Xenogears: Prelude to Destruction
Chapter 28: Seek and Destroy
The Seeker Complex, Karonne
“Get it in gear, people. We don’t have all evening.”
The voice was barely audible in actuality, but – thanks to the powerful communications equipment of the Dominion – each of the half-dozen Spec Ops in Cainus M’dralle’s unit heard their Mage’s command as loud as if they hadn’t been involved in an extremely delicate operation.
The would-be saboteurs were currently moving as silently and hurriedly as possible through the well-lit hallways, each wishing silently that they’d had time to wait until nightfall to attempt this. As it was, it was scarcely 1900 hours by standard measurements for this planet, and the Complex was bustling with activity.
Cainus edged himself against a wall and motioned his men to stop as they came to another corner, and cracked his black-gloved knuckles. “Where do our maps say we are, Vicks?” he asked, his voice a bare whisper.
The soldier he’d questioned, a monstrously tall man with dark skin, shook his head slowly and keyed some things into a tiny datapad mounted on the wrist of his left gauntlet. As he did, information popped up on a translucent screen located in the visor of his helmet. “Corridor… 15 of their A Block, sir.” He said hesitantly. They’d had to hack these maps out of the Seekers’ database upon teleporting into the base, and they’d proven difficult to decipher; while the foolish lavoid hunters apparently spoke Common, their text was written in an archaic form of it with a number of characters that had been culled from the modern alphabet.
“Block A? Damn, that tells me a lot. Any clues on what that might be, Vicks?” the leader of the 69th Squadron had little patience at present, as was typical when the group was working on a tight schedule. The other Spec Ops collectively winced; he’d likely be cussing up a storm within a few more minutes.
“As nearly I can tell, it’s some sort of barracks, sir. Not a very secure location given the time.”
Cainus sighed deeply and put a hand to his forehead, his black hair falling down freely over his face. “Shit. Thanks for adding your personal opinion there, Vicks. Didn’t have a fucking clue that a barracks is a bad place to be in the early evening.” The mage smoothed his dark robes and looked back at them, still listening cautiously for anyone who might have been approaching. “In any case, point taken. We should nearly be out of here, from the course we’re taking – at least, we’d better be nearly out, considering that’s what you’ve been saying all this time – but we need to get to their armory. What’s the best route on that, Vicks?”
The Spec Op keyed in several more things, then shook his head and let out a quiet curse. “There’s no option here that’s all that great, Mage. The overland routes are almost completely without cover, and the only other way…” he trailed off, as if trying to find another option.
“What is it, Vicks? We don’t have time for you to take a nap, dammit.”
“There’s apparently some sort of area power grid structure beneath this area that we could access within a few minutes of leaving this barracks, but access is restricted, which means guards. Also, looks like they’ve had some trouble down there in the past… there’s whole corridors blocked off by this map.”
Cainus shrugged. “The guards pose a bit of a problem, but less of one than walking openly across their base. And we can deal with whatever sort of shit blockades they’ve set up when we come to them; you’re all armed, and I have my spells.”
The black Mage’s quiet planning was suddenly interrupted by the sound of voices coming from down the hallway. “Fuck, let’s get moving. If we’re seen and an alert goes up, it’s game over.”
Without another word, the black-robed spellcaster burst into motion, moving fluidly and silently around the corner and farther down the hallway. As he did, his men fell in line behind him without a word, holding their weapons – special issue ether-powered assault rifles – at the ready.
Had any of the Seekers saw them, they would have been pierced with dread. The Spec Op teams of the Sol Dominion were feared throughout the galaxy as some of the deadliest men alive. Each of the basic commandos was outfitted with combat armor that was fully wired to function both as a life-support system and as a fully wireless networked computer system. The gauntlet each uniform had sported a datapad keyed to a computer screen located within the helmet’s visor, along with a grappling hook, a smoke-emitting system, and even a few slug-based bullets for truly desperate situations when the element of surprise was a necessity.
Their weapons were also an easy example of the pinnacle of EtherTech. The JG25X10 assault rifle fired bullets constructed of pure ether, hooked to an ether battery that drew magic from the surrounding area whenever it wasn’t completely filled. This, basically, gave the wielder a gun with potentially infinite ammunition, with each bullet capable of penetrating the hull of a tank.
More dangerous than even these soldiers, though, was perhaps their team commander. Each Spec Op unit in the Dominion was led by one of the Mages, graduates of a secretive and elitist school ran by the Emperor’s Advisor, Multani. They wore none of the armor of their teams, nor did they carry any visible weapon, opting instead to clad themselves in black robes, gloves, and boots. However, they had no need of any external protection. The magic of the Mages was incredibly potent, and the average member of the order could probably have leveled entire buildings in this Complex had they seen fit.
