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About Zanderaw

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    Protector of Salvus
  • Birthday 12/21/1995

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  1. Zanderaw

    Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    The Han Dominion Summer, HSC 11 Year of the Rooster Beyond the bounds of the galaxy, there was darkness. It wasn’t like the darkness at the edge of a solar system, nor even like the vast space between stars. It was the sort of inky blackness where a flashlight would seem to be a supernova, and yet at the same time the Milky Way hung below, a grey cloud strewn across the endless horizon. Through this sea of black a single corvette crept forward, great flood lights spewing forward into the abyss and revealing nothing. “Sensors are reading debris ahead, captain,” called the ship’s comms officer. “But no station.” Feng was stonefaced as he ordered shields up. He had been angry when he found himself in Han space, but that anger had passed. He could not take out his frustrations on the likeable agents who had hired him in disguise, nor could he fault the soldiers on Hanguo for whisking away the mysterious package he’d delivered. They were all the minions of his adoptive father, and he would save his decades of angst for Shi Yimu. But now Yimu was missing. Feng recalled his briefing. Before he could leave the planet, the odd priest character who seemed to run the place now had summoned him, looking desperate and ragged. There was a station, he had learned. A prison, out here where the light of a trillion stars could not penetrate. The priest would tell him little else, apart from that his father had last been known to be there, and had not returned. A fleck of light on the viewscreen, a mote of dust reflecting the headlights. They were close. Then a door, a piece of plumbing, and finally the entire rear half of a transport came into view. Feng glanced at the sensor readings as he called a halt. The ruins of Heibai station floated all around them. “What in Yuguo’s name happened here?” the first officer was the first to speak. Tangled in the ruins and debris were bodies. Most were Han. Others had the carapace and mandibles of Ar’gakari, their black eyes staring lifeless into his. “The debris field appears heavily irradiated,” the comms officer spoke unsteadily. “A reactor overload?” “Maybe,” said Feng at last. The station had been torn to bits, but who could have found it out here? “Life signs?” He asked without particular hope. “None, sir. But there are still power signatures coming from that transport.” The captain doubted it. The twisted wreck floating in front of them was barely recognizable. But the priest had asked for a report, and he would gather one. “Tell security to meet me at airlock three. Bring me a vac-suit.” No one contradicted him. The corvette was keeping watch, and its commander was never one to give up this kind of chance to prove his bravery. A minute later, Feng had pushed off the ship, and was gliding towards the wreck accompanied by two ensigns. There was no identifiable name, but it looked like the kind of transport his father would use, small and comfortable. Sparks flew occasionally from where the ship had been ripped apart. Perhaps there was still something inside. The corvette pulled in closer, and Feng and his men spent the next hour creating a temporary coupling between the ships, filling the most intact hallway with breathable air. The bridge was sealed, and if anyone was inside there would be no killing them when he entered. He needn’t have worried. The door to the wreck’s bridge was forcibly opened, and nobody was inside. Some of the men wondered aloud how the door could have been sealed with an empty bridge, but Feng was silent. The lights were still on and faintly flickering, and the ship’s computer seemed still barely functioning, albeit while emitting a constant faint noise of static. The captain leaned in to inspect it, and suddenly the noise was unbearable. Almost unintelligible, he heard laughter, and then a voice. “Too late, Shi Feng…….” The voice crackled and cut out over the poor speakers on the ship, and Feng lept back. Again, laughter echoed in the bridge. “............late………already won………...home.” “Who the hell are you?” Feng looked around him, and noticed that his men were swiftly backing away, back down the hallway. “Tell me what happened here.” “Human fool!” The laughter was back, maniacal and shattered by intense static. “Don’t recogn…….livered yourself?.....won in the e………..gika Traa’k………...igh Commander of the Ar’ga………...” None of it made any sense to Feng. He shook his head, and heard his first officer calling from the end of the hall. “Sir? Something wrong?” “May have found something,” he replied, narrowing his eyes as he turned back to the console. He could not tell where the voice was coming from. The communications unit seemed irreparably damaged. “What happened here?” He asked, ignoring who he was talking to. “Where is Shi Yimu?” At that, the laughter hit a sudden crescendo, and the static rang in his ears. It was a shrieking laugh, the kind one might hear from the kind of person who’d be quietly put down on Yuguo. “Dead!” It cried victoriously. “...illed him! Ju….like he killed me! Killed me and put me in…….veryone else too! He thought he…………………...” “Sir, the bridge says they’re detecting a power surge. You might want to come back.” Feng took a step back, looking through the viewport at the destruction which surrounded him. “Dead?” “....ead, Shi Feng.” The static suddenly cut out, the voice as clear as if someone had been standing just next to him. “And you’re next.” Feng was not the type to run. But he ran then, down the hallway as the laughter came again, and the half-ship bucked and heaved. A single reactor, undetected at low power output, overloaded in an instant, and Feng threw himself clear as the wreck melted. The shock hit his corvette immediately after, and the wall around the airlock instantly collapsed inward. Not fatal damage, and he had his vac-suit still. But it would be a slow journey back. His father was dead. Whatever that had been, it had killed him. Feng couldn’t blame it, he had wanted to do so on many occasions. But as he walked back to his bridge in a daze, he couldn’t help but feel empty…. ---------- Two hundred thousand Indian refugees arrive in Han space. They aren’t exactly the pure Han master race, but with such a shortage of manpower the Triple Crescent takes what it can get. A new colony is to be founded next year, where the newcomers can have some level of self-governance - under the watchful eye of the Jinyiwei, of course. The colony ship is already on hand from years before. Somewhere in the galaxy, Yimu still breathes. ---------- Han Stats Link: Summary: The Han watch Rontus, particular the relationship between its two largest powers, and continue to send missionaries and advisors. They shall watch their career with great interest. [0 AP] The shipyards of the Dominion are filled yet again, filled with light freighters to improve its transport capability and infrastructure. [25 AP] Apotheosis. [10 AP]
