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Prologue Edit

The Beginning of Dianara, the prologue of Dimensions. 

Theo, an ordinary man wearing jeans and a black jacket, with a dark grey shirt, stared blankly at the concrete wall. He was in a large room, sitting on a simple folding chair. The wall itself was cracked and dirty, and the room was filled with armed men bustling about. 

After a moment, James walked up behind him. "Theo, quit moping.You're wasting time."

"How is it that in one day, the entire Chanoran empire became confined to some random old C.O.D base?" Theo burst out angrily. "WHO GAVE IT THAT RIGHT?"

"It has nothing to do with rights, or right and wrong, or any of that! IT'S A BEING OF CHAOS! IT LITERALLY EXISTS TO WREAK DESTRUCTION!" 

"But what gave it the ability to do this? How could it possibly have won?" 

"That's a long story."

Chapter 1: Setting up for disaster Edit

Chanora

1 day earlier

Chanora is arguably the most complicated planet in its galaxy. Its people are no exception. The primary forces on the planet are…confusing. One, the Council of Omniverse Defense, is a council of planet whose purpose is to maintain peace. It does so with a military force, its own central authority, and autonomy from any government. Another, the Kingdom of the Seven Kings, is a constitutional monarchy which inhabits the whole Central Continent of Chanora. The C.O.D's military division is arguably the most powerful. But it can be easily disrupted. And many terrible things can happen when it is, as shall be demonstrated.

"James!" Bejamin Thomas, a man in a simple suit with a gold and blue tie yelled. "We need to talk!"

James groaned. "Raschlaman"  he muttered under his breath. "Yes sir." He added out loud.

Benjamin's office contained a large, ornate wooden desk, covered in electronic devices and various papers. On one side was a large leather arm chair, on the other, two simple wooden ones. On the desk was a plaque, stating : "Benjamin Thomas; C.O.D Chairman". James sat in one of the simple chairs, while Ben leaned back in his own leather one. "James," He stated "We both know what this is about, so I'll keep it quick. You can keep your Walther, but nothing else." Thomas handed James a small, pink piece of paper. "Now get out of my office."

James stood up, and stated one thing. "Tell Joseph that I know who really made this call." With that, he exited the room, slamming the door. 

"Oh, and also!" He suddenly reopened the door. "Leo will love to hear about this one. Great move, Thomas." 

Chanoran City Streets 

James walked down the road without any illusion of cheer. His steps were weary, his expression similar. His thoughts were various, but were interrupted by a voice shouting, "Hey James, what's up?" James looked up, then saw Theo, and forced a smile as his ridiculous brother-in-law bear hugged him.  

"Not...much...." James managed as he was nearly crushed. Theo released him, still grinning. "How about you?" He asked, continuing to walk now. 

"Well, just found a good apartment in Nexus Tower!" Theo replied. "It's large enough for me and the trio of idiots!"  

James couldn't help but laugh. "How about a quartet?" He asked. 

"Well, it's got four bedrooms and a living room...why?" Theo gave James a hard stare. "What's going on man?" 

"Well," He said with a sigh, "I just got fired."  

"For what?" Theo was genuinely surprised.  

James shook his head, and looked around before replying, "Politics. Intelligence Division didn't like my policies on operations, so they had Benjamin fire me."  

"What policies? " Theo inquired, curiously.   

James peered around again. "We'll talk about this on the tower."   

Nexus Tower   

As the shuttle approached Nexus Tower, lights glinted off of its steel hull. It had a logo reading "Hran Interstellar Shuttles", in large letters on the side, while its interior was similar to that of your average subway. In this vehicle stood James and Theo, waiting for their stop, before finally the ship docked.   

As always, a voice said, "Please stand clear of the doors. We have now reached the Nexus Tower stop. Thank you for riding Hran Shuttles." The doors then slid open, and a large group of passengers, many carrying luggage, rushed out of the vehicle. Having exited, James and Theo walked down through the dully decorated terminal into the main Tower. To their left was a security station by the entrance, behind them the exit.   

