Chapter 1: The Vitrix Defensive
'Vitrix.. What a shit hole' thought Castor Vel Torah. Castor, a young Endravo, only in his early adulthood at 17 years old. Castor wears a tannish brown robe to help repel the desert sands around and hopefully block out some of the three suns' heat. His turquoise-blue skin has become slightly faded after his hour and a half walk. His skin cracks and dries in the heat, his squid-like body trudging through the hot sand. His steps are slow and slightly weak. This scorching planet is a complete contrast to his underwater oasis of Exvillia, his home planet.
'I can't believe the Council sent me here on a "secret" mission..' He knew it wasn't secret. Hell, his buddy Cordon, from the Great Library, knew about it. Castor knew that the mission was just a routine check up on the Krillian home planet, Vitrix. It was normal for the planet to send out some distress signal about "being attacked by the "Darkness"".. But normally its just a huge desert storm or an occasional Pirat raid. It was a basic mission for any new recruit of the Council to complete. All he had to do was go down, evaluate the situation, write up a detailed report, make sure all civilians are fine, then head back to the Ark. It had been done at least a hundred thousand times before.
"Is that..?" A smile cracks behind his mouth tendrils. "About time.."
The Mega City was now 500 feet in front of him. The first Mega City in history, now buried under the sands of the vast desert of the planet. Volantis was a masterpiece of architecture, engineered during the Krillian 'Age of Golden Exploration'.
"Fuck.. Even the city is a shit hole.." He mumbles to himself. He looks at the buried ruins ahead of him and shakes his head. He starts to sit down then leaps back to his feet, seeing a dark figure dart into a building around the top of the buried building. 'What was that?' He thinks as he gets to his feet, pulling out a pair of binoculars with infrared and night vision settings. He flips the binoculars to infrared and looks into the building for signs of life. "Nothing.." He murmurs to himself.
Castor begins to walk towards the buried city. Hard to believe this place used to be beautiful.' He looks up the building he saw the movement at and sees an open window about twelve floors up. 'Hmm..'
He finds an open window on the floor he's nearest to and slowly crawls in. Immediately he feels cooler. The heat resistant metals of the building bring the temperature from a scorching 135, to a bearable 80. "Ah.. This is a lot better." He slumps over and leans against a nearby wall. He summons the forces of the nearby De-Kin-Fo and conjures an orb of light ten feet ahead of him so he can watch for anything inside the building. Castor sighs, and stands up. 'Up to the top floor I guess.'
Castor moves to the nearest staircase, bringing his orb of light with him. He looks to his right and sees the Krillian symbol for 98. 'Damn.. THIS is the 98th floor?' He looks down realizing just how much of the planet really is buried. He shakes his head and starts his trek up the steps. '99.. 100.. 101..' The flights of never ending steps doesn't seem to phase him.
After a few minutes he reaches the 110th floor. 'Finally..' He thinks to himself. He reaches for the door and pulls at the handle. 'Locked.. Damn.' He gently knocks on the door and waits for a response. "Hello?" he calls through the door.
There's no response. "Hellooo??" He knocks again. No response.
"This is Castor.. I was sent by the Council. Can someone please let me in? I'm here to help you guys." No response, but this time he can hear a hushed conversation on the other side of the door. He waits for thirty seconds before he hears a sound of something sliding off a slot on the other side of the door. The door opens slowly, a dark skinned Krillian raising a shotgun to Castor's head.
"Hurry up, get in now!" the Krillian bellows to him. A crashing sound comes from the staircase behind him, he turns around quickly. A hand grasps his shoulder and Castor gets yanked in. He falls to the ground with a grunt as the door quickly begins slamming shut. Before it does however, he gets a glance at a dark figure charging towards the door. A shadow, it looked like. Then a loud crash against the door as the Krillian slams a board back down to bar the door.
