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The Secret of Arias

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1462, Unclaimed Space.

A little over two hundred years ago chaos had reigned throughout this tiny portion of the galaxy. Two ancient powers, who had fought on and off for untold millennia, had risen from their slumber to once more to do battle. As always they did not seek to destroy each other, but rather their war was one of competing ideology as they each sought to guide the younger races down the path they believed to be correct. Now, the war over, but knowing it would resume again soon one of those races had ventured out in secret to create powerful servants to fight for it in the next war.

Above a primitive blue-green world, two massive Vorlon ships hung in space, appearing to the inhabitants of that world as little more than small, but bright, stars. The people of this primitive world were very susceptible to superstition and omen and the sudden appearance of the new stars had been taken as a sign that their gods were smiling on them. Astrologers and soothsayers from two dozen empires gathered their star charts and made predictions of what was to come. On this small world, wars could be started for much less, and this time was no exception.

The Vorlons however, were oblivious to these happenings, they had more important problems. The larger of the two vessels, the gigantic research ship, was dying. Across much of its green hull, patches of darkness had appear, spreading like some horrible disease down the thick veins of energy that ran through the organic metal. In two places the hull had already buckled, exploding outwards as the metal crumbled and the pressure of the atmosphere inside broke through.

The smaller of the ships, a kilometre long battle cruiser hung back from the research ship, as if it feared catching the disease that had stricken its larger cousin. In the council chambers of the battle cruiser five Vorlons had gathered. Four were scientists who had, until recently, been stationed on board the research vessel, now force to flee in the face of their creation's fury. The last was an Elder, sent from the Vorlon homeworld to carry the wisdom of Vorlons from across the Empire.

The Elder faced off against the others, scientists who had conducted experiments on a creature taken from the world below, a creature they had raised from birth to serve as a warrior against their ancient enemy. Had the Elder been human, it would have sighed with disappointment. Instead, it could only sing its anger. "I warned you," it sang, the normally musical tones carrying an undercurrent of disapproval. "They are too primitive. You could never hope to control them, yet still you tried. In time they will serve, when they have outgrown their violent nature. But now they are not ready, and the council must deal with your mistake."

The other Vorlons bowed in submission, their pain visible in their glowing auras. "We will talk to the warrior," the leader of the scientists sang. "It must agree to reason. We will explain to it the reasons for our actions and convince it to follow the path of order once more. It will follow if we lead."

The Elder was not so sure. "You have created something that could destroy us all. Worse, you have betrayed the order you sought to serve. It will not talk, it can not sing with us, it will only destroy. You sought to defeat the darkness but you have created something worse instead, a creature that does not feel remorse for the deaths it causes. This one will not serve our cause, only defeat it."

"What must we do," the scientists sang sadly.

The Elder considered the problem. "Soon it will tire of its rage and wish to return to the world below, and if we do not agree to its demands, it will come to end our existence. If we return it to the planet, then it will cause destruction unlike anything ever seen there before. It knows many things its kind were never meant to know. If returned, it will use this knowledge to advance its people far beyond what can be allowed, far beyond what we wish them to become. They are still a violent species, constantly warring amongst each other. The warrior you created possesses knowledge which will only make these wars worse, and then, when it has conquered its world it will reach for the stars, seeking to conquer that which we guard."

"You must do what must be done," the Elder sang. "The council has made a decision. To save all, one of us must die. Those who do not choose to die must live forever with the knowledge of what their mistake has cost. Choose now, and choose wisely."

One of the scientists flew slowly forward, although he was careful not to come to close to the Elder and appear disrespectful. "I will go," he sang with sudden determination. "Let it take me instead of another. I will give my life freely so the cause may be saved."

The Elder appeared to consider this before responding. "It is agreed," he sang sadly. "You must meet with the warrior, and agree to its demands. Then you must give your life so that we may be saved. Only then will your mistakes be repaired."

