Sapphire, a soldier of a galactic super-power will discover a horrifying threat.
| -THE GRAND JOURNEY-|
Matthew Julian Freer
"It is not the light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.
We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake"
BATTLE OF PORTU
A night sky crawled over the vibrant world of Portu, a paradise filled with beauty and stunning features in which made it unique among the countless of other known planets; two moons one silver hovering high above the world, its body fully glazed in the star systems light proudly showing its glory of craters that aggressively delved into it a long time ago.
The other a crimson red, ever slowly hiding itself from sight as it sinks amongst the horizon. Long scars curled around it like deep gorged wounds from a whip. However aside from Portus extraordinary beauty, this is not a night where the world will go without sleep.
The sky spewed burning debris like a furious slow-motioned hale; brightening the over-shadowed forests, grasslands, rivers and lakes with an orangey glimmer. Thunderous explosions filled the air, from what-seemed-to-be never ending impacts.
Glistening flashes sprung in the distances which produced resonating sounds of gunfire and the screams, groans of pain and death which those battles gave. I say again, this is a beautiful world or I guess it is more appropriately to say was. Such tragedy has befallen this place; it is deeply saddening, though war has made another return to these troubling times.
Fully-suited and armoured, she gripped her rifle as if readying herself to charge through a squadron. Sapphire dragged her back down a rock slumping onto her bottom, and then she leans to her side having a peek on whatever lays ahead. Sapphires helmet collected data from her brief observation; sudden non-catchable symbols whooshed back and forth across her screen. Beeps, clicks, ringing and other strange sounds came and went-then once the information had been analysed, categorised and decompressed, it travelled to the data pad wrapped and locked tight around Sapphires right radius and ulna; she placed down the rifle, bringing the pad closer.
Her fingers began to tap away on the pad, skimming pass data heading straight for a button in which brought up a virtual map. The grassland she is in appeared pinning her as a green dot on the map, apparently though other ones popped up-not green but red.
The red coloured moon vanished, disappearing from the horizon with the silver moon cautiously replacing it just a few meters away from the horizon on the opposite side; this night sky drew a little bit darker. Jabbing a finger onto the three red dots then linking them to her HUD.
Peeking around again the targets formalised into reality, upside down triangular points became vividly visible to her sight.
Those targets moved about exchanging positions now and then. Ve'ans that is what they call themselves, a saurian-like species, warm blooded and digitigrades. Having skin of scale material, some places smooth and soft whilst in different areas, hard/rough; imbued with an exoskeleton throughout their biological evolution, gifting them with a formidable defence from both physical injuries and certain degrees of radiation exposure.
Their head involves a carapace with a muscular tissue round the sides and their scalp is a sort of dish however not as much that it can be called a bowl. Layers of a scaly fabric embellished the head, moving onto the eyes-they have four, not two; each one has a depth.
Another thing to note is that also Ve'an eyes do not include irises or pupils, hence the depth in which they show and a variety of colour the individual has, however commonly it is mostly certain shades of green though in rare circumstances due to genetic mutation, there are Ve'an with colours yellow and a pale-ice blue. Apart from their colours and depths returning to the number of how many, as I mentioned- four, the position of the other set of eyes lay beneath the others; or you can see them as the upper set being above the ones below.
The body of most if all Ve'ans is a slender physique being quite of a lightweight enabling them to jump a bit high as well as running like professional athletes-faster than Humans...let's put it that way.
Three of these Ve'ans patrolled uphill, encased in armour embroiled with symbolical swirls and curves which stood out from the armours dark purple tinge. One of the soldiers is not wearing a helmet compared to the other two; both presented a slightly curvy V shaped visor gleaming with a spring green tang.
Like their two sets of eyes the helmets themselves had two sets of visors. Again the helmet encased their head/skull with over-lays of metal alloys, being the same shade of purple to the rest of their outfitted-armour.
As of many other races across the vastness of space the opposable thumb was notably seen as common piece, however the exception for the Ve'ans is the quantity of fingers which is only two- two sort of thick ones capable of grasping firmly; also the nails in which they and the opposable thumb produce, as I guess you have already figured or pictured it, yes, quite long and can be lethal like knives.
