The Dragon Queens

Chapter 20

Jackar Harper, agent of the queens, the illusive man. Opened his eyes, pain suffusing his being. Black walls made of oily metal greeted his sight. Slowly he shifted his arms trying to move them from their awkward position behind hid back. The cuffs that he now felt dug into the raw skin at his wrist and memory returned to him. He had met with the citadel specter as ordered at Shanxi. The arrogant bastard had sneered and grudgingly allowed Jack aboard. Immediately Jack had known something was wrong.

It had not been until they were in transit that it happened. Saren had attacked, trying to catch him from behind, but Jack was not known as one of the best for nothing. He had twisted away from the incoming attack and launched himself at the Turian. Saren had drawn an Omiblade and Jack had countered with two bound daggers. They had fought back and forth, Jack straining to keep up with the cyborg limbs that moved almost faster than he could deflect them.

Each blow was strong too, feeling almost like he was fighting a Krogan. He danced around the vicious swipes and jabs that Saren sent, doing his level best to kill the bastard. All plans ground to a halt when two massive arms laced with glowing cybernetics wrapped around him, squeezing hard and lifting him high. The pressure had been immense and been mercifully cut short as his air had left his lungs and the world went black.

The door in the far wall slid up, admitting the traitorous Turian. “Ahh you’re awake. Good, makes it easier for me.” Saren greeted him. In his left hand the Turian held a small orb the size of an apricot and made of black metal that Jack recognized instantly. Daedric metal, and not just any but judging from the aura an artifact from Dagon.

“Ah I see you’ve noticed my lord’s gift. A useful little tool, and with it I will be getting the necessary codes and routs needed.” The Turian informed him holding up the orb and smirking. “With it I will open the door so my master can wipe your pathetic Empire from the face of the Galaxy. My lord has been waiting for this day for centuries. He even has plans for your precious queens. He will enjoy making them his play things for eternity.”

Harper’s head snapped up and he glared at Saren. The Turian’s cybernetic eyes were wide and glowed with malevolent madness. “Over my dead body!” he snarled straining to get the pick up his sleeve into his cold and numbing fingers.

Saren leaned closer and smirked “why that’s the whole point. But once the knowledge is mine I will gouge out the queens eyes one by one.” His voice grew deeper and Jack supressed a shiver. It was the voice of one possessed by a prince. “I will destroy everything they hold dear. Their blades shall shatter and their hearts fail. Their precious empire shall crumble to dust before the Prince of Change, Lord of Destruction!” Saren roared the last words to the sky.

Jack felt the cuffs release and he smirked. “You will fall Dagon, and you still monologue” he sneered before his hands snapped forward, blasting Saren away with a lightning bolt. The Turian twitched and writhed as his cybernetics fought the Nirnian equivalent of an overload.

Reaching deep Jack summoned as much magika as he could and did something no mortal had ever survived doing. With a titanic effort he tore through to oblivion and let his body be dragged through to the coloured rooms. Once there he reached deeper, pulling his faltering Mana and opened a portal to the throne room. He collapsed in a smoking heap at the base of the thrones.

Cries of surprise filled the air and a pair of green robed arms reached for him. His single eye that had survived the trip looked up into the worried face of Ayrenn and he gasped his last words. “Dagon aids Saren…empire.” He shuddered as his sanity slipped through his fingers and his single remaining limb, his left arm gripped the queens sleeve with desperate charred fingers.

With a pained gasp his soul fled, leaving the badly burned and mangled torso of Jack Harper, Illusive man, one of the greatest Eyes to ever serve dead in the arms of his queen. Ayrenn looked up to see the shocked face of her sister staring down at her. The entire room was silent and she looked down at the body in her arms. She knew in her heart that a new war was coming. “Rest in peace my friend” she whispered bowing her head over him, a single tear slipping from her eye before she stood.

“Dagon has found a new ally” she said coldly, standing and gazing down sadly before she turned her gaze to her fellow monarchs. “He has taken Saren as his ally and seeks to destroy the empire. We must be ready. Send out an alert to all colonies and warriors. We must be ready. Dagon has not truly stirred in centuries. If he is moving now, then his cultists will not be far behind.”