The scientist bowed low in submission, knowing now that the others would not be punished for their mistakes. It would, however, be forced to face a nightmare of its own making, one that could kill even the most powerful Vorlon with little effort. As the Elder returned to its encounter suit the scientist recalled the effort that had been put into creating the warrior.

The idea, like so many others, had been good. Create a powerful warrior to fight the darkness, one that would be invulnerable to any weapon or energy. For two centuries ten scientists had worked on the primitive planet, searching for one who might serve as their warrior when the darkness returned and the war resumed. Finally, one had been found, young as its kind measured things, but strong of mind, body, and most importantly, faith. From the moment of its birth the Vorlon's had spoken to it, guiding the young warrior to become a leader, a soldier. It had surpassed all of their expectations, becoming a warrior of skill and compassion.

But, as often happened, things did not all go well for the warrior. Although it was strong and skilful it was also deeply religious and believed the lies that were told to it by its elders. Finally after winning the war it had fought so hard, it was captured by the enemy of its nation and sentenced to death. But, before the sentence could be carried out, the Vorlons had come, alone in the night, when the others of the warrior's kind lay sleeping.

There, in that dark dingy cell, they had offered it a choice, to live and serve them, or to go to its death the next morning, burning in the fire its enemies had planned for it. Believing the Vorlons to be agents of its god, the warrior had chosen to live - and to serve - as the Vorlons knew it would. Transporting it to the research ship, they had begun to alter it, slowly over many years, creating their ultimate warrior.

However, things started to go wrong. The Vorlons, in their attempt to create the ultimate weapon, made a basic error. They had made it too intelligent! As its intelligence grew, so did the warrior's disdain for both the Vorlons and their cause. Then, finally, just three weeks ago, it had broken out of its cell and, through its newly enhanced senses, saw the Vorlons as they truly were.

The warrior's rage was incredible. For thirty one years it had served the Vorlons on their ship, allowing itself to be altered because it believed they were messengers of its god. Now, seeing the Vorlons for the first time without their disguises, the warrior 'knew' them to be demons sent to trick it. In the ensuing battle, six of the ten scientists had been killed and the other four had fled in one of the research ship's transports.

Now, with the Elder's arrival, and with it, the decision from the Vorlon homeworld, another of the scientists was to die. This death was to be an act of self sacrifice, a giving of life so the cause could continue. Reaching the edge of the council chambers the doomed scientist commanded the cruiser's outer hull to become opaque, so it could look down on the vessel that had been its home for the past two hundred years.

Soon the huge research vessel would die, plunging into the atmosphere of the world below, no doubt providing another omen for the world's astrologers to debate. It had been suggested that the warrior be left to fall with it, but the scientist knew that would not work. A creature as powerful as the one they had created would not die that easily. Then the Elder had suggested another plan, one that stung the scientist's soul even to think of it, but it was the only possibility available.

The warrior, who strength was such that it could destroy entire worlds, must be imprisoned. A distant world had been found, one where no sentient life existed. There it would be sent, to be locked away from the universe forever. It was a sad end to a once noble creature of order, but the Vorlons saw no other option. Soon the scientist would sacrifice its life, providing the final key in the lock that would enchain their greatest creation, but also imprison their greatest threat.



Alone in chaos of Hyperspace, the large yellow-green shape of a Vorlon transport stood out like a beacon against the red mists that swirled around it. Looking closer, it was possible to see the living ship was slowly dying, its formerly brightly coloured organic hull was now covered with dark patches. It appeared that the organic metal of the hull had been drained of the life energy that normally flowed through it, and dark cracks were now beginning to form on the normally smooth hull.

Inside, things were even worse. The once beautiful veins of energy that had fed power across the ship were thick with darkness, their life and strength long gone. The transport's Vorlon master was still alive, but even it was feeling the effect of being so close to the monster that sat calmly at the back of the command deck. The Vorlon scientist was hidden within it's encounter suit, but even that could not protect it from the warrior who was clearly enjoying tormenting both the Vorlon and the ship.

