DIVA: SYSTEMIC #1
deucexm at gmail.com
Tue Apr 12 09:17:48 PDT 2016
And here we are again, back in the Nameless arc, with a Nameless chapter of...
SYSTEMIC: A DiVerse Alpha Chronicle
by Colin Stokes
It was another peaceful morning at the Polaris Foundation's headquarters building,
just like it had been for the past few weeks. And then the announcement gong rang,
John Peter Polaris lifted his head from his desk with a long-suffering sigh. Not
again, he muttered internally. It hadn't even been a month since last time, and
the Dryden space station was still missing a good two thirds of its structure,
thanks to that damnable pirate cartel's superweapon. The time before that, it was
an infestation of massive tunneling worms that had all but disintegrated the world
they were eating.
For an organization supported by the gods themselves, there never seems to be a
moment's peace around here, John mused darkly.
He rose from his desk slowly, not particularly wanting to, but eventually made it
to his feet and straightened his coat and tie. One had to be presentable for one's
benefactors, after all. John wasn't an athlete by any stretch of the imagination -
pursuits of the body had never interested him much - but the rejuvenation
treatments and generally healthy living conditions here had kept him a much younger
man than his 183 years would otherwise have allowed. He expected no less, of
course, since the Foundation was located on the Nilium Collective's capital world -
if that was even the right term for it. First among equals, perhaps.
John didn't have to walk far, one of his privileges as the CEO. The announcement
room was situated down the hall from his office, in the center of the building;
more accurately, the Polaris Foundation headquarters had been built around it to
begin with. It was the sole reason the company existed, at least initially.
The founder, Nero Wendell Guy Polaris, had boldly - so it was said - bargained with
the Pantheon for the eternal prosperity of his lineage, in return for the equally
eternal security of their connection to the mortal world. The Polaris family
certainly had prospered over the centuries, no one could doubt that; but some days
- including today - John found himself wondering whether the stress of these
interstellar escapades was worth it all; and, frankly, whether anyone else shared
his opinion. His sons and daughters certainly seemed to enjoy themselves while
gallivanting about the known universe, brushing up against - occasionally butting
heads with - danger of all kinds.
Well, perhaps their enjoyment is enough, after all, John thought with a tired
little smile as he pushed open the solid metal double doors and strode into the
Apart from its scale, the hall wasn't very impressive at first glance. It had been
carved from the naturally occurring rock in the area - something igneous with a
hard, brittle shine to it - in the rough shape of a cylinder, with twelve pillars
supporting the arched roof. Nine of the pillars had statues of the Pantheon
standing before them, worked in a light, creamy marble; the other three had short,
bare pedestals of the same material. In the very center of the room, the
announcement gong rested - a plate of darksteel twice as tall as he was, covered by
runes and immovable by mortal means (as the documentation clearly stated).
John was no caster, and certainly no hand with rune magic, so he had never tried to
operate the gong himself; it brought him quite enough trouble on its own. Like his
predecessors, he had tried to analyze the floating metal circle - who wouldn't be
curious, after all? - but it defied all attempts to be measured or observed by
instrumentation, as though it wasn't there. And yet it most certainly was.
Standing straight and tall before the gong, John took a breath. "The gong has been
heard, and the line of Polaris stands ready." Such a simple phrase, yet one that
never failed to remind him of his weighty commitment.
Immediately, the air took on a different quality, a kind of thickness flowing
outward from the gong, noticeable by the tiny golden scintillation effects it
produced. The floor beneath the gong took on a similarly golden hue that began to
spread outward toward the walls, the room's rough and rocky surfaces smoothing into
a single flat sheet as the machine of the gods prepared the bridge between two
planes of existence.
John stood motionless as the entire hall was gilded, bottom to top, turning from
roughly-shaped rock into a dazzling, gleaming display of flawless perfection - not
a line crooked, not a curve marred. As the resurfacing reached the apex of the
arched ceiling, a bright flash briefly overtook his senses - and when he could see
again, he was not alone.
"Three of you this time?" the Polaris patriarch remarked, dryly. "Things must
The connection had been forged, and the Pantheon's Temple of Fortune now occupied
the mortal realm, at least partially. And in front of the gong stood - in the
center - Tieria, the God of Knowledge, his brow furrowed and his gaze as hawklike
as ever. "Things are always serious when we call upon the house of Polaris," he
returned gravely. Or at least as gravely as Tieria ever managed to sound, which
was more like a peevish university professor giving a lecture. "This time, matters
are somewhat... complicated."
"Such a /lovely/ word, that," trilled Hekel, God of Deception, on the right.
"Complications are so /exciting/, aren't they?" He removed his red-and-black-
checkered beret, and pulled a silvery cane out of it with the flourish of a
practiced stage magician, placing the tip on the floor with a quiet ringing sound
and leaning his weight on it. "And yet this sort of excitement is, ah, /decidedly/
less than ideal."
"If you consider the destruction of an entire star system 'less than ideal', I
suppose that's /one/ way of understating it." This from the left, the Goddess of
Design clad in shimmering light armor. Rosewood tended to cut an impressive
figure, and today was no different as she hefted her mace Worldbreaker, laying it
easily across one shoulder. It had a sharp tang of electricity in its scent, and
also something... spicy. John wasn't sure he wanted to know what. "Let's get to
business, shall we? I know you're a busy man, Mr. Polaris, so I don't want to
waste your time."
"I am at your disposal, my Deities," John returned evenly, with only a hint of
insincerity - enough to draw a slight grin from Hekel, who was replacing his beret.
"So tell me of this massive destruction you mentioned - an entire system? I've
heard nothing of this before."
Tieria nodded. "You haven't, and you wouldn't. The seeds of this disaster are
only now beginning to sprout; we - and of course I mean you - must uproot them
before they bear fruit. Besides," he continued after a moment, almost as an
afterthought, "it's not as though you monitor Imperial space that extensively."
John's expression went from neutral to just slightly sour. "Ah, so we're cleaning
up the messes of others now? Some reason we can't simply let the galaxy's worst
human- ah, sentient rights violators enjoy the harvest of their actions? The
pirates are cruel and callous bastards, but at least they don't have the oppression
of the spirit down to a bloody /art/ like the damned Empire does."
"Innocent lives, John," Rosewood returned quietly. "Countless innocent lives - not
just lives, but /souls/. If it's as bad as it looks... All of them, just /gone/-"
and she snapped the fingers of her free hand, "-like that. To say nothing of the
worlds, the star, possibly the surrounding space too..."
-ALL IS DUST,- Worldbreaker chimed in from her shoulder. John had never heard it
speak before - that heavy, ancient, grinding sound - but it didn't come as a
surprise to him. The youngest Goddess made some of the most interesting toys.
Hekel simply smiled. "You, dear boy, are the ounce of prevention to our five-
point-three tons of cure! As for the 'why'..." He tapped his chin lightly, and
lifted the silver cane, twirling it. "Dio said it was important."
The other two Deities turned to look at Hekel, whose smile widened the tiniest bit.
"What, did he not /tell/ you that? Or did you not ask?"
"It doesn't matter," John returned flatly. "I'll cooperate, as honor and tradition
demand - but I'll not be sending my own children on this mission, no matter how
many innocents are at stake. They deserve a better welcome and thanks than the
Gray /bloody/ Empire will give them."
"Such a shame," Rosewood murmured. "And here I was, looking forward to meeting
young James and Theresa again; they show such promise. But who will aid us, then,
if not the brightest stars of the Polaris bloodline?"
The corners of John's mouth twitched upward just slightly. "Let's just say I've
got someone in mind."
More information about the racc