Now, before my inbox overflows with WTF R A KYTHARIN, I have THIS
to tell you everything you ever conceivably wanted to know about my made-up aliens. Thanks all! Oh, and this is going to be LONG. Settle in and share the popcorn, folks.
It is the 47th Millennium. For seventeen thousand years the Emperor has sat immobile on his Golden Throne of Terra. He is the master of mankind and lord of a million times a million worlds. Innumerable battle fleets ply the stars and uncounted quadrillions toil ceaselessly, keeping the Imperium alive. The Emperor is the beacon of light for mankind. And he is dying.
While the Adeptus Astartes and the Imperial Guard vainly try to stem the tide of ideological freedom taking hold in the Imperium, for every one rebellion that is crushed another two succeed. The advent of Mass Relay technology traded from Tau Enclave seperatists allows faster-then-light travel without the brutal dangers of the Warp. On a trillion worlds, Tau, Hrud, Kytharin, Eldar, Kroot, Vespid, and even Orks trade with Human settlers. Species long thought to be little less then brutish heathens prove to have diverse culture. Species long thought to be learned show a darker side.
To be a man in such times is to be one amongst billions, whose life in total means less then the whole, but it is very early days yet. Forget the promise of endless war, for it is meaningless to all save the slaves to Darkness, who constantly battle for supremacy in the Eye of Terror. Forget the value of hiding secrets and covering up progress, for so much has been learned, never to be forgotten. It is the 47th Millienium and Mankind has learned there is only survival.
A Drifter Colony, she thought.
What the hell.
was a salvage yard, and it showed. The "colony" was actually a massive square, two kilometers in either direction, engines on one side and massive manipulator arms on the others. A gunmetal "ceiling" stretched off in all directions. People bustled about, trading or buying, or even selling. Ships were tough to come by out in the Fringe, a nickname for the dark edge of the galaxy near the edge of the SDF, or Sol Defense Force, the last remnants of the Old Imperium. SDF cruisers and gunships came by every once in a while, sometimes simply destroying everything they could find before vanishing back into the Warp. Even in an age of faster-then-light travel, the Astartes and Imperial Guard chose to utilize the dangerous, unpredictable Warp Engines for their between-system travel.
Kyra leaned back in a military-style bucket seat bolted to a swivel on the floor. She had her feet up on the next chair and a stein of cheap, watered-down alchohol in one hand. The bartender had taken a look of shock at her for one moment, then simply shrugged. The man was a "New" Imperial. The kind that, while they considered the Emperor humanity's savior, wouldn't pull a gun on anyone who walked in without a copy of the Princeps Aquilia
in your hand. And standing seven feet tall, nearly two hundred and fifty pounds, Kytharin weren't your average bar customer. Most of them were still attached to the raider fleets in the void near Kytharin space, but a few, like Kyra, plyed the vasts of space as pirates and mercenaries, and occasionally, as scavengers.
She sighed, taking another sip, and the bartender refilled the glass.
"You got some guts coming out here, scalie." said a voice.
Kyra didn't turn, simply taking another sip of the beer.
"You know what the bounty on your head is, girl?" said the voice.
"Two thousand six hundred and seventeen credits last time I checked." said Kyra slowly.
The voice chuckled. "Really now?"
A single footstep and Kyra set the mug down. A second step and she had spun around, a fat-barreled pistol in her hand. The man stopped, his face hidden in the lunatic shadows the bar's less-then-adequate lighting.
"Little Kyra," said the man. "Always fighting. Always running."
Kyra sensed a twinge in the voice she recognized and set the gun down.
"Lars." she said simply. The man smiled and stepped out of the shadows, revealing a broad, bearded smile beneath two ice-blue eyes and a bandana the man had woven around his long hair.
"Last time I heard about you, you were rotting away in a jail on Espandor." said Kyra. "They let you out on good behavior?"
Lars chuckled and sat down at the bar, moving Kyra's armored talons off the barstool.
"That's right, scalie. I'm a model citizen now."
Kyra chuckled and toasted the man, taking a great drink and setting the mug down.
"So what brings you out here?" she asked.
"A little bird on Espandor whispered "Lars, Lars, there's a little scalie out on Athens
that's trying to do something stupid again."
Kyra smirked. "And what do you suspect that "something stupid" is, Lars? Listening to you talk?"
The man laughed. The bartender accepted a credit Kyra handed him and refilled both drinks.
"I guess you're here to buy? Ships are expensive, scalie. I could see you getting a lifeboat for your budget, judging by that armor."
Kyra looked at her own armor, it's dented and chipped frame a testiment to the amount of punishment it had recieved. Her helmet, a sinister blue-grey piece of Kytharin Iron, had bare metal scratches on it, like something had clawed it. Something had
, of course. Belts and webbing crisscrossed her chest and waist, and a massive Impaler pistol hung low on her thigh. The armor was nearly skintight, but had overlapping plates with an odd, greyish-blue color. A tattered cloak was hung from her frame and attached at her shoulderpads.
"Actually, I already have
Lars gaped in a fake display of shock.
"Wow. Doing a bit better in business since we last met?"
"You could say that."
