Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1 - Cover

Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1

Copyright© 2023 by Uruks

Chapter 15: Nirvana’s Inner City

I have taken into consideration other factors. Given the immense size of the main specimen, I shall need creatures of near similar size to help bridge the gaps with the Demihuman DNA sequences. I also need a species of such resilience that it can survive the depths of space. I would like to secure samples from the Ancient Primordials, but the Space Dragons who care for them are too well connected with the Triumvirate. The Space Dragons also consider the Primordials their ‘honored elders’ or something, even though preliminary research shows the big brutes to be non-sentient. I would try the Primordials that migrate with the Space Dragons’ cousins, the Black Dragons, but their tribes are ... far too aggressive, and their Elemency rivals that of the Elementals. I’ll have to think of something else.

“Is this really the only way into the Inner City?” Leon asked while looking through the portal at their destination.

“Come on! Don’t you trust me, mate?” James asked innocently.

Leon almost laughed out loud. “A pirate asking for trust. Isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron?”

James frowned in confusion. Then he said, “Did you just call me a moron, mate?”

Leon rolled his eyes. “Just tell me again why this is the best way ... you know, reassure your client a little.”

James shrugged. “Well, as you know, it’s not like we can just teleport in using a Gateway, not with the station’s shields being up and all. And we won’t be able to get through the security checkpoints either. They scan all incoming ships for Psionic Users.”

Rachel, who was getting on her space gear in the lounging area of the shuttle, along with the other members of Squad 99, glanced over curiously. “Can’t you just smuggle us through the checkpoints?” she asked, while securing her boot along with the rest of her Psionic Armor. “I figured you guys would be good at stuff like that.”

James chuckled. “We are good at stuff like that, luv. That’s the whole problem. Who do you think is guarding the checkpoints to a pirate fortress? I’d imagine none other than pirates who already know every trick in the book when it comes to smuggling. Wouldn’t you think so too, darling?”

Rachel scowled a little at the pirate and went back to strapping on her gloves as she muttered, “Call me ‘darling’ again, and I’ll zap that tongue so hard it puffs up like a balloon.”

James grinned, looked to Leon, and gestured towards Rachel with his chin. “Feisty one, ain’t she? Are all magic girls like that?”

Leon ignored the pirate, turning towards Kormal who was looking through another portal. “And you’re sure telepathy won’t be an option, Kormal?”

The Sage shook his head, still watching the vacuum that awaited them. “James already briefed me on their security measures. The Pirate King does not want any Psionic Users getting near him without him knowing, especially not telepaths. They have machines scan the guard’s brainwaves continually for telepathic interference. Their system is quite efficient, actually. The Ministries and the Bureaucracy take similar methods to avoid psychic influence.”

James nodded as he continued. “And sure, you could use those highly destructive powers of yours to force your way past the shields and armored hull, but that would probably defeat the purpose, I’d imagine. You wanna capture the Pirate King, not tip him off that you’re coming for him. You might take Nirvana by force, but you’ll need to pinpoint the Pirate King’s whereabouts first before the attack so he don’t escape. That means a bit a subtlety is in order. There’s a big word for you, Mr. Fancy Pants. Subtlety. You know that one, or do all them powers make your head too big for that sort of thing?”

Leon just gave the pirate a blank stare. “Someday, I might give you a lesson of what we Lurranna like to call ‘subtlety’. But for now, I won’t waste my time trading banter with a scallywag.”

James frowned again, scratching his chin in thought. “‘Trading banter with a Scallywag’. Now there’s another one I never heard before. Where you high-society types learn how to talk so fancy like?”

Leon couldn’t help but look one last time out into space towards their destination. It was one of the many distorted holes on the side of Nirvana. The hole looked like a mess with jagged pieces of metal sticking out everywhere similar to thorns. Even in space suits, it looked like it would be a tight squeeze. And that wasn’t the only thing alarming Leon.

“And you say there’s droid mines on continual sweeps throughout those tunnels?”

James nodded. “Yeah, in case anyone gets the bright idea of doing what we’re about to do.”

Leon looked towards Rachel. “The station’s scanners within their shields can detect conventional cloaking devices. But from what I’ve read of their schematics, they shouldn’t be able to detect a Spiritual Type Elemental using invisibility, at least not so far from the more precise scanners around the checkpoints. A single human body is just too small. However, you won’t be just cloaking yourself, but all of us as well. And then we’ll have the mines to deal with. Can you sustain a cloak around all of us until we’re safely through the tunnels?”

Rachel drew in a deep breath as she looked out the portal. Her demeanor seemed halfway confident at least as she said, “Yeah. No problem. I’ve practiced doing that ... maybe once. But it worked out pretty well the first time.”

