A short story of a past, discovered to have not in fact passed - noncanon, naturally.
A two-night dabbling in story writing, hopefully the first of many
SB3-IH Constellation, Stain
Rahu returned her focus to her ship’s systems and checked her surroundings as she emerged from the already-evaporating wormhole, cautious even when it was unwarranted; those she needed be wary of were not capable of detecting her arrival at this distance.
“I’ve arrived in the target system”, she reported. She was travelling alone, piloting a single, crewless ship - save for herself, naturally.
“Excellent.” A voice responded. “Please proceed to the target location, but take care to maintain a generous distance. If Apier was correct in his gleanings, we must tread delicately.”
“Understood, Polemarkos.” A palpable nonresponse hung on the other end, a relentingly exasperated yet amicable silence. They both knew she’d not cease to invoke his once-title, regardless of its significance having faded; she still willingly served under him all the same.
Rahu worried little for her personal well-being in this pursuit, even if some fateful machination were to prevent the return of an infomorph to her group’s headquarters in the event of her pod’s destruction, having created a backup not two hours ago. But if they made a misstep in this opportunity, years of seeking could be rendered null - and none could know how many more years they could risk to reach this point again.
Willed forward by its pilot, the lone frigate slid silently toward its destination.
Abandoned Research Station, RP-H66
Distance: 62798 m
As the derelict facility floated silently in her view, Rahu briefly doubted the information Apier had provided, wondering if he had made some error. These thoughts were banished before long, however, as a Nation fleet soon arrived ongrid and began to spread into a deliberate formation - led by a vessel that they had previously been marked as a prototype Nation capital ship, one yet to be glimpsed by the other denizens of New Eden.
But observing this was not her main objective; they had discovered this ship months prior.
A pair of science vessels began apparent triangulation in conjunction with the tumorous capital ship, and Rahu’s instruments alerted her to the formation of a wormhole a short distance in front of the group, leading to what could be identified as an unmapped star system within the C13 region of Anoikis. Though it seemed Sansha the thief had managed to haphazardly improve his childish imitation of her faction’s work, she took a satisfied solace in confirming that he was encountering incredible difficulty in making even the smallest progress.
In the next moment, simultaneously, two hydrostatic capsules and a sizable crew shuttle emerged from the hole in space. As an extensively modified and overladen freighter moved toward them, accompanied by a third science vessel and a small number of standard cargo transports, Rahu’s overview registered the global identifiers of the capsule pilots - who her systems clearly recognized as belonging to Sansha’s Nation.
Adrenaline rushed through her, and both her heart and mind began to race; Apier’s suspicions had been correct. In spite of the cessation of their clone service before their deaths nearly two decades ago, these two had not only lived on, but had become members of Kuvakei’s slavemind: a profound betrayal of their heritage, but a fact of invaluable worth. Rahu had succeeded in her mission.
Ilmunel’s capsule quickly boarded the freighter as its crew and those of the other transports evacuated to the capital prototype, and those aboard the arriving shuttle took their places as Melo took control of the accompanying science vessel. Once the process was complete, the ships and additional transports began moving toward the wormhole. Rahu knew she could only observe them from here; any unauthorized probe or ship passing through to the other side would immediately be detected, alerting Nation to the presence of an outsider. All possible future actions would be made impossible if those present here saw it fit to change their procedures.
She had been actively transmitting her observations since the first Nation vessels had arrived at the abandoned station. As the ships began to file through to the other side of the wormhole, she fully knew that her comrade’s next thought was the same as hers. On the other side - was he there?
QA-P7J Constellation, Insmother
A dialogue continued as Rahu continued her careful return.
“None are spared the curse. An inevitable end has led many to seek any possible solution, exhausting every option in the hopes of freeing themselves from it. We know today that our elder cousins have achieved this freedom in their own ways.”
The projection of her comrade shimmered briefly as the system’s star passed behind it, off to the left side of Rahu’s perception of space around her.
“And doubtlessly, they would have attempted to join either group if the same situation were to begin today. But we had no way of knowing of them then, and time had run out for the one who had inspired them.”
“But for them to have gone that far…” Rahu responded. She could not see this as anything but a misguided and terrible last resort. To willingly become a part of a monstrosity that had once motivated the Five Empires to unanimously cooperate in an attempt to destroy it - a miracle in itself - was simply abominable, even in the face of eventual, inevitable demise.
The projection continued: “Yes, a grievous betrayal. Yet from observing this operation alone, we can infer that our brothers possessed authority, if not agency, in the situation we observed. They became True Citizens of their own will. And despite what they subject themselves to in Kuvakei, they live to this day. Naturally, the other followers are also in all likelihood still alive, somewhere on the other side of that wormhole.”
“His followers, yes.” The rest of her thought needed no speech to be conveyed.
Her comrade paused before responding:
“Indeed, the man who led them to this present fate was desperate. My brother knew his end was fast approaching; it had already begun to show.”
He turned his head to the side, extending a quizzically wistful glance into the distance.
“And so, he chanced a path few others would have considered, with those few who would have perhaps eventually done the same making the choice to follow behind him as he held tight to this miniscule hope.”
Rahu took a long moment, thinking deeply; she was missing something - something he had already gleaned. She deliberated slowly.
“…He would have been the first of them to make the attempt. The first to take that chance.”
Realization dawned as she formed the sentence.
“Their group would have held the leverage in their original dealings with Nation. The others would have submitted themselves only if–” She cut off her own words as she paused again.
The once-Polemarkos formed his face into a deliberate, subtle smile.
“Yes Rahu: only if his hope had indeed been answered.”
A pale yellow-green nebula, nestled in an endless expanse of stars, was reflected in a pair of dark eyes as they looked outward into space.
Another inch won in the pursuit of knowledge; another path had spread open before them, as heinous as it might be. But their goal remained in the other direction.
More than ever, the shroud had begun to peel back. Truth and evidence that would light their way continued to present itself. For only the second time since he had made the decision to cede their inheritance, the stargazing Jove felt that distant beacon of knowledge brighten.
The Second Empire survivors’ return to the world, the surfacing of Triglav, and now the a third memory; the past never truly died. Somewhere in the universe spreading to infinity before his eyes, Veniel would find the truth of their blight - and one day, he would meet his brother again.