.

"Yeah? What does it say..." Passere, standing up, his eyes glaring at the sea ahead, one hand at first reaching for his blade before it moved towards his radio transmitter.

"It broke off..it says that a lot," the boy answered, not doing much to ease Passere's tensions. "It says that it won't stay a sleep forever. It says when it wakes up something wonderful will begin."

"A war..." Passere said in a tired voice, stating it more than he was asking it.

"No..." the boy answered as Passere noticed something. Eyes widening, he would've missed it if he had blinked, but he immediately drew out his radio as he witnessed the rocks shake and the water shift ever so slightly and worst of all...in the middle of the sea. He saw the outline of something hovering above the air. Something massive.

"A hunt.." the boy whispered in the Guardian's ear.

And then he was gone.

And so was Passere.

***
Xane stood with the other elders as Xeroux spoke at the podium. Another Elder nudged Xane's side and asked in a whisper. "General Balfoy has informed me, that you want troops ready for deployment as early as tomorrow morning. Has the civil war escalated to that extent?"

"Not necessarily..." Xane answered back. "Just a feeling, that I got...rumors of all out civil war....worries from the Guardians...I just got a feeling that we need to be ready," Xane explained.

"Ready for what, though?" the Elder insisted on knowing.

"Whatever comes next..." was Xane's reply. An ominous statement to most...but Xane's tone had a such a confidence in it, you couldn't help but not worry too much.

It's that same confidence that would eventually lead to Xane not worrying too much about his friends all too much in these increasingly tumultuous times. Because even worlds apart, even years later, he knew deep down they all still had eachother's backs. They were still a family. And someday, Xane new there would come a time. Where wind would meet flame. Where chains would rattle. Where lies would give way to truths. Where books long closed would spring open. Where fists and jokes would both be cracked. And why not? There was an end before, after all. And all it did was give way to a new beginning...

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Some time prior:

It was a suicide mission. Darius had known that going in. But if he couldn't kill Oblivion, then who could? So, as the motley collection of the Samurai's warships and the Guardians' broken fleet shattered themselves against the wall of darkness that was Oblivion's army, Darius could only hope for a miracle. But there were none to spare, it seemed.

"Get me to the surface!" Darius roared, hands gripping to the top of the pilot's chair as his ship bucked and tore apart from the frenzy of Oblivion's fighters. "Get me there!"

"Trying, sir! But..." the pilot's words were cut off in a wash of sticky blood as bullets tore through the windscreen and pulverized his brain. With a great groan, the ship tore completely in half, fire washing through the remaining oxygen in a brilliant explosion.

To Darius, it all happened in slow motion. As he felt the vacuum of space peeling at his skin, he gave a great cry and launched himself forward with all his power, towards what remained of Kalva. He could feel himself falling, falling... and then there was only darkness.

But, strangely, darkness was not the end. Darius continued on, though his body remained. As if being pulled by a magnet, Darius found himself floating forward, into the endless night that was Oblivion. After all, it does make sense, Darius thought. We are the same person after all.

For this truth Darius had come to understand in the dead worlds. So close now, the two looked at each other as if on two sides of a plane of glass. One made of utter darkness and cold death, and one composed of pure light and dancing fire. How long they peered at each other, Darius did not know. He was aware, yet he was not. He could feel Oblivion's pulsing heart, his own heart. He could feel the Eight inside Oblivion, the Eight inside himself now, the power that Oblivion so craved but could not use.

Only a complete soul could use that power, and Oblivion was not complete. Fractured, broken, and though Oblivion's madness and pure will acted like a form of duct tape, it could not compare to Darius' sense of self. Thus, Darius was the stronger soul, the stronger half, and could not be swallowed up. But, perhaps, the other way around... But no, Oblivion knew what Darius intended, and kept up a barrier, a shield that kept Darius at bay.

Yet, Darius could feel Oblivion's concentration waning. In some dim alternate reality, he was aware that his friends were battling the body of Oblivion. He could feel them losing. Darius couldn't let that happen. So he reached out, and tapped the glass.

Spiderweb cracks began forming in the thin pane that separated their twin souls as Darius slowly chipped away to Oblivion's mental block. Oblivion tried to recover his focus, but fighting a battle on two fronts was trying. Without warning, pain, sharp pain - Oblivion had been hurt. Darius pushed more of himself through the glass, reaching into Oblivion with his essence, drawing the darkness towards him.

Oblivion fought still, trying to take more power from the Eight, but Darius stopped it. How, he was not sure, but he knew the end was close now. Oblivion's last desperate attempt: as his mortal frame collapsed into death, he tried to consume Darius. But without a body, without a foundation, all that was left were their souls. And Darius was the stronger soul.

