Lore & Roleplay

History of WildStar - The Discovery of Nexus

The back-story of the universe of WildStar tells you about the origin of the different races, the rise of the Dominion empire, as well as the start of the rebellion and many other epic moments in galactic history. Unfortunately many players don't know about all this, so it is about time to refresh our memory!
By Loui on Apr 01, 2015 at 01:16 PM

Table of contents

Beside all the mysteries of planet Nexus and the disappearance of the Eldan, the ongoing conflict between the Dominion empire and the rebellion in form of the Exiles counts towards the biggest and most epic stories in WildStar. Since the back-story of WildStar contains nearly 2000 years of galactic history, it is no surprise that Carbine has many stories to tell.

While we have already learned a lot about all the different races in WildStar through the recent Loremmageddon, it is now the time to take a closer look at the epic back-story of the universe of WildStar. To do so, Carbine released a brand new Interactive History of WildStar.

Besides the first chapter "Voyage of the Nomad" - a tale about the first Cassian interstellar travelers and their unforgettable adventures in the unknown reaches of deep space, Carbine also released short synopses as well as very shiny new wallpapers for of all eleven chapters. To get your hands on these new wallpapers, just click the header image of each chapter. You can also them in various resolutions on the official website.

We hope you enjoy your deep dive into the lore of WildStar.

107 BE - Voyage of the Nomad

The advanced research vessel Nomad was proudly launched by the newly united Commonwealth civilization of Cassus on a historic, publicly celebrated voyage of discovery. After encountering many strange forms of life throughout the unexplored reaches of the galaxy, the Nomad mysteriously disappeared and was never heard from again...

Part 1: Journey into the Unknown

From the glare filling his helmet, Captain Sonoda figured he had thirteen minutes before the exploding nebula over his shoulder baked him and the four hundred people on the other side of the meter-thick vibranium hull to a crisp. On the upside, the view wasn't bad.

"Cap?" First Officer Veska sounded as if she were right beside him, scaling the hull of the unpowered starship on the edge of space. "We need to hurry."

"Krint?" He looked down at the tech officer far below him. The kid had no business being out here. A lowborn Engy of farmer stock whose father had wept with pride at the Nomad's christening ceremony. But the repair-drone was on the fritz again and Schade was dead. Sonoda had promised to take care of the kid, to whatever extent such terms even applied in deep space. "Now."

He joined the cables strung between his fingers, while simultaneously far below him Krint flipped the switch, diverting the emergency power back where it belonged before it could fry their power core. Nomad shuddered. Tongues of blue flame chugged from the boosters, silhouetting Krint's spindly outline against the brightness as he began clambering upwards. Sonoda flicked the arc welder off. The panel slid shut. "Done," he said. "We're coming in." His luck had held. Again.

As the Cassian civilization's first space travelers, to have even survived this long was a victory. Miraculously, it had been a mere year since the launch of their mission. In that time they'd seen more wonders than they'd dreamt possible in a single lifetime. Plasma-based organisms awed that meat-like beings such as humans could exist, let alone master space travel. Volcanic eruptions severe enough to dent the ship's hull from orbit. Granite humanoids of consummate martial prowess. Massive dark matter worms that preyed on black holes. Machine intelligences that piloted worlds like dragsters. Jellyfish the size of whales that Nomad was thankfully too miniscule to entice. Entities that defied description. All fascinating. None sufficient.

Sonoda propelled himself along the rungs set into the hull towards the hatchway. "Captain, stand by," said Science Officer Thekford in his other ear. For the Nomad's new Science Officer, this was an unusually loquacious utterance. "We're picking up an energy sig. It's...curious. A cycling radiation bandwidth unlike anything we've run across. Ten degrees off your starboard."

Sonoda resisted the urge to look over his shoulder at the looming whorls of nebulae. "Show me in ten minutes." He bunched his shoulders in preparation to leap aboard into the decompression chamber yawning open beside him.

"It's cycling over a billion ergs a second."

Sonoda froze.

Part 2: Noble Ambitions

The Nomad's launch had been preceded by weeks of the most frenzied celebration in the planet's history. Champagne parades, pastries of lissome angels, and parties galore.

After centuries of internecine strife, unification had come to Cassus. All now strived under a single banner. No longer would the lives of precious scions be frittered away in corrosive fortune redistributions. The planet's wealth had been carved out. A galaxy of greater riches awaited. The first step was to survey these distant realms and assess their potential.

Eager to enfold the myriad life-forms in its firm embrace of entrepreneurial spirit, the Cassians brooked no expense or technological bottlenecks in making space exploration their new priority. There had been the usual false starts and occasionally fatal growing pains of any expansion. More than a decade was spent debating whether to send a manned expedition at all but in the end it was decided that interstellar relations were too critical to entrust to machines.

Designing the Nomad itself took nearly a century. Selecting its crew took even longer. Those most curious about the wonders of the universe firsthand weren't necessarily graced with physiques conducive to prolonged existence in deep space, let alone conditions likely to be encountered on prospective planets. Personnel able to tolerate and function despite these rigors not only had to be trained but bred over generations, then enhanced for everything from metabolic bone density to diplomatic relations.

Sonoda had insisted to be granted final veto power over all crew members. With decades of training and self-discipline at his back, he had considered himself impervious to forming sentimental attachments.

Part 3: Condition Critical

Sonoda switched to a private link. "A billion's not possible. That would be over..."

"The power of a trillion supernovas. Emitting every second. But the intervals are widening. If we wait, we'll lose it."

Sonoda extruded an antenna from his helmet, set its oscillation rate, and scanned the wedge of starlight that the Nomad's vast sweeping curve was slowly devouring off to his right. Numerals flickered steadily across his HUD as he reran them twice.

"Orders, sir?" Thekford said in his ear. Sonoda could tell from his tone that Thekford had done the calculations as well. "Far in excess of anything we've encountered."

"We can relocate it once we're clear," Veska said sharply.

"Too far," he said.

"Sir, engines are still priming. Regardless, it's so far we're talking a one-way trip. Assuming the G's don't tear us apart or it sizzles our instruments to a crisp." An imploring note had crept into her voice. "It's not worth it, Goren." He waited. She went on: "Our mission's to report back."

She was right. But a billion ergs.

He looked at the open hatchway. There was only room and time for a single decompression. He gazed down. Krint's hand groped for the rung inches beneath Sonoda's ankles. The kid was grinning up at him, gap-toothed and relieved.

The Mission, Sonoda thought. Nothing else matters.

As Krint's arm reached for the rung, Sonoda kicked down, his foot crunching into Krint's faceplate. He glimpsed Krint's stunned look of horror and amazement. Then air hissed out, the youthful freckled face turned blue, and his body spun away, off towards the nebula.

Sonoda glided into the hatchway and turned to watch it begin rolling shut. Even through his suit he felt Nomad throb with revving power. "Veska, I'm in. Punch it."

"On it," she said flatly. She didn't ask about Krint. She didn't need to.

Through the viewport he watched the tiny speck of Krint's body disappear amid glittering hurricanes of rocks the size of continents hurtling inexorably towards Nomad.

Then the engines screamed and Sonoda was flung against the wall. The stars through the viewport lengthened into comet-trails. Like arrows, he thought bitterly, charting his headlong descent. Then he blacked out and dreamed for the first of many, many times of Krint's terrified face.

