Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Star Warden 3: CC. Chapter 15

 

Celestial Champion

Two weeks had passed since the battle of Gloriana. Celebrations were had but were surprisingly muted. Many were still stunned that it actually happened. Daimos defeated. Aetherium freed for good. No more SWAT-bot patrols or monsters. One could let down their guard and knew they could live. They could walk the lands without fear of death or worse. All that was lost could be rebuilt. It was best described as a mix of relief and disbelief.

Imperial Marines were becoming a common sight across the planet. A couple of shooting scuffles occurred with local resistance cells. But they ended with no serious casualties reported and the misunderstandings cleared up. They spent most of the time distributing supplies or fighting surviving elements of the Domain. Without Daimos's leadership and the technological edge over their enemies. The minotaurs, Ratmen, and SWAT-bots could only put up token resistance to the marines.

Not that the remnants could ever be discounted in a fight. But they were no longer the threat they once posed. The machines could only operate on their last programmed orders or were stuck on sentry mode. The Templars' technology and the Imperial Navy's air superiority negated any individual advantages the rats and minotaurs had.

Sam stayed in Gloriana aiding in burying the dead and distributing supplies when he could. When not working he prayed heavily. Seeking forgiveness for his actions during the battle. The dark matter explosion and the idea he had a hand in the death of his allies weighed on his mind. While it was explained that the convergence of energies caused it, that logic did not soothe the heart.

When the marines arrived in Gloriana to set up shop. King Oberon and and Queen Titania put Sam up in an inn as a reward. His wife was pampering him the entire time in an effort to get Sam to relax. On this day he woke up with breakfast in bed. He enjoyed it immensely but could not hide any of his true feelings from her. 

What truly bothers you, Sam?” She poured a cup of tea for him.

Sam sighed. “Just can't shake the idea from my head. A fear of mine that I would get so focused on stopping Daimos that I would do anything to win. Even sacrificing innocent people and I would justify it that I would do what I had to do.”

Kaguya embraced Sam putting his head on her chest. “I wish their deaths could be avoided as well. But you will not travel down that path. For if all you have suffered before could not change you neither will this.” She placed a kiss on his forehead.

You're right. I guess I'm just tired.”Sam put a hand on her belly feeling the life within. The fear in his mind slowly faded away. His heart slowed and his muscles relaxed. As if the baby was somehow comforting him. In a way, it did while not directly, as far he knew, but through its existence. For the baby meant life.

For a year and more Sam was surrounded by the shadow of death. A shadow that clung to him like a parasite. It encroached on the hearts of all who lived on Camelot. Spreading the fear that one day a storm of steel and fire would descend upon them. That the protection of secrecy would fail them and their doom would come.

But now next to him he had life, Aetherium would have new life protected by Sentinel. The fear would soon pass. Towns would be rebuilt, farms replanted, families reunited. There would be time to rest and enjoy without worry. From there new families would be born, in newly founded towns.

Yes, there is still the greater war against Daimos. The quest for the remaining seven rings would stretch into the stars. But the conflict no longer came from a need to avoid death, to save off the shadow for one day more. With Aetherium as a safe haven and the fear of certain death removed they could focus on what mattered. Life, family, liberty. To fight for what was right then just avoiding death.

“Rest, my love. Take all you need.” Kaguya looked up. Saying a mental prayer to the Powers. To the Creator.

“Please. Grant him this respite. Grant him this mercy. Let your humble servant rest so he may fulfill his duty with even greater vigor.”

Gently laying Sam down and tucking him in Kaguya took the breakfast tray away. Before she could begin washing someone knocked on the front door. She left to answer it.

Your Radiance,” said Admiral Sabine. The Enchantress was with her.

Admiral. Enchantress. Welcome. Please come in. Would you like some tea?”

No, thank you,” said the Enchantress. “Is Samuel awake?”

A worried look appeared on Kaguya's face. Sabine calmed her fears. “Nothing strenuous. We simply wish him to meet the Council.”

She looked away to the stairs then turned back to her guests. “Can it wait one more day?”

On the next day Sam left for the White Star Council. He wore the flight jacket with his outfit as it reminded him of home. It also served as a symbol of victory, an item destroyed by Daimos that had been restored. In his mind that was a sign of things to come. He was taken up by shuttlecraft. It was sleek, angular, and covered in chrome. He asked why he was taken up by craft instead of using a gateway.

Kaguya said you would kill us if you didn't get to see it,” barked Sabine.

And see it he did. A massive sphere that nearly dwarfed the size of Aetherium's sun. If his jaw could physically drop to the floor it would have done so. Sabine had the viewscreen enhance the image revealing the sphere was segmented in places. The giant sphere was actually a large ring structure stacked on top of a structure to make it appear as a sphere to the naked eyes.

What on God's green earth is that,” Sam said with amazement.

This a Tuatha bunker ship. Officially known as the Bastion Class Stellar Engine: Siege Luminous

That's a ship?! It looks like a moon!”

I mean it is slightly bigger than the moon Aurora. But it's not that big. You should see the images of Tuatha Dreadnoughts.”

The shuttle connected to one of the docking platforms which extended out from one of the rings. Then the platform retracted into the structure itself. Sam had millions of questions but nowhere to start. Kaguya had to pull him by his hand to break him out of his daydreaming.

Sam and company had an escort of Templar Paladins. Their armor was a mix of sky blue and white plates which marked them as servants of the White Star Council, unlike the standard silver-grey Templars. The Paladins took them to a gateway pad, an internal transportation system similar to the Bifrost gateways. Streamed from the dockyards the group manifested into another pad room.

Sam had to shield his eyes when the doors open as the bright light of the artificial sky hit his face. Once everyone re-adjusted they soon boarded into a waiting hovercraft and continued their trip. Driving through an expansive parkland flanked by various gated estates. The estates were built into the curved parts of the superstructure. Built so well that they appeared to be natural parts of the landscape, the gardens added to that impression.

At the highest edge of the curve, which gave it the appearance of a mountain, lay a castle surrounded by a reflecting pool moat. One made of beautiful white stone and glass with a large dome on top. It appeared more like a pleasure palace, a vacation home not a defensive structure. Considering Tuatha technology, however, not all defenses had to be completely obvious.

Their journey came to an end when they entered the Star Chamber. A rotunda with a glass floor and a star-painted ceiling. Every member of the council was in attendance. Sitting on hovering chairs on highly elevated platforms. All set in a circle and none of the platforms were designed in a way to specify a position or glorify one over the other. The Council was a place of peers where all were equal. All of them began to rise from their seats with staffs in their hands.

