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T.I. S2 E19: Aftermath (GC)
My entry to the January Galactic Challenge, regarding the Registration Act.
About this creation

13 December, 2097
The Spire
Over Qoter

The hanger bay was empty, the overhead lights turned off as the last of the Archamge’s team made their way out. The area had been left mostly untouched after the fighting that had gone on tonight.

Nobody had wanted to deal with the mess that’d been left behind, the scars and wounds the fighting had inflicted on the place. How close they had all come to the destruction of an entire planet. If not for the willing sacrifice of one of their own.

Smote took it all in as he dropped from the ceiling, his landing silent in the night. He did not worry about the cameras or defences that the Archmage had no doubt left in place. No, those ancient words of his kept him invisible to any onlookers, no matter who they were.

He walked across the open plain, avoiding the debris and rubble all around him, not to mention the specks of blood that had pooled on the hanger floor.

It truly had been a close call.

He’d witnessed most of the fight, had seen the corruption that had overtaken the large droid, seen the evil that had leeched into it’s circuits. Once again, he thanked the words that’d kept him safe, that’d been able to kill his hearing, negating the effects of the sound that had knocked the warriors out cold.

With another step, he suddenly realised how tired he was. It had not been an easy day for him, darting around the hanger as he had been, trying his best to keep track of the dozens of battles that had been waged.

He’d kept his touch light, undetectable, as he’d intercepted the various ricocheted bullets and warped explosions with his words, doing his absolute best to ensure that nobody had died today.

But even he hadn’t been enough in the end. Someone had lost their life, the one the Archmage had called Basher. Smote had hated every fibre of his being as he’d stood unseen by the man’s side. He’d almost shouted a warning as the man grabbed the Archmage's shoulder.

But…he'd known that Basher would be needed in that fateful, final fight.

For if Basher hadn’t been there… Smote didn’t really want to think about the destruction and the pain that would’ve swept through the system, followed shortly after by the chaos.

Silently, he turned to face the door that led into the Spire proper. Beyond, his enhanced senses heard the heartbeats of a few soldiers walking down the halls, perhaps coming to do one last check of the hanger. In a few hours, the cleaning crews would come, and would begin the long process of wiping away this stain that had marked the lives of so many.

His eyes fell to the floor as he turned away. For a moment, he considered staying longer, but… his power was depleted, and he could see no other threat to the station. Not now, anyway.

With a whisper and a thought, he darted across the large space, taking less than a few seconds.

Another thought, and he walked through the wall that separated him from the void beyond, stepping through the solid metal like an open doorway.

Once outside, the chill set in immediately, but he ignored it as power filled his bones, filled his lungs. The pressure closed in, but he paid it no heed, the strength of the ancient language keeping it at bay.

One more thought and his feet were lashed to the Spire’s exterior, keeping him stable. A moment passed before he began to walk, slowly but surely.

Silently, he marched to his ship, locked and cloaked a few metres away. In the chaos, no one had noticed his approach, and the cloak he’d applied had been more than good enough for any prying eyes.

Still, he took one last lingering look at the planet below, and the countless lives that’d been saved and would never no about it. One…that’s what the droid had called itself. One had wanted to end them all.

And as Smote finally touched the invisible body of his ship, he silently prayed that the being had finally met its end.

20 minutes later
The Haven

Dustin winced as he held the icepack to his eye, doing his best to reduce the swelling from where Derek Collins and left his mark. The other injuries he’d taken had already been taken care of, but the damned eye…he’d be lucky if it didn’t close over completely. A black eye was a pain to deal with.

And besides that, they looked downright awful.

He stretched his other arm as he sat up on the single fold out bed, the one he usually insisted Risa used. But as she was currently flying the ship, well…he may as well use it.

A few minutes past, and Dustin let his thoughts sink into the mess that had been the mission. Technically, it’d been a success. They’d gotten Tracks back, or near enough…but Dustin knew all to well the difference between a technical win and an actual win.