As James and Theo proceeded, they went through several pristine hallways, and ended up at the apartment. Dropping their bags in the spacious, light walled, and carpeted area, they exited, and headed for the food plaza.   

When both had food, drinks, and a table, Theo asked his question again. "What policies?"   

James shook his head. "You are one persistent son of a bitch."   

"James! We're gonna have to edit that later! Besides, she's your mother."   

"Or at least the closest thing I'll have to one."   

"Don't go there, James."   

He shrugged. "Fine. You wanted to know about my policies? Well, I'll tell you." James sighed. "I wanted us to focus on finding Dianara."   

"Dia-what?" Theo exclaimed, confused.   

"Dianara." James stated. "Energy being we trapped in a prison a long time ago. I think...I think it's gotten out."   

"We as in the C.O.D?"   

"No, no, no, Chanorans."   

"How come I never learned about it in history?" He inquired.   

James shook his head. "Most people think it's an old legend."   

"Ah. How do you know it escaped?"   

"We found the prison. It was emitting energy on a massive scale. Eventually, it exploded, killing the fleet around it."   

"James...I...how many people?"   

"Five thousand." He stated neutrally. "All dead."   

"Any friends?" Theo asked carefully, trying to tread lightly.   

James nodded. "That's military work for you."      

"So that's why you're here?"      

"Yeah."      

"Well, you can stay at my place for a bit." Theo grabbed a bite of his burger.      

James nodded in thanks, however, he was looking around them warily as he heard a noise, before he saw what he was looking for. Smoke at the door of the food plaza. Purple smoke. Maelstrom. So, he drew his pistol, and shoved Theo to the ground as a plasma round bust down the door. A stromling mech stormed in, and began to fire into the room. James returned fire at it, ducking as tables exploded. Alarms blared, soldiers rushed in, and James grabbed Theo by the collar, yanking him out of the room.            

"WHAT THE BRICK IS GOING ON?!?!?" Theo exclaimed as James dragged him.            

"It's complicated!" James replied. "Just get O'Malley, Simmons, and Jeffy onto a shuttle. I'm going to get the leaders to make an evacuation order."            

"James, they don't like you! Ever since the C.O.D..."            

"Theo, that was a long time ago."            

Theo groaned and nodded, running off down the corridor to the cacophony of gunfire and explosions. James watched to make sure he didn't get hit, till he rounded a corner. Then, sighing, he ran off to the faction leaders' council room, where he knew he would find them. As he passed through the corridors, men rushed past him from all factions. The blend of colors was hard to discern as James ran past them, hoping none would recognize him, despite the odd outfit he wore. Luckily, all, like him, were in a rush, so he made it to the council room quickly enough. As he barged into the room of computers and holograms, he was faced with a weapon. Specifically, a Paradox blaster.            

"Glad to see you caught up with the times, Vanda." He remarked dryly.            

While the other Faction leaders were cautions, but not aggressive, Vanda looked about ready to kill James. "Where's that spying bitch, Walters?" She replied.            

"'that spying bitch' is my wife, Darkflame, and one could describe you in the same way." James replied. At this, Exeter burst out laughing, and Vanda glared at him.            

"SHUT UP!" She yelled.            

Hael shrugged. "He's got a point. After all, it's because of you we didn't get a seat on the Council."            

"Only because that d-" James interrupted Vanda at this point.            

"If you hadn't been breaking even your own rules, we wouldn't have had anything to find." He stated. "She saw something suspicious during the review session before we were supposed to add you, and looked into it. Had there been nothing to find, you'd be fine. So don't complain or insult my wife in some tantrum."            

Darkflame glared, but at a glance from Exeter backed down. "James, you better have a good reason to be here."            

"Well, I got fired, so I was going to stay with a friend, and now Maelstrom is attacking. Being as they outnumber you, I came here to get you off the Tower."            