The Vorlon already knew it was dying, as was the ship, but there would be time yet to end the nightmare it had helped to create. This would be the last trip it, or its companion transport ever took, but it was perhaps the most important journey of its long life. Failure was not an option, that would mean the destruction of order the Vorlons sought to create across this small part of the galaxy. Instead the chaos of war would erupt and the darkness would have found a powerful new ally of the Vorlon's own making.

The creature that rested comfortably on the ship's navigation console, its wiry arms tucked behind its head, was the embodiment of all that the Vorlons sought to fight. They had tried to create a creature of order, but instead what had been born out of the fire and conflict they had put it through was a being of chaos, one that cared nothing for the lives it took. Having seen the true face of the Vorlons, it no longer obeyed them, no longer feared them. Instead, it now sought to destroy them.

The scientist felt a sudden chill running through its entire being and knew, without having to look around, that the warrior had arisen from its rest. Cat-like it padded across the floor, its bare feet leaving behind swirls of darkness wherever they touched the organic metal. "When do we arrive, Vorlon," it asked in the tongue of its people. "I grow bored with this endless waiting."

The Vorlon turned to face the warrior - and its own fear - while at the same time trying to avoid shuddering. It felt a painful pull on its life-force as the pale-skinned warrior drew closer. The warrior smiled up at the scientist, and with dark humour increased the drain on the ship and the Vorlon, tearing away even more energy. "Soon," the Vorlon sang, its translator converting the beautiful song into the harsh language of the warrior's people.

"Good," the warrior replied leaving the side of the Vorlon to return to its makeshift seat. "When we get there you will leave me in peace. I never want to see another of your kind on my world ever again. We will serve as your slaves no longer, I will see to that."

The Vorlon turned to follow the warrior's path, the small iris in the head of its encounter suit clicking open and shut as it observed the warrior. "We only seek to help you," it sang, trying one last time to convince the warrior of the purity of the cause. "Soon the darkness will return, and your world will be in its path. The people you seek to protect will fall into darkness and fire, and your holy cause will be lost amid the destruction."

The warrior yawned, stretching its limbs as if tired, which of course it wasn't. It was never tired, not any more. "I have heard all this before, Vorlon. Your arguments no longer convince me. I have fought a holy war much of my life, why should I fight now in yours, especially when my people need to be helped into the light of God."

"You must," the Vorlon sang. "The darkness will destroy your people as much as mine. We have tried to help your people in the past, sheltered them from those who sought to kill them. We seek to aid you, not destroy you."

The warriors dark eyes narrowed, and almost seemed to gleam in the light. "My people will fight the darkness as they will fight you. With this technology that you have given me I will raise my people into the light, free them from the chains that bind them. I now have the power to right the wrongs that have been done, to bring the radiance of God to the entire galaxy, destroying all those who follow evil. Without me, my people will fall to hundreds of years of war and chaos. With me, they will join into a single army of justice that will sweep across these worlds you speak of, cleaning away the corrupt and the impure. I thank you for that gift, but you no longer have the right to stand before me and preach your lost cause."

"We must try," the Vorlon said sadly, knowing its fate was now sealed. "Your people are not ready for the power you will give them. You must wait, in time they will learn."

"I will teach them," the warrior replied. "I may have been away for many years, but there are many who will remember my name, and honour the sacrifice I made for them. When I call they will come and we will create a holy army unlike any ever seen before. All the world shall hear our cries for justice and freedom, and then we shall bring our armies to this darkness you speak off and destroy it, along with all other evil."

"It will destroy you," the Vorlon scientist argued. "You are not ready. Remain with us and we will teach you until you are ready."

"Who are you to say when I am ready," the warrior responded angrily. "I who have fought much of my life. I know more of the ways of battle than you, Vorlon."