Firelight had taught him that long ago.

He winced as he removed the icepack and began to dab gel around the area, ignoring the sting as he rubbed it in. The mission… One… it was all too much. Eris, in the end, had been right, and they’d all put their lives, their friendship, in jeopardy over it.

Dustin sighed. No, he and Risa had made a decision, and it’d been the right one, or near enough, at the time. But that didn’t change the fact that One had nearly killed the entire planet of Qoter, with a Collective weapon.

The chaos that would’ve followed and the tainted image of the would've never been repaired, not even if they’d been able to stop One afterward. The Collective would’ve been hunted down and banished from the system, if they weren’t all killed first.

Slowly, he raised his eyes and saw Risa staring back at him. She gulped and put the shuttle on autopilot as she weaved around the cockpit chairs and strode over to Dustin. He grinned at her and she grinned back. She was hurt too, not only by exhaustion, but he’d made sure to treat the worst of it before they left.

After all, she was the better pilot..

Dustin: “How you going?”
Risa: “I’ll be fine. You”
Dustin: “Same…same.”

The conversation died, the room suddenly feeling too small. Wordlessly, Dustin moved over and let his legs dangle off the bed. Risa took the invitation and sat at his side and joined him at staring at nothing.

They both knew… it’d been more than a year now since the destruction of Knightborn, of the only home Risa had known, if the relationship with her father was anything to go by. But the loss still slumbered behind her eyes…and now…

Now the same droid that they’d faced during Knightborn’s fall had almost ended everything she’d ever known. The deaths would’ve been well into the millions, the billions even. Only Basher’s sacrifice had saved them, and only at the last possible second.

Risa turned slowly and met his eyes. Tears were welling there, the exact same thought running through her head. Dustin sighed again and let a low smile onto his face.

Risa: “Dustin…I’m…I’m so tired of this, of all this.”
Dustin: “What do you mean?”
Risa: “This…helplessness. Being on the back foot. First it was Uek, then it was the Imperium, then One…in the end, what have we really done?”
Dustin: “We’ve…uh…”

Risa: “Dustin, we’ve helped others yes, but apart from that…we’ve been running. Hiding. Doing our absolute best not to be discovered by the Imperium, not to be flung back into Uek’s hands.”
Dustin: “I…I know.”
Risa: “We can’t do it Dustin. We can’t clear our names, we can’t help our friends… we couldn’t do anything to help save this planet, or stop One. I’m just…I’m so tired of it all…everything…”

And then the tears began to roll and Dustin felt a part of him break. Risa, the rock that’d been at his side through every step… she was giving up. It was Knightborn all over again, all the old memories mixed with too many emotions. The pain, the loss, the thankfulness that One’d been stopped, but the lingering fear of how close it’d been.

And with a shock, Dustin realised just how close he was to falling below that line too. It was all too hard…all of it…and what had they done, except for running and hiding?

Besides helping their friends on occasion…nothing. Nothing at all.

In a galaxy of heroes, they were cowards. Uek had his claws into them so deep they hadn’t realised it. He’d gotten them out of the way with one single label; criminal. And he was now too tall to topple. Too big to cripple.

And they had nothing left to give.

Dustin: “Risa…”
Risa: “Yeah?”
Dustin: “I don’t know much but…we can’t give up. I don’t know what we’ve got left to give…if we ever had anything to give in the first place…but we’ve got to keep moving. We’ve just…got to. If...if we don't, Uek wins. They all win.”

Risa sighed deeply, but slowly inclined her head. Dustin let her, and she rested her head on his shoulder. He stiffened slightly, but let out a sigh as the thoughts and words they had and hadn’t said buzzed around like mayflies.

Dustin…Dustin knew he was right, somehow. Even if they’d accomplished nothing in their war against Uek, in their fights against One, they couldn’t slip into that darkness, couldn’t give up fighting…. even though they hadn’t really been making any blows.

