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Stories written by danansan unless stated otherwise.

The Origen of the Immortals

Back in the mists of time, a great war was fought. It saw the forces of Arr^yak fight against the Rakkashat of Akklomaon. The war was fought over the star cluster of Allboa Dervin and the Six Lands of aRandwe. Also fighting were the Infinites (on the side of those of Arr^yak), and the Starburners of Kluan (who fought along side the Rakkashat).

Such was the technology of the races that entire star systems were destroyed in the fighting. First there was the star of Yahhada, which was turned supernova by the Starburners as the retreated from the forces Arr^yak. Next came Akklomaon of the Rakkashat, which was destroyed by the Infinites during the battle of the Arweran Gate. Incensed with rage the Rakkashat turned their entire forces on great Arr^yak itself which was destroyed after a century of fighting. This led to a counter attack by the navy of Arr^yak against the surviving worlds of the Rakkashat, which were all destroyed. But those Arr^yak did not realise that they had left their own worlds open to attack - the Starburners broke through the Infinites and slaughtered every last of Arr^yak they found. Upon this, the two opposing armies prepared for the final battles.

But little did any of the races realise that the last great power of the Galaxiki, the Dark of Catharlon, the ancient enemies of the Infinites, were manipulating them. They had tricked the four others into fighting, in an attempt to take control of the Galaxiki themselves. And so they pushed the final pieces, as their armies prepared to fight the other, weaker races of Mahkyat and Hollbron.

The war ended in three final battles, the battle of Kluan, the first battle of Endings and the battle of the Six Lands. The Six Lands saw the victory of the Arr^yak over the Rakkashat, who were made extinct upon their defeat. Without their allies, the Starburners withdrew to their homeland to try and defend. And thus the great battle of Kluan began. After 20 years of battle the Arr^yak and Infinites seemed on the verge of victory, but then the Starburners released the Thunder Child. This was a doom entity created from the joining of advanced biological engineering, an entity of enormous power from a different dimension, and the ruined remains of their homeworld. With this at the head of their forces, the Starburners pushed their enemies right out of Kluan, and chased them all the way to Eternia, the Infinites's capital. There the Thunder Child consumed the planet, and the Starburners had victory in their grasp. But they were undone by the Arr^yak. As the Thunder Child approached the Endings Fort, the last stronghold of the Infinites, the last of the Arr^yak warships dived into the gaping maw of the monster, and realised their power. The Thunder Child was destroyed, but at the cost of the last of the Arr^yak race. The remaining Starburners were overcome with anger at the destruction of their greatest weapon, and attacked the remaining Infinites with all their might. But it was all for nought. The Starburners were defeated, and the few survivors fled away into the outer expanses of the galaxy.

The end of the war, the extinction of the Arr^yak and Rakkashat, as well as the virtual annihilation of the Starburners and Infinites, left a massive power gap in the Galaxiki, that both the Mahkyat and Hollbron tried to fill. But the events of the last war led to them doing this in peace, something that was intolerable to the Dark of Catharlon. Thus the Dark finally made their move. Their attack on the Mahkyat and Hollbron was devastating. Both the races homeworlds were destroyed in the first decades of the war, and defeat seemed close the two races when their last inhabited planets fell. The Infinites, shocked by the re-emergence of their old enemies, attacked the Darks, and pushed them back, saving the few remaining Mahkyat and Hollbron from extinction. They gathered up the survivors of the two races, and took them to Endings, where they prepared to make a stand.

The Second Battle of Endings was one of the bloodiest. The entire armies of the Dark attacked the small fortress. Despite the heroics of the defenders, the Dark eventually began to win through. Their great war-leader Skatharog was able to destroy the Dome of Endings, which had stood since the beginning of the Infinites. At the end, it seemed the Infinites and their allies were about to be defeated, with only a few hundred warriors left. But suddenly, the Starburners came unlooked for. Their surprise attack broke the Dark, and bought the Infinites a little time to put their last resort plan into action. The plan was thus: a few individuals would be charged with a huge amount of the inter-dimensional power that gave the Infinites their special powers. These individuals would be so powerful they could crush the Dark, and save the Galaxiki. It was decided to imbue 4 individuals from each of the races that fought the Dark.

