NationStates Jolt Archive

The Last Domino

04-06-2005, 02:11
Emergency Alert! Situation: ω Immediate action required! Emergency Alert! Situation: ω Immediate action required!

"Damnit, I'm trying to sleep here! Leave a message and come back in a few hours!"

Emergency Alert! Situation: ω Immediate action required!

"Come on, I just got to bed twenty minutes ago!"

Emergency Alert! Situation: ω Immediate action required!

"I'm on leave, man! Go bother somebody else on the station, I'm not on duty for another two days!"

Emergency Alert! Situation: ω Immediate action required!

"Fine, I'm getting up. This had better be worth it!"

With grace that would shame a professional gymnast, Selhu Tys lept from his rumpled bed and landed before his comm-panel without even the tiniest hint of imbalance or effort. He then toppled to the side and retched into a small bin, wiping his chin and popping a small pill into his mouth before he again attempted to stand.

The second they invent a time-set Scrubber will be the happiest moment in my life.

Waiting a few seconds for the small micoscopic robots to purge the alcohol from his bloodstream, clearing enough of the toxin to have killed a normal man, he rose and easily managed to stay standing. Flicking a small switch on the comm-panel the video screen flashed to life and displayed an image of the empty hallway outside.

Emergency Alert! Situation: ω Immediate action required!

Ah.......bloody hell.

This time he wasn't stone drunk and his mind didn't spin in a dozen different circles at the slightest sound, he knew it wasn't somebody at his door attempting to wake him. He knew things were a bit more serious.


Each day, thousands of vessels travel to and from the Deneb stellar system. The Inter-System Jump-Node provided easy access to the Vega, Vasuda, and Sirius systems and, with a few more connections, paved the way to Sol itself. If someone was in Sol, let's say on a rare leave of duty due to a particularly strenuous mission he'd recently been on, then it would be a simple matter to book passage on one of the dozens of Klonor cargo or passenger ships that passed through Sol on a daily basis and be back within the Association in a (relatively) short amount of time. With the proper military access codes you could even make the trip without any documentation of your stay on the various ships and no records of your stop-overs on the various planets along the course when the ship was refueling.

Three days after Selhu became aware of the situation he was back within the Association and crawling his way through one of the massive cities scattered across the surface of Denebs fifth planet. He had expected carnage and destruction, what he found was a city full of ignorant people who couldn't see what was happening. All the better for him.

"You! Drop your voucher and back away slowly! Keep your hands where I can see them and don't even think of pulling that KSMP you've got tucked up your sleeve! You keep calm and you'll walk away from this with all your blood still in your body."

Selhu didn't even bother to respond to the hidden mugger, he just kept walking. The pistol up his sleeve, held simply for display purposes so he wouldn't attract and be forced to dispatch more vultures than he did with it, stayed where it was.

"Hey, you hear me? Drop the voucher!"

When Selhu still didn't even bother to slow down or change his course in the tiniest the mugger suqeezed off a round from his gun, spitting it towards Selhus' leg.

"I warned you, punk."

The bullet impacted on the back of his leg in the perfect spot to have dropped him flat on his back if he were a normal human, but Selhu was far from normal. The bullet ricocheted off his thigh and struck the side of a building off to his side, burrying itself five inches deep into the solid steel exterior. He didn't even miss a step, just kept walking. Behind him, in the shadows of one of the buildings, there was a small yellow flash of light as the mugger had his arms severed from his body.

Humming to himself, he kept walking and emerged from the alley he had been traversing into the middle of a bustling marketplace. He scanned the crowd, didn't see anything immediately threatening, and plunged into it. He worked his way across the broad open expanse and stopped by the CommuniGate at the far end.

"Help you, sir?"

The CommuniGates controller, a standard Klonor Marine who'd probably shown up for his patrol late one day, rose from his seat and approached. He extended his hand for the identification he knew was forthcoming and already had the Gate powered.

"Yes, I'm in need of some information. I hear you are a man who can find out certain things that others want to stay hidden."

