~Of Flames and Fantasy~
-Act 1: A Brave New World-
-New World Side Headquarters, The Gate-
...Six months Earth-time. Six whole months had already gone by in a flash after the operation's true purpose had begun in earnest. It would take this long to really settle the colonies, that was something they had already anticipated, but even so it was hard to process it had been this long. It felt almost like two months ago that they had finally opened The Gate, and the various groups had funneled in with their pre-approved colonization groups and supplies. Since then regular check-ins were undergone according to procedure, and likewise they had been busy themselves. Infrastructure building, resource harvesting operations, research and development programs to study and understand this world better, and of course keeping the gateway secure as they monitored the rate of Earthside atmospheric decay.
As of today, all the colonists had been given the communication that the planet had only six months left before the atmospheric decay reached the 'critical point' where super-rapid collapse was inevitable. Faster than the original timetable had calculated, but all the same a trivial matter at this point. Finally the channel to funnel in more supplies was being opened to the colonists, at least now that Phase One of the colonization process was complete. Of course it would take time to get other things through, and at a reasonable cost due to the ever-deteriorating situation Earthside, to get more things through...but that was the price to pay for survival. Nothing came for free.
"V-Vice Director Callahan, I have the compiled scouting and research reports you asked for!"
Near the top of the New World side's Gate, a man in a well-tailored black suit sat at his desk. In his mouth was a vintage cigar propped in, its lit tip emitting only a faint trail of smoke at this point. His face had moments ago seemed to be at a point between exhaustion and some sense of momentary morning peace, though as the rap on the metal door rang in his ears his look changed to one of mild irritation and a little bit of resignation.
After a moment, and another timid knock, he would take his legs down...before snuffing out the cigar in an ash-filled metal tray next to the keyboard and projector for a sleek holographic computer that he'd become intimately familiar with using in the past few months and before. Too intimate and too familiar, really.
"Roberts, go ahead and come in already." the man grumbled, rolling his eyes and letting out an exasperated sigh.
After a moment, the metal door slid open with a futuristic 'whoosh' as a thin and lanky man in virtually generic white-collar attire stumbled into the room. He seemed to be a bit nervous, though as 'Roberts' looked up as Callahan beckoned him over. Quickly nodding in return, the smaller man brought over the papers and folders that were clutched tightly to his chest and set them on the desk proper.
"...Zimmer been running you ragged again carrying crap to the department heads?"
Roberts seemed to tense up an instant, though after looking back at the closed door he returned his gaze to the Vice Director and gave a quiet nod.
"Jesus. Last messenger Zimmer sent had a nervous breakdown, and that was the third one this month. Had to call in the Director on it. Might step down there myself at this rate," Callahan said, speaking to the more timid man as he picked up the folders and papers and began to thumb through, his eyes tightly scanning each page for key words, until eventually his eyebrows perked up on a particular page, "Ah...so they already have 'it' coming in soon. Gonna take a hell of a shot to get it up there, but the guys at the observatory are going to have a field day with this.
...Roberts, get yourself some synthetic coffee, take a second to breathe, and then go tell Astrology Chief Hansen I need to see him right now. The timetable for 'that' has moved up."
After making a hasty salute, Roberts beat a quick retreat out of the office without so much as another word.
Even so, the moment he was gone Callahan leaned back a bit more in his chair once more, eyes staring at the ceiling for a moment before giving a light shake of his head. For a moment he leaned over, then, cracking open a metal desk drawer and pulling out a smaller cigarette out of the open pack in there. He'd had the 'big cig', as he so called them, now he just needed something to take the edge off somewhat more gently. This stuff had been made from grown stuff on a patch here in the New World, bit of turf brought in to test out crops and plants and all of that. Was a small experiment, but one that had given him a few others some packs that no one else here was going to have already.
