Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a (wo)man of wealth, and taste.
--The Rolling Stones, “Sympathy For The Devil”
The times around the point at which Shaw Haust became known to the Ascendancy were troubling ones, regardless for whose side your loyalty lay with. If you were a calveran, a demon, if you prefer the more antiquated term, you’d shortly be realizing that your world was falling apart, as many of your peers were in the more literal sense of the phrase. If you were in the Union, there were whispers in the dark of unrest with the Nakai; if you were Nakai, there were rumours that the Editors were moving in the night. The Immortal Empire was in the first stages of a terrible war, and terrorist organizations among the Infinite Empire of the Spartans would shortly be making some increasingly visibly demonstrations of their power. The Sicarii knew something was out there in that dark abyss, and they searched for it with expectations not to be met with like minded honesty.
But for us, it was peaceful enough. Shaw’s machinations were far enough away at that point, and the powers that were were carefully managing a quiet, controlled war against our enemies. There were complications, yes; their high hopes for the Killer of the Dead would never quite be matched to the degree they had anticipated. This was not to say that their ambitions were to any degree curtailed by this setback, and it was not their first encounter with setback either. Field Marshall Sloane had turned out to be substantially less than what he had presented himself as, and while that was not a capital offense in our eyes-nor was his attempt at seizing control-his failure to do so was.
In the original timeline, the Ascendancy was rather rash in its efforts to correct this error. They were not pleased that Sloane had misrepresented himself; it reflected poorly on the veneer of omniscience they like to paint themselves with. They had thus deployed a fleet back to rescue this ineffective leader, and the catastrophic ramifications of this elsewhen battle had, ultimately, lead to the release of the Silent Bastions.
Suffice to say, it went downhill from there.
They were very fond of calling the enemy the demons then; their zeal of purpose permeated everything they did. It was the will of the Khamood-Urr, they felt, to purge the galaxy of that dreaded blight. I will not put my own thoughts out here now on the validity of that perception; my opinions are my own, and very few if any share them. But their zeal lead them astray rather dramatically. Their botched assassination of Droth had lead to the dissolution of the neutrality arrangement between them and the Union of Worlds, and augmented by the pressures of Shaw’s minions, the Quiet Wars held their toll quite high above the heads of the Flux. When Dorin unsealed the doors to the Silent Bastions, more pain and suffering was unleashed upon this galaxy than any of the involved parties could have imagined.
They were their demons, in the end. They chose to reign in hell rather than serve in heaven. The Flux Ascendancy held final victory atop a mighty pyre of souls, and they torched over half the galaxy out of fear that somewhere, someone might know their names. You can forgive me, then, if I refrain from recounting
I started by doing their dirty work, albeit without their blessings. I want to impress the point upon you that it was not an easy thing to do; one of the core tenets of our fathers was the sanctity of our lives. We would rather divide the heavens than harm one of our own…at least that’s what we teach. The original assassination of Droth, by order of the Heraldic Order, was always something that fascinated me. We do have looser definitions of right and wrong, admittedly, and this would have been something which would have interfered with stable relations with other factions, had we chosen to exist among them in the open. Just as time is constantly changing for the Flux, so was what the times called for.
Droth was a good man, an unusually good man, and one who in no real way deserved to die. But his failure was that he was assigned to an impossible task. A stable and lasting peace between the Union of Worlds and the Ascendancy was not even their goal when they opened up relations with the Emperor; it was evident to them that eventually, events would conspire to draw his forces into the great forge of battle. They only meant to delay their entry into the conflict. I suppose then that, in some strange way, they condemned Droth to death by appointing him to that post.
One thing I never understood though was precisely what made them decide that assassinating this emissary was better than issuing a temporal recall. They could have rewritten the event instead; the Union of Worlds would have admittedly entered the conflict in earnest then, as opposed to remaining a more distant party to its prosecution; but they could have dealt with that and remained unseen. But their efforts to assassinate Droth would have done more damage to their cause than if someone else had. So I did it for them.
