WA Delegate: The United Republic of Richomp (elected )
Last WA Update:
Embassies: Gay Equality, Zentari, Wintreath, The United Feline Commonwealths, Japan, International Debating Area, The Glorious Nations of Iwaku, United States of America, Future Earth, North Dakota, Krillin, The Dank Meme Alliance, The Bar on the corner of every region, The Illuminati, Avadam Inn, The Great Universe, and 125 others.Northumbria, Hellenic Civilization, Eastern Roman Empire, Sovereign Charter, Groland, Asylum, LCRUA, Hippy Haven, Remnants of Hyrule, Sikh Empire, Union of Saxon Justice, Order of the Southern North, Khuzifenq, Canterlot, Okanagan, Aeterna Publicae, Empire of Andrew, The Western Isles, Arconian Empire, The Peaceful Coffee Shop In Chicago, Historia Novorum, Regionless, Sunalaya, Asiana, Solid Kingdom, The Doctor Who Universe, Iowa, Colorado, Illinois, Idaho, Arizona, Maryland, Delaware, Kansas, 0000, Capital Heights, Pluviostan, Ancient Lands, Republic of Channel Island, Organization of United Sovereign States, Homestuck, Eladen, Krumpelberg, The Republic Nations, North Carolina, The Empire of Friendship, The Lexicon, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Osakaland, The Empire of Common Territories, The Great Experiment, Grand New Earth, Free Market Federation, The Popptart Empire, The Parliamentary Union of Nations, Wyoming, Democritus, London, Mexico City, Mississippi, Cameroon, Minnesota, Jamaica, Uganda, The Central Pacific, Republic of Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, The Hill, One big Island, Birmingham, Archdymia, Brazzaville, Togo, Timor Leste, The Gambia, Republica del Paraguay, Saskatchewan, Galapagos, Imperial Prussia, Sudan, Austro Hungarian Empire, Solar Alliance, Bus Stop, Greater Dienstad, The Mesan Union, Kylden, Haiku, World Conference, Tasmania, Australia, The Sands, CDW Federation, The Vast, Ozymandium, Gypsy Lands, The United Islands of the Atlantic, Yarnia, Chinese Republic, Lardyland, The Dawn of Unity, MentosLand, The Erviadus Galaxy, Mitteleuropa, Hollow Point, Epicenter Of Prosperity, The Democratic Republic of Freedom, Train Station, Djibouti, Fredonia, Kingdom of Adonai, The Independent Newspaper, Montrandecs Neighbours, The International Polling Zone, Codex Ylvus, Norden, Oneid, RAMS, Nezasnorden, Natura, Save Our Planet, Pecan Sandies, NSCP, The Embassy, and The Great Union.
Construction of embassies with BCHS has commenced. Completion expected .
Today's World Census Report
The Most Primitive in Dauiland
Nations were ranked by World Census officials based on the number of natural phenomena attributed to the unknowable will of animal-based spirit gods.
As a region, Dauiland is ranked 25,056th in the world for Most Primitive.
|1.||The HOLIEST HOLY LAND of HOLYDIA||Psychotic Dictatorship Fascist Dictatorship||“I am your GOD, Poobah!”|
|2.||The Borderlands of Sovak Medasic||Iron Fist Consumerists Imperialist Pig Dog Oppressors||“Glory to Sovak Medasic!”|
|3.||The Factbook Writers of Our Official FB Nation||Inoffensive Centrist Democracy Fascists||“Dauiland’s Official Factbook Storage”|
|4.||The Republic of TLU Canon Info||Psychotic Dictatorship Fascist Dictatorship||“Lets not go that way”|
|5.||The Dictatorship of Sheev Palaptine||Iron Fist Consumerists Imperialist Pig Dog Oppressors||“I am the Senate. It's treason then!”|
|6.||The Sweet Islands of Candy and Chocolate||Liberal Democratic Socialists Open-Minded Education State||“Tout est bon avec du sucre!”|
|7.||The United Republic of Richomp||Left-Leaning College State Paradise||“oeconomia ad libertatem ad enviorment”|
|8.||The Free State of Crimtonian Spectre||Civil Rights Lovefest Brave Progressives||“Live Free or Die”|
|9.||The Articulate Republic of Rahul Raghuraman||Left-Leaning College State Paradise||“Forever advancing!”|
|10.||The Golden Haven of Liberlitatia||Civil Rights Lovefest Brave Progressives||“Luckiest nation in the multiverse!”|
- : The Articulate Republic of Rahul Raghuraman agreed to construct embassies with BCHS.
- : The Holy Empire of Ian Kemble of the region BCHS proposed constructing embassies.
