The Dragon Queens

Chapter 13

Omega system- STG

Kiric sat watching the main screens that blinked and flashed before him. They had been stationed here in the omega system watching the newly rebuilt omega station for months now and had achieved nothing. It looked so different now; its once bleak and ramshackle appearance repaired and altered to gleaming silver and gold hued metals that blended seamlessly with the stone of the asteroid in elegant curves and strong lines, all engraved with geometric designs that seemed to have no actual meaning, yet gave an air of strength and majesty to the station.

They had been ordered here in the hope of intercepting Imperial secrets or at the very least to find a way to infiltrate or bypass Nirnian security. But instead of the juicy secrets and technological marvels they had hoped to find, they were left bashing their heads against a brick wall that defended secrets hidden within mysteries, wrapped in enigmas and entwined in encoded puzzles.

They had almost given up, but orders were orders, so they spent fruitless days wrestling with the lines of code that made no sense and changed as soon as they were found.

They had been informed two days ago that the Empire had declared war on the Batarian Hegemony, so they watched and waited.

Intel and basic common sense told them that if they launched an invasion it would come through Omega, their foothold in council territory. Absently Kiric scratched his horns then looked up and out through the forward view screen and blinked in surprise. A ship had appeared in a burst of aurora like lights indicative of an imperial vessel.

This, in itself, had not become unusual, but its design was. Its shape was that of a classic Nirnian war vessel, the smooth lines and avian shape earning it the nickname, warbird.

It was small, measuring in at about three hundred and fifty meters and decorated in the usual feather motif. Belatedly the alarms flared to warn the other agents aboard and they hurriedly crowded around the front view screen, all to witness a sight that filled them with awe and fear, a sight that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The ship paused for a moment as if it were scanning the system. Then the space behind it lit up with the lights of re-entry. Thousands of ships poured back into reality, drawing Kiric’s gasp of horror.
Packs of frigates, corvettes and cruisers flew as attendants to the dreadnaughts with their long spinal cannons prepared to pick off the furthest enemy target, super dreadnaughts with their heavy wings and reinforced, wedge shaped prows that could cleave ships in two. Destroyers; long, elegant and terrifying in their beauty and power. Carriers; elegant yet brutish in their fearful length, broad sides filled with sealed maws that could spew fighters by the thousand and heavy armour, followed behind.

Kiric glanced fearfully down at the console, the screen struggled to keep up with the ships. Twenty thousand… twenty seven thousand… still they came. Fifty thousand…. Sixty three thousand, there was no end. Eighty thousand, how could they have so many? He wondered desperately, slowly the counter dragged to a fluctuating number as it struggled to keep count of the shifting golden hoard, holding steady at over ninety one thousand ships.

The laboured breathing of the Salarian agents echoed throughout the small chamber, loud in the confined space as they witnessed the beginning of the end for the Batarian Hegemony.
“Sir, they are broadcasting something”, Kiric said fearfully as he noticed a blinking light on the comm station.

“Patch it through”, the captain answered in a quavering voice.

Kiric pressed the button and the cockpit was filled with a sound that haunted their dreams. A primal rhythm pounded against their ears and bodies, pressing on their eyes and shaking their bones. A sound harkening back to the most primitive ancestral memories, from a time of smoke, and fire and blood.
War Drums. The pounding was not alone, heavy voices chanted low and dangerous, their meaning filled with menace and promising blood and terror, there seemed to be verses, each gap filled with a reiterated chorus:

mu bo wah stiis sos.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
hon un rahgol, nii kren lok.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
koraav un nah nii nahpok lein sahqo.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
sahlon hi dinok nii gelomiiz ven.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
fraan faas ahrk laanah fah aaz.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
feyal do Vus los het.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
sos fent nahpok gol sahqo.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
koraav rath ru sahqon.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
koraav strunmah mah us un uld.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
Mu bo wah nahlok un fron.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
hon mii ahrk mindok hin dinok los lov.
Nah, Sos, Kein!
Dinok los het paal kos zofaas.
NAH, SOS, KEIN!

At the last shouted words, the ships had finished organizing into smaller fleets and vanished with the last three words, sliding into the curtains of light that had heralded their arrival. Leaving little more than an echo and a trembling STG team in their wake. The message was clear to all. War had come.