Droth bled quietly on the floor after I’d withdrawn the blade-a Timecaster’s zeitstaff, which my father had acquired during the vicious eternity that was one reality’s conclusion of the Quiet Wars. It is a remarkably effective tool, though a foreign one; all the better, I suppose, given my own intents with Droth. The poor man bled quietly, and after the life had left him I was busy at work. Most of the galaxy was oblivious to Shaw’s machinations at this point, but the Ascendancy had some inclinations that not all was going according to plan in their patch of the multiverse. By blaming him for this action-and more importantly, by truly believing Shaw had done it-Dyxe would ultimately bring to the Emperor’s mind the connection between Sotek and Shaw; with any luck, his efforts to address this would bring further the cause for which I was willing to betray my own people for.
I painted that phrase on the wall-prepare for unforeseen consequences-not just as a warning to Shaw, as to my own people. They were my wards, and I was going to have to use a strong hand to guide them away from the pyre they would otherwise mount.
Field Marshall Sloane was not a happy man. Strapped to the gurney in a medical ward, he found himself considerably displeased by the turn of events. Port Astur had been a disaster; he had hoped his benefactors would have been compelled to arrive and aide him in achieving victory, but alas, no such action occurred. Fate had not smiled on him, and now, as he was being brought back to the names he had answered to, he felt a sense of frantic helplessness which he was neither familiar with nor fond of.
He never heard the doors open.
“Time,” a voice said softly, yet with a very melodic inflection, “does make monsters of us all.” He twisted his head rapidly, and realized that the guards must have let his visitor in. She stood by the door, out of the lights that blinded his vision. The chamber was empty otherwise; the nurses were gone, and machines were managing the IVs that dripped painkillers and their ilk into his veins.
“I have nothing to say to you.” Sloane grunted hoarsely, and he turned his head back towards the ceiling. He didn’t feel well; they’d drug his escape pod around for a while before finally unsealing him from that small metal cell and placing him in this larger, but equally metal, chamber. One cell to another.
“A noble sentiment.” The woman in the dark answered sincerely. “Your superiors will make you talk, in time. You’re going to be prosecuted for treason, espionage, saboutage...” Abruptly the voice shifted to another side of the room as Sloane felt a dreadful headache coming on. “…and that’s just the people on that side of things. Can you imagine what the other half must be thinking?”
“I don’t need to say anything to you without a legal representative being present.” Sloane replied evenly, as he tried to track the figure moving in the shadows. “I am aware of my rights-“
“I would say they’re rather disappointed. Their contact turned out to not only be trying to overturn a government they don’t object to, but one who was so confident that he became lazy. He let himself lose when it mattered most.” He heard footsteps now, echoing off the glass walls of the chamber, and turned to see a woman’s profile silloutetted against the bright lights. Her head had been shaved, but given the increasingly throbbing migraine and the bright lights, it wasn’t easy to make out her face.
“Ah dohn’t haff…”He began to answer, only to find his tongue not obeying his mind.
“Shh…” the women murmered, as she leaned over the gurney. “There’s not much more to say at this point.” Her form was abruptly blurring and wavering, and the throbbing in his head was growing loudly in intensity, as a thin trickle of blood began to patiently work its way down and out of one of his nostrils.
Quantum entanglement has allways been one of the hallmarks of our technology. It’s how we communicate, for starters. The flickering apparitions through which we appear when forgetting isn’t desired isn’t holographic; it’s local matter being manipulated from half a galaxy away. No wires, no discernible signals to track…just a chain of seemingly unrelated particles abruptly behaving as one entity.
This is also how we dispose of our dead; all armour, all flesh, everything that is Flux is recovered this way. We do not leave much of anything for spectators or survivors to ponder over. Debris, tissue…all of it is collected through this medium.
It was through this method that I lobotomized Sloane. He was alone in that room, contrary to what he saw; I was playing the synapses in his mind as I toar into them like an intangible pick axe. This was more merciful than you might begin to understand; he would have likely faced torture and execution for his shortcoming had he been allowed to persist as an individual beyond that point. Beyond that, he would have talked; perhaps he would have revealed facts about that mysterious entity he was working with.
I saw to it that his ship’s computer core was fried in the battle; his personal artifacts held no information of value either. In case he had hidden them, I skipped back in the timeline to the points where he had been in communication with the Ascendancy; and I took what little he kept in that hidden vault and made sure it too revealed nothing. If I am anything, I am thorough.
Time does make monsters of us all. The Flux were about to fight demons. Quite frankly, they needed demons of their own.