He closed his eyes, feeling Risa’s breath on his cheek as the weight of it all caught up to her and she began to drift off to sleep. However, his mind was suddenly alive, as if the breif conversation had kickstarted something.

Maybe it was time to start fighting back…

24 December, 2097
Pablo’s Bar, Dreg

Jaspar: “You’re kidding me.”

Smote shook his head at the young man across from him. Jaspar Ove coughed slightly as the words left his lips, the light asthma that had plagued him for years making its presence known. But Jaspar ignored it. So Smote did the same.

Smote: “I wish I were Jaz, but I am not.”
Jaspar: “Wait…and nobody knows that we were almost fried? By...a droid?”
Smote: “To my knowledge, no. And it’s best that it’s kept that way. I do not wish to cause a panic, as the threat has been nullified…at least for the time being.”

Jaspar whistled low and took a swig of the rum before him. Smote had nothing but water in his own glass; he'd lost the allure of alcohol many years ago. Even now, he had dulled his senses to avoid its stench. Not that Pablo didn’t keep his place clean, but he’d always let the more unsavoury types into his bar, as well as the most unwashed and the most drunk.

Smote waited patiently for Jaz to file the information away, his near-perfect memory working its magic. A moment passed, and Jaspar met his eyes. He spoke again, a slight regal tone ringing out behind the layers of street accents taht made up his voice.

Jaspar: “And…it would’ve been over, just like that?”
Smote: “Yes.”
Jaspar: “Damn. And…you didn’t intervene?”
Smote: “I helped, slightly, but no, I did not.”

Jaspar raised his eyebrows again, before muttering another ‘damn’ and sipping his drink again.

A sigh filled the silence, and it took Smote a moment to realise it’d come from him. No, he hadn’t intervened. He couldn’t. Despite his trust for Jaspar, he couldn’t tell him why either. Not that he would’ve believed him if he’d tried.

Jaspar: “Well…um…thanks for helping…I suppose.”
Smote: “Thank you.”
Jaspar: “So…ahh…I suppose now’s a good time to change the subject?”
Smote: “If you wish.”
Jaspar: “Ok then…well…I, um, take it you heard. About the Act?”

Smote nodded, which was all the clarification Jaspar needed.

Jaspar: “It’s so dumb, isn’t it? Honestly, could they think of a more obvious way to divide the people? At this rate, we’ll have another war on our hands, and with most of the Ossillium with whoever the Storm is, we’ll be scrambling for survival.”

Smote: “Perhaps…though I do not feel it will come to that.”
Jaspar: “Well what do you think of it all? You going to register?”

A pause filled the air again, as Smote leaned forward, shaking his head once more. If only he knew…

Smote: “As far as I know, there are only seven people that know I exist, including yourself. The Council and a handful of Core agents may suspect, but they will not waste the effort to investigate. And those that know me…they won’t reveal me.”

Jaspar: “Seriously? Seven? Who even are they?”
Smote: “Four are…friends. One is a pirate, and one is a girl I saved from said pirate. I’ve saved others, but those are the only two that know my name. Besides, even if they did find me, tried to force me to register…”
Jaspar: “Yeah…they’d have their work cut out for them, wouldn’t they?”

Smote smiled as he took a small sip of his water, letting it drip down his throat to cool his stomach.

Yes, they certainly would.

01 January, 2098
The Conduit Building, Knightborn

Uek Ferris strolled into his office, the slight drunkenness he’d been faking for most of the night disappearing as he stepped behind tinted windows. A few quick movements and his clothes were back in order, though he could do nothing about the smell of alcohol that clung to them.

It’d been…an interesting party. Last year, the New Year’s Ball had been a happy occasion, people dancing and singing, the Governor giving a rousing speech to inspire the hopes of many.

But this time…true, there’d been the dancing, the singing, the copious amounts of drink. But Uek had sensed it the moment he’d walked in, saw the invisible shroud of darkness that had hung low over the crowd.

