The Dragon Queens

Chapter 7

NIV Might of the Queens- Cortana Shepard

Cortana sat on her bunk sharpening her sword. This wasn’t new, or uncommon, on the 4 other bunks in their room sat her Prolus all cleaning their weapons, or in Kashela’s case reading a spell tome. She had finished her sword and was moving to her specially modified and flame enchanted Stahlrim shotgun when the
jump warning sounded.

Amber alarm lights flashed and a harsh, brazen warning sounded throughout the ship, an Argonians voice echoed on the comms “Plane jump in 5…4…3…2…1.” Cortana felt her mind twist and her body shudder as the ship changed planes, slowly the feeling abated indicating that they were now in Oblivion. Even though they were still inside their ship, the air felt different, warmer and despite the magelight throughout the ship
the light felt distinctly more golden hue.

Random wisps of rainbow colour drifted through the air like windblown spider silk scarves, proving that they were in Meridia’s plane. Selena reached forward with the arrow she had been sharpening and twirled a long purple strand along its shaft, playing with the tangible light while Kashela watched them drift by like a kitten confronted by a string dangled for entertainment.

Cortana smiled as she watched the lights drift past, she had been born onboard a ship to a military family so she had experienced plane jumping all her life and after joining the Nightingales she had continued to jump frequently, keeping her from getting plane sick like the new bloods. Still these beautiful lights in Meridia’s realm had always fascinated her as a child, and they still did now filling the air with their multicolored hues.

Idly she reached forward and played with a particularly active streamer of sapphire blue, twining it around her fingers as it slid smoothly along her digits, playing with it like she had as a child. Garzog and Terala ignored them in favour of their weapons though a few curious looking wisps floated around them.
It was still a debate among mages if these streamers of colour were actually alive or just manifestations of magica, not that most cared, they were pretty and they made the act of plane jumping a little more enjoyable.

Council chambers, The Citadel, Serpent Nebula- Tevos

They all sat round a conference table staring intently at the codex Benezia had sent them. A large screen dominated the far wall and contained a flow chat as they attempted to sort through the complicated details they were confronted with. These Nirnians seemed to have a very blurry distinction between fact and fiction, truth and myth.

For instance, their Queen Ayrenn II was also a prophesized mythological figure called the Dragonborn who was the spiritual daughter of their chief god Akatosh or Auriel, youngest sibling to giant winged beasts called dragons and had killed their apocalyptic demon Alduin who was also supposedly her brother.
Not only that but she and her adopted sister Serana were supposedly immortal and Serana subsisted off of the blood of other sentient beings. Couple that with this mysterious abilities that they called magic and the Council was left with a very tangled and convoluted understanding of these Aliens, hence the need for a chart, several charts in fact.

Also, certain areas of their codex were distressingly blank like how they traveled from planet to planet, all they had was a twisted and mythological account of passing through the realms of demons. Uwik looked like he wasn’t sure whether to have a heart attack from the pressure or to explode from excitement as he read of the various races, their basic biology and technology, not that most of it made sense to him.
He scoffed whenever they used the word “magic” in their descriptions, which was often and muttered incessantly of primitive methods and speculation. Tevos was now having to suppress the urge to turn him inside out from sheer annoyance.

Callamus looked exhausted and frightened, he was pouring over the Nirnians military structure, history and vague numbers of fleets and solders, drinking water now as Tevos had cut him off the brandy after he had finished a bottle several hours ago.

The Nirnians weren’t stupid enough to give precise numbers of their military and navy, just general impressions of size and those alone were enough to frighten a Krogan warlord, though the ships and vehicles were described in morbidly vivid detail.

That left Tevos to look at their government and culture, or more accurately cultures, there were 16 individual races, 7 different pantheon variations and a dizzyingly complex political history that seemed more like something out of a video game or Science fiction.

She was fairly certain what Benezia had said to offend their ambassador had something to do with the fall of a political party known as the Thalmor almost two thousand years before and their extremely racist ideals against other races, the list was extensive in this: racial cleansing, religious persecutions assassinations, invasions, the list was very long.

A comm beeped near Tevos’s seat and when she answered it the voice of Benezia came out “Councillors, my ship is on route escorting the Nirnian Flagship and ambassador to the Citadel for continued peace talks. The Dream of Peace should be arriving in two days, and hopefully they will arrive at the same time.”
Uwik looked up sharply “what are their ships speeds? The codex does not indicate anything.”