As the power built and the 16 were charged, the Dark attacked again. The surviving Infinites and their allies made the Dark pay for every step with the blood of a thousand of their warriors, buying time for the power to charge. Eventually, however, the last Infinite fell, and the way to the 16 was open. But it was too late for the dark. Even as Skatharog was climbing up to the first of the 16, the Mahkyat became fully charged, and stuck the Dark warrior down. The 16 led the charge against the Dark, and after a thousand years of war, imprisoned the last of them in the great black hole at the centre of the Galaxiki.

At this point, the 12 (for 4 had been slain by the Dark) considered what to do. The majority of their powers had receded, but they were still phenomenally powerful. They decided to live on (as it seemed that they had been granted with eternal life) and observe the other races of the Galaxiki as they grew, and to play about a bit, if the fancy took them. These 12 became the Immortals.

They watched the rise of the 89643, and their eventual defeat by the People from Beyond. They watched the fall of the Line people. They watched as the Arrow People fought with the Minispecs. They watched as a bloody genocide was committed over the very black hole in which they had imprisoned the Dark. They watched as a desire for vengeance ripped the Galaxiki apart again. They watched as Thant brought tales of doom and plague. They watched, and laughed, and sometimes interfered.

Powers of the Immortals: The Immortals are all extremely powerful Telepaths and Telekinetics. They can also create and manipulate fire and water. They can be killed by weapons (as seen in the only Immortal death since the end of the war with the Dark), but are a good deal more resilient than an ordinary being. They will not die of old age. They can survive in space, and travel at speeds of FTL 5 without a space craft. They also have a large store of electrical power inside of them, which they can realise at any time. They can gain energy from sunlight, and can also shape shift into the form of any race. They also have the ability to create force-fields similar to those on a space craft.

The 11 surviving Immortals, grouped by race:

Mahkyat: Saffron, Pewter, Indigo and Grey
Infinites: Violet, Rainbow and Marine
Hollbron: Sapphire
Starburners: Bronze, Fuchsia and Vermillion


Authorisation Vermillion

Marrton Farak was an expert computer scientist, and even he had never seen a virus like this. Where Thant had got it, he had no idea. No one had. But he, and a team of thirty of the best computer scientists in the Alliance were working on removing it. And they were close. They had made a perfect anti-virus, and all they had to do was to put it into the computers, and the virus would be gone. Marrton walked towards the main computer console, the chip containing the anti-virus in his hand, the taste of victory in his mouth.
"Stop!"
Marrton wheeled around. It was a messenger.
"We just received this over the phyco-graph."
Marrton blinked. The phyco-graph was the telepathic communication system used only for top priority messages. He picked up the piece of paper that the message had been copied onto. He unfolded it. It read:
'All work on Anti-Virus to be ceased. Virus to be allowed to continue work. Messages on lack of progress to be sent to proper authorities. This message will be destroyed, and not mentioned to anyone. Authorisation VERMILLION.'
Marrton crumbled the piece of paper. Work had to be ceased. There was no disobeying Authorisation VERMILLION.

Asstinis Aqulin of the Allied Psychic corps glanced round the room. The others had obviously received the order too. With a flick of his will, he withdrew the mental probe that had been scouring the galaxy for Thant. Then he began to consider the message he had just received. When it had just started, he had considered that it could have been a ploy from Thant. But how could Thant know about Authorisation VERMILLION? He couldn't. Thus the orders must have been genuine. He couldn't see any sense in them though. But it wasn't his place to question orders. 'It was none of us Psychics place', he thought, looking round the room filled mainly with Wonderlanders (the most Psycicly active Ale-Turan race). After all, you couldn't argue with Authorisation VERMILLION.

Reena Freedan looked angrily at the piece of paper that had been presented to her. She was the bloody de facto leader of the entire Alliance. When she asked not to be disturbed, she shouldn't be bloody disturbed. Her deputy was perfectly capable of handling everything that came up. Why he had insisted that she see this she didn't know. She looked at the gibberish orders about giving up the search for Thant, and skipped right to the end. She wanted to see what idiot had sent this stupid phyco-graph. There was no name. There was only 'Authorisation VERMILLION'. Reena sat down heavily at her desk. After a moment she flicked on her computer, and began to send the order. Authorisation VERMILLION. Even she couldn't overrule that.

