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Robless
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PostSubject: Crenel: Blood Ties   Mon 29 Oct 2012, 10:21 pm

Crenel was a bustling hub of activity, in stark contrast to the dark, derelict hulk it was a weeks ago. Officers and soldiers hustled to their next position in preparation for Verax's inevitable attack. Civilians recovered from their wounds and the hardships of battle, rebuilding their lives as they have through centuries of bloodshed. Things were almost as they were on their former home station in the Interdimension. It was only "almost" by a long shot, however, because never before had the human race dealt with in impending assault from an all-powerful dreadlord with a deadly deity within him.

Robless, his fleets too damaged and without a home base due to Verax's destruction of the Meridia system, made the executive decision to hole up in the prison planet and restore the once-menacing fortress to its former glory. Expert logistics crews repaired the damaged and nearly inhospitable station to a somewhat functioning state, which was good enough for the Stalker nation, who had lived in space for all their lives. Following this, the New Stalker Initiative set up their headquarters aboard Crenel, orchestrating the defense against Verax and governing what was left of their population.

-~-

Cassus Drugari rested in his new quarters on Crenel, completely exhausted from the recent violent excursion to Verax's meeting. He was alone currently, cleaning his singed armor and collecting his thoughts. He thought of his family, and found there was little left. The rest died in the battle of Snow Dove, both his human and Kazesqui relatives. They brought no heavy feelings to the soldier; war was war. Now only his sister remained.

Poor Aurora, torn between the two great forces of the dreadlord and the druid. Another victim of war, just like the rest of them. Her children suffered, too, but there was nothing left that he could do for anyone. All he could hope is that they would survive long enough for him to truly meet them again. Focusing on his thoughts, he suddenly remembered Aurora's request. Had he truly just remembered it, or was she trying to reach out to him through his mind?

Aurora, I miss you. Come home to me.

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Tue 30 Oct 2012, 5:38 pm

Her instant acceptance to his request became clear, and somehow Cassus knew that she was on her way. Probably letting her Neiede know where she was headed, so that he didn't worry or start needless conflict by assuming the worst.

Cassus may have never been the strongest with his mental and spiritual abilities and self; the human side of him often clouded the clarity in those aspects which almost always found purer beings like the Kazesqui. But obviously, any shortcoming on Cassus' part was made inconsequential by Tam's attentiveness and want to see him, the small bit of her mind which she kept focused on him, looking for signs that he might need her.

So when his request reached Tam, it served as something to cheer her up a little. She had just been pushed away by Verax, immediately after he decided to terrify her daughter. Things... just weren't really going how she'd planned.

After she'd informed Archelaus that she wanted to go visit her brother (she asked him this time, instead of simply informing him of what she was going to do; she could tell that she needed to reestablish his faith in her), she prepared for the instantaneous teleportation that still made her body ache a little when she performed. Aya was with Archelaus, probably being consoled by him, and Aya was still on board Verax's ship... try as she might, Tam could not worry for her daughter's safety. She knew somewhere in her mind that if Shade broke free she would immediately be able to tell, and that Aya was safe until that moment. She couldn't even bring herself to believe, even begin to believe otherwise.

And so she had no regrets about leaving everything for a while... to visit family.


Eris-Tam materialized a short ways away from the location where she knew she'd find Cassus, her aim landing her almost perfectly in front of the door to his room. He'd know she was there, but Tam still thought it polite to knock first, and so tapped her loosely curled fist lightly against the metal door.

I'm home, brother...

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Thu 01 Nov 2012, 8:25 pm

But then, a sharp thing, sort of like pain, struck down through Eris-Tam's skull. It wasn't precisely painful, not in the way that most people would perceive such a thing, but it was... certainly a pressure. Intense presence came down with the thunderbolt that had struck Tam through, like something had forced its way into her head. But again, it was not painful. Tam could tell that this presence--if not benevolent--certainly did not intend to harm her. It filled up her being, surrounding her and leaving her helpless and immobile. She could not push back against it.

Tam's body slumped to the floor, her eyes blind and glazed over, unresponsive.

Images filled her mind. One after another, a flood that could not be held back, one which no dam could trap and no dyke could ensnare. The unnamed Presence showed her things that she didn't understand, showed her things which were the past and connected them to things which Tam assumed to be the future. But the images moved by so quickly that she couldn't wrap her mind around them. They were scattered, and made little sense...

But one thing was clear to her...

She watched herself die.

---

Cassus might have heard a thump from outside the door a few seconds after the knock, the only hint of the thunderbolt which had struck her down.

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Fri 02 Nov 2012, 6:01 pm

Cassus, much to his shock, did indeed hear a metallic thud ring against the door as he reached towards the panel on the wall. The mental connection he could partially sense with his sister was severed, and he hurried to open the door with shaking hands.

"Aurora?"

The moment the door opened his stomach twisted. He barely caught his sister's shoulders as she fell backwards. Cassus felt his heart skip a beat, seeing as her eyes were glazed over. Nevertheless, he felt Tam's breathing and body heat, and this was enough to confirm that she was alive.

