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Heaven's Reach ST

[Exalted] Light in the Darkness

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Time Period: Two Weeks after events of Diplomatic Endeavors

 

After dealing with matters on the planet, the Marshal's sent word for Dawn's Wrath and it's crew to be at a specific location, not an actual star system, but one of those unusual places between the stars that actually had a exit on the canels, one that was known only to the Marshals and one that they sent the method of getting there to the material intelligence of Dawn's Wrath.  In essence, they would be depending on the ship itself to get them there, but that was more or less what orders involved.  The rest of Dan's command, were to be be sent on to another location, but every exalt including the Captain of the Nobel Endeavor was requested to be on the Nobel Endeavor.

 

Upon arriving at the darkness between the stars, a small shuttle was waiting for them, and after sending the codes the ship came aboard, and Marshal Dren and two of the leaders of the Marshals, the Journey's caste Grand Marshal Ayesha Ura, and the vara Adamant Caste, Grand Marshal and Vara Fleet Admiral Radiant Blade of the Stars .  The three of them exited from the shuttle, before they were willing to speak, they requested that everyone be present for the meeting.  Once everyone was there, they got down to the heart of the matter.

 

"Thank everyone, for being patient about this, the Vara requested that this meeting take place in extreme privacy, as they did not wish to reveal this information publicly, we are here to emphasis the importance of your next mission, and to prepare you for it." Ayesha glanced at the other Grand Marshal present, then at the rest of you, then stepped back to allow Radiant to speak.

 

"Thank you, Ayesha"  The adamant caste male caught the gaze of both of the Adamant caste present and gave them a momentary nod before he bowed to everyone present.  "While many rumors exist regarding the Consensus, and my people, many of them are questions that we do not answers, we find the other races tendency for dishonest behavior distressing and certain ideas are more harmful then others.  We will now confirm a rumor that we have chosen not to answer, but to you alone, we ask that you do not tell anyone not present this infomation, but we do not require that you oath yourselves to do so, if someone else comes to us asking about these things, we will neither confirm nor deny them.

 

Yes, the Consensus remains in distant contact with the Stellar Intelligence, Autochthon, and we have a number of things that we can do with and through that contact.  We will now make use of that link on your behalf, we now invite you to our greatest capital, the system of Urvar, were we shall refit upgrade the Dawn's Wrath for the Terminus Subspace Realm.  Our process will make it so that the ship maintains a field of standard essence in the heart of the Terminus realms.  A full explanation of why awaits Ayesha's explaination, we also extend a personal invitation to the heart of our realm itself, it is rare that anyone is given this invitation, Ayesha is the most recent individual we extended this too, almost a thousand years ago."

 

He glanced over at Ayesha, who then nodded and continued the explaination.  "Yes, we are sending you into the heart of the enemies power, part of the purpose is to eliminate the Lord of Torment and the Dark Lady, but we also have a further goal, find out what is going on in there, the Terminus realm is one that should never have existed, and much of what goes on there we only know from questioning ghosts, or the Death Knights, and the shadow worlds which are on the edge of terminus, we have very few contacts there.  What we do know is that it is a place where darkness and death rule, and the living do not regain essence normally there, the refit process will make your ship an isle of reality, a place where essence is gained normally and rules of normal space apply, which means ghosts and the like will not be able to enter your ship.  This is a very important mission, as we understand it, the agents of Terminus wish to bring about total Oblivion, the more we know, the more we can oppose their goals."

 

She glanced back at Radiant who then continued to his tone was formal it was clear this ritual from his tone and the bow he made specifically to Dyna.  "I also confer an answer to the Adamant Exquisite Dynamic Synergy: The Consensus responds; bring the one who bears the exaltation of Nova Corona and Lady Kestrel to the Sacred Temple of Adamant at the Heart of the Song within Urvar and your Request will be answered to the satisfaction of all."

 

He then turned his gaze to everyone present.  "We also open to all here, with the understanding of both the danger and difficulty of this mission, our warriors, our works and our ways, by the Will of the Consensus.  Ask it of us, and we shall provide whatever aid we can upon this endeavor, ask of it if us, if it is within our power, it is yours, as long as the stars shine."

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As Kestrel listened, her expression turned stonier and stonier. By the end she looked as if she'd just watched someone throw a basket of kittens into a chipper-shredder.