- : Embassy established between The Great Union and Dauiland.
- : The BLM of Nazbeth agreed to construct embassies with The Great Union.
- : The Borderlands of Sovak Medasic arrived from Osiris.
- : The Royal Confederation of Arkilandic of the region The Great Union proposed constructing embassies.
- : The Republic of TLU Canon Info arrived from Balder.
- : The Republic of TLU Canon Info ceased to exist.
- : Idi games ceased to exist.
- : Embassy established between The Embassy and Dauiland.
Dauiland Regional Message Board
Attention: In his wisdom, our lord and savior MOST HOLY ADMIRAL-GENERAL-PRESIDENT-VICE PRESIDENT-EMPEROR-BISHOP-ARCHBISHOP-PRIEST-ARCHPRIEST-GOD Holyfa has updated the name of the “HOLY but not as much as Holyfa BIRD” to the “HOLY but not as much as Holyfa DODO BIRD,” for specificity. All rejoice!
Little-known fact — Archpriests were originally homeless priests who had to live under arch bridges.
“Let us begin with the account I received from Secretary Gierplun,” Kadhir said. “Its explanation of our dear maniac Tessin’s disappearance wasn't the main focus of the report.”
“What was it about, then?” Enolin asked. His expression displayed puzzlement, but something in his voice gave Kadhir the feeling he already knew the answer to this question.
“There was a section covering Tessin, of course, and some more about a figure named ‘the Harbinger.’ But mostly, it was about Scinrea,” Kadhir explained casually, hoping her almost offhand mention of such an important name would throw off Enolin from whatever plot he had certainly devised during the main meeting.
“Interesting,” Enolin replied emptily as Kadhir handed him the reader containing the document. “How did you manage to pry a Level Five-classified report from someone as protective as Gierplun?”
Seeing where Enolin was heading with this, Kadhir switched to the tone Ofrant used to call her “protection of state secrets” voice. “Your murky position in my government,” she said, “doesn’t entitle you to knowledge that I haven’t even told my top campaign managers. And it especially doesn’t give you the authority to question the veracity of my results.”
Enolin put the reader back on the desk and sighed rather condescendingly. “Firstly, Governor, I hold no doubts concerning the report’s truthfulness. Secondly, it’s not my status as your personal assistant that lets me query your methods. With all due respect and honorifics and such, if you’re to be an effective member of the Modus Vivendi, you can’t withhold this kind of information from me,” he said, his voice heavy, “both because I’m your equal on the MV and because your highly public job requires that I act as your link to the Council.”
Putting aside her indignation for the moment, Kadhir countered with equal force: “That may be true, Enolin, but in the public world, you still work for me, and that relationship must be maintained.”
Enolin looked around Kadhir’s office as if deciding how to respond, pausing his visual sweep for a few seconds to look at the set of plants the governor kept in the far corner of the room, then returned his gaze to his superior. “I agree completely,” he said, sounding emboldened. “I work for you as your spy, both within and outside your sphere of influence, and my job relies on having information. If I can’t know anything about your exchange — your meeting — with Gierplun, I’ll be that much less effective. Is that what you want, Governor?”
Oh, so Enolin was going to try that approach, was he? “In exchange for the report,” she said, “I gave Gierplun a piece of information I learned solely due to my association and employment of you, Enolin. Now please tell me again how keeping secrets from you, as I always have, suddenly harms your ability to do work.”
Enolin sighed again, his expression all but uttering to Kadhir, Practically useless, but it’s probably better than nothing. After a moment, he asked, “How secure is your office, Governor?”
Initially, Kadhir thought that her wily subordinate had just suffered a minor stroke. No, Enolin’s brain is healthy, or at least as healthy as it ever was — he’s changing the subject to avoid acknowledging he lost the argument, she thought confidently. But just in case…
She pressed the first button under her desk. Upon hearing the subsequent click of the locked double doors, he said in a reminding tone, “I was speaking in terms of transmission security.”
“I’m aware, Enolin,” she said. “Locking the exit was for my own sense of comfort. My office is more than secure enough for whatever diabolical scheme you’ve cooked up this time.”
Enolin leaned in closer to Kadhir, much the same way Gierplun had done after the governor’s offer of an exchange of knowledge. “I hope so,” he said quietly. “Because I’m going to ask you one last time how you got that information from Gierplun. You know why I’m asking for it, and I know you’ll give it to me.”
“What do you mean?” Kadhir asked, keeping the suspicion and small but growing sense of urgency out of her voice, and again hoping her easy reply would deflect some of Enolin’s machinations.
Without replying, he stood up and walked over to the corner of the office. Adding further to Kadhir’s uncertainty, he stuck a hand into the soil of the rearmost plant. “What are you doing, Enolin?” she demanded.
