The day of the Quest’s start had finally arrived. Penshek was in the Conference Room with the Senior Staff, the Barmeks, and Endea. “What’s the deal behind this sword?” asked Marshii.
“Only that it was the first weapon a Goblin used!” replied Bashoon. Marshii then arched an eyebrow at her. “…Ma’am,” gulped Bashoon as she sensed the impropriety of her outburst.
“When the Under-realm was more savage,” explained Penshek, “Goblins were less brave. We were cowardly when we sought gold and we had amassed quite a pile for ourselves. That only encouraged bandits to take our gains. Over time, a Goblin named Yunshul declared that he had enough, so he forged the Scale Sword and used it in preemptive strikes against bandit colonies. This led to war and Yunshul led the Goblins to a victory so grand, his golden bust was the first on the Wall of Heroes. That was around the time we became more bolder and observed how markets worked. He was the very Goblin that became the first Chancellor of the Imperium. Unfortunately, when he died, his sword was stolen and the Imperium has been looking for it ever since. Our ancestors sent out searches across the Under-realm to find it, but we were interrupted in our search by the Great Realm War. We were once convinced that Other-realmers had stolen it, so we joined the Under-realm Armies to find it. We still look for it to this day.”
“But you claim to know where it is,” remarked Thengo.
“Elmar, what did your analysis of the cloth tell you?” asked Arsha.
“There were trace amounts of telkanite,” reported Elmar, “eludiminium, and Dragon Sapphires on the shroud. Those materials would have been used for a sword of that era. The design also matches records of shroud designs of that time.”
“Then the question becomes,” mused Thangred, “where did it come from?”
“An agent of mine got it from its resting place,” explained Penshek. “He found it on an island between the Central and Northern Continents of the Under-realm.” He pointed to an island off of the Central Continent’s northernmost tip, where Dwelga lived.
“That just increases the danger,” muttered Arsha.
“What makes you say that?” asked Penshek.
“The island directly between Dwelga’s northern reach and Frigandor,” explained Arsha, “the one directly east of our destination, that’s where Reb Rojam and her pirate fleet lives.”
“I don’t think we have too much to worry about,” replied Denstra. “As most of you have learned by now, I used to be the Chief Engineer of Reb’s old flagship. She never believed the legend of the Scale Sword. Any Goblin that tried to make that Quest, she shot them.”
“Wow, she REALLY inspires her crew,” muttered Endea.
“In any event,” continued Arsha, “stealth will have to be the word around here as we go on this journey.”
“If pirates are involved, most certainly,” agreed Penshek. “I’ve heard other tales about the Scarlet Stream pirates; tales that say they leave no survivors.”
“…Then where do the stories come from?” asked Bashoon. Penshek opened his mouth, then shut it as he realized what Bashoon was talking about.
“In any case, those tales don’t scare me!” declared Arsha.
“Or me!” affirmed Endea.
“I ain’t backing down from this!” called Thangred. This was the general declaration of everyone in the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” announced Arsha, “we need to plan a flight path that avoids the pirates. Mr. Nazay, recommendations?”
“The way I see it,” replied Nazay, “the shortest way, and the riskiest, is to go north-west to the island in a straight-line, but that’s a good way for Reb’s fleet to intercept us. Another route is to skirt between the Western Continent and the island, but, while less likely, that’s also a potential pirate route. The only option, while fuel intensive, is to go to the island between Dwelga’s southern shore and Crelima City’s northeastern shore, then go over Crelima city and travel up the Western Continent until we get to the northern edge, then to the island north of the continent, then island hop southeast across the islands between the Northern and Western continents until we reach our destination.”
“Then we NEED to make sure,” suggested Thangred, “that all mana reserves and food and water supplies are topped off if we go to Crelima City. Our port of call will need to be the Realmfleet base at the city’s northern border. I don’t feel I should remind you all about how much of the Western Continent is nothing but sandy deserts.”
“That still leaves the return journey to Dwelga,” remarked Endea. “If we go directly south from the island, we’re sure to encounter Reb and her ilk and I won’t have enough mana to get us through a fight nor take the long way around again.”
“No, but the Northern Continent has the closest port of call to resupply,” replied Nazay. “After that, we can take the safe route from the Northern Continent to Dwelga that avoids pirates and we’ll be good to go.”
“Then we need to spend a few days going over the plan,” declared Arsha. “While I understand this is a crucial mission to the Imperium, we cannot afford to meet any enemies. I don’t need to tell you all how stealth is key. Starting the instant we walk out of this room; we need to make preparations. Let’s make it happen.”