She strode to her throne and Serana looked at her in understanding. Ayrenn’s eyes panned around the room, taking in the faces of her fellows. “We must prepare for war. Ready our people. Tell them of the threat. Up training, reinstate militias. Recall all damaged or outdated ships. We must be ready.” Her voice rang out and everyone straightened.

The Quarian representative looked uncertain and turned his eyes to their neighbours in confusion. Tervanus of the Bosmer leaned in and began to explain the situation and the Quarian’s eyes grew wide before he turned his eyes to Ayrenn.

Serana stood, her black silk dress shifting subtly in the light. “We must stand together. There is much we must do and little time to do it. Therefor I am proposing that we initiating war protocols” she called.
There was a rash of shocked murmurings before a deep voice boomed through the room. “Geh I second this motion. I remember the destruction wrought by Dagon in his other bids for power. We must end this before it can truly begin.” The voice of Parthunax cut through the din as the ancient dragon lifted his head and peered down at his fellow monarchs. Ayrenn nodded to her former mentor in thanks before standing.

“After this meeting we will prepare for true war. May the Divines, Gods, Benevolent Daedra and Ancestors watch over us all” she told them. There was a collection of nods when the door burst open.

A female Orsimer in Herald robes rushed into the room, her deep green skin ashen with shock and her staff forgotten in the hall behind her. “Your majesties Edenus Primus is under attack. Thousands of ships have entered the atmosphere including a craft two kilometres long. They have made it through the mine field and have enough to bypass the fortress whilst they engage the guard fleet.”

The herald gulped as the Monarchs eyes focused on her. Ayrenn looked over at Serana who had not sat down before turning her eyes around the hall. “It has begun” she whispered, the floor shaking from the force.


Normandy

Cortana watched over the bridge of her ship with a sharp eye. The space they now patrolled was nearly empty and far to starboard a tiny blue ball glittered. She was bored out of her skull and though to others she appeared wary and attentive in truth she was watching Ava play Galaxy at War, an online RPG that had become popular through out both council and Imperial space.

Pressilion came up to her and Cortana quickly exited the screen, leaving Ava to play alone. “Commander we have recived an urgent call from Edenus Primus. We are among the closest to the colony, they are under attack.” All sound on the bridge stopped and even Ava returned her attention to the present, logging off
with record speed and appearing next to Cortana.

“Set course for the planet now!” Cortana ordered in a harsh voice. Everyone leapt to obey and Cortana catapulted from her seat and dashed towards the door “Pressilion you have the bridge!” she threw over her shoulder, toggling the comms as she went. “Attention all crew! Edenus Primus is under attack. We are among the closest for reinforcements. All hands to battle stations, prepare for rapid insertion!” She bellowed as she slid down a ladder to her quarters. She grabbed her guns, bow, greatsword, longsword and helmet, securing the weapons to her body with swift efficiency.

She activated her underarmour hood and jammed her helmet on after it. The neck seal hissed as it sealed her within its embrace. She ducked out of her quarters in time to see both Eyes dashing out of theirs, light armour secured over their underarmour. Their masks were up and sealed like the rest of the crew and they also were in the process of pulling on streamlined helmets. Lights flashed and claxons blared as the entire lighting in the ship turned to a dull red.

“Prepare for hull breach mode. Oxygen ceasing and normalizing with the void in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one” Edi’s voice called, there was a rushing sound as the oxygen was diverted to the tanks and the carbon dioxide redirected to holding canisters in the scrubbers which had been turned off. It was standard battle procedure. Less power to life support meant more power to guns. It also meant a nasty surprise to anyone boarding without a helmet.

The two Eyes looked at her and nodded, all of them toggling into the ship channel and the military channel. They sprinted through the hallways, skidding to a halt when Nihlus stumbled out of his quarters, having just managed to jam his helmet on before he asphyxiated. “What the hell is going on!” he demanded, clutching his gun, his speaker making his voice harsher than it was usually.

“We are heading into battle. As we told you in our drills battle stations include no air. Everyone has redundant systems to prevent asphyxiation. Now hurry up. We will be shifting soon.

As if to confirm that Edi’s voice blared again “plane shift in Three, two, one” reality twisted and Nihlus gagged, stumbling from the experience, thankful his Nirnian provided underarmour had a way of eliminating vomit.