"What's going on here!?" Castor, now standing to his feet, demands. Looking forward again, he is greeted by the barrel of a plasma shotgun. He raised his hands in a non-menacing manner. "Whoa.. Council member here.. Don't shoot." After a moment the Krillian at the door, a female, forces the shotgun down and yells something in their native tongue. The one with the gun, a male, argues something back, but the other one had walked away and he follows her.
Castor waits a moment, not sure what to do, then the female gestures towards him to follow. He walks quickly to catch up to the other two, adjusting his robes to appear more presentable. He steps into the next room seeing injured and sick Krillian lying on beds. Guards and makeshift doctors line the room. A lot of them are in rag tag suits of armor. 'These Krillian aren't soldiers' he notices.
He catches up with the other two in the other room, another Krillian is sitting behind a metal desk, maps scattered all over with red x's and circles, numbers and words scribbled all over in Krillian. One of them he quickly glances at and reads on his way past. '329 Dead.. New HQ: Volantis Mercury Tower. 40,000 inco-'
"You!" The Krillian behind the desk bursts out. Castor immediately shakes his head and looks up to the tall, lean body of what he can assume to be the "General". "Where are the rest of you?" The Krillian asks in the common tongue. Clearly this one had some experience off world, to learn the common tongue.
"Rest of me? I.. I'm not sure I understand your question sir." Castor responds, now getting a closer look at the bug man in front of him. He was tall and slender, a fairly normal thing with Krillian. He was a dark tan color with red markings over his face. One of his antennas looked singed and was in half. He wore a makeshift set of armor. It looked like it was made of bits of aluminum he found and just welded them together.
"Yes boy, the rest of ya! Where's your team? Where's the Council's extraction team?" He responded in a gruff voice, a tinge of panic tucked in behind it. The other two Krillian were looking at him in shock and small hope.
"Team? No team.. I.. I was sent here for my initiations. My first mission, s-sir. I.. I c-"
"Stop stuttering boy! Speak like a true man."
"Well.. I.." Castor clears his throat. "I have no team with me sir. Its just me."
The general looks down and shakes his head. after a moment of thought he looks back up and asks, "Well boy, why don't you call for an extraction? We've been held up here for a week now and have been running low on medical supplies. Our food will be out in a few days as well. Even if you're on your own here, you had to have had a lift here.."
Castor nods his head. "Y-yea.. I can probably get an extraction. The Council wouldn't leave people to suffer. But.. I have some questions first. I.. I'm sure they'll need those answered first as well."
"Sure kid, shoot. Let me guess.. You wanna know what came running for you in the hall?" He laughs for a moment. "That was Death, boy.. Death and disease.. Thrown together into one disgusting form."
"I.. Wh-what do you mean? This one creature has been killing all your people?"
"No boy. I don't think you get it. There's thousands of 'em.. Millions perhaps. Have.. You never heard of the P-" Just then a nearby window shatters, a black liquid-smoke rushes in covering the last room containing all the sick and injured. Screams and crying ring out from inside somewhere, quickly being silenced.
"GET DOWN!" The male Krillian with the shotgun yells jumping in front of Castor. An audible tearing is heard as his body flies in front of him. Castor sees what looks like a black tendril that shot out of the smoke, dug into the soldier, pulling his bleeding corpse into the smoke.
"NO!!!" The female screams, grabbing his shotgun from the ground and begins to fire into the smoke. "Run.. Get General Talkek out of here, you hear?"
"B-but.. What about you?" Castor asks.
"Don't worry about me squid man.. I'll be ok. You need to get him out. I'll meet up with you later." She then says something in Krillian to the general and he responds back, grabbing Castor's arm.
'I wish I didn't skip speech school. Reading the languages is nice, but I feel I miss a lot of important things' Castor thinks before running the direction Talkek pulled him in. He turned around just in time to see sky in front of him, feeling no ground below him. He was in the air, 12 stories up. 'Well.. So much for leaving behind a legacy..' Suddenly after 3 stories he felt two arms wrap around his waist.
