Act III: Ardency
17: Lost Kingdom
Landrak silently entered Amtra's Palace, hesitant to move forward. Great Being Amtra had told his creations long ago that Arc was dedicated to them, but the palace was his. Any who traveled to Vault would meet their death if he found their excuses to be insufficient. Even airship pilots were cautious of the island during the war, well aware of the tower's automated defenses. The cool blue of the walls was covered with faintly gleaming lines of teal, creating a design of skewed directions across the chamber. Landrak craned his neck up and examined several gaping holes in the distant ceiling.
"Something wrong?" Verton asked.
"This whole place used to be impenetrable. Energy cannons were mounted on the outer walls and lasers could bring down entire carriers if they strayed too close. Did all those defenses just vanish?" Landrak wondered.
Selpiar tapped Landrak on the shoulder. "Look at some of the debris scattered into the corners of this chamber. Notice anything?"
Landrak nodded, easily making a connection. "The blasters broke down."
"Maybe," Selpiar muttered. "I'm putting my money on the idea that something broke these defenses down. It could have been Axiom warships, but it doesn't add up. Why waste munitions on an unnecessary target?"
"Unless you wanted to get inside," Endico suggested.
Selpiar smirked. "I think we know what to expect down there."
"Then let's pay the military a visit," Landrak finished, marching toward the far stairwell.
Descending the stairs, Landrak crept up to a peculiar scene. Expecting Axiom soldiers to be crawling around the lower parts of the palace, the Vapseron were instead staring at machines. Built in the frame of biomechs, they appeared weak and frail, clearly designed to carry out simple tasks. Landrak walked down the remaining stairs, making his presence known to the machines. They stared at the Vapseron in unison, searching for a proper reaction. One of the machines stepped up to Landrak, extending a hand and giving a smile. Landrak shook and smiled politely in return.
"Can you help me find a way to the planetary core?"
The machine tilted its head in confusion. "What is a planetary core?"
"It's the heart of Arc, the source of its power. We need to get there."
The machine frowned. "I cannot assist you."
"Is there someone here who can?" Landrak asked.
The machine's smile returned and it nodded. "Please follow me."
"Stay on guard, Seraphs," Landrak added, making no attempt to hide his command.
The machine led the Vapseron down another flight of stairs, entering what appeared to be a living room of sorts. The furniture was metallic and cold, crafted into precise shapes and angles. A table sat in the middle of it all, situated in front of a larger machine. Off to the left, a smaller machine was playing soft music on a handheld instrument the biomechs had never seen. Landrak turned back to the large entity, sitting on what appeared to be Amtra's old throne. It had clearly been ripped from the floor it was originally placed on, but the machine looked comfortable enough. Caught up in a book, he snapped it shut in frustration upon realizing he had company.
"Drone... Who are they?" the large machine demanded, finally standing up. Clearly designed in the likeness of a biomech, his form was taller and bulkier than even Verton. The second machine playing music decided to drop her instrument and stand up as well. Her form was more fragile, but just as disturbing.
"Visitors from the surface, I believe. They seek a planetary core."
"You may leave," the large machine replied, pointing to the stairs. The machine quickly scurried out and the Vapseron waited for the palace's new owner to continue. "I apologize for that inconvenience. My name is Domilius. I am a Kyllidahk. My musical companion is Calirry. You could call her my better half."
"Kyllidahk, huh?" Endico replied. "We've met a couple of your brothers recently."
"We don't all view the order of things as harmoniously as we ought to," Domilius smiled. "One Kyllidahk says one thing is positive, another argues for the opposition. Even as machines, our minds developed differing opinions. I'm sure at least one of them attempted to kill you on the spot. I can tell I'm rambling though. Please, have a seat."
The Vapseron sat across the table from Domilius, watching Calirry lean casually against his throne. Selpiar and Aurozi opted to remain standing, rather put off by the idea of being amicable with any Kyllidahk.
"How's the weather up there?" Domilius wondered.
"Sunny...a few clouds here and there," Landrak replied awkwardly.
"Ah, good," Domilius grinned, picking his book back up. "Do you know what this is?"
"A book," Aurozi said in an annoyed tone.
Domilius angrily hurled it at her, surprised at how effortlessly she caught it. "The Eternal Void. Did any of you ever read it?"
"It's been a while," Selpiar spoke up.
"I read most of it," Landrak added.
"I skimmed bits and parts. I think I was just borrowing it from Selpiar..." Talise replied.
"I despise the entire idea," Domilius admitted, "but it cannot be simply allegory. No...these stories are based on fact - events in the universe Kyllidahk have detected far away. Kyllidahk have the innate ability to locate distant technology and decipher it. We cannot interact though...we are simply ghosts wandering the databanks. I cannot ascertain the original writer, though it hardly matters. What do you biomechs consider to be the most important part of our universe?"
