This week's chapter introduces a lot of new elements to the overall arch that is "Khai of Q'wenu". And a few of them will be told in greater depth in next month's chapter called "Storms & Stories". I mention this now because each new element that you'll be introduced to in this chapter (and a few characters in the last) will resurface in a big way. The one thing I'm trying to do is provide a large worth of important supporting characters within KoQ. We all know, Khai makes it out alive just because this is a saga based within his past. That means something to me and it's obvious that it should to you as well. Each character I'm going to introduce should have their own personality, strengths, faults, and hot spots (memorable moments of awesomeness). Either way, I hope you all enjoy. Also, if you haven't already, please check out the links below before reading this chapter:
YEAR: 723 WEEK: 2 DAY: C ERA: A.X.
LOCATION: Mt. Maduriomo (Outside Trsskalands)
I was originally sent to Uchuu-mura by order of the High Council to see if the squad that was holding that mining village needed any reinforcements. They haven't heard from them in months. I proudly accepted the task since, I believe I've outstayed my welcome within Grey Halls...
After arriving in Uchuu-mura, I found the squad was in deep need of help but they refused. The Commanding Vor-Lawlin was Killed in Action from a retkar pressure missile which looked to shatter much of his bones all along his torso, causing massive internal bleeding. The new Commanding Vor of the 22nd Division was the 3rd in Command, Vor-Dorro. Knowing full well of the danger they were currently in, he tasked me to deliver a message of great importance directly to the Queen. From what I could make out, a senator named Vanyrus has made a deal with the Chunar and seek to do harm to the Royal family.Vor-Dorro has also assigned be a bodyguard named Vor-Timoh Naki for which I admire a great deal but he's slowing me down. Then again, with the storms approaching probably by sunrise, I need all the help I can get. I've never really been outside the Halls during these kinds of conditions. We only traveled about a half a day yesterday before settling on a little stretch of land outside Trsskalands. It's a little sliver of jungle, etched into the side of Mt. Maduriomo. Perfect for hiding. Deathtrap for floods. Regardless, we need to get some shuteye, hopefully it'll be night when I wake up. Much easier to travel that way.
KHAI OF Q'WENU
CHAPTER TWO: 723.2 A.X.
“The severity of the year before the Turning is the Moons’ way of warning us of what’s to come.”
“Queen Ceyone* will see you now.” Silaria Satou stood from her chair and nervously straightens her veil for the 11th time.
“OK, thank you.” She forcible gives Senator Vanyrus a smile to detract any thought of discomfort. Knowing full well of the conversation that is about to take place; he smiles in return that appeared a little too amused.
“Right this way m’lady.” He continues to beckon her through the doorway.
At no surprise, she continues to ignore him as he chuckles as his own remark and then closes the door behind her. She walks down a long narrowing hallway paneled in ancient runic art encased in electrified reinforced cabinets. She takes the first left towards a double door archway made up of emerald frosted glass. Silaria whispers “Matu Suaki-no”; the frost clears to reveal a bright stained glass symbol of Soah dawned in the middle and then the doors quietly wisp open retreating into the walls. Inside is a large darkened amphitheatre filled with rows upon rows of empty balcony-like pods designed for the common people. The room is built circular and tall, mainly due to its original structure. There was no way to build outward in the middle of downtown so they continued to build up. You can clearly see where each section was added over time. Each layer gradually getting newer and clearer the further it ascends into the darkness above. About a third way up and on the far side, a silhouette of the Queen sits with a dim purple light glowing around the pod she’s currently occupying. Silaria makes her way up 47 rows and walks across. It takes about 10 minutes but as she approaches, she drops her veil and sits next to Queen Ceyone, closing the open pod door behind her. Each pod is permanently fixed to its respected row. Not one looking any different than the next with multiple microphones, digital projection displays, retinal scans for voting, and can seat up to 10 individuals.
“Good Morning, my Queen.” She softly greets the woman with eyes far removed from the present situation. They remained there in silence for some time. Only the low electronic hum of the violet pod lights to deafen the air between them. The Queen sighs.
“It’s funny isn’t it?” Ceyone looks over to Silaria.
“Apologies my Queen, I don’t see your humour.”
“That chair down there,” the Queens sluggishly gestures to a large oddly shaped tree at the base of the amphitheatre.
“The Old Throne?”
“Yeah. Thinking back, it’s kind of funny. Remember when we first heard about it?”
“I do,” Silaria agrees cautiously.
The Queen tries to jokingly mock part of the story with a low masculine tone, “It’s a Muta tree! And it’s the last of its kind! The soils of Soah and the light of the Moons give life to Muta. She is older than any Ka’shasi! Older than any law! We must protect the last Muta tree!” They both share a chuckle before she quickly drops the act and follows it with her own sarcastic tone. “So let’s go ahead a build a government house around it and slowly morph it into a twisted wreck of a chair. Returning to it every other day to fix it back to its predestined perch for the mightiest most powerful ass of all of Soah.” Even though she said it in earnest, Ceyone couldn’t help but smile again at Silaria. “I guess you finally caught my wave.”