It might have sounded like a line from a cheesy spy movie, but the controllers for the Associations CommuniGates were among the best informed people in the entire nation. They saw everybody from Ensigns to Admirals every day and regularly gave passage to Assemblymen and Representatives. Certain Gates even had the honor of serving the Consuls on a daily basis. If you wanted somebody who was exposed to every facet of the government and had contact with people in every branch of the military, you talk to a controller.

"There are some things that I've heard in my time, what would you be interested in?"

The ease with which the controller slipped into the 'informant' role, not even working towards extorting money for his information, obviously implied that this was nothing new to him and he saw it simply as another of his many duties as a controller.

"Oh, nothing to in-depth. What's been happening around the Palace recently?"

"Well, about four days ago General Ihm was running some pretty bizarre drills out of the Palace, I can only assume preparing for defending the Palace for an all-out assault, and there was near constant firing for five hours straight. I'd think it really was an assault except nothing came back at them, everything was coming out. Rumor has it that there were even a few Dealers involved in the exercise, some esitmate there might have even been two teams here for it."

"Two Dealer teams? Really?"

"Hey, these stories grow with every telling. I just report what I hear."

"Any idea what happened to those Dealers after the exercises?"

"Nah, not a clue. But you know Dealers, blink for 1/10 of a second and they'll be half a light-year away. Crafty little bastards, eh?"

"You got that right."

"So, where to?"

"Vicegral Palace entrance Gate. Got me a meeting with the Duke himself."

"Really? Care to share?"

"Sorry, but even I'm not to sure."

"Of course you're not."

Grinning, the controller punched in in a few combinations on his control pad and waited with his hand still extended.

"I'll need your Card before I can send through the transfer."

"Of course. But......"

Selhu reached forward and pressed a few buttons next to the Gates control pad.

"....that should take care of everything."

"Yes, sir. Of course, sir. Please, go through, sir."

His voice suddenly respectful, even a bit fearful, the controller snapped to attention and stood out of the way while Selhu calmly walked through the Gate to the entrance of the Vicegral Palace several hundred kilometers away.


"Come on.....come on......come on.....yes!"

With a whoop of joy the Grand Duke Solomon Klonor lept to his feet and applauded wildly, his eyes filled with joy as he watched the enormous Vid screen before him.

"Did you see that? Did you see that?"

"Yes, sir, I saw it. I also saw it last night, and the night before that, and the night before that. When the video is several centuries old it's hard to have not seen it."

"Well......yeah, but........I mean look at it!"

On the Vid screen before the Duke and Supreme General Richard Ihm an Incom T-65 X-Wing flashed past the camera and darted toward a small moon off in the distance while, behind the fleeing fighters, the Death Star exploded in a burst of flame. With a small gesture from the Duke the sound suddenly cut off, but the remainder of the movie continued to play.

"Okay, Richard, what's on your mind? Normally you start complaining about how old this movie is before we even see Obi-Wan for the first time."

"What's on my mind? Are you kidding? Hmmm, let's see. Mabe it's because the entire Dealer division as been exterminated in a week and the very people who killed them are now taking over their job. We don't know a damn thing about these freaking Jai guys and you're letting them hold your life in their hands. For all you know they're planning on cutting the Association right out from under you!"

He gestured, quite rudely as a matter of fact, at the plain looking man who sat on the floor behind the two government officials. Though he undoubtedly heard the Generals words he didn't bother to retort, he stayed as motionless as a stone with his eyes closed in a peaceful meditation.

"If they wanted to kill me I'd be dead already, you know that."

"Yeah, b--"

"I'd be dead, and I'd stay dead. You know that, too."

"But, sir, you really don't know anything about these peoples motivations or goals. They say they 'cherish' you, whatever the hell that means, but I used to say that I was the King of Madagascar and, save for this one really weird night in Ross128, that's not exactly the embodiment of truth. The Dealers were born in Klonor, grew up in Klonor, and lived in Klonor. You could trust them. We don't even know how many Jai there are! These new guys are from outside your domain, who knows why the're here."

