Sorry that this has been very late. I've started an electrician course, which I'm currently doing alongside a full time job which is 40+ hours a week
. Anyway enjoy ...
Since the fleet’s last jump, Fio’El’Aang’ma spends most of his time, as he is always one to do, hunching over his desk. He spends most waking moments in an obsessed hunt to uncover the origins of the gue’la’s tau-like weapons. His faithful companion, Feek’ah, hovers over his creator’s shoulder while his less intelligent sibling cleans the dimly lit workshop.
“Sir, you have received a message from Fio’O’Au’taal Xian’Gao Suun,” Feek’ah declares as a small chime emits from the speaker on his underbelly, “He kindly requests... again... that you contact him when you are able to. Would you like me to send him a response?”
“Delete the message,” Aang’ma replies bluntly as his face is bathed in a bright green glow from the plasma cutter.
“But sir, you cannot ignore one of your superiors, especially O’Xian’Gao. After all the help he gave you.”
The Aang’ family were highly regarded for their work in the Empire’s Armoury. For a brief time, his uncle had raised Aang’ma after his parents died from an accidental plasma explosion and was one of the main contributors to the Ion Rifle’s initial creation until it was discovered that they leaked Ion radiation. That coupled with the stress of working on the Mor’tonium, caused him to take his own life. Aang’ma was still young and the tramtic event impacted him. He closed himself off from the rest of the Earth caste and his family heritage of weapons design. Instead he discovered a talent and passion for advance AI and soon was shunning the research assignments, choosing to spend all his time creating synthetic life. His failure to perform resulting in harsh punishment, for none could go on ignoring the need of the Tau’va over personal gain. However the sympathy of Fio’O Xian’Gao had softened his punishment and allowed Aang’ma to, temporarily, working on his AI project.
Aang’ma slams his fist on the desk, tearing the red lensed goggles from his face, “Don’t you dare speak of that to me again!” he snaps, spraying spittle over Feek’ah’s lenses.
“A…Apologies sir, it’s just. You cannot ignore you’re duties again. It will be catastrophic to your livelihood.”
Aang’ma sags and drops the goggles on the floor, Fuun’ay hovers over, picks them up and places them on the desk, “I like O’Shan’Go, he’s old,” he adds before floating away.
“Locking yourself away in here isn’t healthy sir,” Feek’ah states as a projection of Aang’mas brain activity appears on the desk “As you can see your cerebrum readings are erratic, you are of no use to yourself or your work right now.”
Aang’ma opens his mouth to reply but nothing comes out except a deep sigh of defeat. “You’re right, I need to get out of here. I’ve been so hung up on figuring out how those Gue’la Pirates got their hands on our tech I forgot my duties,” He finally admits.
“Shall I send O’Xian’Gao a reply?”
“Yes, tell him I’ll do the talk for the Fio’Las.”
“Very well sir.”
“And Feek’ah. Thanks.”
Fuun’ay looks over to his master and whines like a pup.
“You to Fuunay,” Aang’ma replies with a chuckle.
Tilah’s hysterical laughter hits Hasah before he can even reach his room, causing his quills to stiffen and quiver. He braces his staff and pulls the lever of the slingshot rifle back, allowing a thick metal pellet to fall into the chamber. He slowly walks over to the door and leaps into the room as it opens.
“Put that bloody thing down!” Noran yells as he struggles to pin Tilah down, who had fallen into violent spasms “Help us hold him down.”
Hasah drops the lance and grabs Tilah’s flailing legs. Calurit walks over and places his hands on Tialh’s temples while Hasah, Noran and Riza hold him down like they are trying to crucify him to the floor.
“What’s happening to him?” RIza asks, placing her knee on Tilah’s forearm.
“Wish I could tell you! It can’t be possession, Daemons have difficulty interacting with the Tau,” Calurit replies, his light grey eyes start to lull into the back of his head and his hands emit a faint blue glow.
A thick frost covers the viewport of Hasah’s room, the temperature has dropped dramatically. Everyone is shivering as they strain against the unnaturally strong Tau.
“The land that should not exist festers with the dead. Sirens wail the birth of the brood” Calurit says in a rich, resonant voice that doesn’t belong to him. Tialh’s tongue flicks in and out as he draws short, raspy breaths.
“What are you talking about?” Noran asks more than a little confused.
Suddenly Tilah stops, his body stiffens with his limbs out stretched making a “t” shape. Calurit’s hands stop glowing and he staggers momentarily in a heap above TIlah’s head.
“Someone … is trying to … warn us.” Calurit finally answers, whipping blood from his nose. His body aches and his breathing causes him great pain. The message was sent with such violent force that reading it took more strength than the average psyker could handle.