  2. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    ”1 cup unsalted butter 2 cups sugar 5 eggs 3 cups flour 1 tablespoon baking soda” -The Temple Walls Much was occurring on the surface, and the dreaming god watched it with quiet interest. So, too, did his half-mortal servant. For a thousand years now, the Nyrnen priestess had seen the world as a god does, and had come to see its inhabitants as little more than pawns put there for her entertainment. Their lives were brief and narrow, their ambitions narrower, constrained by their puny lifespans. After this long in the temple, she could manipulate the world in ways they could only dream of, and knew it in a way they could never hope to. When she was bored she would wander the tunnels at the world’s core, and found that the horrors there no longer could threaten her. Soth-Kogarth, too, had often been the scene of her explorations, and through her forays into that changing landscape she had come to know something of her god. He was patient and aloof, and though his thoughts were abstract she could sense a deeper plan, one which she had no doubt he would reveal in time. But Soth-Kogarth was as vast as the power of her creator, and however far she walked she would never truly grasp his full majesty. Wol-Kot would speak to her when he was ready. For now, he was conserving his strength. Of course, the Nightweaver had not said anything in well over two hundred years. And though there was still vast knowledge to be found here, Sylvaniel found herself becoming restless.... NO ACTIONS 16 AP SAVED
  3. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    ”And the weak-minded shall shudder and break before me, And look upon my works without comprehension.” -The Temple Walls And so Sylvaniel conquered the Adamantine Tree. As she stepped out into the mist with the jewel wrapped in cloth, the figures in the distances seemed somehow satisfied. One beckoned her to follow, and she walked helplessly through unfamiliar glades. The temptation to use the eye was strong: perhaps it could show her a way out. Perhaps it could tell her what this fog truly was. But she had had a glimpse of its power, and such a thing could not end well. She followed where she was led. At last, the mist cleared, and she found herself standing before little more than a hole in the ground. Fear gripped Sylvaniel, but only for a moment. She had come this far; she had defied one god in the service of another. There could be no turning back. Skilled in the magical arts, she conjured pale light to banish the cave’s shadow, and stepped in. The cave did not stop. It wound down ever further, soon widening into an impossible maze of caverns. She would have been lost there had not Thokub-Nir shown itself again, its vague silhouettes calling her down the right path. For three hundred days she walked in darkness. The Eye grew heavy, and she grew tired, for the farther she went, the more horrifying the creatures here seemed to be. Every day – if there was a day down here – Sylvaniel crept along, determined to notice the next nest of monsters before it noticed her. Every night, she heard the whispers of the Nightweaver. He spoke to her with pride now, and she saw visions of the journey ahead. She was close. But this deep in the world-sphere, there were things she could not hope to match. Nameless things, which slumbered for eons waiting for the scent of prey. So on the last day of her journey, the Nyren priestess crept over a crag to see a horror she had not anticipated. The serpent was larger than anything she’d ever dreamed of. And as it turned its malevolent gaze toward her, she knew that she would soon be dead – save for the grace of Wol-Kot. Again, Thokub-Nir showed itself, and clouded the beast’s eyes. Clutching the Eye close, she crept past. Soon, she walked on spindly marble fibers, as she crossed the void at the very center of the earth. But her light simply faded into the distance, and she could not appreciate its majesty. A full year had passed to the day when Sylvaniel finally set her eyes upon the Nightweaver’s Temple. At last, peace. A stone boat carried her across the mercury lake, and she wandered between vast columns, bearing inscriptions in a language she could not understand. It was some time before she realized her light was no longer needed. An eerie glow flickered from within the temple, and she felt compelled to follow. Thus it came to pass that a Nyren priestess looked upon the portal to Soth-Kogarth itself. It was a realm both peaceful and strange, and as she stared into its vast alien landscape, a stone pedestal rose from the floor in front of her. ”The Eye,” called the voice of Wol-Kot, reverberating from every wall. Sylvaniel unwrapped the artifact for the first time in years, and placed it on the stone before her. Behind it, Soth-Kogarth rippled with satisfaction. In seconds, trees bore fruit where once there were barren plains. ”Good,” called Wol-Kot again. ”Look closer.” Sylvaniel looked down at the pedestal again, and suddenly found that she could read the inscriptions. Many were analogous to the runic script, and described a blood rite by which the performer would sever their own ichor and pass it through the Dreamstalker’s realm. ”A final ceremony, of consummation. Perform it now, and see the world through the eyes of a god!” A dagger of black glass rose from the floor, and as Sylvaniel drew it across her skin, chanting eldritch phrases without trepidation, her lifeblood spilled onto the stone around her. There it became mist, floating into the portal, and the Nyren gasped out a last breath as her body grew cold. And there it lay. For a time. After one day and one night on the surface, Soth-Kogarth expelled the once-mortal, her god-touched ichor flooding back into her body. As she drew her first rasping breath, the echoing laugh of the Nightweaver echoed through the great hall. ”Rise, Sylvaniel,” he chuckled, as she got to her feet. ”Rise, my most favored servant. You shall have all you have dreamed of and more.” As he spoke, the priestess felt a weight on her head, as a crown materialized from thin air. The script covering the temple walls glowed with unnatural energy, and Sylvaniel realized she could read it, every word. She glanced to the Eye of Yngblad, and found that it showed her everything she longed to see: her old village, the Adamantine tree and its runes, but other things as well. Wild continents and races beyond her own. The many paths through the subterranean darkness. Even the location of divine artifacts, far away. ”Drink of my knowledge, young one. You are worthy.” The god’s voice is proud, quiet. ”But when you are ready, you will once again leave this place. You will find your own will too strong to resist, I know. And as you will it, so shall it be!” And so for five hundred years Sylvaniel stayed in the company of her god. On the walls of the temple, she learned the true history of the world-sphere, and looked into the dreams of all who have ever lived. She gazed into the Eye of Yngbald, watching as events unfolded on the surface. Ambition mixed with contempt as she spied on their humble lives. They could never hope to match her power, her knowledge, her skill. Yes, when she returned, things would change.... [CREATE GOD-TOUCHED – 8 AP] – Wol-Kot rewards the Nyren Sylvaniel in a profane ritual. When she returns from the enlightenment of Soth-Kogarth, she is no longer restricted by the pathetic limits she once felt as a mortal. Age cannot touch her, and she is blessed with an immense spring of psionic power, not to mention her considerable skill at magic. And of course, as the consort of Wol-Kot, she possesses an affinity for the dream-world utterly unrivaled by anything short of its creator. [CREATE ARTIFACT – 6 AP] – Wol-Kot adorns his champion with a crown of vast power, soon to be known and feared as the Crest of Sylvaniel. The artifact draws upon the strength of the wearer’s mind, granting them the power to warp the minds of others. In the hands of the usual mortal, it would be invaluable for the creation of useful illusions to trick others into doing their bidding. But resting on the head of one such as Sylvaniel, it has the potential to enslave them entirely, bringing whole armies under a demigod’s sway. It is an altogether evil item, and has a certain level of sentience itself. As such, those without an utterly unbreakable will may suffer from prolonged usage.... 3 AP remaining.