Still silent, Enolin pulled a small capsule-shaped item out of the soil, pushing aside Kadhir’s document-reader and placing the object in its place: between him and the governor. “This,” he said evenly, though Kadhir could sense the confidence in his voice, “is a recording device.”
“How did I get this past your security sweeps?” Enolin prompted. Kadhir immediately felt a mix of fury and dread — fury because Enolin had managed to sneak a recording device behind her back into her own office, and dread because she already knew how the rest of this conversation would go. Deciding to get it over with as quickly as possible so that she could arrange some consequences, Kadhir nodded.
“It’s very simple, actually,” Enolin said, some of the edge gone from his voice. “This device heavily utilizes some of Trinity Corporation’s most cutting-edge technology, which, as you can imagine, was acquired by elements of the Modus Vivendi shortly after Scinrea killed off the company’s leadership.”
Somehow, in the span of a few hours, she had been outmaneuvered twice: first by one of Sary Hykks’s secretaries, and then by a diminutive spy who, during their first conversation, she had thought to be a practical joke being played on her by a Conservative Senator. Desperately hoping Enolin was bluffing, there was only one thing Kadhir could say: “Play the recording.”
Enolin wasn’t bluffing.
He shut off the device and raised a stare to Kadhir. As the governor expected, he wasted no time in pressing his advantage: “While I may answer to you in the public world,” he said, not even bothering to address her as Governor, “in the Modus Vivendi, we’re equals. The Council can’t afford for you to hide information from me, especially—”
“—Because you’re my liaison with them,” Kadhir interjected in exasperation. “You don’t need to repeat yourself.”
Enolin stayed silent, as if expecting the governor to continue speaking.
“I suppose now’s the time to ask what the consequences will be for revealing Arven Lore’s survival,” she said, not especially caring that she sounded quite dour.
Enolin shrugged, again reverting to his innocuous persona. “The danger that revelation poses to achieving the ultimate goal is punishment enough,” he said, “both in terms of the Council’s continued secrecy and your own ends.”
My own ends? Did he know?
“Good enough, Enolin,” she said. “Now that you — I’m sorry, that the Council — has the NIB report, what would they have me do next?”
Extracting his own reader from a side pocket, Enolin simply told the governor, “This.”
Kadhir unlocked the door to let her exhausting assistant leave, then locked it back shut as soon as he departed. First Gierplun, and now him… she reflected. With both of them, she had let herself become overconfident and lazy — because her meeting with Gierplun ended in less than victory, she counted it as a defeat; and her conversation with Enolin had ended in defeat. Never again would she make that mistake, especially with the ever-unpredictable Harlin Enolin.
But before she read the Council’s latest request — and Kadhir knew they’d frame it as a request, since she’d been making sure to portray to Enolin a very tenuous cooperation with them — she had one task of her own to do.
Despite her solitude, she smiled furtively as she initiated a call with Qaib Nencaka.
“Deputy Director Nencaka here,” the bureaucrat greeted, his voice as gray as ever.
“I have a first-priority assignment for your people, Nencaka,” Kadhir said, some of the vigor and acuity Enolin had drained from her beginning to return as she spoke. “I need you to send an analysis team to my office as quickly as possible. Once they arrive, I’ll explain their task.”
“I understand, Governor,” Nencaka said, confirming after a pause: “Dr. Jirno and his team can arrive at the Gubernatorial Complex in two days.”
“Excellent,” Kadhir said, switching off the transmitter. She picked up the recording device from her desk and held it up between herself and the door. You may be good, Enolin, and I may have underestimated you today… but leaving your precious technology within my reach was a major mistake.
The next day, feeling significantly more confident about her next conversation, and remembering not to underestimate her counterpart, Governor Kadhir opened a transmission with the office of the CEO of the Accent Political Aid Company. Accent was one of the right wing’s most reliable donors and supporters. Since its creation in 2049 as a response to Goa Lore’s landslide victory, Accent had played a major role in nearly every conservative upset in the following years. Accent’s founder and current executive, Inteva Notsuini, was in charge of a team of lawyers infamous for taking advantage of loopholes, finding workarounds in the law that allowed high-value donations to right-wing politicians, and generally doing everything they could that fomented left-wing grievances.
Today, however, Kadhir wasn’t calling Notsuini to ask for legal assistance.
More quickly than she’d expected, her transmission was received. “This is Assistant Evlior Koera,” came a voice. “The CEO is currently preoccupied, but he assures you that speaking to me is as good as speaking to Mr. Notsuini himself.”
