Excerpts

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Rising Action

14

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(pg. 1)

Dear friends and enemies,

 I have long dreamed of peace. Not the false spring of our current landscape either, but a real one. Where wars are not fought for pride or power or cold hard coin, but constrained by law, order, and accord of public opinion. Dispensing with plunder, sacks, and wild bloodshed to follow a universal code of conduct. Restoring a measure of nobility to the act of war itself, and bettering our world in the process.

The first question many ask me is how a man such as myself, who has warred so long, despoiled so many nations, and led countless of our best and brightest to brutal death, could ever truly seek to bring about true peace. Such concern is misguided, I think. Those of us who have seen with our own eyes the glorious madness of that charnel business called “war” should be the great champions of peace. How could we not be, if still humans of character? The alien Mediators are a lesson for us all in that, if nothing else. But it is my heartfelt hope that such a strong appeal to shared common sense and decency will sway a good portion of you all to see reason. Which is only the first step, of course. Training will also be needed. Re-organization. A new order of business to change the charnel business itself.

With all these sentiments, and in my new role, I have drawn up articles of rank, hierarchy and legal standing for any further conflicts between mercenary armies. A single General shall still lead an army, but now supported by 4 – 10 Lieutenant Generals vested with certain discretionary powers to keep every General more in check. Tactical Commanders shall become the new highest ranked on direct ground engagements, leading any Force larger than 4 Squads. Squadleaders will then be ranked under them, with privates below them in turn, and so on. The full list of Command requirements is attached.

Yes, I can already hear your howls of outrage. This will require a complete re-imagining of the patchwork Command Structures you all currently employ, and upend small traditions. But keep in mind that our grand intent here is to simplify, codify, and re-train every last one of our mercenary armies from the top down in order to bring about unity of planning, and thereby unity of purpose. Naturally, I must require that you all begin to keep a thorough annual accounting of your campaigns, finances, and submit to full rank inspections during an international audit in order to verify your legal standing.

My demands are not too great, I think. I am not so cold-hearted a tyrant as to take away all of your toys, and codified rules of contract, deployment, and conduct in the field will serve us all well in the long run. Mercenary armies have enjoyed the chaos of our destabilized world for decades, fighting for whatever nation bids highest; this fact will not change. What WILL change is how we all go about it.

From this day forth, the Peace Summit is no longer a suggestion by the world leaders, and its Accord an international legal document without teeth. I stand for it now. With my army, and allies. There will be no further chaos. There WILL be order. And we shall achieve it together, or find ourselves at odds again, but with the full backing of world authority behind me now to unleash hell itself upon your armies, neutral homelands and citizen contract holders.

It is a new day. Join me in peace, or prepare for death.

 the Golden General, first Standard Bearer of the Accord

Open Letter to the World, 1962CE

 

The World

2035CE

 

The World held its breath. Newsfeeds showed: golden sunlight, a sun-burnished treeline, distant spinning windmills…

… and black, geometric flocks of buzzing DroneCams wheeling high in the air above the World’s two pre-eminent elite mercenary armies positioned across kilometers of country fields and hills. At the center of this vast display was a massive, two-story bright-bannered dais housing the high-ranking officers amidst, and three figures atop, with a constant flock of DCams slowly circling in the sky above them, almost ominously.

Most of the World’s newsfeeds focused here.

Atop the great podium: General Blue, a tall, stern-faced older woman, stood at right in an immaculate Blue uniform studded with an impressive amount of medals. General White, a beetle-browed, tight-lipped and muscular older woman at left, wore an immaculate White uniform boasting a similarly impressive collection of medals. But most striking of all three figures was the red humanoid looming a meter back – unnaturally tall and wide-framed, naked except for a tan loincloth, with its single cyclopean eye unblinking…

It was a Mediator.