And on top of that, Cainus was far above average.
But their missions of the day were sabotage and subterfuge, which didn’t allow for such visual illustrations of power. Given that, the team breathed a collective sigh of relief as they exited through the back door of Block A and hurried back around the side of the building to a relatively isolated spot.
The black-robed Mage allowed himself to relax for a split second as he leaned back in a corner of the alley-ish area between two of the large barracks that made up the quadrant of the Complex they were currently in.
“Status report.” He subvocalized, his voice carrying clearly over the advanced microcircuitry his unit all used.
“From the look of things,” one of the soldiers began, pulling up various data pages on his visor, “no one knows we’re here as of now, sir. It doesn’t appear we were seen.”
Cainus breathed a sigh of relief and closed his eyes briefly, stretching out with his mind. As he concentrated, a brief vision of a beach on some distant island flitted through him. As it passed him, he drew on the memory with just the barest bit of willpower, and recrafted it into something else entirely.
When he opened his eyes again, that memory had taken form as an iridescent globe that floated just before him. In it was contained an image of what appeared to be a row of strangely designed buildings. Cainus blinked at the sight, confused momentarily, then put his hands on either side of the sphere and focused his will upon it.
As he did, the view shifted to the left and right, and ultimately began moving about what was obviously the outlying areas of the Seeker Complex. An invisible eye, he shifted it as he pleased until he had a fair idea of the actual layout of the base, and where people seemed most likely to gather.
“Where’s the entrance to this… power grid you were talking about, Vicks?” he asked distractedly as he looked around.
“Not far, sir. Not more than 100 yards from our current location, in that building just ahead.”
Cainus nodded slightly, still intent on the orb. He pulled the vision around to just in front of the grid entrance, then twisted it left and right. “Looks like we might be in luck, kiddies.” He mumbled. “Coast is clear from out here… let’s give our guards a look-see.”
With a slight push of his mind, the orb’s vision moved easily through the closed door of the structure, to reveal a simple, unfurbished room with a set of stairs leading downward into a well-lit area full of pipes and wiring. At the foot of these stairs, four Seekers armed with the weapons Cainus’ men had identified as “TAGs” sat, talking about some inane thing or another.
“There’s only four of them.” He relayed back as he closed his eyes again and let the Scrying Eye dissipate into the local ether winds. “Think you guys can handle that? Quietly?”
“Yes sir.” The men replied, almost in unison.
The Mage allowed himself a small grin, then used one hand to motion in front of himself. “By all means, then… let’s go.”
The black-haired Dominionite took off into an easy sprint at that, his feet burning across the grassy earth with an uncanny lack of sound. His half-dozen troops fell in behind him with a practiced and measured gait, equally silent despite their equipment.
Within moments, it seemed, they had come to the heavy door that led down to the Power Grid. Not slowing for an instant, Cainus reached down into his mind for another memory; a grassy plain that made up a fair part of the Imperial Farms back on Nova. As it appeared clearly in his mind, each blade of grass significant in its own way, he sent forth a summons into it, into its form and its spirit. As his eyes opened again, the vision fading, he felt white-hot power crackle into his fingertips. With barely a thought, he extended his hands before him and let the monochrome energy flow out in a rush. It hit the doorway with a high-pitched squeal as if it were a thing alive and vanished, taking with it the gate that had threatened to impede their progress.
In the wake of the spell, Cainus slowed his pace momentarily, letting his men pass him into the narrow building before he himself entered. Just as he had hoped, the Seekers standing at the bottom of the stair were almost complete unprepared for the sudden noise, not to mention having half a dozen of the most powerful weapons in the Dominion pointed at them.
“What in God’s name…” one of the Seekers stuttered, fumbling for his TAG. “Who are you people?”
One of the Spec Ops glanced at Cainus, obviously asking for the order to open fire, but the Mage shook his head negatively and took a step forward. “Why, good sir, we are but ambassadors to your lands.”
All of the Seekers’ hands were on their weapons at this point; it took almost all of Cainus’ self-control to keep himself from laughing out loud. “Such hostility! And to think that we’d only come to offer you people a contract of piece with the Dominion.”
“Wha… what the hell are you talking about? You’re… with the Dominion?”
The dark Mage grinned. “But of course. What did you expect? You’ve been squatting on our lands for years now, after all.” He motioned his arms at the soldiers behind himself with a dramatic flair, and held back another chuckle. “But no need for concern… the Emperor has only one specification as to how you go about making this contract of peace valid.”
