Brotherhood of Ercedia

That familiar thrill
-Adam Dardell

After my initial excitement about this whole process abated, I thought that I would have to make a choice of stealing this ship or going ahead with it. I really really did not count on Naraia. Gah that woman. She is so familiar. It is like Karissa is here. Its like Evelyn is here. I don’t know, maybe it is a sign. Anyway, she doesn’t act like any UF felt I have ever met. She doesn’t treat anyone any particular way until they shoot first. I am pretty sure most people would have tried to kill Des, but she gave him a nickname and purpose. Most p… yeah you get it. I don’t hate her. I don’t think she has a personal agenda. She wants her husband back. She wants her friends safe. She wants freedom after that. Justice, peace, virtue, all that stuff. She is like a veritable paladin. And then there is Cara.

Poor Cara. I can see it in her eyes. She is tortured, horribly in pain. She doesn’t say a word. I think Naraia feels it, even without Silph. Maybe they have talked, who knows. But even as I sit here, away from my ship, away from Cara and freedom, in a “safe house” managed by eco-terrorists and activists, having just taken 2 more lives. UF ones this time. Even now, I am not worried. I feel the weight of what I have done, and what we must do, but I do not worry like I used to. I even showed them my contacts with the FFPR and pirate band, and nothing. The crew of the Blue Sky actually liked her. Sky herself LIKED Naraia. Go figure. Everyone likes her.

What I am worried about though, are these new UF dunders that have been welcomed aboard. They are too naive. Too stupid to see they are being used. I cannot abide stupid, and I am so protective of the ship. And Raia. And Cara. And even Des. AARRGGH. Why must we take such risks! I am fairly certain I am the only one of the crew that knows the horrors that exist there, out way out there in the black. Well, Ryler does too by now. If he is still alive. The way Raia talks about him, I am not sure but I think I would very much like him. In a small part of my heart I have a different wish, but that is for a very different time. Different, sadder, more likely circumstances. I would feel terrible if they were ever voiced. But then again, will any of us make it out of here?

Then again… Maybe. We don’t have a plan. But there is enough passion in this crew, if we were too pool together… Yeah. I think we would be a bunch of idiots, hopeful aimless idiots. But formidable. Terrifying to go against. Heh. Just like the legends. If we could pick up a wraith and… some kind of wild card… Yeah. That would be a team I could invest in. Assuming that Raia is in charge still, and not this Capt Karrick. Freakin vid star. Him and his country doctor.

Outside the streets are empty. Its pretty well lit thanks to the recent rain and the… are the roads cobblestone? Who does that anymore? I guess they aren’t used heavily anyway. But anyway, the streetlights dull glow is giving me some serious nostalgia. It is almost time for Raia to take watch, but I might take another after this one. Let her take morning watch. I might… pray. If I remember how. That familiar thrill of being behind the scope, that brings me back. I can’t handle the flood of emotion. Shine on the spot, teaching as he calls out orders. The kick of the rifle over and over and over and over until it was part of his body motion, until it was reflex, until the ammo boxes piled up around him. Until… It was second nature. The calculation had been so simple. The car going straight.. the headlights… the kick.. the thrill…

Some Sons of Andar have arrived, I am going to check it out.
-AD

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Conquest Immeasurable
-???

The stench of blood was oppressive. A useless function, smell, he thought. His broad form picked his way through the many-fingered hands slowly dragging the cumbersome drik
great lengths to attach them to their belts, carrying the struggling Dulani captive without effort. He again thought it would be better to bleed them first, if they could. They wouldn’t struggle as much that way. It just didn’t mix well if they did that. He turned off his olfactory senses and picked his way through the once-human drik as they were pressed into the slowly spinning belts that methodically stripped them layer, by layer. The mixture had to be just right, apparently, or the Pristine Ones would refuse it, and they would have to start over. The screaming began to grate on his nerves, so he shut off his hearing too. He wouldn’t have need of it for now. The sight didn’t bother him. Not nearly as much as the loss of one of the rings.

One of these pathetic creatures would have aided in its capture. The… human that took it was not enhanced. They should never have been able to.. they were far too lucky. He ground his teeth so hard one of them cracked and bled. He would fix it later. One of the drik reached out and took hold of his boot, one of the clasps had come loose allowing her hand to come free, and he resisted the urge to crush her harder into the belt. They had to be replaced enough as it was and the material of the belts was hard to weave. Instead he just waited as bits of hair caught under her ruined face and slowly dragged her teeth and bone into the grinding belt, and she lost consciousness. With mild annoyance he shook his boot free. To think he had once been one of these pathetic creatures. No. He had never been one of THEM. The Coven had helped him long before he had chosen to serve the Immeasurable. These pathetic creatures were primitive. He was power. He could see things as they were, not colored by petty emotion or lower wishes.

