Now, Luxaar's Xern, Skies of Cauldros

Luxaar was busy contemplating matters in his chambers. He didn't have much else to do these days. Normally being a high ranking member of a religion/crime syndicate kept him plenty busy, but now that he and a small portion of the Ganglion fleet had ended up stuck on some abysmal backwater planet there was very little that required his attention. The Marnuck and Milsaadi were keeping themselves entertained hunting the surprisingly resilient native wildlife, the Prone being put to work setting up some mining outposts to get them the resources they needed, the Wrothians were being kept under control, and as for the Definians, well, Luxaar didn't really want to know what they or their ego-maniacal "mother" were up to as long as it didn't slow down them getting their hyperdrives fixed and off this rock. His ship and a few others had been hit by some kind of spatial distortion after the fight over the planet the Samarian's descendants were living on. When it passed, they'd found themselves in orbit around the planet they were currently on, with severe damage to their ships. They'd then landed and began repairs, and even though that had been just over a year ago, estimates from engineering gave several more months until they could begin thinking of leaving safely.

"Grandmaster Luxaar." A deep voice called out from behind him.

Luxaar turned around. A Marnuck stood in the doorway, weapons still present as was their custom, but respectfully stowed. The stalwart race made good soldiers, not as physically strong as the Prone, who were more recent additions, but vastly more intelligent than the hulking primitive brutes. And they were respectful enough to actually remember to use his proper title, always a plus in an underling. "This had better be important. I was busy with serious matters." A lie of course, but appearances were important.

"Sir. The base at the southeastern end of the continent two south from here have sent a report that they have captured humans."

Luxaar blinked. More humans? The one they had found, had certainly been interesting, and come to think of it he really should ask Goetia how that particular investigation was going, but if there were more...

The Marnuck continued, snapping Luxaar's attention back to the matter at hand. "They attempted to interrogate the prisoners, but they refused to break, so they killed them."

"WHAT!" Luxaar screamed. "Those imbeciles! If there truly are humans here, than we need to know more. The prisoners should have been sent back here for interrogation by experts! What is the name of the commander? I want his head for his stupidity."

"A prone captain named Glennar sir." The Marnuck then actually looked a bit worried. "Unfortunately, he is already dead. It seems a trio of humans stormed the base in search of their missing fellows and killed him."

Luxaar grinded his teeth. So there were more of them. "I want that base reinforced. I don't know what incompetence lead to it being infiltrated by a mere three humans, but I don't want it happening again. Do it yourself if you have to. And inform the engineers that their efforts are to be shifted to military production and getting our swiftest vessel space worthy. We must stamp out the human scum here, and inform the rest of the Ganglion about this infestation should they be too ingrained to stamp out with our limited forces. Get some scouts out looking for them to."

"Of course Grandmaster." The Marnuck bowed slightly, before turning to leave the room.

Luxaar grimaced once the soldier had left. It looked like his days were going to get a lot busier, and for the worst possible reason.

Now, Noctilum, Sunlit Spring

L'cirufe, or L as he preferred to go by these days, those Nopon were always messing up the proper pronunciation so better to have them only say the part they could consistently get right than butcher the rest of it, was walking southward in Noctilum. He wasn't carrying anything save for the clothes he was wearing, but it wasn't like good food or water was at all lacking in the vibrant

jungles if one knew where to look. And it's not like he of all people needed to worry about getting attacked.

If L was being honest, he'd admit that he was going southward because he was bored, but he would be much more likely to say that it was for a "potential business venture" or somesuch if he was asked. Unless it was a Nopon who asked, cause then the devious little merchants would probably try and follow him. Strange things had been going on around Mira these days, mainly the amount of things coming down from the skies. A bunch of ships up to the north east almost a year ago, which apparently landed and made claim to the old ruins that dominated the volcanic wasteland. He had originally thought about making his way up there to check it out despite his general dislike of the area, but he'd heard from the Nopon that the aliens were, and he was paraphrasing heavily here, a bunch of vicious uncultured thugs. Definitely not the kind of people he preferred to associate with.

Potentially more promising, a few months ago, a large amount of objects had come crashing down all around the continent cluster. From his point of view, it seemed that the largest had landed in the grasslands to the east, but he'd spotted another, much smaller, object come down in the southern section of the jungle. He'd dithered about for a while, slightly concerned by the possibility that whatever the newest set of arrivals were, they were as dangerous as the ones who landed up north. It wasn't like he was likely to get killed or something, but well, it had been a while since he'd had to fight anything.

