August 23, 2011
By RahXephon 
The Ruin of the Worldbreaker
The Futile Rebellion
Caiera the Oldstrong urgently tried to mitigate the damage wrought by the rebels. Though she held enough Old Power to bring a planet to destruction, the ship was too unsettled to make any significant repairs. The rebels had skillfully targeted major veins where the bulk of information and energy had streamed through. Without a unified connection throughout the ship, Caiera could only make limited repairs on each separate section.
She cursed her opponents as she reformed broken stone. The careless traitors who engineered the explosions had no sense on how close they were of sucking out into vacuum. She could barely understand their irrational fears and how it drove them to such drastic measures. Could they not see how futile it is to go against the warbound?
Still, they couldn't be that stupid. If the rebels were willing risking their lives for this plan, it was likely something good enough to defeat her and her companions. What could it be? What were they planning?
A large jolt from ship almost threw her off her feet.
"Caiera!" Her earpiece blared, and Caiera could recognize the distorted voice of Elloe. "It's bad! They've thrown Bruce out the airlock and engaged FTL!"
Her heart skipped a beat.
Another voice followed up. "I can'-zzt-t get the ship to -ZZZZzzzT- disengage. It is continuing to –zzzt- accelerate and –ZzzZt- making random twists and –zZzt- turns. Flight recorder is sabotaged. Can't retrace our path. Am working –ZZzzT- hard!"
"My queen." The calm voice of Korg cut in. "Our strike group are currently hold up in the upper hangar bay. The rebel leader is holding the ship hostage with a Deathfire bomb. He demands our surrender or he will detonate it inside the ship."
She was hardly listening by then. It didn't immediately sink in that Holku was thrown out of the ship. But when it did, her entire composure began to crack. Her husband was floating out in space, perhaps already dead from suffocation. Even if he had surrendered into the Green Scar, he might never be found again. Deep space was huge, and the ship was rapidly putting light-years behind the location where the Green Scar was abandoned.
The ship's sensors didn't have a large enough range to detect something as miniscule as a body. Even if it were sensitive enough, the sensors only worked as fast as the speed of light, far too slow to recover Holku before his breath ran out. Combing the entire radius of empty space for his body was as impossible as finding a needle in a thousand haystacks.
"He is… gone?"
The Hulk was a being of unstoppable power. He could shrug off bullets, swim in a sea of magma, jump into space and smash any opponent arrayed against him. To be defeated by trickery and subterfuge was too unreal. It shouldn't have been possible to defeat the Green King at all. Even a planet-shattering explosion couldn't kill the Hulk. He… couldn't…
"But he is…"
The Shadow Queen clenched her fists as she let herself be consumed by her darker urges. Old Power flared from her body in a gigantic torrent which blasted everyone else aside. Her savage cry of loss and rage reach every corner of the ship. Rebels and loyalists both put down their weapons in order to cover their ears. Only the wildebots were able to tone done the sensitivity of their aural sensors.
"What is going on?" Ronan shouted as the noise began to recede from ear-splitting to merely loud.
Only a handful knew the source of the outburst. "She knows." Korg uttered fearfully. "Caiera knows."
"Well then tell her to stop that noise before I blow up the ship!"
"I don't think she will listen."
The floor in the middle suddenly burst apart. Large fragments of stone began to pelt the entire room, knocking out plenty of rebels and a handful of Deaths Head Guards. Only Elloe came through unharmed as she ducked behind the bulk of Korg. Some of the stones knocked against the steel exterior of the bomb, but the impact wasn't hard enough to trigger anything, to the relief of everyone.
Relief quickly turned to fear.
"Where is my beloved."
Floating up the hole was Caiera the Oldstrong her resplendent battle armor. Her eyes burned with Old Power as she directed the mystical flows to approach the large round-shaped bomb.
"Where. Is. My. Beloved." She repeated, her tone more insistent.
As a senator in the barely civilized world of Sakaar, Ronan of the Ierfi family was well acquainted with intimidation. Or so he thought. "You will not speak to me in that tone, whore queen."