“Now hurry, we will be deployed as soon as we are close to the planet!” Cortana ordered him. She and the Eyes took off again, sliding down ladders to reach the hold. Small pods enough to hold a Prolus sat in racks, most already full. Cortana lead the way to the one on the end and opened the pod door with a hiss. Miranda and Jack climbed in and swiftly strapped themselves in.

Nihlus stared before Cortana dragged him in by his arm. She slammed the hatch and roughly strapped the Turian in place before she did the same for herself. Once in place she opened the pods comms to the others and the ship. “Pressilion what’s our ETA?” she demanded.

“Three minutes. Reports say that they have a massive fleet that’s engaging the defense forces. They are loosing dozens of ships at a time but they outnumber the guns we have there. They are landing, reports from the garrison say they are engaging some kind of troll/lurker hybrid with advanced cybernetics. They are tough fuckers. The legion is outnumbered three hundred to one and surrounded. They appear to be looking for something!” the harried sounding Altmer told her and she nodded, switching over to the pod channel.

“ETA three minutes!” she barked over the comms. “The legion is fighting some kind of super troll. Get to the legion and aid in the defense.” There was a slew of acknowledge lights blinking and the legate’s voice barked out over the comms.

“Who are we!” she demanded and the voices roared back

“The 482!”

“what is our profession!” She demanded again.

“WAR!” they answered.

“What do we do to our enemies?” She called.

“KILL THEM ALL!” the legion roared back and began to chant their war shout “DINKOK IIZ MAAR” death, ice, terror. Reality shifted and suddenly they were being thrown about, if they hadn’t been restrained in their pods there would have been injuries. Outside the pods in engineering there was chaos. Orders were shouted and obeyed, fingers flew over palm comps as controllers manipulated the ship from where they were strapped down.

The ship emerged from Oblivion into pitched battle. Immediately swerving and ducking. It spun and twisted through the dense thicket of ships that clogged the space around Edenus Primus. Smashed hulls and debris drifted around the battle. The space was filled with flashes of light as projectiles flew around them. Beams of harsh yellow light was spat from a handful of the clunky slate grey ships of the enemy while the golden hulls of the imperial fleet ducked and dodged, swerving to avoid those shots.

The Normandy was not escaping unscathed, shots hit the hull, chunks blasted from ships pinged off the shields. Tali clenched her teeth as she was flung against her harness, her fingers flying over her console, rerouting power, sending a portion of her ninety spider automata to repair those that were receiving damage. A small spider worker scuttled past, its clawed feet holding tight as the ship tossed around, more moved throughout the ship obeying the individual channels of their controlling engineer.

Inertial dampeners were reduced to give more power to the ship but that meant a far bumper ride than a council warship was willing to endure. “We’re nearing the planet. Prepare for deployment… Nearing settlement. Pods deploy now!” Edi called. The ship shuddered as a series of dull thuds rattled through the hull signalling pod deployment.


Nihlus was terrified, there had been no mentions of orbital drops in his briefing, no one had heard of the Nirnians dropping their soldiers with pods. It was impossible! his brain ran scenarios of what would happen. The comms chirped and Cortana jabbed the button fiercely. Someone was playing music that was recognisable as a song called two steps from oblivion.

It was a frantic almost war like jig filled with electric lutes and smashing percussions that meshed well with the furious shaking of their pods as they fought their way through the atmosphere. Outside the hulls began to glow from the heat of re-entry. The air inside the pods became warm briefly before the runes activated, instantly filling the pod with frost, ice creeping over the occupants.

Nihlus shivered violently while the Nirnians looked unaffected. “Deploy! Deploy!” a voice called and the pod jerked and shuddered, the violent shaking replaced by the rumble of thrusters.

“All units land near the city!” the legate ordered over the comms, lights flashed in acknowledgement just as Nihlus’ pod slammed into the planet with a bone jarring crash. He shook his head, trying to recover his bearings only to see his comrades already unstrapping themselves. He reached for his harness, trying to make sense of the contraption only for his talons to be batted away and the razor sharp claws of Shepard’s gauntlets to rapidly press the releases. He fell from his seat and wobbled unsteadily.

