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The Lord Of Adversaries

Posted on Fri Mar 4th, 2022 @ 2:29am by The Narrator & Lieutenant Commander Shadi Zatra & Lieutenant Mar Megara MD & Lieutenant Dinui Locke (loch) & Innocent Bystander & Commander Onofron Zuir

Mission: S2:2: Something Missing Something New
Location: Inside the Clock Maker Sphere
Timeline: Feburary 2390

"This afterlife sucks."

The copilot was among the first to awaken, blinking star-struck eyes that quickly danced over the controls. Main power was still out, but the batteries were running smoothly. Outside the viewport of the runabout there was nothing but darkness.

"Huh, landing gear is down," he commented before looking back over his shoulder. "Shit! Hatch-"

Too late, the spherical orb robot embodied by Clee'san had stalked over to the airlock hatch. With two brass pincers, they worked the emergency release, and with a cough of pyro bolts, the hatch ejected out of its mounting. But instead of an explosive decompression, or the onrushing wave of black death, there was just a gust of warm air.

With no further warning, Clee'san retracted her pincers, and rolled out of the hatch to clang on the floor beyond in the blackness.

IB had felt worse disconnections in his time in this particular section of the universe, but that sense of muted panic just below the surface was new. He attributed it to the human rules currently being semi-applied to his person-shaped form and stomped a very real looking booted foot on the deck below him. The wrong deck. The humanoid entities' 'runabout' as they called it. He adopted, for a fleeting second, an expression not entirely unlike a small child pouting for a much beloved toy, then cast that odd emotion aside and followed, immediately and with great determination, after Clee'san. Somewhere out there was a very real part of him, and IB didn't plan on losing any more of himself.

"Uggghh..." Shadi let out a luscious moan. At first her head hurt, but the rushing endorphins gave her a mix of pleasure that was borderline confusing. "Starve my life..." Pressing herself up from the deck, her head cocked and swiveled on her shoulder like a wary predator. "What happened?"

"We seemed to have had a collective moment of unconsciousness," Ono said, slumped over in his chair. "I seem to recall a human theory on that." The theory was not at all germane to the situation, but Ono was more focused on the numb and semi-responsive left side of his body than his recall of human psychology. "Someone give me a damage report and a medical tricorder. I...can barely move."

“All of us can barely move,” retorted Meg irritably. “Give me a moment.” She moved her shoulders up and down with a grunt of pain and then reached into her med kit for a tricorder. She gave herself a quick once over and then turned to Ono. “It helps if you force yourself to move,” she informed him.

Uruj, was the first response that jumped into Shurikan's mind at Ono's stating of the obvious. It was really a shame the guy couldn't have stayed unconscious.

"Er...guys if you feel bad might want to look out the door," the co-Pilot spoke up from the open hatch that Clee'san had rolled out of.

Curling black tendrils made of billions of black cubes lined the walls of a...sheer cliff. A cliff that spread out to either side of the runabout to fade away into a black nothingness. Clock Makers, trillions of them. This must be the interior of the depression, the throat of the well that ran down into the pole of the Dyson sphere shell.

But the Runabout wasn't resting against the wall. Instead, it rested on a golden metal disc, a plate with one flattened edge that rested against the interior of the throat. Clee'san was outside, as well as IB's ship self, which was resting on its side on the other side of the plate.

And at the centre of the plate, with Clee'san rolling towards it, was a small pyramid of brass and golden plates.

Machines. Intelligent machines. IB remembered that fact as he took in the wider view with something caught between and wrapped about both wonder and terror. Disconnected yet present, clearly surrounding them yet currently not presenting an immediate threat, they remained still. Did machines sleep? Was there a source of power providing some form of recharge? And what was that...? IB followed Clee-San, keen to recover that distant sense of desired completeness, yet also curious as to the ancient soldier's path. "Awareness?" Bystander asked his valiant quarry as he moved to catch up with her.

