In a galaxy far away, a race of beings brought to the brink of extinction by a relentless enemy, search for some means of salvation as they travel the expanses of what used to be their empire. The Luvius empire, spanning entire galaxies was brought to near extinction by an enemy they themselves created by accident.The luvians, as they were called, comprised the majority of the empire, they were a race of intelligent humanoid organic beings, very much similar to the humans on Terra, which was in no way a coincidence. In it's time of glory the Luvius empire spanned entire galaxies controlling many planets. Their technology was hundreds of thousands of years more advanced than any other race.
The empire was ruled by the royal family an ageless council of luvians that managed to achieve eternal life. Nearly all of the royal family was killed by the enemy that haunted them and brought ruin to their empire. The last of the royal family members and the youngest now searches for some means to escape extinction. Princess Diana roams the territories of the empire, narrowly avoiding attracting the attention of their ruthless enemies. During their thousands of years of ruling the galaxy, the royal family engineered multiple ways to keep themselves ahead of other races, one of which would prove to be their salvation from extinction.
The princess leads one of the last remaining cruiser ships still suitable for space flight searching with the help of her visions for something that might save her empire. One such vision bring the princess and her retainers to one forgotten space station. A decrepit old place abandoned long before the empire collapsed. One of her retainers rushes to the princesses chambers to announce that they have arrive.
"Your highness" the young looking lady speaks through the cold metal door separating her from the princess, "may i enter?"
"You may" the princess lifts herself up from her bed, resting her pale white hand on her forehead, still slightly confused from the vision she just had. The maid enters the room announcing with a grim tone.
"We have arrived at the coordinates you provided you're highness, the whole space stations seems to be barely holding, it is really old, perhaps thousands of years old, perhaps even before the collapse of the empire." The princess rises from her bed, stumbling a little as the young maid rushes to help her.
"Are the knights ready to board it?" the princess asked, tapping a small necklace that was resting on her neck. It was the last memento of her mother, the queen of Luvius empire.
"Yes your highness, they are ready and waiting for you to order them. Knight August will lead them." The maid started undressing the princess, preparing her to speak to the boarding party.
"Tell them to assemble in the conference room, i will speak to them there" the princess lowered her head in thought whispering "i hope this vision has led us to a means of salvation."
The princess dressed in a pale blue dress, the natural fabric weaved in intricate forms, it matched perfectly with her pale white skin. Only the royal family was still able to wear clothes of this kind. Nearly all of the citizens of the empire now wore clothes made from synthetic fabric, which would be constructed immediately on demand by nanobots kept in the small identification bracelet every citizen wore.
The knight gathered in the conference room of the cruiser, waiting for the princess to give them their orders. One man stood out from the rest, his name August, he was one of the few remaining praetorian knight, tasked with protecting the remaining royalty members. He was a tall man, his arms bulky, his face betrayed a rough yet loyal demeanor. His loyalty was only matched by his prowess in combat. The door to the conference room opens and the princess walks in her grace inspiring the knights to salute. Turning to August she speaks in a firm tone.
"Sir August, my visions have pointed to this station as one containing a hint that will help in our fight for survival", a hologram of the space station forms above the conference table. The knight's faces light up as this was probably one of the first good news they had in quite a long time.
"You're highness", knight August speaks looking closer at the hologram, "do we know anything about this space station? I am a bit worried, we do not know if there are any dreqs in this sector, or what we may find on this station."
"Unfortunately my visions only point in the direction of something that might help us, the ghostly figure does not show or say anything else", the princess shakes her head looking down. "But he has helped us avoid being caught by the dreqs so far, i can only believe that there is something here."
The apparition the princess was talking about, a man that looked almost similar to the luvians in appearance, except for his ears which were not long and pointy. This being always appeared clad in light and incorporeal, it would have a gentle look on its face and point in the direction where the princess should head next almost always also offering her a vision of her destination. The princess felt compassion from this being and felt that it could be trusted. It has, many times, guided her in avoiding the dreqs that were waiting for prey to cross their path. The princess spoke again in a reassuring tone.
"Sir August, prepare a team and board the station with caution, i will come with you in astral form. Nara, please prepare the astral device, the princess turned to her aide. And make sure the whole crew is ready for combat. There's no telling what we may find there or what might find us in the meantime."
"Yes your highness", Nara bows to the princess before darting out of the conference room. Knight August also leaves heading for the combat barracks to prepare taking the other knights with him as well. The princess now left alone takes a moment to gather her thoughts, her mind filled with worry, was this really going to help, can she really trust that mysterious being. Even though she has seen it in visions and dreams since she was a young child, she has seen it grow at the same pace as her, that was the only thing that she really knew about it. It always appeared with a calm demeanor, always with a kind and gentle look on it. Always pointing the road that avoided danger.