“Come on, we need to move!” Shepard commanded, the gravely voice of her helmet brooking no argument. The door to the pod was kicked open by the slate grey armoured one and it flew several feet from the pod.
“Zero how many times do I need to tell you! No breaking the doors, they open just fine without the kick!” the white armoured one scolded. All the grey one did was hold up its middle finger before a glowing bow appeared in their hands.

He followed them as they emerged and oriented themselves. Above them the massive enemy ship towered over the city, dwarfing the colony while surface to orbit canons spat their deadly payloads.

Darts screamed by overhead, firing bolts of magika at shuttles that were lumbering towards the city. Cortana glared at the sky above them and took off at a rapid jog, the Eyes falling into place behind her while Nihlus struggled to match their (to him) nearly sprinting pace.


Ashely Williams roared as she skewered the beast rushing towards her. Her long sword bit deep and the already mangled looking abomination shuddered as the life finally left its body. All around her was chaos. The shield wall had been broken and now it had devolved into a melee. Snarling sounds echoed as a heavily armoured death hound savaged a beast’s hamstrings whilst the creature wrestled with an armoured Werebear. A Vampire stood a little way away, draining the beast’s life as it struggled.

An Armoured troll lumbered past, bellowing as it crashed into another. She yanked out her sword and slashed at a nearby foe, raising her tower shield in time to ward off a fist. It felt like a battering ram, and her arm went blissfully numb from the blow. She knew she would regret it later. Grunt was nearby, bellowing as he swung his greatsword like it was a toothpick. It bisected a foe and he head-butted another. The blade on his helmet cleaving the eight eyed freak’s forehead. It fell with a howl.

An Atronach detonated nearby, throwing smoke into the air like a flare. She was back to back with Grunt now. She couldn’t see her century, all she could see were beasts, both dead and alive. “I will not die here” she snarled and shield bashed another, sending it staggering into the path of Grunt’s blade. All that could be heard was the sounds of battle. Shouts, shrieks, roars and the sound of metal on metal. A gun let off a report nearby and a beast roared in fury. Or maybe that was her.

A spectral arrow hit a beast in one of its eyes, burying itself nearly to the fletching. The beast fell and a figure charged into the breach it left behind. Ashely blinked and shook her head, she had to be seeing things. The figure was clad in Daedric armour that glowed with blue instead of red light. It was wielding a long sword in one hand and magic in the other. A beast fell as lightning pierced its body before refracting and hitting another and another, chain lightning. The first one had been reduced to ashes whilst the others struggled and roared in pain.

A figure in white stealth armour flipped up and landed with the grace of an acrobat on one of their shoulders. A long wicked looking dagger was jammed into an eye and the beast body convulsed as the blade shocked its brain into paste. A fireball landed nearby lighting the beasts up like candles. A sharp ratatat of a mass accelerator weapon rang out and the final beast bellowed in pain, turning like a wounded bull on the shooter. As it turned Ashely ran forward, ditching her shield as she jumped and plunged her blade into the back of it’s neck.

The beast fell like a stone and she climbed off its body to be greeted with silence. Overhead ships still danced and fought but on the ground there was silence. She looked around her and felt a sinking feeling in her gut. The field around them was piled high with the dead. Here and there a few legionnaires or war beasts stumbled but they were tragically few.

“You all right?” a synthesized voice asked and she looked up from where she was standing. Next to her stood the deadric armoured warrior. She looked around then back at her savior.

“No, I don’t think I am” she replied honestly. “I’ve just lost most of my Century” she added. A hand settled on her shoulder and the warrior nodded to her.

“It gets better; I promise you” they rumbled.

“Centurion… ASH!” A voice bellowed and she looked up to see a blood drenched Grunt clambering over the nearby corpses. The blade on his helmet had a large chip in it and in his hand he clutched the hilt of his shattered greatsword.

“Grunt!” she cried and ran over to him, grabbing him and hugging him hard. The Krogan gave a rumbling laugh and patted her hard on the back. “Good to see you still breathing Ash” he told her and she pulled away. His polarized visor was up and she could see a portion of his wide grin through the T slit of his helmet. She smiled back at him, holding it together for her friend.