"It's simple. They cherish nature, nature cherishes them, and they cherish me."

"Do you even know what the word 'cherish' means?"


"I didn't think so."

"Listen, Richard, we really don't have much of a choice here. The Dealers were wiped out by these guys more easily than I took care of Salm after his first uprising. They didn't lose a single man in their assault. Even if we wanted to do something, there's nothing we could do. The Corps would be torn to shreds. So, right now all we can do is let them sit here and hope they keep 'cherishing' me. Now watch the damn movie, they're about to give out the medals. You ever notice how Chewie doesn't get a medal?"

Ihm sighed hard and braced himself.

"No, sir, I never noticed that. Why doesn't Chewie get a medal?"

"It's a funny story......"

As the Duke began to regale his subordinate with the story about the differences between Peter Mayhews and Carrie Fishers heights the Jai behind them slowly opened his eyes and rose from the floor.

"Somebody approaches."

He slowly turned and faced the door at the rear of the room, raising his hands into a simple self-defence pose.


For a normal person the Vicegral Palace on Deneb, home of the Duke, is a nearly impenetrable fortress. Thousands of Marines call the mansion home, the walls can withstand direct bombardment from an orbiting Cruiser, and the automated defences can take care of an infantry batallion all by their lonesome. In the entire history of Klonor, through all its rises and falls, no enemy of Klonor had ever breached the Palace while the Duke called it home. Thankfully, since Selhu isn't an enemy of Klonor, that record continues to stand. However, he has just found many points of security along the Palace exterior that could use some serious revamping, he found them way to easy to slip past.

Then again, they'd never been designed to counter somebody with skills and abilities equal to a Dealer. That's what the Dealers were for.

Forward three hallways. Left hallway. Forward two hallways. Left hallway. Forward seven hallways. Right hallway. Stop.

He was slowly creeping through the vast cavernous hallways of the Palace, plotting the best course to reach the Dukes personal chambers without being detected, when he paused. Several kilometers away, in the direction of the Dukes personal chambers, he began to feel the stirrings of somebody manipulating the energy he and the Dealers called on. But something wasn't quite right, the energy felt......odd. The Dealers called it en masse, summoning a charge large enough to obliterate a tank even when they only needed to cut a piece of paper. This controller was bringing in barely a trickel, drawing in a tiny amount from the air outside him while still seeming to amass an extremely large quantity. Whoever, or whatever, was drawing in that energy had to have been the one that had so easily dispatched the Dealers.

Now I have a target.

His face as calm as ever, Selhu once again began to move through the Palace.


"He uses natures bounty."

The Duke and General Ihm glanced at each other when the heard they Jai utter those words and the same thought flashed through their minds at the same time.

The Dealers survived.

Accompanying that thought were equal parts elation and horror. To the Duke this was a moment of joy, the Dealers had been almost like children to him and each would have gladly laid down their life for his. That any survived was good news. However, that the Jai detected them meant that they were on their way here, probably already within the Palace. They were coming this way, and would only be massacred by the Jai as their fellows had been. Also, if they entered the room and found the Duke calmly watching a movie with the murderer of their fellows they probably wouldn't be to happy.

"This is not good."

The Duke and Ihm both whispered this at the same time, then sat back in their chairs and began to think about how they could protect the remaining Dealers lives and their own at the same time.


Forward two hallways. Right hallway. Forward one hallway. Left hallway. Arrive at the Dukes personal quarters.

Selhu paused before the mammoth doors and took a moment to prepare himself. He concentrated and began to manipulate the energy into a battering ram, aiming it forward at the last barrier between himself the mysterious murderer of the Dealers.


The Jais eyes widened a tiny bit and he calmly glanced over his shoulder at the Duke and Ihm.

"He's here."


With a mental shove the battering ram surged forward and obliterated the door, shattering the foot-thick wood into splinters no bigger than a match. When the air cleared he dashed forward, lept over the small pile of chips that lay where there had once been enough wood to make a small forest, and landed before the Jai in a fighting stance that neatly mirrored the stance of the Jai.