The Council had three Tuatha dressed similar to Mazha Rham. But there were other species in the room. Humans. Elves. Faeries. There was one member who looked like cat people from Ramia. Another one of her kind was there but shorter, somewhere around or below five feet, and covered with fur. Far closer to a bipedal cat than the ones Sam saw before, a possible sub-species? Genetic mutation or engineering?

One council member that stuck out was so dressed in a suit with a black, silver, and blue sash across the torso. They wore a helmet so all he could see was a set of gray-on-gray eyes underneath. But unlike the rest of the council who stood stoically, they were waving at him and like he was an old friend.

Welcome, Promised Heir,” said Mazha Rham. “On behalf of the Council I offer our heartfelt congratulations for liberating Aetherium.”

Thanks. I'll have one vanilla cake for my victory party don't skimp on the icing or the sprinkles.”

The mysterious council member laugh then spoke. “I'll bring the alcohol. You've earned it!” The voice was a woman's. She had a hint of an accent that Sam thought was Texan. That brought up some questions but he reserved those for later.

So, what did you want to see me for?”

Our conflict with the Dark Lord is moving to the next stage. It is time to begin making preparations.”

Kaguya was about to object until Mazha Rham continued. “Nothing strenuous as of yet, Princess. Simply training, along with installing the necessary implants and the life-extension treatments. To ensure he is on hand to aid you with the baby we have prepared a place for you two on Siege Luminous.”

“We are lucky she still has the child,” shouted one of the council members. “Bringing her into battle was reckless and endangered the future saint!”

Even in space, we have Monday morning quarterbacks.” He rolled his eyes.

If I wanted to be hauled before a Senate sub-committee,” he thought. “I would have stayed back on Earth.”

The Councilmember continued. “The fact that she's pregnant ahead of schedule.”

Mazha Rham slammed his staff on the floor interrupting the councilor. “Enough! This scenario was not entirely unforeseen. Due to the stress of the rebellion and the fact that without prolong Sir Bailey has a stricter biological timetable. It was entirely possible that the Emissary would be with child during the conflict. Let us be thankful that this was still fairly recent.”

The Councilor only nodded then gave Sam a skeptical look.

If there will be no further interruptions. Let us move to the main topic of our agenda. Sir Bailey step forward.”

He did so taking his place in the center of the room. The lights dimmed with the spotlight solely focused on him. Mazha Rham's platform lowered to the ground while the others raised their staffs to the heavens. A light of a different color formed on each tip. The Tuatha materialized an orb of data which formed into a silver circlet with a gemstone in the shape of a blue spade.

With instinct gained from popular culture Sam took to one knee. “Samuel Christopher Bailey. By the authority invested in me by the White Star Council and in the presence of our Creator and His Celestial Powers. I acknowledge a power and responsibility passed down through the blood and reinforced by deed.” He placed the circlet on Sam's head. “You stepped into this chamber as a Champion of Aetherium. Now rise and take your place as the Celestial Champion. Defender of the Faith and the High King of the Tuatha.”

The newly minted Celestial Champion rose and was met with the resounding cry of “The King is dead. Long Live the King!” From all the council members. The Enchantress. Sabine. With the loudest cry coming from Kaguya. Mazha Rham added his staff's light to the others which caused the spade gemstone to glow. All of the lights floated away phasing through the material then exploded

A burst of light spread throughout the universe. Many souls would never even see the light and if they could they would not perceive what it meant. But Sam knew what it was and so would Daimos. This was the signal that everything had changed. The war to restore Kaguya's family to the throne and free Aetherium was merely a prelude to the greater storm. A storm that would affect all souls knowing or otherwise.

Samuel Bailey would be at the center of that storm. From this point forward he would no longer be an ordinary man. At his heart he would always be a simple man, striving to do right no matter what. But no longer could he be just a man. He was to be a king of a lost people and a champion for the Powers that Be. He would be the tip of the spear for the forces of light and virtue. The hope of the universe and the defender of right and justice.

For this was no longer a rebellion or a war of restoration. This was a war for the soul of the universe. Between the forces of light and darkness. Whatever petty politics or insignificant matters would fall to the wayside. As the successors of the Tuatha civil war take their places on the stage of destiny. Ready to begin the second act of their play.

Seven rings were left to be found. Seven rings to decide it all.

The End

Chapter 16

Chapter 14


Read Uplift Protocol: https://fiannawolf.blogspot.com/2020/04/the-uplift-protocol-series-anthology.html






Monday, June 7, 2021

Star Warden 3: CC. Chapter 14

 

A vine burst forth through the ground and peeled open. The Warden rushed out first with his wife behind him. An honor guard of Paladins and Wizards keeping them, mainly her, safe. They were rushing as best they could to Sentinel's system core. The ravages of time did not degrade the shielding that prevented random gateways from forming in the core. Since they lacked access to provide authorization. They needed to use the Elder Tree's roots to reach the entrance of the core.

The materials around the core prevented the roots from breaking through. So the Warden had to rush to the rail station that leads to the system core. Once part of the larger system built underneath the planet in the old days. Using his knowledge of the Tuatha language and his own piloting skills they arrived at the system core without incident. The room, closer to a massive cavern, was much larger than the system node with a series of interconnected floating platforms in the center. No sign of the natural world was left anywhere on the walls or ceiling. But the most eye-grabbing feature was the large head at the northern edge of the platform.

The head and its hair of cables took up the entire northern wall like a mosaic. Unlike the node, the head was disproportionately big.

Sir Bailey,” said Merlin. “The Cosmic Ring is generating much data. I believe it is attempting to communicate with me.”

Spt it out, Merlin. We don't have much time.”

It says that there is something inside the head.”

The blue ring left the talisman and took physical form. By its own will moving onto Sam's right index finger. The ring's crystal began to glow causing the mouth of the head to open up. He didn't waste a moment to run in. Climbing up a set of stairs he reached the top of the head entering the brain of the head. He came face to face with a smooth orb inside a dark room.

Dawnbringer glowed as Excalibur passed along info into his mind. “Illuminate and begin Alpha installation protocols.”

The metallic skin of the orb folded in revealing its core that bathed the room in blue light. It shifted its form turning into what looked like a holographic brain. Lines of data flowed into a visible format. Materializing into holographic displays, consoles, and interfaces.

Welcome, Administrator.” A voice brought his attention to a humanoid feminine entity with an A on her forehead. She had taken the place where the brain once was. “My designation is Alpha. I am the Planetary Defense Network's master control system. You may now synchronize your neural links.”

We'll handle that later,” said the Warden.

“Please be advised I am more efficient when synchronized with the Administrator's neural links. I am not detecting any links. Have they been damaged?”

“Ignore that. Right now I need you to reconnect with all your nodes and bring Sentinel fully online. We have a planetary threat.”