  4. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    ”Many will try to contest my domain, And at the end of time all will lay slain.” -The Seventeenth Column Soth-Kogarth quakes, as the dreaming god is filled with anger. On the surface, a profane artifact has come into existence, one built to spy on him and the entire world. His brother has overstepped his bounds. As the gaze of Wol-Kot turns to the Adamantine Tree, the forest seems somehow restless. It begins among the Nyren, most attuned to the Nightweaver’s essence. Every morning, they begin to speak to each other of strangely-vivid dreams. Damp tunnels beckon, filled with every horror imaginable. Gargantuan columns of ancient stone, carved with a language that none recognize. But most of all, the ever-increasing sense that something is coming. Some nights, the weak of mind awake in terror, and the strain becomes great enough on the community that few seem to notice the thickening fog in this part of the forest. Whatever it is, the mist soon surrounds the Adamantine Tree on all sides. For the Nyren, things only get worse. Those who go to investigate the Tree seem unable to make it there: some who enter the fog are led astray by the shapes they see there, exiting far from where they meant to go. The rest never return. The mist calls out with the voices of their loved ones, it tempts them with what they dream of most. So long as Yngbald’s disgusting eye sits within this Tree, none will enter. Except one. For Wol-Kot has watched these Nyren all their lives, and knows of their worth. One has caught his eye: a priestess, with ambition as strong as her will, and magical skills to match. Though her tribe has suffered at the hands of Thokub-Nir, she has resisted. Though they cower in terror and refuse to sleep, her dreams are lucid and psyche unfazed. It is on a dark night that he finally reveals himself to her, with only the Red Moon above. Whispers in the forest draw her out. Within the mist, a silhouette calls her name. ”Hear me, mortal!” cries the figure, its voice echoing from every direction. The woman, iron of mind, presses forward, but the silhouette retreats and fades into the fog. From her right, another appears. ”Hear me, Sylvaniel.” It speaks to her again, its tone softer. One shadowy figure becomes ten, then a hundred surrounding her. In the mist are Nyren, birds, deer, and even the dark outline of a massive sandworm. ”It is I who have cursed your people. I, Wol-Kot, the lord of shadows and dreams. The pathetic tree you have found here is a profane temple built by my jealous brother. And within it, he seeks to spy on my actions. You will stop this.” Before she can answer, the god’s voice continues, virtually compelling her attention. ”I will guide you to the center of this sapling. I will show you my brother’s treasonous eye, and you will bring it to me. Do not fear. You shall be shown the way. And when at last you reach me, I shall reward you with power and knowledge the likes of which you cannot even dream of.” At that, most of the dark silhouettes fade into the mist, and the fog clears before her. She has been led to the tree’s entrance without even realizing it. [COMMAND AVATAR: 4 AP] – Thokub-Nir materializes on the surface, to terrorize the Nyren and carry forth the Dreamstalker’s message. 5 AP remaining
  5. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    “All things are one in Wol-Kot. I alone understand beauty and ugliness, joy and fear, for I have seen them in all of you. Linger here, and perhaps you shall too.” -The Temple Walls The Dreamstalker is awake. Every night, he looks into the very souls of the mortals that now cover the earth. They are fascinating creatures, like gods in miniature, and though their goals are infinitely smaller they still seem to carry some of his own ambition. It will be amusing to see what they make of themselves. Perhaps he will even help, if it serves his ends. But it is not the future ambitions of mortals that tempt him. For each carries within them a spark of the divine. In some cases, that spark was once his. He wants it back, with a desire that goes beyond mere fancy. It is a thirst. These souls, without his intervention, will flow to the realm of his sister. She does not deserve them. Wol-Kot is no wrathful god like the two which now spar on the surface. His thirst is cold and patient, and he continues to silently watch. Soth-Kogarth is still and utterly blank, as the full gaze of the Nightweaver turns outward. He prods at mortal souls, whispers to them of things that live in the dark, but above all begins to devise rites to sever their ichor, and claim it as his own. With the Dreamstalker’s view on the outside world, energy begins to accumulate within his cavern. Over the mercury lake around his temple, a silvery mist rises. It grows larger by the year, rising until it fills the cavern, but does not stop there. Over the years it simply thickens, becoming more dense until nearly opaque. Somewhere within, it congeals, and soon shadowy figures walk through the fog, barely visible. Some are humanoid. Some look like nothing anyone on this world has seen before. The temple walls call the being Thokub-Nir...haze of lies. CREATE AVATAR – A thick fog takes form within Wol-Kot’s cavern, mobile but subservient to the god’s demand. Shadowy conjurations of every form imaginable move within it....or do they? To know for sure whether they are real, one would have to get close, and every time you try they seem to move deeper in the mist and are not seen again. Perhaps they are just illusions, made to unsettle you with...look out behind you! (-10 AP) 1 AP remaining
  6. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    The world shuddered at my command, and to the surface I bequeathed thought, As wide and as deep as my own will, a spark of life to echo the gods themselves! -The temple walls As Wol-Kot slumbers, his unconscious ambition leads his focus away from Soth-Kogarth, and his dreams become echoes of the world around him. There are presences out there, presences as old and strong as him. He would find them. Their thoughts would become his. Far above, one in particular calls to him. The dream-world extends outward, surrounding the resting god, bait for the Dreamstalker’s snare. Like a wild beast, the presence seems to latch on instinctively. But at the last moment, it pulls away, having changed its mind amidst its sleep. But again, Wol-Kot feels it shape his dimension and pull away. With unthinking hunger, the Nightweaver extends his tendrils, engulfing the indecisive god and merging their worlds...and finds that the dreams of another god are nothing like those of animals. His peaceful drift through the cosmos abruptly ends, and in its place is a maddening hellscape. The landscape is never the same, shifting like the ocean surface. The air is choking, and the sleeper’s dull consciousness cannot tell whether it is truly air at all: it burns with an unending inferno, but somehow the fire is mist, clean and bright and dry. No, not mist – sand. It whirls around him, its touch scalding hot. It thickens, then clears inexplicably, and Wol-Kot’s tortured mind struggles to adapt. He pushes himself through the ocean of fire-mist-sand, his ethereal body morphing between forms beyond his control. It is too much. With a cosmic surge of energy the link is broken, and Wol-Kot at last awakens. A scream of terror and relief shakes the dream-world’s very essence, and across the world all sleeping creatures everywhere are suddenly jolted to alertness. A massive burst of divine energy follows, as the Nightweaver expels the vision of himself in a world without order, which soon takes corporeal form. On the world’s desert continent, where the sun beats hottest, the energies coalesce, and a new species is born. They take many forms throughout their life, born as they are from the indecision of Ixthalizzum. These first creatures are barely the size of a sand grain, feeding off the warmth of the sun which lingers on the dunes’ surfaces, but they multiply quickly. Soon they molt, and in time become sedentary: a plantlike cocoon which takes hold on solid rock and grows as tall as a tree. It is in this form that they breed the most, releasing thousands of the small larva into the surrounding desert. But it is the final stage of life which will be remarked on by visitors to the desert. When the sedentary form has lived long enough, it bursts open, and releases into the surrounding desert a large creature, without eyes or legs, but well-suited to movement among the sand. Nomadic, these worms swim through the desert, filtering their microscopic young from the dunes for sustenance. They are born fully sapient, capable of communication with one another through telepathy and with a great affinity for magic. What’s more, this consciousness grows as they do. And how they can grow! Wol-Kot, now fully conscious, looks upon the race he has created with both surprise and satisfaction. They are hardly what he expected, no, they are far more. There would be much to watch on the surface in the future. [MAJOR ACTIONS] – Creation of the first sapient race, a multi-staged species of sandworms on the desert continent. In their final form, they are fully intelligent, magic-capable, and can grow to be miles long. (19 AP + 1 from Mith) 0 AP REMAINING