Don't worry, Aurora. I'm here. I'll get you help, he subconsciously muttered while dragging her form to the cushioned bed in his quarters. Cassus laid his sister down gently. Please be OK, Aurora, I'll do everything to protect you.

There was an emergency intercom on the nearby wall. He opened communications and paged the emergency teams for help. "Medical emergency in 221A, I repeat, there is a medical emergency in room 221A. Please send medical personnel ASAP."

In his mind he recalled the words he said the morning she disappeared. Aurora, wake up, please. I don't want to lose you.

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Fri 02 Nov 2012, 7:04 pm

Her body twitched just slightly on the bed where she lay, though Tam was completely unaware of it. Though the barrage of images had continued, moving past the image that showed herself, clutched in Archelaus' arms, Verax beside her, crouched to where Archelaus knelt, looking down at her with desperation. She could not erase the image of Verax's face from her mind, the pleading look, the unmasked sorrow, and self-hatred, guilt. And she couldn't forget the very last words she heard herself say as she died.

"Both of you."

Tam's mind was stuck, and it made interpreting the images that came afterwards even harder. She saw a dark figure, surrounded by flames, vaguely familiar. She saw Shade, leaving destruction and death in his wake. She saw people that she didn't recognize, and a place that seemed utterly indescribable, like nothing she'd ever seen before. And after a long time, she saw her brother's face.

And then the Presence disappeared, and the image was real. Her brother hovered over her and watched as the life seeped back into her eyes, as she blinked and her breath caught in her throat from the shock of what had just happened. She started to sit up, but could not find the energy, and collapsed weakly back to what must've been Cassus' bed. But before she knew it she felt tears streaming down her cheeks, the flood of emotions returning to her as her mind drew back to the surface.

She closed her eyes momentarily, and saw their faces again... their caring, hateful faces... and she realized the difference between Archelaus and Verax.

She shakily said, as she opened her eyes once more, "H-Hi... Cass..."

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Fri 02 Nov 2012, 11:07 pm

"Hi, Aurora." Cassus embraced his sister, and smiled. "I missed you."

The medics left about ten minutes ago, having confirmed that there was nothing physically wrong with his sister. They were alone for now, and there would be a great deal of catching up to do, but there was a more pressing issue.

"Are you...are you OK? You looked...pained. What's bothering you?"

Cassus may have not had the mind powers of a Kazesqui, but he still was one of the most perceptive individuals that the NSI had.

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Fri 02 Nov 2012, 11:16 pm

She swallowed hard, nodding. "I... I think I'm fine." To prove this to herself, she prodded around in her own mind a little, and found everything unchanged. "I think... someone was trying to show me something." She looked up into Cassus' eyes, her own eyes showing the emotions that she was still feeling from the images that had exploded into her brain. She blinked, though, trying to clear them, and attempted to change the subject. She wasn't sure how Cassus would react to her explanation of what she believed had happened.

"H-How have you been? I've missed you too... so much, big brother... I used to wonder if I'd ever see you again, and... when we finally did, it was right before I had to leave again. I'm so sorry for that... It seems like I'm always leaving..."

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Sun 11 Nov 2012, 10:24 pm

"No, it is not your fault for leaving. Wars happen, circumstances change, and we all have our own duties to fulfill." His mind flickered back to long gone years. "Things have been all right, I guess." He struggled to conceal the troubles he had gone through, although he already knew that she could figure it out on her own. "They've...certainly changed."

"After I lost you, there wasn't much left. I joined the military in hopes of maybe reuniting with the Kazesqui. When the war came, there were certainly mixed feelings. My wish to see the Kazesqui was granted, but at great cost. I remember it all vividly. Through the sights of my rifle, among the soldiers on the war-torn battlefield, up close and behind enemy lines. I--I also fought at Snow Dove." He looked away during the last sentence. "It was sickening to see and know what these Kazesqui and Alteriians felt, but a soldier gets used to it. Such is war."

Cassus composed himself again and his appearance brightened a little. "But, most of all, I have missed you dearly. Are you sure you're OK?" The entire time he had been talking, he could tell Aurora was contemplating whatever had just happened. "You certainly don't seem like you are."

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Mon 12 Nov 2012, 12:34 am

"I..." Tam's mind went numb for a long moment as shock twinged her heart, so much that her disturbing vision too was pushed to the back of her thoughts, and Cassus' question with it. "I..." She looked down, fumbling for words, her hands wringing themselves and her mouth moving but no words coming out for a moment. "I guess... I guess I never... r-really... y... you... fought opposite us." It wasn't a question... it was just bewilderment. "I... I'm sorry, it... makes sense, but... I never... wanted to acknowledge that, I guess..."

And then she looked up into her brother's eyes, with a child's innocence in her own. And a pleading look... begging for the truth, and knowing he'd have an answer for her. Knowing... or at least pretending to know. Pretending that her brother... had never lost the goodness in him... not even for a moment.

"H... How many?"

"How many... of us... did you kill?"

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Mon 12 Nov 2012, 10:24 pm

"I...I don't know. Nor do I want to. I'm sorry." He hung his head in shame. "I'm not the same caring person you knew. They made me...I turned myself into a killer. I am not proud of it, but what's done has been done."

