This short story is part of Galactic Chronicles, an ongoing space opera based on our multiplayer campaign in Paradox’s space grand strategy game, Stellaris. Events and characters, while embellished heavily in some cases, are based on actual events and characters encountered during gameplay. These entries do not have to be experienced in a specific order, but the “Earth Standardized Solar Date” header will indicate where in the galactic timeline a particular entry falls.
This story concerns the Athirova, a race of spiritualist, warrior monk-ruled Avian aliens from the planet Ayaal. Learn more about them here.
[EARTH STANDARDIZED SOLAR DATE c. 4000 BCE]
Túìrkis and his fellow hunters had watched the star fall, bright as a bonfire in the coldest part of night. Their prey had been spooked by its appearance, stampeding right past the spear-armed predators they had been trying to avoid. For some, this fortune was enough to make them forget the celestial occurrence and give chase to the frightened animals. But Túìrkis’ mind had long left the hunt behind. His only quarry was now the otherworldly glow resting on the horizon.
Over hills and a chilly marsh, he strode with great purpose to come to the place where the star had landed. His heart pounded with the twin sensations of apprehension and excitement. While so many of his tribe cared only for food, shelter, and the warmth of a mate, Túìrkis was always seeking to learn more about the land, creatures, and spirits all around him. He wanted to explore to the furthest ridge crest in every direction, and see the edges of the world. To many, this made him a fool. But he held out hope that one day, he would discover something so marvelous that no one could deny the value of his wanderlust.
As the glow grew brighter, he dug his talons into the side of a steep rise so he could scramble straight up and get a look quicker, rather than taking the time to make his way around it. From atop his new perch, he looked down upon a great, glowing mass of smoke large enough to blanket his tribe’s entire encampment, set in a near-perfectly round crater. Voices from nowhere filled his mind.
“I AM… ENDING. YOUR KIND… ARE BEGINNING. THEY WILL COME FOR ALL OF US. IT WILL COME TO PASS…”
The words were not so much words, but an understanding of meaning. It didn’t take long for Túìrkis to realize they were coming from the fallen star, whose light was beginning to flicker and dim. Just when it seemed the being might wink out into darkness entirely, it surged forward like a luminous wind and buffeted the unprepared hunter. He could feel hot mist permeating every part of his body, and his head erupted into excruciating pain.
The other hunters ran to scold Túìrkis when they finally found him stumbling toward the encampment from the direction of the fallen star. They had been searching for him for three days, and were on the verge of moving to new hunting grounds and leaving him for lost.
“The chieftain will want to have a word about how you put us all in danger for the sake of your fancy!” a burly warrior named Krúit remarked with annoyance.
In response, Túìrkis’ eyes glowed with the fire of truth. He reached out to the part of him that was not him, and lifted many stones into the air. He caused them to swirl about him in a dizzying display, even as his legs lifted several inches from the ground. The other hunters either fled, or collapsed to the ground before him.
“I am the chieftain now,” he proclaimed, his voice echoing like thunder.
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