"Selhu Tys, you have made it. Welcome."


Selhu nearly spat the word from his mouth, seeking to expunge it from his system as one would a foul substance, but the Jais words were calm. Neither seemed shocked to find the other there. Turning from the Jai, Selhu addressed the Duke in a much calmer tone.

"Sir, I received the ω notification. If you will accompany me I will escort you from the premises and see you to safety. I will then return here to deal with this Jai."

He made the word 'Jai' seem a curse.

"Uh.....Selhu? What the bloody hell are you doing here, and how do you know the Jai? Why aren't you dead? What the fuck is going on?"

The Duke was nearly hysterical.

"It's a long story, sir, and better set for another time. It's better I get you out of here now while I still can. Once I'm done with this thing I'll tell you the whole thing."

"Oh, no, by all means, tell them now. There's no need to hurry."

Though nobody had seen him move, the Jai was now squarely in the doorway and blocked the exit.

"I think it would be better for us all to hear this."

Selhu audibly ground his teeth, but he didn't try to move the Jai blocking his way.

"Sir, am I correct in assuming that you're familiar with the Great Fall?"

"Indeed you are."

"Am I also correct in assuming that you remember the trigger that started the Fall?"

"I remember, Selhu, and I remember all to well."

"Then I'm sure you're familiar with how we never did discover the perpetrators, that to this day the identity of your murderers is still a mystery."

"Does this painful trip down memory lane have a point? These events aren't exactly easily forgotten, and I do not relish dragging them to the forfront of my mind again."

"I'm sorry, sir, but I do have a point."

"Then make it."

"Yes, sir. May I present to you one of those unknown murderers. This thing, this Jai, and his fellows are those responsible for your murder, the destruction of the Klonor Empire, and the fall of anarchy on all our peoples shoulders. This piece of dung which claims to cherish you is an enemy of Klonor on par with Salm himself. Beyond Salm, in fact, since it is because of their manipulations that he tried to take the throne."

General Ihm, who had been sitting quietly while this all played out, let out a small shout of fury when he heard this. Without hesitation he lept from his seat and rushed at the Jai, fully intent on beating him to death with his own bare hands. The Great Fall was heralded as the darkest of the dark times, the lowest point in Klonors millenia-long history. Billions had died, billions more had suffered unbelievable horrors, and a society that had taken centuries to build had collapsed in days. To finally have one of the perpetrators within his grasp, to finally be able to exact revenge, was something that every Klonor citizen begged for daily. Unfortunately, the Jai had no wish to beaten to death. He simply looked at the enraged General Ihm and blinked, mentally slapping Ihm to the ground and battering him unconcious without lifting so much as a finger. With a small groan the General lay still; alive, but barely.

"Is it true?"

In contrast to Ihms enraged shout, the Dukes words were calm and cool. He might have been simply asking for the time.

"It is."

The Jais response was no less calm.

"Then burn."

His voice still didn't betray the tiniest hint of anger, but the very air around him seemed to vibrate with his rage. A wall of energy surged from the Duke towards the Jai and sought to impale the warrior on a spike of pure hatred. Enough electricity for a dozen lightning storms filled the room and focused on the single Jai, pouring the rage of an entire nation into the solitary figure.

Now the Duke let anger into his voice, now he let loose a howl of rage and anger and fear and hatred, and he turned it all on the embodiment of his fears and his nightmares.

When the Dukes voice fell silent, when the energy bled from the air and the smoke cleared from the room, the Jai was standing there without a single mark on him. Not a single hair was out of place, not one bit of cloth was signed, for all intents and purposes the Dukes atack might never have happened.

"Sir, we have to leave now."

Selhu reached forward and placed his hand on the Dukes arm, attempting to guide him towards the doorway.

"I will explain everything in detail later, but we have to go. Get out of our way."

The Jai merely nodded his head and stepped to the side, making room for the Duke and Selhu to pass.


The Duke spoke and halted the two of them, then he turned to the Jai.