“We are going to see what it is they are looking for at the center of the colony. Wanna come with?” the Warrior asked the two of them. Ashely looked at her subordinate counter in the upper right hand of her visor. The officers had a tag on each of their men, and hers read depressingly. One. She looked at the number of how many in her century had survived besides herself and felt a heavy feeling settle over her.
Grunt was the only survivor of her century. “Grunt?” she asked and the Krogan looked at his counter as well. His shoulders slumped before he straightened up and nodded.

“Just let me get a new blade” he told her, rummaging around among the bodies of their comrades before pulling out a massive greatsword and nodding. Ashely picked up her tower shield and long sword before she nodded.

“Centurion Williams, ready to fight” she told the figure who nodded.

“Skald Shepard, and eyes Ice Queen and Zero” they introduced pointing at the two lightly armoured females behind them. Ashely felt a rush at realising she was going to be fighting with a mythical skald. “Oh and council specter Nihlus Kyric” Shepard added gesturing at a Turian who was looking around him with an uneasy body language.

“I’ll scout ahead” the Turian offered and Shepard shook their head.

“No we stay together” they commanded. Nihlus ignored her and vanished at a sprint. “Damn him” Shepard raged before turning to Ash and Grunt. “Stay close, stay together, stay smart” they commanded. Ashely and Grunt nodded and fell in with the eyes as they pelted after the idiotic Turian.


Nihlus ran through the colony as he tried to reconcile what he had just seen. The mutant beasts looked similar to the Yahg that the council had declared off limits. Their bodies were twisted with cybernetics and they fought like crazed animals. What shocked him was the battlefield he had just left. True he was no stranger to violence and gore but the sheer number of bodies he had seen and the pure, unadulterated violence with which they had been killed was eye opening and in truth downright frightening.

He was better alone and so he had left, he couldn’t stand to be near the Nirnian warriors at this moment. He slinked through the shattered streets. Bodies of civilians and military lay about. But more so were the bodies of the Yahg husks. He swallowed bile as he waded through the blood and gore drenched streets. In the center of the colony the ground had been brutally ripped up. A crater that looked to have been excavated with explosives occupied what had once been the central keep and home of the governor of Edenus Primus. “Spirits above” he muttered to himself as he crept forward.

“Nihlus? What are you doing here?” The familiar voice echoed over the newly opened space and Nihlus turned to see Saren Arterius striding towards him. Saren had obviously been on the receiving end of a great deal of cybernetics. Both eyes now glowed a synthetic blue and half of his face had been reconstructed.

Many of his plates had been replaced by metal alternatives that were only needed for the most horrific burns and external damage. “Saren?” he asked confused before he rallied “I am assigned to a Nirnian special forces team, we responded to the emergency beacon. What are you doing here?” he asked and Saren shrugged.

“Heard the beacon too and came to see, horrific isn’t it?” he asked sweeping his hand over the carnage behind them. Nihlus turned to look at the blood drenched streets and nodded. His head exploded like a melon as Saren’s bullet drove itself through his head plates.

“Weakling” Saren sneered and turned away as seven Yahg shambled forward. “Have you set the charges?” he demanded and the largest nodded and gave a gurgling grunt.

“Yes Herald. The lord’s fire will cleanse this sore from the world” Saren nodded and looked down to where more Yahg were excavating the beacon.

“Good, once we have what we need, set the times and leave” he commanded, striding down the steep incline.


Cortana swore as she blasted through the streets. There was little left of the handful of colonists who had moved in and the legionnaires were in worse shape. It was clear that they had been a credit to their training, each selling their lives dearly. It had been numbers that had taken down the mighty legion. How was one legion supposed to hold off thousands of armoured and intelligent troll analogues? They were trained to fight such beasts but never in such numbers. The bodies where piled higher than her head and she scowled.

“We can never let this happen again” Ava murmured as she observed the massacre that surrounded them.

“This will not go unanswered” Cortana vowed in answer and continued, the sound of her fellows boots behind her was a comforting sound that gave a modicum of comfort that she wouldn’t be jumped from behind.

“Tana I’m detecting that the center of the colony is destroyed” she reported. Cortana swore again and doubled her pace switching to a group channel and addressing her companions.