The Seekers may not have visibly relaxed, but they seemed a bit more cautiously calm. “….And… what would that be?” one asked.
Cainus beamed. “Just that you all fucking die.”
As he spoke the last words, before the guards had even the slightest chance to react, the black-haired man called a globe of light into his hands and cast it at them, the brilliance blinding them momentarily. As he finished he bowed straight forward dramatically, his arms splayed outward. He froze in that position, tilting his head up slightly to watch as the guards just behind him opened fire on the hapless Seekers.
‘Perfect efficiency,’ he thought, grinning slightly as he looked down on his soldiers’ handiwork. ‘A Dominion motto.’
The Planetary Union Headquarters, Torlose.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate… war is just over the horizon.”
The words boomed over the vast chambers of the high Council chambers of the Planetary Union with an eerie finality. No response, no words from any of the thousands of men and women present were given.
High Speaker Genghis Varr, sensing that he would receive no reply, cleared his throat and pressed on. “As a few of you may be aware, repeated reconnaissance reports given by our allies and other agents in the field give signs that the forces of the Sol Dominion are at the weakest they’ve been in years, due to recent aggression on the part of the Mystician Empire.” He held up one fist before his face, clenching it tightly. “And my friends, we must take this opportunity while we still can. Our technology is stronger than the Dominion’s; while they do have use of Ether Technology that has thus far eluded us, we have a number of other weapons and counter-ether weaponry in research that will allow us to supersede these problems.”
And now it was that pandemonium broke out, with many pockets of the vast hall breaking out into arguments. Varr had expected as much, but he could not allow such behavior to blossom. “Order, sirs, we must maintain order!” he shook his head slowly and smoothed out his long robes as slowly the Senate acquiesced to his request. “Now, if you will all just hear me out before you make your decision on what will be the most important vote in the history of our nation. Senator Vanhele has put together a presentation showing on the current weak spots in the Dominion military, as well as the weapons he has, with my approval, lined up to be constructed in this war effort. Senator, if you would…”
The middle-aged senator took the floor with a quiet sigh, adjusting his thin-framed glasses as he walked out to stand beside Speaker Varr. The weeks following the destruction of Zion had not been kind to the politician, filled as they had been with feverish research and dark meetings. Ever since the moment he had first put forth his plan to the High Speaker in that emergency meeting, he had been hard at work, and all of it led up to this moment.
‘Do or die… time to see if fate’s on my side.’ He cleared his throat and started to speak.
“Fellow Senators, as many of you are well-aware, I have been working round the clock with our Weapons R&D Department ever since the tragic fall of my home planet not so long ago. I know that several of you have wondered what was being researched; a few of you went so far as to contact me personally, and know that I could not, at the time, disclose any information.
“That said, I come before you today to show you all the weapons with which we can and will push off the albatross of the Sol Dominion once and for all. If I could ask Security to please switch on the main computers…..” he motioned vaguely with one hand, and almost immediately the lights in the chamber dimmed somewhat, their light replaced with the incandescent glow of holographic display screens that popped up in a circular formation around Vanhele. After a brief warning concerning the classified nature of the information about to be displayed scrolled by, a schematics sheet came up.
And here comes the hardest part. Vanhele swallowed hard.
“As you can see, this first ship design is based around our already-existing fleet of Wraith-class fighters. Due to a new engine type which I will go in-depth on shortly, however, it is capable of movement rates typically only accessible to Skull-class fighterships with dual-engine modifications. The improvement in speed is thus around seventy-five percent, and no maneuverability is sacrificed.”
A murmur went through the crowd. Nevermind that we can’t technically power this mysterious engine of mine yet, of course.
“Also, thanks to our new engines, laser arrays on the new Demon fighters, as we’re calling them, have doubled in number from the previous Wraith models. As you can see by placement, this will allow for higher impact values and lower charge times in all but the highest power settings.”
Vanhele paused for a moment, sweeping his eyes over the crowd. They were still a bit skeptical, but with every word he spoke they came closer to believing.
And with believing came power. Just so long as Grey does what he has promised to do…
“The most impressive feature of the Demon, though, is not in its weapons arrays or sheer speed, but in its shielding. A recent breakthrough made just days ago in particle shielding has led us to the discovery of a shield type that is, in fact, naturally ether-resistant. Repeated simulation results have shown that, when struck with the ether tech lasers used by most Dominion ships, the new particle shielding will lose basically no structural integrity. Effectively, it will render our fighters invulnerable to Dominion fighters.”
