Archivist note: This article is from an older recovered archive and might be obsolete or in need of updating.
Most recent revision is shown below, by Galactic Baroque.
A long time ago, on the waking of my reason, I found myself surrounded by many other beings similar to myself and yet so different. That day I was born into a world I did not understood a world. I began to walk around that large storage facility looking for a meaning to my existence and an explanation on why I was so different. I found none. I was alone, in that large storehouse, lighted up only by the fade glow of the foundries nearby.
I left the complex looking for a purpose to fulfill and not far away I found one: To find the man that was not a man
This purpose took me around many lands and nations before finding him at a calm square in a city named New Babbage; one of these lands was where once stood the mighty and mysterious Khemet.
At Khemet I met a young man that was old, an old man that was young, and both were the same and yet neither at all. This strange creature told me he was the last of his kind, created by an ancient knowledge, to serve one purpose and one purpose only, to guard the secret of the Seal of the Star of Khemet, they were named the Guardians, and he was the last one.
===The History of the Guardians===
:The Elders of the Order of the Star of Khemet, foreseen the war that would change the history of the world forever, created by the means of their arts, three beings, these beings were unique on their characteristics and were named the Guardians.
:The first Guardian had the shape of a bird, with keen sight, and not needing to sleep or rest, was the perfect watcher. She would guard the Baka Khemet before it became the Sheut. It is unknown if she is still alive or if she had faded into the shadows of the Duat.
:The second Guardian, was like a sphinx, a master of riddle, of great intelligence, he would be the hider of the parts of the Seal, leaving behind him clues that allowed the ones worthy of the secrets of the Order to find their way into the depths of the shadows to finally see the light. It is known that taking the form of a man, he left from Tamiat with a party of brave men, and came back alone several decades later to deliver to the third Guardian the Name before vanishing into the sands of the desert. It is believed that he became the Sphinx, protector of the pyramids.
:The third Guardian, was human shaped, ageless he could change his appearance from young to old at his own will. He was the Keeper of the Name, and who forged the seals of khemet, and its safes. I met him under the shape of an old scholar, in an ancient temple near the great river, and he instructed me on the diversity of the alloys of the ancient times.
:After some months he confided me about his true self, and how he was bounded to the sacred soil of that ancient temple, the “Set Maat”, the “Place of Truth”.
:In that temple, on the ancient times, the young ones were introduced into several different knowledge, those young ones that revealed themselves of great insight and eager of knowledge and yet pure of heart and soul were then initiated into the priesthood of Ma’at, and if they succeeded passing several tests, they were initiated into the Order of the Star of Khemet and were sent to the Baka Khemet.
:The third guardian was also the responsible for the selection at first, after the death of the Elder, and the shatter of the Order he was who maintained the secrets alive at the old temple. But soon the young ones stopped coming, and soon the temple was practically desert. Only the guardian remained, until one day, some years ago, a young foreign arrived at the temple, his name was Adoril Chorster.
As I was told by the guardian, Adoril Chorster betrayed the temple when he tried to steal the first seal, after that the guardian expelled him from the holy grounds of the temple, throwing a curse upon him, so he would never more be able to stand over the lands of the temple without feeling a terrible pain.
But the guardian knew it wouldn’t be long before the smart young man to find a way to enter the temple grounds without standing on it, well he then did what he could do on that time, he claimed for help with the Fates.
Apparently that happened by the same time I woke several thousands of miles from there, and the old guardian believed I had been sent by the Fates themselves to assist him. With that in mind he told me what he could, he taught me the ancient writing, he told me about the Order and its history, he told me about what he learned during his lifetime, in the end he handed me over a small case, of greenish metal, with instructions of not opening it until the time was proper.
I followed his instructions, and kept the box in secret. One day I got terrible notices, the temple had been engulfed by the sands of the desert, the authorities are unsure of what happened, but I was sure, that Chorster finally got into the temple and managed to kill the guardian, the only way to break the curse set upon him.
That same day I opened the box and to my surprise there was it, the seal of the Name, the Ren Seal of Khemet. Hoping to attract that villain, I presented the seal as my own.
I should have known better, he wouldn’t fall so easily.
Now the only hope was to get the seal pieces before him, so a new quest takes place, and with the guardian dead and Lord Chorster on the loose, I had to act quickly. The Arkhon was ready, now I just need to gather a crew. Honorable, noble and kind, fearless in battle, was the kind of people I need for this mission.
Fortunately New Babbage has many fine citizens.