Oh, right; she’d completely forgotten Notsuini’s maze of useless assistants, redirections, and delays. That was why Kadhir’s call had been answered so quickly — she was being fed into Accent’s processor.
Well, if Notsuini had set up a maze intended to keep all but the most important and determined individuals from speaking to him, Kadhir was going to prove her importance and determination at every one of his turns.
She unmuted her transmitter. “I’m sure that line works with most people, Assistant Koera,” Kadhir said, adopting a polite yet assertive tone. “But it won’t work with me. Put me through to Mr. Notsuini.”
“If you feel so extremely confident in your own importance,” Koera said, “may I direct you to Assistant Belborint?”
“How is that any better than talking to you?”
“Mr. Belborint is a tier two assistant to Mr. Notsuini,” Koera said as if it were blindingly obvious. “I am a level one assistant.”
“How many levels of assistance does Notsuini entertain?”
“Fifteen levels,” Koera said in the same tone.
Kadhir’s instinct was to hang up at once, but, she recognized, that wouldn’t get her any closer to Notsuini. “Put me through to Belborint.”
Importance and determination, she told herself before Belborint began to speak.
According to the clock situated next to the door, three hours passed before Kadhir was passed from one of Notsuini’s level fifteen assistants — a woman named Pefien Nallidar — onto the CEO himself. She had only been able to pass his level four assistant after invoking her title as Governor of Josezhey, wouldn’t have made it beyond his level eight assistant if she hadn’t known that Notsuini had two sisters, and had been forced to wait forty minutes while his level ten assistant ate lunch.
Fortunately, though, she had passed his many tests, and was finally on the verge of talking to Notsuini himself.
“Ah, Senzala Kadhir!” the executive said warmly. “My apologies for the dramatics; they exist to keep unpleasant interests from wasting my time.”
“I can appreciate that, Mr. Notsuini,” Kadhir said, “though an expedited process for high-ranking clients would be appreciated.”
“Call me Inteva,” he said, acknowledging the governor’s recommendation with: “It’s on my list of priorities. But I know you didn’t come all this way to exchange pleasantries.”
Kadhir shook her head incrementally. “Of course not. I will be direct with you in this matter,” she said.
“As you always are,” Notsuini approved.
“I need a steady inflow of funding, with a currently unknown end date,” the governor declared without hesitating, “and with no questions asked.”
Notsuini grew pensive, occasionally glancing at out-of-view items or people as he thought. After several minutes, he said, “Certainly I’ll get you the money, but naturally, there needs to be a price.”
“That’s how Accent has always operated,” Kadhir said. Usually, clients repaid Accent by adopting certain stances on issues or advocating for particular laws or reforms. “What were you thinking about? The stance you’d ask me to embrace?”
“Something like that,” the executive agreed. “I was wondering if one part of your repayment — thirty percent, precisely — could be dropping your support of Tessin.” To the public — including to Notsuini — Kadhir’s support of the terrorist had been sincere and willingly, with only the governor and possibly Harlin Enolin knowing the truth.
“Really,” Kadhir said genuinely. Was this really going to be that easy?
“Absolutely,” Notsuini said. “I know you have a strong alliance with him, but supporting someone viewed as a terrorist has been hurting the right wing’s popularity. Many say it contributes to why we failed to retake Congress last year. Even if it’s true that his ultimatum to the Dauiland Council was falsified,” he added, “you cannot change a first impression of murder and terrorism.”
“I can do even better than dropping my support, actually,” she said. Without question, Notsuini was skilled, but Kadhir was better — much better — at this craft than the Accent executive. And to cement her advantage in this conversation, only she had read the NIB report detailing Tessin’s neutralization.
“In exchange for this counting more towards the repayment, I assume,” Notsuini guessed, to which Kadhir nodded.
“Forty percent?” the executive proposed.
“Seventy,” Kadhir said, and when Notsuini began to gape, she explained: “I can make Tessin disappear for good.”
“Governor, making Tessin vanish would boost the national cause immensely — you know this as well as I — but seventy percent is… it’s…” Notsuini trailed off, seemingly unable to think of a way to phrase his disapproval sufficiently cooperatively.
Now to finish this. Ofrant had been close friends with Idolia Karvis, Notsuini’s niece, and in her time with Idolia had learned that the executive had secretly tried to delve into the field of transhumanist science before deciding to pursue a career in political law.
“It’s not going towards the 2060 election, Inteva,” Kadhir finished his sentence. “I won’t be using the money for my presidential campaign.”
“Then what will you use it for?”
“To advance the cause of humanity in its entirety.”
He battered the black iron wall.
The wall rose from below the ground to a height beyond his vision. It was angled ever slightly back, not truly vertical, and the metal from which it was made did not seem to be split by grooves or dividing lines. The entire wall seemed to be one massive slab.