Diana makes her way to the astral room, reassuring herself that there is something on that space station worth the risks. Along the way she commands the space ship's artificial intelligence Sirus.
"Sirus, calculate the safest possible route into the space station also scan it for any signs of life. I do not want anything to jump us by surprise while we are there. A voice resounds in the corridor she was walking through almost like it was coming out of the walls.
"As you wish princess, might i suggest we i don't know, just leave? It seems an awful lot of trouble when there might not even be anything there. My preliminary scans show that almost everything in there has turned to dust. The station seems to have lost it's astral shield quite some time ago and many of the rooms have been bombarded by space debris."
The princess reached her destination, the room where the astral device was located. Before entering she turned and said.
"There is a reason i was guided here, i trust that this risk we are taking will not be without any gain. Transmit the route to Sir August as well", the door closed as she entered.
Nara had already prepared the device, that looked something like a bed encased in a capsule of glass, the glass was flickering and blue crystal shaped formations were appearing and disappearing on it. The bed itself was formed of a white metal frame that pulsed a golden color every few seconds and a white mattress that was littered with small blue dots. Diana approached and the glass seemed to melt and bend to open the capsule. As she sat down on the bed and closed her eyes another vision overcame her, the same ghostly man appeared again, he pointed in a direction with a look of worry on his face, she knew it meant trouble. He then took her hand and in a blink she was in another place, she saw it, the dreqs were rapidly heading in the direction of her ship, that meant they didn't have much time, the man nodded and released her from the vision. She opened her eyes and spoke with a firm voice.
"Sirus, prepare for immediate departure upon the boarding team's return. The dreqs are heading our way and we do not have much time."
"Oh my", the voice resounded through the whole room. "I knew this was a bad idea. Princess, should we not just leave now, while the ship is still intact?"
"No, we must find out the reason we were guided here." The princess, laying on the astral device, closed her eyes again as the glass encased her. The blue dots started pulsating, her body rose a bit above the mattress, levitating and her astral form appeared right next to the device. A ghostly incorporeal form. It had the same shape as the princess but being made out of astral energy it could not interact with the physical world nor could anything from the physical world affect her and if she so desired, nothing in the physical world could see her form either. Only the members of the royal family were able to use the astral form, a convenient power that allowed them to see and visit locations without any danger to their physical self. This power was often used in the battles the empire fought. Using it to guide their armies to the best possible outcome. The princess turned to Nara and spoke with a troubled tone.
"You know what to do in case of an emergency."
"But your highness, if your astral form is too far from your physical body you might never wake up. You will be lost in the dark universe." Nara said in a worried tone.
"It will be alright, he will guide me back." Diana smiled, knowing he will always appear when she needs him. "Sirus, are Sir August and the knights ready?"
"They are waiting for you at the airlock your highness, i have transmitted the best possible and safe entry point into the space station." The artificial intelligence answered displaying a hologram with the information in front of the princess.
"Very well" the princess turned and her astral form disappeared.
"May luck favor us princess", whispered Nara looking worried at the astral device.
"I am about as worried as you as Nara", the a.i. spoke, "and i'm not even alive, sometimes i wonder if they gave me too much emotion."
Sir August was waiting at the airlock double checking that his weapon was ready for combat and deliberating with the other knights what their actions once inside the space station will be.
"Knights", he looked up from his weapon. "We will split up in 3 squads. I will lead squad one, knight Romis will lead squad two and knight Rea will lead squad three."
"Yes prefect", the two answered at the same time. The praetorian prefect was the leader of the Praetorians, royal bodyguards tasked with advising and protecting the royal family.
"Squad one and squad three will accompany the princess and look for any and all clues that might help us", August continued, "we don't know what exactly we might find inside or if there is anything hostile there so squad two will remain at the entry point and defend it", he turned and looked at Romis, "keep the telepathic communication to a minimum unless you detect any activity", August felt the need to express that. Romis was the type of person that always talked too much, at first being amusing and interesting, but degenerating into slightly annoying, especially since he enjoyed bragging very much.
"Might i intervene prefect", Romis spoke up, "can't the princess just scout the space station herself?" he asked with a smirk.
"Your lack of respect for royalty is very unpleasant Romis, princess Diana will scout ahead with her astral body but that doesn't mean we will be far behind", August face took a worried look, "we don't yet know if there's anything there that might be able to damage her astral body."
"I still don't understand how you ended up a knight", Rea spoke with a disgusted look.
"Same way you did, being good in a fight and staying alive", Romis spoke with a smile on his face while testing his weapon.
"Enough you two", August said sternly. " And try to keep the banter to a minimum in her highnesses presence."