Feet are commonly eight to thirteen in size and that does go to females and in some cases, fifteen to seventeen.
Looking at the soldier without his helmet, referring back to the skin like eyes you have a variety of colours...same with skin, though it depends, still I would have to say that Human skin is a lot more diverse than the Ve'an; most of their entire population is pretty much a dark silver/gray. Just like their teeth though more black if anything silver or gray, no they rather have black which makes them easily to frighten people, and you'll be glad when you get a smile of one who is a friend, if its' a nemesis be sure that you are wearing armour, a helmet or mask cause you will become its meal of the day!
Now I place my analysis on their noses, they don't have a bone sticking out just a flabby tube going straight vertically, like as if their noses were punched into their faces at the beginning. At the bottom of this tube full of substances existed two nostrils in which of course allowed inhalation and exhalation.
Sapphire is nowhere close to the group; glancing down and then reaching for her rifle, a standard-military grade weapon known as the Impulse an automatic-rifle able to send out bursts of Strong-light ammunition. This weapon has been used for thousands of years- capable of firing one hundred propellants per second before depleting and then requires too be reloaded with an eighteen centimetre-length and four centimetre-width strong-light magazine, slotted on top.
Her Impulse has full maximum ammunition dying to be released however she decided not to waste those just now, oh no, instead looking west which stood one of those over-shadowed forests and it seems however also a thought just popping into Sapphires head- yes, she can use this to her advantage.
Snatching the Impulse, one of her fingers dashed into a button on its side, it no longer was the thirty-two inch long rifle. Folding itself inwards layers slid and shrunk, the only remaining parts of it is the stock, trigger, grip and a bit of the fore stock. She swung over to her back; the armour in which she wears recognizes its inverted state and magnetism resonating from each other.
Thumping into the armour now magnetised on Sapphires back, she begins making her way westward venturing inside the forest where tall trees reached grand heights probably at least 675 foot tall! These trees are quite similar to the once-existent Pine trees on Earth.
Clouds started to form above her; she looked up and noted that they did not look friendly seeing them as gray which promised a forewarning as well as a promise of rain...heavy rain, it turned out. Slamming downward upon the forest, crashing into the many leaves just as in contrast to the countless of space vessels falling into this world. Nevertheless it did not hinder her progress, dashing through whilst keeping a caution about her, watching the Ve'ans patrol on the hill; avoiding their watchful alertness; taking a few snappy peeks around a tree and over a rock, though she seemed fine from a guaranteed distance that she is safe.
The pyramid structure laid in view now, its body casted over with shadows like the grasslands, forests and lakes alike. However distant dots of fuzzy orange light blaze on the surface of Fort Bearclaw; fire crawling at a slugs pace, wrapping its way through and across. A journey is still yet to be accomplished towards this place; as she ventured, her legs swinging forward and back, arms and hands up and down on each of her sides...running. From the motion in which she is producing a certain thought erupts, soon developing into a memory, a memory planted in the depths of her childhood. Being struck away from reality, it's most probable to say that a second mind took over her movement; dreariness apparently swept over Sapphire, her eyelids drawing down then spontaneously snapped open again.
Feeling the memory pulling her inside, it materialised...the surroundings and herself but at a younger age, no longer twenty-five, this image of her; this particular memory and those that came after it portrayed the eight year old, Sapphire.
A campfire, a dark gloomy environment in where darkness covered most, light was rare in this place; then as her eight year-old self looked away from warm burning fire, her gaze landed upon a silhouetted being.
A START OF A TERRYIFYING TREK
Sapphire made her way around the fire bringing her closer to the shrouded person. Crouched down and leaning against what supposedly looked like cover, cover for what?
His head turned to meet her gaze, a white skinned scruffy face painted with the orange hue from the fire. Thick eyebrows hugged onto his face though they were not the most prominent feature, this prominent feature was that of the eyes, which produced a luminescent shade of orange; whenever he had a swing of the head to look over cover, you could just see their glow in the darkness, and surely they would attract something?
