IGDC Basilisk, Bridge
Captain Thryyn had been having what many would call a bad day. First, her sensors team finds a Gate break happening in a previously unexplored region of space, threatening the lives of millions of sentients.
Now her Strike Team leader is MIA after telling the rest of his team to help evacuate natives while he holds off an Angel, by himself.
She sighed. It had been nearly an hour since Roko sent his team out of the Gate, and while he hadn’t returned, the Angel had also not exited the gate. This could only mean one thing.
They were still fighting. The last time an Angel appeared, it took about this long to bring it down, but that was with full emplaced support and multiple teams working together, so even if Roko is currently the most skilled fighter in the force, its ridiculously unlikely he wou-
“Captain! The Gate’s closing!” shouted Quinn, staring at his sensor readings. “The energy signature is gone, too!”
“What did you just say?” Thrynn responded.
“The energy readings from the Gate have all gone away!”
“Comms, get me a line down to Viper, now!”
Soon a holo-screen appeared in front of Thrynn, showing Roko’s second, Karn, looking solemnly forward.
“What is it, Captain? Has the Angel gotten past Roko?” he asked, face straight as his training kept his emotions from showing.
“Quite the opposite, apparently. Quinn up here says the Gate’s been closed, and the Angel’s readings are gone with it.”
Karn’s eyes widened. “You don’t mean…”
“Don’t get too excited, Karn. There is zero chance he came back from that fight in any condition close to being called ‘okay’. IF he’s still alive, he’ll definitely need medical attention. Get over there, now!”
For as long as he could remember, Roko had a passion for blades.
Ever since he was a child, and his mother had shown him how to hold a training sword, they fascinated him. He trained his whole life to fight with blades, and luckily enough for him, he was born a generation after the first Gates appeared, right when melee weapon prowess became a needed skill again.
So, after finishing high school, he joined the IGDC, following in the footsteps of his mother, one of the first strike team captains. His natural talent combined with the hellish effort he put into training himself paid off, and he quickly rose up the ranks, eventually coming to lead his own strike team, Viper.
When people asked him how he was so skilled at fighting, he gave them the standard explanation, that being years of training and a good bit of talent, but he always felt like there was something else. Something he had that others didn’t, or at least weren't conscious of.
Whenever he was fighting with a blade, it felt like a part of him. His various instructors loved to speak about treating the blade as an extension of his body, but for Roko, when he was fighting, it really was an extension of his body.
Additionally, his instincts seemed nearly supernatural. Many instructors he worked with, as well as team members in the IGDC made jokes about him having eyes in the back of his head, given how quickly and easily Roko dodged attacks that seemed like he shouldn’t be able to see.
Sadly, the human body does indeed have limits, and a few years into his time as captain of strike team Viper, he could feel his skills plateauing. No matter how much he trained, or how many monstrosities he fought, he was stuck.
Until the fight with the Angel. That fight had unlocked something deep inside him, and as he stared up in his own mind at the immaterial being in front of him, he could only wonder what was about to happen next.
Back in reality, Roko was found in a pile of rubble, and brought back to the temporary IGDC base they’d been setting up after communications with local governments had become more smooth in recent hours, and they were allowed to drop in prefabricated base modules near where Viper was dropped.
The medical personnel were shocked at what they saw as they examined Roko. Nearly every bone in his body had hairline fractures from excessive stress at a minimum, more fractures near the ribs where Roko had taken a full blow from the Angel. Additionally, his muscles were shredded, seemingly from being used past their safe capacity, a documented phenomena seen most often in people in dire circumstances, where the body temporarily lifts the restrictions it puts on muscles so they don't tear themselves apart.
But none of that was what was surprising.
In the records, Roko was 28 years old. But as they did more tests, everything they got back seemed to point to him being several years older, in the low to mid 30s. He had seemingly aged several years, with no discernible cause.
And that wasn’t the only weird thing. He was also healing at a nearly visible rate. After stabilizing him with blood transfusions, closing open wounds and setting bones into positions for resting and healing up, they checked in on him after several hours and all of his surface wounds and various scratches had closed. His eyes had already scarred over, as well.
When he finally awoke, it was the next day.
Immediately, he called a nurse, and had her send a message up to the Basilisk to get him a secure line back to his mother, now one of the Head Directors of the IGDC.
He sat up as a holoscreen came to life in front of him, and his mother, an unsurprisingly imposing figure, given her status, appeared on screen.
“Damn, you look like shit.” she stated, flatly.
Roko couldn’t help but laugh.
“Wow, your son almost dies and that’s how you greet him?” he replied, feigning sadness.
“You? Almost died? Only way I’d believe that is if you were up against -”
“- an Angel” he finished for her.
Her eyes widened.
“Really? You fought an Angel?”
“Yep, killed it too. Though, it took my eyes, and it feels like my whole body is a broken bone right now.”
“Wow. I didn’t think you could surprise me anymore, but you’ve actually managed to do it. I’m proud, son. You saved a lot of lives.”
“Thanks, mom,” he said, sighing. “But that’s not all I called you about.”
“I thought so, if it was just that you'dve waited until you healed to call me. What is it?”
“Well, I figured out why the monsters are immune to certain attacks.”