His curiosity and boredom had finally given out, and he'd headed off to investigate. First the smaller object to the south, then he'd head off east to the large one, unless the first one proved too dangerous. In that case he'd just call off the whole thing.

He'd been walking for a good few days now, and just yesterday had made his way past the great bay in which one of the ancient war-machines slumbered. Now there was something he definitely didn't want to mess with. Those things were the other reason he didn't want to head up north, there were still several active ones carrying on in their ancient patrol routes over the spore covered dunes in the central continent.

Finally, L crested a ridge, and looked down into a small basin. Up against the wall on the far end rested a large black object, partially buried in the ground from its impact. Despite that, it seemed remarkably intact, and as he scrambled down the cliff and ran over to it he giddily thought about all he might be able to learn from it. When he reached its base, he looked up. Two symbols, one a rectangle made of red and white bars surrounding a smaller blue rectangle coated with simple white stars, the other a stylized rendition of a planet on a blue shield. The rectangle had some blocky script under it that he didn't recognize, and the shield had a few of the same symbols at its top.

L scrambled over the object, excitedly looking for some way in, or someway to use it. Finally, his hand touched a panel on it which slid aside, revealing a computer screen and keyboard. The screen lit up, revealing more of the script that adorned the front of the object. It appeared to be some sort of catalogue. L's eyes practically shined in joy as he exclaimed "Oh how exciting! So many new things to learn!" Sure he might have to learn a new language first, but that was joy in and of itself. And it's not like he hadn't done the same with the Nopon when he'd first encountered them. He eagerly began pouring over the data, trying to find somewhere in it where he could get some references to start piecing the language together.

He spent hours on it, not even noticing that night had set until well after the sun had dipped below the horizon. He didn't mind though, it had been so long since there had been something new for him to learn. Prior to this recent spat of new arrivals only one thing on Mira truly remained a mystery to him, but he wasn't exactly about to go and ask the Ruler of Fates for an interview. L finally drifted off to sleep, his dreams a jumbled mess of excitement about all he was going to be able to learn.

A Few Days ago, Cauldros, O'rrh Sim Castle Ruins Interior

Goetia stared at the tank they were keeping the captive human in. The disgusting Samarian spawn was grievously wounded, though fortunately for it, and for them, its body appeared to be mechanical, rather than flesh and blood. She turned to a Milsaadi technician hovering over a display screen. "How long until you can fix it?"

"A few days perhaps." the silicate responded, her voice having the same synthetic quality as low quality vocal synthesizers, but with more emotion in it than a machine could ever manage. Goetia thought it strange to listen to, and she was unsure how much she liked it, similar to the Milsaddi themselves. The silicon based species was one of the few members of the Ganglion who had an independent power base, so despite, or perhaps because of their effectiveness she was never sure how much she could trust them. "More if you wish to be absolutely sure it survives. The technology used to make this body is surprisingly advanced for such a simple race."

Goetia scowled. "We need it alive and functioning. That 'surprisingly advanced technology' is exactly why. Between the body and the crashed mech we found it inside this humans seem to have access to technology far in advance of what its race should. Knowing why, and what other things the scum have that they shouldn't is imperative if there are more running around. We can't afford to go in unprepared when eradicating them."

The Milsaadi was unshaken by Goetia's diatribe. "Yes yes. Your 'holy mission.' Very well. I shall proceed carefully. Perhaps they shall be worthy prey for our own rites."

"I'll leave you to it then." Goetia said, venom dripping from her words as she left the room. Damn those silicates. How dare they mock the Ganglion's sacred duty. She was going to need to go outside and vent her frustration soon. It wouldn't do so slow down repairs even more.

A Few Months ago, Second Fleet Flagship, Near Qlurian Border

Commander Reina approached the doors to Admiral Garen's office. She had never before had the privilege, or perhaps it was unfortunate fate given the current circumstances, of visiting the Admiral's office prior to now, and she was properly awed by the mere doors to the room. Elegantly carved from the finest white crystals from the homeworld, the doors parted down the middle and slid into the wall, permitting her access to the grandly accented office. The furniture, bookshelves with actual books, some chairs and tables and grand desk, was as elegantly carved as the doorway, but made from the finest wood, imported directly from Qlur she guessed. The back wall of the room was a single massive viewscreen which currently displayed a view of surrounding stars, making the already impressively large room seem even bigger.