"Yes, but do you understand the reasons of battle."

"I fight for God, for justice, and for freedom. I do not fight for ideology, nor for a cause that no longer has any reason. Your kind fights only because you have forgotten how to live. I do not fight for those who no longer know why they are fighting. You are nothing but a coward, a creature who seeks to have others battle for you, because you no longer wish to die in honourable battle. Instead you wish to hide behind a shield of innocents, sending them out to die for you. Those of noble heart should lead from the fore, battling the evil themselves, instead of sending servants out to fight."

The Vorlon scientist realised at last that no amount of argument would change the warrior's mind. Like all primitive creatures it was full of its own self importance, believing that its holy cause was the only one worth fighting, and because of this, it was no longer capable of seeing the true picture. Somewhere, on dark, forgotten worlds, the darkness waited. Soon it would come again, seeking to destroy the order the Vorlons had created. Chaos must not be allowed to win, never could that be allowed. Order must always triumph over the darkness or the very structure of universe would be lost.

"How long now?" the warrior asked, its attention turned from the argument back to more important matter, such as its return home.

"Soon," the Vorlon replied again.

"It seems longer this time," the warrior said. "You would not be attempting to trick me again, would you. You have already agreed to my requests, you would not be trying to wriggle out of them would you? Lies are the last resort of the evil and unjust. Those who are pure have no cause to speak anything but the truth."

"It has been agreed," the Vorlon responded, while its mind tried to hide the truth. Inside, the Vorlon knew it did not really need to worry, for one thing the warrior had failed to learn was the power of telepathy. However it had proven more intelligent than they had originally thought and, given the knowledge to fight and adapt, it had created a defence against their telepathic powers and locked its mind away from them. The scientists had not planned for this, nor had they planned for the warrior to escape the tests and destroy the entire research vessel, along with six of the researchers.

The scientist returned to the controls of the transport ship. He could feel the pain the ship was in, even above his own agony, but knew it would continue to obey him, even if it meant both their deaths. Vorlon ships were grown to serve, as the younger races should serve, and unlike the warrior, it would not betray him in this hour of need. Ignoring the pain, and the warrior that was the cause, the Vorlon concentrated instead on the plan laid out before it.



1462, Vorlon Space.

The small green world of Arias hung peacefully between the gas giant it orbited, and the two other tiny worlds that were its constant companions. It was a hot jungle world, the entire surface covered by a thick growth of plant life, while beneath that canopy lived hundreds of scurrying reptilian creatures. In a universe of barren lifeless worlds it was an oasis, a world with its own, naturally occurring, life forms. However, Arias was situated on the edge of the Vorlon Empire, and as a world that had yet to be settled by any known sentient race, to the Vorlons it was expendable.

Close to the northern magnetic pole, where the jungle faded to become a vast grassy plain, something descended through the moisture filled atmosphere. The grass began to rustle violently in a sudden breeze as the huge shape of a Vorlon transport came down through the thick clouds, its long, squid-like shape casting a dark shadow across the ground. On the edge of the jungle, watching native creatures screeched in primitive terror and ran for the safety of the trees.

Like a vast bird of prey, the transport hung above the plain, its gravimetric engines flattening the grass, forming large circular depressions. Then the four huge, petal-like wings folded inward, until they almost touched the hull, and the transport gently dropped to the ground near a large outcropping of rock that rose above the plain. Inside the rocky surface of the hill, tiny six-legged lizards shot off into their burrows, eager to escape the strange new monster that had just arrived near their homes.

On the side of the transport a spiral opening suddenly appeared and through that opening walked two creatures. One was a Vorlon, safely encased in its encounter suit, its body seeming to glide across the surface of the world, while at the same time it also swayed slightly as if it was walking. The second creature was a lot shorter, small compared to the tall Vorlon encounter suit. It was also thin and wiry, unlike the large, bulky shape of the Vorlon's shell.