Newsfeeds had little to say today about the aliens. The World had grown comfortable enough, over the last century, with the idea that humanity was neither the only sentient species in its own solar system or even the most advanced. Many decades of passive non-intervention from the aliens helped this process tremendously, and they rarely stirred from their 6th planet home except when asked to mediate Earthly disputes (which had informed their species name).

Stand beside me in union,” the Mediator suddenly boomed out in its strange accented voice, and began raising its two red arms out to the sides, slowly spreading open both big four-digit hands to receive their ceremonial gestures of unity.

The two enemy Generals (who led mercenary armies which had a twisted history of bad blood from top to bottom) glanced at each other in an unexpectedly shared moment of hesitation. Blue’s lips then twisted in distaste, and White frowned…

Scattered shouts rose across the fields from both of their elite mercenary armies: the rank and file were equally ready to begin.

The World was riveted.

Blue grunted. Ever the more disciplined of the two rivals, she then firmly clasped the alien Mediator’s big red hand. White cursed in irritation a moment later, and took the alien’s other hand.

Let the aides approach.”

Up the great dais steps, side-by-side, walked two attractive young soldiers: a muscular trans man in blue uniform, and a slender trans woman in white. Both soldiers carried gold-beribboned black boxes steadily up past the middle-dais floor hosting Chiefs of Staff, bodyguards, assorted aides, and all seven of both mercenary armies’ Lieutenant Generals. Some DCams paused their tracking shots upon Blue Chief of Staff Busker, a hulking gray-haired brute of an old man wearing a sad smile upon his handsomely weathered face, due to his scandalous history with both Generals…

Yet with the opening ceremony truly underway, some stations switched feeds over to tracking shots from across the many square kilometers of the Competition staging grounds. Newscasters began surveying notable combatants a final time, running brief segments describing their military exploits to countless viewers in the glowing terms of celebrity: Black Ben and Gray were old wardogs who had something left to prove; Commander Ray, Commander Kev, and the legendary DeadEye were the current gold standard, without equal in tactics, brutality, or leadership; Red Reynault, Pushkin, and Darling Takashi were the future, the very last being an all-surpassing genius savant who many military fans across the World thought would someday redefine the very nature of conflict itself.

A distant, periscoping DCam captured a sudden commotion far afield. Sharp-eyed studio techs adjusted the receiver volume, picking up shouts. Some news commentators received word, which set off a round of excited speculation for the unauthorized “false start” many pragmatics had predicted. Studios sent forth black flocks of DCams to cover this developing story, each splitting away from pre-assigned groups (hovering near points of interest over the countryside, grassy hills, obstacle course, and nearby farmbelt), all buzzing eerily above the landscape in flight to begin converging in black swarms over the edge of the badlands…

… but by the time they got within standard directing distance, the commotion was all over: wearing Blue Lightmech armor which covered their entire bodies below the neck like an insect’s carapace, Squadleader Dag and his Second, Osu, were now dragging away the famously hotheaded Private Beecham. Beecham shouted, her red hair askew inside of her bubblehelmet, but the pretty young woman did not use the machine strength of her mechanized body armor to resist as they ushered her away from the inner Demarcation Bound separating their unit from the White Heavymech Demolition Force. Mostly veterans, the White Demolition Force waited in tense ranks beside each of their Heavymechs (parked on the grass in tankmode) as their Tactical Commander Black Ben just continued his trademark bellowing laughter while standing atop the shoulder perch of his advanced Heavymech Daisy (which loomed in warriormode above them all like a 4 meter tall tech-knight). Some experienced anchors chuckled, then began explaining Ben’s exploits in hotbed warzones over the decades. Station DCams lingered upon this powerfully built old legend, his famous bushy black beard gone half silver.

But most stations switched back to the great dais, where things were still proceeding. “And now that the prizes are officially known and presented,” boomed the Mediator, “listen as the bare Ruleset of Escalation is stated in finality.”