Castor looked up to see the General holding him, flying towards the outskirts Castor came from. 'I forgot they had wings' He thought to himself before saying, "My ship is an hour and a half walk East." The General nodded and began flying faster in that direction.
After only 20 minutes they'd reached the LZ. 'Well that was way quicker than the trip there.' The engines of the ship below begin to whir to life, getting ready to take off back to the Ark. Talkek lands right behind it, the door opening with a Corvan guard holding a plasma rifle towards the General.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa.. He's with me Fek. We need to get to the Council quickly, please.. I'll explain on the way back." Fek lowers his rifle and helps the General on board. The drop ship begins to fly up vertically. "Wait! What about the girl?"
Talkek puts a hand on Castor's should and shakes his head. "She was keeping them busy. She knew what she was doing.." After a personal moment of silence he goes on to say, "Her sacrifice won't go in vain when we get the Council's support."
The trip to the Ark took only five hours with the slip space drive onboard. The trip consisted of the General vomiting and Castor attempting to explain the situation to Fek, unsuccessfully. Castor realized he didn't know as much about the situation as he would like, and Talkek couldn't really talk in between his violent vomiting fits.
Fek looks to Talkek and laughs as the ship begins to land on the Ark in the Council hangars. "Y'know, for a flyin' insect, you really ain't one for flyin'.." He laughs once more and helps him up and out of the ship, apologizing to a nearby janitor on his way out.
Castor heads to the Council Tower, located in the middle of the four large districts. A large, 300 floor tower, beautiful in design. It was the first structure made after the four wings of the Ark were mapped out and constructed. The tower held the Councilors and diplomats with the occasional high class military man. Full of Endravo scholars, Aviar shopkeepers on the bottom floor, and Praetorian guards.. The tower was always bustling with life. Even the occasional Hypron could be seen. Sometimes preaching about nature, sometimes selling plants, or some sort of medicinal herb.
On his way to the main elevator he saw from the corner of his eye, a familiar face. "Tyrion? Wh-what are you doing here?" Castor looked very confused and concerned.
"Haha, sup Castor. Nice to see you too, friend. Yea, I've been great! And you? Oh wait? You didn't ask me how I was? Didn't even say hello? Hm.. Rude." Tyrion begins to laugh, his odd squared teeth chattering together and pale fleshy arms outstretched for a hug. 'Humans are so weird looking.' Castor thought.
Castor returns the hug slightly cautiously and backs away, a more serious tone now. "I'm serious though Tyrion, why are you on the Ark? You know if the Corvans spot you without a master they'll try to take you? Are you crazy??"
Tyrion looks slightly disappointed and responds in a sarcastic voice, "You know? That still didn't sound like a 'Hey Tyrion, great to see you. How have you been?' But, you know what? I'll respond to it as such." He chuckles once more and begins again, "Its great to see you too buddy! I've been pretty good, had a child a few months ago. Strong boy, we named him Tyra-"
"Tyrion! I'm serious! What are you doing here?" Castor interrupts.
Tyrion sighs. "Well.. If you'd let me get there.." He pauses, waiting for Castor to intrude once more and smiles. "Better. Now.. I'm here because the Council here is threatening my home. They think Nex Ven Tor and the Xylonic creatures who have lived there their entire life are a threat to the universe.. They want me to fight with them and try to get the other people of my village to join them. Thing is.. The Xylon have been nothing but kind to us. I don't think anyone would want to fight them."
"Yes but Tyrion, you're respected amongst your people. If you fought the Xylons, I'm certain your people would follow you."
"Yes.. They would.. But." He pauses, thinking hard about his next words. "But I don't want to. Th-the Xylon are the people who gave us a home when nobody else would. They promised us protection every time we needed it. They saved us from the damned Pirats.. I.. I couldn't turn against them. I'd be a traitor."
"A traitor? Tyrion, do you hear yourself? You're talking about going against the Council to help the enemy. THAT makes you a traitor, not working with the Council to defeat these menaces.." Castor begins to become slightly angered by his friend's words.