In his hideaway, Thant listend to the mental communication. Then he smiled, and let out one of his crazy laughs. It was good to know that Vermillion was on his side.


The Acts of the Immortals 1

In the nine hundred and ninety first thousandth, six hundred and fortieth year since the end of the war with the Dark, it happened that the Immortal named Pewter came to the planet of Okkloman. The people of this planet were suffering greatly under the burden of rebuilding their planets ruined surface. When Pewter, the slayer of Skathorog, destroyer of the Myyahan fleet, vanquisher of the Dark, King of the Mahkyat, and a Lord of the Immortals, came to their capital, the King of the realm bid the Immortal welcome (for in those days the Immortals were well known throughout the galaxy), and gave up his own chambers to Pewter. The people of the city catered for the Immortal, and gave him the last of the food in their stocks. The greatest artists and poets from across the land came and regaled the mighty warrior with the tales and art of their homeland. This went on for a week, until Pewter went to the King, and asked him what the purpose of this was, and what it was that the people of Okkloman wanted of him. The King replied by telling the Immortal of the reason for the ruined state of the planet's surface. It was, he explained, the fault of the Jakkanam of Qweserat, who had come to the planet seeking to conquer. The people of Okkloman had fought against the Jakkanam so fiercely that the attacking force had withdrawn. But before they had left, the King continued, they unleashed a terrible weapon upon the planet, which had caused many earthquakes and volcanoes across the planet. Upon hearing this, a great feeling of dread came upon Pewter, and he asked whether the king knew what the Jakkanam had called the weapon. They had called it the Gyyrez, the King had told him. Upon hearing this, Pewter asked for the location of Qweserat, offering in exchange secret methods of land building he had learnt from an Infinite during the early days of the wars. Upon receiving the co-ordinates, Pewter set off, alerting the Immortals Grey, Rainbow and Vermillion (the three closest to him that he could sense) to the threat as he went.

The Dark of Catharlon had in their time built many deadly and terrible weapons for use against their enemies. Most of these had been destroyed by the Immortals in the aftermath of their victory, but a few remained at large. The Gyyrez was one of these. Pewter had seen this weapon used against the Mahkyat planet of Relhetra, and was determined to find and destroy the artefact so that it was never used again.

As soon as he arrived at Qweserat, he came upon a mighty navy of nine hundred ships, which he identified as the Jakkanam fleet. Seeing that the fleet was about to go forth upon the attack, and was most likely armed with the Gyyrez, he let forth thunder and death from his ship. The nine hundred ships of the Jakkanam fleet let forth a wall of firepower, which gradually ate away at the shields of Pewter's ship. Having destroyed a fifth of his enemies, Pewter realised that he would soon be undone if he continued to fight in space. Thus he piloted his ship towards the largest ship of the Jakkanam fleet, with the intention of capturing the Gyyrex and using it on the Jakkanam ships, before destroying it. He docked upon the huge ship, and found himself face to face with the finest ten Psychics of the Jakkanam. The battle was short, Pewter easily overcame his opposition, and moved on throughout the ship. At last he came to the bridge of the ship, and found not only the Gyyrez, but also the Immortal Viridian, Victor of the battle of Rekhan, Master of the Starburners, Vanquisher of the Dark, and a Lord of the Immortals. Pewter was shocked to see his friend and ally among his enemies, and within three metres of the Gyyrez. He asked Viridian why he had not destroyed the ancient weapon, pausing only to slay three Jakkanam warriors who dared attack him. Viridian answered by explaining the fate of the Jakkanam.

The Jakkanam, he had explained, were a once mighty race. Their enlightened ways had that had made their neighbours jealous, and thus they had had joined together to attack the Jakkanam. The Jakkanam's home planet of Qweserat had been damaged beyond repair during the attack, and the vast majority of Jakkanam killed. This fleet contained the last of the Jakkanam in the Galaxiki - they had been out on training exercises when their nations enemies had attacked. They had arrived back at Qweserat to find their planet destroyed. At this point Viridian had arrived, and had taken pity on the mourning Jakkanam, and had offered the Gyyerz, which he had just recovered from a temple to the Dark God Arkfallen (who was slain by Violet during the battle of Fakkaline), and was bearing to the Immortals Citadel of Endings. He had also furnished the Jakkanam with the co-ordinates of their attackers homeworlds, so that they could better exact their revenge for the destruction of their race.