The iron withstood the pounding. Looking around in impotence, he identified a chunk of brickwork nearby and, using all his substantial strength, swung it at the wall.
The object broke into shattered pieces the moment it hit the wall.
He found three more chunks of debris and flung them all against the wall in rapid succession.
The pile of broken bricks grew.
He screamed in helpless fury; the sound simply bouncing off the iron barrier only increased his anguish.
He needed to have what that was beyond the wall. It was everything. He had never seen it, never felt it, never heard it; but he knew it was there — that it was what he needed. He knew it with memory that had been there long before he had come here.
He also knew that, no matter what, everything behind the iron wall belonged to him — and that soon, he would have it.
Deran Leanes didn’t feel heat this time.
During his delivery to Emperor Kovalin Rynas’s Redoubt, the leader of the emperor’s personal bodyguard detachment, a Commander Tarn, had forced him into an interrogation bed, playing lightning across Deran’s body until he fell unconscious from the temperature and the shock.
Deran was a logical person. When Tarn had thrown him onto the berth, Deran had recognized it as an Imperial Intelligence-style electrocution machine. He’d sworn to stay silent, to give nothing to the Eternal Empire.
And he hadn’t. The electricity had ravaged his body and sent his mind into a frenzied state of alarm, but Deran hadn’t broken his promise, and Tarn had dragged his body out of the bed and into a wheeled cot with no more knowledge than he’d possessed when he had begun the questioning.
Now he was separated from his allies in an unknown location, his only information being that the Imperials called it “the Redoubt,” and that Rynas believed it was securer than Ubiqtor Base.
And knowing the emperor’s sheer intelligence, Deran was inclined to believe him.
Deran didn’t feel heat this time. Before he’d been awoken from nightmares about the death of Lurin, his Imperial hosts had moved his body into what was clearly another interrogation apparatus, with its wires, injection cylinders, and various other agony-affliction mechanisms.
But Deran was a logical person. Even from his position lying on a hard platform angled forty-five degrees vertically, he could tell that this was not the same sort of machine as Tarn’s. Through his drug-induced awareness, he could also discern that a voice — possibly that of Rynas himself — was speaking.
“Our guest is awake,” the voice said coolly. “Activate the Dominion.”
“Yes, Emperor,” said a second voice.
Deran knew what happened next only through painfully vivid memories.
A jolt of excruciating pain abruptly burst through him, giving a terrifyingly real feeling that he was being cooked alive from the inside. His eyes involuntarily flew open, and a wave of pain instantly passed through them. Forcing his eyes back shut, an action that took far too much effort, Deran tried to scream in pure agony, but the sound was unable to escape his mouth.
And then, moments before he was certain he would die, it stopped.
Beyond his own heartbeat and irregular gasps for air, Deran heard approaching footsteps. Cautiously, he half-opened his eyes.
“I know you interacted with the supercomputers before fleeing Alomphmerks,” Rynas said from Deran’s side, his tone neutral — as it always was — and icily calm. “What I don’t yet understand,” he continued, deliberately emphasizing that word as if to further reassert his complete power over his prisoner, “is what you asked.”
For a moment, Deran didn’t have any idea what the emperor was saying, but as the emperor regarded him with a calculated gaze, he remembered. Rynas was talking about the End’s desertion of the Empire — more specifically, and more importantly to the then-assistant director, from his command.
But Deran wouldn’t break his word. He closed his eyes again, partially hoping Rynas hadn’t noticed their opening.
“I know you are conscious, Deran Leanes,” Rynas said instead. When Deran again failed to respond, Rynas sighed, almost reluctantly, and turned to the second voice. “Dr. Yachar?”
“Yes, Emperor,” the second Imperial — Yachar — replied.
“Hit him again.”
This time, Deran experienced not a jolt of pain followed by ripples, but a bizarre feeling of internal pressure. He felt his lungs expand, as if he’d just inhaled a cubic meter of air; he felt his veins, arteries, and capillaries swell with blood, every single vessel on the brink of bursting; he felt his limbs engorged by some sort of fluid, grating them against their restraints.
This time, Deran’s eyes didn’t open. No, this time, it was something far worse. His eyes were pressed against their lids, and every single organ in his body felt simultaneously stretched and crushed. Deran screamed again, and this time, the sound escaped his mouth.
The pure pain was indescribably far beyond anything he had ever gone through before, the experience within a sickeningly close distance of what he’d felt when Lurin was destroyed.
And then, like last time, it was suddenly all gone.