"No Castor.. I.. I don't think you understand." Tyrion says, looking down a little upset.
"Don't understand what Tyrion? 'Human emotions'? We all have emotions you slave bastard! Don't think your race is any more special than the others." Castor begins to stamp his tentacle feet in anger.
"N-no Castor.. I know you feel emotions.. I'm not an intolerable asshole. I just meant you wouldn't know what its like to have a family that supports you and loves you. The Xylon are that to me and I would rather die by their side any day of the week, than betray them because my 'friend' who generalizes me like everyone else wants me to. I'm sorry Castor.. I've definitely made my mind up now. This 'slave' will just go back home and prepare my home to be more defensive against the incoming onslaught. I wish you good luck in the Council.." Tyrion looks down, grabs his helmet from nearby and walks to the door, ignoring Castor's half-meant apologies.
"Tyrion please.. I.. I didn't mean it. Come back!" He yelled out, taking only a couple steps forward. He looks down, angered at himself, knowing he messed up big time. 'Bloody hell.. Why am I such an idiot? I.. I called him a slave. Wh-what the hell is wrong with me? I..' He shakes his head. 'I have to get to the Council. I need to tell them what happened on Vitrix!'
The elevator operator stops the doors from closing at the last minute as Castor reached them. "Thank you sir." Castor says between exhausted breaths. The Hypron operator nods and presses the top floor button. The trip takes a total time of 5 minutes to climb all 300 floors.
At last the doors open up to a wide hallway, Praetorian guardians on each wall, a total of 30 guards, all armed with long pole arms and tridents of crystal. 'Praetorians always struck me as interesting.. An organic crystal race? Its always so intriguing to study them. The fact that their planet actually naturally grows them? Its just so amazing and interesting.' Two guards step in front of the door as Castor reaches them.
"What is your business here Endravo?" asks the dark purple one, holding a very large halberd. The other one, a pinkish purple, eyes him up and down. He cautiously holds his pole arm at his side, always ready to strike if the time finds it necessary.
"I'm hear to speak to the Council, I've just completed my mission. My name is Castor Vel Torah, my ID number is 3387564." Castor declares, showing off his small Councilor's badge. The darker Praetorian looks it over and nods. The lighter one opens the door and gestures Castor inside. Castor nods, "Thank you."
The room has 9 seats around a large holo-table. Castor was proud, he knew each of the Councilors by name. The first, an Aviar. He was the richest man in the galaxy and the descendant of the primary benefactor to the creation of the Ark. His family has always been respected by the others and the next of kin has always been welcome to take up the next seat when the predecessor can not serve any longer. 'Larksis Heartwing.' Castor thought to himself, refreshing himself before he talked to them. Aviars were always a welcoming sight on the Ark. Their forest home world of Avus was well known as the 'Banking Planet'. That was for a reason. Aviar were well known as the race that created the credit. They control over 60% of the galactic economy and their language has become the common tongue for over 100 years. For 'bird men', as the humans call them, they are a very clean and actually beautiful race, with a simple yet masterfully crafted language system.
The second chair held a Gravii, the most respected and loved out of all the races. If it weren't for the Gravii, there'd be alot less intelligent life forms on the Ark. The Gravii are responsible for determining which races are worthy of Ascension, the ability to become a space faring race and create more advanced technology. If it weren't for the Gravii, the Krillian, Mitoflurians, and the Corvan wouldn't be here today. 'Caldevant Grent' Castor thought, naming off the second figure.
The third chair held another Aviar. 'Krana Featherfell' She was beautiful, for an Aviar. She was in charge of the Galactic Bank, and thus a very important member to the Council. She controls the funds given to Council projects through loans and account managing. She was very intelligent and known at making great economic calls.