"WHERE. IS. MY. BELOVED!" She demanded as the Old Power manifested in and around her body. The Shadow Queen's eyes glowed blue as the power overtook her senses, causing her to lose control over the tendrils of Old Power. Already they flicked and flailed around her, tearing ceilings and slamming back frightened rebel Imperials.
Sweat began to trickle from Ronan's brow. He had a feeling that he couldn't manipulate the wrathful queen as easily as the Red King. In all his past dealings, none seemed more capable and willing to destroy him than the sadistic Red King. Though dangerous and petty, the former ruler of Sakaar was practically a child. Dangle a toy in front of him, and he'd eagerly bite. The same could not be said of Caiera. It was all the more important for him to appear dominant. Give away one inch and he would forfeit his life.
Summoning up his last vestiges of courage, Ronan began to speak calm but confident. "The Green Scar is gone and lost in the bleakness of space. We have insured this ship will never find its way back to his body. Surrender now before you do something stupid. I will not hesitate to—"
"SILENCE!" Caiera cut in, her voice so distorted by power that even Ronan fell back, fear finally etched on his face. "You have one last chance. Return the Green King now or prepare to die."
"W-We can't, we're hundreds of light-years away now." When it seemed that Caiera was about to raise her hand, Ronan quickly went back to his threat. "Don't move, or I will trigger this bomb! Everyone on this level and the levels below will die. Are you willing to condemn your people for revenge?"
For a few seconds, it seemed that Caiera was considering just that. Her aura grew darker and more intense while her eyes glowed brighter. Elloe held her breath as she hoped her queen would not do something crazy. As an Imperial noble and rebel, she knew how terrifyingly powerful the Deathfire Bombs were. She had no doubt that she would be instantly turned into ashes if the bomb exploded. Would Caiera be able to see that as well? Would she even care for them now that her mind was fixated on the Green Scar?
Then, as sudden as she appeared, she let go of her hold. The Old Power dissipated in the air, letting Caiera fall on the rubble-strewn floor with a harsh metallic clank. The queen hunched her back as she acknowledged her defeat. Elloe and Korg didn't know whether to feel relieved or apprehensive. With Caiera out of the action and the rebels still in control of the bomb, the other warbound would not be able to prevent the coup.
"We can't let them get away with it." Elloe whispered softly, careful not to let the others hear her words. The fight had not left her eyes.
The stone guardian could only shake his head. "The rebels have planned their coup well. Without the Green King, we are hardly in a position to order people around."
Ronan, seeing his opponent offer surrender, finally eased the tension that held his body rigid. The other rebels under his command let out a tentative whoop as they raised themselves from cover, though they kept their weapons trained on the loyalists at all times. One of the older rebels slung his rifle on his shoulder and clapped Ronan on the back.
"I knew it was right to put our faith in you." He congratulated as he wiped his sweaty palms against his senatorial robe. "I told those old cowards that it would work."
"Yes.." Ronan murmured, his head crunched in thought. "We'll have to pay them a visit and show them how much we appreciated their support. Though not until we have secured the ship." He whipped his head back to Caiera. "And as for you."
The old rebel smirked at Caiera's defiant scowl, knowing it to be a futile gesture. He leisurely strolled over her position and began to circle her tall, proud body, making sure he kept out of reach at all times. He hated to admit it, but he knew the queen was still formidable. She had to die, of course, but he wanted to take away her dignity as well.
"Caiera the Oldstrong… how pathetic. Whoring yourself out the Red King wasn't enough for you, was it? You want big men, strong men, stupid men. How rough did the Worldbreaker treat you? Did you enjoy it?"
The apparent captive only kept her scowl, not wishing to open her mouth to reply.
Annoyed at the lack of response, Ronan tried a different taunt. "And then there's the abomination inside your womb." When Caiera's eyebrows went through the roof, he knew he had her. "I cannot imagine the monstrosity that would result in your union with the Worldbreaker. Would the little demon even be able to fit inside your stomach after a few months? I'd imagine it wouldn't. Best to have it over with and kill you both at the same time."
"I swear on my life.. if you ever touch my baby, I will—"
"And you will what?" He shot back, still smirking as he knew the queen was helpless. "You can do NOTHING. As soon as I mopped up the rest of your little warbound, I will strap you down in front of them, rip open your stomach and squeeze the life out of the little monster inside you."