After a semi successful raiding run, the Valiant Tide slowly floats back home within the silence. Tiny bursts of light flick on as the thrusters make tiny alterations to the unstable vessel’s flight path. Purtish walks over to a viewport and stares out of the tiny window “Hmmm, that’s odd.”
“What is?” Freha asks from the bench that she is sprawled across like a hyperactive child with nothing to do.
“That planet wasn’t there the last time we passed this way.”
“Maybe it was on a different point of its orbit,” Freha flips her legs over, causing her head to crash on the floor as she rushes over to another viewport.
“No, I’ve mapped every planet in this sector. You know how much of a nurd for detail I can be,” he turns to face her and gives her a cheeky wink.
The young woman blushes, at only 21 Terran standard, she is the youngest member of Purtish’s retinue, having spent most of her life in servitude to the Naga’hi back on Drai’sha, she views every tiny event with childlike awe and fascination.
Her innocence often amuses Purtish and he often enjoys showing her the many wonders of the universe. This venture had started like that, until the discovery of the emerald gas ridden rock had taken away his attention. She spends a short moment staring at the handsome captain, his almost perfect, angular features betrayed by the absence of a nose. In it’s a place is a smooth patch of synth skin marked with light blue, circular symbols. Their shared relationship is mismatched. Where he treats her like a daughter, making it a priority to protect and nurture her, she desires him. To her, he is the one that could show her the universe. Strong, rugged, heroic this man was it all. Purtish is everything her former betrothed was not.
Her former betrothed being Rhy’var Turyk, the young lord meant for a life in the circle. As one of the descendants of the nine humans that had journeyed with the blessed Xandivar on his pilgrimage to Dai’sha, he had become one of the great protectors of Mont’uraun. Freha had a less grand impression. To her, he was nothing but a foolish, clueless boy that had sent her away. She had hated him for ending their pairing and sending her away from her family even though his decision let her experience things she never would have dreamed of.
“I need to tell Ha’in Suy’er’ma,” Purtish rushes out of the room before Freha can even snap out of her reverie, leaving her alone in the cold, silent room with the thoughts of what she left behind. She often tells herself that she would not let her emotions control her, but as the captain left the room, anger erupts out of her in uncontrollable tears.
Why was she so angry all of a sudden? The Valiant Tide was not in the warp, so her emotions should be in check, and why was she thinking of Him all of a sudden? She collapsed to her knees and threw her head at the wall before her. “Get out ... of my head!” she sobbed at the dull brown wall.
Why was she so angry all of a sudden? The Valiant Tide wasn’t in the warp so her emotions should be in check, and why was she thinking of Him all of a sudden? She collapsed to her knees and threw her head at the wall before her. “Get out … of my head!” she sobbed at the dull brown wall.
I sit alone in the middle of a grassy field, the wind blows gently against my bare chest. I look down and see a vertical scar. “That’s new” I say to myself, I poke a finger at it out of morbid curiosity.
“You should leave that alone,” I hear the voice of an old acquaintance behind me, I don’t turn round to see him, I’m too relaxed to move. He eventually walks round and sits in front of me. The Gue’vessa has always been a little bit weird in my opinion, he’s wise like a Por’O yet often states things that get him in trouble. Maybe it’s all an act and he likes to act the fool, maybe he’s naive and his communication skills are terrible, I wouldn’t be surprised though, he’s spent a big part of his adolescent life as a pet of an Ar’Cea outcast. They can be arrogant creatures, even if they possess some of the best wine I’ve tasted.
“How are you feeling?” My friend’s voice snaps me out of my train of thought. He strokes his broken hand through his long, black and white beard, his hand is almost all robotic apart from his index finger and thumb. The strip of black and white hair, that cuts through a clean shaven head, rustles in the wind and his Manchu style moustache dances over his fist.
“Pretty good if I’m honest,” I reply. I stretch my arms up over my head, my bones pop as though they haven’t moved in a long time.
“Do you know where we are?” he asks as he, rather ungracefully, takes his long brown leather coat off. His bare arms are smooth apart from the burn scar at the bottom of his right wrist that appears aggravated and sore.
“No idea but I’m hoping you’ve brought me a picnic, or something to drink at least.” I chuckle and idly scratch at the scar on my chest. He laughs and plays with a triangular pendant around his neck, I believe it was a gift from his Ar’cea master but with the amount of trinkets he has it’s hard to remember what’s what.
“This is both a prison and a sanctuary. We are currently in the warp and for some reason you’ve been attacked by a daemon.”
I stare at him blankly, trying my hardest to stifle my laughter, what the Mont’rak is he talking about? Dee-mohns, Gue’vessa and their ridiculous notion of otherworldly beings.
“You became a conduit for two creatures, I have no idea why since your kind are almost invisible to those in the warp but stranger things have happened.
“Wait ... 2 creatures?”
“I know,” said the familiar voice, in his usual mocking tone.
Is he being sarcastic now? The nerve of him.
