The Eldar Confederacy is comprised of seventeen habitable worlds in the Beta Quadrant of the Galaxy. Several decades after the destruction of Ithilian, the Dominion began the process of racial discrimination in order to systematically force the elves into reservations while Cain took control over the worlds they once dwelled. The elven worlds were long since known to be full of wonderful resources, and like any greedy politician, Cain wanted his hands on them. The end result: a century long sequestering process that forced most of the elf population to their current corner of the galaxy.
For a great time, the elves fought against this apartheid. Some sought political solutions. Others, more often than not, sought military solutions. The elven worlds were not unified, though, and to attempt to fight the united forces of the Sol Dominion yielded little success. Those who fought were often killed, leaving the survivors to pack up and ship out in shame and fear. A race once known for its majesty and might was slowly beaten into submission, a faint shadow of the power it once knew before the rise of Cain and the Dominion.
Eight hundred years ago, the planets that were designated as elven reservations finally unified and sought political independence from the Dominion. In exchange for tax revenues and the right to maintain garrisons within Confederacy borders, Cain allowed the elves to form their own political body for governing their worlds. The elves, happy to have a step towards renewed freedom, took this deal graciously and the Eldar Confederacy was born. Some thought it was the path towards total independence, yet over time, those leading the Confederacy lost interest in such independence, worried solely about keeping what power they had, along with keeping their pockets full. The politicians that once talked of complete liberation from the Dominion no longer concerned themselves with such issues.
After many years, dissent began to grow within the Confederacy. There was a younger generation of elves that yearned for independence from the Dominion and a return to the glory that the elder had once known. Those who sought progress began to push for freedom. The Confederacy Senate saw a growing number of younger elves elected by the freedom yearning masses and a period of great political turmoil began. It was this growing political nightmare that the Eldar were faced with today.
-A Treatise on the Eldar Confederacy
Hallas Forsyth paced rapidly about the room, nearly tripping over the chair he was sitting in a few minutes ago. He cast worried glances to the two other elves in the room. One was female, still young for an elf (thirty or forty?). Her hair was caught somewhere in the decision of whether to be blonde or brunette; it extending past her shoulders and flowed over the back of her chair. The other was an older elf with wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. His hair was darker and thinning (both wrinkles and thinning hair are not traits that elves acquire until they are well into their third millennia of life).
This is ludicrous, he said, finally settling his glance on the female. Siria, you cant possibly be serious. He was tall, though not particularly so for an elf. His light brown hair was tied in a pony tail that reached just passed his shoulders. His amber eyes were bright with intelligence, though at the moment it was clear that they were also occupied with fear.
Hallas, you know its the only option, Siria said calmly. The Senate will never change its ways unless we motivate it.
Youre a daughter of the house of Antioch, Hallas reminded her, narrowing his eyes. And youre abusing your position for the sake of the Movement.
It will only work if it is someone in my political position, Hallas, Siria said. Do you think the senate would reconsider its position for the kidnapping of a common girl? Of course not! Youre just letting your personal feelings in the matter get in the way of our goals. Hallas bit his lip and gave her a hurt glance before turning to the other male.
Ranagorn, you cant possibly agree with this plan, Hallas argued.
I think it would move us in the right direction, the elf called Ranagorn responded. Our little group is picking up momentum. Soon, well be able to attack the Dominion garrisons outright.
Then let us just do that! Hallas said. Theres no need to put Siria in unneeded danger!
There needs to be pull from both sides, Hallas, Siria said. You know it and you know that Cyrius knows it, too.
And since when do we listen to Cyrius blindly, anyway? Hallas said.
Youre the Swordmaster, not me, Siria said, a bit of annoyance in her voice. I just do what I believe will help our cause.
Complete independence and a return to the Golden Age yes, I know, Hallas said. But why we have to go about the process of having you kidnapped as opposed to just faking it is still beyond me.