“WHAT?” she shouted, nearly jumping from her chair.
“Calm down, this is a bit of a long story. Let’s start from the beginning.”
And so began a near day-long conversation between mother and son, one that would have immeasurable consequences for the future of the galaxy as a whole.
As the sun began to set, the two family members said their goodbyes, and things began to move into motion.
Roko’s door chimed, and a nurse walked in.
“Captain Roko, you have a visitor. A native. She says you saved her life, and she’s been really insistent about getting to thank you face to face.”
“A native, huh. Well, not like I've got anything else to do while I rest up. You can send her in.”
“Alright, and don’t worry about translation, i’ll give her a portable one.” the nurse said, before giving a short nod and leaving.
Soon after, a native walked in. Roko had seen many while clearing the monsters out of the city, but Roko had been much too focused on the mission to really take a good look.
Now, while he was still getting used to his newfound eyeless sight, he could make out much more detail. They had a humanoid body shape, though the hands ended in four fingers rather than five. They were covered in a thin layer of mostly gray fur, though Roko thought he had seen some patterning on the people in the city. The most striking feature, however, was the head. The natives had shallow, feline-esque noses, four eyes, two main and two smaller, and large, thin, upwards pointing ears that reminded him of a jackal.
While Roko studied the native he had a realization.
“Wait, I think I remember you…”
The native's eyes widened.
“You were the one that got chased out of the city, by those three ravagers. I had Allaria fly you back to the town. How was the flight?”
“It was, uhh, good? I guess?” she responded, seemingly very anxious, and slightly confused..
“Ahh, I came here to thank you. For saving me.” she said, bowing deeply.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s my job.”
“But look how injured you are! I don’t know if I could ever repay you.”
“Listen, you don’t have to. I do this because I want to, and because someone needs to. Until we figure out what causes the Gates, and how to stop them, I’ll keep fighting.”
The native was silent for a bit, and then, after steeling herself, began speaking again.
“Now I feel a bit selfish for coming here, “ she laughed, nervously.
“My whole family died in that city, and I - I wanted revenge, you know? I planned on coming in here and begging you to train me, so I could get back at those monsters, but listening to you now, I.. I feel almost petty.” she said, looking down at her hands.
“Hey now, “ he responded, “don’t beat yourself up about it. Your feelings are completely understandable. I’d say a good half of my team joined the IGDC for revenge reasons. The scars left by Gate breaks run deep anywhere people live. If you want to fight, I say you should. But don’t stay fighting for revenge. That's a hollow goal, especially since the specific monsters that killed your loved ones are already dead. I will train you, if you can find another goal, and show me the necessary determination.”
She looked up. “Really? What... what goal should I have?”
“Well, there’s one staring you in the face. Do you think anyone else should have to go through what you did? Losing all their loved ones to horrifying beasts?”
“Well then make that your goal. Fight to stop what happened to you from happening to more people. How old are you, in terms of like, adulthood, by the way?”
“I was one year away from going to university, and am already considered an adult.”
“Alright, then here’s the plan. Due to some things I discovered in the Gate, I’m going to be busy. Like, really busy, for the next several years. I’ll pull some strings, get you set up for IGDC cadet training. By the time you finish, I should be done with what’s keeping me busy, and I’ll be setting up a new special unit. I’ll need determined cadets to train myself. If you make it through cadet school, I’ll see you there.”
The native closed her eyes and bowed again. “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. By the way, what’s your name?”
“Ah! I never introduced myself. I’m Krana Eluun.”
“I’m Roko Kal. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it seems I have another visitor.”
Krana perked up, and turned around, to see another being in the doorway, much larger than the human.
“I’ll take my leave then, “ she said, ducking out of the room around the new visitor.
“Damn, Roko. You look like shit.” the new visitor said, grabbing a chair and sitting down next to Roko’s bed.
“You know, my mother said exactly the same thing when I gave her a call.”
“Heh. Of course she did. Exactly like her. You really gonna train that native?”
“Karn, if you could see what I can see now, you would know why I want to train her.”
“So you can see without eyes now, huh. I guess that’s not much of a step up in believability from extradimensional invaders miraculously impervious to most weapons, huh?”
“No, not really, huh. It’s a very… interesting way to see. In some ways I lack detail, and in others I can grasp much more. It seems to be improving over time, but I could always get implants if it turns out this isn’t great.”
“Hoping that doesn’t come to pass, those eye scars look badass.”
Roko chuckled. “Thanks, Karn. Actually, I’m glad you’re here, I have something important to tell you.”
Karn’s lighthearted expression faded. “What is it?”
“As of today, for the foreseeable future, you are hereby promoted to Captain of Strike Team Viper.”
Karn’s eyes went wide. “What?”
“I’m not going to be on the front lines in any official capacity for the next four years, Karn. I’ll be developing things with the information I gained in the fight with the Angel. Working with R&D and such. I think you’re the most qualified to lead the team while I’m gone.”
Karn was silent for a while. “Thanks for your trust, Roko. I won’t let you down.”
“You better not. I don’t wanna be the guy who’s team collapsed after he left for a couple years. Go inform the others. I’ve already had the Director put the info in the system.”
“Alright. Get some rest, Roko. You’ve certainly earned it.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.”