 

"All right," she said when Radiant was done talking. "Is it just me, or is this the stupidest plan anyone has ever had? I don't CARE what kind of mystic protections you put on Dan's ship, and I don't CARE how badass that ship is... You're talking about sending ONE SHIP against all of Terminus! And...and...bathing that ship in some kind of halo that will make SURE every Deathlord knows EXACTLY where it is! If it was that easy, we'd have sent in huge fleets of glowy battleships centuries ago, and everything would be puppies and rainbows right now!"

 

She pointed a finger at the assembled leaders of the Marshals. "I'm out. This is a suicide mission, and I am NOT dying in Terminus."

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Vera crossed her arms over her flightsuit. "So, let me guess, we are about to be the spearhead for a surgical strike into the heart of the Terminus for the purpose of assasinating two HVTs with extreme prejudice? Is there a method we're looking for here that is preferred? You do know we're gonna be shining like a lighthouse in the middle of the night, right? Nothing stealthy about what we're about to do. I wager you're looking for a sledgehammer, not a scalpel."

She turned to Kestrel. "Well... after that greeting you received you're out? I highly doubt there isn't a plan. On the surface this looks crazy, but I'm willing to hear this crazy plan out." She quirked her eyebrow. "After all I willingly crashed a voidfighter into a Imperial battleship... and won. Sanity isn't what I'm known for... or being careful."

She scratched her head. Then how Kestrel and Dan were greeted hit her like a ton of bricks. "Wait... Nova... Corona?" She said, looking to Dan.

She knew that name... long ago and another face.

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While the Solars traded words, the doughy terrestrial exalt frowned at the hologram of the Terminus systems.

 

Okay. So they're gonna outfit a massive cruiser... but it's still pretty much a giant 'kick me' sign. Like that time in the 'Flip when Big Earl got drunk and got dragged down by a dozen teenagers and left outside on the curb without his pants.

 

He wasn't an expert in void warfare by any stretch of the imagination. Nonetheless, it seemed as though they were basically daring the deathlords in question to send out undying fleets and take them down.

 

Maybe we are.

 

"Okay, I'll bite. While we're busy drawing attention to ourselves with what looks for all intents and purposes to be an overly-dramatic suicide attempt, who's really going to be going in and sactioning those two people with the needlessly dramatic names?"

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"Does it matter?" Gianno stated with a excellent triple-dosage of incredulity in his drawl. "I get the sense any sneaking team wouldn't have the power anyway, let alone the questions of how we get out. Or even survive the getting in..." He jabbed a finger at Kestrel, "The lady's got the idea, I'm thinkin. So my answer involves two words, 'cept most combinations wouldn't be meant for polite company."

 

He wasn't taking this insane risk, and they couldn't make him. Nine wouldn't let him go anyway. "So I'll just use this pairing: NOT GOING."

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Radiant looked bemused a moment by the refusal on the part of several of the exalts, then looked at Ayesha and Dren before looking back at the assembled exalted and spoke up again.  "You misunderstand, but the misunderstanding is comprehensible, the process takes about four weeks and involves coating the starship in a thin layer of adamant and tiny soulsteel circuits, what this does is alter the necrotic essence of Terminus so that within the ship so that it operates under the laws of standard reality, inside of the ship, it also alters essence use inside the ship to look as though it is necrotic, appears as though that of ghostly arcanoi and abyssal when looking from outside.  The ship itself will have the ability to appear as though it is made of soulsteel rather then orchichalcum.  " He paused a moment.  "And, if it will ease folks minds, it will require a much more total refit, but we can also put in a direct gate in the heart of the ship to the Celestial Mountain, should you need a quick retreat."

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Vera quirked her eyebrow at the lack of forethought on the plan.

"Sir, if I may advise... tell these guys to kindly go to blazes."

She adjusted her suit. "And if you're stupid enough to go along with this, I'll have no part in it."

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Cygnis Methis watched the little mini-revolt in progress and couldn't help but be a little amused.  He hadn't been part of a 'secret Marshal meeting' before so it was a relatively new experience.  Still, the trouble he was having was figuring out which was more comedic.  The abject mockery and revulsion that the 'Good Marshals' openly showed to their command structure, or the fact that said command structure hadn't considered adding a 'bug out' option until just now, and even then it was 'to put minds at ease'.  This is why he could never be a cop.  Even a space cop.

 

He raised his hand, more an acknowledgment of the custom than anything else, as he was the type that when he spoke, people listened.  It was just a thing that happened.