He reached the end of the belts, to the greyish red pool of liquid slowly pouring from the many drip-trays of the belts. He knelt, one hand cupping the falling liquid and bringing it to his lips. The taste was sharp, sweet, and metallic. The aftertaste was pleasantly bitter. And the flood of lightning in his blood that traveled to his brain was exquisite. The Immeasurable and the Pristine Ones would be pleased. A tap on his shoulder caused him to reengage his hearing and turn about, face to face with a Devourer. Its wraps of skin and wriggling feelers parted in its face as a low hiss whistled through sharpened crushed teeth. This one’s mouth was askew, almost vertical on its face, and through the lower corner black mucous oozed from the fold. Its reminder was clear. Where was his ring?

“It is in the hands of a child. I will retrieve it.”

It roared, seizing violently with its whole body so much that it began to split apart at the mouth, the head separating into two hemispheres of broken but razor-sharp teeth, hundreds of rows deep and small serpentine tongues winding their way through the mess. This was the last image almost any other human ever saw of the Devourer. The message was clear. “Go now” it was saying. The overt threat was unnecessary, and he was unafraid of the Devourer. The being who sent it however—that he was terrified of. He would return with the ring, or die trying.

He dropped the young Dulani near the pool for the Devourer and walked back toward his ship. Behind him the screams and ravenous crunching meant the Devourer was no longer watching him leave, and he relaxed. Not what the Dulani girl had been meant for, but it would do. He kept his gaze ahead, not looking to the side at the lines of naked, terrified humans in cages nearby watching him. Some of them with hate, some with hope and calls for help as he passed them. He turned off his hearing again. They will be drik soon enough he thought to himself as he climbed into the ship and set a course for Helt.

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Darklight Dreams
-Journal of Erene Fletcher

The dreams have gotten worse. Big masses of flesh, writhing on the ground like so many worms, but all the same bloody creature, squelching and sucking at things above with tiny mouths that protrude, metal and bone broken and reused in nightmarish faces of knotted hair and convulsing, humanoid shapes being birthed from ribbed, wet, canals of tiny-spiked walls and dripping in gore.
I see them in my waking hours, but never at night. It is almost as if something wishes to communicate while I am conscious. I say something, but I know what it is. Correlion. I can feel them now across space. I understand now why.

The Kryp that sought my life, the ones I hid from, the ones I stole from, the ones I cut up and implanted in my very arms… They were some sort of Lieutenants of the One who Hides. And their enriched skin and talons were not gifts from him. They were stolen secrets of the Correlion. The sins of the Directive again come to play across our floors, stealing our homes and resources. And in their blood— and somewhat in mine— Correlion DNA. Well, not DNA, but whatever the structure of their proteins is called. CNA. Whatever. At least the rash and itching have gotten better.

The Brotherhood is being attacked now in federal courts. Again they are being branded terrorists and vigilantees. Eh. They are partially right. It is not for us to bow to a sovereign not our own. We will not be ruled. There is some talk of Arcane sending a delegation. They will soon bend knee to these invaders. I would venture a guess of two years before all humanity, all of Heltkind are (legally) under the Halcyon. The Brotherhood is packing up. Between the legal battles and actual attacks on safehouses we have almost nowhere left to go. There will be a massive attack on the coordinated defense grid before we go. Leadership thinks that if we try to leave peacefully we will be shot out of the sky. I agree. That is basically what happened to the Underborn— someone really wants them dead for some reason.

Eirika is making great strides with command apparently. I hope she will be alright in the flagship, but I am sure she would feel more at home in space anyway. Amber on the other hand is staying with me. We will be leaving first to destroy part of the grids and recruit some sort of Specialist that goes by the name of “Red Fox”. We will see how THAT pans out. Meanwhile we received information by way of a long-range scan (or actually a UF scan we sort of hijacked) that one of the escape pods from… whatever that ship was called… was picked up a couple weeks ago by the UFI Destroyer Atimeus. I have to figure out a way to infiltrate. Also Naraia should know. I need to make contact with her anyway, but I am afraid the signal will be traced. Adam hasn’t been keeping in touch like he was supposed to. Perhaps she found out and didn’t take it well, but that seems unlikely.

Two more days until the delegation leaves. Two days until the Weapon is moved. Two days until our coordinated attack. And Two days until the Brotherhood of Ercedia once again becomes enemies of the St… world. Universe? At least most of it. And two days before I can safely contact anyone. I wish dad were here.

I guess I’ll clean my guns again.
-E.F.

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Last message
-Brenner McTaggart

{recording_begin}
“Hey, ma…
“Hurry up Brenner.”
“Ron, transmit message upon completion, to be logged if no further input in six hours.”

