Chapter 3: Virincorparates
A large asteroid, floating freely through space just as nature and various planetary collisions intended, housed Virincorparates, a scientific research/inventing laboratory, formerly used by the Galactic military under Tahkshi's rule, now it provided the Resistance with weapons and supplies, using Viretta's, the company's manageress, massive fortune to sustain productions.
Viretta was one for bridging the gap between nature and humanity, which is just one of the reasons she set up shop on an extremely dangerous asteroid: all natural. This lust for bridging nature and mankind led her to end up dating Tahkshi, him being an Adjeti, one that could call on nature's powers at will.
Viretta sat in her office, carved delicately into a still-living Vitae Tree's trunk. Through the centre of her office ran the tree's Xylem vessels, around which was a circular desk made of the bark of the very same tree, where the entrance to the office had been made. Her chair, however, was one of those swivel chairs with the wheels that you can buy anywhere for a dollar a dozen, as they say.
She didn't wear much, as usual, but one of her trademarked metallic-fibre bras and a thong to match. She always said it was so that she could better commune with nature, but the Media suggested it was for comfort reasons and the fact that she could make every woman envious with her fabulous body. The Media was wrong, not unlike media on Earth.
Her desk beeped. This would have been perceived as odd by anyone else, mainly due to the fact that there was no circuitry in the desk. She touched her desk and said clearly, in a voice that sounded stern yet gentle, “What is it, Matthew?”
Matthew was her human secretary. When Earth had been introduced to the stars, he was one of the first to leave and applied for the position at Virincorparates, and she chose him as the suitable applicant. He spoke over the bio-intercom: an intercom made using specific wood grain as a conductor for the sonic vibrations. “There's a ship here. Some sort of spherical model. Hails as Watchman II.”
Viretta smiled knowingly. “Thank you Matthew, hail them in.” She realised that last time Foton and Hurricane had dropped by, the Watchman II hadn't been complete: it had been a while. She went back to work: they knew the drill.
Ten minutes later, Foton entered grandly, proclaiming, “Viretta!”
Viretta got up and sarcastically proclaimed “Foton!” but she hugged him anyway, her head disappearing somewhere in his chest. “It's been so long,” she gasped as she disengaged herself from his arms and chest, “What have you been up to?”
The Telescreen came on behind them: Hurricane had sneaked in while they were hugging and was now watching the news. The reporter; a middle-aged, four-armed Clobethian, said in a calm voice, “Breaking news!” Viretta looked suspiciously at Foton, who shrugged, not fooling anyone. Viretta scowled, then looked back to see an image of the Viran burning. Her scientific mind was replaced with an angry one. She hit Foton in the chest. “What the hell?” she yelled, “You do that, then come here for refuge?”
“Shut up!” she yelled, “I'm not finished!” She rounded on Hurricane, “And you, turn that shit off!”
Hurricane flinched visibly, before doing so and standing next to Foton.
“We didn't come here for refuge!” roared Foton.
“Why-what?” she paused in mid-yell.
“That's right, Viretta. Not all of us are cowards.” Viretta hung her head as Foton spoke, reminding her of Trexor: their former friend, or at least ally, who now worked for Cinradahs. “I got summat for ya.”
Viretta pouted once more. “Is this really the time?”
Hurricane cut her off before she started yelling. “Scientific! Things...” He trailed off, only trying to get her attention.
“Really?” She said, suddenly attentive.
Foton shook his head and handed her a piece of paper: the analysis of the sample of space he took.
Viretta looked at it and chuckled. “Foton, mate, someone's been havin' you on. It says here that there's oxygen, carbon dioxide and traces of other gases in space. You of all people should know that space is a vacuum.”
Foton stared blankly at the Telescreen, which Hurricane had just turned on again to prove a point. “Viretta, look again at the Viran.”
She did so. The Viran was on fire, in space. Flames cannot happen without oxygen. Her eyes widened in slow realisation. “What. The. Fuck.” she asked.
“Indeed.” said Hurricane.
“How is this possible?” Viretta screeched.