1 AE - Rise of the Cassians

Centuries after Nomad’s disappearance, a hyper-advanced alien armada descended on Cassus. Their leader, a robotic Mechari, claimed that the godlike Eldan had chosen the Cassians to rule the universe. All they required in return was the swordmaiden Tresayne Toria, their greatest warrior. The alternative was extinction. To save her people, Tresayne consented. Decades later the Eldan fleet returned. This time someone else emerged: Dominus the Half-Blood, a human-Eldan hybrid who carried the blood of Tresayne in his veins. And he carried a glorious message to the people of Cassus...

Part 1: A Tempting Offer

Axis Pheydra emerged from her ship, inclining her head briefly to the droves of awestricken humans gathered before the columns of glossy motionless Mechari, their chassis gleaming in the hot sun. She knew how much importance humanoids curiously attached to such innocuous gestures, even if only those viewing the ceremony televised would catch it. To impress the millions overflowing the immense public square, she would need to employ bolder means.

A squad of organic attendants trotted forward, bearing a corpulent man in golden robes on a thrumming electromagnetic cushion. When he spoke his voice was soft and courtly, though he was unable to conceal the trepidation behind his frozen smile. "As Supreme Chancellor of the Cassian Commonwealth, allow me to bid our first interstellar visitors a gracious and mutually profitable welc -- "

Pheydra's icy reply cut him off as her eyes raked the faces of the honor guard in shimmering ranks of red and gold. "Which is Tresayne Toria?"

The Chancellor's smile drooped a bit. He was a small but well fed man, his true age obscured beneath a cicatrix of cosmetics. "I'm sorry?"

"The Devastator of Sculptoris." Pheydra brushed past him, scanning and cross-referencing every genome in the crowded square. "Scourge of the Black Fleet. Slayer of Zeificus the Crazed. Champion of the Pits of Phardoum. Decisive victories commanding the Cassian Commonwealth: 8024. Victories in personal combat: 632. Defeats zero. Produce her now."

The Chancellor coughed into his frilled sleeve. "Commander Toria remains involved in pacification efforts in the colonies…However, I am uniquel -- "

Pheydra's voice boomed across the square and the planet, echoing like thunder from the clouds. "We are the Mechari, emissaries of the glorious and powerful Eldan. Tresayne Toria must accompany us back to our world. In return, your race will rule the universe."

The Chancellor stepped back.

"Should you decline this honor, you will be eradicated. Choose."

The silence stretched. Of the three million present, not a soul breathed.

Finally the Chancellor turned to his ashen-faced attendant and hissed, "Patch me to the colonial channel, once you can spare a thumb?"

Part 2: The Golden Empire

Cassus had rebounded from the unsolved disappearance of Nomad. Its existence had been willfully forgotten, deleted to obscure footnote status in encyclopedia overviews of the space age's infancy. Like many cultures before it, the Commonwealth was disinclined to publicize its missteps.

But although the ship itself was all but forgotten, Nomad's hard lesson was not: the universe was a strange and dangerous place. Its conquest was unlikely to be a cakewalk. But when it came to territorial expansion, the Cassians were patient. They would conquer the cosmos piecemeal, one planet at a time. Instead of single recon craft, they now dispatched squadrons of colonization ships, escorted by heavily armed frigates.

There were other reasons for militarizing space exploration. While dissent was virtually unknown on Cassus and always rapidly quelled, it was a different story in the colonies, where decades of hard toil in dreary backwaters had predictable results on the loyalties of even its most exalted denizens. Changes in command from deaths or defections mounted.

But such bleak conditions also produced exceptional warriors. The greatest among these was Tresayne Toria. Contemptuously disregarding her own ancient and illustrious antecedents to become the youngest and most famed swordmaiden in history, by age nineteen she and her mostly female disciples had brought dozen of bickering warlords throughout the far-flung colonies to heel, restoring dozens of worlds to the rapidly expanding Commonwealth.

Then came the day when the Mechari armada darkened the skies over Meridia to tender their proposal.

Ultimately, Tresayne accepted. Accompanied by several hundred of her sisters-in-arms who refused to be separated from her, she boarded the Mechari ship. A week later, the fleet departed.

Over the ensuing decades, these events were unceasingly dissected and mythologized, with even the authenticity of the recordings themselves subject to fierce debate. Even some who had been present that day began to doubt the veracity of their memories.

Then, thirty-one years to the day after their departure, the ships returned. This time, an organic emerged.

Part 3: Favorite Son

Dominus the Half-Blood emerged from the Mechari flagship, a titan in red armor, his mother's sword scabbarded at his hip. This crowd was much bigger than the last. He'd viewed Pheydra's first visit many times. These will be your subjects someday, his mother had whispered. Note what compels them and be prepared to simulate it.

Not all those present looked compelled, he reflected as he scanned their ranks of troubled faces and averted glances. But he sensed the gazes of many beyond the periphery of his vision who could not stop staring at him. Despite his strange alien features and outsize bone structure, his mother's likeness had not been forgotten. They saw it in his penetrating golden eyes, sidling gait, the deceptively casual assurance of his sword-hand. And they glimpsed something far more.

"Kindred," his voice reverberated, "my mother was Tresayne Toria, the Commander of your fleet. The sacred blood of the Eldan also courses through my veins. I have come to lead us to greatness. As your Emperor."

"We have no need of emperors here," a nobleman said icily, limping forward . "And you'll have no more of our women."

"Do you doubt my claims?" Dominus said, softly but in a voice that carried. He stepped forward, hand on the pommel of his sword. "Do you call me liar?" His sword sang as he drew it, raised it above the man's unblinking face, and brought it down with a THOOM that echoed like thunder throughout the square, the resulting shock wave knocking dozens off their feet and radiating outward across the city in an expanding seismic ring. Skyscrapers groaned and settled.

Hundreds of eyes locked on Dominus and on the blade sunken hilt-deep in the steel boulevard at his feet. "This blade was forged from alloys that at your current state of progress you would not have discovered for a million years." As he spoke, his other hand hurled a scatter of silver marbles heavenward. They vanished into the cloudless blue sky. Moments later it began to rain. "Mastery of the elements is nothing to our patrons." Dominus kicked away the nobleman's cane, gestured at the man's bad leg as with a shocked gasp he fell forward. "They offer nanites, capable of reversing tissue damage of any severity." Catching himself, the man looked down wonderingly at his visibly regenerating foot.

"Together we will control the essence of creation. Do you accept?"

Within seconds, the erstwhile crippled nobleman was the only Cassian in the square who was still unbowed.

352 AE - Conquest of the Draken

Under Dominus’ long reign, the Cassians evolved into a powerful interstellar empire, but the Mechari deemed warriors of a more savage aspect were required. After surveying thousands of worlds, they chanced upon the ideal species: the Draken of planet Mikros, ferocious, brutal warriors whose entire culture revolved around tests of strength and martial prowess. So it was that Azrion, son of Dominus, came to Mikros to challenge the Drakens’ Supreme Clanlord to trial by combat. And soon the two faced one another in a duel to the death...

Part 1: An Unlikely Challenge

Emperor Azrion stood before the High Clanlord, his small honor guard dwarfed on all sides by the thousands of Draken curious to behold the shiny visitors from the stars.

Zhur sat, contemptuously regarding them. He had ceased listening to their empty genuflections long ago. He felt no respect for these soft hornless maggots in their bright hard shells and weapons that killed from afar.