The fourth chair contained a Corvan. 'Hax Fer Yik' A fleet master of the Corvan Navy, the largest naval force ever in existence. If every other race in the galaxy put all of their ships together in one army, they would only make a ship or two more than the Corvan Navy. Even if they did put every ship in the universe against the Corvan Fleet, they'd still probably be annihilated. The Corvans are either feared or respected by races, it really determines who you talk to. Some see them as tyrannical, expansionistic war dogs. Others see them as respected, strong, masters of military. Their appearance alone is enough to make people fearful of them. Their scaly reptilian skin of their upper body, followed by an arachnid body below. The eight legs alone scare most Humans.
The fifth chair holds another Gravii. 'Talkosh Jerboas' He was in command of immigrations into and out of the Ark. He normally gives Council Agents their missions when people aren't attempting to move large numbers of people in or out of the Ark.
The sixth chair holds another Corvan. 'Jet Vey Hon' He is considered 'the most honorable man in the universe'. He isn't a politician in any way, but he is an amazing soldier, and a master of strategy.
The seventh chair holds an Endravo. The Mother of the Priesthood. 'Grendel Vas Korah' Castor thinks excitedly. She was a highly respected member of the Endra races, even most Staviks respected her. That was saying something, seeing as Staviks hated just about every Endravo they ever saw. 'She's so gorgeous' Castor thought. She was a master in the arcane arts, being the first person that wasn't a Gravii to tap into the powers of the De-Kin-Fo, the magical essence of the universe. She was a legend, and ushered in a new era of discovery and science.
Castor glanced a while longer at Grendel before moving over to the next seat. This seat held the only Hypron on the Council. 'Ironbark the Immortal' He had been around since the Ark was first created over 500 years ago. Hypron lived centuries if given the right conditions. Normally they lived around 450 years, but Ironbark has been alive for 563. He was a little taller than most of his other people, normally standing around 10-20 feet tall. Ironbark is an astonishing 30. The Hypron come from the 'Garden Planet' of Juniper. The large tree people are famous for bringing oxygen and life to the Ark. Ironbark was actually the first inhabitant and populated the Ark with many of his home planet's plant life. He is the most respected member of the Council and the most revered and listened to.
The ninth and final seat contained another Endravo, this one wearing a long black and red rimmed robe. His metallic breast plates shown slightly between the opening in the front of the robe. 'Extin Val Toris' He fought in the last wars against the vicious Staviks on Exvillia and even killed their last general, Boomer, before the Council came and removed them from the planet. Extin has learned a lot from Grendel about the power of the De-Kin-Fo, and uses that as his primary weapon. He carries an Endra Steel claymore for very dire situations. He was a legend in Endra society and still carries Boomer's legendary hammer as a memento to his successes.
Castor snaps out of his slight daze as a booming voice calls him. "Castor? Castor Vel Torah?" It was Hax. "Step forward scout. Tell us what you saw."
Castor steps forward, shaking very slightly as he looks towards the Councilors in front of him. "W-well.. It was fairly standard at first sir, a long, hot walk to Volantis. But when I reached it.." He takes a break, thinking about what he actually saw there. "Well sir, I was a little spooked at first to see a flying figure fly into an upper story window. But, then I realized it was just a Krillian, sir. I went into the building and walked the many steps and.. The door was locked. I knocked a couple times before I finally got a response. An armed response." Grendel leans forward, concerned with the situation, whereas Extin hangs more towards the notion of a fight.
"Who aimed the rifle at you sweetie? Did they hurt you?" Grendel asks, a motherly defense breaking through.
"Did you break his arm, son? You turn the rifle on him?" Extin asks, a more impressed questioning coming from him.
"Hush Endra. Please. Go on." Hax says looking towards Castor, a look of intrigue coming from him.