Pushing away from the cover and rising from his crouched state, lifting his weapon onto his shoulder. At least estimated as sixty-nine point fifteen inches long, the Far-Shot, a long ranged sniper particle rifle has been used for a long time however compared to the Impulse though, not that long.
Various attachments are fixed to his Far-Shot, including the standard issued scope able to go into a 30x optical zoom. Other accessories are that of a motion sensor stuck upon the rifles left side, a screen flicked outward and presented a green dot in the centre of a circle (Which is the person wielding the weapon) another green dot blipped, twisting his view to Sapphire quickly noting her slight movement then focused back onto the screen.
From his position on the screen, ripples like shockwaves spread out after about three seconds, it did not pick up any other movement apart from Sapphires. This device has been a reliable fellow, for when things such as HUD targeting systems fail or the sudden trigger of a electromagnetic pulse in a whatever form, a form however efficient in passing through Empires hardware-systems; then this device is back-up for when such situations pop-up, if those targeting systems cannot even see past through a layer of smoke then this is the device to use.
Another, the attachment on the muzzle slightly extending the rifle in length probably about six inches more; this one adds a particle enhancement to the beam of Strong-light that is fired.
Without the use of this accessory, if it has hit a target it will most likely create a gaping wound or in some momentous occasions- exploding heads.
With this though disintegration is most certainly likely! Causing increased overall damage to biological tissue and a chance to penetrate specific shielding devices and or technologies.
Each of the, if not all Unity armaments- most particularly ground force ones. Each individual firearm has the mark of a triangular symbol with smaller versions within, those at the bottom of the symbol held circular dots gleaming red. The outlines themselves glowed with a dark orange light; above are two diagonal rectangle shapes in which contained angled (Like the rectangles) dashes and finally up to the tip, being distinct diamond we have a dash going vertical inside.
As of many symbols this one is recognised as the Fire Caste elemental icon, it represents one of the four Castes that the Unity Empire governs. This caste of fire covers the security and military side of things, War is their domain however there is an exception; music, well musicians. In the empires society musicians are seen as part of the fire caste, in an "Energetic" manner as generally that has been known as a perspective of the element itself.
True, anyone can be their own sort of musician and singer, in their unique way. It is those who have chosen to professionally stick with a career producing the wonders of today's melodies- in all varied genres.
Now that I have reached in mentioning the Unity Empire, I wish to explain more about that the other castes can wait. A long time ago, roughly ten thousand years ago after a traumatising event known as the "Cataclysmic War" this moment in history was so terrible it spanned the whole Milky Way galaxy!
It lasted for at least over five hundred years, in which in that time definitely left an impact; the Xarxes- the beings in which they called themselves, swept through bringing relentless destruction. However soon they were stopped and destroyed, from this gave birth to the new formation of the GSC (Galactic Star Coalition) becoming known as the Unity Empire.
In the aftermath this empire grew and prospered reclaiming once-inhabited worlds as well as preparing to continue their adventures in a new frontier, finally establishing travel between galaxies.
Slamming the screen closed, pressing a button making the gun fold and retract- activating the magnetism; swinging it over his shoulder to be locked onto his back. He crouched down to the fire and began rubbing his hands tightly together, looking at his clothes briefly checking their condition; he wore leather all over and being tightly hugged with rugged brown rags. Also wearing baggy trousers in which had a few pockets now and there, able to stuff a lot of gizmos or junk in them to finally noting the piece of metal on his back which produced the magnetism- holding his rifle.
Sapphires attire was not particularly extravagant either, only wearing a casual red and black shirt with a steel-coloured jacket over it- unzipped; and tight black trousers which had tears in them.
You wonder why they were there in an area located underground- below a city in which the two could spot out the large wide metal pillars in which held up the city for its stability. These are the Graylands, a place that is very much dead compared to the city above yet even that, the city known as Solit is quiet however not as quiet as the Graylands; though activity was not rare at least as going far to not involve people. Instead animals made their living in the Graylands; and only just one specific species travelling in their packs.
Sapphire moved to his side and dropped down, leaning her head against him.