"Excuse me everybody, as amusing as this little show is, I've got a quick question.  Keeping in mind that I'm about as far from a tactical genius as you're going to find, what's the plan?"

He began ticking off points on his fingers.  "You've got step 1, which is go into the Terminus disguised as a Soulsteel Ship.  You've got step 10, which is take out two people that I have to assume are Abyssals.  What are steps 2-9?  And please don't say 'Wing It'"

 

 

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"Actually the two we're after are Dark Gods, We defeated them on the moonbase, but none of us were able to permanently destroy them."
  Nova looked to Methis and nodded.  "Winging it is not particularly the way I like to do things either.   No plan survives contact with the enemy, but I want abit more of at least a rough outline of what we're going to do while we're there, and get out once we're done."

 

"For the record, a Direct portal to the heart of the Celestial mountain is, I feel a strategically unsound move.   Just suppose they find some way to subvert someone on the ship, they could have a portal for themselves to the Celestial Mountain, able to pour their forces in with impunity.  I'd rather that such an escape device  lead somewhere into normal space, near one of our defense node outposts, which would be set on alert ready to react to the emergence of a ship, with protocols in place for proper identity confirmation before our seemingly soulsteel ship would be blasted from space."

 

"That is less pressing than the need for more information.   I wish to know all the information we have on Terminus, and to hear the logical train of thought you feel justifies sending a single vessel into Terminus like this.   We will be alone, unsupported, and while the ship might seem to be something that belongs there, None of us are Abyssals, and the use of our Essence, anywhere save the ship will not go unnoticed at all.  Nonwithstanding the dead can tell the difference between themselves and the living..."

 

"The honor you show us by the offer of a visit to your capital, the trust you've shown in revealing what you already have, these things show that this is of great importance, but the purpose of simply finding and sanctioning two fallen deities, and "Finding out what's going on" seems somewhat thin to justify all of it, Not to mention the resources, time, and effort that would be put into the refit, and task itself."

 

"With respect,we've already been chasing ghosts of the past, gathering up weaponry from the First Age, fighting Abyssals, renegade dragonbloods, and the Lintha.   I get the feeling there's a connection to all we've already done and been trained for and what you now ask of us, I and my colleagues would hear it now, from you, what you really want of us, Then we can decide who will accept and go, and make a plan of sorts that accounts for as much as possible from what information we have."

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Sophia sighed.

"This may be echoing the others, but our plan is basically waltz into Terminus. Alone. With just our ship and ourselves. Hope we can track these bastards down. Come up with Someway of Killing them for good. And get out with the only back up plan leading straight to the Celestial Mountain."

"Anyone have a GOOD plan for dealing with those two?" She said without the slightest hint of joking.

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"Actually"  Ayesha spoke up. "I don't believe a portal to the Celestial Mountain from the ship is a nessary installation, I have someone else who can provide that sort of capability directly, after all, one can dock a ship the size of a cruiser at the base of the Celestial Mountain using the spell Summoning the Heavenly Portal, and we brought a Journey's caste navigator I am going to assign to your ship who knows that spell.  Her previous incarnation also did some exploration into the Terminus systems, and she's a able geomancer, she's more or less ideal for this mission."  She tapped a communicator.

 

"Artaith, if you would come aboard please."  As soon as the Journey's caste exalt had joined them she would continue.  "This is Navigator Artaith Iraida, who holds the exaltation of the Golden Seeker of Storms, who I believe was known to Nova Corona.  The Golden Seeker was always willing to go places and seek out knowledge that others considered too dangerous, Artaith here is both a sorceress of the Celestial Circle and a capable Martial Artist, I believe she will be an invaluable asset to your gathering." 

 

She paused gave a moment for everyone to greet Artaith before coninuing again.  "And I have a far more detailed and complete plan for dealing with these renegades.  We have several spies within Teminus itself, including a number of ghosts who has been quite helpful, and a renegade deathknight day caste known as 'The Kiss of Shadows" who is quite willing to assist us, she knows and hates the Lord of Torments and his Lady, as well as knows where they live, but she desires a degree of commitment from us before she's willing to actually guide anyone too them." 

 

"What we know of Terminus is that it's a dark reflection of the universe, every star system is a series of dark and damaged planets spiraling around a black suns that provide little in the way of light and it's all overlayed above yet a third strata of existence the inhabitants fear called the labyrinth, at the heart of which exists the Neverborn, the vestiges of the slain stellar intelligences and below them, the pit of Oblivion a place of total annliation.  Dark ghosts known as Spectors who serve the neverborn and even darker beings known as Deathlords serve as agents of their will exist within this domain, be wary of the Deathlords, most of them are more powerful then Deathknights and no method we have found can truly slay them, but they can be defeated and imprisoned. 