Having taken Meg's advice and forced himself up, Shurikan winced as he ran a mental inventory of what hurt and glanced at the medic. "You okay?" The question was low but clear, and he looked at Shadi and Dinui as well. His head was aching but he'd had worse on a hangover. He rotated his shoulders, reaching up to rub at one as he moved towards the hatch to look outside. And the tech-head inside him immediately perked up. "Shtuat'lar..." he muttered appreciatively.

“That is what I said,” agreed Meg. “My exact words were ‘mierda,’ but the sentiment is the same.”

Outside the runabout, Clee'san had come to a halt at the foot of the pyramid. It was perhaps ten metres tall, and nearly as wide. It was made of of a brass framework, within which panes of golden energy danced like sunlight reflecting off of the polished glass. Within the light shadows or impressions of things could be seen, a mimicry of the ever-shifting pattern of symbols on Clee'san's robotic form.

"This is warding cell," Clee'san said. "A place sealed away from the universe within which a member of the Morningstar Imperium can seek enlightenment through extended contemplation. I've never witnessed one so...powerful."

Two curved manipulators unfurled from her carapace, and she began to touch the metallic struts of the frame of the pyramid. Parts of the metal began to move, sliding and clicking away from each other like a complicated puzzle box.

"This must have taken many Praetorians to establish. Either to safeguard something of immense value, or incredible danger," she continued. "The breaking of this warding cell's seals will be quite energetic."

Ono limped forward with the stubbornness of a drunken pirate captain. "Then let us forego the breaking of anything," he said from one side of his mouth. The pirate captain likeness seemed only enhanced. "First things first: we need an exit strategy. Can we secure our egress from...this place?"

"Shouldn't take much to get the shuttle flying," Shadi said as she examined first the shuttlecraft and then their surroundings, "but I dunno if we can jussst fly out of here."

"Plus, you know, the swarms of killer robot machines out there just waiting for us," the co-pilot said. He opened his mouth to say more, but was cut off as a dull chime rang through the air. Air that was suddenly thick and heavy, laden with the potent energies of an approaching thunderstorm. Clee'san's movement of the tiles and symbols was beginning to have an effect, the golden light from within the pyramid pulsing gently.

"I have fought a Clock Maker before," Shadi boasted. "And I am eager for a rematch to ssssee who devours who!"

"We must have answers," Clee'san said. "And answers will be forthcoming from within this warding cell."

Shadi turned petulant. "Oh, very well." She crossed her arms like a sulking child. "Go get your answers. We'll be ready to fight our way out when you're done."

"Yes, you stay put and let the cognitively competent officers handle the important part," Ono said. Stepping beside Clee'san, he took the careful position of asserting himself before the others without actually taking point. "Lead the way," he told Clee'san.

"When you're done pissing on everyone else's intelligence with the little you possess, you can bring up the rear. You'll be right at home," Shurikan deadpanned at Ono, stepping up to follow Clee'san. His opinion of Ono was only getting lower.

Meg only scowled at Ono. He was such a gilipollas.

Shadi hissed with laughter and rolled her giant eyes. "Pissing, like cowardsss do. Classic."

"You need anything before we roll out, Shadi?" Shurikan asked on his way. He liked the Saurian and her straightforward nature.

"Only a foe to fell," Shadi said nobly, "but this clusterfucked shuttle will do."

“I know Saurians do not need this as much as other species,” said Meg, readying the medkit that was kept on the shuttle, “but I feel better with this here. Especially with the niños on board.” She snapped the kit closed and left it on a recently vacated seat. “They had better not escape,” she muttered, mostly to herself as she slung her own medkit over her shoulder and prepared to exit the shuttle with the others.

Dinui felt worse than after that one time she took up the dare have sixth round of Bowmore whisky, the comments and remarks from the rest in the shuttle at least pointed out that she wasn't in the feeling like absolute crap boat alone. Though each new comment from their First officer was grating on her last nerves. If the man didn't want a friend among the crew he was fast ensuring it never happened at the rate he was going on pissing off and alienating the rest of them against him. For team work it was having the effect of making sure that nearly everyone was on the same side of not enjoying his company. If that was his intention it was working spectacularly. If he was trying for something else well he should try and rethink his methods. Dinui swore as she made herself move. Yeah when this was over she was sending some bottles of Bowmore to those that put up with Ono without knocking his teeth in. They deserved it and then some. She shouldered her pack and pulled out a scanning tricorder falling behind Meg and avoiding bumping into Ono much as she wanted to trod on the man's toes for his behavior she wanted to save such things for when he really deserved it.