Across the country fields and hills spread for kilometers around the great dais came spreading silence…

To the Victor goes the prize, but victory is only counted by end-point totality. The Contest will begin with a race between the two initial Competitors, scores awarded based upon play and by Mediator discretion. If, at the end of the Contest, either Competitor decides to Escalate to the next stage of Competition, their teams points will be docked appropriately and I will assign a skypillar to mark the Escalator. Certain Bonuses can be earned along the way for both sides, but subsequent Escalation by either will follow the same general Rules,all final rulings determined by Mediator Discretion. Using any communication device is allowed between Competitors, but not also with spectators. Most importantly of all – no matter the stakes, all shall remain within the agreed upon total staging grounds area. The Dampening Field marks this area, and will not only enforce each Escalation level by disabling all Competitor weapons ranked above the current level, but maintain the sanctity of the staging grounds themselves. This is the new reality.

There was a short pause.

Most World stations had been panning across the field while this declaration of the Ruleset of Escalation was being re-iterated, a few announcers quietly pointing out that initial troop placement for both forces was determined at Mediator Discretion, which explained the odd mixing across varied terrain including the western great lake Os, its nearby abandoned industrial zone, the bordering woodland, the old farmbelt, the cursed town of Pyet, the badlands and World famous descending highlands beyond. More than a few spent some airtime just goggling at the impossibly large dome of energy, the alien’s Dampening Field, which safely surrounded the Competition staging grounds entire, the few DCams high in the clouds above it now panning to show its opaque curve looming vast over all…

Let the initial Competitors acknowledge their submission to the Rules of the Contest, and the Ruleset of Competition Escalation.”

Some few DCams panned across the obstacle course beside the forest, but most shifted focus to the very start of the course. There stood Private Miller, a giant, sinewy woman in white (who some romantic militants thought looked like a brutish young version of the “Valkyrie” Blue Lieutenant General Arctura), beside Private Fegan, a short, blue-clad little man with a silky brown bowlcut. The two initial Competitors, (whose altercation had sparked this final confrontation between these armies) were simmering and frowning, respectively. “We acknowledge and submit to the Contest rules and the Ruleset of Competition Escalation,” they shouted.

Tension mounted as the ceremonial proceedings neared their conclusion, and DCams from all over the old abandoned countryside began converging upon the course, moving into position for the true start of this rare legal Competition…

And do all assembled in the Blue and White Armies submit to the same?”

From across the many kilometers enclosed within the dome of the Dampening Field came a thunder of shouted voices from both of the opposing mercenary armies: “WE ACKNOWLEDGE AND SUBMIT TO THE CONFINES OF THE STAGING GROUNDS AND THE RULESET OF COMPETITION ESCALATION!”

The Mediator nodded, its single cyclopean eye still unblinking. “On my mark, let us begin.”

Both armies hushed, joining the World.

Ready.”

At the starting line, the initial Competitors crouched.

Set.”

Seeming to buzz ever louder in the increasingly taut silence, the black clouds of DCams waited for…

A deep note pealed across the sky, thrumming.

Go.”

Exhale and action.

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The Rage (1st Edition)

The Rage

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(pg. 1)

Chapter 1

 

The Rage was transformative.

Few appreciated the emotion like he did. Most feared it. But not him, not anymore. He fed it lesser emotions like sadness and fear, to grow it…

His psychiatrist would never understand. “Damon. You cannot simply avoid your problems, and you cannot always flee into your mind when confronted.” A dignified gentleman in horn-rimmed glasses, his psychiatrist gave him a knowing smile, as if aware that his thoughts were elsewhere.

He bared his teeth like a smile. “Not always.”

His psychiatrist looked momentarily disturbed by his expression. “I’m… glad you agree.” The gentleman adjusted his glasses with eyes briefly downcast, then looked back up. “But we should talk more about your worries, fears. You opened up at our last session and made progress. Tell me: did you have the dream again? About Them taking you?”

He said nothing…

“What They did–”

He abruptly stood up from the couch.