“The central keep has been blown out. Be ready for anything” she commanded. There were four acknowledgement lights and she bared her teeth in a savage grin. They came into sight of the crater in time to see Nihlus’ messy death at the hands of his fellow and the Turian’s meeting with the beasts that had slaughtered their people.

“Fire on them Zero!” Cortana commanded as she drew her own sniper rifle. Jack unslung the long barreled sniper and brought it up. There was a hissing coughing sound and a three inch long spike was spat from the muzzle. It spiraled through the air and lodged itself in the eye of the largest beast. Cortana fired and Miranda threw a Stalrim spike, the beasts fell as they fired again. The three remaining charged forward with fury filled roars as Grunt and Ashley ran to meet them. they met with a clash and Cortana quickly changed out her rifle for her sword and joined them.

“Tana I’m detecting multiple explosive devises ringing the crater, if they set them off then the entire colony will be reduced to ash on the wind!” Ava told her urgently.

“Fuck!” Cortana swore as they tool the last one out. “Everyone, Ava says there are explosives ringing the crater. Diffuse them, Centurion you took explosives management at the academy right?” she demanded and the centurion nodded.

“Yeah, they had just added the new course on council tech, everyone was required to take courses on that” she replied.

“Then you and Antem Urdnot get to the ones on the eastern side. Law, Nought, get the northern ones. I’ll handle the west and southern ones. Ava, mark them on our HUD’s” small neon orange markers appeared on their purple tinted visors and they separated. More of the beasts guarded the explosives but Miranda took them out with her Yol Strum shotgun and blasted the beasts away.

The concentrated bolt of magic and heat burned a hole through the first beast’s chest and she jabbed the large bayonet attached to the front into the throat of the next, dragging it to the side and severing many vital chords. It fell with a gurgle and she loosed another blast into the final beast. It slumped to the ground and she holstered the gun before kneeling in front of the large off white metal crate that contained the explosive. She easily tore the panel off and buried her fingers into the exposed wiring.

“Skald commander Zero and I have defused the first bomb” Miranda reported and Miranda hit the acknowledge button with her chin.

“Centurion Williams, same here” came the other reply.

“Shepard acknowledging, finished with the first myself” She answered and sprinting towards the next two boxes. Their guardians were swiftly dealt with and the explosives deactivated. “Head down to the center, we need to find out what they are looking for here” she instructed and the others acknowledged. From where she stood she could see the other pairs approach the lip of the crater and like her, hop over the edge, falling a good ten feet before landing on the steep incline.

She skidded for a foot before she gathered her legs under her and began to run down the slope, dirt and rocks cascading away from her pounding boots. They approached several tall walls made of a grey metal. A council design shuttle screech overhead and swooped low. The Turian and his guard clambered aboard, firing at the incoming Nirnians who returned the courtesy but were to late to get into proper range.

Damn it!” Cortana swore before rounding the walls to see a tall obelisk made of black metal.

“What in the name of Stendarr and Talos is that?” Ashely asked cautiously approaching the edifice.

“According to my scans the shape is congruent with that of a Prothean beacon, a remarkably well preserved one” Ava told them over Cortana’s external speakers. The beacon lit up as Ashely approached it, long ribbons of green light reaching out to grab the Centurion.

“NO!” Cortana bellowed and dashed forward, her heavily armoured frame crashed into Ashely, sending her flying and the ribbons latched onto Cortana instead. They lifted her up and the obelisk began to spark and fizzle. Cortana felt like a red hot blade was being shoved into her brain and wiggling around to inflict maximum pain and damage. Disjointed images and sounds flashed through her brain and the world went dark.


“Did you get her Hircine?” a sultry woman’s voice echoed through the dark.

“Yeah, Saved her from having her mind being turned to paste” a man’s voice replied.

“Will she be recover?” another woman’s voice asked and a different man replied “Yup, I’m sure, she may have a few screws loose in the end but at least she will be alive to lead the fight.” There was a sigh and the darkness grew a little deeper.