Dr. Borg opened her eye, rubbed it, and stretched as much as she could with her cybernetics removed. Even her prosthetic eye was gone. She smacked her lips, then discovered a taste that was unpleasant. After that, she got a faraway look. “…I wonder if that taste IS the result of a burp dying before escaping during the night,” she pondered aloud. “How would one conduct empirical research on that topic? …Meh, an experiment for another day.” She beat her wings and flew to a keypad, keying in a code that revealed a machine that maintained her limbs while she slept. Her cybernetics were reattached as her eye was handed to her. She set it into her empty eye-socket and restored her depth perception, along with the eye’s other functions. After her limbs were tested, she landed back on solid ground and made her way to the mess hall. Once there, she noticed Yulduk doing something with a pencil and paper. “Good morning, General Yulduk,” she called. Yulduk looked up to give her his attention.
“Good morning,” he greeted.
“What are you planning?” asked Dr. Borg.
“A little Revenant recruitment drive,” replied Yulduk. “Scorpo and I found five torpedoes resting just five pors off of Reb Rojam’s stronghold, Realmfleet burial torpedoes. I wonder if the corpses inside would be preserved enough to make more Revenants.”
“Worth investigating,” remarked Dr. Borg. “So you’re drawing up plans to investigate?”
“Bingo,” replied Yulduk.
“Then submit them once you’re finished,” directed Dr. Borg.
“You got it,” confirmed Yulduk. Just then, the intercom rang.
“Southern Outpost to Dr. Borg,” called Jansha.
“Go ahead,” answered Dr. Borg.
“The Black Money has been spotted and isn’t answering our hails,” reported Jansha.
“The Black Money?!” snarled Yulduk.
“Reb’s probably noticed I stole some of the Breath,” mused Dr. Borg. “All hands to battle stations!” The alarm sounded and everyone took their posts at the southern part of the island. “Have we made any further attempts to contact them?” Dr. Borg asked Jansha.
“I’ve been continually hailing them,” replied Jansha, “but they aren’t replying.”
“She may want to talk to Dr. Borg herself,” remarked Tormo.
“A likely theory,” agreed Dr. Borg. “Open hailing frequencies one last time.”
“Frequencies open,” reported Jansha.
“Madam Rojam,” called Dr. Borg, “I presume your quarrel is with me. Kindly respond.”
“Happily!” snarled Reb Rojam’s voice. “Like an under-handed THIEF, you stole a sample of the Breath from my PERSONAL vaults!”
“I needed it for my own purposes,” replied Dr. Borg.
“Either way, you OWE me!” declared Reb. “Come out and face me or your PATHETIC base is leveled!”
“I think you’ll find,” remarked Dr. Borg, “my base is FAR from pathetic. Right now, I have 80,000 torpedoes and 5,000 mana-cannons aimed in your direction! If you don’t believe me, then have a scan and see that I’m not lying.” The base was bathed in green light for a few seconds before Melgem gave a response.
“This is an illusion,” he scoffed, “created by thaumic fields.”
“Take it from me,” replied Yulduk, “Dr. Borg’s technological prowess is no illusion!”
“…Why are you responding with a voice sample from Galthar’s old Collector?” asked Melgem.
“Meet your opponent at the beachhead and find out!” challenged Dr. Borg.
Melgem stood where the water continually washed onto the beach. He was still puzzling out why he heard Yulduk’s voice. Reb was on the sand, not wanting to risk the water washing away her slime. Dr. Borg then flew to them and landed with the usual grace of a Sprite, despite her mechanical limbs. “A weak fluttering creature is my opponent?” scoffed Melgem.
“Hardly, I’m fighting your wife before I deal with your corpse,” replied Dr. Borg.
“I’m not dead,” reminded Melgem.
“Give it time,” replied Yulduk’s voice as he jumped out of the trees and assumed a ready stance.
“…I could have SWORN I…” gasped Reb.
“Stabbed me in the head?!” snarled Yulduk. “You did! I remember it quite vividly!”
“Then how are you walking?” asked Melgem. “Come to think of it, how are you not roaring ‘Brains!’ over and over?”
“You assume I’m a Zombie!” growled Yulduk.
“Well, what else could you…” Melgem’s voice trailed as he formed a theory. “…No…no, that’s not possible! All of that black research was destroyed!”
