Edge of Space: HomecomingBy LadyAijou(Please note: This work is an Edge of Space Fanfiction. It does notrepresent the official story of the game.)-Prologue-End of Days In the vast depths of the universe, the galaxy Ortus was in its death throes. Fire, destruction, and death rained down upon its inhabitants, and lives blinked out by the millions. Planets shattered, sending debris rocketing across the blackness of deep-space. On the surface of one world, where beings still clung desperately to life, preparations were being made to board the last of the craft large enough to undertake intergalactic travel. The screams of panic filled the air around the landing pad as the sky turned crimson once again, another piece of rock hurtling toward the surface. They did not have long to live, before their world shared the fate of so many countless others. At the base of the ship's boarding ramp, ArkCo personnel stood keeping order as best they could amidst the terror. There was no time to identify the individuals boarding, nor to concern themselves with trivial matters such as permits. These were the last survivors. If they did not make it, nothing would remain that once lived within this galaxy. The Ark herself was a massive craft, easily able to harbor several thousand. Nothing near that number had made it as far as the launch area. One of the heavily-armed and armored men was ushering the stragglers onto the ship as fast as he could. "Move out!" he shouted over the din. "There is no more time! We leave now or we don't make it!" As the last of the living ran up into the interior of the ship, the Ark's engines roared to life. The sky around them was blood red as objects continued to burn in the atmosphere. The powerful craft needed little time to gain speed as it lifted off and sped toward space. Once clear of the atmosphere, and the gravitational field of the dying world, space itself seemed to blur around and consume the fleeing ship. Those within could not afford to choose their route carefully. The only consideration was to put as much distance between them and the catastrophic disaster behind them as they could. They were the last inhabitants of the only worlds they had ever known. Years would pass before living beings would see what remained of Ortus galaxy. Now however, it would all change. Within the Ark, the very ship that had saved their parents and grandparents, the descendants of Ortus were coming home. In possession of technology never dreamed of in their lifetimes, they were returning to make things right, to restore their worlds. They would find out what had destroyed everything, and they would set things straight. -Chapter 1-Foreshadowing On the bridge of the Ark, 3 figures stood, conferring with one another on the fate of all those who slept now below their feet in the belly of the ship. The recruiting program had gone better than expected. Citizens hungry for adventure, and the prospect of a new beginning, had come in droves to sign up for the AARP, the ArkCo Advanced Recruitment Program. They had questioned nothing, anxious to embark and be on their way into the unknown. In Cryosleep, they would know nothing of the journey or Ortus, or that they were headed into the most dangerous and inhospitable quadrant of space known to man. To these 3 mysterious persons, the passage of time meant nothing at all, and their plans continued to come together during the countless days of the voyage. They were ambitious to say the least, and if they were successful, they would change the future of mankind. In many ways they already had, though the power they possessed was not common knowledge. “M’lord, do you really think this is the best course of action? If they are killed, we will fail.” The female stated, anger seeping into her voice. “If you insist on this course of action, I will be staying as well. I’ll not leave these people to their deaths. This is wrong.” Her amethyst eyes glinted with fury. This was not the way to fulfill their purpose. These people did not know what they were walking into. Known only as “Whisper”, the woman was striking in her appearance. Her marble white skin and hair made her alien origins unmistakable. Clenching a pale fist, she stood defiantly, facing the two males. “It is not for you to question.” Lord Crane responded. “ArkCo is beyond these lives, beyond what even you are aware of. If they die, it will be for a cause. Perhaps we were not so.....forthcoming with the details, but had they known, they would not have come. That was an outcome we could not risk.” He glanced knowingly at the other man, Lord Ash, known to the world as Steam Punk. The two of them represented ArkCo’s highest authority. That they had undertaken the voyage personally spoke to the critical importance of the mission. “If you wish to stay, I won’t stop you. It may prove to be very valuable.” “I would not have taken no for an answer, M’Lord.” She answered icily. “My services to ArkCo are voluntary.” Without waiting for a reply, Whisper turned and left the bridge. It was time to prepare for what was to come, if such a thing were possible. Her footsteps echoed in the silence, reminding her all too vividly that the passengers were at their mercy. This would not be allowed to continue. If her superiors wished to charge into danger, so be it. It was not their choice to make on