Just as he was just opening his mouth to order the slaughter of these insolent trespassers, Azrion's voice rang out, echoing across the vast plain in the Drakens' age-old tongue: "By the sacred ways of Mikros, I, Azrion, son of Dominus the Half-Blood, challenge you, Clanlord Zhur, here and now for command of both our races, and all the lives they comprise."

Grunts of outrage and barks of laughter rippled throughout the throng, reaching Zhur's ears as a steady patter of barely suppressed bloodlust.

As judging from his fluency in the One Tongue the invader was doubtless aware, his challenge meant combat to the death. But Zhur sensed no fear, only tightly coiled certainty. His poise was as flawless as any foe that Zhur had ever faced, and he had slain many.

"By the old ways let it be done," Zhur rumbled.

Zhur himself led the way to the Fields of Kazor. Each stripped to the waist and was given a blade forged in the fires of Mount Crucible. Their gazes locked. A hush fell over the massive arena. Zhur licked his lip, tasting the familiar coppery tang of glory to come.

Then he launched forward, swinging.

Part 2: The Search for perfect Killers

Despite their unbroken run of military victories in the three centuries since the Dominion's founding, the Mechari determined a need for new blood. While tactically ingenious, the Cassians lacked a certain zeal for carnage that the Mechari's most recent battle metrics unanimously agreed would efficiently bring upstart races to heel. Shock troops of a more savage aspect were required.

After meticulously studying thousands of species to analyze their combat effectiveness, the Mechari had advised Azrion, the reigning Luminai emperor and son of Dominus Half-Blood, that the savage Draken of the volcanic planet Mikros would be ideal. But the loyalty of these ferocious hunters could not be won through parley.

The Mechari disliked leaving critical matters to chance. Prior to landing on Mikros in 344 AE, they had extensively studied and simulated the most probable fighting styles of the High Clanlord. Exhaustively they analyzed his techniques: his tendency to go for the carotid, his signature hamstring, and his insatiable fondness for decapitations. Then they devoted their arts to probing them for weakness and designing countermeasures. They isolated his vulnerabilities: the decades old ankle injury that had never healed, his mortal dread of infection, and the brittle base of his left horn. Then they systematically devised methods of exploiting them.

Azrion had been bred and trained his whole life for this bout. Races with a culture based around honor, the Mechari had instructed them, were predictable prey, easy to manipulate. But the more Azrion studied Zhur, the more convinced he became that the Mechari were wrong. He improvised. He adapted. He used cunning when least expected and retaliated with reserves undreamed of. He was a perfect fighter, and the Mechari for all their own perfection were unable to see it. Without fail, Azrion told them what they wanted to hear. But inwardly he vowed that this would be a fair contest, free of persiflage. His only hope in defeating Draken honor was not to disdain it but adopt it. And become its master.

Within hours of the Cassians' arrival, the pair reached the sacred dueling ground just outside the Draken capital of Red River. There they would decide by blood the fate of two empires and thousands of worlds.

Part 3: The Price of Defeat

The fight was terrible to behold. No duel fought before or since was fiercer or more brutal. Their blades wove a deadly dance too fast for the eye to follow. Soon the bodies of both combatants were streaming with blood.

Many times over did those who watched believe the contest done and were many times over proven wrong. As long as they lived, none forgot a moment.

By the close of the tenth hour, both combatants were bleeding from dozens of wounds and barely able to stand.

During the final exchange, a thunderous strike by Azrion shattered Zhur's blade. Azrion wrenched Zhur's horn from his skull with a deafening crack that was still reverberating across the caldera when he plunged it into the Clanlord's chest. Zhur crumpled to his knees. His expression remained astonished when Azrion hacked off his head, displayed it before the now silent throng, and flung it into their midst.

In expanding concentric rings, the Draken knelt. Azrion's voice rang out across the obsidian slopes: "Draken of Mikros! Welcome to the Dominion."

538 AE - Uplift of the Chua

Emboldened by their resounding success on Mikros, the Mechari returned to investigating numerous worlds for other prospective allies in which to invest. With their remarkable aptitude for mechanical engineering and total absence of morality, the primitive but intelligent Chua of Bezgelor looked promising. Giving the Chua simple gifts of basic technology, the Dominion hoped it would give them a leg up. But when they returned a hundred years later, they could not believe what had taken place...

Part 1: Titans of Industry

As her flyer dipped below the bruised cloudbanks, Axis Pheydra, who had taken orders from gods for centuries without batting an eye, found that she was capable of repulsion.

Her first suspicion was that a perceptor was malfunctioning. Surely this could not be the same world. Only an enormous asteroid or comet could account for such haze, the existence of which she would surely have noticed during her first circuit and dealt with.

But her probes confirmed what her sensoria resisted admitting. This was indeed Bezgelor. It seemed inconceivable that in the span of a mere century an entire planetary ecosystem could have become so degraded. Or, for that matter, that living organisms could survive in such toxic conditions for more than sixty-six seconds.

The lush forests that had carpeted over half the massive planet's surface had been completely denuded. Likewise its oceans, jungles, ice caps, and ozone layer. Its mountains had been mined hollow and paved over. The verdant groves had been replaced by factories and refineries that scabbed every horizon, churning noxious gases that made the sky seethe a cancerous ochre. The unceasing groans of machinery sounded like the planet itself begging for oblivion.

It seemed that her mission here had succeeded, to put it mildly. Judged sheerly by their capacity for industry alone, the Chua would make a promising addition to the Dominion. But were these creatures too unruly for even the Eldan to maintain control? It seemed but an eyeblink since her last visit here, on what at the time had seemed an unlikely gambit.

Part 2: A Promising Devilry

Emboldened by the resounding success of their mission to Mikros, the Mechari returned to their scouting with renewed zeal, investigating numerous worlds considered statistically optimal for incubating powerful prospective allies.

Pheydra herself had chanced to be in an adjacent system when probes notified her of the primitive but intelligent Chua of Bezgelor. Her interval of covert study confirmed that in addition to their unbridled deviousness, the rather dubious-looking creatures displayed an uncanny talent for mechanical engineering. Concluding that a species unconstrained by moral considerations had obvious strategic possibilities (and fascinated by their inventively bizarre reproduction cycle), she transmitted her findings and announced intentions to open communications.

With what she deemed the optimal fanfare, she made her presence known to their most powerful tribe, requested an audience with what she estimated from his bone coronet to be the incumbent chieftain, and presented him with crude and simple tokens of Dominion technology. Nothing fusion-powered of course, merely items sufficient to teach them the fundamentals of physics and, presuming they survived said lessons, to nudge them slowly but inexorably towards metallurgy.

Appearing profoundly moved, the chieftain reciprocated by presenting the new benefactors with a gift-wrapped parcel of fronds, accompanied by repeated pleas that they delay fully savoring its contents until back aboard their ship.

Consequently, it was only after liftoff that the box's occupant, an especially tumescent Bezgeloran tar-beetle, promptly exploded upon exposure to light per its ancient defense mechanism, coating all Mechari present in corrosive black ooze that required months of corrective drilling and acid-baths to remove.

Overriding her enraged envoys' suggestions to exterminate the entire populace, Pheydra reluctantly ordered departure. The trip to Bezgelor had been a waste. Superior candidates awaited everywhere. Ones requiring surely less...maintenance.

Part 3: Explosive Results

Now, Pheydra reflected as she toured the refinery, it appeared their efforts had propelled the Chua into a state of psychotic overdrive. As the ambassador with the strange smile showed her how they had created a weapons factory so efficient that its components were processed from prisoner protein to petroleum in seconds, Pheydra wondered if she was witnessing the most horrifying abomination in her long memory or the greatest achievement of her equally long career.