==Chapter 1 – The Quest Begins==
It was a clear day in the city of New Babbage, as a large ship smoothly made its way into the docks, as its docked, a figure on the stern cabin, could be seen watching apprehensively to the wooden wharf, floating on the calm waters of the Vernian Sea. It was no other than Mr. Aizek Tchailenov, its captain.
An important mission stood ahead, and there was no time to waste. For this mission, a crew was imperative, for this mission a crew was essential. And a crew there already was.
The first member, one of the finest pilots one can ever find, a kinsman of Mr. Tchailenov, the personal pilot of His Lordship Moses Mureaux, Mr. Buck Mosely, he agreed to be the Flight Officer on this mission.
The second member, a fine young lady, with an adventurous spirit, and honorable soul, Ms. Lesley Palmira, she agreed to be the Weapons Officer during this journey. We all hoped that her services wouldn’t be required, but one never knows.
The third and final member of the crew, another fine lady, with a vast experience with the Khemetian Culture, Ms. Marit Static agreed to be the Navigation Officer.
I am the Communications Officer, and my name is A. Typist. I was in charge of recording the mission main events and findings.
At 19:00hs local time we left, Ms. Static unfortunately was delayed, but catch up with us just after the test ride Capt. Tchailenov insisted in performing with the crew so they could get familiarized with the ship.
She arrived in her airship a few minutes after we finished our test ride; fortunately the Arkhon Class has a deployable flight deck, so she was able to land with no problem.
As soon as everyone were on their positions, we departed, getting quickly to a high altitude, once above the clouds, we were briefed on the objectives of our mission and showed us the first part of the Seal of the Star of Khemet. The captain told us it is called the Name.
All we could hear was the soft noise of the propellers, muffled by the fuselage, the night was very calm, and the journey to Khemet was very calm.
Finally at dawn, Ms. Static told the captain we had achieved the descend vector, we were almost at our destination.
To not disturb the locals with the apparition of such a ship as was the Com. Asrael, Mr. Tchailenov decided to make the watering somewhat far from the coasts and the landing with some more normal boats.
We had arrived; the ancient lands of Khemet extended itself in front of us, or at least what remains of it. At the portuary city of Iskandariyya we entered by the river Oze, into the depths of the desert. At a location called the Valley of Kings near Orangelo we finally stopped. An obelisk guarded the entrance to the valley, and there I took a picture of the crew.
We were unsure of what to look for, but Mr. Tchailenov was a decided “person” as we spotted the sphinx, he claimed it was the Second Guardian petrified, as was told in the legends. The enthusiasm was general, and yet not a single soul was in sight… the land seemed abandoned and yet everything was in perfect order and in excellent state.
The captain then suggested we begin our search at the nearest temple, basically because usually the records of the important things were kept at the temples. The temple was dedicated to a feline-like goddess named Bastet.
We found much information regarding the properties of the temple as some papyrus containing a myriad of texts, and yet nothing that would throw a bit of light on the shadows that covered the first hiding place.
At the gardens, Ms. Palmira begun to act a bit odd, as she begun to, as it seemed, meditate to a statue of the goddess. Meanwhile Ms. Static made an incredible discovery, a sort of trap door that lead to a richly decorated cave. Seemed like a hideout, down there was much cooler that the desert above us, light was provided by several bonfires, strategically placed over the room.
On the back a well hidden passage lead to another room, seemingly like a pool room. Beside of its ornaments, there was nothing of interest in it, so I didn’t even mention it to the captain or the rest of the crew.
As we left the underground, Ms. Static radio begun to make some strange noises as she received an emergency call and had to departure. It seems a bit odd how things comes to happen once we found in this lands the same ring shape device Ms. Static commented to have found earlier, and that she called “Æther Flux Engine” or something like that.
Anyway it seems it is some sort of portal or gate… and placed in the pyramid, guarded by the second guardian it was and through there she departed, before that she tried to explain me how it worked, when she said it separates one into a bunch of pieces, I stopped listening.
I truly hope to see her again in one piece, as I always said if I am to travel, for the gods I’ll do it on a ship, take the time it takes, I’ll never get on one of these things.
Anyway, our journey seemed doomed, there was not a single indication of where to begin to look for the first hiding place, we were all tired of translating column after column, line after line of glyphs to find nothing useful.
Mr. Tchailenov begun to walk around the ring thing, looking to the ground, suddenly he stood still, looking at a small block of text and left the pyramid without saying a word, we followed, Mr. Mosely was guarding, Ms. Palmira was right behind us, as we turned around the pyramid to the east face, there an aperture led to a hidden room. Could be the answer to our questions? Could it be the rest place of the clue?