Benezia sighed “I do not know Councillor, they have been very reticent in discussing their capabilities. Trying to get information they do not wish to divulge is like trying to convince a Quarian to take off their suit.”

“In short, impossible.” Callamus muttered morosely, taking a sip of water.

Tevos nodded “thank you Benezia, we will make sure that the fleet doesn’t try to shoot them from the sky. We’ll ready the Citadel for their arrival.” Benezia signed off and they all looked at each other “well, we had best get ready to welcome the Empire.” Tevos sighed and the other Councillors nodded in agreement, turning back to the codex with a vengeance.

NIV Might of the Queens, Somewhere in the Serpent Nebula

Out of sensor range of the Citadel or her attendant fleet, the Might of the Queens leapt back into existence and hung among the swirling purple gasses and particles of the Serpent Nebula, her shields flaring occasionally as they fended off the dangerous projectiles.

Admiral Drescher once again lounged on her command throne. They had left 3 hours after the Asari ship and had arrived in the nebula four hours later, but according to the Eyes stationed near the Citadel, the Asari vessel had yet to arrive.

“Makes one wonder how in the name of Azura they managed to rule their portion of the galaxy for so long, with such slow ships.” Muttered the Dunmer pilot as she compensated for the nasty solar currents in the nebula.

“We are not going to tell them we got here first is that clear.” Drescher Informed them “we are not going to tip our hand in this game yet, let them wonder and think us less advanced then they are. So keep us steady helm.”

There were a few smiles and feral grins before professionalism and discipline reasserted itself and the helmswoman nodded “aye, aye ma’am.”

The Citadel News Network

“Good morning Citadel!” the perky, bright blue Asari reporter chirped with a wide smile on her face. “Today, the Citadel was left reeling by the Council’s announcement that a previously unknown alien species had been discovered in the Attican Travers. Shortly after we were treated to the first glimpse of their ship as it arrived”

The screen cut to show a massive ship made of a gleaming golden metal and covered in black and silver feather like patterns arriving in a flash of aurora like light into Citadel space near the relay before gliding regally into a place near the Citadel, the newly finished Destiney Ascension, the pride of the Asari fleet looked like a toy compared with the alien craft.

It looked rather like a golden Thessian bird of prey with long sweeping lines, sleek wing like protrusions on either side, a curved spine and a single stabilizer rising on its tail. The blue Asari was back “this ship, called the Might of the Queens belongs to a race called the Nirnians.

We here at CNN hope to be welcoming another species into the Citadel community soon. Over now to Liana by the docking bay.”

The screen changed to show a pale lavender Asari with bright white face paint standing in a crowd of other aliens “Thank you Talia, I’m standing here near docking bay twelve hoping to get a glimpse of the Nirnian ship when it arrives. We all heard how this new species was found when the Batarians illegally activated relay 314. First contact with these aliens was initiated by the pursuing Turian patrol a small incident occurred whereby a few shots were fired and several ship were damaged before peace talks were established by Matriarch Benezia T’soni.”

The camera looked out through the view port and the entire crowd was silenced as a small and sleek gold and black shuttle exited from the massive ships belly. This shuttle glided gracefully across the intervening space towards the docking bay were Liana, the crowd and a large platoon of C-sec waited.
“As you can see the Nirnian’s ship has arrived and is now docking, stay tuned for the Citadel’s first glimpse of these new members of the Galactic community.”

Nirnian shuttle- Anatia Galeyal

Anatia looked quickly at her party and smiled before looking down and ensuring the ties on the hilt of her dagger was secure. The entire diplomatic party save their guards had peace ties on their weapons, preventing them from being drawn.

Admiral Drescher stood next to her, looking very impressive in her admiral’s uniform, with two equally impressive Commanders flanking her, one Imperial and the other an Argonian. Anatia was resplendent in a pure white gown with white embroidery and black leggings and boots, her long sleeve streamers falling gracefully from her elbows, with a gold circlet with a large center emerald and smaller flanking rubies on her head and her Voice’s amulet at her throat.