The Archmage and her cronies had been missing. The Governor too, had barely made an appearance, his focus distant, lost, unguided. The votes for the Registration Act had also been announced, to the quiet outcry of some. The Collective would begin registering tomorrow.

Uek sighed as he poured himself a drink from his private store. Only two bottles sat on the shelf, the only two brands he’d ever really enjoyed. The alcohol burned his throat, the first real drink he’d had for hours. His mind seemed to relish the liquid, and began to churn as thoughts danced and spun.

The people of the system were…stumbling. They hadn’t fallen; there were still too many powerful players in the game. But they’d lost their balance, and were searching for solid footing. The Registration Act had been the latest shove, and the system would feel the wrath of the Collective if they pushed too far.

He smiled. Everything was so…fragile. Loose. Aurelia was rearing its head once more, so much so that the Imperium was planning an attack on Weller base. He knew about it of course. Some of his shock troopers were to bolster the ranks, offer their expertise and strength amongst the grunts.

Aurelia and the Imperium, forever at each other’s throats. And then there were the countless other pieces with their own agendas, their own ambitions. The Brain, Agent Blade, the team that had wrecked his Ossillium resupply. Then there were the whisperings his shadows had heard of, about someone trying to gather what was left of the Ossillium in the system.

It seemed there was another out there, powerful perhaps, that could pose a threat down the line. Perhaps a Collective member, trying to destroy as much of it’s weakness as it could. Perhaps another type of being entirely. An apposing storm, a maelstrom, a hurricane.

Uek waved his hand, dismissing the thought. Another time, perhaps. When the facts were clearer, when his project was complete.

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. He called for them to enter, and knew it was by the footsteps alone.

Jez’na marched into his office, her scowl set and her hands behind her back. She paused and he nodded for her to continue. He was beginning to feel the night’s hours on his body, at the bed that was calling him even as the first golden rays of dawn peaked through the windows.

Jez’na: “Good morning Uek.”
Uek: “Yes, it is Jez’na. Happy New Year, I suppose.”
Jez’na: “No year is happy. Each carries sadness and pain, no matter what we will it.”
Uek: “Ever the downer. What is
Jez’na: “I wanted to confirm my leave tomorrow, for registering.”
Uek: “Not like anyone has a choice. It is mandatory, after all.”
Jez’na: “Still, I’d like to-”
Uek: “Don’t worry, I’ll have eyes on you when you go in. Make sure nothing happens that we don’t want to.”
Jez’na: “Very well.”

Uek turned back toward the window, taking another sip of alcohol. It warmed his blood as he spoke again.

Uek: “Jez’na…this Act. What do you think happens next?”

Jez’na cleared her throat as she marched closer, ice in her eyes as she spoke.

Jez’na: “The Collective that don’t want trouble register. The ones that do…don’t.”
Uek: “Well, I knew that much. I mean…you know, I can’t help but feel that it’s the work of someone else. And I hate it when I’m a pawn.”
Jez’na: “You are no pawn.”

Uek: “It’s a figure of speech. Honestly, the whole thing just feels like a waste of time, unless someone’s trying to screw the Collective over. If Eris Arathorn wasn’t my foe already, I might even feel sorry for her.”

Jez’na: “The Arathorn’s are a disease, no matter what the Archmage may say. As I maintain, I hate them. I hate the Collective, for what they’ve done. This Act, it does not bother me. Let the mighty Vindicators be humbled for once.”

Uek grinned as he looked over the city before him, still recovering from the attack from over a year ago. It was still slow going… but buildings were finally being built again, built exactly where he’d ordered them built, in the style he’d wanted them built. The whole city, the might of its military, the strength of its people, were his to command.

And then there were the many gangs that backed the Storm, the countless suppliers and buyers of weapons, chemicals and technology that had the money flooding in. Money to invest into Knightborn, amounts that the Governor wouldn't have thought possible if Uek had let him look deeper into the clean-up of the city.

