When All is Lost
Continuing on from On the Wings of Eagles Series
Location – Lorewall
~In our darkest hour
When all hope seems lost
A shining beacon illuminates the sky
The stars; they hear our cry~
CharlotteCarrendar:– The terrible roar that escaped Tarus lips was heard across the cathedral. The slain body of Invidi was to become nothing more than black sludge that seeped through the cracks in the tiled floor like blood, escaping to the lower levels. Taru’s entire body was black, from head to foot and she cried as her children and that of Charlotte’s all sobbed and wailed in fear of all that had happened. But this was the start of the terror of the fall of Lorewall. High above the Sky castle was crashing to its doom as the enemy were now outside the city limits and about to go up against the surviving forces of the Nemauen army. The massive explosions rocked the very cathedral and Sora spun his head around as cracks were appearing in the cathedral walls. ”What now?” He cried, as he moved through the throng of teenagers that were all huddled in groups. Running out to the main auditorium, the Ettercaps were roaring in anger at what was coming from above. It then dawned on him. ”The city is under attack!” One of Charlotte’s younger children approached her uncle and tugged on his coat. ”I want my Mommy.” Her tearful eyes pleading with him, as other children started to echo the sentiment. Sora ran his fingers back through his hair as he tried to work out what to do. He had not seen Charlotte in months since she started that Trek to the Mountains. Coming up behind Sora, his sister Taru emerged from the main Cathedral, as shocking tremors were reaching the Spire. She was still coated in the black, but her demeanour had changed. Dust was filtering down from above, as more explosions were heard above. ”It’s all over.” She seemed to be accepting the fate of what was to come. Sora wouldn’t have it. ”Charlotte said this was a beacon.” He pointed to the large statue of Lorelei within the centre of the Cathedral of fiends. ”A way in and out. We just need to find out how it works.” Was he thinking of getting the children out to another dimension? It wasn’t impossible. He reached for Taru’s hand and yelled at her. ”Come on!” He dragged her back through the crowds of children, till they were back inside the main temple. ”Children…all of you. Form a ring around the statue. “ The children were in a disarray, and getting them to do as he asked wasn’t easy, many argued and some continued to cry from the fright of all that was happening. ”We don’t have much time!! He roared at them. Soon they had all formed a perfect circle around the main statue. Sora then directed them. ”Link hands!” One by one, each of the three hundred and ninety six children all started to take each other’s hands, with Sora and Taru to be the last. All of them looked up to the statue of Lore as their own nature came to the fore. A rising tide of voices that sung out through the very plains. The statue started to change colour and illuminate while all around the explosions continued to echo. Pieces of rock starting to fall. Parts of the walls were giving way. :: In another part of Nemeaus, Charlotte and her two children; Seven and Luna were sleeping in their beds, when suddenly woken by the chorus of voices being channelled through the spire. ”What is that?” Luna said sitting up in bed, holding her head. Seven sat up and smacked his ears. ”Sounds like…singing.” Charlotte rushed in from her quarters and reached for her children.”It’s a summons! Hold my hands!” Both children did as she told them, all in their night clothes, and then the three of them joined the chorus, suddenly vanishing from sight as they were drawn the Spire of Arachnea. Within seconds their shadow forms started to appear in the midst of the chaos of the ravaged city, but far below the streets in the Spire. The moment Sora saw the trio he released Taru’s hand and ran to his sister. ”Charlotte. Lorewall is under attack. Help us!” Charlotte had barely got her bearings when her brother ran at her. Seeing all her children and then she looked up as she heard the explosions, she looked stricken. ”They are attacking the capital?!” ~KABOOM!~ <3>
Captain277 There was something strange about this particular moment, he thought. At first, it was hard to tell exactly what it was. Perhaps it wasn’t even a something, but a somewhere, or a somewhen. As his body rotated and tumbled freely along its one entangled point in space, his mind rotated and tumbled along a nearby point in time. He had been Communing for a short few enternities, experiencing the lives of other Aspects as if they were his own, as he was wont to do. So it was that when he first noticed the anomaly, it was only as a small, blinking light amdist a roiling sea of flashing lights and burning braziers; each one a change in the Eternal Story that was only his to view. There were a trillion Keenings, and countless more noteworthy moments passing by in this void, and yet, one in particular screamed out in his mind more than any other. Slowly, with a practiced sort of caution, he let his mind drift to the particular flicker that continued to intrude. As he drew closer, his body felt something tug at its stomach. Hrm. His body? Not one he was visiting, no? His body. That would be why this little beacon could draw his attention so reliably, then. It was one he simply had to answer. This was his personal Keening. ‘Very well then.’ His voice shocked him, for the Gestalt Chorus did not join in with him. This moment did not occur for any other iteration of himself. This moment was purely his. For a moment, he felt something that his long-forgotten, human self would have called terror. Then, his mind and body merged together, disentangling from Tesser Space.