“Listen to me well mortal, I will only say this once. Dagon has found a chink in the armour of Mundus. He has found worshipers in the children of Parnack. A scourge older than Nirn is coming, they are the bloody heralds of change. Our first and truly great mistake. We thought ourselves untouchable but we were wrong. Now our Error comes for our subjects yet again. These are the children of Malog’s first creations. Beware of the Reapers child, the dark harvesters have turned their eyes upon Nirn and Its children.” Another voice spoke and she felt a warm hand on her forehead.

“We, the other Princes set upon you this task of stopping Dagon’s champion and the scourge that burns across the Stars. All of us, save for Dagon are in agreement. We all prosper from the current status of the world. But Dagon would change that. Stop him Champion. This is our command!” The voice told her. Something warm was placed on her face, over her forehead, cheeks and chin.

She felt the deep abyss of unconsciousness open beneath her. “Go Champion. End the scourge!” sixteen voices commanded as she fell.


Cortana’s eyes opened with a snap and she flung her body upright. The simple white sheet was thrown from her body and pooled around her waist. She was stripped to her underclothes, her eyes darted around the room as she took stock of her location. She was in the Normandy’s Infirmary. Dark green walls gave the room a calming feel and the small shrine to Kynareth in the corner was illuminated by several lights.

The air was filled with the scent of flowers as the miniature gilder green next to the shrine bloomed with its soft pink buds. “Your awake, that’s good” and elderly female voice remarked and Cortana’s eyes darted t where a tall Nord woman with steel grey hair stood. She was clad in a white underarmour with a green sleeve and her name on her right breast.

“Healer Chakwas” Cortana recognized and the healer nodded, approaching and placing a hand on Cortana’s forehead.

“Thank the divines that you’ve woken up. You died on us for a moment there” she told the Skald, her hands glowing gold and the soothing warmth of healing magic spread throughout Cortana’s body.

“What happened?” Cortana asked laying back on the bed when the Healer had pressed her back down.

“You were caught up in some kind of Prothean technology. Their use of eezo nearly reduced your brain to paste in some kind of localized intrusion similar to an Asari mind meld. Luckily something stopped it before your brain started to pour out of your nose and ears. The enemy ships withdrew once the big one retreated. Those on the ground were hunted down and exterminated. The resident legion was reduced to nearly half and we lost thirty to heavy fighting and an orbital strike.” Chakwas told her calmly.

Cortana rubbed her nose and murmured a small prayer for their souls before she froze and paled “Where is Ava? Why can’t I hear her?” she demanded and Chakwas’ face became grim.

“Spirit Ava had to be temporarily transferred from your housing for repair. She did her best to shield you from the intrusion and suffered damage. She is currently convalescing in engineering. Ensign Zorah is remarkably talented and is currently repairing the damage Ava suffered at the beacon’s hands.”

Cortana closed her eyes and relaxed back a little, her head was quiet, frighteningly so. She had been with
Ava for three years and had become used to the feeling of Ava living in her neck.

“There is also one more thing” Chakwas told her and Cortana cracked open an eye to look at the Healer.

“What?” she asked cautiously and Chakwas picked up a mirror from her desk. “This appeared on your face about three hours ago” she answered, tilting the mirror so Cortana could see her face.

Tiny intricate gold bands curled around her forehead and along her cheeks and chin, highlighting and framing her face. She reached up a hand ad touched the golden threads. They sat above skin level and were arm like her skin. She could feel tiny designs etched into the metal. At her gesturer Chakwas brought the mirror closer and Cortana stared at the symbols.

They were Daedric. “What… what does it say?” she asked fearfully and Chakwas looked at her with pity and understanding.

“It reads: Behold the Champion of the Princes. She shall be our hand in the great war against our Mistake. It then lists all the princes save Dagon. You’ve been marked. More so than any in history.” Chakwas’ eyes were sympathetic. It was hard enough to be marked by one prince let alone sixteen. She shuddered as the memories of what she had experienced in the dark returned to her.

“I need to see the queens” she mumbled, falling back into the bed as exhaustion tugged at her.

“We are already on our way. Eye Ice Queen took over and turned us to Nirn. Centurion Williams and Antem Urdnot are aboard as well, they are to report Directly to their majesties. We are about three hours from Nirn. Sleep till then”

The Healer commanded. Cortana sank back as her eyes tugged closed. Stop the Dark Harvest echoed in her head as she slipped back into her dreams.

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