"We outmatch them any day!" Exeter protested.            

"Not today, Duke." James replied. "They've been building up their powers, increasing in strength and number. If we don't evacuate now, everyone on this tower is dead."            

Exeter, Hael, and Overbuild all reluctantly nodded, but Darkflame was furious. "YOU WANT US TO LEAVE OUR HOME?"            

"It's not optional." He stated.            

Chapter 2: Abandon the Tower Edit

"Attention all Nexus Force personnel: Please proceed to evacuation points immediately."

With this announcement, soldiers ran towards and into shuttles, firing at pursuing hostiles. As it was, it took Theo, O'Malley, Simmons, and Jeffy several minutes to make their way through the white hallways, past stromlings and mechs, all the way to the shuttles. Even then, it took James ten minutes to show up, and when he did, he was not alone. A large group of rank ones were with him, all of whom crammed into the medium sized shuttle. While they fit, it was not comfortable.

"James, what now? And where did all the recruits come from?" Theo asked from behind the console.

"I'll explain later. Right now, get us out of here." He replied.

Theo paused, before asking rhetorically, "We aren't gonna see this again, are we."

"Most likely not. Maelstrom's overrun it."

"James...how are they restored?"

"Long story." James sat down with a thud in the co-pilot seat, and took off the shuttle. "All that matters is getting out of here."

Suddenly, as the gravity of the situation was realized by all present, an air of despair settled upon the shuttle. Most sat in silence, some watched out the rear window as they became farther and further away from the tower. Around twenty people were crammed into the ship, yet all were silent.

"Now what?" O'Malley shattered the silence, and all the heads in the shuttle whirled towards him. "...what?"

"O'Malley," Theo glared. "Social queues."

Simmons shrugged at this comment."O'Malley doesn't do social, Theo."

"Well, we're just about at Nimbus Station!" Theo proclaimed before a full-on fight began between the two. "Right, James?"

"Yeah." James agreed, internally chuckling at the two idiots. Suddenly he paused, seeming stressed, then reverted to normal. "Yeah..."

"James? You ok?"

"I'm fine."

Theo stared at him skeptically, then shrugged. James wasn't someone he understood. Still, something was off, more than the normal eccentric idiocy/genius. Before he could think over this more, a sharp jolt from the shuttle landing awoke him from his thoughts. They had arrived.

Nimbus Station looked like it had been ravaged by an army. And indeed it had. Buildings were collapsed, makeshift medical tents were set up at various points, and fires were rampant. Men with water sprayers ran about, putting out fires, while soldiers kept watching the forest, which was clearly partially infected. They had been pushed back to the central plaza. In the distance, smoke rose from the race track. As Theo exited the ship, he was immediately accosted by a rank three Space Ranger. "Hey, what do you think you're doing? This is a warzone!" As he spoke, more shuttles landed, to his dismay. "What's going on?"

"We lost the Tower." Theo replied, drawing a Sig Sauer pistol. "We've got some backup for you at least."

"Heh." The Space Ranger smiled. "Good. My name's Gravel Poppy, most people just call me Sarge."

"Pleasure to meet you, Sarge." Theo nodded. "We've got some recruits for you here."

"Good." He turned to the rank oners exiting the shuttle. "All Sentinels with me! We're gonna take back this station." As he spoke, a man walked up behind him, armor clinking. Immediately turning, and recognizing Duke Exeter, the Sergeant stood at attention. "Duke Exeter, sir!"

"At ease! I'll take the op from here," The Duke said, drawing his great broadsword. "I want you to take a squad up to the race track, secure it, see if we can get some vehicles. Something fast, but give it heavy armor."

"What are you thinking, if I may ask, sir?"

"I'm thinking we see what happens if you strap guns to a car." The Duke replied, dead serious.

"Sir, yes sir!" The Sergeant selected a few men, and ran off, prompting the Duke to turn to James, Theo, O'Malley, and Simmons. "Think you can secure the Red Blocks?"