 

The most ancient of worlds within Terminus, however, is the system of Stygia, where dark cities built into many asteroids circle around their black sun.  It is here that we plan to send you to redevous with the Kiss of Shadows and those ghosts who serve as part of her network.  As to your concern about the solar essence within you, we have a artifact known as the Obsidian Mirror, it will alter a solar essence to appear as a abyssal one for a limited time period."

 

 

 

 

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Tall, curvy, dressed in a uniform like suit not quite like that of the Marshall's Wearing her Golden Staff upon her back, Artaith walked into the Briefing room and felt the eyes upon her. She could see the questions feel the tension, the doubts.

 

She had been listening while waiting in the shuttle for Grand Marshal Ayesha's call, she briefly wondered if anyone had noticed the active link that Ayesha had left open for her.

 

She addressed the Captain and Crew

 

“Greetings Captain, fellow crew members, it is an honor to accept the posting of Navigator if such Is your desire.â€

 

She locked eyes with Nova Corona , Her memories or rather Golden Seeker of Storm's memories didn’t quite see the resemblance but it was him none the less, and it was his acceptance that she needed.

 

She kept her eyes locked on the Captain as Ayesha Continued and when she Finished she could see that many of this crew wanted to speak but she stepped forward before any could.

 

“I know that none of you know me and have no reason yet to trust me for I am only a solitary traveler . But When the Grand Marshal Spoke to me of this journey she gave me few details knowing that I could not pass up this journey, a voyage into the heart of darkness to the door step of oblivion What secrets are hidden there what knowledge to be discovered. She knew that I would find a way to be on this mission and I have.â€

 

She looked at each of them in turn.

 

“I cannot tell you that we will be successful, I will not make promises that I cannot keep, But I do know that I am The Golden Seeker of Storm's and my path, that I follow today, leads to Terminus and I know that this ship, Dawn's Wrath will take me there. Make no mistake That is fact.â€

 

Artaith Nods to Ayesha and steps back, waiting.

 

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The voice, the way she carried herself, Nova caught himself.  Another link to the past, in the flesh.   "I would be honored to take you on as Navigator, Artaith, welcome to the crew of Dawn's Wrath."  he extended his hand to her in a guesture of kinship, the first age handshake something few still did,  but seemed perfectly natural here. 

 

Once he released her he looked to those who would be his superiors.  "This Mirror can do that for all of us at once or are multiples required?  Will it function on those not Solar, camoflaging the essence of the Lunars, Dragonblooded, Sidreal, and Vara who I know will be coming along on this mission?"

 

The part about the Deathknight and allied Ghosts surprised him.  "So we are to meet witha Deathknight, who will guide us to the targets' stronghold.  We're to trust this Deathknight enough for this, and I can only assume, to allow such an entity aboard my ship.  Is that the sort of committment she needs, met, or is it something else that's more "She'll tell you when you arrive?"

 

"I realize that I ask many questions, but if I am to form some sort of plan to get us all in and out of Terminus and accomplish this task, I will need every scrap of intel we have,  and hearing your own plan in its entirety for how you wish us to do this.  I think only then will those we need with us on this task, yet cannot truly compel to join, do so of their own free will.   I am asking for the honesty and trust you have shown us in  coming to us with this, and more, so that we have everyone aboard, and willing to do what must be done."

 

"Perhaps it may be best to start with Why exactly these two fallen gods merit this level of sanction."

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 "What, is that it?  That's all it takes?  A low cut top and a bit of magic knowledge and this lady gets to tell you what you're going to do with your ship?  Well I'll be damned, Dan..."

Methis stood and moved around the room, his eyes flitting back and forth between Dan, the new Maiden, and the commander types.  He moved around to where the new Navigator had just finished making her proclamation about being Seeker of Storms and proclaiming in the most matter of fact way imaginable what a captain was going to do with his ship.  

"It just means that *you*..."

He moved through as graceful as ever and collected Artaith, hooking her arm in his and moving right along to the side of the chamber.

"Are someone I'm going to have to get to know very well."

He smiled his most charming, devilish smile, the same one that had caused entire nations to throw down their weapons rather than do harm to such a flawless being.