Between the sheer size of the room, which was massively large for being on a warship, and the furniture which must have cost more than she could make in years, the sheer majesty of the room served to enhance the already impressive presence of the man sitting behind the desk. Admiral Garen, commander of the second fleet was on the most powerful people in the entire navy, with only the admiral of the first fleet and the five members of high command above him. His light green hair, hinting at a northern heritage, was kept short, and his similarly green eyes where as cold as the ice from the northern coasts his ancestors probably hailed from. He was dressed impeccably, his uniform decorated with an almost uncountable number of awards, and appeared to be as crisp as the day it was made. It had Reina feeling self conscious about her own uniform, which she was sure was positively shabby looking by comparison.

"Commander. Your report if you would?" the Admiral asked, his voice as cold as his eyes.

Reina barely managed to stop herself from gulping before she started speaking. "Yes sir. Search team three-eight-three-seven reported in this morning that they had located the traitor. They found her on one of the ships that had escaped the primitive planet over which we battled the Ganglion. The ship was found many light years from its point of origin, at a distance that could have only been traversed in the time they had through the use of stolen technology. When they happened upon the ship, it was partially enveloped in some sort of distortion, but the sensors on search team three-eight-three-seven's ships were insufficient to determine anything about it. The team choose to engage, first at long range, but the distortion had a dampening effect on the weapons, so close ranged fighters were deployed. They encountered resistance, and there were some casualties, but ultimately succeeded in lethally wounded the primitive ship."

Reina paused briefly, nervous about the next part. She doubted it would make the Admiral happy. "Unfortunately, before they were able to confirm the ship's destruction, or the traitor's death, the distortion increased and the primitive ship vanished from all sensors. No members of search team three-eight-three-seven was lost due to the increase in the distortion."

Admiral Garen gave a contemplative 'hmmm' before saying anything. "High Command currently has the capture or death of the traitor as a high priority objective, second only to the continued efforts to stamp out any and all Ganglion influences near our sector of space. Knowing this," Admiral Garen steepled his fingers and looked her right in the eyes, "What would you do right now if you were me?"

Reina was unable to keep herself from stuttering nervously when she responded. "M-m-me Admiral? Your asking what I would do?"

The admiral smirked slightly. "I could have asked for this report to be submitted electronically, there was no need for you to deliver it in person."

Reina stared, she had been wondering about that, but was much to nervous to bring it up.

Admiral Garen continued. "Your service records are exemplary Commander. It is my opinion that you are due for a promotion. Consider this a test to determine if I'm correct."

Now Reina did gulp. She'd be a captain. Her own ship to command, she had never dreamed she would get this far when she first joined. She furrowed her brow, considering the problem carefully before responding. "Well, the traitor was last identified on a critically damage ship, which was caught in some sort of distortion in otherwise empty space. In most circumstance, that would be more than enough evidence to declare her dead. However with how seriously you've said High Command was taking this matter, I don't think that is sufficient now. I would recommend that a full science team be sent to investigate the area, and the the combat logs be poured over, in an attempt to learn everything possible about the reported distortion. Given the interest the Ganglion seem to have with the primitive race in question, two squadrons should be sent with the science team in case they show up looking for the primitive ship. And if necessary, the logs could be sent back the homeworld, and the scientists there can look at them." "Lastly, I'd," She paused, she had felt fairly confident in her previous suggestions, but wasn't as sure about her final one. She eventually decided to make it anyway. "I'd ask for an ether master to be sent investigate the distortion with the science team."

As the Admiral regarded her coolly, she worried that she had made a mistake with the last idea. Most members of the navy, and for that member most of their entire race, regarded those who extensively pursued the use of ether with some suspicion. Asking for one's involvement in matters may have amounted to political suicide. Finally the admiral smiled slightly, and Reina let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. "Very good. That was exactly what I would have done. And it took some guts to recommend the last one. I'm impressed." Admiral Garen handed her a small computer chip. "This has a copy of my signature. Go make the necessary arrangements to have what you suggested be carried out, using my signature to authorize it all. Once you're done with that, I should have the paperwork for your promotion through."

Reina saluted. "At once sir. Thank you very much sir."

"No need to thank me. You're simply being rewarded for your efforts." Admiral Garen dismissed.

"Of course sir. Will there be anything else?"

Admiral Garen waved her out of the room. "That's all. You're dismissed Commander."

Authors Notes: Apologies for the delay on this one, Chapter 10 was originally going to be something completely different and longer, but I didn't like how it going, so I moved these events up a chapter, so that I could get something out this week.

Reina and Garen are naturally OC's. Their story-line isn't going to have much to do with the main plot, but will be used to cover some of my interpretation of the backstory events.

I'm predicting questions about the whole Ganglion having a captured human thing. That is not actually being pulled out of nowhere, I actually do have somewhere in the game to justify this plot point. Can't really talk about it yet without spoilers, but it definitely isn't coming out of nowhere.