“I did, your Highness. I understand messages during this time can get lost so hopefully it wasn’t terribly too long.”
“Please don’t call me that Sil, you’re my sister. There is no higher ground between us.”
A stale silence falls between them again. Silaria can clearly see the growing discomfort in her sister’s expression. She attempts to sway discussion, “My work has kept me busy--”
“Busy…. I see. Speaking of which, do you know what humour I’m not seeing?” Ceyone snaps back while repositioning herself in her seat.
“It’s that as soon as Mom dies and I become High Queen of the third largest nation under the heel of the vastly growing Chunar threat; my little sister and next heir decides to run off to live a different life. I just let you go… and they all told me not to… but if something were to happen to me Sil…”
“I know, Ceyone. I’m sor—“
“No, I fear that I’m not done sorting out the humour in this. If something was happens to me, you’re the Queen to the Republic of Soah… Damn it, I didn’t want it either.”
“I want to make it right, sister. My absence carries no excuse besides my own selfishness.”
The Queen looks sternly into her sister’s golden eyes, “You know what you have to do. You have to make amends with the people. In this room, no less. Our mother and father spoke from this pod when were just children… and we need to remind the people that we are still their elected family and that will still care.” Ceyone continues on to suggest that they hold an emergency summit tomorrow before the storm arrives by nightfall.
They carry on lightening the mood while sporadically trying to update each other on any changes from within their lives. The Queen stopped mid-sentenced; a realization so powerful that it nearly makes her dizzy.
“What’s the matter? You look worried,” Silaria questions.
“I can’t believe I’ve forgotten… I honestly didn’t expect your return… it’s been so long that--.”
“Your servant… Khai.” His name barely escapes Ceyone’s lips.
Silaria pauses. “Is he--?”
“I don’t believe so. We needed a messenger for a squad out in Uchuu-mura. I know how you favored him. He seemed so happy to serve… I just… I believe he needed purpose, Sil.”
Silaria remains still for a moment attempting to collect herself, “I think we all seek it at one point or another… but I’m going to get the rest of my belongings and… possibly shut my eyes. I’ll see you at dinner.” Before exiting the pod, she looks down at The Old Throne and then back up to her sister, “I’ve missed us, sister.”
“I’ve missed us too.”
* * * * *
The weather on Q’wenu varies depending not only on mere location and the time of the year; but the year itself. Every six years, the three moons align themselves in such a way that they constantly juggle their own gravity and pull with Q’wenu causing the planet itself to in a lesser extent, wobble. This is what the locals call a ‘turning”. A year’s worth of treacherous storms, blizzards, high density atmospheric events and sometimes quakes occur that all too often redefine the surface of Q’wenu’s more fragile tectonic plates. Indeed, those areas are typically well known but in the times of war and interplanetary trade at a standstill; supplies for such global events are scares. The war has raged on for nearly 2 decades and the home field advantage the Ka’shasi has been using is quickly dissipating with each and every turning. The Chunar and their ancient Romonah technology recover much quicker than the turning before; and it shouldn't be too long until they can hold out the storms better than the Kas ever could.
The sky remains dark when Khai awakes to an odd but short pulsing sound reverberating off the ground below. Something he has never heard before or at least, not out in the wilderness. It’s like he can almost feel its pressure pushing him but not in any particular direction. He rises to a low hanging fog that entirely masks the jungle floor for far as the clouded sun will allow, with only the trees to give him a sense that he isn’t floating in the sky. During a turning, an area vigorous in foliage preps itself in fog before a big storm in an attempt to off-sway a chance of flooding. Q’wenu has many evolutionary defenses for its combative precipitation but this fog is much thicker and lays itself only about a foot from the ground. Not a common occurrence on this planet by any stretch of the imagination. Khai cautiously pulls himself to his feet while still feeling the effects the half a day’s trek up a mountain side since his departure from Uchuu-mura. He looks around with no success for any sign of his traveling partner and soldier, Vor-Timoh.
He takes a few steps toward a wide tree covered in blue moss where he picks up his bag that’s nearly lost in the illuminating fog below. A surprisingly large snap rings out from its clasp when he fixes it to his belt. He didn’t pay any mind to it until the reverberation notably stopped and started back up not a few seconds later. This time he couldn’t tell if it was getting louder or faster but it was starting to make him dizzy. He put his back to the tree to shore up his footing but he was now convinced the pulsing was getting heavier. Still able to move, he begins to briskly walk in the direction Tim and he were heading before they set up camp. When Khai looks back to make sure he isn’t wandering in circles, he can clearly see where the fog heavily parts with his every steps leaving a long striding trail. Now after a few minutes, each footstep he takes gradually becomes stiffer and his knees wanting to lock in place.