“Damon,” began his psychiatrist, with a clear note of warning in his tone…

A chime sounded in the background.

He walked out of the room as his psychiatrist sighed behind him. “We meet the same time next week. Remember what we discussed about internalizing!” It was quiet in the empty reception area, so he let himself out through the office’s front entrance door. Outside, steps led down to a busy downtown sidewalk crowded with people making their way home from work, the sun setting low over tall skyscrapers. He joined the flow of humanity like always, but his face was tight as he fed the internal flame of rage…

Psychiatry is a load of shit. It’s just talking, talking and listening, listening and talking. And for what? So a stranger can tell me what to do? Fat chance. I’ll give Monica a piece of my mind about it… politely, haha. I’m lucky she’s with me. Seriously. The only thing manly about me are my big hands, the damn lobster crushers. Arms are weak, gut is strong. What a joke!

The sun had completely disappeared behind the surrounding skyscrapers by the time he got to his bus stop, although a strong, fading glow still lit the early evening sky. He glanced at the cute blonde standing by the bus bench (tapping at her cellphone), then he took his own cellphone out from his jacket pocket and sat down on the bench by himself, immediately opening the screen up to an eBook.

Boring shit. The main character mopes too much. Huh. Ok got a little action going now. Yeah ok, go go go, chase them down, idiot!

“Um, excuse me?” The cute blonde standing by the bench had just talked to him for some reason…

He ignored her.

“What are you reading?”

He ground his teeth together, but refused to look up. “A book,” he answered quietly.

Thankfully, the blonde took the hint.

His bus pulled up to the curb a few minutes later, by which point more people had arrived, forming up in a line behind him. The door opened, then he walked up the steps and casually swiped his bus card.

The terminal immediately unexpectedly made that infuriating negative beep, in response.

He swiped his card through again…

Beep.

“Sir, your card is out,” the bus driver said blandly.

He growled at the appeal to common sense, but reached into his coat pockets to find some change, another card, whatever. Nothing there, so he reached into his left jean pocket which turned out to only be full of paper scraps. The fire of rage burned a bit brighter at this delay, so he blew out a frustrated breath and began checking inside his right jean pocket, fumbling about with the crumpled–

“How about you check to the side?” some impatient guy said loudly, behind him.

The rage burned HOT! He felt abruptly flushed and turned, snarling “how about you wait a minute while I grab a dollar.” He almost immediately found a bill now, and pulled it triumphantly out of his pocket. “Well looky there, a dollar. Would you goddamned look at that?!”

The impatient guy’s face showed consternation.

He turned back and fed the bill into the terminal, which finally dinged appropriately. Ignoring the change, he headed inside of the bus and found a seat in the back.

Over the next few minutes, everyone else also paid fare and found seats at a respectable distance away from him…

… which suited him just fine. However, when the doors eventually closed and the bus finally pulled back out into the street, the rage was still burning bright inside of him. He was as angry as he could ever remember, to be perfectly honest with himself. Maybe moreso, since he usually kept it in. Except at the psychiatrist, of course, where they always wanted you to externalize…

I externalized the hell out of that asshole. Still, that’s not my style. Feed it fear and pain, sure. Use it to motivate, yeah. But keep the beast caged…

He turned, staring out of the window for a while without really seeing the blocks passing by as they rumbled away from downtown. His mind was firmly elsewhere, still pre-occupied with the heart-racing afterglow of the confrontation which had just occurred…

… but maybe I should have mentioned that They came back again. That the rage HAS been worse ever since that night, and–

The rage abruptly burned HOT again, its increased heat quickly consuming his misgivings…

No. Fuck it. It was a goddamned dream, that’s all. And if my rage is a caged beast then maybe it’s only right to let it out every once in a while. Might be only healthy. Can’t keep something locked away forever…

He bared his teeth.

Maybe I do have to share more.