Leon clicked his tongue, shaking his head slightly. “I guess that’ll have to do. No time to change plans now.”

“And good thing too,” announced James. “Normally when I’ve taken this root to smuggle things past Brocktree’s security, I had to splice the computers to fool the droids, but I might’ve used that trick one time too many. I hear Brocktree’s technicians modified their security systems to keep that kind of thing from happening. I might still be able to splice their systems, but it would take a lot of time, so your magic spell is a real lifesaver, luv.”

Rachel’s mouth curved into an almost-grin. “Well, we don’t call it ‘magic’ as we don’t like to associate ourselves with the morons who dabbled in Elemency during medieval times.”

James perked up, seeming intrigued. “What morons you talkin’ about, Sheila?”

Rachel sighed. “You know, those wimpy idiots in the old legends from Ancient Earth who went around in dresses waving their little sticks and chanting their little spells. If you tried chanting a spell in an Elemental duel nowadays, you’d be dead before you got your first syllable out.”

“Huh,” mused James, though Leon doubted he understood.

“And pirate,” said Leon, bringing James’ attention back to him. “You do have the patterns of the mines memorized, so all we have to do is follow your lead?”

James put a hand on Leon’s shoulder. “You remember that show I did with the robots and drinks, right? Compared to that, this is a piece of pie, mate”

Leon looked at James’ hand on his shoulder, then said firmly, “Don’t ever touch me.”

As he spoke, Leon channeled a small wave of psions through his Psionic Armor, causing James to flinch back slightly in pain.

James sucked his finger and said, “Right! Right! Brooding jerk type too. I forgot.”

Leon gave a quick check over of his own Psionic Armor when he got one last beep in on his wrist communicator. After activating the link, Tork and Grafael’s heads appeared on a small holographic screen. They were back in the bar with other pirates already drinking and partying with loud, drunken shanties going on in the background.

“Just wanted to check in on your progress, governor,” Tork said in that cheerful and slightly worried tone of his. “How goes the venture into the belly of the beast, whatnot?”

“We’re set now,” said Leon, trying not to let his impatience show with all the times the two Dragons had called already. “As soon as the ship passes inside their shields, James will lead us out in space gear.”

A drunken human pirate - with a long scraggly black beard and wearing a brown, clunky old space suit with no helmet to show off a yellow bandana on his head - staggered in front of the viewscreen briefly. The pirate bumped into Tork, spilling his drink into the Dragon’s lap. Tork yelped in surprise, but Grafael glared at the pirate and gave him a slight snarl, exposing his fangs briefly. The pirate gave a salute and then blew a raspberry at them before walking off singing an off-key shanty.

“I ... I must confess. I don’t know about this at all, old boy,” started Tork, dabbing himself off with the white handkerchief he always kept on himself. “It’s a dreadful sort of business, it is. Perhaps you should-”

Grafael suddenly pushed Tork to the ground with a growl as he glared at the screen. “Perhaps you should reconsider and not go into a deadly city without your best warrior!”

Leon shook his head at the inevitable outburst while saying, “We’ve been over this, Grafael. The tunnels are likely too narrow for you and Tork.”

Grafael leaned closer to the holoscreen, speaking even louder as he said, “BUT EVEN SO, YOU SHOULD RECONSIDER-”

“And besides,” continued Leon in a resolute tone. “We need you and Tork to coordinate with the Elementals outside of Nirvana when the time of the attack arrives. Now no more argument on the issue, Saurian.”

Grafael’s scaly blue face scrunched up into displeasure as he leaned back and crossed his arms like a pouting child. “You better not engage in any bloody and glorious battles in there without me. No one gets to die heroically except me.”

Tork, who had been lying on the floor with his bright tail sticking up, pulled himself up with a groan and an irritated flutter of his wings. He scowled at Grafael briefly as the Saurian muttered an apology.

Then Tork gave a bright, toothy smile, his long ears perking up as he said, “I’ll be thinking of you the whole time we’re away, dear Torsha. Do be careful, will you, dumpling?”

Torsha, who was being helped into her own space gear by Mozar, gave a wave to the holoscreen from behind Leon. “Bye, honey cakes! Don’t worry! We’ll be fine!”

Tork put both clawed hands on his chest as he said, “My heart goes out to you, my fuzzy little ginger snap. Be sure to-”

Suddenly, Gumar appeared in the frame holding Sharon in the nook of his arm. He shoved Tork out of the way, grinning stupidly into the holoscreen. Sharon said sorry to the disgruntled Tork who was once again lying on the floor.