The smaller creature walked on two legs, as most creatures in this section of the galaxy did. Its black eyes scanned around the field and then it seemed to pause as if it didn't find what it was looking for. It spun around to face the Vorlon. "This is not my world," it cried. "You have tricked me. I will destroy you for this betrayal."

The Vorlon nodded slowly, inclining the head of its encounter suit in the direction of the smaller creature. "Yes you will. But the mistake must be fixed."

"You think me a mistake?" the warrior snarled, its face twisting in almost uncontrollable anger. "You can not destroy me this easily. I will kill you and then, using your ship, I will find and destroy every last one of your kind."

"You will die," the Vorlon sang calmly, now secure in its fate. Behind it the huge shape of the transport lifted off from the planet's surface on silent engines, gliding smoothly away from the grass plain where the two antagonists faced each other. "It is over."

"I don't think so," the warrior replied. "I will build another ship, I know how now. Then I will still return back to my home. You made me immortal, and doing so gave me the power to destroy you. Even should it take me another thirty years, another hundred, even another thousand I will destroy you, and all of your kind. My people will never again be your slaves. We will master our own destiny, rise up from our world and drive away those who seek to threaten us."

"No," was the curt reply from the Vorlon as it swung around to look at the departing transport. Its voice grew sadder, the musical tones becoming darker and lower. "You will die."

With a fierce war cry the warrior leapt across the gap between them and dug its black claw-like nails into the Vorlon's encounter suit. It sliced through the organic metal as if it were little thicker than paper, and its claws then cut into the Vorlon's true body. Trapped inside, the Vorlon's ethereal body shuddered and slowly began to darken as its life-force was drained away. To weak to fight back, it let its mind wander across the skies to the waiting fleet. "Now," was its last song as the few remaining remnants of its life were drained away to feed the hunger of its attacker.

The warrior released the now empty shell of the Vorlon scientist and stepped back, searching around for a weapon to use, anything that it could use to fight against the Vorlon. Its roving eyes landed on the rocky hill, and the dark opening of a cave that lay, almost hidden, behind a small clump of low bushes. Realising that the Vorlon's must have a trap planned for it, the warrior ran, its legs carrying faster than it had ever run before. Increasing its speed even further, it fled across the grassy plain towards the possible sanctuary.

Above the sky turned red with fire as the gathered Vorlon fleet turned their weapons against the planet below. Huge chunks of rock, torn from the surface of the planet's companion worlds, were manoeuvred by gravimetric forces and sent plunging down through the thick atmosphere, seeking the warrior's position. The once beautiful, life-filled jungle burst into flame as vast balls of fire plunged down and impacted all around the landing site of the Vorlon transport.

The warrior felt the ground heave violently beneath it, and then found itself flying through the air, straight towards the dark opening of the cave. It tried to roll into the dive, but struck the jagged, rocky floor hard, slicing open its pale flesh and spraying the floor and walls of the cave with drops of its pale, almost luminescent blood. Unable to control its roll, the warrior tumbled down a steep slope, falling into the bowels of the hill.

Above, the world's surface burst into flame, and much of the hill vanished as a massive chunk rock smashed into it, transmuting the rocks, along with their tiny reptilian inhabitants, into a cloud of dust and molten rock. Deep beneath the surface the rock cracked open, and molten lava began to rise to the surface, flowing down barren tunnels, heading straight towards the warrior, who lay wounded and bleeding in its path.

The warrior stood on unsteady legs, noticing the red glow approaching down a side passage. Unlike most sane creatures it did not flee, instead it closed its eyes and slowly began to absorb the heat that was growing with every passing second. The Vorlon scientists had done their job well, and the warrior's skin was now capable of absorbing energy of all kind. After a few minutes the warrior opened its eyes, looking out over the mass of now cooling rock, with a satisfied smile on its lips.