NIV Might of the Queens

“Was that really necessary?” Commander Tirus asked admiral Drescher as they jumped away from the Omega system. “Absolutely”, Drescher replied with a nasty grin “those poor Salarians think they are invisible to us, this was merely a continuation of Ayrenn’s orders to screw with them a bit.” She relaxed into her command throne. “Besides” she continued, toying with a streamer of golden light, “someone has to tell the council of us.” Commander Tirus thought this stamen over, then nodded in understanding before he murmured, “war has come” before saluting and moving back to his station.


Unnamed slaver outpost, Terminus system.
The Kahjiit stared at her captors with angry yellow eyes. She sat in a filthy holding cell with twenty of her fellow captives, Nirnian or otherwise. Their hands were locked in heavy manacles that bit cruelly through fur, scales and flesh, causing crimson blood to soak her white fur and drip down her mangled hands.

Each Khajiit and Argonian had been subjected to having their claws either pulled from their fingers or clipped and their jaws were muzzled with heavy plastic contraptions that painfully clamped them tightly shut. Yet as they were punished and tortured, whether it was screamed or spat out, they only said one word to their captors: Nahkriin[vengeance]. Then once the pain stopped they would pick themselves up and return to glaring at their captors envisioning the multiple ways that death would be delivered upon the four-eyed aliens.

This defiance was something that frustrated the Batarians to no end. They had expected to have fun toying with the captives, showing them how powerless they were, yet despite the beatings, whippings, branding and nerve control collars, every race stared at their captors with a singular rage.

The effect of being the receiver of a cell full of wrath laden gazes was wearing on their guards. They had taken to randomly activating the shock collars, trying to break them, yet after the recipient had finished twitching from the electric overload, they would sit up and level their baleful glares at their captors once more.

“Why won’t they break?” Bahlak snarled at his second in command, who had just entered the room with bad news. He looked down fearfully in a sign of submission in the face of his leader’s wrath, blinking his upper eyes as was proper. “I don’t know.” He told the frothing slaver, then held out the datapadd he held. “The Hegemony sent this.” he said before quickly backing out the door, Bahlak was one who liked to shoot the messenger. The message was short and to the point:

The empire has declared war on the hegemony, our ambassador has been taken captive and the council has denounced us. We are at war.

Bahlak snorted, tossing the missive away. War? Those imperials were soft, they had bluffed the council with a show of force and now they thought to take on the hegemony? His face twisted into a sneer and his upper eyes narrowed dangerously. They wanted war? Then they would get it.

An explosion rocked the compound. “What the hell was that?” Bahlak demanded over the comms, throwing aside the padd and picking up his gun as he sprinted from his quarters.

“We’re under attack sir!” came the panicked reply. “Imperial forces are coming through the south ent…” the rest of the report was cut off by a wet gurgle and the sound of a blade being driven through armour.

“Damn it!” Bahlak yelled, switching channels “get your sorry asses over there and drive these fithy two-eyes back now!” he bellowed at his men.


In the front of the base, all was chaos, smoke, fire, blood and death. Golden armoured forces moved with frightening speed and precision through the slavers, their bladed weaponry and magic working beautifully in the confined hallways, slicing through the slavers like lightning through snow. Flames licked along armour, cooking the flesh beneath and spikes of ice impaled others to the walls.

Decem Cecilia Caltus smirked as she bashed a Batarian with her shield, crushing his gun beneath her boot, she and the rest of her century were smashing their way through these filthy Slavers like the fist of Talos.

The haze of red blood misted through the air from the wounds she and her Decem dealt their foes, coating everything in a hazy crimson sheen, rivulets of the once life-giving liquid flowing across the floor and staining their boots. Sprays of crimson spattered their golden armour like crude battle paint and behind them lay the remnants of their foes; some in bloody heaps while others were caught in horrid caricatures of ice or charcoal, their final forms revealing their death throes.

A thick coating of ash from disintegrated Batarians mixed with the blood to form a slippery paste that glittered in the mage lights of the approaching Nirnians. All the while as they advanced, they chanted “Nah, Sos, Kein!”