“My ancestors worked on that project,” called Dr. Borg. “Did you think they wouldn’t make backups of their written work? Their proven and disproven theories, the steps they took to achieve their results, the hypotheses and conclusions, they were ALL copied several times over!”
“Melgem, sweetie, what ARE you two talking about?” asked Reb.
“Elves and Fae once theorized that there could be a way to bring the dead back to life and restore their minds,” explained Dr. Borg. “Eventually, they created such a beast, but at the cost of damage to the creators’ souls. When I recovered that research, I made my own theory. If the soul could have a patch applied, the creator can make more and restore the damage done to their soul. I created a device that digitized my soul and made me a new body in the event of death. With that completed, I need to see if the device could apply a patch to my soul in the event of damage. With Yulduk’s resurrection, I proved that theory!”
“As an added bonus,” continued Yulduk, “I was given the means to make more of me! Reb, I suppose I should thank you! If you didn’t kill me, I would never have gotten this opportunity! You look upon Revenant 2.0!”
“The only way that the prototype Revenant was made,” yelped Melgem, “was to talk to Oyed, the Dark Father! Dr. Borg, you’ve reduced yourself to being the Destroyer’s slave!”
“He has promised me,” dismissed Dr. Borg, “the opportunity of making an eternal empire and I see no need to disregard him. He may be many things, but a liar is NOT one of them!”
“You’re not trying to start that RIDICULOUS Final War, are you?!” shrieked Reb.
“As a matter of fact, yes!” confirmed Dr. Borg. “When it ends, the Final Age of Unity will begin! Both the Divine Ones and Oyed could see it and I see no reason to disregard that prophecy!”
“So where does our fight fit in to your grand design?” demanded Melgem.
“It doesn’t,” replied Dr. Borg. “Yulduk just needs some stress relief.”
“Oh?” quizzed Melgem.
“Let’s just say,” replied Yulduk, “I’ve got issues with you siding with Reb instead of your best friend.”
“My wife takes priority, as does the fleet,” dismissed Melgem.
“Then you will be martyred!” snarled Yulduk.
“Very well, then,” declared Melgem. “I hereby invoke the All-Elf Rules of…” Yulduk didn’t give him the chance to finish his invocation. He cartwheeled towards him, flinging a fireball with his feet at Melgem’s face, then delivered swift punches to his opponent’s ribs before throwing a haymaker that knocked Melgem into the water.
“He was invoking combat rules!” called Reb.
“Yulduk saw no need for rules,” chuckled Dr. Borg. Melgem tried to get up, spitting out water in the attempt, but was punched in the face repeatedly until he fell beneath the water. He tried to get up again, but Yulduk held him down by the neck. Melgem soon realized what was going on and panicked, thrashing around in the water, trying to get Yulduk to let go so he could breathe. Yulduk paid no attention, he just laughed as he held Melgem underwater, bent on drowning his former friend. Just then, Melgem’s fist ran straight between Yulduk’s legs and slammed into his privates, crushing them. Originally, Yulduk thought his new Revenant status made him immune to pain. He was proven wrong as he doubled over, his hands over his crotch as he cried out in pain. Melgem finally got up out of the water and took in a huge breath before using his natural Sea Elf abilities over water to make water balls slam into Yulduk’s head. Yulduk then grabbed Melgem’s arm and projected a blade of fire before swinging it through Melgem’s arm, causing the wound to cauterize as he threw the rest of the arm to the sea. Melgem howled in pain as he clutched his stump. Yulduk then grabbed Melgem’s leg and cut it off, then held Melgem by the shirt as he threw the leg away and then tore Melgem’s eye out.
“And, with that,” declared Yulduk, “my revenge is complete. You ruined me, so I ruined you!” He then threw Melgem to Reb. Reb caught him and laid him down while she cast a slow healing spell. Reb then stood up, compressed her slime into its suit form, and charged at Yulduk, her cutlass flashing in the sunset. Yulduk caught it, then snapped her arm. She collapsed, clutching her arm in pain as she screamed.
“What’s next?” asked Dr. Borg.
“An exchange,” replied Yulduk. “The Scarlet Stream pirates want their commanders back; they need to give us the burial torpedoes. If they don’t, then Reb and Melgem return to their pirates in a box.”
“Take them to the dungeons,” ordered Dr. Borg. “I’ll transmit the message.” Yulduk grabbed his prisoners and dragged them through the island’s forest while Dr. Borg gave the message.