She understood their sudden eagerness to join the Dominion. They had scraped their planet dry. Now they faced a need for resources that their environment was no longer capable of producing. Some of her envoys were still in favor of nuking them. But the weapons prototypes they had shown her appeared remarkably efficient.

She turned to express these sentiments to the ambassador and saw that he was extending a small box to her. An offering, the translator explained, to cement their glorious alliance for ages to come.

She started to open it. Narrowed her gaze. Eyes glistening, the Chua expressed regrets on behalf of his mentally troubled ancestor who had misguidedly perpetuated that whole unfortunate tar-beetle business. He assured her that this parcel contained nothing of the sort. A brief pulse-scan confirmed the truth of this assertion. Taking the box, she expressed her wishes that it serve as a fitting testimonial to Mechari-Chua relations for all time to come.

She returned to her ship. Leaving the box in the care of her attendant, she withdrew to her chambers to reflect on her next stop. Just before the doors closed, she heard the explosion.

And discovered for the first time in two thousand years of sentience that her dentata could grind with irritation.

1221 AE - The War of Gnox

For refusing to kneel to the Dominion, the hardy Granok of Gnox immediately found themselves at war. With their overwhelming military and technological superiority, the Dominion expected their victory to be swift and decisive. Instead, Granok warriors led by Durek Stonebreaker used their own weaponry against them, driving the battered empire back to Cassus. But their victory was short-lived, and soon Durek was called before the Granok elders to answer for his actions...

Part 1: Judgment Day

Astride a shattered Dominion halftrack, Durek watched as the dispirited columns of weaponless (and mostly wounded) Cassian soldiers limped towards the security fence enclosing the starport, their expressions dazed and uncomprehending. Defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, especially for those unacquainted with it.

Scaling the hillside for a better view, he paused at the place where months ago, at the start of the war, a Dominion projectile had almost blown a hole through his abdomen. He hadn’t noticed the blast or wound at the time, so great had been his fury. He had merely staggered upright, torn away the tank’s access hatch, and proceeded to wreak havoc. It had been a savage, visceral joy. But even that hadn’t held a candle to the ecstasy he felt at this moment. The invaders were leaving. They had won. Gnox was free. Why then did Durek feel such a hollow pit in his stomach? He knew the answer.

Silently, he watched the damaged Cassian ships rise skyward in wobbly ascents. Beneath his grim pleasure at the sight, dread at tomorrow’s onerous task gnawed at him. He felt the somber gaze of his second-in-command Krull boring into him from further upslope. Krull had lobbied hard but in vain for armed escorts to see the Dominion survivors out of the system, in the event they plotted reprisals. But Durek had denied this request. He knew a beaten foe. He saw the defeat etched in their demoralized faces and formerly resplendent armor. They might return someday, but not for a long while. Hopefully long enough for him to persuade the Council to change their minds.

Towards evening, the contrails of the final ships began winking out as the sky turned umber and the stars appeared, exceptionally bright after weeks of pale obscurity from the unrelenting curtains of smoke.

“We should have killed them all,” Krull muttered sourly, rousing Durek from his gloomy reverie.

“The dead do not remember,” Durek rumbled. “Only the defeated.”

Krull shook his head. “And when millions of them return?”

Durek shrugged. “We’re lookin’ pretty good on ammo.”

Part 2: A Strong Refusal

For eons unnumbered, the Granok had followed the Way of Stone, a set of tenets as immutable and unchanging as the planet’s mantle. So it had been for tens of thousands of years. So it would ever be.

Until the Dominion arrived.

In keeping with their customary protocols, the Mechari had flattered the Granok, their blandishments dashed with a touch of intimidation. They had tendered their generous invitation to be assimilated into the most powerful empire the galaxy had ever known. They had demonstrated tokens of their wondrous technology and offered assurances that only races of true merit were ever considered for such a high honor. Their price was but a trifling formality: they asked only that the chieftains kneel and swear eternal loyalty to the emperor.

The Granok warlords were unimpressed. They had peremptorily responded by crushing the emissaries into smoking piles of scrap. Tortuous weeks of war had inevitably ensued, dragging on for months, with both sides taking heavy casualties. Gradually, however, the Dominion’s superior technology began to assert its primacy.

Alone among the Granok warlords, young Durek refused to accept defeat. In a series of daring raids, he led sorties into Dominion camps, commandeering weapons, armor, and vehicles that slowly turned the tide. And for the first time in their history, the Dominion found itself on its heels.

But even as the battered Dominion military came apart, the Granok chieftains had coldly commanded Durek’s forces to assemble outside their tent.

Part 3: Pariahs for Hire

Ignoring the guarded looks of rebuke from the more pious in his immediate vicinity, Durek lit his cigar as the din of a war-horn shattered the deep silence of Blackridge Plain. The immense horn had been fashioned in antiquity from the head of a beast that had not roamed Gnox’s rugged plains for eons. Even back during that beast’s era, the Way of Stone had been ancient, and not a syllable of its screed had been amended since.

Surrounded by a heavily armed throng, the tribal leaders of the Seven Nations emerged from their tent and stood gravely before the murmuring crowd, their threadbare robes stirring limply in the arid wind.

"To betray the Way of Stone is to renounce what makes us Granok," the high elder rasped. His father looked Durek directly in the eye before continuing. "It chips away our identity. Only misery and death can follow. You are banished from Gnox. Forever. There will be no reconsideration."

So be it, Durek thought as he and the other elders filed away. For saving their species from extinction at the hands of ruthless invaders, a fitting reward.

Durek turned to the sprawling assembly at his back, their chiseled faces grave with stoic acceptance of their fate.

“All right, stow your gear and get ready to move out,” he growled, firing up a fresh stogie recently taken from the corpse of a Cassian officer . “We got work to do.”

1376 AE - Ascension of the Eldan

Despite its defeat on Gnox, under the Mechari and Luminai the Dominion flourished, spreading throughout the galaxy. Then came a final cryptic transmission from the Eldan: Today we will seize the power of gods. Followed by endless silence. It was surmised by imperial leaders that the Eldan had ascended to godhood, with Dominion citizens becoming the true inheritors of their divine legacy. Led by Emperor Jarec the Vigilant, it was now the empire's responsibility to spread the good news...

Teil 1: Moment of Truth

His normally bright bronze eyes now dimmed with solemnity from behind the massive smartwood lectern, Jarec, Emperor of the Dominion, regarded his subjects. The entire population of Meridia had come out in unseasonably rainy weather to huddle and exchange apprehensive whispers.

He had been lip-reading their edgy speculations all morning, each hypothesis wilder and more dire than the last. They were about to board Mechari ships and migrate to Nexus. The Royal Houses were bankrupt. The world was ending. The Emperor was an imposter. There were no Eldan. The sight of his glorious figure, he reflected, would put the lie to them all.

“A matter concerning the designs of our glorious allies,” he intoned with a severity that his audience surely considered at unsettling variance with his famous amicability, “has come to light. A new mandate I am now privileged with the honor of delivering to you.”

Silence reigned throughout the square.

“The Eldan, the greatest race that has ever bestridden our universe,” Jarec’s deepening voice continued, “saw in Cassus an exceptionalism, a unique capability for magnificence. We alone could be entrusted with the responsibilities of supremacy. Rejoice, my friends. The day we have long awaited is at hand.”