A Kas’ anatomy allows them to disjoint their limbs at a given notice to adapt to most physical situations but Khai finds himself at a loss. His body is suffering to execute normal motor functions as would an operatic performer would completely forget how to utter a single word. As slowly but most certainly, the frantic Runner stumbles to the ground as the fog rushes outward in a large circle. In last ditch effort to seek out Timoh, he takes in a large breath to scream but large leathery gauntlet covers his mouth and tries to turn him over. Continuing to fear of his life, it struggles to no avail until a masks makes it over his face blinding him. Suddenly he hears a definitive whisper, “Stop you bumbling fool and breathe.” Khai still blitzed with terror calms down enough to breathe in deep. Afterwards a electronic head’s up display appears in front of his eye revealing a friendly Kas wearing the similar respirator. “Now regain your senses; we have a difficult task ahead of us and haven’t much time.”
Within seconds, Khai already feels like he back to normal. “What was that? What’s going on?”
“The fog. I suffered the same ailment as you when I was scouting just beyond the hill. The respirators seem to work though.”
Khai again pulls himself up. “I don’t understand.”
“Commander Vor-Lawlin spoke of the Chunar utilizing our weather conditions. Maybe they pumped something into the atmo.”
Khai looks around a bit and noticed both where he collapsed and where Tim came from. “It’s kind of brilliant once you think about it. Look at these trails.” He walks into the middle of a clearing. “Fog would normally encase this area once we came through but it’s too heavy, so instead it leaves a trail. And whatever we were breathing in would have left us paralyzed.” Timoh is actually caught off guard for how observant this runner is. “The pulsing is what confuses me. I still hear it, do you not?”
“I do. Regardless, we have to move and we can’t stop until we’re away… from this… is the pulse changing?”
Khai comes that realization right after Timoh mentions the change in frequency. In place of its typical rhythmic short bursts, it became increasingly irregular as each passing moment was a longer burst. For the first time, the white fog begins to move on its own by lifting a few more centimeters before slamming back into the earth revealing a tar like substance.
Timoh to the Runner, “We need to move! GO!”
Tim points the way as he follows Khai’s movements through the jungle. Khai’s ability to run through these kinds of conditions weigh greatly in his favor as he treats the tar substance as more of an annoyance than any real hindrance to his mobility. Though the same can’t be said for Timoh as it veers him to take alternate routes where less of the mysterious substance appears to be on the ground. Hoping from rock to a large untouched root looping out of the ground, swinging from a low branch; Tim begins to gain a little more confidence even though he’s fallen behind more than 10 meters or so.
Timoh begins to hear another sound approaching him from the west but unlike the pulsing bursts, it’s something quite familiar. And it had only been 2 days since he last heard one. It’s an enemy Skiff. A slender but single-riding hover unit that buzzes a high pitch hum and that can reach incredible amounts of speed if give the proper amount of space. In a jungle or similar dense environment, it can automate most of its travel without the need of an operator for the use of ranged weaponry. Just give it a destination or coordinate, it’ll get you there without much of an issue. Timoh can feel the inevitable approaching as he stops and yells to Khai, “Keep moving! Don’t sto—“
A grey and purple trimmed Skiff quickly flashes and passes by the Vor but not before its rider tosses out 2 net grenades. The first one pops open with a hssst directly above the Kas and his previous experience allowed him to roll out of the way. Though he found difficult getting up with his cloak now basically glued the ground. He quickly unsheathes his dual short swords in frustration and slices the second grenade in half before it fully detonated, showering sparks across the clearing. Tim looks toward Khai direction and sees nothing. “By the moons boy, keep running,” he mutters to himself.
Before the skiff buzzes by again, a slender but built 7 foot creature dismounts the hovercraft with incredible finesse. Almost like if time slowed down around the red and lavender skinned alien as it floated down just hovering a dozen centimeters above the ground. It hangs there wielding a large two handed staff with a white glowing orb on either end that continue to crackle with energy. Organic cords trail from each orb into the middle of the staff and then into a white pulsating crystal that looks unnaturally embedded into its chest. Around the crystal appears to be a series of metallic looking plugs and hardened damaged skin which then fades back into a more fair and gentler, almost translucent palette the covers the rest of the alien’s body. Beside its respirator occasionally clicking, his outfit isn’t too different than the typical Vor of Soah with simplistic battle ready attire.
No one has ever known Timoh to show fear, but being alone in battle is far different circumstance that he was ever never trained for. The chill of uncertainty combs over him as the western winds carries storm clouds over the land. It appears as dark as night without the guidance of the moons; and the only light that can be seen crackles across the clearing from the enemy’s weapon and chest. That sort of imagery is even terrifying for the bravest of warriors. Timoh has been fighting for years and the Chunar have never seemed to pose that much of a threat in hand to hand combat; but the Romonah make him question his worth. And that’s exactly what he’s staring into. A better fighter.