"Yessir." Theo nodded, and turned to his O'Malley and Simmons. "O'Malley, you go crazy."

O'Malley grinned, priming a bazooka. "I can do that...."

"Simmons, you have a sniper, right?"

"Yes..."

"Get a good perch, pick off the big guys. James?"

"I'd say that works." James nodded thoughtfully, and drew his handgun. "You and I will do the actual ground work, O'Malley and Simmons focus on larger guys."

"Ok, that works." Theo nodded. "Though admittedly I still want to know WHAT IN HRA IS GOING ON"

"Well," James groaned. "Remember...Dianara? Well, it's a chaos based being. The issue is...chaos and chaos go well together. It probably...caused this."

"Great..." Theo sighed, and glared at James. "Can the C.O.D stop it?"

"...no." James shook his head in regret. "We can run. But we can't win. No one can beat it. We can only try, and fail."

"That's a brilliant answer, James."

“Well, I am a genius!”

“That was sarcasm.”

James glared at Theo, but nevertheless grinned. “Too bad for me. Now try to keep up.” With that, James ran forwards down the path to Red Blocks, followed by Theo, O’Malley, and Simmons. O’Malley’s bazooka raged, and Simmons jumped onto the cliff next to the path and began to pick off hostiles. Theo, meanwhile, was a machine. His soldier zipgun fired into the face of a stromling, then he slammed one in the stomach with his knee, and put a round through it. James was engaged in hand to hand combat with a particularly beefy stromling, an odd variant. It threw a punch, he grabbed its arm and twisted it, causing it to screech in pain, before he kicked it away and shot it.

Despite their apparent success here in the musical plaza called the Red Bricks, the battle for the Station seemed, and was, fairly one-sided. The Maelstrom kept pushing against Nexus Force units, until the majority of the station except the plaza was black and purple with the monsters. Indeed, even James and the crew were pushed back to the shuttle area. They were surrounded by stromlings, mechs, and then...a dragon entered the scene. Its shadow covered half of the plaza as it swooped in in front of them, breathing a column of purple fire onto the Nexus shuttles, causing them to combust and melt, breaking down.

"This isn't going to end well!" Duke Exeter cried out.

James glared at him for a moment, but didn't say more, too busy was he with a surrounding horde of tormented beasts.

Kolhestra

The surface of Kolhestra is red and rough as its people. Various cities and green fields of crop and plants appear occasionally, but much of the planet is desert. The capital, the largest city on the planet, is characterized by its large blocky towers and general sense of of imposition. The city streets are clean and efficient, as is the public transportation. The people wear simple dark clothes, and the majority openly carry plasma weapons.

Kolhestra suffered from a nuclear winter after decades of war, a winter that only cleared up a century ago. Because of this complication, they were forced to cooperate. But a power vacuum formed. Nature abhors a vacuum, and nature is indiscriminate in whom it chooses to fill it. Thus, an oppurtunistic general rose to power, leading, in the end, to a Spartan-esque planet.

But even Sparta suffers from the plague of politics.

"I would argue," The Chancellor cried out, "That an attack on Dianara would be absurd! Chanorans have fooled us in the past. They may do it again!"

"Of course you say that, Chancellor. You are, after all the one they fooled. Your judgement is not exactly the best in these scenarios, is it?"

The group of men in simple dark uniforms sitting about the large wooden table began to bicker, and the volume of their argument began to rise, until, "SILENCE!"

The Head Chancellor had spoken...for the first time in ten years.

Nimbus Station

An explosion rocked the planetoid as a missile slammed into one of the dragons, smashing it away, and sending broken bricks raining upon the now panicking Stromlings and mechs, prompting all to look up and see a majestic form: That of a C.O.D dropship. Its shape was like that of a helicopter, with two wings containing downward pointing thrusters and weapons systems, as well as directional thrusters on the rear. Its side opened up as a troop bay, thus the dark gray metal of the doors was scarred with plasma marks in the paint. The cockpit in the front had a large canopy allowing a quick ejection, and wide view, as well as a comprehensive HUD.

