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Prologue: A dark overcast decorated the sky as raindrops fell fast and hard on the Traigol woods. Trees and leaves were the only protection of the insects and animals that populated the area. A lone deer raced through the muddy landscapes, either searching for shelter or trying to escape from something. Whatever it was we may never know, for at the exact moment it reached one of the places stone paths, it stopped in its tracks. Walking along the path were 3 men wearing brown, bulky armor made of metal. They carried deadly rifles with a dark gray barrel, and a stock and underside made of oak. The 3 armored men were of different height and width. The one at the back of the line was the tallest and largest of the 3. The one in the front was the shortest and might’ve looked skinny had it not been for his armor. The one in the middle was in between the heights and width of the other 2. His armor was dented and scratched in multiple places; the sign of a veteran. He deer ran away in the opposite direction, fearing that the 3 men were hunters. However, they were there for a completely different reason. “Captain, are they sure that what we’re looking for is here?” The short man said in a young voice. “They AREN’T sure private; otherwise this wouldn’t be a scouting mission.” The tall man said in a deep voice. The man in the middle nodded “The sergeant is right private.” He said in an assertive tone. The private lowered his head and said “Right sir, sorry…” The captain patted him on the shoulder “That’s alright soldier, just try to use your head next time.” He said in his authoritative tone. The trio continued deeper into the woods. Several more wild animals greeted them through the pouring rain, but they seemed unable to find what it was they came for. While walking through a slippery part of the forest, the tall sergeant skidded on a patch off mud and landed on his back. In his anger, he did not notice the dirt beneath him give way by an inch. “Argh! I swear, if I have to spend another minute in this damned forest I’ll-“ He said but never finished, because at that moment the ground a few feet ahead of them moved and revealed a staircase leading downwards. The soldiers got closer to investigate. They activated their helmet-mounted flashlights and examined the walls and stairs.
They were clearly not natural, for several carvings that were of ancient origins could be seen on the walls and ceiling. They were full of cobwebs and appeared to be crumbling in some places, but the pictures could still be discernible, “This could be it men. But just to be sure, we should check the inside and confirm the location of the artifact before reporting it in.” The captain said. He didn’t want to anger the Chancellor by presenting him with a false lead. “Sergeant, take point. Private, stay at the back and watch for movement. As old as this place is, there might still be working defenses.” The captain ordered as the 2 troops got into position. As the small group entered, they weren’t able to notice a hooded figure wearing a black cloak with tints of green follow them at a distance. The figure entered the ruins a few seconds after the 3 soldiers.
Chapter 1: Adaptation It was a hot afternoon as the classes continued in the Numingren College. Tycho was trying in vain to listen to what the professor was saying. However, the day had been particularly long and tiring that all he wanted to do was to lie down on his soft, comfy, bed… Tycho shook himself awake before anyone noticed. He was a young adult, about 21 years of age. He had short, messy black hair and a clean-shaven face along with green eyes. He wore the standard, black leather uniform of the College. The College educated people up to the age of 22, where they get to decide on what career they plan on taking. Tycho saw little fun in that; he believed that you would only know what job you really want when you’ve already started working. That and he looked up to his father. The man went to college, but when he was of age to work, he made his own living as an airship pilot for hire. Tycho almost envied his dad for the excitement that his chosen career had offered (his father even met his mother through one of his travels). However, one memory had kept him discouraged from following in his footsteps. Unfortunately, his daydreaming must’ve shown on his face because he flinched when the professor called him out. “Tycho Ralek, are you paying attention?” he asked. “Uh y-yes sir, I just lost focus for a moment.” Tycho replied. “Well, do try to keep your focus imprisoned, if that’s what it takes to keep it.” The professor said with a chuckle.
Professor Brahz Nikolai was one of the faculty members of the Numingren College. He was a tall man in his mid-forties with whitish hair. He wore rectangular spectacles and the brown cloth uniform of Numingren professors. He was an alright guy in Tycho’s opinion. He was nicer compared to most of the other professors in the school. He taught Astronomy; giving lectures on star constellations, and occasionally bringing the class to the observatory during clear nights. It may not have been Tycho’s favorite subject, but professor Nikolai was his favorite teacher. The large bell in the middle of the College rang to signal the end of the day’s classes. The sound echoed across the rooms and hallways as students perked up, either from listening or from sleep, Tycho never really noticed. As the students began packing up, the professor spoke up “Remember, your star chart projects are due in 2 weeks and I will not be accepting late submissions.” Nikolai announced. As Tycho made for the doorway, he heard the professor call him “Tycho, a moment please.” He said. Tycho nodded and approached Nikolai. “So, how has life been treating you?” the professor asked. “Well, aside from running low on money, I’ve been doing fine.” Tycho replied casually. Nikolai looked at him sternly “You can’t hide anything from me my student, I know about your mother’s death and I’m sorry about what happened.” Nikolai said with some sadness. Tycho looked to the floor before returning his gaze to the professor. “I’ve seen better days… But you shouldn’t be sorry for anything, you didn’t make this happen, there’s nothing you have to apologize for.” He said, trying to look calm despite the sadness he was feeling at the moment. “Well, at least you’re able to cope with it. Just remember, if you ever need anything you can talk to me.” Nikolai replied. His eyes glinted before he continued “Just don’t expect me to give you free grades.” He said while pointing at Tycho in a sermon-like manner, lightening the atmosphere. The student smiled and left the room.