"Tell me your secrets, enchantress.  Let's you and me talk about important things while they figure out the specifics of this little venture, and I will make it very much worth your while"

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As the insanely attractive man took her arm and led her away from the others, Artaith cast a glance towards Grand Marshal Ayesha and noted her surreptitious nod. Placing her hand on the arm hooked through hers she leaned in closer to the man and as far as any observers could tell gave him her full and rapt attention, and most everyone was watching for how could the eyes not follow this nearly perfect man.

 

As they arrived at the far side of the chamber Artaith studied her escort, drinking in his features, gaining a sense of him. Looking up into his eyes she gave a little giggle, and tilted her head a smile innocent and inviting on her lips.

 

"You are mistaken sir, I keep no secrets, only knowledge, ask and I shall Share what I can."

 

She moves a bit closer their eyes level the feel of their breath on each others skin.

 

"But first, you have me at a disadvantage for I know not your name while mine is in your possesion."

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Kestrel rolled her eyes as Methis made his move, and moved to stand by Dan.

 

"A piece of helpful advice," she told the assembled leaders of the Marshals, "Next time, open with the detailed plan. Dan's got it right though. That's still a huge amount of risk and expense just to take down a couple of...whatever they are. I'm also not wild about our only hope of getting out of there resting entirely on one person. A lot of bad things can happen to people in Terminus, I expect. A backup plan would be nice."

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Still frowning at the general lack of coherence in the plan, he listened as the argument continued. On one hand he was trying to follow the paragons of martial prowess and political acument, while on the other feeling vaguely disappointed that the Shining Solar Heroes that surrounded him weren't above disagreement and brainstorming. He'd had the most direct interaction with Sagacious Wanderer and Kestrel, working as a subordinate, and it had seemed... proper for lack of a better word. Now that they surrounded him, it seemed almost anticlimactic that they were engaged in what appeared to be a perfectly mundane brainstorming session. Weren't the Glorious Lords of the Heavens supposed to have these sorts of plans fully-formed from their minds or something? 

 

"Excuse me everybody, as amusing as this little show is,

 

You're a bit of a prick, aren't you, buddy?

 

I've got a quick question.  Keeping in mind that I'm about as far from a tactical genius as you're going to find, what's the plan?"

He began ticking off points on his fingers.  "You've got step 1, which is go into the Terminus disguised as a Soulsteel Ship.  You've got step 10, which is take out two people that I have to assume are Abyssals.  What are steps 2-9?  And please don't say 'Wing It'"

A prick with an unfortunately accurate assessment of what the Grand Marshal is asking for.

He was about to open his mouth with another nugget of not-wisdom when the Captain spoke up.

"Actually the two we're after are Dark Gods, We defeated them on the moonbase, but none of us were able to permanently destroy them."

...what.

It was a minute before the increasingly absurd scope of the mission managed to sink in and by then, several more quips to the effect of "what makes this plan likely to succeed" were delivered. He shook his head and tried to focus back in and regain lost ground, remembering a grouchy admonition to fucking pay attention.

"And I have a far more detailed and complete plan for dealing with these renegades...

Oh thank heavens

...We have several spies within Teminus itself, including a number of ghosts who has been quite helpful, and a renegade deathknight day caste known as 'The Kiss of Shadows"-

Again with the overly-dramatic names.

-who is quite willing to assist us, she knows and hates the Lord of Torments and his Lady, as well as knows where they live, but she desires a degree of commitment from us before she's willing to actually guide anyone too them."

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Inside assets. Control of information. Someone wants to supplant the boss and will spill the goods on said boss to The Law in order to get a leg up. So, a way in to start.

By thinking of it in terms of going undercover in a criminal organization, the notion of the operation took on an almost comprehensible scope. Big mobsters needed to be taken down. The way in was through a mole who wanted the top spot and was willing to betray the head honchos. His mind was occupied with these thoughts when the navigator walked in.

Tall, curvy, dressed in a uniform like suit not quite like that of the Marshall's Wearing her Golden Staff upon her back, Artaith walked into the Briefing room and felt the eyes upon her. She could see the questions feel the tension, the doubts.

Boooobies. Shut up, Other Zed, I'm trying to think here. But Zed, boobies! I know, Other Zed, I'm trying to work. But- Focus, Other Zed. You used to be cool, Zed.

For some reason, the notion that he didn't find a low-cut dress on a beautiful woman as distracting as it used to be made him feel vaguely depressed. Like the loss of the polar opposite of innocence of youth.