No it wasn’t. The captain was silent, more than usual, disappointment could be seen in his eyes, well for an automaton he’s quite expressive, for those who comes to know him.
He sat in a stone, and hold tight to the little box that held the first seal, opened it and was staring at its surface when I though he was going to throw it away and call that mission a waste of time, he raised his eyes, looked up to where the pyramid stood above us and when looked at me I saw it. He had that “I did it! I got it” look… he then said as if for himself:
“The answer was in front of me all along!! I had everything I needed all the time!! It’s truly incredible!!” – Then addressing himself to me he commanded – “Mr. Typist, gather the crew, we’re heading back to New Babbage tonight!”
During the trip back the captain stayed most of it locked in his private cabin, while Mr. Mosely piloted the Asrael, and I served both as communications and flight Officer, and Ms. Palmira as Weapons and Navigation Officer.
One night though during the diner, the captain told us what had been his insight.
“While in the pyramid, looking at the pattern of the floor I noticed in the small block of text, that there was actually two texts written in it, the first one was clear, and we all saw it, as we all see the engraves on the seal, but when I took a closer look I found a second set of symbols engraved on the lines of the first ones, in the pyramid it revealed the location of the entrance in the east face, while in the seal I found the same system, and it reads this” he concluded handing over a small piece of paper with some writing on it, and showing us the tiny glyph engraved within the lines of the pattern of the seal. We were all excited. Now the hunt had begun!!!
==Chapter 2 – The First Clue==
”Journal entry by A. Typist – Secretary of Capt. Aizek Tchailenov of the ACS – Commander Asrael.”
The way back to New Babbage was smooth as it could be, and even though the captain was most of the time at his chambers trying to solve the riddle of the seal, the mood of the crew was excellent, after all we were returning home after a long journey to far and exotic lands to try to gather as much information as we could to solve the riddle.
On the dusk of our arrival day, the captain ordered the watering a few miles from the babbagian waters, I only assumed he didn’t wanted to alarm the city, even more with the latest events concerning Steelhead. An armed ship as ours, are suspicious even in times of peace, and since we weren’t flying the babbagian colors, I believe the captains decision was the most accurate, anyway, actually only the captain knows why we really watered outside the city, but we didn’t care, for the simple sight of Clockhaven’s lights over the horizon was enough to get our thought back to that we were at home again.
After getting to the shores with smaller, unarmed ships, the captain dismissed the crew, and went straight to the city’s archives. I personally went for a drink with the crew.
At the dawn we finally met with our captain again, it seemed he had spent all night long at the archives. I do not know what he found out but when he returned he had a kind of glare in his sight. Every time I see him like that or urged by emotions typical of humans and other living begins I can only wonder if he is really just an automaton or if there is something else under the cold metallic surface. Anyhow, since we begun this quest I have the sensation that there is more on this than he told us.
Well, as the captain arrived, he commanded us to bring the ship to the docks, and prepare her for departure. As I left for the market, I saw the captain heading towards the Academy district; at that precise moment an idea stoke my mind as the lines of the riddle came back to me.
Could it be that we were living at the starting point all the time and didn’t realized? Could it be that New Babbage had been resting over the key for the Seal of the Star of Khemet? If it is, then I’m confident the captain will find it!
==Chapter 3 – Going to East==
”Journal entry by A. Typist – Secretary of Capt. Aizek Tchailenov of the ACS – Commander Asrael.”
In the city, whispers say that a strange and antique object had been founded beneath the Academy of Industry, when the new academy was built after the old academy was destroyed on unknown circumstances and the district being closed until a few years ago. Apparently the strange object was placed on the basement of the new academy where it was found when the rubbles were cleaned up.
It is said that the object is as old as some of the oldest parts of the wall, dating back to the early years of the Old Empire. Its existence seemed to be classified by the babbagian government, until it was placed back on the place it was discovered by the curator of the academy after a long meeting with the mayor. Or so was what I heard. So the captain could be right; New Babbage could be the starting point of our journey.
On that very same night, right after the last loads of supply had been placed on board of the ship, he arrived at the docks. He said nothing, not a word of where he had been, but for the direction he had left that morning, the whispers on the market, my conclusion could be only one; The water grid, beneath the city.