Near her stood Relena in forest green and gold embroidery with similar cut save for her tight sleeves that ended in a point on the back of her hand, and a Redguard woman named Aira in a similar deep crimson gown with silver embroidery and both bearing similar amulets as Anatia.

Two Decem of Nightingales stood around them, silent and imposing in their matte black armour and black metal crested helmets. Each Prolus had a team colour in the form of a broad strip bracketed by thinner white down their right arm, the Current teams were red, purple, gold and blue.

A Breton in the grey and black tunic and leggings with an elven dagger of a reporter stood nearby with a recording circlet on his head that was sending the footage to the Might from where it would be relayed to the news stations to be edited and broadcast across the Empire.

There was a thud heralding the landing of the shuttle and the pilots report confirmed this. Anatia smiled and face the others “Let us walk into the saber cat’s den and tweak its nose, shall we?” there were some
chuckles and grins.

The Nightingales saluted her “We’ll keep it off you Ma’am” a short female with a red stripe and markings of an Antem answered with a grin audible in her voice. Anatia turned back toward the door and composed herself murmuring the Empires call that the others heard and echoed “For the Queens.”

Docking bay, the Citadel</ strong>

The door near the rear of the shuttle opened and the Nirnians strode out. The crowd gasped, there was more than one species, and most were so similar to Asari, only with fur on their heads instead of tentacles.
But four of the armoured ones had tails and obvious muzzles on their helmets and one of the uniformed ones had a tail as well as scales. In the front a tall, thin female with glittering golden skin, long pointed ears, bright blue eyes and long golden fur glided forward in an eye wateringly white gown and a golden jeweled circlet and necklace.

On her left walked a much shorter, bronze skinned, amber eyed, pointed eared female with brown fur in deep forest green that glittered with golden embroidery and on her right walked a female with deep brown skin, dark eyes, rounded ears and long black fur wearing a rich crimson gown that complemented her skin tone and gleamed with silver embroidery.

on all three a slit in the front and back subtly shifted and revealed black leggings and boots as they moved gracefully down the ramp.

Behind them walked a tall pale female round ear with icy blue eyes and fiery copper fur pulled into a
severe bun at the nape of her neck. She was dressed in a black military uniform with red piping along the seams and whose right breast overflowed with brightly jewelled medals.

Flanking her was a slightly darker skinned, brown eyed, male round ear of medium height and with short dark fur and a heavy set bipedal lizard with maroon banded, amber scales, yellow eyes and crimson feathers set amongst curving horns on its head that also ran along its jaw.

Both were in similar black uniforms with red piping and also sported a fair number of medals. A pale male round ear with short light brown fur and hazel eyes, clad in grey and black walked behind them with some kind of glowing circlet on his head that he kept pointing around him like a camera.

Behind this party marched twenty black armoured guards that swiftly divided into four groups of five with indicating colours and surrounded the diplomats. To top it all off, the entire party wore archaic blades at their sides.

The guards carried an array that ran from small daggers, to large two handed weapons, swords and shields as well as bows or staffs. But all had firearms hanging from their armour, pistols and assault rifles, shot guns and snipers; all sleek matte black and covered in small symbols that would occasionally gleam with a faint light. The three gowned females had long curved, nasty looking silver daggers with a single coloured gem in the hilt, two green and one red.

The black uniformed officers sported long unadorned, vicious looking swords and the grey individual had a straight gold dagger. However, all seven had their blades bound in their sheaths by gleaming white ribbons that fastened around the hilts in a complicated knot preventing them from being drawn.

The Turian C-sec captain Adrian Corvus cleared his throat and stepped forward “Welcome to the Citadel. I must ask that you submit all weaponry before following us to meet the Council, it’s our policy for the safety of our citizens and yourselves.”

The white clad, golden skinned one fixed him with a piercing blue eyed stare that pinned him to the floor and seemed read all his secrets “we will not surrender our blades as to do so would indicate that we trust you implicitly or are offering our complete surrender. These are peace talks between equals that as of yet have not built trust, but who both wish for peace and so to reflect this, our blades are bound, should there be war the ties will be removed. It is our way. Nor can you expect our guards to willing surrender their weapons” she finally replied in accented Turian.