[understood]
{VIR.hour_mark=6, set ; transmit ==false, hourcount() .run}

“No one is more relieved than me to be off that stinking pile of fleshy rock, but Ryler here is probably pretty close. Still, it won’t fade in the rear mirror, still looming like a great ogre ready to devour us the moment we cut thrust. Lids or whatever the can-opener’s name is has been a lifesaver, and I am grateful he found us when he did. He wanted to stay behind, but now that he has nothing to hold him there he is just as much a refugee as the rest of us.

“The remnants of the Brigandine were the key after all. Its hard to justify what I know now, from the man I was then, the men I knew. Maylle. Gods dance on your grave Ericcson you devilish melon-head. It is truly astounding how brash the buggers were then, and only bolder now. Oh Blight, I’m talkin like him now. Its infectious, his accent.

“The blockade looms afore us, like some sentinel of winding fences. The Macetail winds through the stars like Fafnir climbin the rocks, and us with no Regin. And yet, for all the worry on Rain’s face he seems like what is before us doesn’t matter. Like we are going to our deaths, but theres worse somewhere else.

“Well, I guess ther is worse. But not for us. One way or another this ends here. We won’t be made puppets of flesh and string, and we wont become spore-fodder. No Kryp to tear open the hull, just laser and metal and force. Those I can embrace.

“Oh gods they are powering weapons.

“Samantha Maylle, if you are out there, know that I loved you…”

{end_transmission}
[Brenner?]
{hour_mark=1, false}
{hour_mark=2, false}
{hour_mark=3, false}
{hour_mark=4, false}
{hour_mark=5, false}
{hour_mark=6, true}

{running upload(transm81117.1122), finished}

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She is alive.
-Journal log of Ryler Rain

Lidztan-onaav helped me access the equipment in the Terminal station at great risk, but it was worth it. I was able to call out. Poor Brenner was so paranoid he made me keep him out of it, but he did come up with the stupid (brilliant) idea to use Pirate’s Cant to reach out for her. Some punk named Adam answered. Apparently Raya is captain of a ship called the Nighthawk? She knows I am alive, so hopefully she won’t take anymore stupid risks to find me, and will stick to mildly suicidal risks to save the world. I know her too well.

It is good to see her taking charge. She is a fantastic leader. They will do well. I can remember her in training, so fearlessly stubborn, but dedicated to the rules. I wish I knew about her other companions. I think she said Des was with her. That is a relief.

I told her about List. I am beginning to suspect he thinks I am calling him Lidzt but I am not. His name is List now. It makes me smile.
Heh.
What I wouldn’t give to see her smile again.

-Ryler.

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Cara
Somewhere in Bluemont

Cara slipped out of her nightdress and stepped into the shower, passing her hand over the panel and selecting “warm”. She gasped as cold water washed over her ivory skin, but it warmed quickly. Against the freezing cold of the massive house, the warm was so welcome that she actually smiled. She stared straight up, letting the steaming water run down her throat and chest and over her folded hands she held just over her heart. She glanced at the man still facing her from the tub across the room. This was the first time she had been in a residence where the bath tub and the shower were separate, and she was going to take advantage of it. As her hands stopped shaking, she rubbed them together until the feeling returned. Satisfied, she turned around and began washing the blood out of her hair.

Once clean, she left the water running, just to be rebellious. Still dripping, she picked up her nightdress and walked across the shag rug, digging her toes into the soft carpet. It seemed new. If she ever had a house she would have shag carpet. She stepped over the bathroom door into the bedroom, moved to the dresser, and began opening drawers. She selected a plain brown shirt, simple pants, and squished each pair of socks until she found the fluffiest. She smiled as they went on her feet. She would have to be careful where she stepped now or they would get soaked. Now dressed, she looked back at the man, still staring lifelessly at the shower and put her hands on her hips. The blood was all over the bed and the bathroom floor, there was no way to clean that up. Besides, she just got clean.

Her gaze drifted to the nightstand, and the keys that sat upon it. Perfect. She picked up the keys and began rummaging through the drawers until she found the man’s lighter. It was a real shame about the bed, it was so soft and downy comforters were so rare, but they probably burned well. She lit a fire on the bed and turned to the balcony. She shook her head at the private pump there. What reclusive fool would put a fuel pump on the upper story of his house? She started the pump, knowing that it would only run a little before it required the man to authorize more, and she wasn’t in the mood for removing thumbs or dragging bodies. She put a little in the tank of the shuttle there, barely a puddle jumper in size. She then coiled the hose around the rear strut, and got in.

She threw the nightdress in the back and started the engine. She knew the jumper wouldn’t take her far, but it didn’t need to. She just needed to pick up Sam and get out of there. Rumor was… there was an old observatory somewhere up north, in the mountains of all places. She smiled as she tied her wet hair into a loose ponytail, reached for the safety harness, and engaged the engines, cutting the gas line of the pump and spewing fuel into the landing pad and into the house.