"Well Ms. Korah, I was not harmed luckily. The armed Krillian actually pulled me into the room and saved me. I.. I was being followed by something. It.. It looked like a creature made of smoke and disease. Just pure darkness. I-"
"The Darkness?" Larksis interrupts. "Have you gone mad boy? The Krillians make up these stories so they can be taken off that shit hole of a planet. They're just looking for pity. Looking fo-"
"I'm sorry to interrupt Councilor, but you didn't let me finish." Castor says slightly angered. "I saw it. With my own eyes, sir. I thought it was an optical illusion at first but then.. We were attacked. I was talking to their General. General Talkek, sir. I brought him with me to the Ark. He needs our help. Their planet is under attack! They need our military and ou-"
"Finish your story, boy. What happened during the attack?" Larksis interrupted once more.
"Right, I'm sorry. A large plume of smoke shrouded the other room and.. The one who pulled me in jumped in front of it for me. He.. He was stabbed by some.. Some tendril that shot out of it right at me! I.. The other one told me to take the General and run so.. I did. Everyone in that area was killed sir. Within mere seconds. Sir, they've been fighting them for a while. They're running out of food, water, ammo, and people. They need our he-"
"Enough! That’s enough Castor!" Larksis again. "We have our own war to fight. Don’t know if you've heard about it yet, but the Xylons on Nex Ven Tor have declared war on us and we need every man on that front. The Krillians can continue to play soldier all they like, but we have more serious things going on right now. You understand that boy?"
"I.. B-but.. They're killing innocent civilia-"
"Boy! I want you on the next ship to Nex Ven Tor, you hear? We're done talking about the damned roaches.. They're just trying to trick you and get off that planet. You hear me?" Grendel seems to shift uncomfortably. Extin glares at Castor angrily, as if he'd just disgraced him in some way. "Now head to the Hangars. Grendel and Extin will be riding with you to Nex Ven Tor. I don't want to hear this "Darkness" bull shit again, you understand?"
"Y-yes sir.. I-I understand." Castor says sadly, looking slightly lower.
"Good, now go." Larksis demands angrily, turning to talk to his fellow Council members.
Castor heads out the Council doors and to the elevator, sad the entire way there. The doors open and before the doors shut, Castor notices Grendel running towards the elevator. Castor tells the elevator operator to hold the door, and he does. Grendel walks into the elevator and looks to the operator and smiles. "Hey there Nestthorn. Do you mind taking a ten minute break? I think you really deserve it." She smiles and Castor notices her wave one of her arms at him.
"Of course ma'am." Nestthorn says, stepping out of the elevator waving at Grendel and Castor as the doors shut.
"What was that?" Castor asks Grendel.
"What was what, hun?" She responds with a smile.
"He never leaves this elevator. I swear, he lives in here. How'd you get him to listen to you?" Castor asks, half anticipating the answer.
She smiles again and says, "I think you know Castor. You're a lot smarter than even you think. You'll see one day. Believe me, you'll be a very important man one day."
'She knows my name!' That was the only thought going through Castor's head. 'She bloody knows my name!'
Grendel chuckles and blushes slightly, almost as if she could read his mind. "You need to meet some people. You hear me? I'm going to give you a contact list, ok? Promise me you'll talk to them. They are your future, you understand?"
"I.. I promise Ms. Korah, I-"
"Please.. Castor.. Grendel is my name." She smiles again and hands him a piece of paper with 3 names and numbers. "Call these people when you can, trust me.. You're going to be able to help out the Krillians. Whether the Council wants you to or not. Yea?" She smiles yet again and steps towards the door, still staring at Castor as she backs out the door on the fifth floor, the Armory.
'Her smile is so breath taking.. I.. Its so beautiful.' He thinks as the door shuts. Before it does, he hears her giggle and swears he hears her say "Thank you.". The door shuts before he can say anything, but he begins blushing like crazy. 'I.. Did.. Did she hear me? Did I say that out loud?'
The door to the bottom floor opens and he steps out as 3 other people walk in. He heads to the front door and hops in the cab awaiting his arrival, taking off towards the Hangars on the East wing.
'I'm ready.. I'm ready for whatever comes my way.'