The Exile by MarkHirst ()
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The last nine years have given me many opportunities to consider my actions.
While our official policy was nothing better than appeasement, the break away grouping known as the Gathering of Ravens sent me to confront the enemy in any way possible. The resources of one ship, even one as powerful as a merchant cruiser, was insufficient to fight an enemy that had already spread its influence across the Candor district. The enemy had awakened its forces and all but destroyed the world of Illaria, its senior lieutenants taking residence there with a plan to build their capability. Elsewhere, human collaborators worked with the enemy to spread their influence still further, for reasons we still do not understand.
Some might say I should have gone to the Hycaron system and destroyed the star gate there, but I determined that the enemy was already dangerously close to consolidating its position, capable of spreading into the Echolian Autocracy and threatening hundreds of worlds and untold billions of life forms. Destroying the controlling minds on Illaria was my first priority, because the Dust is directionless without them. My other priority was to prevent Candor from falling under complete alien influence and to neutralise the human collaborators.
When I realised the depth of that collaboration, when I saw the violation and murder of my sister, I knew that the enemy had completely permeated these worlds. No direct confrontation of the enemy was sufficient to eliminate the danger; only the total isolation and excision of this growing cancer would ensure the threat could be contained. Following a strategy used hundreds of thousands of years ago, I used an ancient artefact to destroy the armada of alien influenced ships and the entire Gateway star system, denying any ships using conventional jump technology the ability to bridge the gap between the Candor district and the rest of the Echolian Stars.
At a stroke, I had created a firebreak preventing the spread of the dust and its controlling intelligences, but condemned the people of the Candor district to a slow death. It was not enough to satisfy my rage. I jumped into star systems to attack and destroy anything that held the taint of the enemy. On Candor, I destroyed the Sansica Corporation wherever I could find it, while in other systems, starships and bases fell under the fury of my disruptor beams. My ship, already damaged in its encounter with ships around Illaria began to falter despite its Lazloi heritage. In its weakened state I was forced to flee the forces sent by an angry Kyraenia, joining renegade forces operating out of gas giants and distant oort clouds. While political struggles raged on our home world, I drifted in the dark, considering how we might confront and destroy the enemy once and for all.
The star gate on Hycaron remained closed over those nine years, a mystery but a great fortune for us. Had it opened again and disgorged another alien mothership, the Lazloi were in such disarray they could not have stood against it. Now comes news that Clan Mother Kyraenia has been arrested, with suspicions that she has collaborated with the enemy. Our disarray teeters on the edge of civil war, with The Gathering of Ravens barely in ascendance.
My years of exile are over and I am furnished with a new ship, a Scimitar class cruiser that is more than capable of holding its own against the human collaborators.
There are no regrets in my mind, only a single purpose to finish this war.
-- Alisandra ny Hybritta ny Kyraenia hept Zilaerion, Commander of the cruiser, 'Storm Crow of the Dark Sister'
Apologies for such a delay, I seemed to be making a string of bad pictures, and this one just sucked less than the others.
V4 figure (with V3 compatibility) in Xurge cybersuit. Cruiser is an original model created in Hexagon.
Rendered in Vue 6 Pro Studio using a Dosch Design HDRI lighting map, and post processed in Photoshop CS2.
Thanks for looking, comments appreciated.