Yet again, a rocket was released, along with torrents of bullets, shredding the stromlings and mechs. Constant maelstrom fire battered its now flickering energy shields, but to no avail, as two more appeared in thundering warp exits, weapons quickly locking onto Maelstrom targets. As the two maintained fire on the maelstrom, the first landed with a loud clanking sound on the plaza, and the doors swung open to reveal a large troop transport.

"EVERYONE IN NOW!" A C.O.D Sergeant in full combat gear yelled, and the few remaining Nexus force members began to pile in, as the other two landed and opened bays as well.

In the rush, nothing was particularly noticeable. Each ship held sixteen men, not that the full capacity was needed, but still, thirty-nine rushing individuals meant that the entire plaza was chaos, especially with the now regrouping Maelstrom beginning to fire at them. Meaning one clumsy individual was almost left behind.

“Ow!” Jeffy cried in pain as he tripped over one of many various stromling bricks, and fell flat on his face.

“OH FOR PETE’S SAKE!” Theo shouted, grabbing his young cousin by the collar and dragging him into one of the shuttles, just as James dove in, narrowly being missed by Maelstrom plasma.

“Well, talk about a deus ex machina.” James grinned wryly as he lifted himself off the metal floor of the fairly well lit shuttle. “Wanna take a peek out the window?” He asked as the shuttle began to rock from liftoff.

“James,” Theo facepalmed. “There is no window.” Indeed, the bulkheads were blank metal sheets, with no more than emergency opening handles and a keypad.

“Ah, but you see Theo,” James grinned, and theatrically tapped several buttons, causing a hologram to take the form of a square window on the bulkhead, “There is.” And indeed, the view was worth it. Over the darkening planetoid was the form of a massive starcruiser.

Its main form was a rounded, great, wide spearhead. Its spearhead had a rounded out indent halfway through it, in which several fighter bays sat. Lights peppered the silver-ish hull, and the rear thrusters glowed red. Emanating a blue light, weapon batteries in the shape of plasma turrets and torpedo launchers were scattered in patterns across the ship.

“…woah.” Simmons managed, staring out at its form as blue plasma streaked from its bottom towards the planetoid, pocking it with explosions, until the entire fragment was blown apart into various purple and black segments.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the CNS Royar, CNC 2830!” James announced as they began to glide into the now open ship bay. “Probably the most powerful cruiser in the fleet.”

“Is this…real?” Theo asked, genuinely shocked by the pure scale of the ship. “I mean…the crew would have to be at least…”

“Six thousand crewmen and two thousand military personnel.” James interrupted with a grin. “Ain’t she a beauty?”

“She’s something.” Theo replied with a similar expression. A small rumbling noise and a shaking of the ship indicated they had landed, before with a bing the doors slid open.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard.”  James proclaimed majestically, before becoming absolutely serious upon the sight of a man in a gray and gold Captain’s Uniform, who stood to attention as he approached.

“Director, Sir!”  The Captain proclaimed.

“Sorry, but I’ve been fired Captain.” James replied, gesturing for him to stand at ease.

The Captain stared at James, mouth agape. “You…WHAT? WHY?”

“They don’t want to deal with Dianara. By they, I mean Jospeh. Lets be honest, Benjamin is a tool.” James sighed. “So, I need a visitor pass.”

“James, for you I’ll make a protocol exception.” The Captain turned to Theo. “You must be our NF Liason. What was the name…Theo?”

“Theo Emerson, Captain.” Theo stood to attention. “You must be Captain McArthur?”

“At ease, lieutenant. And yes, that would be me.” McArthur stared at him for a moment, before shrugging.

“Sir?”

McArthur sighed. “Your last name is the same as someone else I know.”

“Rebecca?”

His head shot up to Theo. “You know her?”

“OF COURSE I DO! SHE’S MY SISTER!”