  7. Zanderaw

    Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    The Han Dominion Spring, HSC 11 Year of the Monkey Feng narrowed his eyes at the viewscreen in front of him, and smirked. “That won’t be a problem will it, Captain?” “As if. Just have to be quick about it.” He tapped his foot a few times in thought, then called to the helmsman, a young Cynn. Avians always made good pilots. “Signal Billabong and Swagman. We’re leaving while we still can.” He paused. “Just tell them to stay close; I’ll figure it out as we go.” The man beside him glanced to his wife across the room, and back down to Feng. “Uh, you sure about that? If it’s really that much of a risk…” “Mister Callaghan, you’ve sunk quite a bit of money into this expedition. It’d be a damn shame to have to ground it for another two months while we sit out an Ar’gakari blockade. Or worse, of course.” He winked. “Now, I’ve already made a fortune off you. May as well give you your money’s worth, I figure.” He lifted a microphone, addressing the ship. “All personnel brace for liftoff! We’ll be accelerating to full fusion power immediately. In three, two one...” Feng nodded to his helmsman, and the Jumbuck quaked under the pressure of its sublight engines. Full power liftoffs were generally frowned upon by the authorities, mostly for the damage they caused to their surroundings. Actually now that he thought about it, there would probably be a heavy fine for doing it with a heavy freighter like this. Oh well. He was working for the Australians; they could afford it. “Incoming hail sir. Cevelli port authority.” “Ignore it, obviously.” The Callaghans looked at each other again, and the woman crossed over to whisper to her husband. “I think we’ve got a clear shot. Our comrades are in position?” Feng eyed an updated map of the fleets in orbit. There was quite a lot of red. “Billabong, yes. Swagman’s en route, but she’s coming a lot slower.” “Why the hell does no one ever listen to me? I thought the orders were pretty damn clear.” He turned back to the Australian couple, mustering up a grin. “Not to worry, there’s still a bit of time. We’ll be alright waiting a minute or so.” As if the universe were conspiring against him, the ship cleared the last of the planet’s atmosphere just then. The visual screen before him offered a spectacular view of the beginnings of a large fleet engagement...which was not nearly as far away as he’d expected. Feng’s smile faded. “Captain, hails now incoming from the port authority and the allied fleet.” “They’re busy. We wait.” On the viewscreen, a corvette peeled away from the ongoing fight and turned its bow directly towards them. Mr Callaghan leaned in. “That one thinks we’re worth his time. Is that a Cevelli ship?” Feng gritted his teeth and shook his head. “Turn her around! Full shields on stern, and get the damn warp spun up. Port authority wasn’t lying about these ones. Bloodthirsty shrimp!” The cargo ship was sluggish to move and even more sluggish to turn. Before long the corvette was in range, its exotic weapons slamming against the rear shields. It swept past, and before long it was swinging around again from the side. A single torpedo streaked toward the smaller of the two freighters...but the Jumbuck had already dipped its nose down in a sudden motion, placing itself between the projectile and the smaller Billabong. The impact was a miniature sun, shorting out every sensor on the bridge for a moment. Several crew were thrown from their seats as the whole vessel quaked, but when the lights came back on the ship was still moving - albeit with a massive hole near its prow. “Well,” said Mrs Callaghan, picking herself off the ground. “I’d rather not do that again.” “Might not have a choice.” The corvette swung around again for another hit, but it was at that moment that Swagman finally arrived, careening out of the atmosphere at full speed and followed by several very angry-looking Cevelli fighters. She’d taken some hits from them already; they must have actually caused some damage in liftoff. Still, in this case the fighters were a blessing. As soon as they noticed the Gakree ship they peeled off, and the corvette likewise changed its priorities. Jumbuck’s helmsman sighed in relief. “Should we get out of here, sir?” “I’d say we’d better. Signal the others: straight into warp, and worry about course later.” The response was immediate: one by one, the three ships jumped into FTL in entirely different directions, all while ignoring more furious hails from the surface. Feng got to his feet, leaning away from the prosthetic leg. The Callaghans looked at him with unreadable expressions. “We’ll need to come out of warp for repairs somewhere, but there aren’t any safe ports around with the war. I’ll probably have the others group up with us somewhere in deep space for that, then we can get underway.” Mr. Callaghan raised an eyebrow. “We can’t just go to one of the safer Cevelli ports? It’d be quicker.” “You joking?” Feng grinned. “After that stunt, we’d be lucky if they didn’t confiscate the ships. Nah, they’re not happy, and they’ll be looking for us.” “Hm. Well, in that case, send a transmission back. They’re welcome for us distracting one of those Ar’gakari for them, and they can pay the repair bill to Johnny Penrith.” For some reason, that seemed immensely funny to his wife. ---------- In their chittering tongue, the Rontan often commented somewhat drily that they’d have all stabbed each other to death long ago, if only their exoskeletons weren’t so thick. The blazing sun of Rontus had seen a thousand wars, as for centuries the same violent cycle that humans often malented had driven their civilization forward. Still, both species were still around. Evidently, thought Wutai to himself, the thickness of one’s exoskeleton was less important than some would like to believe. He would know: being made of solid stone, the Kuilei’s exoskeleton was probably the thickest on the planet. He was nothing like the other offworlders, and because of that the locals had taken an instant interest in him. He’d had to explain through translation that Wutai wasn’t his real name, as his people communicated entirely through telepathy. His real “name” felt something like a large cone stretching upward, so the Han had named him after a mountain and never thought about it again. Not that he resented them. He had been spared the endless cycle of primitive wars, brought into the fold of a spacefaring civilization, and now his people held a rank of honor in a faith which prized their mental potential. Some had even begun to speak his language amongst themselves. When the Han monks had called on him to go to Rontus, Wutai had not hesitated. Kuilei were not naturally-evolved for the desert, but the embassies all had subterranean wings, and he’d never particularly minded sunlight anyway. Besides, awakening the locals was a noble cause. They came to him by the dozens now, brought to the light of the Crescents to seek ascension. There were no words in these meetings. Most of these Rontan could not understand his language, and he would not spoil the sacred moment with the use of a translator. In any case, words were not needed. The locals came before him, and with a touch of his mighty hand he would clear their minds, opening them to their own power. Today, though, things were different. He had met these Rontan before. The eldest was Hokkan, tall by Rontan standards and with a dark, scratched carapace. His two sons Karik and Garul followed loyally, stepping into the embassy beside him. All three were warriors in spirit as well as profession. For that they had Wutai’s