behalf of the others. She closed her eyes, communicating a single unspoken word to another who did not sleep. “Ion.” He was by her side almost immediately. Ion. Her closest friend, her creation. He looked at her inquisitively, never truly having lost his sense of wonder at all that they experienced. “Ion, we must wake the others. There is much to be done. I need you to take stock of all the weapons on board, we will take as many as we can find.” She told him simply. Ion nodded to her, and turned to fulfill her order. He made his way to the cargo bay, and scanned the contents of the cargo. He had no need to open the boxes, it was simple work for him. If Whisper called for weapons, then weapons she would have. He wondered what manner of situation they had found themselves in, if she needed more than the power their people possessed. Satisfied that there would be enough to protect the passengers, he turned to leave. He stopped short, noting the contents of several of the crates stacked separate from the others. Medical supplies. These too he knew would be needed. Time to return to Whisper, she would be glad to know just what had been sitting in the darkened interior of the Ark. Several decks above, Whisper’s hands flew deftly over the console in front of her. It would take time to bring the passengers back to consciousness. Already she had opened many of the pods, beginning the sequence to revive the people within. The sound of others beginning to get to their feet was a welcome change to the silence that had become all too well known on board the massive craft. It had been unnerving, really. “Please, stay calm everyone. We are approaching our destination. It is time to make your preparations to disembark. Be sure all of your belongings are accounted for. Until we land, I would ask that everyone remain in their quarters as much as possible.” She informed them. Aside from minor disorientation, they seemed to be faring quite well, given the considerable length of time they had been in stasis. She knew that would change, when they realized exactly how long it had been. This was not the time for that, however. She needed to see them safely off the ship and be certain they could make shelter as soon as they landed. Ion rejoined her as she continued to release more of the sleeping adventurers from cryosleep. “There will be more than enough weapons, not to worry.” he told her. “It seems they expected trouble. Just where exactly are they taking us?” Ion looked at his friend, this was not like her. Risking their lives, and the lives of others this way. “To arkco. mandated afterlife.” She replied coldly. “I was not informed of the destination until we were underway. Never before have I questioned my ability to protect human beings. This time, I truly do not know that we will be enough. You, perhaps.” She smiled at him. With the power Ion commanded, and the CORE, he was indeed a force to be reckoned with. If there was danger beyond their power, nothing was able to save them. Ion accessed the ship’s central system, plugging himself into the console. Ortus galaxy. Were it possible for their white skin to go any paler, he was certain his would have. There was no record of the cause of the destruction that had taken place. Never had anyone been able to explain it, and yet they were headed there. What could they have been thinking? For what possible cause would living people be transported to such a place? “Whisper, this is suicide. Why are we here?” He questioned her. “I don’t understand.” “If we leave them, they will all perish. I could not dissuade them from this course. Ion, if they are correct..if this is possible, we have to help them.” She met her friend’s gaze evenly, knowing that he understood her without words. “This could give them back what was taken. I just pray that ArkCo has done its research this time around. They have been known to be somewhat reckless.” When the last of the passengers was seen to, Whisper and Ion left the cryo chambers and returned to her quarters. She walked to the window, and gazed out on the blackness of space, watching as the massive pieces of what were once planets came into view. She could feel the presence of the countless lives that were so abruptly ended. Ion stood beside her, and she knew he felt it too. They exchanged glances. So many....As the ship drew nearer to one of the largest planetoids, she felt the unmistakable presence of life. Though it was alien to her, she knew that whatever was out there had learned to survive here, had adapted itself to this extreme environment. Now these people, the ArkCoNauts recruited to redeem this forsaken place, would have to do the same. The time for thought had passed. The time for hesitation had passed. As the Ark began its descent, Whisper and Ion collected their belongings and left their quarters. The corridors rang with voices and the clamor of cargo being moved to the loading bay below. A tremor went through the ship as she touched down, crushing soil and rock beneath her massive weight. The ArkCoNauts, descendants of the inhabitants of Ortus, were home. (This work is the sole property of LadyAijou, and is protected by all applicable copyright laws. Use of any of this work without express permission is forbidden.) Note: This will be updated as regularly as possible, so watch for the next chapter!