The voice, the way she carried herself, Nova caught himself. Another link to the past, in the flesh. "I would be honored to take you on as Navigator, Artaith, welcome to the crew of Dawn's Wrath." he extended his hand to her in a guesture of kinship, the first age handshake something few still did, but seemed perfectly natural here.

Well. That was simple.

It occurred to him that Dan had also accepted a scumbag terrestrial barely worth the space occupied by the air he breathed, so perhaps the notion of accepting a Celestial navigator who could magically evacuate the ship from Terminus Space -That's a thing now? I sure hope so, Other Zed- on nothing more than the word of his superior shouldn't have surprised him.

"What, is that it? That's all it takes? A low cut top and a bit of magic knowledge and this lady gets to tell you what you're going to do with your ship?

Correction to previous assessment. Complete prick.

"It just means that *you*..."

He moved through as graceful as ever and collected Artaith, hooking her arm in his and moving right along to the side of the chamber.

"Are someone I'm going to have to get to know very well."

He smiled his most charming, devilish smile, the same one that had caused entire nations to throw down their weapons rather than do harm to such a flawless being.

He blinked, wondering what was wrong with the scene. After a few moments, he realized what it was: Nothing seemed wrong. If he, a dumpy lump of a man had done the exact same thing that Methis did, it would have been grounds for a thrashing and likely being brought up on charges of sexual harrasment. Yet when the beautiful seriously? Shut up Other Zed, I'm secure enough in myself to compliment another man on his appearance. Seriously? Shut Up. Solar moved into her space and locked arms without permission it seemed like a simple courtly gesture and not an invasion of privacy. It seemed... right.

The notion suddenly made him very uncomfortable. Desperately, one part of his brain moved back over his interactions with the various Celestial exalted over his blessedly short career, trying to recall a time when he'd been instinctively subservient Karren doesn't count because she's fucking terrifying and docile. Another part of his brain tried its damndest to prevent the first part of his brain from coming up with anything, preferring blissful ignorance. The effort was short lived, but it made him look like a walnut with a frowny-face painted on it.

Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he managed to get back to the task at hand. Namely, the near-suicidal notion of diving in with a single ship into hostile territory. Attempting to get back on track, he directed his question to Dan, his ostensible superior officer.

"Captain, is it possible that there are political divisions between the various, uh, deadworlds of the Terminus systems that you can exploit militarily?"

Still, he couldn't help but feel vaguely resentful at the ease with which the Solars engaged in social manipulation and how simple and proper it seemed.

I wonder if that's how mortals feel when they look at me?

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Methis maintained his smile, taking her hand in his.  

"You are right, my apologies.  My name is Cygnis Methis, Merchant Prince of Nexus, Perfected Architect of Worldly Magnificence, and Diplomatic Liaison of the Confederation of Rivers to the Star Marshalls,at your service"

 

He kissed her hand and paused for a moment, glancing over at Copper Palm Zed for a second before looking back to the woman in front of him.

"If you're serious about sharing what you can, perhaps, we could take some time while the captain's vessel is being refitted.  if it would be better suited, as I am sure we both have questions that would be best suited for a less... professional setting."

His smile was one of mirth and mischief.  

"Strictly business, of course.  I just don't want to take up all these wonderful peoples' time with all the questions I have.  Time constraints and all."

He nodded sagely, an oh so serious, yet not serious at all look on his face.

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"No apologies are necessary." 

 

Artaith steps back, not releasing his hand, and curtsies in the most formal courtly manner before continuing.

 

"I would very much look forward to entertaining when time permits and will answer all of your questions, my Prince, as I may, However I think I need speak a few more words here."

 

Keeping hold of Methis' arm she turns back to the assembly.

 

"Pardon me Captain, Marshals, Fellow Crew members But i feel I should better explain my earlier statement and offer my opinion on our current predicament."

 

Artaith offers that smile to Methis again as she steps back toward the assembly arm in arm with the dazzling Prince.

 

"Often when I am being myself i forget how blunt i sometimes speak and that explanation is usually required when speaking to those not of the Mountain. My conclusions that this vessel will be the vessel to take me to Terminus were based upon my consultations of the Probability matrices which show a 99.97 percent chance that this ship will take me to or at least part of the way to Terminus."

 

Patting the Merchant Prince/Liaison Officers hand as she disengages from him and steps closer to the crew she continues.