It has to be believable, Ranagorn said. And itll push the Senate to at least consider the matter. After all, what else could they do but seek retribution? Despite the growing lethargy among the ruling families, they remain elves just the same. When faced with a disgrace such as kidnapping, and when the Dominion inevitably denies responsibility, the elves will mobilize. Well see war again.
And who says were ready? Hallas said.
Cyrius hasnt lead us wrong in the past, lad, Ranagorn said. Hallas considered this, finally sitting down again and seeming to admit defeat.
Ill let it be known that I dont like this idea, he said bitterly. But you make a point, Ran Cyrius hasnt lead us astray before. I just he looked over to Siria, who seemed slightly upset at her abrupt victory. I just dont want anything to happen to you. He clasped her hand in his. Not after all weve already been through. Im not losing you now.
Itll be alright, she reassured calmly. Ranagorn nodded in approval.
Good then. he said. Now, I guess the only question is where the hell were going to find the guy to pull this off.
Cyrius wandered through the hallways of the Confederacy Capital building. No, actually, he didnt wander. Wandering has too many connotations of aimlessness movement without direction. Cyrius Nightblade never wandered. Cyrius Nightblade always walked exactly where he meant to walk.
No one knew if that was his real name. Perhaps he didnt even have a name. He was a being that exuded an air of both command and mystery. People looked at him as he passed. Some nodded their heads. Others made muffled comments to their companions of Thats Cyrius! under their breath. Real name or not, the name of Cyrius was one of the most famous in the Confederacy.
He was short for an elf, actually under six feet tall, but there was an imposing quality about him that would have been there whether he was four or four hundred feet tall. His hair was an unkempt shock of grey that reached halfway down his back, half of which hung in braids like the two that dangled in front of his ears. His face was etched in battle scars, and while his body was hidden beneath the regal blue and white robes of a Swordmaster, it was probably similarly decorated. His eyes were the color of steel, a color that matched his resolve.
He walked alongside a woman who would have also been short for an elf (really, really, short for an elf, as it was), that is, if she actually was one. Maybe only about five foot three, her wavy auburn hair cascaded nearly to her waist, framing a round face with dark red eyes and a small nose. Her garbs were different than his (slightly less royal and perhaps a bit more functional), though despite the black clothes and cape, she shared the same military markings as him in the form of a small crest on her right shoulder.
Perhaps Ariana Tenser didnt attract as much attention as Cyrius, but while she didnt look it, she was probably just as dangerous. There were very few humans allowed to function within the government of the Eldar Confederacy, let alone serve as a liaison to the Senate for the High Swordmaster himself.
The hallway that they passed through was massive. The elves on Escillian (and most Eldar worlds, for that matter) are fond of three substances in particular: crystal, glass and marble. When their buildings didnt look like they were sculpted out of single, exceptionally gargantuan columns of marble, then they were normally wonders of glasswork or marvels of crystal (architecture, as Kyrie had put it, was considered one of the truest forms of art among the elves). This hall was actually a blend of the three, the east wall and arched ceilings being made of flawless white marble, while the west wall was a mosaic of crystal and glass.
As they passed over the polished, black marble floor, Ariana delivered her report.
We received new word from the Dominion, today, Cyrius, Ariana said, holding a quick gait to keep up with him. Theyre not pleased with the increasing presence of your of our Swordmasters in their embassies. Theyre accusing you of planning revolt that their positions are not simply diplomatic. Cyrius shook his head bitterly.
Have I told you how much I hate the Dominion yet today? he asked, letting out a sigh. Are they awaiting a response?
Doesnt that go without saying? Ariana joked.
Then tell them that any movement against our diplomatic position in their embassies is a violation of the Equanimity Act of 4756. If they think they can push us around, theyre sorely mistaken. Honestly, how ignorant can they get?
Tell them everything minus that last part, I suppose.
Ariana, at this point, it might not even matter. Im fed up with their demands.