***

Six minutes after the battle:

Enigma lay in a pool of his own blood, contemplating death. Not his own - he'd never much cared if he lived or died in the first place, and now that his end seemed certain, his only regret was that he would not get to see his goal come to fruition. His life had only ever been a method, and his dream had only ever been a selfish one. But he had sacrificed everything.

He'd never felt truly human, Enigma reminisced. No one had ever treated him as anything but a tool, an object to be used. His creators - his parents, perhaps - trained him to be emotionless, nameless, and observant. He had been a historian, born to be the silent watcher of history, born to record it for the sake of records itself. For years, centuries, he had done just that. On the planet that would someday be called Libary, Enigma remained faithful to their cause, using the powers his creators had given him to be everywhere, but nowhere, at once.

But his creators had long since passed, and boredom plagued Enigma's mind. There was no joy in his work. He was near omniscient, but omniscience was cold and passionless. So Enigma began an experiment - he joined the annals of history as a player, on a lonesome world on the fringes of life. He mimicked the men and women of the world, becoming a warrior and mage, but always a shadow, always just a whisper on their tongues. The enigma in the night.

Perhaps this too would have proven ultimately fruitless, but it was on this godless world that he had met Sage. To Enigma, she had shone like a bright sun in comparison to the dull stars of the other residents. She became something more to him. Indeed, she became everything to him, and he lost his vision of the universe, giving up his omniscience to gain something much greater: true love.

Rain began to fall, splattering his face, but Enigma did not feel the drops. If only he had continued to watch: then he would have seen what was coming. But because he was blinded by Sage's light, he did not see the darkness that arrived from beyond the edge of the universe to swallow the planet as their own. Enigma was once again reduced to a helpless observer as his love was taken from him, and the world she'd once called home transformed into a mutative monstrosity that would become known as Planet X.

It had taken hundreds of years. But Enigma had gotten his revenge. He'd tried for so long to believe that he could get Sage back, pull her from death's grasp. But Darius Lionheart was the only one who that was possible for, and he would have required Oblivion's power to do it. Now, with both of them gone, Enigma lay in the rain, tired of hoping.

Blood bubbled from his mouth as Enigma slowly breathed in and out. His thoughts were elsewhere - another side, another story, one where he still walked hand in hand with the woman he had loved so deeply. And though there was no one there to hear it, a whisper seemed to escape his throat.

"I'm sorry."

***

Two months after the battle:

Tera Roth stood on one of the many grassy hillsides of Larenska, leaning on the crutch he'd been forced to use ever since the battle with Oblivion as he overlooked the graves of those he had once called friend. His leg might not ever fully heal, they said. Phoenix magic could only go so far, and so many of their healers had been cut down. So many Guardians lost.

Darius, one who was seemingly invincible, now lifeless and buried below him. Enigma, a man who had been friend and enemy both, left to die on Kalva's remains. Cora, his fiance, the woman he'd loved, the woman who had saved him, dead from some Oblivionite bullet. Tyre, his best friend, consumed by the powers of the Eight even as he had sacrificed himself to save others from death.

His chest burned. His leg ached. The Guardians looked to him, but he'd become distant, withdrawn. His hair had grown, his lips and chin first covered by unshaven stubble now turned to tangled beard. His golden eyes, once as piercing as a hawk, were now dull. Tera Roth knew it in his bones. He was a changed man, a broken man.

"Mr. Roth!" a voice called out, and Tera Roth turned his head to see a slim, dark-skinned man with well-worn but expensive clothes climbing the hillside to greet him. The man waved cheerfully, a pleasant smile gracing his face. "I hope you don't mind me bothering you, but the others I spoke to said I could find you up here."

Tera Roth frowned. "I'm sorry. Who are you?"

"Allow me to introduce myself," the man said, approaching and sticking out a friendly hand. "The name is Seidman, Kendall Seidman. I am one of the members of Queen Anaszia's core staff members, and Joachim's older brother by a few years. Did you know him?"

"Joachim? Yeah, I've heard of him," Tera Roth said dryly, shaking Kendall's hand with some weariness. "Maybe kidnapped him once. What is it I can do for you?"

Kendall blinked at the mention of kidnap, but his smile stayed in place. "Well, as you might have heard, Joachim perished in an act of invaluable heroism to our country, and upon recovery of his will, there was a letter that was addressed to you. The instructions were to deliver it to you in person."

"You don't seem too torn up about his death," Tera Roth snorted, as Kendall retrieved a small black box from his pocket, and held it out to the Guardian.

