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The Gathering Storm


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THE GATHERING STORM

((A Lonely Clifftop; the Shores of Venoba))

::Lightning illuminated the lonely scene as the wind tore at his hair and the thunder boomed all around – deafening and continuous. However, Graven barely moved, just watching the waves rolling over the rocky foreshore, all the while holding his limp bundle tightly in his arms. Nothing could stir him from his current focus. The storm lashed the cliffs and blew cold spray into his face. Still he remained fixed and immobile – like a monolith against the tempest.::

Graven: Tick, tock, tick, tock.

((Flashback – three days previous - Control Deck: Transporter Lincoln))

::Graven sat at the controls of the Lincoln. He gazed out of the screen, watching the stars flash past. It had been a year since he’d fled his home to get away from his Father’s wrath. Wannabe tyrants did not take kindly to having their coup de’tait plans betrayed to the authorities, especially by their own flesh and blood. A life amongst the stars, plying the trade routes between the farther reaches of the quadrant was therefore preferable for the teenager than staying back on Byzatium.::

Sala: How’s it going?”

::The slim young woman spoke softly as she entered the pilot’s booth.::

Graven: Same as ever, unremarkable.

::He looked up over his shoulder, and smiled as Sala leaned over the back of the chair, draping her arms around his shoulders. This dark corner of the galaxy would make a great hide-away for them to get some time alone together. Alone with nothing but the shadows. Away from the chasing nemesis at their heels::

((Present day – Shores of Venoba))

::The dull thudding of the mighty sea slamming into the base of the cliffs brought Graven’s mind back to the present. It added a rhythmic background bass to the thoughts swirling though the young man’s mind.::

Graven: Nearly time, nearly there my dear.

::The melancholy grey sky appeared almost to be pressing down on the land, smothering it in a malignant gloom.::

Graven: Four, three, two, one...

((Flashback –Transporter Lincoln))

Sala: I can’t wait until we have delivered our cargo, then we are alone tomorrow.

Graven: ::still hugging Sala’s arm tightly and smiling:: I've missed you. Why do we have to wait until tomorrow?

Sala: Aww, me too. You wander through my mind every minute of every day.

::She kissed the back of his head. It sent a wonderful shiver through Graven’s body.::

Graven:: oO I’m a good boy and I’m ok. I’m a good boy and I won’t stray. I’m a good boy and let me go down in the mud, where the river’s all run dry...Oo

::There was a momentary pause.::

Sala: I love yo….

::She cut off mid-word, as a blue haze developed on the screen. Graven’s head snapped forward as he peered into the darkness outside the ship.::

Graven: Sorry, duty calls.

Sala: What’s that?

Graven: I don’t know, but it doesn’t look like a natural spatial storm. It looks… artificial. It’s approaching us rapidly from the starboard side.

Sala: Quick, let’s turn away. We don’t need any trouble.

Graven: And pass up this opportunity for adventure?

Sala: I’ve had quite enough adventure already Mister. ::she growled playfully.::

Graven: Too late.

::Graven steered the small ship on an intercept course towards the anomaly. However, the closer they got, the more Graven’s concerns began to overtake his curiousity. Inside the storm could be seen the outline of a craft.::

Graven: I know that craft…

::Almost immediately, the controls of the Lincoln began to shake in Graven’s hands, and the whole craft was buffeted and rocked by the enveloping maelstrom. He tried to reverse course.::

Graven: Hold on!

::Clunk!::

Sala: That wasn’t a normal sound…

Graven: BOARDED! Look.

::The young man waved at the console. It was true! They had been caught!::

Sala: By who? By what?

Graven: ::whispering:: Oh no…

Sala: Is it bad?

::Graven pointed to the display, the marking on the ship within the anomaly were unmistakeable. The Crest of the Solar Gorgon – his Father’s ship.::

Graven: What have I done?

((Several hours later - Solar Gorgon Prison Cell))

::Graven awoke groggily and peered through a window in his cell door where he could see Sala tied to chair, being interrogated by a giant man in black armour. Graven knew who it was, his father’s closest lieutenant – a renegade Pythron called LeNoir. The only other things in the room were a workbench and a brazier.::

Graven: LET HER GO!

::His words echoed within the tiny cell, but not beyond. Nevertheless, Sala looked up through her blood-soaked hair partially covering her face.

Sala: Get away from me! PLEASE, don’t hurt me! I don’t know anything!

::The giant jailer picked up a power drill from the bench, activated it and approached Sala – plunging it into her shoulder..::

Graven: NO!

Sala: ::Cough:: T...there's n-nothing... I can ::cough:: t...tell y-you.

LeNoir: Shame! I need your pretty little mouth to sing for me.

::LeNoir lunged forward and grabbed the struggling woman by the throat, and lifted her bodily out of the chair and snapping the restraints as he went. Using only one arm, he slammed her against the wall. Graven kicked and barged against the cell door, but it was solid iron and didn’t even flex.::

Sala: Argh! ::choke::

LeNoir: I’m sorry dear, but I must have my answers!

::The woman trembled and whimpered, tears running down her face.::

Sala: ...... what?........

::Whilst still holding her aloft, LeNoir crawled his hand up her throat and under her jaw. He raised his index finger over her lips, then pushed it between her lips, parting her chattering teeth. He curled it over her bottom set of teeth, and slowly, painfully pulled her mouth to open wider.::

LeNoir: That’s better, nice and wide for me. Let me hear you SING!

::Keeping Sala pressed against the wall, LeNoir stooped down to one side and with his armoured glove picked up a glowing coal from pile in the brazier. He then brought it closer and closer to Sala’s open mouth.::

LeNoir: Last chance…

Sala: Nnnn!!!

Graven: oO.... no please....Oo

::She kicked and struggled desperately, but she was dwarfed and completely overpowered by this seven foot demon. Her feet made no impact when kicking his body armour, nor did her flailing arms make him loosen his grip as they scrabbled on his leather cloak. LeNoir just grinned at her. He brought the glowing rock to within inches of her face, then paused. He turned back and looked at the fireplace. Sala’s terrified eyes looked down too. LeNoir then glared back at her, his maniacal expression illuminated by the flickering light, and then he licked his lips.::

LeNoir: Plenty more there, I hope you’re hungry......

((Present day – Shores of Venoba))

::Graven counted the seconds from the next lightning flash, then slowly he moved forward towards the edge, never once looking down at the ground or what he carried. He thought back to the time serving under his Father. The age of Terror. The Circus of death. The final punishment was being allowed to live. Allowed to survive when Sala had not. He could still hear the laughter of his Father and his henchman ringing in his ears, louder even than the thunder..::

Graven ::whispering:: Adieu ma Cherie.

::Towards the precipice now, the storm and the sea beckoning him and his cold passenger into their embrace.::

Graven: Tirez les rideau..

::Over the edge they plunged, tumbling towards the cold dark release. The words of his mentor ringing in his ears as the end approached.::

The circus tent empty, mournful, abandoned.

The trumpets dead and silent.

The vacant audience seats.

The laughter recedes into darkness.

No more applause.

But still the clown grins after the curtain falls.

He doesn’t mind the passing of the life,

For he lives for the circus of death!

::Graven held the lifeless remains close to him, as the abyss took them. His Father, vengeful and cruel, would not be able to deny them this last dance together. Together, in deathly embrace they spun. But it was fleeting, torn apart again. Today it seemed was not a good day to die. Washed ashore, near death – Graven’s fight would continue – to be guided by vengeance and by the destiny of others.::

_____________________________________________________

Lieutenant Eyas Wulfantine

Chief Tactical Officer: USS Mercury

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