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New Dispatch
-Brenner McTaggart

It has been three months since I was cleared to go home. I don have one, but I was released anyway. I was certain I would never set foot on a shuttle again. I still hear the breathing and see the red eyes in the pitch sometimes when I have the lights off at night. No one in the UF believed somethin was there. I figured they were right and I had gone a wee bit mad and decided to build meself a quiet cabin near Nonnie’s Lake. I was darned proud of that slab too.

Till thirteen days ago when my fishing was so rudely interrupted.

I’ve accepted a new station, and everything they have told me. Apparently there is work that needs dunne. I don know if what these lads say is true is true or nae but theres war on the horizon and fightin is in my blood. So I will fight. Tomorrow I go back into one of those forsaken bathtubs and won’t unfreeze till we get to our deployment. I don like the thought of giving up and runnin away so we can come back swingin later, but I plan to swing like a mabear when I return. These new Brotherhood boys don’t seem to mind my occasional seein ghosts, and I don mind they play off-book. It was the brass that left me frozen and called me mad, and if they refuse to let me fight, then call me a pirate! You cannot keep a McTaggart DOWN!

-Brenner

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Waking in me own sick.
The Journal of Brenner McTaggart

I’ve been in stasis gel for a long time, I can tell cause the sens’tive parts are startin to chafe and the headache is massive. As much as it made the retching worse the floor smelling so distinctly of disinfectant and vomit helped me feel more at home I think, even as I knelt on the floor of the stasis room. Almost all of my sick drained through the grate below me—I don’t know that there were any solid foods in there. Its been months since I ate. And oh how I hankered to eat.

Tomorrow. My body will be better’nough tomorrow to eat. Blight the sun. I almost died. I cannau hold the pen and me voice is bout lost from the dictation so ill away. talk more later.
-Brenner

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Salvage Recovery
-Zack Dankirk, Engineer Report

>>Start Recording. ID Zack Dankirk, First engineer’s report aboard ELD Juror.

>Aah, Salvage consists of a recovered escape craft, apparently Ercedian or UF, of unknown designation. I assume something befell the parent craft, but curiously no logs nor beacon can be recovered to provide clues. A datapad was recovered, smashed to bits but still recoverable. It appears that whatever was recorded was wiped clean however, most likely within the last couple days. I do see several communiques were sent and self-erased. Impressive work. Perhaps the tablet of an intelligence operative.

>The craft itself is intact. Some minor damage outside, perhaps from debris scoring the plate as it passed, it is hard to tell. It almost looks deliberate.

>It will take us a moment to assess the status of the only survivor, but at first glance I would say that sensory deprivation worked heavily on him before he expired. He remains strapped to the back, an apparent jam in the belt causing the mechanism to stick, but some relaxation of force on the upper body removed the jam. It appears the subject attempted to put on a pressure suit while he was wearing the straps, and has worked his fingers raw in doing so. the suit is mostly on his legs and partially over his torso, but it is clamped over the strap in several places and it looks like he did little more than get the helmet and gloves on. There is a radio on the floor, dashed to pieces. Intentionally it looks like, and further intentional damage to the pad and screen, like reported previously.

>>PAUSE RECORDING

>Alright… The doctor has deemed the subject alive though he appears catatonic. Further inquiry will be made. No further information can be gathered at this time.

>>END RECORDING

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Followed
-Emirek Silva

ENCRYPTION15-P

>>Someone was reading all my logs over 150 characters. I don’t know how many were read or how they got past the encryption, but I spent 30,000 creds for a better one. I have a VI cyclic key with down to the second verification. I have to put my passwords in several times and in various ways and it is designed to reject it the first time I get it right. Hopefully this will keep whoever-it-is OUT.

>>I have been officially open-quote reassigned close-quote. unofficially I have been fired. I don’t know what everything has been trout but I do know that something in this whole mess was monitored by higher ups WAY up the chain. I left before I could disappear. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but I said my findings to my wife’s brother in the resistance so if it comes to it and I am wrong, then at least I have put it in better hands. I know I am not the most clever man, but I know something is going on. And I know UFI knows about it.

>>I have been waiting outside this agent’s office for about an hour. He set me down and asked me not to wander off. I am smart enough not to. The fact that I got in to UFI in the forst place tells me I am on the right track. Hopefully auld melon head does something with the information. I plan to make my cake and demand protection. Beamin Jerome was just here a moment ago, and for me a couple questions and warned me to not record outloud anymore. He asked trimly quiet about the pod. He played music. Don’t know what thats about, but I bet he doesn’t have this encryption. My recording is safe. They are calling me in. I guess I will send a copy of this to Layla. for safekeeping. or leverage. yeah.>>[end recording.]

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