Kyra did own a ship. The sleek, stealthy form of the Deliverance
was docked in the Drifter Colony's outer segments. Sal and Zekt had stayed aboard, partially out of not giving a shit, partially as security. Drifter Colonies had a nasty reputation for thieves and pirates.
Not unlike the kind of thieves and pirates you are
she reminded herself.
As to the issue of money, six months of fighting SDF soldiers in the Ultima Segmentum had made her wealthy. Not rich, but she'd payed off a group of bounty hunters sent after her to collect the money she had owed on Deliverance
and had completely overhauled their equipment. Brand new shiny QI-74 "Impaler" rifles from back home and other interesting bits from the many races that now traded freely (or near-freely) in once-Imperial space.
"Yeah Lars, like you said. I'm a high roller now." said Kyra sarcastically.
Lars leaned back, toying with a peanut shell on the bar.
"Listen, kid." he said. Kyra felt the weight of his sudden lack of sarcasm and turned.
"I've got something big." said Lars.
"A contract?" whispered Kyra. Without knowing it both of them were speaking in hushed tones. Mercenaries and pirates didn't share secrets.
"No. Bigger." said Lars. "Can we talk somewhere else?"
The bartender put his hands on his hips, seeming indignant.
"No offense to your lovely establishment." added Lars. Kyra flipped a high denomination credit chip onto the bar and walked off.
was a huge place. It took the pair fifteen minutes walking through the streets to return to the vast Docking Arms that held the ships.
sat on it's dampers. The ship was less then five hundred feet long, painted a deep grey color with blue details and edging picked out along it's side. Sal leaned out of the hatch and smiled.
"Hey, it's the jerk." he said. The Kytharin dropped out of the ship, vaulting over the guardrails of the boarding ramp and walking to shake hands with Lars.
"Our buddy's got a business proposition, Sal." said Kyra.
"Does he now?" said Sal.
They clambered up the ramp and into the ship, Sal shutting the hatch and sealing it behind them. Kyra led them down the hallway that ran the length of the ship and up a short flight of stairs to the bridge, sitting in the command chair, turning to face the situation table and Lars.
"So, what's so important I couldn't finish a drink over it?" said Kyra.
Lars knelt down and placed a dataspike into the situation table. A holomap of the galaxy sprang into existence.
Then it died.
Sal kicked the table, and it flickered weakly. A bang
sounded from below the table, and a stifled cursing filtered up. A floor panel was lifted off the frame, and a Kytharin covered from head to claw in oil, soot, and data medium crawled from the guts of the ship, an omni-tool in one claw.
"Did you really have to do that?" asked Zekt. He tapped a series of controls and the map flashed back into life. The Kytharin grumbled and walked off to take a shower.
"Remember if I go nobody's gonna fix this tub." said Zekt.
"Wit, spit, and duct tape." said Kyra at his back. "Fixed it before you, it'll fix it after you."
Zekt gave her the finger as he walked off the bridge.
Sal made sure he was gone and mouthed I really had to do that
at Kyra. She smirked.
"Alright." said Lars. The map zoomed in on the Ultima Segmentum.
"I've got a contact in the ISO, who says the SDF is ready to start a serious push into the Ultima Segmentum and the Segmentum Tempestus."
"They know they're not going to retake the entire Segmentum." said Kyra, confused.
"Ah, but that's it. They aren't here for a land grab, kid. They're going for all their relics that they lost in The Fall."
The Fall was the hushed-up destruction of the Imperium at large. Millions retreated behind the Maginot Sphere, the mass of fortified planets and fleets that surrounded the Segmentum Solar.
"All that stuff they left behind." thought Kyra. Imperial relics were worthless outside the Imperium, unless you got lucky and stumbled on a collector or something. She'd found a bolter marked "Calgar
" on Calth more then five years ago, and had offered it to her own contact in the SDF, who informed her the Astartes would kill him if he spontaneously came up with the weapon. He never told her why.
"Yeah. And they'll pay some serious green for it." said Lars.
Kyra was suddenly alert.
"That sounds pretty good, actually." she admitted. "I like serious green."
"I thought you might." said Lars. "But there's a catch."
Kyra sighed. "There always is."
"One, the SDF is starting their push in less then a week. Two, I only have fixed locations on two relics, the Shroud of Terra and Commissar Richter's Bolt Pistol. The others I need some time to find. Oh, and I get to come with."
"You get to come with?"
"Yeah, why not," said Lars. "I'm as tough a man as can swing a chainsword."
"Chainswords are barbaric." said Kyra. Sal snorted.
"So are spiker rounds." said Lars, indicating the heavy pistol she carried.
"You're not a Kytharin. How am I going to explain to the cabal I've got a paleskin on board?"
"You'll say it's your very good best friend Lars, who's better looking and has better aim then any of them."
Sal snorted again, burying his face in the crook of his arm.
"They'll tie you to the decks and pull your guts out if I say that, and I'll get relegated to guarding the spire."
Zekt piped up from the living quarters down the hall.
"Or breeding." he yelled.
"In your dreams, maybe." said Kyra.
"You know it." replied Zekt.
Lars smiled. "So, are you in?"
Kyra rubbed her forehead, thinking. She looked at Sal. The Kytharin gave her a half-smile and nodded.
"Lars, you know me too well. We're in."