Upon this, Pewter interrupted the other Immortal, asking whether he had learned nothing from the great wars in which they had fought. Would it not have been better to go elsewhere, and rebuild their civilisation, rather than lose the last of their people to a pointless attempt to avenge themselves? When he heard this, Viridian went into a great rage, accusing Pewter of demeaning the sacrifices that the various races had made in the wars. Pewter did not deny it, and thus the two Immortals began to fight. Such a duel had not been seen since the end of the war with the Dark. The Jakkanam on the bridge were slain by the sheer Psychic power in the room. The two Immortals fought endlessly for ten days, pausing only to kill any Jakkanam who tried to intervene in the fight. But on the eleventh day of the duel, Pewter struck Viridian such a blow that the Starburner Immortal's defences were destroyed, and Viridian stood at the mercy of Pewter. But Pewter did not destroy the other Immortal. He simply encased him in Psychic bonds. After this, Pewter took the Gyyrez, and burnt it to a cinder, before casting it out into the vacuum of space. He then commandeered the Jakkanam ship's communication system, and used it to order the remaining Jakkanam to go to a specific co-ordinate location, and start a new life there. Then he left for the world of Alvrenna, were he had agreed to meet his love.

A month later, Viridian was freed by his sister Vermillion, and swore to revenge himself on Pewter for the slight. He then petitioned his sister for help, and she reluctantly agreed to help her brother in his quest.


A Powerful Pair by thegreatpl
The Person who currently called himself Trair watched the female Zion as it walked into the bar. She walked as if she owned the place. Which definitely wasn’t true. An alien called Bill Mcgrill did. Several other Zionites called over to her. But she smiled and carried on walking up to the bar. Trair followed at a distance. He also modified the body he was currently inhabiting to watch what was a large portion of the electromagnetic scale. He also modified his body to listen to any sound and sense anything else around her. He watched the entire fabric of the universe around the female. And he saw something that wasn’t there on any other Zion.

He couldn’t see a micro-bio-shunt. They were exceedingly rare in the universe, or at least that which had been explored by the People. But a few races had them. They were no where near as powerful as a shunt of the People or Minspecs, but they did open up a slight rift in space time within the head of the individual, allowing them to connect to somewhere else. All the People had one, it was something that helped them identify each other, although not always.

That meant that whatever the being was it wasn’t a Zion or a Person From Beyond. it had to be a shape shifter to appear like this. That narrowed down a lot of races. Most of the shape shifting races couldn’t produce that kind of disturbance in the space time. Trair decided to try an experiment. He turned his sensors active.

The result was immediate; she swung round trying to locate the person who was scanning her. Trair smiled to himself as her eyes settled on him. She walked along the bar straight to him, subjecting him to a similar scanning.

“Well this is interesting. I didn’t expect to meet anyone interesting here” she said as she sat on a barstool next to him.
“You too are an enigma. I had no expectations on meeting someone with power like yours here” Trair replied.
“What’s your name? Mine’s Saffron” she asked.
“ “ Trair said. Saffron blinked several times.
“All that?” she asked. Trair nodded. “Wow. I didn’t know anyone used names like that. In fact, I didn’t think any race used interstellar communication frequencies as their name, let alone part of it”
“Several use those frequencies to communicate, although I don’t think there are any within this galaxy”
“And then your name has parts all over the electromagnetic scale. And every sound frequency.” She was really interested now.
“As do several of my race. At the moment I am using the name Trair.”
“You are obviously a shape shifter. Don’t worry I won’t ask for your real form. As long as you don’t ask for mine” she grinned, cheekily. She also winked at him.
“For all you asking I wouldn’t be able to provide anyway. It has been along time since any of us has used our original forms. Alas, it seems that the original races are no longer interesting to most of us, including me.” Trair replied.
Saffron seemed surprised by this. She turned and stared at the Zion sitting next to her. The Barmen had stopped pretending not to listen and now was listening intently. He was interested in the conversation. It wasn’t every day you had what were obviously very powerful psychics in his bar, and both of them shape shifters at that.
“What is your races story then? I’m afraid I may not be able to tell you mine, but I will have the rest of the local people of my race listen in, and then we will vote whether or not to tell you.” Trair asked.
Saffron began to tell Trair about her people and race. And about how she was one of 16 warriors. How she was one of the surviving eleven.