He was about to continue with his boast, but a young aide approached his side to deliver his report. "The other council members have gathered in the central chamber to discuss the takeover. However, resistance is still too heavy for us to proceed downwards."
Frowning, Ronan glanced critically at the young Imperial. "Did everyone attend? Anyone missing?"
"Only the vice-governor of Okini has declined to attend. He has left a note."
"No doubt containing excuses for his cowardice. We'll have to eliminate him as well. Thank you passing this along, you may go now."
As Ronan turned back to Caiera, he ordered a group of tough-looking rebels to come over. They wordlessly slapped back her arms and connected a pair of metallic manacles on her limbs. Another lackey raised a thin spear at Caiera, then thrust it on her bare shoulder. The gem-like disk sparkled in blue as it attached itself to Caiera's old wound. Their task done, the group then went over to Elloe and Korg to do the same.
"Now, you are mine to please and obey." Ronan said, and raised a metal rod similar to Elloe's one. He activated a function, causing Caiera to shout in pain as shocks tore through her entire body. He let it go when Caiera went down her knees, breathing heavily to overcome the pain. Surprisingly, the queen kept her expression steeled against his face.
"What are you looking at?" He asked irritably. "You are defeated. There is nothing left to do for you."
Her frown suddenly turned into cruel smile as she raised her body straight. "Are you sure about that?"
Out in the deep of space, far from any star or nebula, a single humanoid figure floated angrily in the dark. The Hulk roared in frustration, wasting air and not even accomplishing a single sound. Rage continued to build up inside of him, but without something to smash, the Green Scar was impotent.
He hardly understood how he came to be in outer space. Only one fact was certain. He was betrayed yet again. The thought of being stabbed in the back and left to wither in space drove him mad with blinding fury. The dark in front of his eyes made way for his enemies. Pale specters of Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, Dr. Strange and the Black Bolt danced above him, taunting his helpless condition with their condescending grins.
"I'd say the Imperials have done a good job getting rid of our trash." Dr. Strange remarked as he stroked his short beard. "Of course, that was exactly what we planned."
Mr. Fantastic nodded gleefully as he raised a glass of champagne. "I'd say. I picked the planet myself. If anyone would learn to hate the Hulk, it would be the people of Sakaar. I wonder if they're willing to exchange some tips on getting rid of any other Hulk-like monsters."
"Now that the Hulk is out of the picture, how about a party at my place?" Iron Man asked in his electronically distorted voice. "There's plenty of chicks grateful for our intervention. I don't think there's enough Viagra in the world for us to keep up."
The Black Bolt stayed silent, but his mocking eyes were a message in itself.
'HULK MUST SMASH THEM ALL!'
And with an imaginary leap, he closed the distance. His first target was the Black Bolt. The enraged Hulk grasped his opponent's black-clad body with one hand and covered the head with another hand. The inhuman feebly tried to squirm his head lose to unleash his formidable voice, but the Hulk made sure to keep the jaw shut tight. The Hulk grinned as he wrenched his wrist, abruptly twisting the neck of Black Bolt. With a final rip he tore off the lifeless head from the body.
'Who's next?' He asked at his remaining imaginary opponents.
As the Hulk fought the specters of his mind, something stirred. Just a few hundred meters from the Hulk, the newly created consciousness began to soak in the psychic presence of the powerful giant. Minute amounts of gamma radiation affected the entity as well, further warping its mind and subtly altering its physical structure. The infant sentience began to absorb the Hulk's memories and knowledge, but foremost its emotions. Rage, sadness, longing, despair; that and more began to be imprinted in its sponge-like intelligence.
When the Green King relished in his victory, the consciousness began devour that feeling as well. So when the Hulk returned to reality, the unknown mind screamed as its cravings went unsatisfied.
'…more…. I must have more…'
The newborn mind kept his vigil over the Hulk's increasingly tiring mental state. It gazed at his glow of power, basking in his strength and making it its own. The mind watched on as the Hulk lost himself in his memories. It knew love. Love for Betty. Love for Jarella. Love for Caiera. It knew friendship and joy as it experienced memories of Jones and the warbound. It knew betrayal as the ghosts of Iron Man and the other Illuminati traded barbs with the Hulk. It continued to absorb the emotions, growing increasingly mature and able to form its own desires.