Caltus shrieked wildly as she drove her sword through a Batarian’s chest, withdrawing quickly and letting him fall to be trampled by her fellows. So deep in her blood haze was she that she barely noticed the sounds coming from further inside the base.

Luckily it was her top mage Elandra who heard it first. “Decem, listen!” she called over the channels, breaking through the fury and directing her leader’s attention ahead.

Faintly the sounds of voices screaming in pain and fear “Nahkriin, Nahkriin, Nahkriin!” a single voice screamed before being cut off by the report of a pistol. Caltus snarled and leapt forward with renewed fury, slicing and hacking through her foes until her armour was more red than gold.

They burst into the holding cells and paused only briefly to take in the scene. Many prisoners, Nirnian and council lay dead, their skulls split open with the force of the grains of sand being thrust through them at relativistic speeds by the pistols held in the hands of a Batarian. Other species huddled in their cells quaking in fear, Turians and Salarians huddled in corners and Asari whimpered clinging to others or shrinking back from their executioners. Many Nirnians and a few Citadelers snarled at their captors, while others twitched as their collars activated and flooded their systems with electricity.

In one corner of the room stood a Batarian holding a gun on an Asari, tears tracing lines in the filth on the Asari’s face as she knelt before her executioner. Like many others in the cells she wore little more than bruises and the blood of her cell mates as she knelt before her executioner, the body of an Altmer woman beside her and the walls covered in blood.

This scene drove the legionnaires berserk. With feral roars they leapt on the perpetrators, the first blow from a greatsword cleaving one from shoulder to hip, a swing of a sword beheading the one in front of the Asari. The others were swiftly and brutally dealt with, blood and limbs flying away from the blows and smoke filling the air as it mixed with the frigid blasts from the mages.


Kari T’vana shook in fear as the Altmer named Alawyn who had shared her food with Kari fell, grey matter and blood spraying her from where she knelt, staining the remains of the elf’s once platinum hair red.
She whimpered and looked up the barrel of the pistol aimed at her. She closed her eyes and sent a prayer to Athame, her life flicking before her eyes in the space of a fraction of a heartbeat.

She was so young, barely sixty, just looking for a little fun when she had been picked up by the slavers. A few days later they had brought in the imperials. Goddess she wished she could be as brave as Alawyn had been. Glaring at her captors and spitting in their faces even as they had tortured her.

Then in the dark of the night she had held Kari as she cried, soothing her like a mother would a child, telling Kari of her home, of her daughter Nathamia, her husband Anthalion, stories of her people, lullabies, how she had learned Asari, little things that had made the imprisonment a little less unbearable.

Now Alawyn was gone, and soon Kari would be too. A tear trickled down her cheek as she waited for the burst of pain that would end her life. But it never came. Instead a primal roar shook the room and her eyes jerked open in time to see a gold and crystal sword relieve the slaver of his head, it landed with a bounce and rolled until it hit the wall of the cells.

The figure behind him was dressed in blood drenched golden armour, wearing a metal crested helmet and bearing a shield in its left hand. The legionnaire looked at her and nodded reassuringly before turning away and running back into the fray, joining in the wholesale slaughter of her captors.

Then it was over, the legionnaires stood there for a moment before they turned on the captives. “los naan do hi aax?” the crested one asked, looking around the room.

A green skinned male staggered to his feet, his hands still bound “geh, pogaan. los hi het wah sav mii?” he replied in a gravelly voice.

The leader nodded “lahvraan hi braan ahrk mu fen aakit hi nol daar bein staad. lahvirn lost bo wah nahlok mahlaan”.

The other Nirnians began to smile and help each other stand, then they bent down and drew the others to their feet. The few able to speak a citadel language told them “come the legion is here to rescue us.”
Kari looked down at Alawyn’s body and sobbed, they had been too late. If the legionaries had been just a few seconds faster they could have saved her. A glint caught her eye, a small ring was held tightly in Alawyn’s closed fist, held tightly to keep it from the slavers.

Alawyn had given it to Kari to hold when she had been taken for torture so she would not lose it. Her bond of matrimony, she had called it. With shaking hands, Kari gently took it from Alawyn’s dead fingers and held it close. She would see that the ring made it back to Alawyn’s family or die trying.