"How long must we be down here father?" she asked, staring deeply into the flickering of the fire. "For as long as we can be, this was the closest and warmest place I could give us." Her father replied.
He sighed and continued, "We could have found a cave however those are likely to be inhabited by the Sol-ligers, and we would have probably frozen out there." Sapphire snuggled into him, taking all the warmth she could get. Beginning to grumble she mentioned the upcoming day.
"What a place to have a birthday." She said disappointingly and grudging. Her father gave out a small chuckle. "It didn't know your ninth birthday would happen here; we'll be moving again soon anyway, need to keep ourselves going cause we don't want the Sol-ligers down here to eat us." Unbuckling a sack he pulled out a pristine cylindrical metal container, pressing his thumb into a button unlocking and popping the lid up. Tipping it towards his mouth as he goes for a sip, drinking the succulent water kept freshly stored inside.
Drinking a little bit more, he multi-tasked by having a quick glance in the sack spotting a packet of food, "You hungry, Saf?" he said coughing slightly as some of the water went down the wrong hole; he sealed the container and placed it back in as his other hand snatched out the packet, he read out the contents. "Hmm, we got Jala'mard with Ruffi that goes with a hot sauce or..." Taking another look, finding a second and a third packet; "We also have Slick'juru and Hada included with potatoes or just a pack of good old chicken in the form of pills." He finished, bringing the one consisting of pills closer and added, "If you're feeling lazy, that is."
Food in the Unity Empire existed in two forms, one is the packet in which contains genetic material and for that it has to be materialised into the original form so that it can be consumed, for example a packet in which has the contents of a Chicken is to be placed into a Materialisation-Device for the cloned genetics of the dead animal to be reproduced so that it...yes you got it, eaten.
Killing animals for food was a method long ago, not however, using this materialisation became the norm and proved to be reliable, and now and then when animals pass away they have their DNA taken to produce food- for variety instead of having one chicken being eaten generation after generation.
But of course hunts do happen once in a while, if one or a group of people become stranded and do not have stored food supplies or an MD (Materialisation Device) then it is considered a valid reason to kill for food however they can also convert to vegetarianism (If not one already) until they are found/extracted or discover a way to leave.
Poaching in these times is very rare specifically in the empires society as it is looked down-upon and is seen to be a "Waste" if nothing is gained- and that meaning of having something gained is to do with nutrients or eating to quench hunger and not for sport/fun.
Secondly the other form are pills, again these began a long time ago. Made primarily for a fast gain of nutrients, the genetics of a cloned dead animal (Or plant/fruit, this applies to the other form as well) is encoded into it and once consumed those immediately release the nutrients for the body.
The pills are extensively used in medical cases for patients with severe injuries or inflicted with an illness as well as used for people who cannot eat well, then again throughout millennia's medicines and antidotes have arisen to treat and cure all sorts of "nastiness" yet, even in this age their always new illnesses and diseases sprouting into the grand galactic life of advanced civilisations.
Sapphire stuck out her arm and flicked the steel box in which held the packet. "Oh, Jala'mard and Ruffi, coming right up...hmm time to get the MD out." He said as he lifted off the dry gray ground, strolling towards a tent.
Sapphire crawled to the sack and peeked inside grabbing the container of water, popping the lid open and takes a sip. "Careful now, we only have a few of them, two are gone already." Her father reminded, she raised an eyebrow then took another peek in, "One, two, three, four" saying to herself; looking back to the water she holds, gives it a shake. "It's almost empty." She thought.
The campfire was not the only light, looking more intensively into the memory; she remembered the lights which shone out bright white which circled around the pillars. A few lights glimmered across the ceiling, ranging from blue to green, white and red. A loud clank appeared in the tent along with a slight groan from her father. Coming out of the tent carrying the MD, carefully crouching down to put it on top on a metallic desk; its shape is of a cube though a tiny bit longer than that. Opening the container to the packet, grasping its smooth texture, tearing it apart allowing him to have the chip that had the gargantuous genetic information; taking it by the tips of his index finger and thumb then inserted into the device through a three to four centimetres wide slit.