After she had finished a vote was taken by the local People. They agreed to tell her about their own race.
“My people have agreed to tell you something about my people. We are the People From Beyond, and we are native to several galaxies far from here. Apart from these ‘home Galaxies’ we allow our members to visit and take the form of any species within 14 galaxies. We explore, find new races, imitate them for a while, and then move on. We even have found a way to ‘cheat’ the FTL limits, although the power requirements for the transference of even one person is as much as the entire fusion output of that star and maybe more, or maybe slightly less. I never really paid attention to the network anyway. It is pretty much almost instantaneous for the person being transferred, although there can be a time delay up to a year. The problem is you often have to make a request to transfer months or even years before you can do so. This is because both ends of the transference must have their controlling computers aligned and they both must have enough processing space at the same time, which can be difficult to arrange. I know one person who was waiting 8 years for clearance to transfer, although I have heard of longer.” Trair smiled at the memory.

“But what about military protection? Surely your civilisation must have military protection.” She asked.
“We do have a navy, but it doesn’t have that many ships. A while ago it took care of a race in this galaxy, when one of our scouts spotted a robotic fleet on a mission to wipe out all life. At the time there was a firm interference atmosphere, and sop we came and stopped them. We imprisoned them on a planet where they would be protected. They called themselves the 89643.”
“That was you?” asked Saffron interested.
“Yes, it took our fleet 28 years to reach the edge of the galaxy though, and then another 40 to reach and find any of the 89643, and we were going at FTL9. It was fortunate that that fleet was on manoeuvres in this direction anyway, or else it would have taken longer. I myself went with that fleet and helped destroy the 89643. Few of our People come here because we decided this galaxy needed to recover. It would take at least 50 years for ships from our nearest base to reach the edge of this galaxy, and then it would take time to get anywhere when it got here. It would also only be a few ships.

They talked throughout most of the evening; they both liked each other. After the bar had closed they went to a hotel. The sex was brilliant for both of them, mostly because they both shapeshifted into some of the most sensuous creatures and races in the galaxy, and then some.
* * *
Bill had several drinks after the two customers left. He didn’t like half of what they had told each other. If it was all true they might be in real trouble. He didn’t like to think about gods, but to be told that there were at least 11 of them that lived in the flesh was very worrying. He had enough to deal with without knowing that on the other side of the Core was a race of Evil beings that could be set free upon the galaxy.


The Return (of the Shadow)

It was night when the presence came to Awana. It fled across the planets mighty forests, towards the smallish mountain range in the north. As it flew, it thought only of it's pursuers. The wounds that covered the presence's body gave it no pain, only annoyance at the way they sapped at it's powers. As it saw the mountains rise up over the horizon, the presence risked using a little more of it's powers to increase it's speed. It felt another stab of annoyance as it's pursuers did likewise. It considered turning around and facing it's enemies down, but discarded the idea. Even in it's crippled state it could have defeated at least twenty of them, but it knew that two hundred was beyond it in it's weakened state. Silently, it located the being who had hit it in the back, causing the lapse of concentration that had led to the injuries. If the presence was forced to make a stand, it would at least make sure that that one died

It's physical form was that of a Hollbron, and had originally belonged to the powerful Psychic who had first created the presence. It was about the average height of a Hollbron, standing at about 5ft 8, with pitch black hair. The skin might have been the normal pinkish once, but it was now pale white. The eyes were glazed, and stared ahead blankly. The body look like a newly dead corpse, which is understandable, since that was what it was. Newly dead for more than three thousand years. No blood came from the gashes that covered the body. Instead, shadows seemed to seep from the wounds, turning the dark Awana night completely black for miles around.

Below the presence, the forests of Awana began to peter out, as the presence came to the small mountain range that was the only place of any height on the planet, other than the mountains in the south. The presence had a clear memory of coming here before - it had been created in a cave in these very mountains, but hadn't been here for over two and a half thousand years. It hoped it could still find the cave. The mountains of the planet began to fall again, and give way to the ice of Awana's north pole. The presence considered turning back to look for the cave again, but then it saw it. The mountain had been covered in ice, blocking the mouth of the cave, but that was not a problem for the presence. It simply smashed through the icy covering, and strode deeper into the cave.