But most importantly, and above all else, was his project. A project that would make the shove of the Registration Act little more than a distant memory. A project that he was so close to finishing, after almost a decade of planning. A project that would descend upon this system and restore the balance it so desperately needed, with Uek at its head.

A smirk filled his face, a smirk of things to come. Animalistic, perhaps, but visionary. He was not like the Archmage, so put out by a handful of words against her people.

He was not like the Governor, weak and unfocused.

He was not like the others that filled the system, the ones with grand visions and schemes, for they all lacked the drive that burned within him.

He would be one who was remembered, one who would never be forgotten. He would be the one to finally bring peace to the system, the one who would rule it with a benevolent, yet firm, grip.

And he’d do whatever he had to in order to become that one.


 I like it 
  January 19, 2018
I'm only just starting to get into your story, but I'm already hooked. Uek seems like quite the character, I like him. And like Iris said, who knew that just talking and slight movement could be so interesting. Can't wait to see what happens next! Btw, I think you and I should do a crossover sometime. With our antagonists. Maybe someday, once I'm reestablished. ;)
Werewolff Studios
 I like it 
Humanoid Typhoon
  January 8, 2018
Dang Wolf. Your tail in this intergalactic universe stretches many parsecs
 I made it 
  January 8, 2018
Quoting Humanoid Typhoon Dang Wolf. Your tail in this intergalactic universe stretches many parsecs
Thanks Typhoon, though my 'tail' isn't that long. About 50cms, to be precise.
 I made it 
  January 8, 2018
Quoting Winslow "Whit" Wadsworth Whittier The Wise I had a character like this in the SWRP once, except he was more like Palpatine, orchestrating the war on both sides so his sith collective could come out on top.;)
Ha ha! Yeah, I love the behind the scenes villain type. Lots that you can do with them.
 I made it 
  January 8, 2018
Quoting --R.K. Blast-- Yes, as Iris said, a lot of talking, but that didn't bother me in the slightest! Haha! I do wonder where Smote's story I'd going and how he eventually ties in to everything. Good stuff! Good luck in the GC! --Blast--
Cheers! Yeah, not to worry. The next one should have a bit more going on. And as for Smote's story, let's just say it'll be...interesting.
 I like it 
  January 8, 2018
I had a character like this in the SWRP once, except he was more like Palpatine, orchestrating the war on both sides so his sith collective could come out on top.;)
 I like it 
  January 8, 2018
Yes, as Iris said, a lot of talking, but that didn't bother me in the slightest! Haha! I do wonder where Smote's story I'd going and how he eventually ties in to everything. Good stuff! Good luck in the GC! --Blast--
 I made it 
  January 7, 2018
Quoting Traykar Pawfoot Really great episode. I really like how both of our characters are the behind the scenes grand architect types, and are aware of their being something else like them, but are too busy to investigate.
Agreed! It'll be very interesting when they finally butt heads. Glad you enjoyed it as well :D
 I made it 
  January 7, 2018
Quoting Captain Kenbo Very nice! Liked the bit with Smote passing through the wall
Thanks Kenbo! Glad you enjoyed it.
 I made it 
  January 7, 2018
Quoting Iris AD Y'know, you do have a talent for making constant standing and talking, followed by some sitting and talking, and then a bit of standing and talking, incredibly entertaining! ;D [IAD]
Ha ha! Cheers Iris! Glad I could make my exposition engaging!
 I like it 
  January 7, 2018
Really great episode. I really like how both of our characters are the behind the scenes grand architect types, and are aware of their being something else like them, but are too busy to investigate.
 I like it 
  January 7, 2018
Very nice! Liked the bit with Smote passing through the wall
 I like it 
  January 7, 2018
Y'know, you do have a talent for making constant standing and talking, followed by some sitting and talking, and then a bit of standing and talking, incredibly entertaining! ;D [IAD]
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