"Can't blame em', gotta have insurance in case things get a bit too spicy for the Director's tastes," he said, talking into thin air as he moved to light the cigarette...a faint purple smoke rising into the air this time as it began to burn, "Well, not like anyone has much time to get stuff in here anywho."
The Triarchic Republic of Grenacie
-Port City of Grenadacia, Southwestern Coast-
Throngs of people seemed to push through the cobblestone streets and the air above, whether it was men headed to work, mothers heading to market, or even merchants pulling through carts loaded to the brim with exotic wares. Whether it was the dauntingly-sized minotaur, flutter of a flying Drakki, or even the slight wet slap of a merfolk's feet, however, it was a kind of noise that wasn't uncommon here by far. Every day people went to work, or came back from it, or otherwise went about their business in this port city. Even those from beyond Grenacie were a common enough sight here as they came to trade or peddle goods or get about other business, and it wasn't uncommon to see humans and elves and the like around the place who either now lived here or were just staying for a time.
...Despite it all, Mialana felt a light nervous tingle run down her back as she rode along on her familiar. Even with her traveling cloak fastened tight about her, it was hard to avoid the stares from the locals and visitors as she moved along. She'd just arrived here last night, and frankly the journey here had been tiring enough as it was! Find a ship willing to take her, blow some of her allotted money on getting good passage, and then after the long days at sea simply getting a bed and some hot food at a local inn had been a welcome sight.
Even so she had a mission to get done here in Grenacie. Or rather, she had something to do to the south of it. Initial about that strange archway of iron and steel seeming to float on the water of the ocean itself was odd enough...but since then other word had gotten around. Humans, but not ones that anyone else seemed to know, in rumored ships of giant metal that moved over the water faster than any vessel should be able to. Then there had been the sight of the fleeing Qalyxhian Elves, fleeing of all things, and passing along stories of 'barbarians destroying the capital in one fell swoop with abominable magics the like none had ever seen before' along the way. Not to mention those that sat right off of Astrya's own shores, clustered there and seeming to do trade with the Empire at least. It was a very jarring thought that such alien magics and humans from another plane could arrive here, and be so potent despite them being so few (or many depending on the story) and yet it was all the same something she had come to confirm to the south of Grenacie.
A few were prepared to go beyond Astrya's borders and investigate the 'newcomers', perhaps see what they were about if possible. Yet among this group she and some others more were being sent to investigate other reported sightings of 'similar' foreign humans. Not many Battlemages to spare for this, but all the same it seemed to wise to not try to 'spook' the newcomers after a naval power like Qalyxh was shaken so terribly and forcefully.
"...Hanya, what do you think?" the younger Astryan Battlemage softly muttered to herself quietly, looking up at the semi-cloudy with a pondering look in her light-purple-colored eyes.
Most might not think such a hulking beast a being capable of thought, and for the most part she and Hanya had to roll with it when traveling unless they truly had to prove a point. The top and front of his head had three sets of curved, blade-like horns, sharp as much as they were 'stabby' as another fellow traveler had recently put it. His skin was orange-colored and his body fleshy like unto a human...albeit without light hairs on said skin. Or any hair really. Also he was admittedly far more densely muscled. His jaws were as strong as hardened steel, and she'd seen him bite with such power through an enemy knight once it was like they were a fragile twig! Even his four bright green eyes with vertically slitted black pupils in them, two on either side of his head, were something normally menacing to those not familiar with the existence of Astrya's Battlemages. In fact, his hunched-over body, razor-sharp clawed feet and four-fingered hands, and large Indajah-tier height was something to behold even among other familiars by far! Definitely an outlier, but not very rare either among Battlemage familiars.
However, Hanya was most definitely abnormally intelligent for a monster. Plus he was the one who had become her familiar in her youth at one of the Astrayan Battlemage Academies. Plus as mage and familiar they shared a-
'Mmm, if they become your foes then they will become mine. That is all I care for, little mage. Even so, if they are as mighty as you've heard then perhaps I might find a challenge to make against one there to pass the time.'