His eyes snapped open behind the upgraded visor of his armor as his senses snapped back together all at once, like a child’s building blocks. He pushed the physical sensations to the side, instead struggling to sort his consciousness out. He recognized the room; it had to be the Inner Sanctum of the Seal of Metatron. In the zero gravity chamber, he had begun Communing with Himself. His body danced in place like a piece of debris hurtling through space. With a thought, his suit’s subsystems connected with the room’s environmental controls. Slowly, dim lights began to power back to life, filling the room with a sterile white luminescence that seemed to impart the cold of the vacuum outside upon the chamber. As he began to rotate and initialize the gravitational systems, the Keening strobed out again, and this time finally found purchase on the sliver of his mind that had returned. The summons could not be ignored; he could tell it had already gone unanswered for far too long. Cramped, unfamiliar with his own body, and still reeling from the existential burden of being confined to one reality, he let the Keening take him. In a puff of black mist, the chamber’s only occupant disappeared. For him, the trip took a second. For the masses gathered around his destination, it must have been the space of perhaps a minute.
A few meters above the statue’s head, a strange sort of phenomenon began to manifest. The light seemed to bend at odd angles, as if something of immense weight were bending the very rays themselves. From some undetermined point near the center of the anomaly, a violent, downward geyser of black mist erupted, cloaking the statue in a tangible, moist sort of darkness. Reality itself grew heavy, the ground trembling and fluxing in some impossible way as the Fabric that held everything together struggled to accomodate something much bigger than itself. Then, all at once, it resolved itself. The lights grew back to their previous levels of luminescence, the mists evaporated so suddenly that they might have never been said to be there at all, and the assembly found itself with one new member.
Hovering four feet off the ground in the Lotus Position, sat Captain. “You have called me, Daughter?”
CharlotteCarrendar:– There was no time to explain, for high above the Sky castle was meeting its fate along with over a million people. Their voices crying out in terror then silenced. Waves of aftershocks were rolling through the very earth’s crust and the pain of suffering by those that could see the enemies forces on the horizon was being felt around the capital. Well below the now united family Carrendar, with the exception of Izu and his sons, were now assembled within the confines of the Cathedral of fiends. The Spire was built to withstand nuclear explosions, but nothing could ever be guaranteed. Luna and Seven grabbed hold of each other. Having awoken to the summons, and then finding themselves right back in the Spire of Arachnea. Sora gripped his sister’s arm and begged her. ”What is to become of us?’ But the answer would lie with another. Little did the bebilith know that their summons would be heard across the far reaches of space and time. No sooner had Sora begged his question, then there was strange light appearing near the head of Lorelei’s statue. All the children and their parents raised their heads to gaze at the phenomenon. ”What is that?” Sora asked, wondering if the summons had brought in one that was unwelcomed. Anything was possible. The voices of the children was rising, some pleased to have their mother back, and wanting to hold her, others wanting to flee the Spire. Little did they realize it was the safest place in Lorewall to be. From the centre of the strange light a fine