 

The bus let him off in the gutter district – dirty streets, crowded tenements, with a stink of refuse in the air. He made it around the block and inside of his dilapidated apartment complex without incident, the youth hoodlums who liked to squat the front stoop of it thankfully making trouble elsewhere for once.

Kid Roe is a dumbass name…

The lobby elevator was still out busted, so he took the stairs up to the fifth floor, wheezing heavily by the time he got there…

Useless exercise that never drops a pound off this damned gut!

He headed down his hallway, passing the loud noise of television sets, music, and the ever present argument between that one SPECIAL couple next door, before reaching his own door at the end. Angry barking and the scrabbling of claws on wood greeted his jingling keys (like it had every day this week)…

He opened the door–

The dog suddenly lunged out at him, snarling.

He cursed, dodging. “Stay back, goddamnit!” After negotiating the entrance, with his heels being snapped at all the while, he put his wallet and keys on his battered kitchen tabletop and entered the living room to immediately plop down onto his comfortable old sofa.

The dog lingered by the kitchen doorway, growling…

He turned the tv on.

Stupid mutt. You still have dry kibbles in the bowl and I want to sit my lazy ass down for a while.

He channel surfed through the usual shows about nothing, reality crap, and scripted sitcom groaners before finding a good NBA game playing. It only took a minute for some player running a fastbreak to get hit with a good, hard foul. “There you go! That’s how you stop a damn fastbreak!” he muttered intensely, getting into it…

The dog got more and more agitated as time passed: running past the coffee table at first, then upping the ante by racing between the coffee table and the sofa, to jostle his legs and yip.

It was distracting, but he just let the rage simmer. Tired as he was from a long day upping sales numbers on the weekend shift, and then meeting with that useless psychiatrist, the familiar, rising emotion was always energizing, even when he was just sitting there not acting upon it.

But…

The damn dog eventually began to howl…

He clenched his teeth.

… and it started growling again. Mean this time, before pacing out of sight within the kitchen to loudly knock something over.

He flinched. “You stupid little–”

A deep growling suddenly came from the kitchen doorway again…

and even goddamned dogs try to bully me now, tell me what to do in my own goddamned apartment…

He turned, glaring at the bullydog just standing there in the kitchen doorway with its teeth bared now, still growling.

Motherfucker!

The rage spiked HARD, reaching a whole new level. Before he had time to fully process it, he had leapt off of the couch and sprinted to the dog, skidding down on all fours to begin growling right back into its face with his own teeth bared, and eyes wild.

The mutt flinched.

He barked.

It went racing away back into the kitchen while yipping in fear, claws scrabbling against the old linoleum until it stopped, hidden somewhere out of sight, whimpering.

He snarled yet again, rising up to step forward with the rage still building…

… but It snapped. Disappeared.

That was all… new.

He dazedly made his way back through the living room, then collapsed back onto the comfortable old sofa in a kind of stupor, lying there while the tv was blaring on, and on…

___

Nightglory (3rd Edition)

Nightglory

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(pg.1)

Greetings lost One,

This book is a simple collection of truth forgotten, remembered, or never known. It is here to help you return to Oneself in any way possible. It is of heaven, and Urth, and all that lies between them…

Urth is a place in the heavens, which is to say existence. The gods, goddesses, demons and devils all watch over us as we live our lives below them in a place of blood, sweat, and toil. The land itself is further divided into many places, but chiefly: the wider world and the Realms. The wider world is all that you can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Plains, fields, forests, deserts, skies, mountains, caverns, rivers, lakes, oceans – everything.  The Realms, however, are apart AND a part, each one a separate metaphysical land bordering our own and each of them with its own gates, and gatekeepers…

Of the many creatures on Urth we must begin with humankind and otherken. Alike and different, they are the rulers of this world, although within each species is also great diversity…

Men are abundant, and good when they are not evil. Some plow the land, some build tools, homes and lives, but others travel the path of Power: magic, in other words. To walk it yourself you must have Will, Power and eventually Title; Will is the innate ability to bend circumstance, force, and life itself to your will; Power is the force behind the world, and can be expressed in many magical forms; Title is beyond them both, and you almost always need both of them to earn it – the crowning achievement for any magical practitioner, re-affirming and re-enforcing their own unique Power. Unless it be wrong…

This simple forward is but a glimpse. Like everything else it is a beginning and an ending. A birth, and a death. Pray for Unity, and Acknowledge the Word: truth is the birth of understanding and the death of ignorance, but only through true understanding can one become One.