Hardly half a minute has passed since the visitor dismounted and begins the circle the clearing. A louder click followed by a mechanically filtered voice echoes from the enemy’s respirator. “You’re far from your regiment warrior, are you not?” Timoh doesn’t respond but circles in kind. “You know how I can tell? You’re a coward. Just like them.”
Timoh breaks his silence, “What do want you?”
“What I want matters not warrior. What you want does.”
“I see, so you’re taking requests? How about you leave? And do it now.” Timoh smirks as the skies begin to rumble.
The Romonah hisses with laughter. “Precisely want I mean. This is no longer your land. You don’t have… rights… or wants… and I’m here to fix that.”
Timoh, has grown tired of the fruitless exchange and charges forward with both sword prepped for blood as the Romonah fires 3 consecutive beams of light; the next hotter than the last directly into the sternum of the Kas, blasting him back against a tree. Tim yells a nearly inaudible curse and then rips off the respirator, followed by a few gasps of air. The Romonah knew that the heat powered unit the Vor was wearing would overcharge if he was almost on fire. Timoh could just feel the alien smiling beneath its mask.
Tim finds proper footing as lighting begins to sporadically web itself across the sky right before a sheet of rain falls from the darkness above. The downpour is bound to flood this little cut of oasis within the mountainside in a matter of minutes. Timoh just glares deeply into the estranged creature and charges forward again, readying his blades as he parries two beams of light that quickly reflect and carve their way through the surrounding trees. He skillfully dances both swords towards the enemy and he responds by just floating out of the way; every now and then parrying one of the short swords with his staff. Each parry that connects illuminates the area in a great flash, forcing the Vor to close his eyes with every connecting strike. He continues to trudge forward and swing with all his might and regardless how graceful he appears, this dance will eventually drain him. He knows the Romonah wants to take him alive but he’ll die before that happens.
“Time is of the essence warrior.” The Romonah yells over the earsplitting rain. “So give in you vile-whelp and accept your—the hell?” At that moment, a large black material swept over and latched onto its face. Timoh takes the opportunity to swing upward with his blades, slicing through the alien’s staff and tearing 2 large gashes into its abdomen. One of the sword tinged off the crystal sending sparks and illuminating Khai dawning a standard laser pistol behind the stumbling creature. The Romonah doesn’t make a sound as he tries to rip off the material. It only took Tim a moment to realize what Khai had done. Khai fires a dozen shots into the back of the Romonah and it doesn’t appear to affect it. Now without a staff and sight, the alien widens its stature and claps his hands together once, sending out a blindingly defensive flash of light. Both Kas, unable to hold their own fall back into about 15 centimeters of water.
Khai looks over at his partner, partially submerged in the rising flood. “Missing a cloak, Tim?” Khai smiles. Timoh doesn’t appear too pleased with Khai’s return but tosses him one of his blades anyway.
The creature screeches out as he rips off tar soaked cloak from his face. It begins to breathe even heavier as its respirator and the skin surrounding it was tore away. The light from the crystal shines upon little flaps of skin dangling from under its eyes. Still showing no expression of pain. The Kas quickly make it to their feet to swing at the desperate Romonah.
The crystaled warrior just simply backhands Tim off his feet as it tries to focus fully on the surprise attacker, Khai. He fires a continuous searing beam of white energy from its chest into Khai’s arm but he quickly recovers by guarding himself with blade, reflecting the beam into sky. As the blade begins to heat up, Khai turns the blade so the light's reflection is bouncing back into the enemy.
The alien gurgles as if it was nearly drowning in its own blood. “Haha, fool! My own light cannot hurt me!”
Peering over its shoulder, Tim strips another sliver flesh from the Romonah with it's short sword. While it’s temporarily distracted, Khai sinks the heated bladed into the aliens side. "Your light did this!" Khai screams at the Romonah now screaming in agony. It sinks in like butter, all the way to the hilt, and the alien quickly rips it out, leaps up and grabs onto a passing unoccupied skiff with a single had.
“What? It’s gone! I can’t see! Are you alright, sir?” Khai yells out.
“Follow my voice! We need to make it to higher ground. Now!”
COMING NEXT WEEK!
Prepare yourself for next week, another Supara Update where we go into detail about Vera, Star Striker, & Shifter and explain their overall importance in the universe we know as Supara. After that, we'll be once again introducing more characters from within the Foundation Files such as "The Reader", "Agent Pierce", yet another entry of "Khai of Q'wenu: #3 - Storm & Stories", and more!
So thanks as always for taking a little time out of your day to read our little stories. See you next time!