Of course, Administrator. I detect several ships in orbit above the planet. Shall I target them?”

No, those are friendly. Target all orbital defenses and shipyards. They are the enemy.”

Outside the face, Kaguya, and the Templars were showered by debris and particle fire. SWAT-bots Mark 2 and the drilling machine had arrived without warning. The drilling machine had been augmented by Daimos downloading weapon attachments to it. Normally the Templars would have been warned. Their communication systems involved a form of quantum entanglement allowing real-time communication where normal communications would be blocked. But Daimos interfered using the fact he existed in a quantum-based computer network to do so.

He was not sure at first if he could interfere with quantum-based communications despite existing in the Codex. But the gamble paid off as the paladins and wizards were completely surprised when he attacked. He gave orders to the bots to slaughter the rest of them while he moved the drilling machine to the face.

Kaguya delayed the machine with a light barrier around the treads. Following up by blasting Daimos with her ray gun and holy magic. The ray gun did negligible damage as his systems were far too hardened and could suppress power surges. The magic he reflected back at Kaguya. Knocking her down and causing the light barrier to dissipate.

Daimos chuckled. “I believe that is fair recompense for our last encounter.”

The Princess got back up and was met with a hail of weapons fire. Her civilian-level energy barrier was no match for it. Forcing her to focus on defending herself than stopping the machine. Daimos was then free to enhance the drill giving it more power to break through the force field of the system core.

It was a wasted effort. As a stream of white fire poured from the open mouth and struck the driller. Snapping the drill in half and stopping the machine dead in its tracks. The Star Warden stepped out from the mouth. The blue runes of Excalibur shining through the white flames.

The Champion of Aetherium and its Tyrant stared each other down only for a moment. Then battle commenced. Kaguya wished to join in but stayed supporting the remaining Templars. She was only here for appearance's sake and had to protect the life growing inside her. The thought of leaving her love to fight Daimos himself was distasteful even with that reasoning.

But she did cast a set of spells for Sam to aid his defense and healing. Then she turned back to the battle just missing the brief burst of light. The Warden had used Excalibur to send Daimos flying into the rail station. He didn't waste a moment pouncing on his prone state. Daimos responded by phasing his hand through Sam's armor and knocking him away.

Daimos didn't have a face to convey it but he was slightly worried. If this was the true Excalibur wielded by King Arthur himself then Sam was part of the Royal bloodline of Pendragon. How that was possible was a question he would draw from his corpse. He wouldn't take any chances this time. Samuel had to be put down for good. Even if it was just a replica the very idea Excalibur existed must have inspired the Centauri to start a second Coalition war.

Leaping back into close combat, he summoned a hammer to his right hand. He made slight adjustments to compensate for the new material in the Warden's armor and talisman. One quick swing to the head. That was knocked away by the buckler. The Warden went to slice Daimos open but he managed to parry that blow.

The Warden summoned runes to further enhance his body. The Dark Lord was briefly caught off guard but managed to recover. Enhancing his own already great machine strength reflexes. Each one took and gave blows. Sam slicing open Daimos's joints and plates. Daimos striking down on Sam's helm cracking his HUD causing it to flicker throughout the battle.

Liquid metal healed Daimos's damage but it did not stop him from being pushed back. The Warden was challenging him on even terms. It was not just the strength of Excalibur or the result of all his training. It was him doing everything he could to keep Kaguya out of the fight. To protect his child and all the children after them. He was fighting to make a home for his family, a strength the machine could never understand.

The Tyrant jumped back from another swing and readied his flaming red eyes. In those microseconds when the flames were let loose. The Warden leaned forward letting the flames pass over him. Using his rocket boots to drive forward and thrust his sword through the metallic plates of the abdomen. With this leverage, he lifted Daimos from the ground and threw him upwards with enough speed and strength to smash through the ceiling.

Following through the hole he found himself in the palace garden. Swiftly he flew around looking for Daimos while expecting a sneak attack. Said attack came but not from Daimos. A ninja bot with a sniper's configuration did the deed. Causing the rocket pack to explode and send the Warden through a glass roof. Crashing onto the floor of a dark throne room.

The Dark Lord then swung his hammer leaping from behind a pillar in the room. Merlin warned Sam in time allowing him to place his blade between him and the hammer. But the surprise and the momentum of the swing sent the sword flying from his hand. A cyberfield was put up for extra defense. But Daimos shattered it and landed a strong blow right on Sam's chest. Splintering half of his breastplate and crushing the rest, only the defense boost from Kaguya preventing bones from breaking or internal bleeding.

Daimos would not let up and went to crush the Warden's head. Excalibur would not allow this and moved itself to sever his right arm. Screaming in pain left him vulnerable to a rune enhanced punch to his faceplate. Sam began throwing punch after punch faster than the eye can see. Screaming like a berserk warrior he then penetrated the abdomen plates and ripped out wires and circuits from the evil one's body.

Daimos screamed in pain not from the pulling but the holy energies pouring out from Sam's hand. The pain was not enough to distract him as he commanded his right arm to attack. Excalibur attempted to intercept but to no avail. The claw then phased into Sam's chest and reached his heart squeezing down with all its might.

Sam leaped back with his rocket boots ripping the claw out of his chest. Escaping certain death by mere moments. Daimos called his arm back only for Excalibur to destroy it. Sam, keeping his pain in check by sheer willpower, caught Excalibur and moved in to strike Daimos.

He responded by using the liquid metal repairing him to form a makeshift blow to parry it. The blade shifted into a claw and caught his sword arm. The metal spread over the hand and arm and hardened to ensure he couldn't move. Sam swung a wright hook but Daimos caught that as well. He smiled beneath his helm as Daimos did exactly what he wanted as now his fusion cannon was right in front of the Tyrant.

Merlin had summoned it quickly and set it to full charge. By the time Daimos realized his mistake, it was too late to do anything about it, aside from setting his personal shield to full power. But even at maximum strength, it could not protect him from a blast at point-blank range. That was not the worst news as unbeknownst to the Daimos the canon had been enhanced by Tuatha coding. Instead of the intense heat of the normal cannon, particles of dark matter impacted Daimos's barrier.

In a struggle that could be measured in the briefest of moments the barrier exploded from the overload. A burst of light, heat and exotic particles flooded the throne room.

Glass vaporized and masonry melted. In Gloriana, the battle was interrupted by the ground rumbling which soon cracked and opened up. Warriors on both sides not dragged in by surprise were pushed in by the shock wave and they were the lucky ones. Those closest to the shock wave were killed outright. The ones close but not enough to be killed outright were rendered unconscious or suffered extreme nausea from the heavy vibrations.