'Must.. experience.. must.. free myself..'
Somewhere, something, someone answered that call.
The loose fragments of Shadow Stone started to vibrate. The residual Old Power solidified itself, letting the energies empower the stones. The chunks glowed softly in the dark as the ancient rock took on properties it was never meant to possess. The Shadow People had originally fashioned the stone ship the rocks had came from millions of years ago. To them, the ship was only a tool, a machine. Life was not theirs to create.
The stone disregarded the wishes of its shapers. It still remembered what it had been through. As soon as the ship had landed on Sakaar, the Shadow People had abandoned it. They tended the lands, healing it with their powers, but neglected the ship. Over time, the People passed on less and less of their knowledge. They lost sight of their mission, only to replace it with mindless worship and useless contemplation. Devices broke down, but the Shadow People had lost the will to continue their technological base.
Its former masters mocked it then with their ignorance. They buried the ship nose first down in the soil and built an entire shrine around it. They proclaimed the area holy ground and wasted away their lives staring at its unmoving surface. The idiots! The ship longed to fly amongst the stars, embrace the emptiness of vacuum and visit new exotic worlds. But no, the now primitive Shadow People insisted on living a simple life while letting its red-skinned cousins walk all over them.
Until the Hulk had come. The Shadow Elders refused to acknowledge the Green rebel and denied him any assistance. It didn't matter. He was the only one amongst all others on that pathetic planet who recognized the value of the ship. The primal being had tore the ship from its resting place and used it for his war against the Imperials.
The ship didn't mind. In fact, the ship felt elated. After all this time, it was finally being put to use. It flew through the skies with impunity. It caused dozens of heavy vessels to crash against the Earth with its formidable EMP weaponry. It carried thousands of rebels over the lands, finally taking the capital city after it knocked down the power stations.
Now, it was being put to use yet again, and the consciousness hungered for nothing more than to aid the Hulk in achieving his own desires.
The rocks glowed brighter as the Old Power in it called out to itself. The free-floating fragments began to move. Slow, at first, but gaining in strength as the chunks closed in on each other. Thin tendrils of Old Power flared out between the stones, connecting them and pulling them into place. Rocks merged with other rocks to form filaments and branches. Even the crystals that had propelled the ship were being called upon to finish the shape.
When all the leftover rubble had been integrated in the assembled shape, its eyes flashed in blue.
Bone-like wings stretched outwards in the darkness, its trailing end illuminated by the remnants of the blue crystal rods. Its lengthy spiked tail uncurled itself to its full sweeping length while its menacing draconian skull grinned in satisfaction. It was finally alive.
With a giant flap of its wings, the bone-white skeletal creature pushed itself away. Its rows of engine rods glowed bright as they were put to work. It took only a few more pushes to reach its destination.
The Hulk paused in its wallowing madness as it perceived a bluish glow in the distance. His puzzlement quickly turned to rage as some dark ancient monster began to approach him with a speed that left him apprehensive. Raising his arms, he was about to smash the bone dragon's snout only for the thing to pull upwards at the last moment. The creature flew around him, circling him and examining him. The Green Scar raged against the blue apparition, whishing he could push himself against the empty space to close in on the annoying thing to smash it apart.
'HULK WANT TO SMASH SKELETON THINGIE!'
The skeleton was aware of the Hulk's frustration, but it was also addicted to its anger. It could not help itself but drown on the mindless rage. Only after a great effort did it manage to push aside its hunger to be able to regain its wits. The dragon stopped circling around, facing the Hulk just out of its very reach. Its eyes glowed in hungry blue as it stared directly in the Hulk's green gaze.
"I know you, Hulk. You don't want to smash me. You want to smash your enemies and your traitors. Those who call you monsters, such as Iron Man or the Sorcerer Supreme."
'HULK NO CARE! HULK WANT SMASH SKELETON THINGIE NOW!'
"You do not want to smash me. Who can take you away from this empty darkness and deliver you back to your enemies for you to smash?"
'HULK NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN LIES! HULK SMASH LIERS!'
