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. 2223.10.08]
The First Hunter’s jet black destroyer hovered near the front of the Athirova fleet, its hull causing stars to seem to flicker out behind it as it so effortlessly blended with the dark of the void. Before the formation was his quarry. They glowed like tiny stars unto themselves, these bizarre entities that they had confirmed to be aiding the Sa-Navlaaya rebels. When he was done with them, their light would go out forever.
“We have entered torpedo range, First Hunter,” a weapons officer dutifully barked.
The commander of the vessel stood stock still, his navy blue plumage swept cleanly back and his talons curled behind his spine. “Commence continuous fire. Do not let up until hostile energy readings are confirmed null.”
The corvettes swept in first, firing their payloads in staggered salvos that closed in on the glowing, gaseous forms before them. The mysterious beings retaliated with arcs of lightning, which swept several ships out of the sky immediately. The rest managed to evade the hostile fire and loop back around the line of sturdier destroyers, which let loose with their own, heavier bombardment. The tactic worked, and the entities were too scattered from trying to hold off the first, smaller wave to effectively counter the fire of the second. One of them took several warheads in short succession, and exploded into a soundless light show that forced the Athirova bridge crews to shield their eyes.
Xaka awoke with his eye sockets pulsing in pain. He could barely roll himself out of the berth where he slept as dizziness and disorientation lay thick on his mind. Star bursts and swirling, distortions of space dominated his field of view when he had the courage to open his eyes only a sliver, which invited more pain through the open door of his mind even in the low light of the Kasnave’s sleeping quarters. Hallucinatory figures began to swim before him, even when his eyes were shut, and his understanding of which way was up shifted constantly as if he were strapped to a spinning, horizontal wheel.
The familiar voice he hadn’t heard for years began as a distant indistinctness, as if heard underwater. But like an oncoming cable car, it grew louder and clearer with each passing moment.
“I MUST SHOW YOU SOMETHING NOW YOU WERE NOT YET MEANT TO KNOW.”
The pain behind his eyes sharpened to the point that he was afraid his entire optic nerve might burst. It felt as if a current were going through his entire brain.
“THE GIFTS OF YOUR PAST, AND OURS, LONG SUPPRESSED. YOU ARE STILL NOT READY. BUT YOUR OWN KIND HUNT US NOW, AND THOUSANDS OF GENERATIONS OF UNBORN STRETCHING INTO THE MISTS OF THE FUTURE CAN NO LONGER WAIT FOR YOU TO BECOME READY. IT SHALL COME TO PASS…”
The intensity of Xaka’s suffering peaked, and it suddenly felt as if he were becoming numb to the cascade of energy. A moment later, it was merely a sensation like liquid flowing through him… and he once again became aware of his external self. The extension of his consciousness that had allowed him to save his crew in the temple on Nahic over a decade ago was present all around him once again. Except now, he understood it. He understood how it related to his body and mind. How to access it at a moment’s notice…
Iyara would find her captain muttering and bleeding from his eye sockets little more than an hour later. While she initially reacted with terror, she soon determined that his vitals were stable. When his eyes finally focused enough to look into hers, they spoke volumes of his newfound determination.
“We can run no longer, my love,” he declared, with an odd, low echo in his voice that seemed to come from nowhere. “I understand now. Our people need us.”
Explore more Galactic Chronicles.