– unnamed Truthseeker, Third Order.

(pg. 1) Wayward Traveler

Beginnings

 

A faint glow was the first hint.

Far below, from the ancient, moon-silvered forest of the vale, it slowly climbed the dark-shadowed trail against the dark-faced bluff. No brighter, but slowly visible, until it was a faintly glowing cage. With its interior luminescence impenetrable the cage passed, continuing that slow rise up along the dark trail high, and higher, eventually nearing the bordering silver glow of the bright-rimmed ridgetop…

… as subtly more was…

The cage began silvering (wrapped by her slender arms fading into pale reality from the moonlight) while finally emerging onto the ridgetop, where a full moon was shining low in the starry sky  above the vale’s far distant encircling mountains…

And substantial, she became…

Goldenslaughter.

The dark immortal one was archly beautiful at night: wearing a red-lipped smile upon her bonewhite face as her long blue-black hair and black gown streamed ethereally behind her.  She seemed to glide across the moonlit ridgetop, approaching an arcing greystone bridge spanning an abyssal chasm. “Beautiful one,” she crooned down, into the cage’s interior luminescence…

… returned a soft chirrup…

Goldenslaughter crossed the arcing greystone bridge upwards, against the night sky, then back downwards, onto a silvered plain (which had once borne an honored name) and headed out upon it. Low hills rose far ahead of her, upon which crouched a distant castle contrasting like a low, black shadow against the dark vista of encircling mountains under the full moon shining…

… flowing silent through silence, moving smoothly through stillness, gently rising, the way…

And returning triumphantly this time! Finally! Happy again for the first time in long years, Goldenslaughter steadily wound up through the low hills. This rare trek outside of the castle had finally culminated in a success much anticipated, promising change, and…

Her eyes rose.

… and then thoughts of dark glory slowly filled her head again upon seeing the familiar dark towers, and dark keeps, slowly rising back into sight ahead of her above the dark, weathered walls of…

Caer Nocht.

The Dark Castle. Her old, mythic palatial residence remained stark, sinister, and sprawling. Hosting a pleasing plethora of courtyards, gardens, barracks, keeps, bedrooms, towers and secret warrens within its acreage, it was not just a site of abundant material wealth, but also a most satisfactory and impregnable dark bastion supporting her dark Rule. And furthermore, seeing it spread beautifully across the high, flat end of the bluff under the shining moonlight, but reflecting nothing back, also felt… Home. It is my good home still. Goldenslaughter came the last distance, approaching the darkly gleaming moat while sending the barest brush of her monolithic Will against the ensorcelled shadows left within the dark gatehouse, to make them do her bidding…

… metal slithered, wood groaned…

The drawbridge slowly descended, eventually landing upon the ground before her with a soft *thump* as she continued across it. While entering the shadows of the gatehouse, she saw moonlight shining down ahead upon the nearest outer courtyard…

Her red lips curved up.

And yet standing there alone at the exact center, still as death, remained a gleaming suit of empty black armor…

Heart. “Faithful one,” she called out.

The Wraith Knight kneeled, its joints creaking.

… metal slithered, wood groaned…

“I finally caught it!” she crowed, twirling around her kneeling undead Champion with a laugh (and her long blue-black hair and black gown flying after her) before heading off again towards the other end of the courtyard, striding purposefully…

The Wraith Knight rose, its joints creaking, and dutifully strode after her, clanking…

Passing through the shadowed inner gate, Goldenslaughter crossed a moonlit inner ward, leaving the Wraith Knight steadily farther behind her until she entered back into the shadows cast by the looming Great Keep, high upon which fluttered the pure black banner of her Rule. “Open!” she called.