respect, though he doubted they could best him even together. He got to his feet, but before he could reach for his translation device a psionic greeting came from the trio: the feeling of a thick mist parting. They had begun to speak like Kuilei. “You honor me with your visit, Hokkan,” Wutai replied in the formal manner, his thoughts of stable earth becoming sound as he switched on the Han-made translator. “You are well worthy of it, Wutai.” The Rontan spoke aloud, his own insectoid chitters becoming Mandarin. “I regret that I cannot stay long. The Coalition has been called into emergency session yet again.” The Kuilei towered over the diminutive creatures, but his eyes glittered without condescension. “If that is why you are here, you must know I cannot help you.” “Of course. Of course…” Hokkan paused, clearly troubled. “Wutai, you have called yourself my friend in the past.” “I still do.” “Then tell me.” His beady eyes looked up with worry. “Is what they say true? That the Humans support Kachak?” If Kuilei could sigh, Wutai would have done so then. The Rontan Coalition was as much a unified nation as was the feudal society he’d been born into. They’d only managed to put aside their petty differences for a moment when the Ganvius had made contact, and now the edifice was beginning to rot, it seemed. The Kachak Pact, a confederacy of poorer nations, had recently received quite a bit of off-world investment, and their rhetoric had become decidedly aggressive ever since. He had asked the elder Han about it, but all they had told him was that if there was unresolved conflict on Rontus, it should be resolved soon. “The Han support the Rontan people, as do I,” Wutai finally replied. “One does not undermine their friends.” “But if negotiations fail...will they not be forced to choose?” “They will be forced to pay attention. Beyond that, I cannot say.” He sat down. “You are worried. Don’t be. Beyond this world you are well thought of. The Ganvius approve of you. So do the Han in their way, and that’s far more rare.” Hokkan let out a rasping laugh. “You must forgive me, Wutai. My worries are small. I had not even considered what was happening beyond our atmosphere. I just...I do not wish to see my own country smashed by somewhere like Kackak, or Attuse, or…” “And if the coalition breaks, you do not think you can defend yourself?” The Rontan slowly nodded. The Kuilei laid a great stone hand on his carapace. “The Dominion will not forget you, Hokkan. Not so long as I remember you. You know that of all of your people, you...and your sons...are my favorites.” “You have taught us much, Wutai. But I would learn more.” “And I have more to teach.” He gripped his armrest, and the room suddenly hummed with psionic energy. Hokkan’s sons took a step back nervously. “The Crescents are a pathway to many abilities some consider unnatural.” Hokkan was silent for a moment. “You know what I ask for.” “You wish to learn to fight with your gift.” The Rontan nodded, determined. “Then I will teach you. The Crescents favor your people. I promise you, if the Coalition fails, you will not.” “And the Han? Will they approve?” “They listen to what I have to say. You will have their favor.” He nodded. “Go to your council. I shall meet with you again tomorrow.” The glow of Wutai’s golden eyes diminished as the Rontan left. Things were moving faster than he thought. The monks would be pleased. ---------- In the relative calm of the south, the faith of the Triple Crescent now rules. But things are not peaceful on Hanguo: news of a third extragalactic invader confirms what Han monks have suspected for years. The end times are at hand, and only through ascension can the people of the Milky Way survive. Their missionaries hold not only the Han to their beliefs, but walk among the Rontan, spreading the word of the Dao. On Rontus itself, Han agents work subtly to raise tensions between the two great powers of the planet: Kachak and Attuse. Funded by the sale of Xylorite and Borite, they slowly build the nations’ capabilities, and watch closely the politics of the Coalition. In the north, Yan and Chan finally convince Shi Feng to leave his mercenaries on an expedition to Da’rigar’s grave, in the guise of Hephaestus entrepreneurs. But no sooner have they left Cevelli space that new orders come from Hanguo in secret, and the Jumbuck turns to a new destination… On Yuguo, Dai Hanying gives birth to the first of her children, a boy. Living peacefully on her tea plantation, she watches the events elsewhere and wonders at his fate. Meanwhile Huang Jie’s health begins to fail. The old human emperor will no doubt soon pass away. Perhaps it is better, because the galactic situation grows more dire by the hour. Faith, rebuilding, gathering strength. That is the credo of the Han now. And behind it all, now silent, is the elusive figure who guides it all. For Shi Yimu has a plan, and he works toward it in absolute secrecy. ---------- Han Stats Link: Summary: The Han watch Rontus, particular the relationship between its two largest powers, and continue to send missionaries and advisors. They shall watch their career with great interest. [0 AP] The shipyards of the Dominion are full to capacity yet again, filled with light freighters to improve its transport capability and infrastructure. [28 AP] The shipyard floating above Hanguo is expanded further, and will soon be capable of manufacturing battleships. [20 AP for SL5] A small sum is sent to the Trade Federation, through multiple backchannels and proxies ending with a mysterious “Thulean” tycoon. [1 AP] A black site is built for unknown purposes, entirely outside the galaxy and known only to a select few in Shi Yimu’s inner circle. [1 AP]
  8. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    “For on each being’s thoughts I spy, And in their thoughts does power lie.” -From the second column A shimmering, eerie light emanates from the Nightweaver’s temple, casting the long shadows of its columns over a silver lake. It is dark here, dark and quiet. The monstrous keepers fear this place, and turn their sightless eyes to more mundane hunting grounds. Wol-Kot is alone. Somewhere within that dim light is Soth-Kogarth, and somewhere there is the dreamer. He watches, but does not think. He acts, but does not plan. In his slumber, the god’s thoughts are amorphous and abstract. A primordial being of instinct, he waits but does not know what he waits for. But the time will come. In the meantime, semi-conscious bursts of energy leak from Soth-Kogarth, infusing the surrounding area with Wol-Kot’s essence. If one were to watch over the course of years, they would see characters slowly carving themselves on the temple’s surfaces. They tell the story of creation, and of all that has happened since. The more writing appears, the more they begin to dully glow with supernatural power. The temple is something more than hewn rock now. It is an archive of all that Wol-Kot has ever seen, and all that he will see. Many characters correspond to Yngbald’s runes, telling of spells the Dreamstalker has learned or invented in his meditation. Some are mere verse or declarations from the god himself, telling of his glory to any who can read them. And some are conduits into the dream-world itself, a surreal archive of the many things Wol-Kot will see. In time, the knowledge held here would be a great source of power to any being who found it....but only if their mind could handle the strain. [CREATE LANDMARK] - Wol-Kot’s temple is infused with supernatural power, creating an archive of all he has ever seen, expanding accordingly. This includes his personal musings, the dreams of mortals, and ever-increasing magical knowledge. Of course, to see the universe from the view of a god is immensely demanding, and anything less than a god-touched will probably be driven immediately mad if they try to read it. 11 AP REMAINING
