Chapter 2WatchersThe now desolate area of space known as the Hishra system had been home to billions of life forms before the Imperial Alliance set its evil gaze upon it. In order to make an example to nearby systems a fleet of ships decimated each of the planets, one by one, until only the sun remained.The fear and panic that this system-wide extermination of life caused allowed the Alliance to conquer neighbouring systems with little resistance and granted them an area of space from which to keep all of their secrets, certain in the knowledge that no-one, but the Alliance would ever set foot inside the Hishra system again.And so a space station was built in this doomed system; a space station that would be known as The Imperial Archive. It contained the complete history of the Alliance as well as secrets from a thousand other worlds.A librarian was appointed from the ranks of The Imperial Master’s Executive Council. Someone the Imperial Master didn’t trust, and so therefore was perfect for a position that would mean isolation from the rest of the universe for the remainder of his life.Councillor Darlan was the person in question, and because of his cowardly self serving ways he saw his new assignment as a blessing. Darlan wasn’t much of a warrior and knew he would eventually meet his end if he was sent into combat. Being a member of The Executive Council was a dangerous enough game as it was, with many a member extinguished due to the Master’s dismay.He had spent countless years alone on this station with only a platoon of Termoids as company. There were a few alliance craft onboard, but Darlan had no access to them. Any attempt to escape would mean instant death for him, not that he wanted to escape. The matter unit onboard allowed him to indulge in the finer things of life when he was not at work. So he was quite happy being a watcher; viewing and compiling up-to-the-minute data from Imperial outposts across the galaxy, learning secrets that would one day make him Master.Today was like any other day over the past year. Transmissions were less frequent, Darlan was free, but instead of leaving he spent his days writing his book in the primitive language of Earth Basic. He even used pen and paper - synthesized from the matter unit, as he wanted his free thoughts to be ‘off the grid’. His writings were forming The Tomb of Gelma which would be he his key to power when the Master returned.Yes, Darlan’s time here had allowed him to foresee his return and he knew he would soon be under his control again. During the Master’s reign the computers onboard the archive were like a part of his brain; he could access the information and also detect if Darlan was searching for specific classified items in the database.But for now, Darlan could access everything and was recording deadly secrets into the Tomb that would one day rid him of The Imperial Master.In another part of the galaxy a robed woman was looking up at the stars. She watched as a shooting star flew past her field of vision. She smiled and thought that she should make a wish, but the smile turned into a frown as the one time Countess Akanida remembered her past.Akanida was now part of a religious order based on a large asteroid in the Uterra system. The order’s temple was carved into the interior of the asteroid and was able to sustain life. Those who walked the surface had to wear space suits, but not Akanida.She had spent her past life as an Imperial Alliance scientist carrying out experiments on many different life forms including herself. She could withstand harsh environments thanks to genetic engineering and cybernetic implants, but this had taken a toll on the once beautiful Countess and she bore terrible scars both physical and mental. She recalled all the damage she had done to others as well as herself and wept.She pulled down her hood to reveal her face. If you looked at Akanida from her left side, she was still very beautiful. her right side, however, was a horrific sight to behold thanks to centuries of cybernetic abuse and the trauma of a recent procedure she had carried out on herself. Free from the control of the Imperial Master the good and kind personality of her former self had returned, but much like Captain Carter, she was unable to carry the burden of all the wrong she had been forced to do and so she had ripped out her implant with her bare hands in the hope that she would die.Her dying body was found by a member of The Religious Order of Uterra and she was taken to their asteroid temple to heal in both body and mind.She would often go outside alone and just watch the stars thinking about her past as a healer, wondering if she would ever find peace. Night after night, she did this, but this would be the last time.She sensed someone behind her and turned around to be met by a pair of Termoids and Councillor Darlan embarking from an Alliance stealth craft.‘No!’ screamed Akanida, although no sound was heard in the vacuum of space.Darlan pressed a button on his claw arm and a life-supporting gravitational dome surrounded himself and Akanida, with a press of another button he held Akanida captive by changing the gravitational density around her.‘Countess Akanida!’ said Darlan, ‘I have a present for you.’ Darlan revealed a Keeper Mask, a device designed by Akanida herself, and used many times before to imprison people. It was most famously used by Commander Makara to punish Princess Keeli, but this model was special and would not only Imprison, but control!The two Termoids placed the Mask over Akanida’s face and after a brief struggle against The Imperial Master’s will, Countess Akanida had been once more converted for his pleasure.‘Councillor Darlan.’ said Akanida in an eerie electronic voice, ‘It has been a long time. I see you are still a snivelling excuse for a life form.’‘Flattery will get you nowhere my dear.’ said Darlan, ‘I take it you will be accompanying me to the Thalian Zone?’‘Yes.’ said Akanida, ‘After I finish some business below ground.’--- --- ---Later in his private chamber onboard the now Thalian-bound Imperial Archive, Councillor Darlan poured himself a glass of Gelma ale. The Imperial Master had once again taken control of him and had erased all memory of his year of freedom.Darlan sat in his seat and looked at the table; There was a large heavy book on it. He walked over and picked it up, the cover read: The Tomb of Gelma. Darlan started to read and smiled.
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