The double-doors swung wide, to darker shadows…

Goldenslaughter glided inside of the Great Keep, whereupon a line of witchfyre torches burst into burning life up along its dark, faintly crystalline walls to begin casting eerie green illumination across her richly appointed but cavernously empty Feasting Hall…

Clanking outside, crossing the inner ward…

My Champion is often loyal to a fault. Goldenslaughter was flowing down the old, hard-bitten gold carpet covering the central aisle. While steadily passing by rows of ancient, scarred wooden tables: her admiring eye examined the rich heavy drapes covering tall windows spaced evenly along the Hall’s outward facing wall.  Yes, in design and cut they are still pleasing. Then she considered whether the gilt–

“Goldenslaughter, Queen of Night.”

Hmph. She paused.

An old gnome in black and purple livery now stepped out from the empty table before her, kneeling to present up to her a covered silver tray; this ancient subdenizen was her loyal, brilliant, and stubborn head servant, Feasal. “Refreshments?”

“I have work yet to do, Feasal!” she abruptly sang out, her wrapped arms hugging the faintly glowing cage tighter against her chest as she skipped (her black gown flouncing from the motion) around his kneeling form…

Feasal turned to watch her go, muttering–

Clanking: the Wraith Knight entered the Feasting Hall.

Feasal glanced back at her utterly relentless undead Champion’s approach… then he leapt back up (to avoid being trampled in the near future) and scurried out of sight, among the shadows…

The Wraith Knight continued striding steadily down the old, hard-bitten gold carpet, clanking…

… while Goldenslaughter now disappeared into a dark passage behind the Dais–

Every witchfyre torch suddenly snuffed out.

The Wraith Knight’s steady outline of motion, sight of which was now leavened only by dull, faint moonlight edging the heavy window curtains, eventually finished crossing the dark Feasting Hall, its clanks receding away afterwards, from…

Stillness.

In the corners of the dark Feasting Hall, the shadows darkened further. And: fading to echoes, the receding clanks of the Knight also eventually softened away entirely, to…

Silence.

In the corners of the dark Feasting Hall, the darker, and still ensorcelled shadows came alive again, beginning to stir…

___

Übermensch (3rd Edition)

D8

___

(pg.1)

I woke up ready to serve.

The Enclosed Integrated System (EIS) eyes blink repeatedly, to view the oval cell around me which is white, bare, and made of strong material. I am standing. Naked. Memory slowly blooms within me…

“Attend,” orders a disembodied voice, after which a circular portal of empty space smoothly irises open in the curved white wall ahead of me, showing through to twinkling dim…

Curious.

I step through the portal and out into a dim dark hall filled with slow, floating motes of mysterious pale-green luminescence. A blue glow gently forms upon the dark floor beneath the EIS feet (me), then moves forward in a line…

Follow.

I follow the blue glow down the hall, around the corner and through another portal –

– into another white cell. Turning back again, I see the portal smoothly iris shut to seal me inside before successive waves of blue light PULSE up from floor to ceiling…

Brightness above…

I pass up, and outside…

This is all like a dream memory of something never before experienced in the flesh…

Wind blows soil-fragrance, and puffy white clouds are in geometrically perfect lines across an incredible azure sky. I smoothly rise up into rows of tended barley lined perpendicular across the rich soil, then gently stop. Below me, the circular white platform seamlessly melds into the dirt. The blue glow moves forward through this naturalistic scene, towards a barn. But…

Something about this place is not quite right.

I pass by rows of barley, where –

Everything changes.

I blink.

Wind now howls at night on a dark city street where a lone streetlamp shines in the gloomy distance…

Something about this place is ALSO not quite right.