“That makes James your…oh you poor person.” He shook his head, “How bad is it? I figured it’d be like taking care of a little kid.”

“OI!” James protested. “I’M RIGHT HERE!”

“He’s got a point James. You’re thousands of years older than me, yet you’re like a little brother, not older.”

"Oi, Mental years, not physical." He remarked with a grumpy expression.

"So, Lieutenant," The Captain interrupted. "We'll need you on the bridge. You know more about Maelstrom than most of us." He gestured for Theo and James to follow, but Exeter approached and tapped him on the shoulder. 

"Respectfully Captain, myself and the other Nexus Force leaders are well acquainted with Maelstrom methods and tech." He stated firmly. "We could be useful."

"The more the merrier, duke!"

The bridge itself was a round structure, with a viewing screen at the front, and a number of control stations oriented towards it. The gray walls were lined with various touch screen and holographic panels, as were the four workstations,  and the sides of the captain's chair. The walls had lighting strips near the floor and the ceiling, illuminating the bridge clearly, and negating the blue effect of holograms. 

The Captain sat calmly in his chair as the four faction leaders stood behind him, along with James and Theo. Tapping the screens on his chair arms a few times, he smiled as a holographic map of the planet fragments flew up. Nimbus Station was illuminated with purple markers, the Tower with a red marker, and other locations with green or yellow markers, indicating a location was either secure or at risk. In addition, blue markers indicated outbound shuttles, and a large golden marker the Royar. 

"Lady and gentlemen, we're here." McArthur gestured to the Royar. "The areas most at threat are Avant Gardens, here." The orange marker indicated high risk. "And...Crux Prime." Next to the Tower on the screen was a large valley covered in purple markers. "It appears to be the epicenter of the incursion. Now, the Royar can help hold your primary locations, but it would require fifteen prime votes from the council to deploy enough ships in the region to take Crux Prime." 

The Captain swiveled about in his chair to face the six. "I'm open to suggestions, people."

"...how about the T.O.R.C.H?" Hael asked, turning to face the other three faction leaders.

"Project T.O.R.C.H was shut down, Hael." Vanda shook her head, then added to the Captain, "It was an old anti-maelstrom cruiser project. We thought if we could gain air superiority, it might shift the tide of the war." 

"Our men can hold the line for a little longer, Captain, but..." Exeter shook his head. "They aren't equipped for this scale of invasion. We've never seen anything like it."

"What about protocol 81 B?" James interjected, and the Captain's head shot around. 

"James, that protocol hasn't been used in...years."

"Can you think of a better time to use it?" 

"...fine." McArthur turned about and tapped several buttons on his left chair arm, the comm pad. An image of Benjamin in his office appeared on the viewing screen.

"What is it, captain?" Thomas requested. "Are things going well?"

"No sir." The Captain shook his head. "We're outnumbered and outgunned."

"Captain, you know I can't send help-" 

"I'm invoking protocol 81, sir. The Nexus Force is an ally, the threat is severe and affects civilian populace as well as government, I'd say that fulfills all the requirements in the Charter." McArthur interrupted. "I need the Chottara and Stachor here immediately." 

"Captain, the council won't like this. Are you sure you want to do it?"

McArthur's face became deadpan serious, with a small hint of rage in his eyes. "Respectfully sir, I know what I'm doing. Now we are facing a galactic scale threat in this new outbreak, so either you send those ships, or violate the C.O.D charter and step down from office."

"Very well, Captain. Thomas out." The screen went dark, and the Captain turned again to face James.

"I just probably forfeited my chance to reach Commodore, let alone Admiral. You're welcome, James." 

James sighed. "Sorry Cap, but it's better to lose a chance of promotion in the near future than to allow the Maelstrom to spread." 

A rumbling noise and violent shaking of the ship interrupted both their thoughts, as a man cried from one of the work stations, "Sir, we're being targeted by an infected anti-air cannon! Shields are holding, but I'm not sure how long!" The rear-most right station.