black mist seemed to wind its way down from above, appearing before Charlotte and her siblings as it transformed into one solitary body. Charlotte recognised him instantly. ”Captain.” She could hardly believe it as she heard another explosion from above the spire. “You have called me, Daughter?” At this Sora stepped forward. The second eldest son of Lore. ”We all did. Lorewall is under attack from the men from the stars.” Taru kept her silence in the background, still well affected by the black. The children in the vicinity also kept quiet now, a hush generated by curiosity and fear. Charlotte finally spoke.”You heard our summons, Captain.” It was clear that the nation was on its knees in the face of the fight against the Astartes. The explosions above were getting louder. The look on Charlotte’s face would be reminiscent of that same young girl who was watching her former world die. She was truly afraid. ”The armies are fighting for our survival, but I don’t know how long the city can hold out.” <3>
Captain277: He saw them all with his Second Sight first. Charlotte gleamed like a beacon before him, and the others bled off from her light, forming a chain of eternally distant lanterns that blazed with the brilliance of life. Above, and for miles in every direction, he could see them all; everyone that was. Far above, motes of light were blotted out in massive patches. His sight presented other visions to accompany these flickers and dimmings; violet pulses that must have been energy detonations, orange and white waves of high-yield explosive devices releasing their payloads, the reds and blues of slugs meeting flesh and blades striking bone. There was a war going on overhead. Lorewall was under siege. Such should not have been possible. He had left the extent of his military might here to stop this exact event from happening. Where were his men? His massive war machines? Ignoring the collective gathered around him for a moment, he reached out, towards Sol’s Plain. What he saw disturbed him to no small degree. His forces simply waited, the fortifications completed, the whole of his might marshalled. Those soldiers which he had dispatched to protect the country had been called back. His people died and his world burned above, whilst his soldiers watched. Gravity took his hulking frame all at once, his new boots shattering the ground where they landed. Drawing up to his full height, Captain ran his suit’s diagnostics systems and began flexing his arms and testing the servos and hydraulics lines that kept his suit mobile. This would require a few minutes, and he would rather be ready when they were done speaking. Turning his attention back to the assembly, Captain listened to Charlotte’s explanation. As he spoke, the digital interface which had replaced the lower half of his helm, and its vox-comm, flickered to life, revealing a holograpic representation of a skeleton’s mandibles. The teeth moved in time to his words, their articulation an odd sort of affectation without lips to hint at exactly what was being said. “This is, unacceptable. I have failed my world a second time, it seems. I feel it cry out to me, even from this place. There is blood on the earth that should never have been spilled.” Captain turned away from Charlotte, his shoulders sagging as he stared off once more at Sol’s Plane. For a few, terrifying, seconds, he said nothing. Then, all at once, his head snapped up, and a strange sort of energy filled his form. “But, perhaps, this can be saved. Not untouched, no, of course not. Yet, hm. Yes. It could work. We have reached an agreement.” He turned to face her, his new, somehow more imposing bulk moving with an uncharacteristically silent grace. “What would you have me do, Charlotte?”