All the regular knights were equiped with a standarg plasma rifle and a standard knight ring blade.. August however was equiped, besides his plasma rifle, with what he called a grahak ring blade, a two handed weapon that was custom made for him. Romis wielded instead of the regular ring weapon a pair of plasma pistols, his agility allowed him to hold his own in close range combat even without a melee weapon. Rea herself used a plasma shotgun and a ring rapier only she knew how she ended up combining the brutal shotgun with the elegant rapier. Ring weapons were something only knights of the Luvius empire wielded. In its self the weapons were merely a projection of astral energy focused in the form of a melee weapon. They were called ring weapons because a special made ring was the central part of the weapon and was used to model the astral energy in weapon form and maintain it that way. Every knight was also equipped with a standard combat suit that also doubled as a space suit.
The princess materialized near the airlock, slightly surprising the knights.
"Is everybody ready sir August?" The princess asked while looking at the knights.
"Yes and Sirus has calculated the best entry point. We do not know if the space ship's airlocks or anything else for that matter is still functional so we are going to enter through one of the holes made by meteorites."
"This thing's filled with more holes than a carak", Romis laughed. A carak was a delicacy in the Luvius empire, made from fermented covy milk that was solidified and in that process it was left with hundreds of small holes.
"That's an exaggeration", Rea scoffed, "if it had that many holes we wouldn't need to search it because nothing would be left working."
"Can't you understand a joke?" Romis face turned sour.
"Enough you two", August said sternly. "I told you to keep the chatter to a minimum"
"It's alright sir August", Diana smiled, "it's refreshing to see that people can still bicker in these dark times we're going through."
"See? Even her highness wants us to loosen up", romis smiled.
"Just stay alert of your surroundings", August sighted.
"Sirus" Diana called the artificial intelligence, "open the airlock".
"Your highness" August spoke with a stern expression, "we don't know if there is anything there that could damage your astral body, i urge you to stay close to us and in case you are in any danger please release your astral form."
"It will be alright sir August, what we need to worry about is that the dreqs are heading this way, we must hurry."
"We're boarding a decrepit space station looking for something we have no idea what it is or where it is, what's there to worry about" Romis spoke sarcastically.
"Romis! Don't you ever shut up" Rea slapped the back of his head.
"Enough!" August shouted, remember in who's presence you are.
"Yes prefect" both Rea and Romis responded at the same time.
"Let's go" the airlock opened as August said that. "You all know where to head, follow your helmet's display."
The distance between the airlock and the point of entry on the space station was approximately tree hundred meters. All of the knights jumped into the black darkness of space, heading for the entry point with August leading the way followed immediately by Rea and Romis, the princess herself following right behind them. The space station itself was truly falling apart. Much bigger than the cruiser class ship near it, formed of two rings connected to and rotating around a central pillar, It was battered beyond recognition by meteor showers, in some parts you could see the inside as sections of it had been blown apart and the rings have long since stopped moving. They could only hope that what they were looking for wasn't in one of the sections that was destroyed. The station was completely dark with no apparent signs of life. As they touched down at the entry point it seemed like the whole place was creaking and groaning and could fall apart at any moment. The princess took lead and waited for all the knights to reach the entry point. After all of them had landed they split up in three different squads.
"Romis, if you detect any activity report it immediately, August turned to Rea, "our objective is to scout the space station, report anything that you might find out of the ordinary."
"Yes prefect" both of them responded. Joking aside both Rea and Romis were very capable knights and knew when they were to be serious and cautious.
"Your highness, any idea where we should head first?" August turned to the princess.
"Sirus could not find any information on the space station, so we have no idea what exactly was it's purpose" Diana spoke looking ahead. "Let's scout ahead perhaps we can figure out something."
"Understood your highness" August saluted.
"Have fun Rea" Romis joked, "don't get eaten".
"We'll all get eaten if the dreq's get here" Rea replied with a worried tone.
As they made their way through the decrepit corridors of the space station, the lack of light exacerbated the feeling of dread, who knew what was lurking in the shadows. Walking slowly and cautiously the princess and her knights looked for any clues that may help them. The station had been abandoned for so much time that nothing worked, the corridors were littered with remains of electronic equipment, broken pieces of the station itself. Some corridors were more intact than others, some were littered with holes from the meteor bombardment that the station no doubt endured. Most of the rooms they investigated looked like some sort of laboratories, equipment was broken and scattered everywhere. Many of them seemed to have been abandoned in haste yet with nothing really important left behind, not to mention that every piece of equipment looked terribly outdated by current empire standards. In one of the laboratories they found remnants of humanoid creatures, long since decayed with only bones remaining and even those appeared to crumble at the slightest touch. Some were caged showing that perhaps they were part of whatever experiments took part there, others had perhaps escaped as in some other rooms there were signs of nests being build, perhaps the creatures had escaped and thrived for a time but unfortunately the lack of food had long since driven them to extinction. Other rooms features weaponry, some that looked like prototypes for the weapons currently used by the empire which meant that perhaps some of the people working here had escaped and brought their knowledge to the empire or perhaps the empire itself was involve and yet there was no data available about this space station or perhaps it was just another secret lost in the long history of the empire.