The C-sec members shifted uncomfortably as the twenty guards turned their black tinted eye slits to stare at the captain. “Then may I ask you to leave half your guard here?” The gold one cocked its head to the side before nodding and turning to the rest of the party “Bii dopaan, Yuvon dopaan, fey het ahrk lingraav faal Nahrz. Nunon ko trun gein do daar mey unt wah kuz nii” she told them in a startlingly harsh tongue.
Two groups with gold or blue stripes placed their right fists on the left side of their chest before bowing and one of the blue ones replying “naal hin uth Zul” before they moved away and spaced themselves evenly around their shuttle in an obvious guard pattern.

Captain Corvus cleared his throat nervously and said “if you will follow me ambassador” he turned and began to lead them out of the docking bay. The plotted route to the Council tower had been pre-cleared and was the longest and most scenic route possible.

The idea behind the long walk was to tire out the visiting dignitaries and make them more susceptible to manipulation by the Council who would be well rested and waiting. It also gave them a chance to show off the Citadel. As he led them along the presidium, Corvus puffed out his chest with pride at their compliments. The Nirnians all made suitably impressed sounds but showed no signs of fatigue as they looked out over the beautiful vistas.

“This is a truly beautiful station the Council has built. It is enough to make one wonder at the amount of time, labour and materials needed to construct such a marvel” the ambassador said to Corvus.

“We didn’t build it, the Protheans did” Corvus informed them feeling the need to be honest with them. She raised the thin line of pale fur above her right eye in an expression he did not identify “This station existed before your Council then” she said delicately.

Corvus nodded “the Protheans built the Citadel and the Mass Relays, it is because of them that we have FTL capabilities.” He flared his mandibles in a Turian smile as the female hummed in thought.

“We had a similar race on our homeworld, the Dwemer. A long extinct race of artificers who first opened our eyes to the possibilities of machine and automata, the possibility of harnessing the natural to do our bidding and expand beyond what mere magica and natural ability could accomplish.” She told him, a proud look settling over her features momentarily before fading back to the polite façade and gesturing for them to continue.

Council tower, the Citadel- Anatia

It was a solid hour later that they reached the base of the Council Tower and Anatia was thanking all the
gods that the Queens insisted their representatives be fit and battle capable, as without the extremely strenuous training and maintained high levels of stamina, she and the others would have been exhausted. Now standing at the base of the gleaming tower she noted its sheer height and fine construction.

“A marvel of engineering indeed, but a stolen one” she thought. The walk they had just completed, coupled with this imposing sight must often be used to impress and wear down visiting dignitaries she mused, then
smirked mentally.

She was Nirnian a member of an Empire that had roamed Aetherius for a millennium. Not only that, but she was Altmer, pride was her birthright, and hers was rightfully earned. So she wasn’t about to let a tower, one that was inhabited by these Thalmor imitators intimidate her.

Magnus, she had slain a rampaging troll with little more than her magic and her dagger whilst on tour in Skyrim, so she would not grant them a victory by allowing their games to defeat her. Besides, she thought with a smug inner smile as she and her fellow voices entered into a lift with red Prolus and three alien guards, the crystal tower in the Dominion was more beautiful, and the Nirnians had actually built their wonders.

The ride up the tower in the lifts, could only be described as torturous, music that was a complete affront to tonality of any kind grated on her highly sensitive Mer hearing while the lift itself moved and an agonizingly slow pace that nearly had her wanting to claw at her ears or use a chain lightning spell on the speakers to at least pass the journey in peaceful silence, she was leaning heavily toward option two.
Aira must have noted Anatia’s and Relena’s slowly tightening muscles because she placed her hand on both their forearms and murmured “peace sisters, peace.” Anatia closed her eyes and tried to shut out the painful sounds that apparently passed for music among these aliens and breathed deeply through her nose, hearing Relena doing the same thing as they both strived to pass this test the Council had set as easily as they had the other ones.

A faint pinging noise and a surreptitious nudge from Aira informed her that the painful ordeal was over. It was now time to enter into battle with the Council, again she murmured the Empire’s cry and heard the others echo her “for the Queens”

Main Council Chamber, the Citadel – Captain Corvus

Corvus just barely heard the entire group of aliens mutter “Fah faal Jud” in unison, like some kind of prayer or benediction as the doors opened and the ambassadors exited in that smooth gliding gate of theirs and waiting patiently for the second lift to arrive.