The only drawback being that it will require the new engines to have the power to run properly.
The Lavoid Energy-powered engines.
Cainus M’Dralle should have been in a great mood. The plan was going off without a hitch.
But instead, he was cussing his head off.
“The fuck? Where do you put the bodies? Why the hell do you think I care where you put the bodies? Another few hours, there’s going to be dead bodies all over the place. Shit… you going to ask Lord Multani where to put those too?”
The soldier in question, Vicks, rolled his eyes beneath his visor. “No sir, of course not.”
Cainus chuckled, crossing his arms. “Then stop wasting my time and help Hahn hack into the security systems.”
Then again, maybe Cainus was in a great mood. Cussing seemed to be a constant with the man.
The team had made it through the underground network of the power grid fairly easily, after hiding the corpses of the Seeker guards they’d massacred at its entrance. From there, it had been fairly simple work to force their way up into the Armory of the Complex, where they had met with surprisingly light resistance; only two guards and a technician, none of whom were especially prepared for an attack.
Two of his men had spliced their personal computers into the main security system from there, and were even now hacking their way into basic alarms and security shields that would otherwise automatically switch on in the event of an attack. The others had all moved into the armories themselves, where they were setting ether bombs that would take out this building and the defense armaments inside it after their work was finished.
Cainus glanced idly down at his watch. 2100 hours, Dominion Standard time. Multani’s fleet would arrive within the hour, and a fiery judgement for those who had dared to stand against the Dominion would be handed out.
“…And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I can assure you that we do indeed have a great chance to wipe out the Dominion once and for all. I appeal to you to vote for this action on a number of levels.” All was quiet in the Council Chambers now, save for the amplified, papery sound of Senator Vanhele’s voice. “I appeal to your economic sensibilities; imagine the increases in trade that could be gained from these new planets, nevermind the other Galactic Powers such as the Mystician Empire! I appeal to your desires for our children; by doing this, we could forever remove the threat of the Dominion from our future. Never would we have to worry that our children could be blooded by their greedy hands. The harsh specter of war could be destroyed at long last. I appeal to your very morals; do we not owe it to the free peoples of this galaxy to wipe out such a fascist regime as this one?”
All was quiet in the Council Chambers, but the unspoken sentiment among them was almost audible in its intensity. It was punctuated by the footsteps of the High Speaker taking the floor once again, and given life by the words he spoke.
“Senators, the vote shall now proceed. On the motion of going to war with the Sol Dominion, do you say yea or nay?”
“….and that, ladies, fills our end of the assignment. Lord Multani and the fleet should be here any minute now, so let’s get our asses back down underground and blow this place to hell to start the party.”
As his men prepped themselves for departing, Cainus’ eyes glanced by the security system’s main screen. Defenses in every sector were down, both internal and external. All particle shielding measures except those necessary to maintaining atmospheric conditions had been completely shut off. All long-range sensors were off.
Cainus grinned. It was a beautiful thing, seeing a job well done.
“Those in favor were counted as number four thousand, nine hundred and eighty three.” High Speaker Varr stated gravely, reading numbers from a small data pad in one hand. “Those opposed; One hundred and sixteen.”
A genuine smile slowly spread across Vanhele’s face. It was actually happening. The events he’d been waiting on for decades were finally bursting into motion.
“We are going to war.”
The explosion of the ether bombs shook the ground beneath Cainus’ feet so hard that the mage nearly lost his balance in their wake. The tremors were gone almost as soon as they’d come, though, and the mage allowed himself to lean up against one wall, still grinning from ear to ear.
“I swear to god they make those things more powerful every year.” He said simply, shaking his head. Before anyone had a chance to respond, though, a voice broke in over their radio channel, mechanical in its message.
“Special Operatives 69th Squadron, this is battleship Warhammer. The Fleet has arrived in orbit over Karonne, and will be making its attack momentarily. Was the mission completed satisfactorily?”
The mage stifled a chuckle. “Yes sir, everything went according to plan, sir.”
There was a brief pause, as the voice on the other end no doubt reported this. “Then, M’Dralle? You and your men get ready for the massacre. You’ll be getting some leave time after this, I’ve no doubt.”
“Thank you, sir.”
As the call cut off, Cainus nodded to the members of his Spec Ops team approvingly. In response, each pulled up their rifles in a sort of mock-salute; the same routine that the 69th Squadron went through before every battle.
‘Let’s see the streets run red this time, boys.’
“In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.”
- Leo Tolstoy
Back to Dark Angel Main