A fresh salvo of murmurs arose from the assembly, this time ones of relief, mingled with excitement. Already he could feel the fresh infusion of hope seeping into the farthest reaches of the crowd. Considering the centuries of tradition about to be rewritten, Jarec found it invigorating. He hoped it would be enough, even as he congratulated himself for his pitch-perfect performance that had wrought it.

When the gods vanished and left you in charge of the galaxy, it was sink or swim.

Teil 2: Leap of Uncertainty

Long ago, Dominus had arrived on Nexus to forge an empire and found a populace quite eager to embrace his rule. Despite all the contingency plans that he had spent years rehearsing, there had scarcely been need to resort to rhetoric or miracles. Over the following centuries, his successors had likewise found themselves rarely called on to perform theatrical maintenance.

All of that had changed with the message from the Eldan. Since Axis Pheydra’s earliest memory, correspondence on either side was highly unusual. Just as the Cassians had flowered when left to their own devices, so the Eldan entrusted the Mechari to use whatever methods they deemed expedient to discharge their agenda across a vast and unpredictable galaxy.

All of which made both the substance and tone of the transmission as cryptic to Pheydra as it was unsettling: Today we have reached the unattainable. Soon we will seize the power of gods.

Since then, silence.

The import of this message and debate over its dearth of context, let alone the irrefutable absence of details on how to proceed, had occupied the full computing power of the network ever since. Finally, after considerable and acrimonious deliberation, the consensus among the Mechari and Luminai was that the Eldan had ascended to godhood.

They simply needed to spread the good news.

Teil 3: Cardinal of Virtue

The day was growing warm. Jarec knew as his hierophantic disc floated above the crowd that this was largely the result of covert Mechari weather manipulations. But the suns would have shone regardless. All was in alignment.

Fervently he caressed the virginal edition of the Vigilant Codex to his chest with one hand, while his other clenched the gold scepter into which his crown had been melted, periodically tipping it in response to the joyous cries below.

Even in its inaugural pressing, the Codex was a substantial volume. Its contents ranged from writings by Azrion, Koral, Seraphel ,and other esteemed emperors, along with a number of passages from Cassian scholars. Boiled down to its essence, however, its tenets were simple.

“The masters of creation have ascended,” Jarec’s voice rang out from speakers placed discreetly throughout the city. “Soon we, their chosen people, shall follow.” A million throats repeated his words, the litany rolling back to engulf him in a tidal wave of sound.

“On Nexus…the holiest of worlds…But first we must prove our divine worthiness…to the less fortunate…And if in their ignorance or malice they choose not to recognize it…we shall dispel their misconceptions!”

Fireworks exploded across the heavens in a coruscating constellation of his likeness. Jarec waved and waved. The multitudes knelt in crescents as his shadow glided through them.

At the proper moment, stained-glass banners shimmered into being behind him in blinding sheets of crimson and gold: Dominus brandishing his mother’s sword. The Mechari visitation. Jarec himself, holding the Book. A bolt of energy lanced down. Ka-KRAK! A holographic edifice materialized, dominating the skyline like a freshly formed mountain. The apotheosis of cathedrals. Below, the crowd screamed and swayed.

Jarec smiled, the beams from the stained-glass radiantly backlighting his white-gold mane in a nimbus of polychromatic haloes.

“All hail Emperor Jarec,” the heavens bellowed. “Jarec the mighty…Jarec the Vigilant!”

The cheers of unbridled joy made the ground quake.


Echoing the deluge of confetti that soon submerged his faithful waist-deep, Jarec wept.

1378 AE - Brightland's Rebellion

Soon after his foundation of the Vigilant Church, Emperor Jarec issued an Ancestral Decree, creating major class and racial divides across Cassus. The ensuing abuses against the lowborn proved too much for Serrick Brightland, one of the Dominion’s most esteemed commanders, who spearheaded an uprising that led to a bloody civil war. Leading a ragtag group of rebels, the indomitable Brightland won a few early victories. But the tides of war would turn soon enough...

Part 1: A Traitor's Regret

Serrick Brightland paced the bridge of his flagship, his command screen dominated by the immense red whorls of Quorin Prime, trying to will its gravity well into concealing his fleet just a few moments longer. The Dominion armada had found its prey. Outnumbered and outgunned, the battered fleet commanded by Brightland himself, decorated general and now branded a traitor, hid in the shadow of a gas giant and waited for salvation or oblivion.

Using a planet's gravity well as camouflage was a classic tactic. It was a maneuver his former star pupil should know well: Brightland had taught it to him. It wasn't like he'd had a choice, though. Especially after the last clash. Caeson had scoured eleven prospective gas giants for Brightland prior to this. Enough to make him sloppy? Serrick walked around his bridge and wondered.

On his thirty-second circuit, Serrick got his answer. One instant he was switching direction on his heel. Then blinding tendrils of coruscating weapons-fire lit up the viewports, crackling his shields to a crisp in moments. Even as Brightland barked the order to return fire, five of his crippled ships melted under fire and decayed from orbit, trailing flame and dust as they plummeted towards the planet's scarlet abyss. Caeson's timing had been perfect.

Serrick ordered the retreat, knowing his fleet was doomed. As Aurelius knew, the gravity well that had sheltered them also made hyperjumping impossible. His attack ships would be well in range before Brightland's could even hope to attain a safe distance.

Radiant nosed forward, filling Brightland's screens in an obvious strut of disproportionate force. But slowly. Aurelius was delaying, not from respect but, Brightland realized with horror, contempt. For his ship's age, the Star of Dominus' inability to keep up with the newer, faster Radiant. The recognition galled him. He set his jaw. Underestimation by one's opponent was always an advantage.

"Admiral," came Aurelius's voice, maddeningly gentle. Condescending. "Surrender and your rabble will be spared. Otherwise, I begin targeting them. In five seconds." A pause. "You are playing a losing hand, Serrick."

Fair point, Brightland reflected. In his defense, it wasn't like he'd planned any of this.

Part 2: Breaking Point

The cultural solidarity of the early days after the Mechari’s return had seemingly lasted for centuries, but the Eldan's purported ascension to godhood had exacerbated some deep-rooted social unrest. Once the Ancestral Decree had stated that those of Luminai blood were better than those who weren’t, a schism had puckered open. Beloved chronicle houses that had stood for hundreds of years were torn down and replaced with Vigilant churches. Verbal effronteries had led to increasingly physical abuses against those they were already calling "the lowborn". Brightland being critical of such actions in public brought him to the brink of court martial.

What started out as wage protests rapidly metastasized into bloody skirmishes. As tensions escalated, Dominion military leaders ordered brutal crackdowns against all who opposed the new order. Somewhere along the line, the Vigilant Church ordained that a zero tolerance policy was by definition the only sensible path.

But after the massacre in Toria Square, Serrick Brightland had had enough. When he refused to open fire on revolting civilians, they'd found someone who would. And he, the most highly decorated officer in Cassian military history, was incarcerated to await execution for treason. Like his flagship the Star of Dominus, Brightland had been facing retirement. Instead, while shackled he broke all five necks of his escorts to the firing squad, escaped single-handed while in transit to his execution, and called a secret conclave of commanders whose loyalty he trusted. There'd been many more than he'd dared to hope.

After commandeering the Star of Dominus from dry-dock, Brightland led a daring attack on the Dominion High Command itself, taking out myriad warships before withdrawing.