You think they suspect something?
Honestly, I cant tell if they suspect something or theyre just trying to be a pain in my ass. Ive dealt with Cain before its quite possible that its the latter. Ariana chuckled.
Speaking of pains in your ass, or at the least, the girlfriend of pains in your ass, Siria says that shes ready.
And has Hallas quit his complaining?
I still dont see why that matters.
Because I cant go about creating internal strife, he said quickly, as if he had explained it three millions times before. Our plans they require everything to work like a very well oiled machine. To create any semblance of friction, that is to say, the kind of friction that not having Hallas approval would bring about, may ruin everything. Trust me, Ariana; Ive been doing this for awhile.
Hes not that good, Ariana prodded.
No, no, Cyrius countered. Not only is he that good, but his connection with her will help the process. We need that factor working in our favor.
Im just voicing my opinion, she said. Hell, thats what you keep me around for. I wouldnt try to hold anything from happening against your will, though.
Youre very good at what you do, Cyrius said. And thats why I keep you around. Tell the Dominion that theyll have to cite better reasons that suspicion if they wish to break Intergalactic law. He put his hand to his chin. You know what? Whos active around Nova?
Eltharion and Imbrandir are the closest, Ariana said.
Send them to personally deliver the message instead of hyper-graphing it. Cains not going to be stepping on my toes or the toes of anyone in this Confederacy.
Should this be cleared with the Senate?
You know were autonomous from the Senate
These are turbulent times, Ariana cut in. Cyrius shook his head.
Ill take responsibility, he said. Just do it. She nodded.
High Swordmasters will be done, she said. By my life or death, the Towers honor shall stand.
Eldar Confederacy Space, Mid Orbit above Escillian
Theyve cleared us for atmospheric entry, Kyrie said. Shall I relinquish the controls to their slave drives?
Is there an estimated time? Duncan asked.
About two hours before touch down.
Good. Yes, let their slave computers take over. I need to take care of something, myself. That should give me enough time. He climbed out of the pilots seat and walked through the door in the rear of the cockpit.
Whats up? Kyrie asked, activating the Vendettas slave module and also jumping out of her seat, following Duncan back through the main hall and into the ceremonial room where Duncan kept his hunting equipment. The walls were painted dark red; it was one of the only rooms on the ship that had painted walls at all. In the center of the deep crimson carpet, there was a red pillow, a bit brighter than the walls. The smell of incense immediately assailed Kyries nostrils as she passed through the entrance.
I need to look for someone, Duncan said, walking over to the far wall sliding open a small panel that sat at about waist height. From the alcove, he produced a wooden box with simple yet artful etchings around the edges. It was clearly very old, but the lacquer on the nearly black wood seemed to still be holding up well.
What do you mean? she asked.
The elf that can help me, Duncan said. I dont know where he is. I need to find him.
And is his address in that box? she asked. Duncan opened the box and lifted up a small bag of pale blue powder from it.
Its Lemange, he said. Im going to use it to find this geneticist.
The Trance? she asked.
It helps my farsight he said. Then, shaking his head, My prescience isnt any good for doing stuff like this, but the Lemange deepens the trance and helps me search farther into the Multiverse.
Is it safe?
I dont take it that often, he said. But this is the only way I can think of to do this. He drew out a small, pencil shaped device from the box, opened up the bag of Lemange, and stuck the device in. Sliding his finger upwards along the tool, some of the powder was drawn into the device, presumably measuring out a single hit. He looked up to Kyrie. You may not want to watch this. The Trance can sometimes be disturbing if youve never seen someone in it before.
So is watching someone tripping on LSD, Kyrie said. I think Ive seen worse, before. Do you mind if I watch?
Help yourself. I just ask that you dont interrupt or try to communicate with me. I need to have complete concentration.