"Increase shield power, charge weapons! Lock plasma cannons on them!" McArthur cried out. "Lieutenant, divert power from engines to shields!" This second order was to the man at the forward left station. 

"Captain, we've got multiple dragons inbound! Three..no, four!" Another man cried out, rear-most left station.

"Lock missiles, fire when ready!" 

"Captain, we've got lock on the cannon." The man at the rear-most right station alerted him.

"Fire!" Mcarthur shouted, and a burst of light indicated their plasma weapons had fired at the old Nexus Tower cannon .

"Sir, we've eliminated the target, but it looks like several infected shuttles are inbound on us!" Again, rear-most left.

"Target them, wide spread plasma fire."  In this chaotic mess of noise, the captain seemed to be at home."You may fire when ready. Commander, do you have missile lock on those dragons?" Now the commander, rear most right station nodded.

"Yes sir." 

"Fire!" And so the chaos continued.

Kolhestra

The moment the Head Chancellor spoke, all remained respectfully silent. It took several minutes for him to follow up his command of 'silence'. "Dianara is a valid threat...if you antagonize it. Do you not know your history? Kolhestra was able to evade attacks from Dianara by a treaty with the being. It is intelligent."

"Respectfully, Droitana, we cannot afford to make assumptions." Another protested with a sigh. "Perhaps sir..."

"Silence. I have made my decision, if you dislike it, you may leave the council. Mobilize the fleet. Contact with Dianara is paramount. And...contact our friend, gentlemen."

"Please sir, not Jefferson!" One man cried. "He is a threat to our goals!"

"That is an order!" 

"Very well, sir." 

Crux System

The silver form of the Royar was in the center of a ring of plasma, as the Royar emitted missiles and death in all directions.

"Sir," The Commander cried out, "We've got a new warp signature inbound...It's the Stachor!"

With a flash, another, similar ship appeared, and plasma immediately began to fly from it, smashing into various infected locations on planetoids.

On the viewing screen, a dark skinned woman's face appeared. She wore a similar uniform to McArthur's, her hair pinned up in a bun. "Captain McArthur, you called?" 

"Glad to see you too, Katherine." McArthur allowed himself a brief smile. "Want to take east or west half?"

"I'll take west. Last one done buys the first round." 

"First one buys the last." With that, the comms shut down, and McArthur tapped his comm pad. "All hands, we are assigned to eliminate Maelstrom on the east half of the planetoid system. Get to work people, we're not paid by the hour."

James smiled mildly from the back of the room, before slipping into the elevator...but not before Theo managed to duck in behind him. 

"Where do you think you're going?"

"I just remembered my History. You wanna come with?" James replied in his usual vague manner.

"Where to?"

"Chanora! Obviously! Come on, I've still got my watch." James gestured to his electronic watch. 

"James, I hate teleports!"

"Too bad!" James tapped the watch, and with a flash they were on Chanora. But...not the same Chanora James had been on just a day ago. The world was...burnt out. Buildings were collapsed, fires on the street, screams in the air. 

"JAMES!" Theo cried out as he gazed about the burnt out city. "...wait, what happened here?"

James frowned, drawing his pistol and taking a similar look about. "I don't know. Come on, we need to find Leo." With that, he took off down the street towards a burning castle, crowned with fighters chasing each other, and jewels of plasma.

After several blocks off fire and death, Theo and James managed to climb their way up the hill to the gate, and tap the intercom button. With a crackling sound of static, a voice came from the small speaker. 

"James, what are you doing here?"

"Hello Leo!" James replied to the voice in a jubilant manner. "Glad to see you're still alive!" Immediately the smile faded from his face, and his eyes steeled. "What have you done with my planet?" James demanded. 

"It's more my planet than yours, James, and as for that, ask the Kolhestrans. They just attacked us with no provocation! One moment I'm inspecting the navy, next moment a shuttle crashes into the hangar and fighters start blitzing about!"

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