More victories followed. Forming a government-in-exile, Brightland set his sights on the prize that would bring the Dominion to heel: the capitol.

But before he could mount his attack, Aurelius, a protégé he had trusted, found his loyalty to the Dominion outweighed decades of friendship. The resulting ambush nearly proved Brightland's undoing. Though he and his fleet survived mostly intact, the ensuing weeks ground steadily away at his forces and ambitions with accelerating violence. While Brightland was able to initially rely on his prowess to prevail against insurmountable odds, his enemies had the resources of many worlds to draw upon. Even one defeat threatened to cripple the fledgling resistance. Resupply options running low, Brightland retreated with his bedraggled fleet, knowing his only chance lay in living to fight another day.

And now even that was to be denied him.

Part 3: A Desperate Gamble

Brightland grimly surveyed the battle screens as his five seconds trickled away. Finally he sighed, "Permission to come aboard then, I guess. Hand you my sword." He brought the Star of Dominus about and set a course for the flagship.

"You're doing the right thing, Commander," Aurelius said into his ear.

"I think so too." And he unleashed his ship's entire arsenal upon the Radiant.

Stabbing a button to silence Aurelius's growl of fury, Serrick bathed the massive flagship in violet geysers. Then Aurelius returned fire. Every battery blazed, engulfing Brightland's ship in ghostly zero-g flame. Beyond, Exile spindrives flashed one by one as the ships winked out. Maybe we'll make it after all, Serrick thought right before another volley from Radiant flung him into first one wall, then another, before a sliver of bubbling metal speared his lung from behind.

Blinking away blood, he gazed at the sole remaining display showing his relentless collision course, already too close for the Radiant's widely spaced cannon-turrets to track.

Brightland leaned on his console and hailed the flagship. His brain felt fuzzed and heavy. He meant to say something about the uncertainty of losing hands but all he managed was, “This… isn’t over… Aurelius."

The Dominion captain regarded him impassively. "It is for you. Traitor."

Chunks of hull plating flew from the two ships as they hurtled toward impact. Dimly, Brightland heard his voice mumbling a slurred command to jump.

He blinked and suddenly found himself in a med bay, an impossibly young girl with ensign piping leaning over him. "Where am I?" he croaked. He couldn't feel his limbs.

"With the fleet, sir. We escaped. We need orders."

"The ship..."

"The Dominus is being refitted, sir. It'll be ready in a week."

"Call it...the Gambler's Ruin," Serrick whispered. Then the void enveloped him.

1579 AE - The Fall of Grismara

The Mordesh of Grismara were masters of alchemy that made them eagerly sought by the Dominion. When Victor Lazarin, their greatest scholar, announced that he had unraveled the secrets of immortality with his Everlife Elixir, the planet rejoiced. Within weeks, billions had taken its injection and enjoyed its extraordinary rejuvenating effects. But over time, the Elixir caused horrifying physical degeneration and psychotic cannibalistic rage. As his world plunged into chaos, Lazarin desperately set about trying to develop a serum before he himself succumbed...

Part 1: Day of Celebration

The streets of Grismara were filled with cheers, a joyous chorus that overtook and drowned out the chants of Victor's name. He stood high above them on the on the observatory parapet, his arm draped over Lucy's shoulders, gazing down at the immense crowd far below. From this altitude they were mere specks, as devoid of individuality as blobs of protoplasm under a microscope.

Grasping this analogy had been his biggest breakthrough. All life obeyed the same rules, danced to the same primordial tune. Mastering immortality was simply a matter of recombining chemicals into their most efficient form. Death, like the speed of light, had been a self-imposed barrier all along, one he was delighted to have demonstrably discredited. It was not only his boldest achievement but the boldest possible one: a rebuke to the universe that a humble vertebrate had managed to subvert its most elemental law. Such, so he claimed publicly, had been his inspiration.

He raised Lucy's small hand in a returning wave to the throng below as yet another volley of fireworks lit up the heavens. The Dominion Emperor himself had organized the pyrotechnics, a celebration of their impending alliance. Despite their trademark hauteur, the Cassians had struck him as surprisingly reserved, at least until he'd declined their requests for complimentary Elixir samples. Time and again he'd been pressed to reiterate the disclaimer that its side effects on non-Mordesh physiognomies remained unpredictable and more than likely fatal.

As the cheers finally subsided, he approached the microphones. He was exhausted but there was so much to say. Abruptly he became aware that some of the shouts persisting simultaneously from myriad parts of the crowd were not ones of pleasure.

As he turned to ask his research assistant whether she concurred, her hands closed around his throat.

Part 2: To Live Forever

Until the last century, the Mordesh of Grismara had been a flourishing civilization, one rivaled only by Cassus in grandeur and elegance. Their erudition in the field of alchemy had made them the envy of the galaxy. When the summons bidding them to join the Dominion had come, alliance seemed inevitable.

Even as the plans were in their final stages, Victor Lazarin, widely acknowledged as the greatest alchemist in Grismaran history, announced his intentions to "end the tyranny of mortality." Such had been the design of Mordesh alchemists since time immemorial. But although he spoke in broad terms of freedom from sickness and aging, uppermost in his mind was the recent sickness and death of his wife.

Lazarin closeted himself away in his lab for decades. When he eventually emerged, his face haggard and manner more erratic than ever, many among his mortified former colleagues braced themselves for what was certain to be a disgraceful admission of defeat. Instead, Victor announced success: the Everlife Elixir, a substance that conferred immunity to sickness, aging, and cell degradation. Convinced by his demonstrations, the High Council triumphantly called for the Elixir's prompt global distribution. Every minute wasted meant hundreds, possibly thousands, of avoidable deaths. The Elixir was rapidly mass produced. Within a week, billions of Mordesh across the planet had submitted to its injection. Without exception, all showed signs of accelerated rejuvenation, renewed vigor, and stunning physical enhancements.

But weeks later, everything had changed. Victor's elixir was unstable, causing physical degeneration along with mindless cannibalistic rage. Reports of savage attacks by family members and soon entire communities became a daily litany. Even the few who had refused the Elixir wound up slaughtered or infected themselves.

The casualties mounted with meteoric swiftness. And within mere weeks, a civilization of billions suddenly found itself on the brink of extinction. In desperation they appealed to their new allies for help. Instead, the Dominion response was indefinite quarantine. Bleakly trying to fight off the ravaging effects of the Contagion on his own nervous system, Lazarin worked tirelessly to create a vaccine.

Part 3: The Long Night

The streets of Grismara were filled with screams, a croaking chorus of terror and fury. Of dark appetites that could never be sated.

Even strapped to a chair far beneath his former estate, Victor heard their din over the competing newscasts droning from the newsfeeds. He and Lucy were the only ones left now. Despite initial evidence, the last batch was clearly another failure. When had he injected himself? Three nights past?

Disregarding the taut wrist-straps, his outsize greenish fingers continued to twitch madly of their own volition. He needed to collect himself. Lucy was depending on him. They all were. He must prepare another effort. He was so close.

Lucy's furious assault on the door jolted him awake. So. Her too. He had seen the telltale signs. He had even gone so far as to assure her that he would never let it happen, secretly vowing to at least be there when it did. Now only static flickered from all screens but one. The inner perimeter had been breached. He had perhaps an hour left before they scraped and burrowed their way in. The formidable Lady Darkos had sworn that she would return to retrieve them within the hour, but it appeared that fate had finally come to claim its due.