Even the dragons' Balthazar and Caspar were not spared from the carnage as they were knocked from the sky. Their impact only caused more damage to the city. The rocket ship crash only compounded the damage as the once great capital of the Unicorn Kingdom slowly turned into a land of craters and ruins.

In what was once the royal palace the Star Warden began to re-awaken. Excalibur and Merlin had protected him from the explosion. His armor was completely beyond repair, few pieces remained intact. Clad only in the nano mail undersuit he began to stand. The talisman was cracked and making sparks with no sign that Merlin survived. Only the Cosmic Ring was left entirely undamaged.

Administrator,” said Alpha her voice emanating from the ring.

Go ahead,” Sam replied.

Sentinel is online. Connections with all nodes have been re-established. Systems functioning optimally. I have a target lock on all orbital infrastructures and enemy ships. One outstanding issue: My systems are detecting over two hundred nuclear projectiles on course to this location.”

Oh, of course, he would do that. Supervillains are always sore losers! Can the Thunderclaw intercept them?”

The vessel designated Thunderclaw is attempting to intercept along with another smaller craft designation Blackjack. The probability of successfully removing all ordinances is low and what remains will impact the city and surrounding areas.”

“Alpha, can your weapons destroy the weapons but remove any debris and radiation from the explosion?”

Affirmative. My weapons systems.”

“Skip the technobabble and do it,” Sam interjected. “Open fire on the new and old targets.”

Confirmed.”

From the lower skies of Aetherium millions of lights came forth. To the survivors just waking up, their first sight would be a light show of epic proportions. One by one the nukes went dead. All debris and radiation were absorbed and pushed the lights further into orbit.

They descended upon the Domain's battle fleet, orbital dockyards, and weapon platforms like a swarm. No resistance stopped them and nothing could slow them down as all that Daimos owned was destroyed. Admiral Sabine watched in awe as explosion after explosion occurred. The energy and debris are once again broken down and absorbed by the little horde of lights.

“Can someone explain to me what is going on,” she asked.

Ma'am, in my professional military opinion what we have is a miracle.”

A communication came from the surface. It was from a captain of one of the marine teams.

Hound of Ulster do you read?”

Ulster Actual here,” Sabine replied. “What's your status?”

“We were hoping you could tell us. We saw these thousands, no millions of lights coming from out of nowhere. A swarm of them came here and just ripped the enemy defenses to shreds, but left us untouched. It was a beautiful sight, ma'am.”

She agreed with that sentiment. It was a wonderful sight, seeing the machine ships be destroyed. She asked for an update on the current situation of the enemy forces. The Captain relayed that all enemy defenses were destroyed entirely. Power was out and no team was under fire.

Deploy teams to the enemy's command center and secure it. Reinforcements will be deployed presently to rescue any prisoners.” The Siberian Husky then turned to her second in command. “Prepare my shuttlecraft. I'm going down to the surface to meet our miracle maker.”

Back on the surface beneath the twin moons of Aetherium. Samuel Bailey smiled as he watched the sun rose on a new day. The first day of a free world.

Chapter 15

Chapter 13

Friday, June 4, 2021

Star Warden 3: CC. Chapter 13

 

Sentinel Online

Rogue planets are worlds that exist in the space between star systems. Trillions of them exist throughout the galaxy. On one such rogue planet, a ship began powering up. Crew members rushed to their posts. Engines flared to life and weapons batteries rose from their slumber. Other ships hiding on the ground or in low atmosphere began to do the same as they received their orders.

Orders from Rear Admiral Sabine of the Centauri Imperial Navy. The first uplifted animal to hold such a rank. She was an old dog of the breed known as a Siberian Husky. She was the product of human research into uplifted animals for military purposes. While many of her compatriots left the service she stayed and eventually gained flag officer rank. Her plans were to have a nice comfy patrol assignment in her twilight years. 

The Stygian Domain put an end to those plans. Many in the empire, including herself, at first believed it to be another warlord putting on airs. She knew the type who believed because they had a few capital ships, makeshift fighters, and armies of slaves. That they could be treated seriously among respectable nations. Those preconceptions had been thrown violently out the airlock after years of fighting in the Coalition War.

The war was an attempt by the Centuari Empire to defeat the machine invaders. By creating a united front against the Domain. A difficult prospect as the monarchs of the Cirrus Galaxy are known to keep their noses out of each other's business. An attitude backed up with weapons fire on many occasions. Unless connected by family or convinced with monetary or political inducement. Pirates, warlords, and monsters attacking a world that was not their own were met at best with sympathy or at worst with apathy.

She wasn't against the idea of staying out of other's affairs when not wanted. But she believed many realms took it too far. Though she also knew some imperial military officials who believed the empire should rule the galaxy. Which was too far in the other direction. No, a balance was needed. Though she had no idea what policies, were needed to make that goal possible that she left up to the nobility.

Despite this the Empire managed to forge a coalition of worlds to oppose Daimos. Made up of various kingdoms and groups such as the Baron's Alliance and the League of Non-Aligned Realms, a loose confederation of worlds and space habitats united under the banner of not wanting to be ruled by a single king or to be a part of any other nations. Thanks to the silent aid of the Argent Templars in convincing many to see the growing threat. Daimos's propaganda speeches helped as well. Many lords did not approve of the idea of this new republic which called for the end of monarchy and aristocracy.

Ironic coming from someone who wore a crown himself. But politics and hypocrisy are old bedfellows.

The Coalition War ended in failure. The Domain was absolutely ruthless in prosecuting the war, taking advantage of the fact that the galaxy had little to no intelligence on them. Their early victories backed up with horrific atrocities, scared many words to abandon the Coalition in the hope they would be spared. Sometimes worlds would fall from within thanks to ambitious nobles taking advantage of the chaos or misguided revolutions who truly believed in Daimos and his new republic.

This happened to the Baron's Alliance which was famous for the fractious and duplicitous nature of its leaders. But the League stayed united and loyal for the duration of the war. These worlds put up a brave fight to the bitter end but ultimately the Domain was triumphant. Sabine had been in many conflicts and she had seen some dark acts. But the brutal pragmatism of the machines still haunted her nights. Even the Warlords had conducted themselves with some regard to the rules of modern warfare.

When the Argent Templars fell into disarray, thanks to Lorcan giving up his knowledge of Templar bases to the Domain. The Centauri Empire sued for peace giving up territory, paying reparations in the form of raw materials, and decreasing the military. With observers placed on their worlds to ensure they followed through. This treaty was suggested by the White Star Council to buy time. This also gave the Domain time to consolidate their control but that was beyond their power to stop. At least openly.