Undeterred, the stone dragon started to move. This time it didn't merely circle close to its desired handler. It flew back and forth, fast and slow, as far as the eye could reach and as close as the Hulk's breath could touch before darting away with speed to evade an attack.
"Do you not see, great one? I can fly where you cannot. Accept me and I will take you anywhere you want. Merely ask and I can take you back to your Caiera."
'HOW… How you know of Caiera?'
"I am like you. My body comes from your ship. My mind comes from everyone who was ever close to the ship, but none defines me more than you. My desires are yours. Use me. Order me. Make me fight. I will rip and tear anything you put in front of me."
The Hulk, largely unconvinced, let a small amount of hope seep away his anger. He was not stupid. The stone ship would have come back by now if it could. There was no other way to return to his beloved Caiera if he would smash his only means of transportation. Though he wasn't naïve either.
'What is your price?'
"I want… I want to be used. The ship is my mother. The ship had longed for millions of years to be pulled from the earth and fly amongst the birds and stars. No one but you had recognized her worth. None had the courage to free her from her prison. Now I ask of you to use me as you have used my parents. Let me grow stronger by sharing your emotions with me. I will serve you and your line as your loyal tool and companion."
'…Hulk must think. Hulk not trust you.'
"Your will is mine. I will stay by your side to eternity until you accept my service." And with that, the wyrm receded into the darkness, leaving the Hulk to contemplate his options in solitude.
The council, as they called themselves, was a collection of several high-ranking Imperials who had made it to the ship. They represented the former senior powers in the Red King's administration – and for a short time the Green King's administration as well. However, it was not as if they had the choice to serve under the Green King, especially now that he had been exposed as the Worldbreaker and caused the wholesale destruction of Sakaar. That alone made the green monster ineligible to rule their people any longer.
That one of the Green King's filthy companions, Elloe Kaifi, dared to usurp their authority was an even greater slight. The whelp was barely in her twenties. She was a talent in sports and athletics, but had no real experience in ruling an empire. How dare she proclaim their collective skills in management and politicking as useless, then assign highborn nobles demeaning tasks such as sweeping corridors or picking fruits. The old families would not subject themselves under servants, or worse, former slaves and alien scum.
The need to act was established quickly after it was evident that the brash young Imperial did not intend to back away. Contacts were carefully screened to select those who not only held a sufficient former status, but also lost much in the transition. Only a handful, twenty-five, remained, but that was enough.
The first meeting was held in careful seclusion. Many complaints were uttered about the warbound dictators and Elloe in particular. Amongst the council, none were sympathetic to her policies. The decision to overthrow the usurping warbound was unanimous. That not every surviving noble was included in the council was moot.
The next issue was a stumbling block. A small but very vocal minority advocated taking action at the earliest opportunity. Led by Ronan Ierfi, his faction proposed a plan that involved stealing explosives and even Deathfire Bombs and place them along the ship. It was known that the Green King, or at least his vessel, was recovering in the royal chambers. It would have been easy to dispose of him if they could hold off the warbound. After the monster's removal, it would be a simple effort to force the warbound into surrender by threatening to destroy the entire ship. Not ideal, but workable.
Naturally, not many dared to risk their lives behind such a threat. While most Imperials, Natives and Shadow People seemed content to involve themselves in mundane tasks, the warbound owed the allegiance of many former enemies of the Red King. Those loyal to the Green King took up policing and military tasks, granting them near-exclusive access to high-quality weapons and armor. Though those who feared or resented the Green King were numerous, few actually dared to raise a hand against him. Manpower was their most serious disadvantage.
Time was needed for the council to recruit more like-minded Imperials and mold them into soldiers. The council members couldn't do all the dirty work themselves. The problem was while the majority of the ship's refugees were fellow Imperials, there were predominately inclined to the warbound's insane policies of equality. Careful inquiries through references had to be made in order to prevent their movement from being prematurely exposed. Tens of dissatisfied Imperials were trickling in their folds each day, but hundreds were flocking instead to the Shadow Queen's new society.