It held out its arms, examining the wounds it had received during the mad dive into the cave. As it expected, they were gone, the pale, almost translucent skin now smooth and clean. It smiled again and, turning away from the chunk of glassy rock that had, only moments before, been a river of lava, it strode down the tunnel. Above, on the surface of the world, the bombardment seemed to have stopped, although the silence gave no indication on what else might be occurring. The warrior knew the Vorlons, despite their other flaws, would never leave a job half done, so it still suspected more was to come.

The warrior's eyes, enhanced by the Vorlons to see in almost all conditions, had no trouble seeking out its path, lines of heat left from the lava lighting the way up to the surface. Its mind still bent on revenge against the Vorlons, the warrior began to run, using up a tiny amount of the energy it had just absorbed. Ahead, it could smell the acrid stench of the fire that had scorched the air, the breeze from the surface carrying the smells of the burning jungle to assault the warrior's senses.

Ten minutes later it finally made it up to the surface, and exited from another cave, this one on the opposite side of the hill from where it had landed. The scene that confronted it was one of horror and death. The plain of grass was gone, as was much of the nearby jungle, and in its place was a landscape of fire and destruction, pockmarked with large craters. Even to the warrior, its heart frozen by years of war and betrayal, it was a devastating sight.

Two glowing tears fell from its eyes, tracing lines of fire down its cheeks before they fell from its face to land on the ground below. Never before had it seen such destruction and death, an entire world burnt, just to kill it. Its heart began to thaw, pain and sadness welling up inside at the sight. The warrior knew that all this devastation had been done for one cause, to kill it, and a tiny part of its heart, a remnant of its former, mortal life, would have preferred to sacrifice its life and avoid this destruction. Another, larger part, said that the Vorlons were responsible for the destruction, and it was they who must be made to suffer.

Then, high above the warrior's location, the night sky began to darken, a cold cloud of blackness beginning to work its way across the world's surface, extinguishing the fires as it came. At first the warrior didn't notice the cloud's arrive, but then it felt a chill in its body, something that should not be there when it stood so close to a burning forest. The chill grew stronger, and the warrior's body began to shake as fear began to grow inside.

The only things in the universe it feared were cold, and darkness. As long as there was light, as long as there was heat, it could not die. Now both were vanishing, both light and heat being sucked up by the cloud of darkness that spread across the northern half of Arias. "Vorlon bastards!" the warrior screamed angrily, letting out all of its pain in one single cry that echoed around the tiny cave, and across the nearby fiery plain.

It edged its way back inside the cave, away from the cold that began to fill the outside world. Inside it was warmer, closer to the burning centre of the world. It was not much, but it might just be enough to enable the warrior to survive, at least until it could work out a way to escape. It turned and ran, trying to get as deep as possible before the cloud of darkness arrived. As it ran, It reached into a dark, hidden pocket of its robe and fingered the glowing yellow-green seed that rested there. "One day, Vorlons," it whispered to itself. "One day I will escape and then you will pay for this betrayal with your lives."

Outside the black cloud began to crackle with green energy, as the Vorlon fleet fired new weapons into their creation, creating an electromagnetic shield that would prevent anyone from ever reaching, or escaping from, the world's surface again. That done, their mistake imprisoned for all time, the fleet turned and flew away from the destroyed world, sadness at what they had been forced to do welling up in the hearts of every Vorlon involved. It had been a necessary act, or their goals for every species in this part of the galaxy would have been ruined. That didn't make it any easier though.

On the command vessel, the Vorlon Elder watched the world retreat into the distance, the head of its encounter suit dropping in sadness. It wondered if the right thing had been done, and if altering the younger races was the right way after all. So many had died this time, including several Vorlons, all because of a single miscalculation. Despite possessing only an ethereal form, the Vorlon Elder shivered in fear as it thought about what would happen if the warrior ever escaped its prison. If it did, then the galaxy would know terror unlike anything it had faced before, and next time there would be no escape.