You got it, she said, walking over to the far wall and sitting up against it. Duncan lowered himself to sit Indian-style on the pillow, bringing the applicator to his nose and inhaling sharply, first through one nostril, then through the other. The muscles in his nostrils flexed a bit as he felt the powder shoot up into the nasal cavity where it would quickly be dissolved and absorbed into the blood stream, hitting his brain in full force in a matter of minutes.
Youre the only person Ive ever let watch me do this, he said offhandedly.
Im honored, she said. He nodded slowly.
Im going to be incoherent in a few minutes, anyway, so Im going to stop talking, now. It normally takes my body about and hour to fully metabolize the stuff, so if you get bored, feel free to leave. In the mean time, though he trailed off and closed his eyes. She nodded, though he didnt see it.
He couldnt. A few more seconds, and he was already far off in Never Never Land.
The room began to fade away almost instantly as the Lemange began to alter the neurotransmitters flying back and forth between the nerve endings in his brain. A milky film began to weave its way around the images that he still saw, slowing grabbing and squeezing a shrinking view of Kyries face into nothing. His brain lit up, like someone had stimulated every dopamine receptor he had. He felt his head throw back, but his vision was already incapable of function: the drug had overloaded the part of his brain that interpreted his sight. In its place, a new sight began to settle in and a new vision of the things around him began to form. His body convulsed, but for him, it felt as if he was floating in some thick birth-liquid, helpless as a fetus as the farsight began to kick in. He saw time beginning to rocket up towards him, careening into him and illuminating his very sense of being. Light surrounded him with the burning intensity of a thousand stars, creating an inkblot of energy on his short term memory like the black blotches that impair your vision after staring into the sun for too long. Then, as quickly as it came, the induction was over and the farsight began to function. The future and the past were gone, and there was only sense.
Everything went black.
Black. Infinite black. No end. No beginning. A shift into senses unknown to normal humans.
There, something in the distance becomes apparent. A light a point a singularity on the horizon small at first but growing fast. It comes towards him.
Features become distinguished. Lines began to appear, grow, change and meld; it soon becomes more clear.
A web, stretching infinitely in all directions. All of a sudden, he cant find the perpetual blackness that had previously surrounded him. Everywhere he looks, there is some stream of existence flowing like a gentle river above and below him, but never engulfing him. Some points blink colors fade in and out. Some places, it is green, fading to the black nothingness that otherwise surrounds it. Other places, it glows red, pushing towards the center: a brilliant column of white.
The Nexus. The start. The foundation. The beginning. Duncans beginning.
Zoom in on the white column. White streams of energy climb upward as the image moves. In the column, another universe seems to hum with excitement: a universe that didnt belong to Duncan. From the column, a hole opens up into the first line, then the infinite splitting began.
This is Prime. This is where he is looking.
A rush comes up beside him. He sees within the dot the beginning of the Universe. Then, he moves forward, and a brilliant explosion fills his view. A miasma of dust particles radiated outward at speeds beyond normal comprehension. He goes faster time moves on and the Universe begins to develop.
Every time a choice is made somewhere in the Multiverse that he is viewing, he senses a click a minor twitch something tickles him in the back of his mind. His brain begins to pulse as these twitches become a dull drone like a vacuum cleaner operating a few rooms over. The drone accompanies the ever expanding three dimensional Universe as he rockets down the timestream to find his present moment.
It isnt hard. He knows it well.
Zoom in on the now. Four dimensional movement stops. He looks around, sensing that he knows the location of the galaxy that he sees before him the galaxy that had just expanded from nothing. He sees the galaxy the Universe as a whole at this singular point in time. He finds himself, a brilliant black dot of energy against a white background of ethereal deadness. He moves in, spins the image, resolves it, and moves in again. There, before him in vision (and below him in reality), was his goal.
Now [maybe] the hard part. Knowledge gets him this far. Only intuition can get him further.