Sharon then called in a loud voice, “Hey, Jimmy! You be careful out there! Try to take it slow on the newbies, eh?”

“Gumar Vok Captain James! Gumar gra fa tu vom!” said Gumar, his language still imperceptible to Leon as the universal translator had yet to adapt to his rare form of Trollish.

A round of cheering rang out from the pirates as they all leaned in their ugly mugs to say their piece.

James laughed and waved his hand, preening like a peacock as he said, “Go on, you lot. Just be nice to them Dragon blokes, eh? Show ‘em a good time while they’re separated from their mates.”

“We’ll show ‘em a good time alright,” called one of the barmaids, probably the Satyr named Shaya, shortly before the crowd erupted into laughing and jeering.

The holoscreen went dim. Leon gave one last suspicious look at James. “Just so you know, they’re already in contact with our forces around the station. And besides that, I wouldn’t antagonize them. Grafael is our most experienced combatant besides Kormal and Mozar. And Tork may be timid, but if he’s provoked, he could destroy your whole crew and half of Karma-1 in a single blast of fire. So, even though the prospect of valuable Dragon scales might be tempting in certain markets, I trust you and your cohorts wouldn’t be stupid enough to try anything like that, correct?”

James simply clicked his tongue at Leon, and said, “We’re gonna have to do something about that attitude of yours, mate. It’s a real downer.”

Leon just stared long and hard at the pirate until it became clear that James was uncomfortable. When he was satisfied that the pirate got the message, he willed his helmet to materialize, surrounding his head in that familiar sensation of security that Psionic Armor provided.

“Coming up on the drop zone now, Captain,” said the old Elf, Nazz in the cockpit behind James. “I’ll let you know as soon as we’ve cleared the shields.”

“Get the cloak ready, Rachel,” Leon ordered.

Rachel nodded, her face going stoic with resolve as her own helmet appeared, hiding her face.

Leon’s own suit was of similar design to Rachel’s, but his armor was a much darker red than hers. His armor also came automatically equipped with his black cape to allow for some distinction while they were in the depths of space. For James’ suit, he simply clicked a few buttons on his boots, his glasses, and his gloves. After a few seconds, his clothes rearranged themselves to become a rudimentary black space suit with no skin showing. Interestingly, his coat still appeared around the space suit, as well as his sword and scabbard. The pirate then clicked his heels together, and that same floating skateboard appeared below his feet, allowing him to hover above the ground.

Everyone waited in silence as the inaudible countdown slowly commenced. Rachel wore the full-body red Psionic Armor of the Fire Ministry. The logos of a Dragon and Lion glowed softly with a yellow light on her breastplate, and her visor glowed with the same light. Her helmet looked similar to a European knight from Ancient Earth. Rachel’s Psionic Armor had been fitted to accommodate her womanly figure, though she wasn’t quite as curvaceous as Éclair. Mozar and Torsha simply wore full-body brown and white space suits with special silver face masks and helmets fitted to their more canine-like heads. Their suits even had holes for the Werewolves’ tails to stick out of, wrapped in a thin membrane of an invisible forcefield to protect them from the vacuum of space, though it looked like their tails were just sticking out like normal.

Kormal didn’t wear a space suit. Instead, he had a small silver box on his belt glowing with a silver light and unknown Sage symbols. The box generated a thin membrane of shimmering energy around him, rendering him his own atmosphere for a time without the need to expend any of his psions creating a barrier. The portable generator was a Sage design, but many spacers often used similar devices. When Leon asked Kormal why he preferred that to a space suit, Kormal simply shrugged and said that his people never liked bulky clothing as it made them feel less connected to the universe around them. He also said that the barriers generated by their minds usually provided all the protection they needed from the elements.

The wait made Leon uneasy. He hated traveling through space to begin with, especially without spacecraft. Mastery of Elemency, tactics, and telepathy always came easy to him, but his zero-gravity training was not among his favorite memories. Not that he didn’t have confidence in his skills, he just didn’t like the experience. Made him sick to his stomach, the feeling of weightlessness in a vast, empty void with no clear up or down.

Rachel, who had her hands clasped together in focus, suddenly stepped forward and said, “Alright, everybody. Come in close.”

The group complied as Rachel spread out her hands towards everyone. Leon felt a slight tingling sensation as her psions passed over him, distorting the light so that he would no longer be visible to most eyes. Rachel exhaled slightly, meaning her work was done. Leon glanced at the others who all looked slightly translucent like ghosts, but not completely invisible.

James looked down at himself and the others as he said in a voice slightly muffled by his helmet’s voice modulator, “Wait a tick. I can still see meself a little. I can kinda see the rest of you lot as well. You sure it worked, luv?”