 

"That is what i should have said to begin with but the drama of the moment overtook me. Please forgive."

 

Artaith makes a deep Bow to the Captain and crew.

 

"As for the reluctance to blindly throw yourselves into this task I can fully understand. It's hard to make such decisions without full knowledge of what is expected of you, of what may lie ahead. I go willingly and of my own choice regardless of the danger because its what I do, I seek out the dark hidden places of the universe where the greatest lost secrets may lie. And Captain, I hope i am not being too presumptuous by putting words into your mouth but i think you would not voice them, I think you have already decided to go not because ordered to, but because you are not the kind of man to leave something unfinished. Others among you will go because of loyalty to this man, loyalty and love. And the rest of you will have your reasons to go or not to go and you must make that decision yourselves. Marshal's i think you have been wise, you have given us the outline of the things that await us and I think that you will leave the Planning to the Captain and his officers once he has absorbed the full intelligence you have for him."

 

She pauses a moment, tries to project confidence without being too overt.

 

"Again I speak too much or too little, but i have only one more thing to impart. We are Exalted, who we are and what we do will echo forever in the annals of our universe. This is a moment in time, in our destinies that will be a defining moment for each of us. Win or lose, live or die, this will be remembered."

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Nova knew this woman in the past, but for once he couldn't fathom why he couldn't recall her perfectly.  Still she had read him perfectly and he knew he wanted her with him for this journey.    Beyond her valueable skills, he did feel it too, a "rightness" of her presence there.

 

"Well said, and once again barely between breaths it would seem, I welcome you to my crew and Ship, Artaith, I look forward to working alongside you towards our mutual goals.  You speak truly of at least myself, I will go, not for ordersm but for my own satisfaction."

 

He looked at the others.  "I admit some hesitancy, in that I wish for more information, but the level of resources put to this task, and in truth, the very personages that have come to deliver it to us lend weight to the need for this to be done.  I would ask you all come with us who will go.  We have faced trials together, and certainly more are to come, and I would have no others standing at my sides to face this trial, or any other."

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"The Lord of Torment and Dark Lady need to be taken out for several reasons.  First, he is corrupting other Material Intelligences to his purpose, second, while you put a stop to their actions in the battle, this is not the first time they have attempted to pull a world into alignment with Terminus, though until your battle with them pinning down their reasons for actions and where they were based has been much harder until now, as being in Terminus and turning their energies into necrotic essence had hidden them from the web of Fate.  More importantly, we believe they are attempting to align multiple worlds in a manner that will allow them to drag an entire region of space into Teminus, killing billions.  It was almost certain that Kry'sta'tor was supposed to be one of them, but your actions saved the system..

 

Once your encounter with them was recorded, we called on certain spies we have sent into Terminus, of whom, Kiss of Shadows is one of our newer agents, a renegade who operates against the will of the ones who are called Death Lords.  According to her self stated words, she seeks to protect the balance of life and death, and is protector of the sentient ghosts of Terminus from abuse by the living and the dead, mainly necromancers, though she is also apparently one herself.  This is the woman and her appearance on record.  She spends most of her time in Terminus, but she is under consideration for membership in the marshals, depending on how she deals with this mission, your report will tell me what we can expect from her."

 

Ayesha pushed a button and sent the picture to everyone so they could see who they would be dealing with.  "She has provided reliable information and assistance to us for some time, and was able to pin point the Lord of Torments when we sent our contact to ask her about him after your report, apparently, they are old enemies, she didn't know we were looking for him in particular until our contact asked about him.  Other agents have independently confirmed her information, so we known, at least on this level, she's telling us the truth.  It will be your assessments, after this mission that will decide our future actions regarding her.

 

juliann___ix_by_metalhed13-d486x7i.jpg

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"So we trust this rogue deathknight, We allow her onto as you've already stated, the most advanced and powerful ship in the Marshal fleet, She guides us to the target, and lets us Sanction him hard, and to top it off, all of this really starts to sound like an audition, or recruitment effort of this Deathknight."

 

In his heart he could almost feel the answer, he just knew there was another reason they'd chosen his ship to do this, beyond Artaith's feelings, and the knowledge that he would do as ordered.   "She's the equivalent of a Twilight Caste, isn't she?"   There was a sensation of dread for the answer.  She looked to be a warrior, but looks were so often deceiving, especially among the Exalted.  He knew of many who wielded impressive Magical power and were peerless warriors to match.

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