Cassus walked over to the virtual window in his room and looked out at the serene, crystal-clear picture of the space surrounding Crenel. "Blood doesn't wash off your hands, ever. Anyone who is responsible for the death of many, any soldier, no matter how noble and virtuous, any killer...knows this." The soldier turned to the person he meant to protect.

"Please, tell me that I'm not evil in your eyes. Tell me that there's a fine line between committing evil and being so." It was his turn to plead, and his eyes begged for forgiveness. "It's...I'm not...I wish I had been a better brother. Maybe...maybe if we...if I had stuck with you...then maybe things might be different. I should have..." His voice trailed off.

He tried to wipe away her tears, to wipe away his own. But the burden of centuries of combat can take its toll on the most hardened veterans, and even the most--the only--loving sister he had.

"I'm sorry, Aurora."

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Tue 13 Nov 2012, 7:52 am

Tam tried as hard as she could not to cry... she didn't want him to think he had hurt her. But she couldn't help but wonder... if it had been her who was in his sights during the war... would he have pulled the trigger just as easily as he had on... on who knew how many others? Tam looked down for a long time, not saying anything, afraid that whatever she could say would not be right, would... make him feel worse, or... make him angry, or... anything. So it was a long moment before she finally looked up.

And when she did, she looked right into his eyes, and the care and love that she had always felt was still there. She leaned forward, so that they were embracing in a half-hug, and whispered, "I... It's okay. And... maybe that means it's all partly my fault, too. Maybe... if I hadn't left... things wouldn't be like this. I... I'm so sorry..."

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Wed 14 Nov 2012, 10:49 pm

"It's...it's completely all right. Things didn't have to be like this, but what's done can't be changed. You can't change the past, and all you have left is to make the best of it." Cassus brought his sister a little bit closer. "...can't change the past, huh? Wish I could too. I still love you, Aurora." They remained in their embrace a while longer before he spoke again.

"Is there...anything else? There's a war on the horizon, and we might not get this opportunity again." He sat up and paused for a moment, then sighed and shook his head. Whatever was gnawing on Tam's thoughts while she was out had disappeared for now. Tam looked at him questioningly. "Oh, nevermind. Like I said, is there anything else we should talk about? Don't let me keep you too long. I'm sure Archelaus would like to spend some time with you before Shade attacks."

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Thu 15 Nov 2012, 1:04 pm

But Cassus' last comment forced the image to pop unceremoniously back into the forefront of her mind. She looked down in her own bewilderment, and after a moment looked back up.

"Um... Cassus? Is it alright if I tell you something? Something you can't tell anyone else?" Seeing his slight nod, she continued, her hands fiddling with the edge of the bed's blanket nervously. "I... What happened earlier... I had some kind of vision. I think... something possessed me, for a few moments. I kept seeing these strange images... they were all confusing though, and I didn't really get a good look at them..."

She paused, "Well... all but one. One of them was clear. I... I was somewhere I didn't recognize, and I... was looking down at three people. Archelaus... was kneeling on the ground, and... I was in his arms. It looked like I was dying. And Verax was leaning over me too... he... he looked upset, angry, guilty... like the fact that I was dying was somehow his fault... it looked like he and Archelaus had been fighting..."

Tam thought about not mentioning what had appeared to be her last words, but then said, "And... I told them I loved them. Both of them. Not just Archelaus. As I was dying, I..." she broke off into quiet sobs, remembering their faces... mostly Verax's face. He had looked devastated. Torn apart from the inside, maybe.

It scared her. She didn't want to die, but that wasn't even what scared her most. She didn't want to hurt them, didn't want to leave them all behind.

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Mon 19 Nov 2012, 11:24 pm

Cassus let his sister's head rest on his shoulder. "I won't let that happen. You won't die," he tried to convince himself as much as he tried to convince Tam. But it was true. She saw herself dying, crossing over to the next life. No normal person would understand these visions, but Cassus had a unique perspective. The sheer thought broke him. "I...you can't...won't...you shouldn't..."

He hugged her a little more tightly. "If you...if you have to go..." Please don't. "...do what you need to..." He stopped on the last few words. I won't let it happen. I'm your brother, no matter what. I'm supposed to protect you from harm. They sat there in another moment of silence.

"Please be careful. I've watched so many good people go, and it's not your time yet. There's still a whole life ahead of you, and your children--your entire race--needs you too."

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: Crenel: Blood Ties   Tue 20 Nov 2012, 6:52 pm

Tam sighed sadly into Cassus' shoulder. "Brother... I don't think it's that simple. I... I think it has to happen. I don't know why, but... I don't think this... I something I can avoid just by being careful."

She paused, looking down, "You'll... keep an eye on my girls, won't you? If I die? You'll make sure that they don't stray too far from what's right, won't you? And... if it does happen... please, don't think that you could have done anything to stop it... I think that now that I've seen it happen, it has to happen. Just... don't blame yourself if..." she trailed off, "Okay? You have to promise me, Cassus."

She looked into her brother's eyes sadly but pleadingly. "You're strong... you'll have to go on without me again. It... it'll be okay, though."

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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