CharlotteCarrendar: – The diminutive woman that stood before him stared up at the hulking giant she had come to know at the worst times it would seem. Their paths crossed when the world was in dire need. Staring up at him, a flood of memories washed over her. From the falling ruins of the Meeting hall. The docks of the Wharf, and then the observation deck of the Seal of Metatron. Flashes of scenes, and yet they all come back to the two left to watch the death throes of a world in crisis. It had happened again. Only this time there was no rescue fleet. Already many millions had died. Charlotte felt a dryness in her throat, as her family around her stood in silence, when all heard the question that the Captain asked of her. For a moment, Charlotte stood silently, her green eyes flickering as she came up with the only solution she could think of. A vivid memory stood out from her journeys throughout the land of Nemaues. She remembered the Gnoll King, and there was another. The spires were somehow connected from this world to the next. Charlotte finally looked up at the Captain, as she said. ”You created this world as you did the other. The stars and the moons. We are all your children, each and every one of us.” Standing beneath the giant statue of Lore, her daughter spoke on behalf of all assembled.”Help us find a way to undo the damage of our mistakes.” She then said. Ask the Kings to help us turn back time.”Would this even be possible, and if so…what would the price be? <3>
Captain277: Captain blinked, and simply stared down at the woman. She seemed older, for some reason. This had weathered her beyond her years. Somewhere in his chest, his heart ached to see her reduced so much by what she had experienced. It was his hand that had built this world, and his hand that had allowed his old enemy to set foot upon its surface. His pride had allowed his people to suffer. His pride still wanted him to reject her plea. He would see this battle through to the end, and throw his men into the crucible until the whole surface was a blasted out wasteland. Yet, did he not know pride because it was his right? Of all beings, was it not his to be arrogant and proud? He found the answer in Charlotte’s eyes, and in those of the throng gathered about him. He had obligations that transcended his personal exploits. These people had relied upon him, and he had left, for other worlds and other adventures. It was such a…human failure. Even as he knew what was the right thing to do, his pride utterly rejected it. Captain would not make the choice. He simply could not. It was no longer his decision to make. Captain reached out to place his armored hand on Charlotte’s cheek, speaking to her as he made the move. “Charlotte, what you ask…it is no simple thing. You cannot understand what it will mean for you. Everything you have been through, all you have done, what you have become. Everything that everyone has become. It will go back to zero. I cannot rewind the world and maintain its people. This suffering will all mean nothing. Perhaps the suffering will no longer be necessary, but all of that growth must be cast away, a waste. If instead we fight, I can guarantee the survival of your people, and this place. It will be horrific, and there might not ever be a full recovery from the damage, but you will remain, as you are. It is not a decision I can make, for I would rather lose a thousand worlds, than see you all effectively erased. It must be your choice.”
CharlotteCarrendar:– The Captain was right. For all the horror and pain, the people that stood before him now had become what they are through adversity. She had not given up before, and in the face of this; she shouldn’t give up now. Her head lowered a touch as the realization hit her. People that had sacrificed so much so that others may go on did so for a good reason. The woman before him seemed to have forgotten that in her haste for an answer to a quick fix. In truth there was no way to undo the damage that had been done. All there was left was to fight, just as those on the surface were doing. While her children may never understand what she was about to say in her heart she knew this was the only way. She let out something of a light chuckle. Almost like a sign of nerves and resignation. Charlotte felt the press of the armoured hand on her shoulder; he could not undo the past and erase all the struggles but he was here now and ready to lead the fight to end the war that had brought the world to its knees. ”Then we fight.” Three simple words, that brought a chorus of chatter from her many children. ”We can shift on masse to the ships at Sols plains, if that is where they still are.” Sora came up behind Charlotte and asked. ”But these are your children.” She looked back at him and said. [b}”I was their age when I watched Lacardis die. If they want a future as I did, then they must learn the same lessons. Already our armies are fighting for us, while we are here – safe but for how long. No, we fight. We fight because of who we are.”[/b] Charlotte turned back to Captain with a look of resolve. ”We are Neumauns.” <3>
Captain277: Once again, Captain was eternally thankful that his helmet obscured his face from the outside observer. He exhaled, and opened his eyes, proud that his daughter had made the right choice. His vox-comm switched channels, dialing in to the Amarok’s encrypted frequency. The holographic image that flickered to life on his HUD was not at all what he expected. Instead of Takiyah’s severe, familiar face, his dark eyes fell on CARI’s avatar. Within the confines of his suit, her synthesized voice echoed with its trademark cheer. ‘Hello, Captain. You have reached the private terminal of Vice Admiral Takiyah. Admiral Takiyah is currently unavailable, would you like to leave a message?’ Captain scowled to himself and shook his head.
“Takiyah, why are you never around when I need you. No, CARI, thank you. Find Takiyah and notify her that I require a connection immediately. Can you get me Corax or Chan?”
‘Directives and Query acknowledged, Captain. Scanning. Please stand by.’ A few quiet seconds passed, before CARI’s voice returned. ‘General Corax is currently available. Connecting…’ CARI abruptly disappeared from the screen, only to be replaced by the haggard countenance of Morghan Corax. ‘Sir? Is that you? Where have you been?’