As the second half of the party exited the lifts the red furred military leader walked up to the gold one and said “Rah, faal lovaas los volzah. Dii honiir sosaal.”

The gold pointy ear nodded “geh, dii ahk” with a faint twitch at the corners of its lips. He cleared his throat and gestured up the stairs towards where the Council waited “the Council is just up these steps” he told them.

The golden one smiled blandly at him “Many thanks guard Captain, lead on.”

Main Council Chamber, the Citadel- Tevos

Tevos watched from her place in between Uwik and Callamus as the party from Nirn came into view. They made for an impressive sight she grudgingly admitted, their guards moved with the absolute precision that she recognize from her maiden days as a mercenary as a result of long and arduous training.

They also moved in complete and unnatural silence and bristled with enough weapons both archaic and modern to make a Krogan cry with envy. The main two representatives walked forward and stood facing the Council, the attendants flanking the two women and a grey glad individual standing behind the diplomats pointing its glowing circlet around the room, with the guards taking up a protective semicircle around them facing outwards.

The white clad female she identified as an Altmer inclined her head regally to the Council, an action that was mirrored by the rest of the party. Tevos mentally beat her to the punch by speaking first, with a gracious and welcoming smile.

“Welcome to the Citadel, representatives of the Nirnian Empire. I am Councillor Tevos of the Free Asari Republics” “I am Councillor Callamus of the Turian Hierarchy” “and I am Councillor Uwik of the Salarian Union” the other two Councillors introduced themselves in their well-rehearsed pattern.

The Altmer inclined its head again and spoke in translated Turian with an accent that could only be described as aristocratic, “Peace, Fire, Sky to you honoured Councillors of the Citadel. In the name of the Glorious Queens of the Nirnian Empire: Serana Volkihar the Wise and Ayrenn II the Just , as well as the esteemed and noble Council of Monarchs. I, Anatia of house Galeyal, born in the city of Lillandril on the Summerset isles in the fourth Aldmeri Dominion, on the planet of Nirn within the Nirnian Empire, speak as the Voice of the Queens within in these halls.

To my right stands the leader of the Second fleet in the thirteenth sector, Admiral Kastanie Drescher, daughter of Gallus and Ysolde Drescher, born in the city of Firehold in the Scorching plains on the planet Dovah Suleyksejun within the Nirnian Empire, Victor of the battles of Hattar, Breaker of the siege of Galvus, Decimator of the cult of Nameria after the Devouring massacre and Commander of the Destroyer the Might of the Queens, flagship of the Imperial navy.

Arrayed at our sides stand my fellow Voices: Relena of house Gildleaf of Silentwood and Aira Sendu of Highblaze and her loyal commanders: Malakai Tirus of Galtar and Chases-Blue-Dartwings of Grey Marsh. Behind us stands Gavin Fletch of Kynareth’s Haven as the eyes, of the Empire during these talks. At our backs stand two Prolus of our Empire’s Nightingales of the second level.” When she had finished she took a step forward

“it is the desire of our Queens and Empire that further bloodshed be avoided. Too many have already lost their lives in the battles of Shanxi and Frostreach. Though those who survive have revealed their strength and skill, Mundus is lesser for the loss of those who fell by chance. Therefore, let us speak of peace in the wake battle.” The others in the Imperial party bowed their heads in agreement before Voice Galeyal looked right into Tevos’ eyes and appeared to wait for a response.

Inclining her head in a matching gesture Tevos replied “agreed, let us put this incident behind us and start with a blank slate. We also realise that certain concessions must be made by both parties in order for peace to be accomplished.”

Callamus spoke next “we were wondering what happened to the ground troops on Shanxi, were there any

Voice Anatia nodded “the General of the invasion, one Desolas Arterius, nobly surrendered rather that waste the lives of his men. He and the remaining Turians were taken to Nirn as prisoners of war by General Corrin Williams and Admiral Steven Hakket, aboard the Super Dreadnaught Searing Vengeance. They have been healed and are being treated with the respect due to valiant warriors of honour. but their fate now rests in the hands of our Queens and you. Should peace be established, then they shall be returned to you without further harm, if wars is the outcome then they shall be placed in our internment camps until either the end of the war or their lives, such is our way.”