“You can still see us because I made it that way,” Rachel explained. “I figured it be better if we didn’t bump into each other in tight corridors with mines present. Because we’re operating on the same psionic phase variant, we are still distinguishable to each other and our own vision.”

“Eh?” said the pirate questioningly as he cocked his helmet to the side.

Rachel sighed as she used her fingers to shape holes around her visor, and said in a loud, mocking tone, “We see each other. Dumb pirates not see us.”

James glanced at Leon and said, “Her voice sounds cute when she’s mocking me.”

Rachel muttered something indistinguishable as she turned away from James with a huff.

Keep antagonizing her, and I doubt you’ll think she’s that cute anymore, thought Leon with a slight grin beneath his helmet.

“Time for drop imminent,” called Nazz, still at the controls. “Ten seconds.”

The door to the cockpit slammed shut. The cabin hissed as the lights changed to yellow, indicating a loss of pressure. The time had come. Leon always hated the part that comes next. Suddenly, the light turned green, and then with a great rushing sound like wind, they all sank into the floor. Using holograms, the pirates had manufactured their shuttle doors to appear as if the portal at the bottom never opened. As Leon and the others were sucked into the vacuum of space, he sent a stream of compressed air to his boots, allowing him to easily navigate in the zero-gravity environment despite the discomfort it caused his stomach. Eventually, he’d grow powerful enough to fly whenever he wished wherever he wished without the need for Psionic Armor, but probably not until he reached the highest tier of a Fourth. Leon didn’t even glance back at the lanes of countless vessels that their own shuttle continued to travel in as it neared the security checkpoints that guarded the main entrances into the Inner City.

James led the way, moving easily through the blackness while balancing on his hoverboard. Rachel followed next to Leon, discharging a small electrical current to her feet to direct her flight path. Mozar and Torsha both followed with silver jetpacks on their backs that shot small jets of blue plasma. Kormal, glowing slightly with the power of his shield generator, seemed able to just float where he wanted. Leon suspected that the Sage could simply use a small push of telekinesis to direct where he wished to go while in space. Everyone appeared slightly transparent, a side effect of Rachel’s cloaking powers.

Nirvana loomed seeming almost endless. Within a few moments, they reached one of the holes on the side of the hull.

Captain James paused at the entrance, speaking into the private radio frequencies within their helmets. “Alright, lads and lasses. Just do what I do, and you should be alright. That shouldn’t be too hard for a couple superhumans, right? Well, superhumans, two dogs, and a bloody Martian.”

Rachel glanced at Kormal curiously. “Were your people really from Mars, Kormal?”

“The story of Mars is a little embarrassing for us,” Komal said with a placid expression into a headpiece tucked in his ear. “But yes, we did have a colony on the planet at some point. Some of our people even still call themselves Martians.”

“Why is it embarrassing?” asked Torsha.

“Because the humans on Earth at the time, who were little more than savages with their level of technology, actually discovered quite a few of our scouting drones. We eventually had to put a telepathic suggestion on their leaders to keep the whole thing quiet in a place called Area 51. It would have been ... messy for such an underdeveloped species to discover interstellar life prematurely. Too bad none of the other visiting Demihumans during the medieval periods showed half as much restraint as we did.”

“Fascinating history lesson,” growled Mozar as he floated up behind James. “Back to life-threatening infiltration mission.”

James laughed. “I’m glad you’re here to be the straight man for all of us, Mozar. Makes things more fun, eh?”

James didn’t wait as he turned around and floated slowly into the hull. Leon went next, and the others followed behind him in a single file. James moved fluidly past jagged beams and floating pieces of wall plating. Leon was only able to see ahead because of the readout of his visor which allowed him enhanced night vision.

After a few minutes of flying through the increasingly narrow metal tunnels, James gave a slight hand signal, gesturing ahead of them. Sure enough, the mine droids buzzed throughout the tunnels a few paces away. The droids – each one about the size of a cat – looked like silver disks with red glowing mechanical eye sockets on the top and bottoms. They had four metal spider-like legs on their sides that they would use to crawl along the walls occasionally before leaping off and continuing their silent patrols.

“Okay. So long as you keep that cloak on, they shouldn’t see us. Even so, follow my lead and don’t bump into any of ‘em.”

“I figured that much on my own,” muttered Rachel.

James went forward, masterfully navigating through the swarm of mine droids without the slightest error. Leon thought he could pick up a little on the patterns of the droids himself, but he’d need a little more time to memorize them exactly. James, though, had probably been memorizing their programming patterns for years.

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