Through the use of unsavory allies like smugglers, the empire was able to aid rebels on other worlds. Along with supplying kingdoms built-in asteroid worlds or cylinder colonies to resist invasion or infiltration. When the Templars re-organized they were able to improve those efforts while continuing to gather intelligence on the Domain. The Alfheim Freehold kept themselves neutral to avoid the Domain's wrath while secretly circumventing the treaty by building ships and weapons for the Empire.

Now the time of secrecy had come to an end. No longer would she be forced to watch abuse after abuse while having her paws tied behind her back by legalities. She looked at the console a mix of Imperial and Freehold designs. All ships in the fleet were reporting green. Her paw activated the all-fleet communication line.

“All ships, sailors and marines of His Majesty's Imperial Navy. This is Admiral Sabine. You all know why you are here. You know what we must do. From this point forward it is either victory or death. Retreat is not an option for any of us. So when the battle begins I want all of you to think about victory. A victory here means an advantage for our boys and girls back home. Victory is the first step in bringing freedom to trillions and stopping the darkness threatening to swallow us all. Victory will bring hope and remind the galaxy that evil can and will be defeated. We will win at all costs even if we all die to make it happen!"

There was not one cry or cheer just a silent and stoic salute to their Admiral.

The fleet took formation and divided into two groups. One to attack and the other held in reserve. Sabine's flagship Hound of Ulster leads the first group. Charging up their Bifrost drives and shifted into virtual space. Streaming straight through to Aetherium.

******

Daimos looked over the information on the holographic screen. His Warlocks had removed the Keeper's wards and the SWAT-bots searched the underground. All at the same time looking through Father Bruno's notes and the records held in the Tuatha archives. When one of the SWAT-bots located the node he quickly found a match. The Planetary Defense Network code-named Sentinel.

Bruno's records state that the defense network was taken offline completely. Due to sabotage and holo-demons in its system. It was clear that the Keepers lacked the means to reactivate it. But then why hide it by placing wards before leaving? One thought was that they believed that Daimos could re-activate it.

Which was not outside the realm of possibility. If Daimos had desired it he could figure out a way to re-activate it for his own use. But according to the notes, this was designed by the College of Sages. That suggested there was magic involved in this construct or it possibly had a connection to the Codex. It was at that moment a secondary thought came into his data streams.

Before he could expand on the brief thought, Sonia altered him to a Tachyon surge. The tell-tale sign of FTL travel through the Codex.

Gateways opening in close proximity to our orbital defenses. Signatures report Centauri ships. Numbers consistent with a full system fleet.”

Tactical display.” A new screen materialized. Reports were consistent. A full Centauri Fleet with vessels in the hundreds had arrived. Energy spikes were recorded as the fleet and the automated orbital defenses exchanged fire.

Master,” said Sonia. “We are being hailed from the Centauri's lead ship.

By all means answer it.”

A third screen appeared with the face of a dog.

Admiral Sabine? What a pleasant surprise,” Daimos said putting on his most polite airs. “I believe the last time we met you were a guest of mine.”

Yes, President Daimos. I remember the “privilege” of being your “guest” during your atrocities.”

You are referring to the events on Canto Beta.” Daimos chuckled. Causing the Admiral to growl. “My intention was to leave an example for you to remember what happens to those who oppose me. It appears not to have worked."

"Those who use fear as a weapon are easily disarmed." 

"So you've come here for personal vengeance?"

"No, I've come here on behalf of his Imperial Majesty. The Centauri Empire declares war on the Stygian Domain. No longer will you will be allowed to reign unchecked."

Daimos held back a laugh. “What a farce. The Empire is a crippled old man just like its Emperor. This is just foolish pride. I will give you one chance. Power down your weapons and surrender your ships and I will ignore this ugly incident.”

Arrogant machine,” She barked with all of her might. “This time we will fight until the bitter end!”

What a fool you are and what a fool your Emperor is. Very well fight on till the bitter end. For a bitter end, you will have when I turn your Empire to ash!.” Daimos ended the transmission.

The tactical screen changed as another tachyon burst was recorded. Data showed these were Alfheim ships. Daimos remembered those archaically designed rocket craft. The Freehold seems to take the idea of space being an ocean literally. As their craft looked no different from ships of the line in an old wet navy.

Gateways would open up near Aetherium as the Domain's fleet would enter to challenge the elves and humans. The Centauri would launch rocket pods and assault shuttles that weaved through the anti-orbital defenses and attack Pandemonium. Imperial Marines landed in the city and began their missions with the shuttles providing air support.

They quickly learned that they weren't attacking a city but a living entity. Fireteams and full squads ended up under fire from multiple directions. Mines exploded beneath their feet, auto-turrets fired from concealed positions. SWAT-bots moved throughout the city using their knowledge along with hidden entrances and exits to surprise the marines from the side and behind. All of this was done without a command from Daimos.

The Tyrant of Aetherium had a fully prepared automated defense network. Its code refined over the years to be prepared for any and all planetary threats. Soon it would be a part of a larger multi-agent system that would spread across the galaxy. A system that would operate the government bureaucracy of the Stygian Domain, no organic influence required. Leaving Daimos free to focus his processing power on other matters.

Speaking of other matters, his processor went back to the topic of Sentinel. When another alert crossed his feed. Gloriana was under heavy attack from rebel forces. Ahrimus was sending information that Falstaff's guard had turned and joined the rebels. Gloriana's defensive guns were down thanks to internal betrayal and attacks by the Marauders which was joined by a Templar command ship called Thunderclaw.

Nightshade came flying in screaming but he ignored her. His central processor laid out all the facts. The attack on Pandemonium and in orbit was a diversion. Arranged by the Templars to keep him from focusing on Gloriana. Gloriana was also a distraction at least for the most part. It was all noise to keep him away from the true prize. The Star Warden re-activating the planetary defense network.

That was the most likely reason why one of the rings was left on Aetherium. Even if that was not the case. The Star Warden would still use the Cosmic Ring to activate it so he could use it against him. 

"The insects couldn't even try to make it difficult for me. Did they really believe that I wouldn't see through them if they used the same strategy? This is just a repeat of the battle at Monmouth Castle."

“Yeah you tell them, Master,” said Nightshade.

Daimos knew there was only one place Sam could go to activate Sentinel. Down. A quick check of Bruno's notes confirmed that the system core was built underground. The information from Ramia's archives corroborated that. A silent command brought the SWAT-Bot Mark 2s online. He sent one group to attack the Marines in Pandemonium. Let them think he's responding to the obvious.

Then he opened a gateway to Gloriana. First, he hunted down and eliminated the perfidious royal guard. After that, he put Ahrimus in charge and rallied his forces around the palace. To force the rebels to assault it directly and keep his forces protected under the anti-aircraft plasma batteries. His last action was to then command his defense network to make Gloriana a top priority which would deploy reinforcements to the city.