Beneath his arm a large package wrapped in a piece of leather. I knew on that moment he had done it. I knew it on my heart, that volume was another piece of the puzzle. As the captain got on the ship, he imparted one order only. “Set course to east immediately!!” and called me aside and told me “keep a sharp ear Mr. Typist, we’re being followed”, as he indicated a shadow moving near the docks…
Lord Chorster was behind us, and with our course only one destination was possible, the imperial city of Steeltopia.
==Chapter 4 – A Little Talk==
As the ship left the docks into the Vernian Sea, the figure of Mr. Chorster disappeared into the shadows of the harbor. This seemed to become a troubled voyage to Steeltopia. Before the cross into the Deep, I ordered the ship to a halt. There was one last thing to be done; as I prepare to leave the ship, my first mate enters my chambers. We had to arrange a course of action for the following days. A few moments later I was inside a mini submersible watching as the Asrael takes off into the dusk. Hopefully it will work out as planned.
As I submerge, I receive the good news; Chorster bite the bait, the Asrael was being followed. I turned on the engines and headed to the city’s canals, the only way to get to my destination unseen. As I headed myself into the canals, I went through the plan once more, finding no danger on it, well no more than the acceptable on a mission like this and no less than I prepare my crew for. The depths of the canals at night can be very tricky and dangerous, so keeping a shallow depth, but deep enough to go unseen to the unwarned eyes of the peasants, was the best line of action, I just hoped that Chorster hadn’t foreseen I would use the canals to get back to the city, so eager he was to put his hands on the second seal.
Meanwhile on board of the Asrael, the first mate orders a new destination, Steelhead. And as the ship turns, soaring the skies, Chorster’s airship comes into firing range. The board cannons are deployed, the fighters, kindly nicknamed as Sooty Terns by the crew, are raised to the flight deck; as the fighter’s pilot are briefed into their mission by Asrael’s first mate, a voice is heard all over the ship:
-“We just left the Babbagian air space”
Now they we’re in no man’s land and anything could happen.
The small vessel stops on a shallow secondary line that connected the sewer’s of the city with the canals. I step down and walk a bit, the water over my knees, getting lower at each step. I keep walking until getting to a ladder nearby, hoping my message had been received, and that I would be expected. Time was short, and though this meeting was necessary, even more with the latest events occurring in the city.
I open the manhole as quietly as I can, the fade light of the street lamps kept that alley in the shadows, a perfect entrance. I get out into the alley, and place back the cover in the manhole. I cover my face with the coat’s collar, as I get near to the street. No one in sight, I turn back into the shadows. Suddenly a shadow within the shadows moves. A deep voice is heard:
-“You’re getting rusty Mr. Tchailenov. You’re late.”
-“The time rushes my friend, where…” – I said while tapping him in the back gently, but before I could finish the phrase he pointed me a door, and vanished into the shadows, fusing himself with great mastery.
I headed to the door, opened it and climbed the stairs to the second floor. Now only a simple wood door separated me from the one whom I came to see, I knock and wait.
A familiar face opens the door while a voice inside the room calls -“Come in Mr. Tchailenov, your message got me worried” – as the face at the door smile and let me get into the room.
-Thank you for receiving me on such a rush Your Grace. The matter we must discuss is of great importance.
-Well then take a seat. – Said the young gentleman sitting on the other side of the room, while making a gesture to the men at the door – wait outside and let no one enter.
-Yes M’Lord – said the men while leaving after making a bow.
Meanwhile over the oceans the Asrael was soaring the skies, the Sooties, serving as both scout and escort of the vessel makes swift passes over the ship and back.
Suddenly another ship appears behind Chorster’s craft, weaving a flag that only very few man from the southern Steamlands have ever seen, the flag of the Empire of Normoor.
==Chapter 5 – Gathering Storm and the House of Thesium==
Both men had just left the room, the click of the closed door marked the beginning of a conversation that no one would hear. Outside the room the two guards watched the darkness paying attention on that anything or anyone would interrupt the meeting of the man and the automaton.
An hour later another click broke the silence of the night, the opening door announcing the end of the meeting.
– “Thank you for informing me Mr. Tchailenov. I shall send a man of trust to Steelhead to receive the gentleman, and wait for your arrival.”
– “Thank you M’Lord. I shall inform the Order on my advances as I get to Steeltopia.”
– “Very well. We’ll be waiting. Godspeed, Mr. Tchailenov.”
As I bowed and left I was relieved and yet concerned on the discussion on the meeting. Time would tell if my worries were valid or not.
I moved as fast as I could back to my craft and departed into the shallow waters of the canals, as I got into the vernian I prepared to take off. The ship took off smoothly, the clouds were taking over the skies. A storm was gathering.