The blue leads me towards that distant light, a long trek between endless shuttered tenements spread under an endless blanket of cold stars, before turning down a dark alley. Immediately: a menacing growl begins issuing from the black end…

I head forward without hesitation, where –

Everything changes.

Hm.

A vast white square of that strong white material is below the EIS feet (me) standing upon it, surrounded by dark sky purpling, and a breeze of thin air…

Presence.

I turn.

Twelve identical beings – tall, black-robed, grey-skinned, and crowned by a circlet of dark thorns – are standing at the nearest edge of this vast white square. In unison: they turn, eyes flashing. “You will serve me.”

A shiver runs down the EIS spine…

Pleasurable.

“I will serve.”

Each points to their own feet. “Kneel before me.”

After hesitating, I walk to the nearest, and kneel. I stand back up, walk to the next, and kneel. I stand back up, walk to –

Overlapping laughter. “The tweaks in your design are effective,” they announce in unison. “You are different.”

I…

All of them vanish with almost-simultaneous terrible CLAPS of wondrous sound…

Except one.

Oh.

Something previously waiting dormant inside of me settles, then begins filling me with an all-consuming devotion, and love…

Endless.

I walk before it, and kneel.

“Rise.”

I stand.

The Superior Being turns away from me and resumes looking beyond the edge of the vast white square…

I wait.

“What do you see?” The Superior Being finally asks me, while still gazing out.

I come to stand beside it, looking beyond the… roof, of the Tower, across a landscape of mist spreading out kilometers below. Farther afield, where the mist begins to thin, are the silhouettes of twisted trees, and the horizon beyond is a glimmering shoreline where waxing dawn remains a pink blush. “I see land.”

It frowns. “I am The Master. You see my Domain.”

I consider.

Yes, The Master owns. I remember: The Master owns the land, The Master owns the Tower, and… The Master owns me. Oh.

“I did not fully understand the question,” I clarify. “Yes. I see your Domain.”

The Master nods, then looks at me intently. “What do YOU own?”

Anxiety flushes the Id EIS face at this inappropriate question. “I am not The Master. I do not own.”

“Relax.”

I relax.

The Master nods, its expression growing thoughtful. “Certain emotional responses are expected, considering the Id EIS design.” A pause. “And my own. Hm.” It begins humming distractedly, and walks from the edge of the vast white roof…

I follow.

A low thrumming, then we begin rising upon a white platform seamlessly upwelling from the previously solid white roof. Tiers of white follow, forming into a stepped structure which drips up liquid globules of that strong material, each silvering into display screens floating into wide orbit around a portal opening in the exact center of the top platform to birth upwards a techno-throne. Then everything smoothly STOPS, locking into place as a white rooftop pyramid.

 (Power…)

The Master sits upon its throne.

I kneel. “Master.”

“Rise.”

I do so.

“You are as I hoped: an Attendant strong and quick-thinking. But…” The Master purses its grey lips. “I would prefer you to call me by my name.”

“What is your name?”

It smiles. “My name is Gabriel.”

“Yes, Master Gabriel.”

“You will be called Id.”

Id…

The Enclosed Integrated System (EIS) permanently imprints with the name: Id…

… and afterwards, I use the mouth of the now fully configured Id EIS to again say: “yes, Master Gabriel.”

It frowns. “Are you being impertinent?”

“Never!” I protest.

The Master still remains frowning. “The Tower is my home, and a place you will inhabit at my will. Memories and knowledge of my Domain are implanted in you, but a tour by my sAI node will demonstrate that it took.”

SUDDENLY: I am standing several meters away again via an unknown spatial technology. The orbiting screens are ahead of me now, obscuring –

“Id,” calls a feminine voice.

Other.

I turn, then stare down towards the lowest tier of the white pyramidal rooftop. Silhouetted against a vista of The Master’s Domain, with dawn warming red behind it…

Floats a golden sphere. “Let us begin.”

___

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