"Our free will," Landrak replied confidently. "Choice has shaped our world."
Domilius frowned for a moment before bursting into laughter. He glanced at Aurozi and barked, "Open that book again...page 307."
"That's it," Domilius nodded. "Start from the second paragraph, please."
"The Great Beings employed the extent of their powers to give birth to immensely strong new lives. These special entities would be capable of doing what the Great Beings could not. They would become the Cosmic Collective - given purpose in their governance of the universe. Zyntomos of rhythm, Xaricog of cause and effect, Valirytic of movement, Tiberema of correspondence, Nervinde of emotion, Carzandus of polarity, and Nerozak of the void. When I first met the brain that moved the living void"-
"Stop there," Domilius interrupted. "Nerozak...that alien embodiment of the void. He is most at freedom when traveling through the aether that blankets the stars, being a physical manifestation of the mental universe around us. You biomechs could care less though."
"Nerozak has helped the Axiom Union for several years now, trying to improve our technology. Don't think we aren't grateful," Talise shot back.
"Oh, but you aren't," Domilius chuckled. "You worship his brothers in your race toward supremacy. Tiberema embodies correspondence, and you use this ability to build upon your inventions. You cannot create, you can only change. Valirytic embodies movement, and not one of you on Radiance is above satisfaction with the world Amtra gave you. And even Zyntomos, the embodiment of rhythm. Everything must be so particular or it is unworthy."
The Vapseron remained silent.
"And look at this palace! It is crumbling out there in the sunlight, but in here, no one can tell. The weather will never trouble me in these halls, and we all know why. The most important part of the universe is analysis - to see the hopeless and the hapless and send them to exile or death."
"For such a differing opinion, you sound ready to carry out the tasks your brothers attempted against us," Selpiar hissed.
"Can you deny the truth, biomech? Every mind, biomechanical or mechanical has the capacity to analyze life as imperfect - clearly brought on by Nervinde, manipulator of emotion. Without that empathy, we could all live for our aspirations and care less who it hurts. When we have achieved what we want and the smoke of change clears, those who remain are the deserving. I am fortunate Nervinde has no influence over machines."
"All you Kyllidahk wish for a reunion with your maker, and if you were deserving, you would be in charge of Desire rather than Magnyrh," Landrak replied.
Domilius smirked for a moment. "Desire's leader has lost sight of what is important. Kyllidahk and Great Beings share a creator, though we are polar opposites, and for this, we have Carzandus to thank. Not my brother behind smoke and mirrors, the true Carzandus, infinitely far from Arc."
Domilius watched the confusion spill out over each expression and laughed mockingly at them. "It doesn't seem real, does it? Your Sovereign, or whatever he wanted to be called, is a facade."
Landrak thought back to the freefall on Radiance as he headed for Vestige. "I saw him. He was thin, and terrible, and monstrous. His eyes could almost tear through me, and then he returned to the form of Carzandus in no time at all."
"You glimpsed what he truly is. My brother, Omtazic, cowering behind an idea. Brilliant though, isn't he? I bet he still has Nerozak fooled too. He's just waiting in that shell...plotting and preparing. But Great Beings are the real monsters - they create and create and create, never weighing the consequence of this act. They left billions of biomechs as orphans across the stars, and you are no exception. Kyllidahk on the other hand are capable of moderation, to know when enough is enough. Great Beings will never govern the universe as Kyllidahk are able, but someone needs to be in charge. Without direction, we're all just floating along."
"I completely agree," Landrak said sternly. "And if you believe your words, you will allow us access to the planetary core beneath this palace."
Domilius glared into Landrak's eyes. "Your armor, your very body is almost translucent to me. Inside that body, I can see the remnants of my brother, Spirarahk. He was swayed by Omtazic as well, and wants you to reach the core. You will die before finding my maker, Landrak - not that we need him. Biomechs survived here without Amtra, so too have Kyllidahk without Exogen."
"Arc will die if the core dies," Landrak made clear. "The eons of work Great Beings spent linking worlds will be undone, in your selfishness.
Domilius laughed contently. "I told you. I am living for my aspirations...regardless of who is harmed."
Calirry seemed shocked and horrified by this, but could not stand up to his power. Domilius glanced at her, daring her to speak against him.
"If you Vapseron intend to reach the planetary core, you must drain the power inside the gateway first. I forcibly bonded a separate Kyllidahk to the gateway and I know that brother of mine is very far from Vault. You have nothing in your arsenal that will interfere with my plans, and as such, you are free to explore the palace as you please."
Edited by Cederak, Nov 03 2011 - 11:24 PM.