It was once a well known fact that when any seriously heavy duty Psychic force is realised, it leaves a trace. With the Psychics of those ancient days, that power came from a link to another dimensional plane, and thus the trace was a weakness in the walls that separated the two dimensional planes. The presence knew this. It also knew that it's own creation had caused a weakness of massive proportions. And, furthermore, it knew how to harness that weakness to rebuild it's powers, and increase them. The presence walked to the weakness, punched through the trans-dimensional barriers, and began to draw power.

The first of the pursuers reached the cave, and walked boldly in. There it saw the presence. And the presence saw the pursuer. The resulting battle was short, and resulted in the complete destruction of the pursuer. As the presence drew more and more power, the other pursuers arrived, and died. The presence continued to draw power even after the last of them were dead. It wanted power, and lots of it.

As it continued to draw power, the presence was satisfied. The finest of the Infinites were dead at it's hand. It was mildly annoyed that it had not been able to identify the Infinite who had hit it in the back earlier, but it assured it's self that the Infinite had died along with it's fellows. That was it's fatal mistake.

The Infinite was unsure about how to kill the presence. It was taking in so much power, that there was no way that it could be bested in a fight. In fact, the Infinite reckoned that it was as powerful as the entire surviving order. Which made it essential that it was killed. There was no way. The Infinite began to walk towards the cave, to meet it's fate, but tripped over a crack in the mountain. It stopped it's fall with an execration of Telekinetic power, but then fell to it's knees, and examined the crack. There was no way. Or was there?

In the cave, the presence finished drawing out to power, and prepared to leave. Then it noticed the rumbling. It looked round curiously, wondering where it was coming from. It looked at the roof. Realisation struck. It ran towards the cave mouth with Psychic assisted speed. It was to slow. The entire cave collapsed down on the presence's head.

It was once a well known fact that when any Psychic who had power from another dimension within them died, the internal gateway to the dimension would collapse. This would leave the power within the body, uncontained by the deceased's mind, with nowhere to go, and thus it would promptly release it’s self. With a normal Psychic, this would burn up the deceased's body, and maybe burn up some furniture. In extremely powerful cases towns, or even cities, have been destroyed by this release. In the case of the death of the presence, the entire northern mountain range was blown apart. Shockwaves flattened acres of the forest, and super hot shrapnel set the rest alight. As the forest burned, the plants and animals died, or, in the case of a type semi-intelligent lizard, fled underground. The Infinite watched as the fires burned for three months. It regretted the destruction, but it had been necessary for the protection of the entire Galaxiki. As the fires burned out, it left.


The surface of Awana never really recovered. Today it is a massive desert right round the planet. Life, however, had thrived underground. Sentient life had evolved - a race known as the Mananians. They mined the south of the planet, which was covered in huge mountains. And, of course, there were geologists. And eventually, those geologist noticed something strange about a patch of desert in the north of the planet, and went to investigate, setting up a base. Unable to gleam anything from the surface, they extended a tunnel down. The their surprise, they came a cave. So they built a lift, and sent a team down to investigate.

The last communication from the geologist base was one reporting that they had lost contact with the team, but that the lift was coming up, so it was probably okay. After that, there were nor further messages from the base, and no responses. After a month, a team of Police was sent to investigate. They found the bodies of the team. There was only one survivor, who was clearly insane - babbling on about being attacked by shadows. Curiously, there were no marks on the corpses, and no evident cause of death. The base's camera systems seemed to have failed, the records all blank. Also, two bodies were not recovered, but there were no tracks leading away from the base.

The Mananians of the village congregated for a town assembly. No one was sure who had called it, but they went anyway. They knew somehow that it was incredibly important. The Mananian congregated around the stage in the centre of the town, and waited for someone to get up and talk. They didn't have to wait long. Suddenly the stage was covered in dark shadows, that seemed to thicken around a point in the centre of the stage. After a few minutes, there was a pillar of swirling darkness in the middle of the stage. Some of the Mananians considered running, but found that they couldn't bring themselves to look away from the darkness. And then, just as suddenly as the shadows had appeared, the pillar of darkness appeared to split open, and out stepped a being.