-...a mental link. One which Hanya had often shared his thoughts and the like most unprompted and at his leisure.
Mialana suddenly looked down at Hanya, a light pout on the black-haired female human's own face as she hit her familiar's back with her right hand balled up into a fist. To Hanya, however, that might as well be a light tap.
'We're not going there to pick a fight, you know. We're just meeting our merchant contact on the edge of the city as planned, and then he'll lead us close enough to the settlement that we can make it ourselves. Then we see what the truth behind all of this is.'
'Suit yourself,' the familiar communicated back, giving a huff aloud otherwise the sent a few of the more timid locals almost leaping to get out of his way, '...Heh.'
The Kyrosian Empire
-???, City of Neveria, Eastern Coast-
None could hear the screams of agony beyond those thick, stone-lined walls so deep underground...and yet that was so much part of the fun! Not as splendid and glorious as the voice of the Great One, oh not even close, and yet he could oh-so abide his time among those that had been condemned for the greatest treason. Yes, to fall away from the Great One's vision and the true path was something abhorrent, dastardly, oh it made him want to faint simply to imagine such a concept! It could not be abided, and so it further brought forth an indescribable rage from within him! Hot like the branding iron! Hot like the metal-spiked prison some were placed in over great bonfires in his humble little dungeons, even! No, it could only ever be as hot as his passion for the Great One's will that rang like a siren's song throughout his whole being!
Of course, today's flesh-puppet for him to use was a fun specimen that had been taken away in the night from a small village. His family had reported him after his tries to sway them, and oh how sweet their rewards would be to the gaze of the Great One! Yes indeed. However, this man's musculature was something best put to use grinding the limbs of some foolish fools among fools. His self had been lost long ago, eaten up like a snack before his fleshy form was made use of. Ah, but those screams as his very soul was devoured bit by bit had been like the sweet sound of a child's peals of joyous laughter.
"Master Azael! Master Azael!"
Ah. Finally, the remaining news from the scouts he had sent out. The human messenger, adorned in black bloody-red robes with a crimson slitted pupil and eye on the back, approached him with a sense of reverent haste. Azael turned from his position at the grinding rack, a tool of his own invention he was proud to say, watching the man take a knee in his presence. It was enough to make him remember his own devotion to great Kyros and smile even wider and wider, oh blessed be the Great One's revered name!
"What is the news? Yes? Have the others returned as well? Hmm?"
The man looked up at him, a great smile on his face in turn as the scars drawn back along his cheeks on either side of his mouth seemed to turn upwards with the corners of his mouth.
"It is as the Great One said to you, my divine lord! They have settled in those places spoken of in your glorious communion with His Voice! We have sent a most detailed report of their ships and what we could discover to the Great Palace, just as requested!"
"Ah, it is as He said! Oh indeed, I shall delved into your minds later to pull out the information for myself of course. I must ensure all has been send in exact detail to the Great One! But yes, my child, you may rest for now. May the True Path guide your footsteps!"
"Glory to Kyrosia! Glory to the Great One!"
For a moment, the follower's eyes seemed to turn pitch black entirely, no pupils or the like to be seen, before he rose up and ran off in haste. Yes indeed, a fitting sign for his children that had been created to follow him along this eternal path! He could do such to them, make it manifest...even so he would freely admit it was lesser to what the Great One had done to him personally. And yet how bright that darkness writhed within him even now! Oh, he could almost hear that blessed voice again it made him so ecstatic!
But...hmmm, yes in time the Great One's vision for these newcomers would be made manifest to them. It was the truth of the matter, and none could deny it. And if they tried to, he would be there to set it right. Ah. But for now he would need to return to his current subject. Yes, these spiked rollers were not going to shred the flesh from the rest of this arm anytime soon, and the magic was only going to keep the unbeliever alive and awake for so long!
Eventually more word would come, and he would act on it with all his might and power. The will of the Great One be done!