Callamus nodded gratefully at this statement and Tevos spoke the question that rested on everyone’s minds “what will it take for there to be peace between us?”

Here Voice Galeyal considered for a moment “A non-aggression treaty signed between the Empire and your Council, reparations for the damage of our colony and complete control over the single Mundus gate that leads to our territory will suffice for now.” She said finally.

Uwik blinked his eyes quickly “Mundus Gates? That was not in the Codex you sent us.”

Voice Galeyal nodded calmly “the name is… recent. The codex names them Oblivion gates of Aetherius and we acted on our Queens instructions to destroy all we found to prevent malevolent Deadra from gaining a foot hold in Mundus once more. I believe your codex names them Mass relays. It was by mere fluke that the gate near Shanxi survived.”

Uwik’s eyes shuttered rapidly as the Council realised what the Voice had just told them “you’ve been destroying Mass Relays” Uwik nearly shrieked, a vein visibly pulsing on his forehead as Tevos and Callamus
were reduced to stunned silence.

The Nirnians looked at Uwik in fascination as the Salarian turned several different shades as his heart began to work overtime and he hyperventilated “Yes, our count now tallies seven with the discovery of the gate near Shanxi. We have destroyed six, though since the Shanxi the fleets are combing the Empire’s systems again to find those that have may have escaped initial surveys.” Tevos could only stare at the Nirnians in shock.

They destroyed six relays and spoke about it as if it was of no consequence, she desperately tried to gather her thoughts. “How…” her voice failed her for a moment, her dry throat seizing, she cleared it and tried again “how were you able to destroy them?”

Admiral Dresher stepped forward and answered in an accent littered with heavy consonants and rolled r’s “The Gates were destroyed using our ship board weapons in a continuous barrage. The first one we encountered was destroyed by General Odahviing in twelve days of continuous bombardment. Subsequent destructions have taken less time as our technology improves, the last relay was destroyed a decade ago in four and a half days.”

The Councillors simply stood there with their jaws and mandibles hanging open in horrified shock. Five days to destroy a Mass relay… Goddess Tevos sent another prayer up to the goddess that these talks would end in peace. Tevos looked at her fellows then swiftly typed a message urging that they get off the topic of weapons and focus on securing the treaty, questions could come later… hopefully much later, she thought.

Callamus shook his head minutely, as if to clear it and asked cautiously “you spoke of reparations for the destruction of your colony. What is your price?”

Voice Galeyal smiled politely “a wergild of 40 tonnes of gold, and that 4 legions of your military, including all commanding officers aid in the reconstruction of Frostreach.” Callamus spluttered and Tevos stared at the Nirnians in shock, if she was remembering their military units correctly, they had just demanded forty thousand Turian troops and officers be loaned to them for manual labour.

“Impossible!” Callamus growled threateningly.

Voice Galeyal looked completely unperturbed “need I remind you that the Turians used Orbital bombardment against our soldiers. Unless I misread your laws, is that not illegal to use such weapons on a garden world?” she replied coolly, her face betraying nothing.

“Let us think calmly for a moment.” Tevos said quickly as Callamus opened his mouth “I’m afraid that the Turians cannot supply that many troops as they are the peacekeepers of Citadel space and need those troops for patrols and various peacekeeping activities throughout Citadel space.”

Tthe Nirnian admiral made a soft snorting sound that Tevos ignored and continued “to divert so many would be irresponsible and could destabilize our entire territory.” She paused her face showing her puzzlement “I must also ask why gold?”

Voice Galeyal spoke simply “our currency is based on a gold standard, our coin being the Septim. 40 tonnes of gold translates to approximately 1,534,598,080 Septims in the Nirnian economy. As we have yet to establish an exchange rate between our currencies, it is better to pay in the raw materials as currently we do not know what materials you have that are of worth to us.” She paused her golden eyes seeming to grow icy for a moment before she continued “In the Empire the punishment must fit the crime, as this crime affected the entirety of the Empire the punishment must be just as far reaching. The Turians destroyed needlessly and killed senselessly. Whilst these reparations do not return the souls of those lost, they shall repay and repair the damage they inflicted upon our world, this is the only way the Queens will accept there to be peace.”

Silence fell over the Council as the Voice’s heavy words fell across the room. Tevos mentally braced herself and began the long process of negotiation.

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