  9. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    “Firstborn of Ao, my vision was pure; Yet lesser gods coveted my throne. They could not resist my birthright’s allure; And they carved profane realms of their own.” -Inscribed on the first pillar of the Nightweaver’s temple At last, peace. With his web cast over the entire world, Wol-Kot slumbers, drifting through his dream-world of Soth-Kogarth. Stars dance over a barren world, but closer, closer. Touch them and they blink out, but somehow the light remains. For this is Soth-Kogarth, and the rules of nature do not apply. The Dreamstalker is not alone. He can feel them: dim presences subtly bending his essence spread across the world. He does not stir from his rest, but he feels the truth even in his slumber. Someone has imbued the earth’s creatures with a spark of the divine, an aspect as everlasting as the gods themselves. They are not strong enough to truly walk in his essence, but that time will come. And then... Soth-Kogarth has changed. Where once there were stars is now a gaping maw, tongues lashing out in search of prey, teeth grinding each other to nothingness. In its center, the sleeper sits formless yet visible, aware but unconscious, ravenous but patient. And in an instant, the mouth is gone. A sea of mercury and pyramidal islands of obsidian stretch into the distance. In the sky, a storm brews, but is far away. [ACTIONS] – None
  10. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    “Heed my words, ye who enter here: when the seas have vanished, when the earth is a lifeless husk, when the stars flicker and die, I shall remain. All shall be arrayed before the Nightweaver in perfect darkness, in eternal service.” -From the walls of Wol-Kot’s temple None have disturbed Wol-Kot in his tomb. This is good. He will be forgotten by the surface, by the other gods, perhaps by Ao himself. Slowly, he drifts through the lightless reaches of the deepest Underpath, and grows weary. But he cannot return to his temple to slumber. He cannot retreat into his dreams, for the way to his palace is unguarded. None but the most worthy must ever delve into the bowels of the earth. And so Wol-Kot materializes as a silver mist, and from him crawl the grotesque forms of monsters. Spiders as large as horses, colonies of huge acid-spitting centipedes, blind amphibious bipeds which lurk in the Underpath’s rivers....all stalk the newly carved tunnels, sustained by fleshy insects grazing on mineral-eating fungi. But it is not enough. In the deepest caverns, where silence reigns unbroken, Wol-Kot fills the darkness with nameless horrors: creatures which slumber like Wol-Kot himself, waiting for unfortunate beings to wander just a little too far into the earth. None are alike, and yet each shares an insatiable hunger for anything that comes near. Woe to he who seeks the Dreamstalker and instead finds his keepers, for Wol-Kot has no tolerance for fools. At this, the god returns to his temple, and seeps into its walls to rest. His will bends the dream dimension, anchoring it to the temple and creating a pocket realm disconnected from the world, which he calls Soth-Kogarth. At his whim, a rip in space opens within the structure, and Wol-Kot passes through, vanishing from this world to a place he can truly be alone. There, among a million stars, he finally goes to sleep, and watches the world through his dreams. [MAJOR ACTION] – Filling most of the Underpath with an ecosystem based on mineral-eating fungi, in which most of the creatures are predatory in nature and generally horrifying. Arthropods and amphibians are both present, and stalk the tunnels for unsuspecting prey. The lower levels of the Underpath are filled with unique abominations, some with supernatural abilities and some without. They lie dormant for the most part, but are consumed with hunger while awake. [MINOR ACTION] – Creation of Soth-Kogarth, the astral realm. A portion of the dream dimension bent to be separate from the world entirely. Accessible via a portal in the Nightweaver’s temple, Wol-Kot rests here and watches the dreams of mortals. It is the center of his web, and the final resting place for the souls he ensnares.
  11. Zanderaw

    The Rise (FRP Thread)

    Blightswamp The mood in Vallum Palus is sombre: of the many men sent to the collapsing falls, none returned. None can say that the Blightswamp has shirked its duties. Nevertheless, the citizens know what their relatives died for, and understand. In time, the blood of other Altaireans may protect them. They say their prayers and return to their slowly-improving lives. The missionaries from the far south are quite the curiosity. Most of the locals in Vallum Palus are fairly dutiful in their worship, but the Venandii are less so. While they are nominally brothers of the faith, Venandii are often so isolated that their religion differs on innumerable tiny details. The visitors will be hard pressed to make their message heard among people that have often never even heard of a proper town. For the time being, Marcus continues to turn his attention to the expansion of agriculture in the swamp. Catfish has proven a successful source of food, as the animals are not affected by the blighted soil and breed rapidly. Nevertheless, under no circumstances could the province be called civilized. Though his Venandii scouts have brought back more detailed information on the region between him and Bronak, the route to the Green River is still far from safe, and the entire western half of the province is completely uncharted. Truly, the legion did the bare minimum when they claimed this place. Though all investment this year goes to the governor’s agricultural project, his attention turns to a ruined port at the northwest edge of his domain. Clearly, the province does not have the resources to recolonize it just yet. But if it could be reclaimed, it would serve not only as a superior point of export to the south, but also as a civilian forward base, allowing civilization to be brought north, in time. Colonists begin to be gathered... With a surplus of lumber, shipments flow south through the Grey Coast bound for the capital. It is hoped that the province’s lumber will aid the empire in all manner of construction projects. Summary Selling 2 lumber to the capital – [0 AP] Gathering willing colonists to reclaim the province’s port in the near future – [0 AP] - [28 AP]
  12. Zanderaw

    [RP] Dawn of Divinity

    I am Wol-Kot. I was there at the World’s beginning, and I shall be there at its end. Submit, and know the true nature of the universe. Thus does the Weaver of Night engrave upon the walls of his temple. Near the very center of the earth he burrows to hide from the other gods, and manifestations of his will carve a great cavern, raising cyclopean walls and great columns in a grand structure that few will ever see in the subterranean darkness. In this cavern at the roots of the world, he surrounds his temple in a lake of mercury, before he looks outward. The architect, the one who called herself Axis of Heaven, is near. She has made a realm of her own, and now sits cloistered in an infinitesimal point within the empty core. Good. She can stay there. Wol-Kot carves a passage from his cavern to that empty space, and soon his essence wanders between its great marble threads. Majestic, yes. But its majesty would honor Wol-Kot. More caverns spread from the core-void, and reach out through the world from its center. A network, too vast and labyrinthine to navigate, large enough to hold a hundred civilizations. Rivers flow through its empty reaches, and sounds from miles away echo through the darkness. The Underpath, Wol-Kot calls it, or Yal-Gokor. And once the first few branches of these primordial caves reach the surface, the Nightweaver is at last satisfied. He returns through his great maze to the core, and thence to his temple, where at last he rests. But his work is not yet done. Slowly, thinly, his essence spreads outward. It infuses every stone and breath of air in some tiny way. The other gods feel it. But the earth is not affected. Rather, the essence of Wol-Kot is itself changed by what it touches. And so the shadow-world of dreams is for the first time created. An echo dimension, malleable and attractive to souls without grounding. The Dreamstalker sets his net, and watches.... ---------- [MAJOR ACT:] Creation of the parallel dream dimension, into which slumbering mortals are drawn. There, their wills will shape reality, and Wol-Kot will watch, silently or not. The dream dimension is by default a shadow of our world made up of Wol-Kot’s being, but it is easily bent. [MINOR ACT:] Creation of the Underpath, Yal-Gokor, and the Nightweaver’s temple. The temple sits in a lake of mercury, and its cavern is only accessible through the hollow core-void. The core-void sits at the center of a huge network of caves: some large, some small, but all so convoluted that a surface dweller could never hope to come even close to the core except with divine guidance. The Underpath is sprawling and empty....for now.