They made their way through heading towards the center of the station, one particular room caught the princesses attention. The room was dark and foreboding, emanating the madness that had occurred inside. As they entered their flashlights lighted the walls that were smeared with blood dried perhaps centuries ago, claw and bite marks littered every part of the room and in the center the remains of a single humanoid creature, who knew what it had been through in it's last moments.
"This is pretty gruesome" Rea said looking around.
"It seems these creatures escaped the laboratories and took to living here since they had nowhere to go" said August "princess we shouldn't dwindle here".
"Princess?" Rea asked looking at the princess as she was lost in thoughts looking at the creature in the middle of the room.
"The lack of food drove them to madness" Diana said, her words were filled with sadness, she turned and looked at the corner of the room.
There an even grizzlier scene awaited her, multiple humanoid bones thrown haphazardly in a a pile, all thoroughly chewed, some broken looking as if the marrow was sucked out of them, these creatures in their desperate atempt to survive resorted to cannibalism. The scene that had played out in this station was indeed gruesome , these creatures escaped their confinement, those that could, thrived on whatever food they found and then they slowly fell into cannibalism preying on each other until only one was left to die, in the end, of starvation.
"Princess we should continue on" said Rea
"Yes, this room is still emanating emotions of madness, it's not wise to linger here for long" the princess turned and left the room followed by the other knights.
Moving along with their search towards the center of the space station they saw the remains of the battles between groups of the humanoid creatures, corridors scarred with claw marks that seemed a bit too big to belong to the creatures, August approaced one of the claw marks to examin it.
"This seems too big to have been done by those creatures" he remarked as he extended his hand and touched the mark.
"Indeed but what else could have made these" Rea agreed.
"I can sense traces of astral energy" the princess approaced the mark. "This is incredible, is this what he wanted me to find?"
"Astral energy? Princess do you mean these creatures might have had astral abilities?" August asked perplexed, "that can't be possible."
"I do not know" replied the princess "but something here definitely used astral energy."
"Not possible, not possible, Rea said waving her hand denying "you must be mistaken your highness."
"Perhaps, let us proceed." Diana moved ahead followed by the knights.
The rest of their journey to the center of the space station was uneventful to say the least, the only thing dangerous was the oppresive, dark atmosphere that screamed of madness. Scattered remains of long since fought battles littered many of the corridors and rooms. After much walking they reached one door that they could not get past. The princess tried going through the door only to be pushed back by some sort of energy. Rea and August approached the princess.
"This door seems to block even my astral form." said the princess.
"How is that possible." August said approaching the door.
The door itself was mostly unharmed with absolutely to damage visible anywhere, unimaginable considering for how long it has been there.
"Your highness, there seems to be a functional device here." Rea said pointing to a device on the left of the door.
Diana approached the device, it was a curious thing, two concentric circles stuck to the wall with a small chrystal in the middle and their edges rimmed, as soon as the princess aproached, it sprung to life, the inner circle moving clock-wise and the other moving the oposite way. A small female figure was projected from the chrystal.
"Astral energy detected" said the small figure, "Due to certain events access to the inner sanctum has been placed on lockdown and access has been restricted to members of the royal family only. To access please project your astral form in front of the door lock for scanning." The princess moved in front of the device that projected the small figure.
"Astral form detected, scanning."
"How is this thing still working" Rea said.
"I'm more curious how Sirus didn't detect it" said August.
"Perhaps it was in a dormant state." Diana explained.
"Scan complete, subject not found in the royal family database. Executing command C1" the small figure dissappeared and in it's place a new one appeared, this time of an elderly man, he was dressed in clothes that scientists wore, his face showed fatigue even through the thick eyebrows and the beard that covered half of his face. After a second the small figure delivered it's message.
"I wonder how many eons have passed since this station has been abandoned? Has my research helped, have we defeated the dreqs. Perhaps not since an unknown member of the royal family stands before the fruits of my life. Tell me member of the royal family has our empire fallen enough to accept my research? Has the empire lost enough to not care about etics anymore? Go inside, you will find the path to that which you seek if you are more open minded than the last royal family members." As the small figure faded the door started dematerializing in the same way as ring weapons did.
"Well damn" Rea said "We did find something."
"This is indeed promising" August moved closer to the door. "Romis, we may have found something." He spoke with the knight left to guard the entrance.
"Well it seems they found us as well" Romis said, "Sirus just notified me that the dreqs have detected us, they gained speed and are heading straight for us."
"Your highness, we have to hurry." August said.