“Something or someone was trying to send us a message. A warning of sorts, I believe the daemon wanted to stop that. Neither of them are after possession of you … yet, but I believe the first jump may have induced some latent psyker-like abilities in you. Your mind has been open to all sorts of warp trickery. I believe that both creatures took advantage of that. I had to lock your mind down and seal you in this place.”
“For how long?” What? Why am I playing it cool? I have no idea what is going on!
“We’ll have to wait and see how you are once we’re back in real space. Noran’s put you in a safe place, Hasah is watching over you religiously and there’s a medical team there just in case.”
“And what about you?”
“I’m going to pop in and out to see how you are but I’ll be trying to find the source of the message and fight the daemon that’s suddenly taken an interest in you.”
“So what do I do now? Have you given me any form of entertainment?” I like the open space but the isolation will drive me crazy.
“You won’t be here for long, the real world moves faster than in here,” did he just flicker? That was a little chilling.
“Well it looks like my time is up. I’ll be back before you know it friend.”
“Well I guess I’ll be here waiting for you.”
“Yeah I guess you will. I’ll see you soon Tilah.”
“Yeah I’ll see you when you come back Calurit.”
Fio’O Au’taal Xian’Gao Suun slowly pours a steaming blue liquid into a black clay cup, then wipes the orange Fio’tek pot and pours another placing it in front of Aang’ma. The two Fio sit, facing each, crossed leg, with a low wooden table between them. They do not speak for a short while, only the hum of Aang’ma’s droids break the silence.
“It’s good to see you again ‘ma, I hope you’re not still closing yourself off from everybody,” Xian’Gao says, concern clearly in his voice.
Aang’ma stares at the beaker in front of him with his hands clamped together. Saying nothing as he twiddles him short, chubby thumbs.
“He has sequestered himself for an unhealthy amount of time. If it wasn’t for the mission to the waystation, he wouldn’t have left the work shop,” Feek’ah answers as he floats over to the senior Fio with Aang’ma’s vitals projected in front of him, “As you can see it has begun to have on effect on his current mental state.”
The old Fio’O places his thumb on the top of his lip and rubs, with his middle finger, the crease between his eyes. He closes his deep sapphire eyes and sighs. “I see you’ve given her a male voice now,” he says to Aang’ma while looking at Feek’ah, “I guess that’s showing progress.”
At that, Aang’ma finally looks up at the one who raised him, his eyes narrow to a burning scowl. “Yes I guess so” he replies sulkily like a scorned child.
“I was always male,” Fuun’ay includes from the corner of the room.
Xian’Gao regards the lifter droid with a mixture of pity and sorrow. To coin the term Artificial Intelligence would be a stretch when it comes to Fuun’ay and Xian’Gao knew that the droid’s stupidity was purposefully programmed. Since taking Aang’ma into his care he noticed the young Fio had an unhealthy angst towards male role models that he brought over from the hatred of his father and the blame Aang’ma placed on him for the death of his mother. Xian’gao had been dear friends with Aang’Fuun and Aang’Feek and it pained him to see the memory of his dear friend treated with such indignity. “Fuun’ay could do with an upgrade ‘Ma, why do you still treat him such disrespect?”
Something inside Aang’ma stirs at the remark. He unclasps his hands and clenches them into fist, pressing them onto his knees, Feek’ah floats over to him and places a small mechanical hand on his shoulder. “Sir, your heartrate has increased 16%, I advise meditative remedies to normalize it.”
“Don’t... talk to me... about ‘Him’,” he says through gritted teeth, the last word said with such venom it could coat an assassin’s blade.
Xian’Gao places his hands on the table, suddenly deadly serious, and leans forward. He replies in a low, calm voice “This isn’t healthy, you’re clinging onto false memories. You’re killing yourself from the inside. Your anger as a child was wrongly directed at your father and you need to realize that none of it was his fault,” he says bluntly, all the charm of the fatherly figure now gone.
“You could be Fio’O by now but I’ve stunted your progress, I know you couldn’t handle the pressure. You hardly keep to your duties as an ‘El, if it wasn’t for your abilities you would have gone back down to ‘Vre.”
“I never asked for this!”
Xian’Gao slams his fist on the table “Life doesn’t revolve around you!”
Aang’ma leans back a little shocked at the sudden outburst from his usually calm master.
“We all have to do our duties for Tau’va!” Xian’Gao continues suddenly calm again “We are all cells that power a great machine. If one of us slacks in our duties then the machine works inefficiently. It’s why I asked you to lecture the fio‘la, to share some of your knowledge on how you built these two.” He points to the two droids, “Will you do as I ask? And I’m not asking as your superior but as the one that raised you as his own.”
Aang’ma swallows hard and then stands. He turns and walks to the door. As it opens, he looks back and says “Yes,” before leaving.