The council wasn't stupid. The more time went on, the more the lost people sought to find a place within the new administration. A month from now and half the population would be firmly in the sway of Elloe and her radical rule. They had to strike fast before the tide would turn against them. At least, that was what Senator Ronan and his faction had urged. The majority of the council members, unaccustomed to having to decide such reckless action in such short a period, merely dithered amongst themselves. They had never suspected that Ronan would take unilateral action, and when the explosions started to erupt throughout the ship, the council members knew.
Knowing that should Ronan and his radicalists would fail, the warbound would scour the entire ship for any remaining traitors amongst the ship. Survivors of Ronan's clique would break under torture and reveal each and every council member's name. Cornered into action, the council members rallied their own meager troops in order to aid the radicalists from wresting control of the ship from the warbound. Though they did not intend to cast their die, their hands were forced. Now they had to wait in calm unease as word of actions came through the jury-rigged communications net.
"Why is the device malfunctioning?"
"I know not."
The steady stream of combat chatter abruptly stopped and was replaced with static. Confused operators tinkered with the communications equipment, but whatever settings they used, nothing came.
Eventually one aged Imperial spoke up. "We are being jammed."
The chaos that erupted was staggering. Politicians didn't like it when plans went awry, and each and every one of them feared the worst.
Everyone whipped their heads towards the entrance of the chamber, which should have been closed but was not. The stern-faced guards were gone, and in their place was a small contingent of Black Hand Guards. The most terrifying sight however was Caiera herself, unbound and proud in her regal glory. The council members all inched back in terrifying fright.
"How can this be! I thought the whore queen was enslaved!"
Caiera smirked in a mixture of fury and amusement. "Did you think your oh-so-precious control gems could withstand the might of the Old Power? Stone is my domain! You have nothing that can harm us."
And with a wave of her hand, the entire chamber glowed blue in power as rocks pulled loose from the floor and struck the rifles held by the councilor's guards.
"Now, your pathetic rebellion is at an end. Did you think you could hold the entire ship hostage with a Deathfire bomb? Wrenching away the control was child's play."
"Milady!" An elderly Imperial spoke as he went down his knees. "Forgive us, oh rightful queen! We did not mean to—"
"I care nothing for your pathetic excuses!" The queen proclaimed, fury burning in her eyes. "The moment your faction cast out my beloved out in the void was the moment that you had condemned yourselves!"
The myriad of excuses that the upstanding men were trying to give were met with stolid refusals. Nothing swayed her mind as she looked upon the men in disgust. It did not matter that they wrought more destruction than was necessary. It did not matter that they attempted to put their own race above all others. Only her beloved mattered.
"I give you one more chance to redeem yourselves and your lives." She finally stated as the bickering amongst the councilors ended. "If there are any of you who knows where the Green King has been left or know a way to retrieve him, speak so now, and I shall grant you mercy in my name. Do so now, or face the consequences."
Sadly, none in their midst knew the exact coordinates. The saboteurs were thorough in their mischief.
After the rebellion was squashed, the parties quickly repaired the damage. The corridors proved easy enough to clean up, as most of the ancient stone could adhere itself back with some help of the Old Power. Critical electronics proved more difficult to fix as there was a lot of sabotage, but the wildebots proved meticulous in cleaning up the Imperials' crude handiwork. As they wanted the ship to be functional again when they took over control, they restrained themselves from taking only critical parts, avoiding irreparable damage whenever possible.
The appalling amounts of destruction caused by the fires did not endear the rebels to the natives and the Shadow People, let alone the uninvolved Imperials themselves. In less than a Sakaarian day Elloe Kaifi was now the undisputed leader of the Imperials. With much of the senior nobility and administrators gone, there was no powerful personality left with a legitimate claim to rule. That did not mean that all the malcontents were gone, nor the most capable of them either. Those with more cunning or wisdom had guessed correctly that the councilor's rebellion was doomed from the start. No, their time would come much later, when the weakness of the Shadow Queen was much more apparent.
"Our time will come soon."
"The Elloe bitch is inexperienced. She is an athlete, a socialite, not an administrator."
These voices were at a vast minority as most of the ship's population bonded closer together in the chaos of the fires. Natives worked side by side with Imperials as they sought to extinguish the fires engulfing the precious Eleha'al vines. Shadow People brought containers of water from their safe corner of the ship to preserve the meager possessions of the Imperials. Even the wildebots had contributed by rigging water pipes and fire hoses. The mutual trust that the different races had forged during the rebellion was sealed by the efforts of reconstruction.