His body went fully limp, too battered to even breathe for long moments. A small sensation, feeling remotely like a steel rod to his exhausted senses, poked his waist. Right away he began to tremble, and not from the coldness of the rod. Every muscle in his body was shaking and shivering from the stimulation, and it took all of Deran’s willpower — not that very much of it was still left — to regain control of himself.
Rynas then spoke: “It is true genius,” he said, somehow still able to sound perfectly collected — even indifferent — following the gruesome, visible… what had to be near-death of his prisoner. “Dr. Yachar understands like few else do that normal methods of torture, even the more extravagant varieties favored by General Detrane and my own bodyguard commander, Tarn, are of little value against one whose determination outweighs their nervous system. And even you, Deran Leanes, are totally helpless against his remarkable machine.”
“Yes, Emperor,” Yachar confirmed, sounding grateful for the praise.
“The Dominion seeks to attack one’s mind and resolve,” Rynas explained, “while leaving the body completely intact.”
No— Deran’s mind realized in a sudden panic. That’s not possible—
“Any imaginable horror can be inflicted simply by stimulating various parts of one’s brain. The pain will feel absolutely real — and is, for even pain caused by bodily harm is created by one’s body in exactly this manner — but the flesh is untouched.”
Deran understood with grim clarity the implications of what Rynas had just said. Conventional torture would eventually overtake the victim’s physical endurance: past a certain point, they would die. But with this — this Dominion — those two variables were decoupled. No matter how much the victim — no matter how much he and almost certainly his comrades suffered, the pain would never end.
And not only that, Deran recognized. Leaving the victim to dwell on the impending unending agony was an equally important part of this new, somehow even more twisted, type of torture.
But Deran would make it. Deran always made it.
Slowly leveling an accusing finger at Rynas, Deran said, his voice creaking and strained, “You cannot break me.”
Rynas lowered Deran’s hand, his expression almost pitiful as he said, “We both know I can.”
“I’m sorry,” Rynas said, his demeanor once again neutral and observant, “but I do not accept that for an answer.” He turned to Yachar. “Again. Pincer him.”
“Yes, Emperor,” Yachar said from his control station.
As Rynas returned his gaze to Deran, the prisoner began to feel two needle-lined objects, one on each side of his abdomen, push slowly — slowly, but inexorably — towards his center. But knowing it’s fake doesn’t make the pain any less real.
“No!” Deran said again.
“ ‘No?’ ” Rynas echoed. “Do you deny the reality of—”
“No. I’ll talk. Just… stop. And... don't hurt the others.”
“If that's what it takes,” was all Rynas said before offering Deran a hint of a smile and telling Yachar to deactivate the Dominion.
Following his breaking, Deran was lifted from the Dominion to a bed on the far side of the room. Yachar left, and was replaced by a woman wearing a bland gray uniform. “The Records Service,” Rynas explained as Deran adjusted to his new location. “She will cross-check everything you say with the Ubiqtor Base records.”
He settled into a seat between Deran and the records-keeper, and added, “Now that you know the extent of my power, let’s try this again. You interacted with the supercomputers before fleeing Alomphmerks, and, as Officer Telder has informed me, another time after you deserted and before you were defeated by the second task force I sent after you. The Modus was rendered irreparable during that battle, and the Praxus tells us you didn’t use it.”
“We would’ve destroyed it,” Deran said, pausing to drink from a glass of water one of Rynas’s aides offered him as his voice faltered, “if we’d used it. Just like we destroyed the Modus.”
Rynas nodded silently, clearly expecting more.
Only because he knew it would delay his own suffering, and likely that of his allies, Deran obliged. “When we were in Alomphmerks, I asked the Modus if your intentions were genuine. Your lieutenant had told us in the… Ashes of Crimtonia,” he said, struggling to say those words, “that you shared our goal of avenging the fallen of Crimtonia. The Modus informed us that it — all of it — was a lie.” He turned his gaze upward, to Rynas. “You really don’t care,” he spat, his wistful tone replaced by a bitter hatred.
You’re wrong, Rynas corrected silently. I care more than you will ever know.
Aloud, he said, “My intentions are no longer any of your concern; in fact, it is your intentions that are mine, right now. Tell me what followed.”
“As soon as the Modus told us the truth, we knew what we had to do. We left your empire of lies, and we returned to our old base in the… Ashes.”
“What did you ask the Modus once you’d arrived?”
Deran looked back up at Rynas for a moment, as if contemplating defiance, deciding against it as he slumped back down to the bed. “When we saw your second force approaching, we knew victory was impossible. In desperation, one of my comrades, asked—”
“Interesting,” Rynas said thoughtfully, adding after a few seconds: “Resume.”