At least he could fulfill his promise and be with Lucy, at the end. Even now, she clawed at the door, shrieking for ingress. Unbuckling the final restraints, he lurched for the door, dislodging flasks and crucibles in his wake. None of it mattered now. As he undid the locks, Lucy began to growl incomprehensibly from the other side. He felt himself near choking on his grief.

Just as he began to pull the door open, he caught sight of himself in the mirror. And stopped short, staring. His face looked...less monstrous. Still grotesque, but...far less. The last batch had worked. His Vitalus Serum could indeed stave off the worst effects of the Contagion.

Then the door was swinging inward and Lucy was falling into his arms. Through her lank strands of black hair, he saw the mob she had been running from, scrabbling and shrieking towards them, so close he could smell their fetid breath. Then together he and Lucy slammed the door in their mottled faces. His daughter’s eyes took in the healthy flush of his face and slowly widened with realization. And then determination. Their people could be saved, they just needed to hang on a little longer.

Then the hordes were gouging furrows in the steel door while he and Lucy cast wildly around for objects to use as a barricade.

1656 AE - The Ravaging of Arboria

For millenia, the fierce, agile Aurin had lived simple lives on the forest planet of Arboria, led by a line of queens who communed directly with the ancient Mother Tree. Having never before encountered offworlders, the Aurin were enthralled when the ancient ships of the Exile fleet appeared in their skies. The two groups shared food, water and stories, and quickly formed a lasting friendship. Dreading to bring the wrath of the Dominion down upon their new friends, the Exiles moved on. But the seeds of destruction had already been sown...

Part 1: Dark Whirlwind

Arwick vaulted from branch to branch as cinders stung his eyes and his lungs filled with the acrid taste of his planet roasting. Over the din of crackling flames, screams assaulted him from the smoke, some imploring for aid, others venting grief. But his pace never slackened as he leapt without rest through swirling plumes of sooty flame. He had been on the move for days without rest or nourishment. But he hungered only for vengeance.

The ashen clouds were at least traversable, compared to the pools of sludge that were steadily forcing his passage higher. At first he'd taken it for mud, but when one caught flame, he realized it was sap, oceans of it, already congealing to organic mortar. Again he spat. He had known from the first those Exiles with their airships and burning mouthsticks brought only misfortune. For them Arboria burned. And now instead of repelling the invaders, all they feebly offered was joining them in a flight to certain death for nebulous causes. To keep from howling, he tried to douse his rage in recollections of Myala's hair. Did she live? If not, he preferred to perish in this inferno.

Such was his last thought before he reached out to seize a long familiar creeper that suddenly wasn't there. Then he was plummeting through a dusty maelstrom. He fell for an eternity until his face smashed into a steel slab slimy with bubbling rust. There he lay, splayed on the head of a screw wider than the trunk of the most ancient lansa. Peering over the rim, he got his first glimpse of the roaring beast that he had been listening to gorge for days.

Merely looking at it made his head ache. Jagged knobs and screeching axles protruded everywhere from its concave surfaces with no observable purpose, as if its designer despised grace. Far below, hundreds of turrets squirted toxic webs of defoliant everywhere while metal rollers gnashed steadily through greenery older than the moon.

A wave of white-hot madness lashed over him. He ran straight down its surface and, just as gravity dragged him forward, jackknifed between banks of revolving turbines that missed decapitating him by inches. Then his foot caught in a stray hose, swinging him upside down to slam against a spinning cone of spikes, dislocating his shoulder on the ricochet. Something swatted him into a sliding axle to which he clung over an abyss of screaming circuitry until his remaining fingers had no purchase left and sent him careening down through nightmarish cavities of clockwork guts.

Part 2: Guardians of the Forest

For thousands of years, the Aurin had lived simple lives on the forest planet of Arboria. Having developed a symbiotic relationship with the trees of their world, they had evolved into fierce and agile hunters devoted to cultivating Arboria's forests and preserving the creatures that lived within them. Led by an unbroken line of queens who communed directly with the ancient Mother Tree, the Aurin had enjoyed an idyllic existence on the periphery of the Fringe without ever considering the possibility that other worlds would be inhabited by those unlike themselves.

Encountering the ragtag humanoid remnants of Brightland's Rebellion, the Aurin were shocked to discover their long isolation had insulated them from events vaster in scope than they'd imagined. Entranced by the strangeness of their visitors (excepting the Mordesh, whose mere presence made them queasy), the Aurin listened to their florid stories of worlds in conflict with awe and received their gifts of gadgetry and mechanical servants with solemnity.

In return, they taught their visitors agricultural techniques that utterly transformed their methods of food production and provided abundant (and sorely needed) fresh supplies of food and water, seeds, cuttings, soils, and (best of all in the Granok's view) jugs of a fermented beverage as cleansing to the palate as it was debilitating.

Eventually, however, despite many urgings by the Aurin to stay indefinitely, the offworlders announced it was time to move on. They dreaded being caught out by the Dominion fleet, let alone the prospect of bringing its terrible wrath down upon their new friends. After heartfelt farewells and promises on both sides to someday rekindle their ties, the Exiles departed, confident at having done so unnoticed.

Then the Planet Reapers appeared...

Part 3: Destroyer of Worlds

With an impatient snort, Mondo Zax levered his chair up to smirk at the screens depicting the panoramic devastation taking place outside. The harvesting of planet 45658b progressed well. In the space of a mere week three continents had been defoliated, with much of the resulting detritus already compacted into protein modules. The only disappointment was the soil being too rich to support the construction of factories. Arboria's crust was fecund to a depth their deepest drills had yet to ascertain. But they certainly no longer lacked fuel.

"Anomaly detected," an assistant muttered.

Zax scowled. "Dislike those."

The aide tapped a key. A display by Mondo's head flickered to life, revealing a closeup of a native, snarling as it thrashed amidst severed cables and smoldering microcircuitry. It had yet to do any serious damage, but the creature's current rate of progress was carrying it inexorably towards the fuel rod bays.

"Flush the chamber!" Zax seethed, clenching his favorite wrench.

The aide looked uncertain. "Flushing. Leave us at half-power."

"Ahead of schedule already." Zax squinted. The thing was tearing out fistfuls of wires, prying coolant chips from their slots and bashing the panels to smoking ruin. How the pest had managed to worm its way in so deep was anyone's guess. But there was a certain ironic justice to drowning its body after fire had consumed so many of its fellows. Zax was unable to suppress a cackle at the thought.

The aide flicked a switch. The tank began to fill with viscous black fluid. The creature glared down at the rising ooze, then with a snarl dove in headfirst. Pathetic vermin. Perhaps he would have one scooped to run experi –

"Auxiliary crankshaft disabled," the aide muttered.

"Impossible!" Zax squealed, eyes narrowing. "Kill it!"

Fumbling, the aide hit another switch. The view shifted just in time for Zax to see the ventral fuel cap on the Reaper's underbelly pop off, followed by gushing oceans of fluid, the drenched intruder flailing in its wake. Its tiny figure shot improbably sideways from the fountain, grasped a charred branch, somersaulted between retaliatory volleys from the Reaper's bow-turrets, and was gone.

"Find it!" Zax bellowed. "I want its head on a -- "

Banks of warning lights glimmered, accompanied by a choir of alarms. Even as Mondo began sputtering commands, the entire cockpit shuddered. And Zax found himself screaming with fury as the deck beneath him began to tilt.