  13. Zanderaw

    [OOC] Dawn of Divinity - God Game

    APPLICATION Forum Name: Come on man Skype: Come on man God Name: Wol-Kot, the Nightweaver, the Dreamstalker Appearance: Wol-Kot is formless, never truly materializing on the earthly plane. Those who have spoken to him describe only a silver mist enveloping their surroundings, with dark figures barely coming into view in the hazy distance, before vanishing. His voice comes to them always as if standing just behind their shoulders, and though it sounds kind, his words rarely are. Agenda: The Nightweaver ultimately seeks to harvest the souls of the living, to arrange them all in perfect service to himself within his ethereal realm of Soth-Kogath. Any god who stands in his way will be remembered. Description: (Long-form description of your god’s nature, personality and vision for the world.) It has often been wondered why Ao saw fit to give life to Wol-Kot, the Nightweaver and Stalker of Dreams. From the start, he held little interest in shaping the world that Ao had wrought, and he looked upon his fellow deities with indifference. Alone, he carved a realm for himself deep in the bowels of the earth, where he hid, for centuries ruminating on questions forever unknown to us. It was only when the first mortal souls breathed on the world’s surface that he once again stirred. While mortals slept, Wol-Kot spread a portion of his being thinly over the world, and their spirits walked freely through the shadow-world he had created, imprinting their own fears and aspirations onto its nature. Thus were the first dreams dreamed, and the mortals accepted them. But they did not know then that the Nightstalker was watching. When he at last revealed himself, it was in the full knowledge of what these insects truly desired. He offered it, but with a steep price: their service, in life and after. Their souls would be his in the darkest pocket of the shadow-world, far below the earth...Soth-Kogarth. Who can say what the Dreamweaver wants with the souls of the once-living? Perhaps the gods know what lies behind the veil of Soth-Kogath, where Wol-Kot waits beyond the land of dreams. But if one were to tell you, would you trust him? Sample Creation: (Could be anything to a law of nature, a place, race or a magical avatar of your will. This is just to jog your imagination.) The shadow plane is an echo of our own world, made up of Wol-Kot’s essence. It is naturally a pale reflection of physical reality, but is malleable to the whims of mortals. It is here that their spirits wander when they dream, living out their unconscious thoughts whether pleasant or not. Notably, two mortals cannot interact with each other here, as their individual power over reality prevents either from seeing the other. To enter into the dreams of another, one would need command over a small part of Wol-Kot’s power. If a mortal were so blessed, we would call them a Dreamstrider, and the people would hope that the power be used for good. If a beast were so blessed, we would call it a monster, and the people would stay awake.
  14. Zanderaw

    The Rise (FRP Thread)

    Blightswamp Marcus is forced to lock himself in his office for two weeks to protect himself from his spoiled harridan of a wife. Though she hates the food, hates the accomodation, hates the weather and the people, the last straw is that their son Lucius hates none of it. Without informing her, the governor has allowed his seven-year-old to go on a long hunting trip with some of his loyal Venandii. By midyear, Lucius has arrived in Bronak, where the trappings of Korvic life still decorate every stilted walkway and muddy house. There, the Venandii teach him of life in the vast swamp, and of how best to move through the terrain without being seen. But Lucius is restless, and they do not stay there for long. Towards the end of the year, they journey north along known waterways to see the Green River, where the civilized world abruptly ends. The boy looks upon the ramshackle Vallum Frigus, where Imperial soldiers hug their tiny patch of drained land. And finally, the trip across the province takes him to the Green Bay, where the plague-racked port of Pago Esuriit once stood. It is not a place to linger. On the way back to Vallum Palus, the adult males are separated from the group of captured Korvics, while the others are told that a buyer has been found for them. Once out of sight, they are butchered and buried in a ditch, while the women and children are brought back to Blightswamp. There, they will work the catfish fields for the rest of their days. ---------- Swamp Stats: AP Expenditure: -[28 AP]
  15. Zanderaw

    Onwards [Sci-Fi Nation FRP - RP]

    The Han Dominion Winter, HSC 10 Year of the Goat “So there I was, the last trained pilot on the bridge, the rest of the battlegroup disabled, our shields were down and there was a damn titan closing in. And to make matters worse, the Gakree send in a reinforcement fleet right behind us.” “Oh, it sounds awful!” “Well nurse, I won’t lie. It looked pretty bad to us, too. Lot of long faces on that bridge right then, and not all of them made it out. But our old captain, may he rest in peace, he stands up and says to all of us that we’ve got to make it out. That we’ve got to fight another day, or all the lovely Cevelli girls down here are going to pick up rifles and fight ‘em off themselves. And I just couldn’t let that happen.” The Han winked at one of the wide-eyed nurses around him, and squeezed her hand. “So what happened then?” asked another Cevelli, nervously adjusting her hair. “He was right of course, God rest his soul. And I said to myself: well Feng, this isn’t so bad. Just do what you did that time you won the Xaplon 5K. Oh, had I not mentioned that? It’s nothing, don’t worry about it. Anyway, so I took over the controls…” “That’s him alright. What a piece of work.” “As if you were any better when I met you, Yan.” “Don’t call me that. Not here. For heaven’s sake, I’ve never once met a Cevelli named Yan. Certainly not a Cevelli woman.” Yan tried to make his posture less masculine. For all his years in the field, this was a new experience for him. “Obviously we’re not going to get him alone for a while.” “Could try being Alduu’uuraneans.” “The last thing we want is to get sucked into a battle up here.” “Well, I’m out of ideas.” Chan’s appearance was barely changed apart from two pointed ears. Yan couldn’t help but feel he’d gotten the short end of the stick with this plan. “What we need is to make an offer better than all this.” “Better than getting a leg blown off? Shouldn’t be hard.” “He doesn’t seem to mind it much, unfortunately.” Yan grimaced. “I might have a plan, but we’ll have to move quickly. This lot look like they’ll be ready to ship out again soon enough.” He looked down at his body. “Come on then. Let’s get some better disguises.” Yan walked out of the hospital grumbling to himself, and Chan hurried after him stifling her laughter. ---------- Once, when the Dominion was young, there were only six. Six Han possessing psionic powers, chosen by the prophet Chaal to carry out the Old One’s divine will. Two of these grew close as father and daughter, and overthrew that Dominion to found a doomed empire. Three stayed loyal to the schemer Shi Yimu, content to be his puppets. One created the Triple Crescent. The Triple Crescent had guided the Han nearly as long as the Jinyiwei itself. For decades it had been integral to more than simply Han unity: it was the only entity which could truly give the Dominion proper aspirations. Zeng Zhishu knew this, but more importantly, his followers knew it. Perhaps Shi Yimu knew it too, for despite his outrageous persecution of the Following over the last two years, they had not faced