Then she stood and began to shepherd the other council races from the cell, a sense of purpose lending her strength. Alawyn had cared for her, and now she would care for others. Never again would she sit idly by while others were in pain.

As she supported a weak and starved Salarian through the blood drenched corridors she looked at their saviours. It wasn’t the council who had saved her, or the Asari free republic. The empire had saved her.
Why were they willing to do what it took to save their people and the council did not? She looked at the amounts of carnage they had to wade through and held back a shudder. Why had this become necessary?


NIV Might of the Queens

Admiral Drescher, leader of the imperial Sword fleet stared down at the tactical display.
The terminus system was held in a three dimensional hologram that was bathed in swaths of red, grey and gold. Red indicated places where battles were occurring or would occur and the gold was territory they held, while the grey portion showed neutral places like Illium.

“How many have we lost?” she asked of her aide, never removing her eyes from the map.

“The 109th legion has lost two cohorts, the 452nd in down to half strength and most of their auxiliary are gone and many others are suffering from casualties. The hardest hit are the auxiliary troops as they have the least experience. Out of our fleet of ships we have lost nine corvettes: Crest of the Dune, First Ray, Tash’s Wrath, Blind Archer, Warrior Priest, Last Kindness, Cracked Blade, Dream Fragment and the Last Light. As well as seven frigates: Pilgrim’s way, Coming Dawn, Blazing Flame, Slow Applause, Questionable Taste, Uncertain Shot and the Truthful Lie. And finally one cruiser, the Hard Gaze.”

Drescher sighed and rubbed her eyes. The losses were minimum and acceptable, yet they still burned in her gut. She always hated the death of those under her command.

The bulk of the deaths had occurred in the ninth assault on a colony world, when the cowards had led the attack group into a mine field. The smaller ships had been pulverized.

On the colony they had been taking on foot, the legion had been ambushed by a rockslide and more mines. “How are the prisoners?” she asked looking at her palm computer.

“We have been shipping every Batarian found guilty of crimes against sentience alive to Darkside” was the response. Kastanie shuddered, Darkside was a planet inhabited mostly by vampires; its slow rotation made for extra-long nights and low temperatures that the vampires didn’t mind. It was where most of the blood companies operated, holding their prisoners deep below ground and carefully extracting their blood.

Already there was a sizable Batarian presence in the blood halls. She shook herself mentally before turning her mind back to the map, she couldn’t afford distractions. There was a war to plan.


Terminus system

The fleets of the empire burned their way across the terminus system towards Batarian controlled space like a cleansing flame. They avoided neutral settlements, but aimed for known pirate and slaver controlled areas, all the while drawing inexorably towards Kar’shan. Millions of slaves were freed and taken to Kyne’s Peace to recover before being sent to their home worlds, if possible. All the while the Citadel races sat by, helpless to do more than watch as the empire did what they had not. Many of the freed council races chose to remain in the empire, many even going so far as to apply for citizenship.

When asked by their own governments and reporters why, they simply answered “where was the council when I was a slave?” Tevos was furious, her precious council was being shamed by their own people, and the worst part was that they were right.


During the whole invasion, Valerica plotted. Hundreds of Batarians were sent to her laboratory for experimentation. Whispers echoed of the atrocities she performed in search of a suitable punishment. Until one day she emerged smiling in triumph as she strode towards the teleportation stand that would take her to the throne room. It was after that evening that the invasions of Batarian colonies began in earnest. They did their best to avoid the civilians, but any military officer or authority figure belonging to the hegemony government was swiftly imprisoned and shipped away to places unknown.

After the submission of the first colony came what would be known among Batarians as the Demon. Valerica astride her acquaintance Durnehviir appeared in the sky and exacted the final vengeance upon that world.
The effects were immediate, and they were noticeable. She ripped into the minds of the inhabitants, prying their worst memories from them and placing them within a tremendous stone spire she had cause to grow from the earth. This spire radiated terror on the same mind frequency as violence, striking those possessing the cruelty that gave rise to their slavers and murders. It bound them to that world for three generations until its reach was firmly established within their racial psyche and plagued the violent with visions of unspeakable terror. It was impossible to approach the spire without succumbing to nearly coma inducing levels of fear.