“Seivla asked the Modus if we had any chance of victory. It told her that we could not win; but it could be used to physically crush the attackers, and doing so would let us escape.”
“So you didn’t destroy it out of a fear that I’d recover it and learn what you asked.”
Deran gave a minute shrug. “Both.”
Rynas leaned over to Officer Telder, whispered a question to her. She responded in a near-whisper, her voice loud enough for Deran to catch the words. “It’s all verified or unverifiable.”
“Thank you, Officer, for your work,” Rynas said in normal volume, “and you, Deran Leanes, for your ability — however delayed it might have been — to see the truth, especially because I have more to learn from you.”
Now, as Deran had planned — if hastily thinking out a line not to cross while in a room with the Eternal Emperor, under the effect of stimulant drugs, and unable to think more than a few words at a time qualified as “planning” — he faced Rynas and said, “No more.”
In his drive to have any sort of plan, regardless of its actual contents, Deran had hoped for his statement to come across as audacious and dramatic. Instead, it was a weak scratch, one which Rynas almost didn’t hear.
Surprisingly, though, instead of responding to his prisoner, Rynas left the room, motioning for Telder to follow him. When he returned, he walked straight to Deran and said, “You are one of the luckiest people I’ve had the misfortune of encountering. Dr. Yachar tells me the Dominion is not yet prepared to handle more than the highly short-term processing you underwent.”
Deran’s thoughts went racing — did that mean the Dominion was still in testing? Was he the test subject? Would he be set—
“I am placing you in a glass cell until you willingly offer to agree to tell me whatever I want to know.”
“Or until the doctor has approved the Dominion for further use on you.”
And Deran’s thoughts came crashing back down into the pit of hopelessness.
The so-called glass cell was not, as it turned out, made of glass. Nor did it even make use of any glass. Instead, Deran thought glumly as he watched a pair of fish swim by his legs, the name came from the transparent metallic alloy that was the cell’s exterior wall.
Still handcuffed, Deran was in a small enclosure shaped like a pyramid turned on its side, with the base connecting to a hatch leading back into the Redoubt, and the faces forming angled walls that converged at an apex pointing outward from the building. If not for Deran being the one trapped in here, he would have admired the intelligence of the design. None of the surfaces were even remotely horizontal, making it a challenge to rest, much less sleep. The sharp corners and apex of the pyramid gave it an especially artificial feeling, reminding the prisoner that they were under the control of the Empire. And the vibrant, colorful, free scene of the ocean outside the cell reminded the prisoner of what they had lost, and what they could regain from complying with their captors’ demands.
But Deran wasn’t going to be manipulated by his cell’s design. Since his hosts had tossed him into his lovely new home several hours ago, he had been not only recovering from the horrible effects of the torture, but also formulating a plan. Now, it was ready.
He knocked twice on the hatch. In moments, the face of an Imperial guard trooper appeared on its other side. “Have you decided to obey Emperor Rynas?” she said.
Only to survive, he reminded himself before speaking. Surviving at any cost is always better than dying with some arbitrary notion of honor.
“Yes,” he told the guard.
Honor means nothing to the dead, he thought as he was let out of the glass cell. As he was blindfolded and escorted through the corridors of the Redoubt, he felt an absolute confidence in his plan.
After several minutes of walking, he was placed in a chair, and once the cloth in front of his eyes was lifted, he felt his hands slam into a hard surface as the handcuffs’ magnets recognized those built into the table in front of him.
“Leave us,” Rynas told Dr. Yachar, who was standing by his work station, looking uncertainly at Deran.
“You haven’t come here to unconditionally surrender your knowledge,” Rynas stated when the doctor was gone. “But I am willing to listen to whatever deal you’ve concocted in the past hours.”
Despite his mocking words, the emperor’s tone was level, and Deran got the sense that Rynas was actually being completely serious.
“What do you want to know from me?”
Either unsurprised by Deran’s blunt question or well-trained enough to mask all emotion at will, Rynas said, “Primarily, all the plans, goals, and ideas that have been created by ‘the End,’ as you and your people call yourself. Secondarily, the current plans, goals, and ideas of the missing fourth member of the End: Elt Henon.”
Capricious ideas of honor and valor are useless if you’re dead, Deran silently said to himself.
“And tertiarily, what you hoped to gain from learning of Seivla Tarren’s fate after you left her to die in the Ashes of Crimtonia.”
“We had no choice!” Deran cried out reflexively. “She was too deep in the Imperial formation to— if… if we tried to rescue her, we also would’ve—”
“If you still lack the capacity to speak with me,” Rynas said calmly, “you shall return to your confinement.”
Deran took a slow breath. No. His plan wasn’t going to fail because of this. “I’m… fine. I have a deal for you.”