While Clee'san continued to move tiles and symbols, IB noted the pulsing golden light and shifted focus to his own self - the little moth ship resting on its port side just to the other side of the plate. He touched it first, humanoid fingers seeking that sense of connection and solidity, craving the sense of completeness that was currently lacking internally.

"Wake up," he told his ship-self. "Remaining unconscious is not conducive to survival." He placed both hands palm down, fingers outstretched on that cool surface as if seeking any sense of warmth from within. Then, with a soulful sound to his voice, IB asked softly again. "Please wake up."

There was a sense of buzzing activity under those imitation fingertips, a furious working of barely understood sciences seeking to push past the skin of the moth ship and seek connection...but couldn't. All it could do was rattle against the bars of matter that had once been so compliant and attentive.

A sudden shriek of splitting air filled the air as the join lines of the pyramid cracked open, and light shone out from within. For a moment hands held up to ward against the light was shone through with paper-thin skin and stark bones. But none of the passive radiation detectors went off, the slashing blades of high energy particles turned into safety shears by whatever madness had befallen physics.

And where the Pyramid had stood, its sides now unfolded like the petals of a flower, stood a figure. Three meters tall if not more, with two sets of arms deforming the familiarity of humanoid physiology. He stood, hands held together in repose, his skin deathly pale to the point of being the faintest shade of blue. But when his eyes opened, there was not faint shade to their dark colour.

There was fury.

"Who has awakened me from my enforced meditation?" the figure asked, his voice deep and resonating like the growl of some massive machine spinning up to power. He looked down at Clee'san's spherical form. "An Iron Bound? Am I so still disgraced that I can only be awakened by the dead memories of my old soldiers?"

As he was speaking, brass scales were shuffling up over his feet, sliding up powerful legs to form thick plates of armour and points of articulation.

Beside his ship, IB's expression went from hopeful-grateful to toddler-disappointedly-sad as a shift in expectation clunked internally into place. He felt that soft rattle, the optimistic attempt of this other part of himself, the means to make himself at least mostly whole again. And he felt with every fibre of what he had left, that hope slide away. Then?

Well, then, in the simplest form of it all, in the naivety of a well-travelled traveller, there was someone to direct questions to. A furious someone.

IB turned to stand beside, or as close as he could get, to Clee'San. His gaze sought far beyond the mere physical, and his voice was strong, even and unafraid when he spoke.

"Enforced meditation is not in the spirit of the act," IB told the figure. "Disgrace is a complicated emotion I do not truly comprehend." His golden gaze looked from the new fella to the little moth ship and back again. "Yet there is no need for ire, we seek not an altercation. We simply have questions."

Shurikan strolled up behind Clee'san and IB, tipping his head up to look at the figure, taking in everything he could. "We can start out easy. You got a name? I'm Tsin." Okay, so diplomacy wasn't his thing. He was a tech, not any kind of official. But Shurikan would rather shoot himself in the genitalia with a phaser than let this thing think Ono was representative of any other living thing in existence.

"You may call me the Lord of Adversaries. The last of my kith, and my kind save perhaps the wrought memories of this Iron Bound," the figure said, gesturing to Clee'san. "Why have you awakened me? You are not sent at the behest of the Junta, they would not find sport in demeaning me so."

"You were not awakened by the Junta. These...others, are starfarers from species and commonalities not associated with the Morningstar Imperium. They stumbled across the Ark, and in doing so instigated a chain of events that lead to its destruction. But they volunteered to aid me in finding you and the other survivors from the Ark."

The Lord of Adversaries laughed, as the golden scale armour rose to his neck, forming a narrow slit eyed helmet with quicksilver eyes.

"There were no survivors, save myself and the Junta. I chose exile here at the mouth of our damnation, whilst the Junta and the others resided within the enemies' fastness," he explained.