For the first time, Elloe received more applications than she could fill. Her sprawling hierarchy expanded to include clerks, secretaries, local leaders and foremen. Most of all, those with combat experience had joined en masse, providing the nucleus of the new defense force, led by the warbound themselves.
Though the Imperials still constituted much of its army, the other races chipped in as well. The natives, though inferior and more immature in many ways to the red-skinned humanoids, took their assigned tasks of policing and maintenance seriously. The Shadow People provided their own core of elite as spies or special forces, though they abhorred any modern weaponry too. None of the races trusted the wildebots completely, but their superiority in handling ship-based weaponry and other add-ons were undisputable.
Still, none of the progress mattered to Caiera. As soon as she had dealt with the rebel leaders, she went up to the command bridge and ordered ARCH-E to help her figure out where the Hulk was dumped. For three days and three nights she worked the ancient computers, discovering a fountain of hidden programs and logs that the wildebots enthusiastically dug in to enhance their control over the ship.
Caiera slammed her fist against the console. "Nothing! Still nothing!"
A calming hand rubbed her shoulder lightly. Hiroim the Shamed had investigated the appropriated navigation components himself, and he had to admit that the rebels were smart enough not to leave a trace.
"Milady, it has been too long. You have searched every memory store of every piece of stone on this ship, and none of them contain any logs or coordinates. There is nowhere else to search anymore. As much as it pains me to admit, you must put the needs of your people above your own. We have spent three whole days consuming our ever-dwindling supply of vines. The.. casualties have eased the pressure slightly, and their bodies provide a good amount of nutrients to the plants, but we must go underway right now or our buffer will shrink to nothing."
It was the hardest decision Caiera would take. She slept fitfully, visions of Holku in the darkness, reaching out to the stars, to her. She imagined him begging for her help, flailing wildly with his limbs in order to propel himself forward. Those images haunted her this night, and she had no doubt it would haunt her again and again, perhaps for the rest of her life.
But she was a queen, a monarch, a leader. She could not abandon the rest of the ship just to go off on a wild hunt in the vacuum between the galaxies. She would not go down as another tyrannical Red King. No, the time for suffering was past.
'Forgive me, Holku. May you find your peace in the void.'
The ancient vessel's propulsion crystals were newly repaired and realigned. The loss of some blue crystals proved to be a moderate disruption, cutting off about five percent of the ship's maximum acceleration. Still, the unknown rods glowed in their brightest blue as they propelled the vast ship in real space, sidestepping the laws of relativity almost entirely. The large irregular galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud was beckoning the stone ship, as if in welcome return.
Caiera's decision marked a turning point, not just for herself, but also for the remnants of Sakaar. As far as they knew, the people she had rescued were irreversibly cut off from the others who managed to escape. This new reality was so much different from theirs, yet there were many familiar fixtures still in place such as the galaxies around the missing Fornax galaxy.
With the migration to a different galaxy, her people needed to let go of their past as she had let go of her beloved. Mindful of the delicate nature of her intentions, she had charged the warbound to brainstorm amongst themselves on how to recast their miniature society.
Their results were enacted without modification. When the preparations were complete, she had gathered each and every Sakaarian survivor in the most open space of the massive central bay. Speakers had been hastily set up all around the room to ensure that each and every individual could hear her words.
At the very front, on top of a stone platform that she herself had erected, Caiera gazed at the thousands who looked up in curious anticipation at the events. There was no discontent, nor any annoyance. She imaged that word of her intentions had somehow slipped out already, but that was no disaster. It might have even eased any potential tension that could have emerged.
"Fellow survivors of Sakaar." She began in her powerful voice, shushing the chamber into silence. She had forgone her robes to don her armor for this occasion, which carried its own connotations. "From the destruction of the beautiful planet of Sakaar, our way of life is at an end. Past grievances and past ways of life have no meaning aboard this ship. Resources are short, but there are many mouths to feed. We cannot afford to wage war amongst ourselves as we have done in the past, lest we tear the entire foundation of this ship. No more will we tolerate any continuation of any conflicts, and no more will anyone earn any privileges that they have not worked hard to obtain. Nobility, slavery, oppression; none of these do we tolerate any longer!"