The Mananians didn't know that this being's body had been made from the elements of the corpses of two Mananian geologists. They also didn't know what exactly the body was. Those of them who had seen a Zionite reckoned it looked like one of that race, without the wings. But most weren’t looking at the body it's self - they were looking at the body's eyes, or rather, the space were the body's eyes should have been. Instead, there were holes, looking into a impenetrable darkness.

Then it spoke:
"Greetings friends. I am," it paused, considering, "the Shadow, and I can bring you redemption."

It smiled. It had been dead for too long.


The Return of the Servants

Deep in the caves of Awana, the Shadow prepared for the task at hand. The two bodies he had prepared, one Mananian peasant and one Zionite officer, were lying on a large stone slab, carved with ancient ruins. These weren't really necessary, but the Shadow knew the need for ceremony.

The four guards shivered inadvertently as the empty eyes of the Shadow flicked to them. Then all four bowed. The black holes may have been unnerving, but the Shadow was the saviour of the Galaxiki, so you needed to show him respect.
"Go now" Ordered the Shadow, in his faint, almost lyrical voice. The guards quickly left the room. They didn't want to be to closely involved in what was about to happen.

When the four Mananians had left, the Shadow sent out his mind. Flicking from place he searched for the planets he wanted. He was irritated at how much the Galaxiki had changed. He had gleamed a lot of knowledge from the minds of the various scholars and academics that he had come across, but there was still much he didn't know. One thing he did know was that there were still beings in the Galaxiki who knew who he was, and wouldn't welcome his return. Immortals, they called themselves, but the Shadow knew that they were Infinites by another name, and he wasn't ready to face them yet. He also knew that he would have to enter the very heart of their power. But not yet. First he needed Belakforus, or whatever they called it nowadays.

After seven hours of searching, he found the planet. New Selian, they called it. It took him another three hours of searching to find the correct place on the planet. Then he began the most difficult thing he had ever done. He began to draw together the broken remains of a mind that had been shattered millions of years ago. Such things couldn't be rushed, so it took another ten hours for the Shadow to complete the work. With the completed mind in his grasp, he returned his own mind to the cave, and deposited the fruit of his labours into the body of the Zionite officer. The body coughed violently, and rose, it's eyes looking around franticly. A smile flitted across the face of the Shadow, as it spoke in the ancient language of Arr^Yak.
"Welcome Catharlon. Welcome back to the land of the living."

It took longer than expected for Catharlon to adjust to being alive again, but after three days he was ready to help his master in his next task.

This time the Shadow knew exactly where he was going. He arrived at the binary stars of Celestial and The Heavens, and waited for the les powerful presence of Catharlon to catch up with him. When his servant had arrived at the star, he sent out a quiet mental call:
~You will cover our traces, as I do the work~
~As you wish master~
As the minds approached the small planet known in the old days as Endings, the Shadow sent out barely detectable tendrils of consciousness, searching the planet for powerful minds. He found the presence of only one Immortal, which was a relief, and about fifty lesser presences. He left out the mental equivalent of a sigh of relief (which was quickly absorbed by Catharlon). This would be easier than he expected.

The work took about as long as before. The work was marginally slower, due to the need to remain undetected, but the mind the Shadow was bringing together was not as intelligent as Catharlon, and thus easier to put together (as well as being smaller). So, after ten hours, the mind of Skatharog was being brought back to Awana, where it was entered into the body of the Mananian.

And so it was that two of the three great servants of the old Dark were brought back into the service of their old master (albeit in a new form), after all three had been dead for millions of years. But the Shadow still needed one more of his old servants for his plan, the only problem being that this one wasn't dead.

Ten years later, a small Mananian freighter docked at the small Umbran space station that orbited the great black hole at the centre of the Galaxiki. The crew proceeded to the bar, with a generous gift from the passengers. The passengers them selves went to the nearest air lock, and realised themselves into space.
~So this is the great Morta^Aklan~ sent Skatharog, ~I've never seen it before~
~I believe that it's known as 'the Core' nowadays~ commented Catharlon, before switching his attention to the Shadow, ~And it's here were Sardana and the other survivors are, master?~
~Yes. And the time had come to release them~



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