“I will tell you all those things,” Deran said with the confidence of preparation. “You will tell me what I infiltrated Ubiqtor Base to learn.”
Rynas grew pensive, not speaking for many minutes. Deran, despite his still-unstable mental state and his anxious anticipation for Rynas’s response, waited in silence.
Finally, the emperor said: “Accepted.”
And then Deran told him everything.
The next morning, Rynas went to Prolif Keltor’s glass cell and offered her a deal.
“Rynas,” the prisoner said in a sarcastic tone as she peered through the transparent pyramid at the sea life. “Have you come to apologize for your rude behavior?”
“Certainly not,” Rynas said. It irritated Prolif that he didn’t even acknowledge her sarcasm.
“What, then? You want to torture me?”
“Certainly not,” Rynas repeated. “Your leader told me what happened with the Modus so that I wouldn’t. Instead, I have come with a deal you cannot refuse.”
Prolif didn’t look at him, her gaze still on the various animals roaming through the water. “ ‘Cannot refuse’ as in it’s too good to turn down, or ‘cannot refuse’ as in you’ll kill me if I say no?”
“Yes,” Rynas said with a hint of a smile of self-satisfaction at his own joke. “You are to lead me, along with any reinforcements I may choose to bring, to Elt Henon. You and the rest of the End will fully cooperate with me. If I ever detect even the slightest inch of lies, refusal, or treachery, I will have you immediately killed.”
“And in exchange?” Prolif asked, her tone neutral but her thoughts immediately pointing to the conclusion that Deran had broken to whatever torture the emperor had subjected him to.
“I will not execute you for betraying the Eternal Empire.” Rynas stood up, telling Prolif as he walked away, “You have twelve hours to consider. If you decline, expect me to open your pyramid.”
“Not much of a choice, is it, Rynas?” Prolif muttered as he left. Like Deran, she held no special opinion of concepts like honor.
In Rynas’s mind, Prolif was certain, he was giving her the option to refuse his proposal and die honorably. However, as she had once put it, What’s the point of dying honorably if you’re dead?
Precisely twelve hours after he departed, Rynas arrived back outside Prolif’s compartment. She was still staring impassively out the cell.
“I accept,” she said before he could make a remark.
“Really?” he replied; Prolif was unable to tell if the surprise in his voice was genuine.
“I don’t want to die,” she said simply. “But I would like to explain this… arrangement to Deran and Ele so they don’t unknowingly get all three of us killed.”
“You’ll have plenty of time to discuss your arrangement,” Rynas responded, leaning on the word, “during our trip to the Wastes. We leave in nine hours.”
Deran Leanes slept poorly that night.
Deran, Elt, Prolif, and Ele hid behind the depowered object that was once the Modus. Imperial weapon-fire blazed in front of their cover.
“What should we do!?” Ele exclaimed. “We can’t possibly beat all of that!”
Deran pressed his head against the frame of the supercomputer, careful not to look down at the lifeless bodies of Imperial soldiers crushed beneath it. “I know; I know,” he said.
Prolif grabbed a forest green-colored sphere from behind him and threw it over the Modus at the attackers. For a moment, the fire stopped, as Imperials scrambled for cover from the false grenade.
In that time, Ele grabbed Deran by the shoulder and shook him. “Just decide something!”
He looked up at her, his expression dark. “We need to leave Seivla.”
“Leave her?” Prolif demanded as she scavenged for another decoy. “That’s betrayal!”
Abruptly, the entire scene changed — Deran was no longer on the ground, in the midst of that fateful battle. He was now floating, his arms and legs loose as if not experiencing gravity, in a world of endless white.
“What is this?” he asked no one in particular. The rest of the End was nowhere in sight; he wasn’t even sure there were other people here. Wherever “here” was.
“This is my fate,” came a distinct voice from behind Deran. A familiar voice.
He turned around. “Seivla!” he said in relief. All of a sudden, he didn’t remember where he’d been before this.
“No,” the other said sternly.
“What?” Deran asked uncertainly.
She floated away from Deran. “I said no!”
“But you are Seivla!” Deran heard himself say.
“This is my fate!” she repeated, sounding angry. Sounding hurt. Sounding betrayed.
“You’re not Seivla?”
“Not anymore,” she said, stopping her motion. Slowly, she began to transform into something else — something unrecognizable.
A terrible thought crept into Deran's mind. “Did... did the Empire do this to you?”
“You let the Empire do this to me,” she corrected, her voice an appalling distortion of what it had been. “After you abandoned me. After you betrayed me!”
“Then... who are you?”
“I am what you let them make me. I am the Harbinger.”
Deran’s screams of agony echoed through the night.