"We weren't close," Kendall said politely, as Tera Roth popped open the black box and pulled out the single sheet of paper it contained. He read it once quickly, shook his head, and read it again, this time much slower.

At length, Tera Roth lowered the paper. "Have you read this?"

"Does it pertain to me in any regard?" Kendall asked, raising an eyebrow slightly.

"No," Tera Roth said after a moment. "I suppose not." He folded up the piece of paper quietly, and slid it into one of his pockets before handing the small box back to Kendall. "Is that all?"

"Ah, well, while I have your time," Kendall said, stepping forward slightly and inclining his head. "It would be greatly appreciated if the leader of the Guardians, one of the great heroes of our time, would make an appearance with the Queen and fully announce his support of her leadership. We'd be willing to give you some compensation."

"You want to bribe me to endorse Anaszia?" Tera Roth sneered, raising an eyebrow. "You're not really anything like your brother, are you?"

"We weren't close," Kendall repeated, smiling again as he bowed. "I'll take that as a maybe, then. Please let me know when you've reached a full decision." Kendall bowed once more and turned back down the hill, striding with the confidence that only one who believed themselves to be important could muster.

"Joachim..." Tera Roth muttered to the graves below. "You had a daughter?"

The Ultimate Organization IV: Out Of Character (OOC)

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Re: The Ultimate Organization IV

(Posted while we were on page 135)

SO, here’s a summary of like the last ten pages of Sentinels stuff:

Mysterious oblivion agents basically tried to frame Argent for a crime and the other Sentinel’s investigated. They found out that Sleer, an Oblivionite, might be working with Seed on some illegal slaving stuff.

The Sentinels managed to free Argent and were celebrated as heroes for taking down two evil slaver brothers. Nai helped them, but they still don't trust her. So yeah, thats where they are now

As for the other current plots let me see quickly: Xane & Wing are on the Rock they're in some crazy town run by Zambob, the ruler of the Horenor. Xeroux is returning to Nai with Sentrius' brother who they rescued from Anaszia, Tanister Darling. Fat Chu was chasing Otis but he disappeared in a tree. And Lun and Tormand are going to Bao to find the Lords of Bao, the order Wu was part of.

***

As for like what the political plot even is I wrote a little thing explaining all the main aspects involved, I think the others might be able to add but this is the basic framework as I understand it

WAR STUFF:
Okay so basically there’s a huge war going on.

The three factions are: Oblivion, Vindico-Pluoo-Tryptia, and Seed-Ulfire. All three are at war with each other.

Vindico-Pluoo-Tryptia declared war on Seed-Ulfire after Seed took over Sor and basically abolished it’s monarchy, and Seed-Ulfire & Vindico-Pluoo-Trypia declared war on Oblivion when he began invading everything with massive death armies.

Seed is technically a vassal of Ulfire and serve the Emperor of Ulfire, but they have equal armies basically and have been on bad terms even though they’re technically part of the same thing.

SEED STUFF:
Anaszia was made Queen of Sor, so Nai’s technical superior, in an attempt for Ulfire to gain more control over Seed again.

Nai is in control of Seed and wants to make it a monarchy basically. She has a heir, her daughter with Sentrius. Only High Command and some other member of Seed knows about the daughter. She is also making a huge amount of money off something secret in the Heart of Darkness that’s funding the war.

Becoming a monarchy is basically the opposite of what Seed is, the big thing about them is that their leader could be anyone. Blood didn’t matter, so if Seed members catch on to what she’d doing they wont be happy.

Joachim seems to be operating against her and planning a coup. He also seems to be working with a mysterious organization. So yeah, stuff is going to divide between them.

SENTINELS STUFF:
The Sentinels are another order like Seed that’s a vassal of Ulfire, only instead of being a huge system sized thing the Sentinels have four members. Anaszia used to lead them and made them huge celebrities through a series of novellas. The Sentinels broke free of Anaszia’s control and now exist independently under Ulfire. Basically they’re trying to save the world while existing in their current predicament. Everyone wants to kill them.


Re: The Ultimate Organization IV

i'm back with a Vengeance baby. so, who should the boy meet with first? taking all aplications


Re: The Ultimate Organization IV

Yeah, of course you're welcome to join up again. Your characters are all still around as well! A lot has happened though, since you were around last. So, if you want a recap before you send in a character, shoot me or one of the others a pm or something.


Re: The Ultimate Organization IV

Life happens my friends. And that us what brings me here. Im trying to get back into r but need to get in a game first. If you would have me, though I understand if not


Re: The Ultimate Organization IV

Woah, Eldwind! It's been a while...


Re: The Ultimate Organization IV

So... how's it been? Muhahahahaha


The Ultimate Organization IV

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