A world, blue and green like Lost Jerusalem. The world is filled with life, both plant and animal. Flashes of the world fill his conception of space. Birds soar through the air, slowly changing as they move. They become elegant machines transporting hundreds of beings through the skies. A river, crystal clear and pure, flowing from somewhere unknown. A field, a place for battle, resting at peace. A mountain, rising high, backed by a red sky of ash and blood. A cloud something coming through the cloud the cloud dissipates he doesnt know what this means.
Maybe nothing maybe indicative of something else. This is the hard part for a reason, after all.
He senses something monumental. There, in the distance, across a grass plain, hidden behind a web of magical illusions and traps: a Tower, white and pure, rising higher than most any other building he had ever seen!
The building actually reaches the clouds. He estimates it is well over one hundred and eighty stories tall. Its not as massive as the Black Citadel in girth, but its height and beauty are still impressive. Who would build something so massive in the middle of nowhere?
The Tower shows promise.
He moves on.
A city, but not a city like any he has been to in the last decade. This city is elven, without a doubt. He recognizes it. It is called Escillith, capital city of Escillian. It is nearly all white, many of the buildings similar in structure to the Tower but none as tall. He lets his farsight move around, seeking out the pressure points of temporal importance. He hears some faint whispers in the back of his head and lets them guide him. They tell him stories of battle and of death. His farsight moves on, gathering itself above a large building of a different construction. This one looks like a very large domed arena for something, though for what he cant tell.
Well fix that.
Now hes inside, looking around, his presence floating about like a ghost without a way. Maybe some of the people sense his prying eyes, but probably not. There are many people seated in terraced rows around a central dais on which five more people rest. One is standing and talking to the assembly at large. He sees now what the building it for: its for government (has to be, right?). He looks around the crowd, finally sensing that he is getting somewhere just not yet.
Not yet meaning what? He knows those are the words the sight speaks to him, but doesnt understand. His mind considers this as the governmental room begins to fade he is losing concentration. No, he cant lose concentration. Not yet, anyway. He still has to find a way to see.
He speeds time up. He goes beyond where he is in the fourth dimension, holding his third dimension position and concentrating on maintaining his station in Prime. The people around him speed up as if he had hit the fast-forward switch on a vid-projector. Different people take turns at the dais, addressing the crowd. It begins to get late and the room begins to empty out. The sunlight being let in through the incredible windows on the rooms west wall begins to fade and night begins to set in. The darkness comes again as he floats in the middle of the room, speeding up time more as the new day soon dawns and the room fills up. The proceedings go the same way, eventually ending again, still leaving him with the feeling that he is getting somewhere only just not yet.
He pushes forward. One days two three a week two weeks very nearly three when there! The buzz in his head marking the choices being made accelerates and becomes infinitely louder. Around him, the fate of something unbelievable is being determined. Around him, the elves are voting small lights show up above each of their chairs signaling the choice made by each representative. He turns around to the center and looks at the dais.
An image of the face suddenly occupies all of his view. It freezes and becomes nothing more than a black and white mug shot. Its an older elf with wrinkles in the corners of his eyes- a feature he knows elves normally dont acquire until they enter their third millennia of life.
Now he knows. What makes it clear is not quite there, but he is sure of it none the less. The man will eventually speak at this government facility, forcing a decision that may alter the status quo of billions of lives. And, while nothing direct gives him indication of it, he knows that the Tower is the place to find him. He, it would seem, must now find the Tower.
The image fades from view as he lets himself out of the trance. Without a clock, it is impossible for him to know he has been searching for nearly an hour and a half. His conception of the flow of time slowly comes back as he allows his metabolism to purge the Lemange. His eyes find a way to open as the past and the future again become viable notions. He is still dizzy, but he is able to hear a voice calling him.
He looks around. He knows the voice. Its Kyrie. Shes calling him.
Duncan, theyre clearing us for landing, the voice says. He looks around and finally regains his bearings. He looks up, seeing his partner standing in the doorway.
Yes, he finally says. Yes, they are.
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