A great shout of approval erupted from the crowd.
"We need a new way of life and a new way of governing. We are tenacious survivors, the golden remnants of a great and savage world. Our home world might be lost, but its legacy remains in this very vessel. We are in a new reality now, doubtlessly filled with threats and opportunities. This is no time to be soft! Therefore, I, Caiera the Oldstrong, Queen of the Green Scar, now christen this old and venerable spaceship as the Sakaarson!"
After a humongous roar, she continued with her announcements. A new government was instituted, the Hegemony of Sakaarson, with the absent Green Scar and the present Caiera as the absolute Hegemons. "No longer will the Green Scar and I be regarded in the same way the Red King was regarded as. The Imperial Empire has collapsed on itself and is no more. The rampant abuse and tyranny of the Red King and his army of sycophants will be a thing of the past. We measure worth by our abilities, not by our parents or our race. For the Hegemony!"
The cry started slow and haggard, but quickly picked up in enthusiasm. "For the Hegemony!"
The council of the warbound formed the practical ruling and advising body of the infant hegemony. In addition, Elloe, No-Name, Hiroim and ARCH-E were all placed in charge of the four different races that inhabited the ship. The Shadow People didn't find much to cheer, but Hiroim had gradually earned back some measure of respect.
The multi-racial defense force took on the official name of the Hegemony Annihilation Force. Its primary purpose was not to defend the ship and the few thousands left alive. Nor was it designed to explore new worlds suitable for settlement.
"No." Caiera spoke with conviction, trying to look at each and every person in the eye. "As the descendants of Sakaar, we know how it is to live in a world of violence. We know how to fight and we know how to kill. Our purpose and our legacy is not just to survive, it is to take revenge. For as long as any human exist, we will strive to destroy their homes, salt their farms and hunt each and every pink-skinned weakling to extinction! The spirit of Sakaar expects nothing less from you all!"
The men and women all cried out in response. "KILL ALL HUMANS!"
"KILL ALL HUMANS!"
"KILL ALL HUMANS!"
The very magnitude of her people's anger made the Oldstrong Hegemon smirk in satisfaction. For as long as she was in power, she would strive to hunt down each and every human, no matter their innocence in the destruction of Sakaar. The entire race was poisoned from the very start of their existence. The galaxy would have been in a much better place if these infernal people would never exist. Nothing poisoned the well of the universes more than these savage monkeys behaving as if they were the pinnacle of civilization. The sheer amount of power that only a few hundreds of their 'superheroes' and 'supervillains' possessed was enough to shiver any nonhuman's mind.
Not that she was even certain that they would encounter any humans in this strange new universe. Caiera was just practical enough to realize that even though the universe was unimaginably vast, the odds that the human race existed in any form in just a single galaxy were infinitely small. Though in her very soul she had made a vow to slay every human being, she was not about to conduct a fruitless search around the entire universe. Nor would she go on a fool's quest to find a way back to their own universe to seek out the humans who created the deadly spaceship that sundered Sakaar.
The remnants of her people had to find their own destiny now in this new and unfamiliar reality, and if it took simple hatred to bind them together, she would gladly exploit it. Years of dealing with inter-race strife and warfare wouldn't disappear in an instant, even after the failed rebellion. That only got rid of the stupid and impatient dissenters. No, the real threat would come in years at least, when her rule seemed all but assured.
If she couldn't nip the buds at this early stage, then at least she could try her best to minimize their base of support by redirecting her people's capacity for anger outwards. The children of Sakaar couldn't never settle peacefully in some quiet world and forget the past. The anger and sadness of her people needed to be directed away from itself, and that was the main reason why she recast Red King's Imperium as the Hegemony. That was something she didn't tell the others of the warbound. Only Hiroim was wise enough to realize her omission, but her brief nod kept his mouth sealed shut.
"The universe shall know and fear the name of Sakaar."
The inner cavern reverberated the shouts of her people as if the Sakaarson herself approved.