That line could not have been truer as I approached the middle of my fast flight. I was taking the Sooty to its limit as it wasn’t designed for long flights. Strong winds begun to blow, and the lightning clashing the dark skies. Thunders could be hear near and sudden another sound similar but yet different. Cannons!
In the distance only shapes were visible, but the lines of the Arkhon were found to its maker. As were the four cannons batteries that was firing now.
An Arkhon was battling its way through the skies against four ships, and since Lady Yardley’s Sovereign was away with her owner, the only other was the Asrael. The battle was worse than I had foreseen. Chorster certainly had made some new “friends” since the last time we encountered so many years ago.
The only possible way was to inflict the most damage as possible while trying to escape. As I approached to radio reach I was hailed by the Asrael.
– “Welcome back Captain. The deck is clear for landing.”
– “Roger, inbounds.” I replied glad to hear the tone of Mr. Typist at the radio; he seemed almost to be enjoying himself.
As I approached the flight deck, and reduced speed, the scene was clearer, the seemed battle wasn’t that much. The Asrael was barely damaged and two of the enemy ships were disabled. As I got on board though bad news arrived, two sooties had been taken down. The strike had begun few moments after leaving the babbagian air space, a Normoorian ship joined Chorster’s and later on begun firing ahead of them.
The Asrael fired back as the sooties took off and fired also. As they were focused on the port side battle from the starboard two carpanian ships arrived to assist Chorster’s now disabled crafts. Fortunately for the Asrael a Sooty pilot spotted them and warned the crew, unfortunately for him he was also spotted and taken down.
The battle was taking place ever since, with casualties on both sides, as they were moving towards “safer waters”. Fortunately to us the Carpanians hadn’t put as much effort on airships as they did on their navy.
My first orders after receiving the news from the first mate were to call back all sooties and take the ship to a greater altitude. If they want what we had on board, they’ll have to come and get it. Secondly try to contact a NBAC ship and finally, try to contact the carpanian airships; I hoped we could settle this before involving the NBAC.
A few moments later and some hundreds of feet above, we managed to contact the carpanian airships, the talks were fast and the result easy to get. Chorster had deceived them by saying we were pirates and after raiding his vessels we were going to raid along the carpanian skies. So when they arrived and saw Chorster’s airships disabled and the Asrael fully armed they thought it was true the information Chorster gave them and so attacked us.
The storm was hitting strong and so the carpanian ships returned home, as we continued our way to steelhead, now a necessary stop on the course due to the current events. The presence of the normoorian ship only confirmed the news I got at the meeting. The House of Thesium had fallen, and I had the youngest and possibly last Thesium hidden in my crew.
My link with the House of Thesium goes as far back as the days I was looking for M’Lord Moses, Lord Thesium assisted me once, when I arrived at Normoor and so, a couple of years ago, when a coup d’état, overthrown the rightful heir of Normoor, the opportunity to pay my debt arrived, in most unfortunate circumstances I must add. Normoor was on the verge of a civil war, the lords were divided in two bands, the ones that supported the usurper and those who supported the rightful heir, Lord Thesium was among the last, while Lord Chorster headed the first ones.
When I was to departure to Khemet, the situation at Normoor was getting to a critical point, and so, fearing for the life of his five children he sent each of them to a “safe house” so as to speak. The Heirs of Thesium were scattered around the Steamlands, and I took under my watch the youngest of them. Aged 22 and fully capable of defending himself, he has a tendency towards applied science and engineering. He knows nothing of the final fate that came upon his family, all he knows is that he is on board of the Asrael to work as my secretary and learn all he can on the life on board on an aethership. He was fine when I suggested him to assume a new identity to hidden his royalty and so be treated as an equal member by the crew members, he thought it was logical, I thought it was fundamental to keep his identity secret but not for the reasons I told him.
Anyway, now was time to take him to a safer place, so we head to steelhead, while Chorster’s airship is left to the winds. A turn to our side like that couldn’t come on a better time.
As we approached Steelhead, I called Mr. Thesium aside, and gave him the instructions, we would not make port at steelhead, there was no time, and time was fundamental for this next step.
As the sooty took off from the flight deck we watched as a Normoorian ship I knew well appeared over the city. The delivery was made and we departed towards Steeltopia. The Fates would decide his destiny now, as mine was decided, and everyone else’s. A final task before the end was necessary: To find all the parts, and restore the seal of Khemet.
””’To be Continued…””’