"The Jai cherish nature and---"

"Oh for Joves sake, shut the fuck up about your damn cherishing! Every other word out of your mout is 'cherish', it makes me want to shoot you!"

"Very well, the Jai love nature. We embrace it and its essence, and in return it gives us powers and abilities beyond that of normal Man. Our efforts to eliminate your Dealers took only a fraction of what natures has given us. But, though nature has given us power, it does not give us the wisdom to use it properly. That we must earn for ourselves, like all of natures creations. For years, the Jai made no efforts to gain such wisdom. We only saw that we had power others could only dream of, and we used that power. We conquered and we ruled, because we thought it our right to do so. But, even though we lacked wisdom, we did not lack intelligence. Even though to conquer something by force was easy for us, it was even easier to simply have somebody else conquer our victimes and then take control of the new masters. The Regulus uprising, Salm, even Bobaria, they were all our subtle attempts to oust you from power so we could simply take over whoever rose in your place. Unfortunately, our subtle tricks didn't work. Whether because of your intelligence or our stupidity, we will never know for certain, our attempts failed and you remained in control. So, we took direct action."

"The Great Fall....."

"Correct. The Klonor Empire toppled as easily as you would knock over a deck of cards."

"But...the anarachy that came afterwards.....where were you?"

"'It is beter to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven.'"

"Pretty......what's it mean?"

"The Jai turned among themselves. We were a force unstoppable, nobody in the Universe could stand before us, and Klonor was but one in a long line of nations to have fallen before us. But many were unsatisfied with our progress, they felt that our subtle conquers were beneath us, that we should move en masse and secure our domination over this entire Galaxy before moving on to the next. They thought that our slow movements were simply the leadership attempting to secure their control over even the Jai. Others protested, and almost immediately after the Klonor Empire fell so did our own. Ours was a Civil War fought across the entire Galaxy, with individual Jai laying waste to entire planets in individual combat. By the time it ended Klonor had risen and all its systems had formed into the Association, for us to see one of our vitcims rising again before we had done so shook our beliefs that it was our right to rule the Universe. We were forced to re-evaluate ourselves, and we first began to search for wisdom in addition to our intelligence. The greater good won, we saw that our conquering the Universe would only end badly for all beings. We determined that we still had not the wisdom to rule the Universe wisely, but we could guide it. We saught to ingratiate ourselves with the leadership of various nations, hoping to use our abilities and our newfound view of the Universe to foster the Universal Good. Klonor was the first, we hope to eventually help assist all the Universes nations."

He turned to Selhu.

"This Dealer discovered us. We still don't know how. We don't know when. But one day he approached us and demanded we go public, confess to our past crimes, and place ourselves at your mercy. We refused and he attacked. We struck him down easily, but did not kill him. He was a soldier who, though misguided, attempted to serve the Greater Good and we could not end his life when we saw what that Greater Good was. So, we sent him back to your Association and accelerated our plans. We replaced the Dealers, as you know, because we feel that the sooner we begin to sooner we can finish."

"By finish you mean....."

"No, not what you think. We have progressed beyond our self-serving lust for power. But we do see that we are needed, that our abilities and strength can help the Universe. We seek to make up for our past attrocities. So, we placed ourselves in your service, the first among many nations to receive our service, so that we may help the Universe. That we may help the inhabitants of your nation and the inhabitants of others. As I have said before, the Jai cherish you. But, there is still one last obstacle. One last impediment."

The Jai turned to Selhu.

"The last Dealer. The last man who would seek to prevent us from assisting you, Duke Klonor, in ruling this nation justly and fairly. Despite our good intentions, despite the fact that we are wiser now than we were when we thought only of ourselves, they still resist."

A flick of his wrist and Selhus body tumbled to he ground, his head remained in the air.

"No longer."

He turned back to the Duke.

"Make no mistake, the Jai serve you and we will continue to do so. No matter your course, we will attempt to guide you on the path of life. But we could not do so, we could not heal the Universe as a whole, while the Dealers still live."

He gesutured with one hand and Selhus head dropped to the floor.

"The last domino has fallen."