A drilling machine in the palace's garage came to life. It exited the garage only for it to be attacked by the plasma ordinance of the Argent Templars. The Dark Lord engaged the Templars and while they put up fierce resistance. They could not overcome the sadistic brutality of the Prince of Steel and were slain mercilessly.

Free of threats, the drilling machine began boring into the palace's gardens clearing the way for Daimos to travel to the system core.

If he had a face. The smile of a slasher killer would have formed. “History repeats only this time the sun will not save you, Samuel Bailey."

Chapter 14

Chapter 12


Friday, May 28, 2021

Star Warden 3: CC. Chapter 12

 Prodigal Son

Sam took a deep breath of fresh air. Enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the Elder tree. The party atmosphere was nice but it did get stuffy. Luckily he had a good excuse with the ritual to slip away. Then the Elder Tree and the Enchantress gave him a secret pathway letting him travel without exiting into the party itself. Giving him time to himself to prepare for the battle ahead.

Gloriana was going to be harder than Monmouth Castle. Originally even he thought it would be nigh on impossible. No cloaking device and no element of surprise this time. They had Balthazar and Caspar but he held no illusions that the Dark Lord would not prepare this time for a dragon attack. He was also attacking a much larger target than just a town and nearby castle. Gloriana would be a hard-fought battle until he downloaded the Alpha.

This time however they had a vector of attack previously denied to them. There would be an attack on Daimos's forces in space by the Templars and their allies in the Imperial Navy of the Centauri Empire. The largest interstellar human nation in the Cirrus galaxy. Located mainly near the western rim. Alpha Centauri was to be humanity's first interstellar colony and while that did not come to pass. Those people named their new home after that very star to honor their ancestors' original plan. 

Combined with Templar forces on the ground with aid from all the warriors the Free Realms could muster. They now had a much better chance at holding off the Domain's forces until Sentinel came online. It made Sam more confident in the success of the mission. But it would be a hard fight either way. Even harder if Daimos did catch wind of the true plan and intervened in person.

But the reward was the liberation of Aetherium. The freedom for all the people trapped under the Dark Lord's tyranny here. A beacon of light in Domain's space and a base of operation for the liberation of the rest of the galaxy. A safe haven for him and his children. His children. His eyes began to well up.

He would be a father one day. A father of kids who would be involved in the future stages of this war. To give them a safe haven for a while, with the war out of sight and out of mind for them until their time came. That was a bigger reward than any physical gift someone could give him. His children's smiles were the only thing he truly desired now.

A sound alerted him to another presence. It was Connor walking out of the tree. “Enjoying the view?”

It is strangely quiet. But I think it adds to the beauty of it all. Despite all that Daimos did he couldn't kill the best parts of this world.” 

Thank you. If I am not disturbing you there was something I wish to discuss.”

Shoot.”

Shoot what?”

Never mind. Human figure of speech. What did you want to say?”

Sir Bailey, what made you trust my brother when he told you the truth.”

Glad to see you are acknowledging him as family.”

Do not push it,” Connor stated sternly.

I understand. To answer your question his actions did that. If he was not truly repentant his actions would give it away. But he proved that my father's trust and faith were well placed. For my father would not have let him anywhere near me if he couldn't be trusted.”

Unless he only worked hard to get in everyone's good graces.” Bitterness was apparent in Connor's voice.

A fair argument. But I counter with this: did he ask for a pardon?"

No, he has not.”

If he was only after forgiveness then the first thing to do was to ask for a pardon. But he hasn't. He didn't even beg you for forgiveness during your conversation with him. Unless something has changed?”

No, nothing has changed. I have seen him hard at work helping where he could. Fighting hard to protect King Oberon and not once did he complain.”

Connor sighed coming to terms with everything he said. “Yet, I wish not to forgive him. He should not be rewarded for doing his duty. It is undeserving.”

Yes it is. But so are a great many things,” said Sam. “You know I met someone like who named Sir Gareth. He had problems with forgiving himself and I told him. Forgiveness isn't given to those who earned or deserve it. It is given so people are motivated to change. Some abuse that generosity but many accept it and improve themselves.” 

Connor sighed again deep in thought. His mind pulled in many directions as he tried to figure out a response. One came into his mind. “Why? Why not just return home?”

Pride,” Sam said. “It is what he told me. He didn't want to come back and admit he was wrong or beg for forgiveness. At first, he tried to be just a common sailor and make his own way. But to quote a pirate from Earth. 'In an honest service, there is thin commons, low wages, and hard labor.' It's not surprising with all his pride he would quickly join the pirates despite being coerced.”

Coerced,” Connor said in surprise. “He claims he was forced into becoming a pirate?”

He told me that the pirates forced him into work as they were short of hands. Once they had no more use for them. They asked who wanted to stay. Daniel said yes wanting the power and riches the pirates had. The rest of his old crew was marooned.”

“That's a silly reason.”

“Pride is often silly. Just like the prodigal son.”

The who?”

A story about a son who took his early inheritance. Wasted it and came back to his father ready to become a servant as punishment. But his father welcomed him back with open arms and forgave him.”

This son didn't kill anyone did he?”

No, but that's not the point. The point is forgiveness. He made a mistake, he let his greed ruin him. Humbled. He came home ready to face the worst.”

“Which he should have,” Connor interjected loudly. “How does one abandoned their family. Abandon all their responsibilities! Become a murderous thief in the skies and just expect to come home with open arms. That does not either fix or erase the past transgressions!”

Sam stayed silent and nodded. Connor's face was gripped by anger. All of his feelings clear on his face. No longer calm or composed. Connor the Captain had taken a back seat. It was the younger brother in front of him. The younger brother who just wanted to know why he felt abandoned.

What did he do wrong? What did he do to deserve this? Where was his older brother to help him? All those questions running through his young mind.

Connor looked away from Sam composing himself once more. “Apologies. I should not have made that outburst.”

None needed. Your anger is earned but it won't help you in the long run. I can't make you forgive him. But forgiveness would be a good first step to repair your relationship with him.”

You've never had much anger have you,” Connor asked.

Sam laughed. “Anger. I've had a lot of anger. I was angry when my mom died. Angry at Daimos. Angry at the Army for beating the Navy in the game. I've just learned when to let it go. I suggest you do the same.”

I think I need to have a talk with my brother before the battle tomorrow. I can't say how it will go.”

Trust me,” Sam interrupted. “It will go fine. He wants to make up for his mistakes as much as you want him to.”

You are far too kind. I think I just want someone to yell at.” Connor made a self-deprecating chuckle. “Thank you for taking an interest. I don't think I would have done so otherwise.” He then turned to unfold his wings flying down into the lower levels of the tree.