Then the Legions would withdraw, leaving the peaceful unharmed and the violent wracked with terror. Many suicides followed this and led to the eventual pacification of the Batarian people. A Batarian could not think of harming another without being subjected to the Terror. It came with puberty and stayed till death.


Kar’shan

The sky was stained with smoke from the fires that burned in the main city.
Ranks of Imperial legionnaires marched past with eerie synchronicity. The sound of their boots echoed through the damaged streets.

Civilians huddled in the sanctuaries that had been erected by the empire during the fighting and watched as an implacable golden tide swallowed their world.There was a roar and the legion looked up. A dragon flew through the sky, but not a normal one, decked with armour and glowing with life and health. Np,this one resembled a rotting corpse. Its scales a dull, murky green and grey, strips of flesh peeling from bone and wings tattered shreds.

With a series of quick orders the legions reached their ships and evacuated the planet, leaving only the Demon and its prey.The Demon had arrived. The Batarians cowered in fear at the sight and many fell to their knees, praying that it would leave.

From its back Valerica’s fiery eyes surveyed the masses below. She had been a little put out when the queens had mediated her plan, making it so it only harmed certain people, but Malog’s burning Horns she loved the feeling of fear she felt from these mortals.

Smirking, she began. Screams rang out below her as she burrowed into their minds, and the ground heaved and cried out in the center of their city. The spire was made of a slick, oily black stone thrust sharply into the sky in a twisting razor sharp length.

Her job done the duo vanished, returning to the soul cairn for the time being and into Batarian legend for eternity.

Much later council spectres came to the Batarian worlds. The level of destruction stood out, as well as the many exhausted Batarians who had gone days without sleep to avoid the dreams.

Many lay dead where they had committed suicide from the Terror. Yet when the Empire was confronted they merely shrugged and said. “They killed themselves. Whether or not it was because of what they have done is up to them.”


Throne room, White-gold tower, Imperial City, Nirn- Nine years after first contact

President Zaal’Koris Vas Rannoch held his breath nervously as he looked at the massive doors and the motif that decorated them. He was here to deliver the Quarian request for Citizenship to the Council of Monarchs. It had taken many years and much debate, but seeing the length the empire had gone to defend their people had been the defining factor.

He looked down at the document he held in his hands. Made of a thick parchment and sealed between two pieces of glass, it was perhaps the most important document in the history of the Quarian people.
He shifted as he waited, his free hand running over his suit to make sure it was neat and orderly. With the new abundance of resources it was now easier to make new suit materials. Textiles had taken off and were now a highly sought after commodity within the empire, up there with Valenwood silk, Summerset cotton and Highrock wool.

Next to him, the newly appointed Admiral Zorah shifted from foot to foot while Chancellor Shala’Rann spoke with Admiral Han’Gerrel and Doctor Daro’Xen head of research and development sat reading her Omni-tool.
If they had been aboard the Migrant fleet then they most likely would have been on the admiralty board by now.

Even that psychopath Daro’Xen. Zaal shuddered slightly, Ancestors that woman terrified him. She had almost no morals and was rumoured to have been wanted for murder during her pilgrimage after she was found dissecting a Turian body.The door opened and a grey clad Maomer herald walked out. “You may enter now” She told them with an expressionless face.

Quickly the Quarians formed into a wedge with Zaal at its head and followed the herald into the hall.
It took his breath away. The two sides of the room opposed each other like night and day, yet each worked with the other to hold up the room. The high windows illuminated everything and the walls bore fifteen banners to represent the races.

At the far end of the massive hall the council of monarchs waited. On the upper dais sat Ayrenn II the foreseen in green and Serana the Ancient in red, their crowns glittering in the light. Below them were fifteen thrones, one for each monarch, and there was even a Geth platform made of a gold hued metal sitting on a simple backless throne made of white marble.

The herald led them down the room to stand before the semi-circle of thrones. “Honoured Council of Monarchs. Behind me stands the Leader of the Quarian people and his entourage. They have come to submit a request to the council.” The Herald intoned before stepping to the side and backing away from the Quarians.