The hallway was relatively quiet since most of the other students had already left, either for home or some other young escapade. The copper-painted walls gave off an orange sheen as sunlight reflected on them through the large windows. The tall, brown and rusted structures that dotted the town of Numingren could be clearly seen through them. The houses, cramped and stacked, was the stereotype of the town. As Tycho continued walking, he saw a few students still wandering about the halls. There was Preston, his “arch-nemesis” in a sense, talking loudly to another student who was shorter than him. Preston would always try to best Tycho in everything he did, emphasis on “everything”. Be
it physical or mental challenges, the two of them always battled it out (even though the 2 of them weren’t the smartest or most athletic people in the College). They were on each other’s neck so often that they actually became friends. Even Tycho found that result to be weird. “Hey Tyke! You wanna head over to my home and see who gets there first?” Preston challenged. “No thanks. I think I’ve had enough action today.” Tycho replied. “Heh, you’re just afraid I’ll beat you. Sleep well princess.” Preston boasted. “Have a good day Sir Loudmouth.” Tycho replied as he walked away. “Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that we actually hang out with each other.” Tycho thought. Soon after his meeting with Preston, he ran into Mercedes; a girl that Tycho used to date. She was chatting with her group of girls and didn’t seem to notice Tycho as he walked by. He was thankful for this though as he didn’t want to have an awkward conversation with her. “I’d rather not re-live our break-up.” He thought.
He walked out of the main building and into the courtyard. He raised a hand to shield his face from the sun’s glare that greeted him outside. He looked towards the large clock tower to his right. It was 5:35pm. He had just enough to take a nap and then do his schoolwork. He decided to play it safe and rush home as fast as he could. He waved briefly at the gatekeeper and headed out into the town of Numingren. He walked briskly through the crowded streets. People hung clothes outside their windows while merchants shouted wares ranging from food, clothing, metals, to the weirdest and most outlandish gadgets he had ever heard of. Occasionally, the sky would be blotted out by the gigantic, rocket-powered airships that were used by the government and commoners alike. His thoughts once again returned to his father, and to that one, dreaded memory. It was the day that his father was hired by The Dominion (the government of their land). He had never felt a prouder moment in his life, unfortunately it might’ve been the man’s last. He never returned from that trip. The Dominion consoled the family by providing them with food and money for a whole year, but Tycho would have gladly traded all of that just to know what happened to his father. Whenever he or his mother asked them what they had hired Zanar Ralek for, they simply said that they “were not authorized to disclose that information.”
Tycho was once again snapped out of his reverie by the shouting of a large, bearded man who had an enraged look on his face. “Damn it, watch where you’re going!” he shouted at Tycho. The latter looked at the ground and saw that the man had dropped a large box containing various kinds of metals and alloys. “I’m sorry!” Tycho said as he walked away as fast as he could. Under normal circumstances, he would have tried to help clean it up, but the man seemed too angry to listen to reason. After taking about twenty steps, he risked a peek behind him. Sure enough, the man was still there, fuming and staring at Tycho like a bull who had just seen red. That was when he decided to just run for it.
He ran all the way to the door of his home; located inside an alleyway. After looking around to make sure that he wasn’t followed, he went inside. The rusty door creaked as Tycho opened and shut it. His home was only a small, shabby room. An old mattress with a couple of pillows rested in the far right end of the room. A window to the left of the bed allowed sunlight inside and provided illumination for the home. A table with a pencil, pieces of paper, and a half-melted candle was placed on the leftmost side of the room, along with a splintered chair. Tycho went to his bed and collapsed almost immediately on it. It wasn’t the best bed in the world, but after a grueling day anything that was softer than a rock felt nice; or so Tycho thought. Just before he drifted into sleep, a loud rapping on his door shook him awake. The man on the door knocked 3 more times as Tycho looked at the doorway. He gulped and walked towards the door, fearing that it was the man he had bumped into. The knocking continued. “I’m coming.” Tycho said as he cautiously opened the door. He was relieved when he saw a different man standing outside. “Are you Tycho Ralek?” The man asked. “Yes. Why do you ask?” Tycho said. “Ah, I’ve got a letter here for you. From a woman named Kyrana.” The man said as he handed a piece of rolled paper to Tycho. “Oh, uh thanks.” He replied. The messenger simply nodded and walked away, probably to deliver more letters. Tycho shut the door and sat on the table. “Great… What do you want this time Kyrana?” He thought sarcastically. He knew who she was. She was an old friend of his, but more male than female in Tycho’s opinion. She was a mechanic; she owned a workshop south of his home. She
usually didn’t contact anyone unless it was important, or some crazy scheme of hers; it was usually the latter, and that never ended well. Deciding to stop wondering what the sudden message was about and just read it, he unrolled the paper. It read:
Dear Tycho, I know this is short notice, but I have to ask your help with something. I need you to swing by my workshop as soon as you can; and by that I mean TODAY. Please, this is really important and I think that I’m on the edge of an industrial breakthrough. I just need the help of someone to confirm this. Sincerely, Kyrana
When Tycho finished reading his head was full of questions. What was so important that she needed his help, and on such short notice? Then again, knowing Kyrana, she would always leave notifying to the last minute and just expected others to follow through with it. “Well, I guess I better get over there. Otherwise she’ll have my head on a platter.” Tycho thought. He changed to more casual clothes; a white shirt and light brown pants, and then headed off outside. He had no idea what was waiting for him in Kyrana’s workshop, but he was sure that it was neither good nor safe.
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