What passed between Daniel and Connor in the time before the battle is unknown to the Warden. But it led to the two being paired up as part of the mission to rescue Queen Titania. If all of them were alive he would dwell on his stepfather and uncle then. For now, they could work together and that was progress.

The Elder Tree was quiet for the rest of the day with activity starting up again only a few minutes after midnight. Sam spent the entire night embracing Kaguya tightly in bed. His newly born fatherly instincts were screaming that she has to stay behind. But he clamped down on those instincts, for that was not an option. 

He was in the middle of his final suit checks when a voice called his name. By the sound of it; the owner of the voice was a tall one. He was not incorrect as an eight-foot-tall individual in sleek silver armor covered in a white cloak appeared before him. His helm covered his face but long braided hair poured down the back past the shoulders. 

Samuel Christopher Bailey, I presume?”

That would be me.”

I am Mazha Rham of the White Star Council.”

A Tuatha in the flesh?”

Not so much as in the flesh anymore. But I am indeed a Tuatha."

Well good to meet you. But isn't it a little risky for you to come down here yourself?”

“It is indeed. However, I decided to give you your gift in person. It is not the armor but this should give you an advantage.” From his cloak, a Talisman was produced. It was blue with red bars at its side. A flat black screen with a white star above it.

“Let it not be said that we leave our allies in the dark,” said the Tuatha.

Merlin was transferred over to the new Talisman. The Familiar was overjoyed at his new state. Likening it to one leaving a dark room into an open field in a virtual sense. There were programs beyond counting and in a stronger state than the Enchantress's old device. Sam's first act was to re-create the buckler with the Templar standard emblazon upon it.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. But is there anything to do to speed up the armor?”

The armor can be completed quickly,” said the Tuatha. “But some of the features require implants to your body. Which we do not have the time to give you.”

Once again time bites me in the behind.” Sam chuckled. “Well, then I got another reason to win this fight as quickly as possible. Anything else I need to know about the plan before I go?

We have arranged one last surprise. But it does not involve your part of the plan. Hopefully, it delays or distracts the Dark Lord long enough.”

“Gotcha. Well as King Henry V said. 'Once more unto the breach, dear friends.'”

Sam placed Dawnbringer in its scabbard. Checked his weapons, armor, and programs. Then joined the Spring Rangers. Kaguya was already there putting on a big smile. That smile caused his worries to calm in Sam's mind. They were still there but he reminded himself she could take care of herself. He would also be there to take any brunt of the fighting and would be aided by other Templars.

It was also imperative that Daimos not even get a whiff of anything suspicious Regardless of the lack of hard evidence. He would air on the side of caution and use any means necessary to ensure the children were dead. Even if it required wiping out all life on the planet just to get rid of her in the process.

After all he did the same to the Asahina bloodline. Methodically hunting down any one of the blood from legitimized cadet branches to illegitimate children. Leaving only Kaguya and Reiko as the last living members. Better protection through secrecy in this case.

Pushing aside those thoughts he smiled back and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Then he turned to the Rangers.

I'm not much for speeches. So I'll keep it short and sweet. No matter what happens to you this night. You will be remembered. Not because of a big action you take tonight or because you may die in battle tonight. But because you choose to be here at the 11th hour. Because you choose to not go quietly into the night. You choose to stand and fight against the evil that took your homes, friends, and family. And it will be you who sends Daimos off this world and back into the Abyss. Every last one of you has my eternal respect.”

Sam donned his helm and drew Dawnbringer. “Now then.” He raised the sword and with a word caused it to glow. Spreading an inspiring aura to all the Rangers. “Who wants to live forever!”

The Rangers raised their weapons and cheered. Scaring away the shadows of doubt and fear in their hearts. They marched with songs on their lips. The song of freedom for them and for those who would come after. The roots began to close behind them as they reached closer to their destination. There would be no retreat, no stepping back. It was either freedom or death.

Chapter 13

Chapter 11


Monday, May 24, 2021

Star Warden 3: CC. Chapter 11

 

Planting Seeds

1

Daniel was enjoying the celebratory mood around the Elder Tree. Sam had returned with the Cosmic Ring. The black knight Lorcan had been slain and that underneath the city of Gloriana was the key to a weapon that could free the world. All good reasons to be excited even if there was a final hard step to complete before a true party could be had.

Connor was making that clear to everyone. “We still have to re-activate the Sentinel first and that is under Gloriana. Which is still heavily defended.” The words were correct but it did not kill the festive spirit everyone had. For if they succeeded everyone on Aetherium would be free. Even if it still in the potential camp, the dream of freedom being so close was too intoxicating for anyone to ignore.

For some the intoxication was much more literal. As Daniel was walking down the non-military quarters. He found Kaguya standing guard in front of Sam's room. Blocking a group of female faeries with clear signs had too much to drink trying to get in.

The Star Warden is resting,” The Princess said barely holding back her exasperation.

Oh we won't disturb him. We just wish to thank him.”

Yes,” said another one. “Our hero should not feel unappreciated.” The other girls began to giggle.

He appreciates your thoughts. Now please let him rest.”

“Just let me inside milady. I'll make sure he rest of days,”

Daniel walked over to them. “Ladies.” they turned. “If you need to thank warriors there are still plenty of hard-working Rangers around.”

Stay out of this,” said one of the ladies. Which was followed up by a burp.

Daniel chucked. “So you plan to barge your way through and get to him? I would love to see how that fares for you.”

The inebriated ladies retained some mental faculties left and walked off as best they could.

“Thank you,” said Kaguya. “My patience was beginning to wear thin.”

“Sammy has been asleep since he returned with you.”

That is partially a deception. The Dragon battle was tiring but in actuality, Sam has been involved in a mental ritual. To allow him to communicate with Josie.”

That brought up a question in the back of his mind. Why would Sam unable to hear Josie while he and Peace could? Kaguya explained that when Josie originally attempted to establish telepathic contact. The mental wards could not recognize her as trustworthy and denied her thoughts entry.

When someone attempts to telepathically speak with Sam the wards would screen for abyssal corruption. Along with a celestial signature so the person can be identified as the true individual. It was not outside the realm of possibility for telepathic signals to be fraudulent. Due to Josie's telepathy being the result of science. It lacked any celestial energy, unlike Balthazar's mind speech.

Thus the ritual was designed to bring Josie's celestial signature to the surface when the wards screened her speech.

That explains that. But why are you out here,” asked Daniel.

Because I am to ensure none disturbs the ritual. She was explicit that if the ritual was disrupted it would give Sam intensive brain damage.”

Then head inside. I will keep watch for any harpies.”

Kaguya shook her head. “I will remain here. For I seek to speak to you.”