"Lord of Adversaries," noted IB out loud by means of confirmation and personal address to this intriguing, newly armoured individual. "Do you intend to remain dormant in your 'damnation' for all eternity? I have found these entities to be a source of entertainment and kinship, preferable to continued solitude though admittedly somewhat volatile." IB's golden eyes sought those of quicksilver and bronze features offered a wry expression of neutral amusement. "They are very young," he added, by way of both an explanation and perhaps apology, it was hard to tell from his tone.

Dinui was speechless there was SO much to take in and then the Lord of Adversaries well it was both intriguing, awe inspiring but she was not bold enough to counter IBs comment just yet deciding she wanted to listen further before she offered her own comments.

Meg, on the other hand, was delighted- albeit a bit tongue-in-cheek-wise- by the comment. “Why thank you,” she said softly in an aside to IB. She left it at that, however, not wanting to upset El Señor de Los Adversarios.

"Lord Adversary," Ono began with full bravado, "I am Commander Onofron Zuir of the Federation starship Traveller. We mean you no harm because, you see, we have, in fact, come in peace." He smirked as if he had just delivered a persuasive speech. "Greetings from the United Federation of Planets to the...was it Morningstar Imperium? Long may your Junta reign."

Meg rolled her eyes. "Stop grovelling," she advised Ono. "It makes you look like a Cabrón."

Dinui had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from snickering at Meg's comment and her thoughts immediately following were how Ono seemed to be the embodiment the terms Bampot and Fandan (an unhinged and pretentious idiot). She shook her head softly and took a soft breath to center herself away from her amusement and to pay attention.

"You," the Lord of Adversaries said, looking at Ono. "You speak with the diction of a scholar and the sophistry of a fool. It would pay you well to know that as a member of the Warrior Kith of the Morningstar Empire I do not trouble myself with such niceties. Speak of things you know not of, and I will see fit to remove the offending tongue and place it in your uncalloused hands."

As he spoke the armoured giant turned back to the pyramid that had held him. He made a gesture to it, curling his armoured gauntleted fingers, and the metal of its frame began to fold and bend. Soon a plinth formed, its smooth surface flickering with indented symbols that faded and flickered quickly. The platform beneath their feet shuddered, and the Runabout rocked on its landing gear, tipping to one side with a sickening crunch of metal as it began to slide over the now receding edge of the platform.

A ragged chitter erupted from the Runabouts airlock as the three warrior spawn of the midnight stand leapt from the airlock and skittered onto the metal decking a moment before the shrinking platform deposited the Runabout into thin air. It tipped over, falling into the shaft with only the briefest of echoes of destructive portents speaking to its fate.

"To all I speak," the Lord of Adversaries said as the Platforms edges began to sprout ribs, soon cocooning them in all in a dome of brassy panels. "I present to you your capture and your forthcoming kidnapping. We must seek answers within the Clockmaker Fastness, the Junta must be shown what has come to pass. Apologies to all."

His physical body slowly and lazily stretched out into an upright T-shape, IB soaked up the ambience of this evolving situation on every level and wavelength available to his complex form. Acute and oversensitive aural and visual tendrils rushed silently, invisibly between those particles forming this malleable new environment, seeking the intelligence beyond the speaking form that declared himself lord. He could abandon that solid form and slip into the spaces between, but he would not. Not yet. Curiosity prevented it. Eyes closed, but senses exploring ever outward, he spoke with a confident tone that carried despite its level volume. "We are not prisoners if we all seek answers," IB said.

"What the famine did you do to my tasty shuttle?!" Shadi shrieked, shaking an angry, scaled fist at the Lord of Adversaries. "I'd nearly fixed it!"

Ono stood in shock. The situation had gotten so far out of hand that he had no frame of reference from his considerable experience to draw from. Well, there was always the classic feint. "Silence," he said to Shadi. "Let us go where no one has gone before." Ordering people to do what they had no other choice than to do was a surefire way to remain the illusion of command.

"And lived," the Lord of Adversaries intoned darkly.


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