Captain shook his head. “Nevermind that, Corax. Send me the current dispostion of our units. I’m transmitting my co-ordinates to you now. I should be somewhere underneath Lorewall. Coordinate with Thorpe. I’m going to need a sizeable force. I will trasmit the details.”
Corax’s face shifted into some mixture of disbelief and relief. ‘So we’re finall-er, Roger, Sir. Receiving the packets now.’ His eyebrows rose as disbelief took hold once more. ‘Sir, you’re sure this is right?’
Captain growled out his reply before abruptly terminating the transmission. “Positive.”
Reactivating his suit’s broadcasting systems, Captain turned his attention back to the waiting assembly. “Just what I wanted to hear, Charlotte. You continue to prove your lineage. Tell me what you have at your disposal here in the city.”
CharlotteCarrendar:– Oddly enough, it would be a voice from the back that spoke out about what was at disposal on the surface of Lorewall. Having seen it for themselves, she was more than an authority on the subject. “ The Tarantula tank, along with Baneblades.” The former white bebilith was now the colour black, as she embraced her true calling. She stepped through the crowd of her own children to approach Charlotte, and her brother to stand before Captain. ”From the sounds of the explosions, the ill fated Skycastle is no more. Not that I ever had faith in that technological floating elephant.” Taru was never one to mince with words. At this point, Charlotte cut in. ”Beneath the old meeting hall there is at least two hundred and fifty JACK droids, troop numbers I estimate were in the vicinity of 300,000 to 500, 000, but I dare say they are holding the front line.” The mention of the droids had Seven, Charlotte’s son speak up. ”Can’t we use the droids to help take back the city? Urban warfare? There is a monorail tunnel from here back to the old meeting hall site. That gives us access to them the enemy wouldn’t know.” Charlotte thought that was a good idea, then remembered the science Lab of Dr Galvenstein. ”There is a place in Lorewall, where this visiting Doctor was making prototype power suits. I know he had one there for me, and he was mass producing them. He also was working on a weapon known as the AR-2. From what I recall, he said that we were the few planets that had this type of technology since he started working on it. I remember him test firing an AR-2 on me, wearing one of his special suits. Knocked me clear into the wall, but I remained unharmed within. If these could be supplied to the troops in the city, that is sure to help our cause.” <3>
Captain277: Captain turned to regard Taru as she supplied him with the numbers he had been looking for. He listened with no small amount of interest, before turning back to Charlotte as she added to his understanding of the force disposition above ground. With a sigh, he spoke. “This, this is why I was furious to hear Imperials had come, Charlotte. They bring ruin to all that they touch, and will not stop until they have conquered whatever they want. All my forces, all of this death? I would rather burn it all then let the Imperium crush this world’s spirit. Yet, I see we profit from their technology. The Baneblades will be a valuable asset, but we can’t rely on them too much. What is the Tarantula? For that matter, what are JACK droids? We will, of course, need to mobilize them. The number of soldiers you have on hand is not nearly enough for a foe such as the Astartes. The Korpsmen alone might have been enough. Alright, we have a lot of assets that are just sitting around, being wasted. Perhaps that is for the best though. The Imperials will be caught off guard by the introduction of so many diverse new assets. Very well then. Charlotte, Taru, I defer to you. Select your champions. Someone must oversee the management of the Armor and soldiers already deployed to the world above. Another for the mobilization and deployment of the JACK units, whatever they are. Mm. Actually, Charlotte, since you are most famliar with this Doctor Galvenstein, and the suits, you will take a team to oversee the retrieval and dissemination of his technology. Taru, you will determine who will take charge of the other tasks. My forces will be here within three hours, Wyrd willing. There are other assets we will have to exploit before this is all said and done, but let’s focus on what we can attain for now. We need to buy time. The Guardsmen cannot breach the line and gain access to the city. Hold the line at all costs. Casualties are irrelevant. Those are your orders.”