Zaal took a deep breath and stood forward holding their petition up for all to see. To his eternal pride he stated his request in a strong voice “Honoured council of Monarchs, I am Zaal’Koris Vas Rannoch nar Iktomi, president of the New Quarian Republic. With me are Admirals Rael’Zorah and Han’Gerrel, Chancellor Shala’Rann and Dr. Daro’Xen. We have come to submit a petition of Citizenship to the Empire.” Not a quiver or stutter marred his speech and he smiled proudly as he handed the petition to the herald that had stepped forward to take it.

He held his breath as it was given to the first monarch, the dragon leader Parthunax who squinted at it with one large eye before nodding, a simple word marking his decision. “Geh” he rumbled. The Giant King Ugrahx also squinted at the, for him, tiny writing, then in a harsh voice decided “Geh.”

Down the line of monarchs it went, each read it and replied with the word he was becoming to love “Geh.”
When it reached the Geth Platform, creatively named Regal, it surprised the Quarians. “Geh” it said in its synthetic voice before handing it to the herald who took it up the stairs to the two upper thrones.
Ayrenn read it and smiled warmly before her high soprano spoke her verdict “Geh.”

Serana’s eyes glowed happily as she to read and answered with her soothing mezzo “Geh.”

Zaal’s shoulders relaxed and he grinned broadly behind his mask as the herald thrust her Staff down to hit the floor three times “The petition of Citizenship has been approved” she cried and in hidden galleries, cheers erupted, outside the tower came a cheer that shook the walls as the imperial citizens welcomed their newest member. On Rannoch thousands cried and hugged each other as the verdict was transmitted over news stations.

Ayrenn and Serana stood and glided down from their thrones. “We welcome your People to the Empire Zaal’Koris Vas Rannoch nar Iktomi” the tall Altmer said before embracing the much shorter Quarian who stood slightly rigid in surprise. The gesture was repeated by Serana who smiled cheekily at the Quarians stance. “It truly warms our hearts that you have chosen to be a part of the Empire” she told him as she stepped back to join her sister.

Ayrenn turned toward the dais as the other monarchs stood to offer their congratulations, even the larger races slid off their thrones to advance towards them. “Geh, it is good you have joined us” rumbled Parthunax as he fixed his orange eye on Zaal “You and your brothers the Geth shall inject yun laas, new life into the lokoltei, the empire.”

Zaal inclined his head “Thank you, Lord Parthunax” he replied before turning to accept the next round of congratulations. In the meantime the lower platform extended stealthily as a result of the magic the queens were pushing into the stone. A New space now rested next to the Geth throne, waiting for the Quarian throne to fill it. Slowly the other monarchs returned to their places, leaving a rather shocked Zaal’Koris to stare at the new space.

“A member race requires a throne for their leader to sit upon.” Ayrenn told him, amusement in her voice. “A message has been sent to your artisans for a throne to be crafted. Then you shall be inaugurated and take your place on the council of monarchs. We greet you now as Monarch Zaal’Koris vas Rannoch. Honour and wisdom shine upon you for your reign.”

He nodded and bowed “I pray to the ancestor it does”, he replied.


Throne Room, White-gold tower, Imperial City, Nirn- ten years after first contact

Urdnot Wrex grinned as he strode proudly down the throne room. It had taken a long time, yet here he was, the leader of a now proud people. Free from the blight that had ravaged his kind and ready to join a powerful nation. “We welcome your people to the Empire Urdnot Wrex of the Krogan.” Golden Ayrenn told him after the council had voted (all in favour.) Silver Serana smiled at him “we look forward to a prosperous future as we enter into this new age” she said.

The two queens led their fellows down and they embraced him and welcomed him by his new title of monarch.
Wither-claw offered to take him hunting for what he called “real game” after his inauguration and Parthunax passed on the congratulations of Silonvun.

He took his place on the throne that had been shipped from Tuchanka, a roughhewn seat from a piece of rubble that had been preserved from the old city. He looked to his right at the Quarian monarch Zaal’Koris who sat on a delicately carved throne made of deep russet stone, the Quarian inclined his head and the golden Geth next to him bobbed its head and opened its eyebrow flaps in a similar gesture as a smile.
Wrex grinned and gripped the arms of his throne. The Krogan had made it.

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