1658 AE - The Discovery of Nexus

In the twilight years of the Long Flight, an aging pilot named Dorian Walker had established a reputation among the Exiles as a reliable and gifted Pathfinder. But his true obsession was the planet Nexus, legendary world of the Eldan. He staked his life following the clues in a mysterious book to the edge of the universe itself, certain that he alone had deciphered its mysteries. But what he found at the end of his journey was beyond anything he or anyone could have imagined...

Part 1: Beyond the Dark

Wiping away the rime of condensation that reformed every few moments, Dorian Walker tapped the ship’s life-support display. A pointless exercise but at least those numbers changed, albeit for the worse. Of course, there was a bright side. Standing there and watching the numbers fall, it was almost like he was doing something besides waiting to die.

Warning alarms twinkled from every control panel on the bridge of the Blue Horizon, as they had now for over a week in colorful patterns that struck him as incongruously sportive. They certainly beat the view through the ports. While his scanner screens insisted he was surrounded by thousands of stars of every size and considerable brightness, his naked eye saw only unremitting darkness. He had more than a passing acquaintance with the sight, but never till now had it evoked such solitude. This wasn't just a vacant pocket of space but the knife-edge of the universe far beyond the boundaries of the known. He was drifting aimlessly through a void that was endless and absolute.

To preserve his shredded sanity, he'd muted the alarms. But he felt bad for the ship that had served him so faithfully after he'd run her so hard. At least she'd still be salvageable in a week or an eon. Him not so much.

He was down to vestigial wisps of oxygen and crumbs of food that tasted worse than the container in which it was packed. He knew, because he'd sampled both. Just a few drops of water since the hydrator fuse had fried. The only thing in even shorter supply than his potables was ideas.

Dorian stared at the one button that wasn't flashing. The only one that mattered. He had just enough juice left for one more jump, a small one. Then he'd be reduced to fumes. A fitting end, he reflected, to a man chasing a pipe dream.

His weary gaze lit on the ancient, dog-eared tome by his elbow. It made him think of family, which made him think of Belle.

He hoped she'd remember him. Was more than he reckoned he deserved.

But he hoped just the same.

Part 2: Ghost World

After the events at Arboria, the Exile fleet lay in tatters. The majority of its ancient, ramshackle space-hulks were battered and crumbling. Provision stockpiles, always stretched thin, had dwindled to critical levels. Weathering another concerted attack would finish them. But not only was such conflict inevitable, it grew exponentially likelier with each passing jump.

Hour after tense hour slid by as sleep-deprived engineers toiled desperately to patch severe hull breaches and scrape the last dregs of fuel from the drums. Barely concealed despair haunted every corridor. Exile commanders anxiously awaited the return of scouts checking for enemy movements ahead. When half of them returned alive, it was considered cause for celebration.

The oldest and most respected of these was Dorian Walker. Since the start of the Long Flight, Walker had proven himself the luckiest, most tenacious pathfinder in the fleet. Despite this, none knew him well. After having lost his wife to Spacers Plague, he'd grown increasingly taciturn. But everyone knew that his true passion, second only to the welfare of his daughter Belle, was Nexus.

The legendary planet had been a family obsession for generations, even before its patriarch’s acquisition of the rare volume known as the Book of Dominus at the start of the Cassian Civil War. Alizar Walker had gone to his grave convinced that it held the clues to the planet’s location. One passage that particularly drew his attention had been a cryptic reference to “three celestial jewels” and “the river of green fire.” (Dorian had cherished Belle’s response to this divulgence at age twelve: “If they really wanted us to come, some actual coordinates would have been helpful.”)

For years, Dorian scoured ancient star charts and ships logs, combing them for any references, however obscure, to suggestive celestial anomalies. Ceaselessly he grilled smugglers for detailed reports of their most memorable sights. With trinary systems so commonplace and green nebulae nonexistent, it was arduous work.

Then one day he hit paydirt.

It came in the unlikely form of an old spacer named Klegg he found slouchedin a miserable watering-hole on the Gambler’s Ruin. His eyes lit up at Dorian’s diagram of the nebula that he had sketched himself from the Book.

Klegg hadn't recorded the nebulas coordinates—but another drink would likely help him recall the quadrant. Heart pounding, Dorian obliged.

The next day, after scrawling a hasty note to Belle (and a terser, apologetic one to his superiors), Dorian stole the Horizon and soared off into the unknown, certain in his heart that salvation was at hand.

Part 3: An Auspicious Landfall

Dorian's vision began to fade as he slumped over the navigation console. Hundreds of systems still to investigate...Something shimmered at the corner of his vision. Exerting every fiber of his will, he forced his eyes open.

And saw... her.

At first, Dorian was certain he was hallucinating. An ethereal female apparition was floating above the deck, smiling enigmatically. She raised her arm and pointed out the nearest port. Dorian looked, and saw three brilliant lights twinkling where before there had been nothing. When he shifted his gaze back to the figure, she was gone. He returned his attention to the port, and watched in wonder as the three lights flared with supernova intensity, then dimmed out completely, leaving only throbbing afterimages seared into his brain.

Hell, he thought. Even a product of delirium was better than nothing.

Panting, Dorian punched in the coordinates.

The stars exploded. Darkness took him.

Dorian awoke bathed in shafts of milky blue-green light from the moon shining through the cracked viewport. He took a breath, tasted loamy air.

Minutes later his feet squelched in blue mud. Dusk was falling. Forests of bizarre flora cut jagged holes from the sky. He smelled wood and damp metal. He heard water gurgling from a nearby brook.

Towering over him was a massive artifact of alien construction. He stared up at its glimmering surfaces, shrouded in tendrils of mist, and its nearness made something hum in his mind like a swarm of insects. Its indestructible tip had taken a chomp out of his tailfin during landing. Lucky it wasn’t more.

He couldn't help it. His tangled white beard cracked open in a fierce irrepressible grin.

Trillions of miles from home and marooned on a hostile alien world. Nevertheless, he'd made it. This was Nexus. He had much to do: repair the ship, catch up with the fleet, and ready the way for planetfall.

But all he could think about right now was once more seeing his daughter's face.

Today - The Genesis Prime

Eight centuries ago, in a desperate attempt to contain the toxic spread of her archnemesis the Entity, the Genesis Prime raised a massive exanite edifice, the Lightspire, that imprisoned them both deep within the Grimvault. Now, even as she weathers the intensifying onslaughts mounted by the Entity and his never ending legions, Drusera’s hopes rest on the timely arrival of powerful individuals to finally bring an end to her captivity…

Part 1
Contest of Wills
Part 2
The Long Vigil
Part 3
Attainment Imminent

Table of contents

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7 Comments: Newest Oldest Top Comments
  • Loui
    Apr 01, 2015
    The 10th chapter: The Discovery of Nexus is now available! Enjoy!
  • Loui
    Feb 17, 2015
    The 7th chapter: Brightlands Rebellion is now available!
  • Loui
    Feb 05, 2015
    The 6th chapter: "Ascension of the Eldan" is now available! Enioy!
  • Loui
    Jan 08, 2015
    It's time to learn more about the uplift of the Chua!
  • Loui
    Dec 24, 2014
    The 3rd chapter: "Conquest of the Draken" is now available!
  • cadet93
    Dec 11, 2014
    Thanks so much for posting this. Really want to learn more about the Wildstar lore history.
  • Loui
    Dec 09, 2014
    Added the 2nd chapter: "Rise of the Cassians".