Foton held out a hand to calm her. “I think I've got this...hang on...” he composed his thoughts quickly, before explaining his theory, “Over the past year, black holes have been disappearing, yes?” Viretta nodded, so he continued, “Thus, all gases escaping from various planets' atmospheres have gathered in space and finally made space a breathable environment.”
Viretta thought about this for a while. “Yes, I suppose that could work. But, have you got a reason for why the black holes are closing?”
Foton hung his head. “Alas, no.”
“I do.” Hurricane said, nobody expecting him to do so.
“Go on then.” Viretta prompted.
“W-well,” Hurricane began, “I got two theories: one is that the black holes are all sealing because the Hades Gate was sealed.” He stopped for a minute, the image of Blue Cloud stabbing Incision with the Theta Sword still haunting his memory.
“And the other one?” Foton said gently, knowing how fragile his companion's mind was.
“Well, all the black holes led either to the Hades Gate or the Void, right? Perhaps the Void is sealed, or perhaps, d-destroyed.” Hurricane explained, “after all, didn't Incarnate, Gold and T-Tahkshi get pulled into a black hole as they died?” Foton noticed Viretta's visible flinch when Tahkshi was mentioned. “Maybe they didn't die. Maybe they didn't die. Maybe they brought the Void down from the inside? What if-”
“That's enough, Hurricane.” Foton stopped him mid-sentence to put his arm around Viretta. Tahkshi, her ex-boyfriend, their leader, had fallen in battle on Icarus' Sun on That day and, as the Andromeda Galaxy exploded around him and Incarnate, both taking the ultimate sacrifice to stop Gold, Hurricane had sworn that they were dragged into a black hole. None of the others saw it, but it always distressed Viretta to hear his theory.
“Bu-” Hurricane began, before seeing Viretta's tears and stopping in his tracks. He sat on one of the chairs once more, before watching the Telescreen. Foton held Viretta close for a while before the news cast interrupted everything.
They all stared at the Telescreen, all knowing that most breaking news was bad for them.
“Cinradahs's forces have determined the location of one of the Meta-humans involved with the Andromeda Galaxy.” Foton and Viretta looked at Hurricane fleetingly. “Cinradahs has sent his best men after him, including his personal bodyguard, Trexor.” Foton cursed quietly. The reporter put a hand to his earpiece and mouthed a couple of words, before nodding and continuing. “We, um, we know have a picture of the Criminal, courtesy of the Archives.” The Archives were a huge database that spanned the entire universe and stored every single person's data inside them. “While we wait to receive that, Cinradahs has issued a ten-thousand Credit reward to anyone with any information regarding any of the Perpetrators of the Andromeda Disaster. We still do not know all of them, such as one of the Females and there is only speculation that ex-Overlord Tahkshi had anything to do with it.” The reporter put a hand on his earpiece again, this time for longer.
“So, I take it they're not here for us?” asked Hurricane hesitantly.
“I doubt it.” Viretta replied, “We would've detected them by now.”
“So who-” Hurricane started.
“The news could've got their facts wrong.” Foton guessed, “It might not be a Meta-human.”
“Could be Tao.” Viretta guessed, “After all, Cinradahs doesn't see you as Demi-gods, but Meta-humans.”
Hurricane nodded. “Could be, could be.”
“Or perhaps they were on Blue Cloud's side of the war.” Foton suggested, “Blind Assassin, Master Eye, you never know.”
The reporter began to talk again. “The picture is now on screen.” A sharp intake of breath came from Foton, a gasp from Hurricane. Viretta turned slowly towards the screen. She saw an image of a young man, with raven-black hair that draped just past his ears, leaving the rest of his head, including the pointed chin uncovered. He had quite a slim build that looked like he would collapse or snap at any moment.
“How?” breathed Viretta.
Just as the Reporter said, “This Meta-human is known as Incarnate. No second name is found on file. Adopted at an early he was...” They trio ignored the news as it continued, before Hurricane turned it off and they fell into silence.
Incarnate was alive. After almost a year, he had returned from the dead. Which raised the question: is Tahkshi alive and if so, where is he?
Another, more sinister question posed itself too: did Gold also survive?