a thinly-veiled extermination as others had. It was a sign of divine favor, to be sure. And yet despite this fortune, Zhishu now found himself before a Jinyiwei tribunal. For five hours he had kept his head high as the officers berated him from their elevated seats. His answers were guarded: they would find no trace of disloyalty, only pride and the independence which heaven itself wished for him. When they asked of his father, the psionic who had overthrown the old Dominion, he truthfully replied that he was off-planet at the time. When asked of his belief in the Old One, (who they called a ‘guardian’ for some reason,) he replied honestly that he had met the being on Solot’dohol, but never received orders from him. He wouldn’t be here if these people could execute him without justification, and he had no intention of giving it to them. The tribunal’s leader, a mean-spirited and uppity pencil-pusher called Wang Zhen, had grown increasingly agitated over the course of the trial. Again and again he seemed to think Zhishu was about to slip up, and every time his defendant had managed to respond inoffensively. At last, he lost his patience, speaking through gritted teeth. “Does the accused deny his belief in higher powers than the rightful Dominion government?” The question was merely a less-subtle restatement of the same thing he’d been asking for hours, and poorly-phrased to boot. Zhishu smiled wryly. “Your Excellency. As I’m sure has been made abundantly clear by now, there is no cause to question my loyalty. But if there were nothing more powerful than the Dominion government, we would all still be on Yuguo.” The officer glared down at him for several moments before he spoke again, no doubt considering whether the answer had been damning enough. Though Zhishu possessed nothing of his father’s psionic talent, he could read this man like a book. It was obvious he’d won already. “This tribunal will deliberate on its verdict.” Exasperated, the questioner got to his feet and stormed out of the room, soon to be followed by his fellow officers. Zhishu was left to wait alone, sitting in an uncomfortable chair surrounded by plain grey walls. He did not have to wait for long. Behind him, the civilian door quietly opened, and quiet footfalls announced a newcomer. Whoever it was came to him, carrying a second chair to sit close. He was shorter than Zhishu, thinner too, with grey hair and large spectacles. “You handled that well, I thought. Not well enough to convince them, though.” “I doubt they’ll vote to execute me, Inspector Shi.” If Yimu was surprised to be recognized, he didn’t show it. “What makes you so sure?” “Jinyiwei officers don’t think beyond what they’re told to think. And you will have told them to wait for your decision.” The High Inspector raised an eyebrow. “The Triple Crescent’s faithful and I are still alive,” Zhishu continued, gazing forward at a blank wall. “The same cannot be said for everyone else on this planet who challenged the Jinyiwei. You’ve been in your position long enough that I doubt it was an accident. That means either you have a plan for us, or you’re scared.” He turned to the older man. “So which is it then?” “An impertinent question for someone with his life in my hands.” “The latter, then.” Yimu was silent for a moment, and then sighed. “Zeng Zhishu, I believe we can be friends.” “The only thing you believe is that I’ll be a willing servant.” “Am I wrong?” Now it was Zhishu’s turn for silence, as he thought it over. “Not if it means defiling our purpose. I desire unity for our people as much as you do, Excellency. But if you think I will abandon my father’s work and suppress the true path, you are sadly mistaken.” The High Inspector responded with a laugh. “That is precisely the opposite of what I want you to do.” He got to his feet, and paced to stand in front of Zhishu. “When one has played this game for as long as I have, one gets a sense of their own limitations. I can inspire all the fear I like, but never devotion.” He smirked as if admiring a prize winning goat. “You, on the other hand…” “You want me to prop up your rule,” Zhishu said with audible disdain. “I need no propping up. If half the city rose up against me tonight, that half would be dead tomorrow morning.” Yimu paced around him again. “What I am offering you is the chance to work with me. Help me fulfill our destiny, and you will have the theocracy your father always dreamed of.” Zhishu was silent, suspiciously eyeing the small old man in front of him. Yimu waited for a moment, but continued. “When this tribunal sentences you to death — and it will, Zhen is always looking to appear powerful — you will cooperate until you are brought before your followers for execution. But his men will have no armed guards, and no help will come to them should something go wrong. You will destroy the traitor, and confirm that I bear the mandate of heaven. After that...well, we’ll have quite a bit of work to do. ” Zhishu continued to eye him, but Yimu did not speak again. “Your offer is...tempting, Excellency.” He broke his gaze away from the man. “But I cannot agree to it unless you tell me what I would truly be a part of. For a man who speaks of destiny, you have never shown much interest in the will of heaven.” “That is only because your father set his sights too low.” Yimu sat down once again. “There is no higher goal than learning the Old One’s true will.” “You’re so wrong.” Yimu leaned in conspiratorially, and smiled in a way that was distinctly unsettling. “You and Xue have been chasing to obey the strongest master you could find, and in the process you’ve failed to even consider the real prize.” “And what would that be?” “Zhishu,” the High Inspector sat back up. “Would you like to know why the Ar’gakari are really here?” ---------- Stranger with each passing year. The Dominion suffers yet another uprising, but this one is remarkably without bloodshed. Triple Crescent fanatics assault a public display of justice and kill several agents, but there is no crackdown, no retaliation of any kind. Instead, the fanatics somehow acquire weapons and run rampant through the city. A previously-unnoticed band of their thugs calling themselves the Celestial Guard begin to conspicuously follow known secularists, and supposedly isolated incidents start to take place against their employers. Complaints to the Jinyiwei government still go unanswered. In the city’s central plaza, a list appears, documenting the names of all citizens who have yet to pledge themselves to the cult. After a week, it becomes obvious the Jinyiwei intends to do nothing. The list shrinks dramatically as attendance at Crescent temples skyrockets. It isn’t long afterwards that a congress is called by the cult’s leader, in order to “codify the rites of the Han and the church’s position in the Dominion.” The resulting document asserts that the mandate of heaven falls squarely on the shoulders of individuals which it refers to as “Daos.” In the past, five men shared this responsibility, today there is but one: Shi Yimu, controller of the Jinyiwei and wise governor of the Dominion. And yet, still nothing comes from the Jinyiwei but silence. Many citizens privately wonder who is really in control, but none dare to question the new order in public. ---------- Han Stats Link: Summary Using foreign funds, the shipyard above Hanguo is again expanded, in order to accommodate heavy cruisers. Expansion on another shipyard begins as well. [15 AP] Per contract with Four Tigers, five light freighters are produced to be shipped to the northern Han brethren. [5 AP] Dominion shipyards continue to pump out freighters, allowing the state to more and more keep a tight grip on interplanetary movement. [23 AP] Apotheosis. [2 AP]