Oh,” he said with a strong curious tone. Reinforced by his facial expression. “On what subject?”

A thank you for helping Sam in the past as his godfather.”

Daniel was surprised by the statement. “Nothing worth thanking me for, Princess.”

Helping a young boy who lost his mother is something worth a thousand thanks.”

Your thanks are accepted. What brought up this line of conversation?”

Kaguya's face turned serious along with her tone. “There is a secret I wish to share with you. Before you agree be warned. This will affect your life from here onward. You will be drawn into something far beyond what you are used to. You will be burdened with more responsibility and knowledge only a few others share. My wish was to express my appreciation for all you've done for him if you choose to decline.”

Daniel took what she said to heart. “Does this knowledge put Sammy in danger?” Kaguya nodded. “Then tell me everything. I will not abandon the lad.”

The wooden door shifted open behind Kaguya. “Come along. I have much to tell you.”

2

Hours earlier. The Enchantress had completed her magic ritual that allowed Josie and Sam to communicate telepathically. It would take him some time before he mastered the art of telepathy. But for now, he could understand her in a way that would not break noise discipline. However, there were now much more serious matters to be discussed.

Dismissing Josie for now, Sam, Kaguya, and Celes joined the Enchantress near the foundation of the Elder Tree. It was similar to the underground grove in the Silver Spire. Replace the white flowers and lake with flowing rivers, waterfalls, and various pine trees that dotted the area. Though the rivers did not have water as one knew it. These waters were a bright green and shined with morning dew.

These waters were the Weave in a liquid state. It was this direct contact with celestial energy, that created plant and animal life that could not be found in other places. Birds with strange colors, rodents of unusual size, and talking otters. Plates of delicious fruits and glasses filled with exotic juices were served by the talking otters and Sprites.

So, what's brings us all here. I'm not guessing it's for the picnic. Though I wouldn't complain if it was,” Sam said as he took a bite.

We have much to discuss,” said the Enchantress. “Concerning the future of Aetherium and our conflict with Daimos. Before I begin Her Radiance has an announcement for you.”

Kaguya had been bouncing around all day. Giggling and smiling at Sam with a certain glow around her. Sam had tried to ask her but she kept putting a finger on her mouth and declaring it a secret. At last, the secret shall be revealed.

I am with child, Sam. Your child.” Kaguya placed to hands on her stomach. She smiled and then made a noise of such glee it caused the birds to flee. 

Sam blinked twice in surprise. “How long,” He asked when he found his voice.

A week. The Enchantress sensed the new life growing within me.”

Only a week huh. So we got a hot spring baby.” He laughed as Kaguya blushed. Thinking about all they did back in that hot spring aside from eating sweets.

This is the best day of my life. I'm going to be a dad.” He spoke as if he almost didn't believe it.

Yes you will,” said the Enchantress. “The moment I learned Her Radiance was with child I called this meeting. Your children will be key to our plans to defeat Daimos.”

Children? Kaguya is having twins?”

That we do not know. What we do know is that three children will be needed.”

For the Angel of Death Program. We will need the aid of the Sages,” said Celes. “Three of them. Three specific ones as stated in the encrypted notes from Queen Guinevere.”

Celes went through the story of the three sages. Three special sages Cerena, Kira, and Mira. These individuals would through myth become known as Celestial Powers. Born as triplets with a stronger connection to the Celestial Realm than a normal sage. In obscure texts, some would grant them the rank of Saint for this connection. Cerena: Saint of Life. Kira: Saint of Light, and Mira: Saint of Law. Each one specialized in one of the three areas of the Realm.

After the Saints defeated the traitor Tuatha on Aetherium. King Arthur prepared to work with them on the Angel of Death program. Arthur's plan was simple: the Angel of Death would target the remaining traitors and any Abyssal corruption left. While the Saints provided a shield to ensure the Angel of Death did not cause any collateral damage.

But since Mordred used the weapon too soon. Aetherium got turned into floating rocks and nearly destroyed the Tuatha.” said Sam.

Instead of a shield to protect to loyal Tuatha. Their energies were sacrificed to ensure Aetherium would be stable for life,” explained Celes.

“What I don't understand is why not just program it.”

To not attack loyal Tuatha,” Celes interjected. Sam nodded. “The Angel of Death is closer in function to an atomic weapon.”

“Meaning that even if you hit the traitors any loyalist ships in range would be destroyed as well. So the Saints are essentially the ultimate lead shield to protect from the creation energy fallout?”

Celes and the Enchantress nodded in the affirmative.

“But why my children?”

We speculate that it is to correct the mistake from last time,” said the Enchantress. “The Powers must be trying to better protect the new Saints by tying them to your bloodline rather than have them separate.”

Sam sighed. “Okay let me rephrase the question. Why are we putting kids in harm's way? You're an expert in the Weave or one of the Sprites?”

The Saints are specifically designed for this task. They are powerful in a way a Sage or a Cardinal is not. In a sense, they speak for the Celestial Realm, understanding with an instinct no one could teach. Even if I did join to make the shield. We would still need an expert in the Everglow and Dreamscape which we do not have.”

“There is also the possibility that whoever we recruit may not be strong enough to hold the shield long enough to remove all of Daimos's work.” Sam turned to see Kaguya had spoken. “The Dyson Spheres as you called them, Sam. The Templars have learned that they possess another function. As computers.”

“Computers?”

Celes explained. “He is using the energy of the sun to power calculations. As a way to expand his presence beyond armies.”

You mean he would be able to use more of the Codex without needing to be there himself. Just focus his mind through the sphere and onto the planet in question?”

One of many possibilities. Most likely to have a way to preserve himself as well. Those will have to be destroyed as well.”

“Not to mention we could free anyone that was turned into a Servitor by Daimos,” said Kaguya. “While I wish not for our children to be involved in the war. We will need them to ensure when the Dark Lord is defeated he does not take our galaxy with him.”

Sam sighed.“Okay. I understand. But how do we handle the fact that they will be kids? Daimos won't just let us call a time out and let them grow up. Though if he finds out they exist he won't let them grow up at all.”

That is why we will do everything in our power to ensure he does not discover their existence,” said the Enchantress. “Only those we trust shall know the truth. As for their age, there is a possible solution to that.”

Kaguya stopped the retelling there. As Daniel was taking in all the information she shared so far.

I'm. Speechless for the most part. I don't know how to respond to all the other information. But I do know my grandkids need help. Which is all I need to know. You have my word that I will not tell another soul.”

“You are free to tell Rose if she agrees to keep our secret. Which I expect she will.”

No worries there. Now, what about that solution?”

Ah, Avalon. Shall I put some Tea on while we wait? It will be a long discussion.”

Chapter 12

Chapter 10