Beeps came out the device, registering all the encoded DNA sequences, a loading bar came into view starting from a cyan colour and transitions towards a dark blue. Again it lets out a few beeps and a flashing green light in the form of a spot which had the word Ready below it.
Many modes are included into the machine, such as Cooked and Raw. Once through that stage it moves onto the options of degrees, temperatures in which increase heat are for the cooked mode whilst raw has the minus-Celsius part if wanted cold once reproduced.
Next section is the specific amount of time for the product to be cooked or refrigerated. So her father prodded the cooked mode making a beep afterwards, then he began humming as he trailed his fingers upwards on holographic meter just about halting at the one hundred and ninety degrees mark. He then moved on to the times, three meters popped up one with hours another with minutes and the last with seconds.
Setting it to be for thirty five minutes and ten seconds and then he finishes off with a blitzing flick on the holographic word Activate. Making it beep like crazy and widgets came to life, through the opaque screen a burst of light dazzled him, and both of them could now hear the low resonating pulses, producing Jala'mard. A kind-of cha-ching sound erupted as the meat had been materialised.
Jala'mard is a delicacy among the race known as the Tau'mul which is a species of humanoid lizards.
Allies and members within the Unity Empire, even before the empires founding, they were allied with the Galactic Star Coalition.
A humming sound came aloud as it signalled the cooking process is in order. Sapphire dashes to the tent, her father not realising and fixed onto the devices cooking power; she treads lightly through stacked up crates and other parts of equipment, finding a few decent-sized steel bowls she acquires two and heads back outside.
They settle down together, with their meals ready- the Jala'mard cut into tiny pieces along with the Ruffi salad sliced up and mixed in and then a dab of the hot sauce which Sapphire found still hiding in the torn packet. Forks plunge and whip out the foods, taking a sizeable portion and then transferred into their mouths pleasurably gulping it down then going for another and another.
The hot sauce whizzed out tingly sensation on Sapphires tongue suddenly swelling into a rising hotness which every now and then after a few takes, had to blow with her father giving an amusing look and some chuckles.
Coming to the bottom of their bowls and with bloated stomachs (And swelling- hot mouths and fiery breaths) the two of them shelter themselves in the tent, placing down the bowls on a desk and then drop down to their bedrolls seeking sweet slumber for the adventure tomorrow.
Waking up from her father's shuffling along with a few clanks and a humming then a quiet bang from his weapon magnetising onto his back; she turns to look seeing him gearing up and extending her focus outside- no sunlight, still dark, "It is like an endless night." She thought with a slight dissatisfaction; Sapphire wanted to see sunlight again, the eagerness bites deep down, especially being stuck in the Graylands for nearly a week, and yet that's not very long.
She jumped as a backpack was thrown at her, "Come on Saf, time to get moving and quickly, I think there is a pack of them coming this way." He said distinctively and then switched to grabbing the crates then stuffing those into a steel cylinder that seemed to just transform the crates into data streams and absorb them; this intriguing device is known as an MSC (Miniaturising Storage Container), effectively allowing for large quantities of equipment/materials to be miniaturised and stored for saving to carry heavy load as well as having things such as orders shortly carried out.
Like many other technologies this has been used widely, MCT (Miniaturisation Containment Technology) is for holding vast amounts of food, drink and other products within retail sectors and even in the military for hardware systems, tactical devices; additionally weapons are miniaturised and stored into a containment device specially built for them, usually acknowledged as Firearm Dispensers.
Different versions of this containment technology have been crafted, including small cubes for personal treasures; however this use of containment does not come without a disadvantage- which is the minimum storage capacity, differing versions of course have their own differing limits, some can hold up to five hundred or even over a thousand items.
Sapphire pulls herself up from the bedroll striking out her arms and releasing a yawn. Snatching up the backpack she starts stuffing her personal items within.
Gathering all the stuff they have, dumping it into boxes, MSCs, sacks and backpacks- including the tent; watering the withering fire out of its misery, they eventually set off on a trek once more across the dark and barren plains of the Graylands.