From Transformers: Lost and Found
Barrister’s Note: I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this holovid. The Consortia has been known to fabricate propaganda pieces like this in the past. But, it refers to Sarlacc, and with our recent intel that leads me to believe it may be credible. You’ll have to make your own choices. It’s making the rounds on the BlackNet and filtering into Council space. We can expect things to become a lot less stable in the Orion Arm in the coming weeks.
The video feed opened on a small room, the frame centered on a chair and the being sitting there. The walls were smooth and dark, metallic and antiseptic. Likely the interior of a spacefaring vessel. The chair emerged from the floor, as if formed from it. Only the chair and its occupant were illuminated, everything else was claimed by shadows.
The being at the center of the frame was not human, though he appeared to be of similar size. Bony plates lay flat against the top of his head, with others framing his jaw and nose. His dark eyes were lidded and his head lolled against his shoulder. He wore a uniform, though to which military he belonged and his rank was inscrutable and alien. The sleeve on his left arm was rolled up to allow two thin, clear tubes to pierce his skin. They reached into the ceiling and disappeared.
The soldier was not alone. Nearly a dozen sentients of different races stood in the shadows. They were different sizes and profiles, each alien to the other. Yet they all wore the same outfit: a half-cloak covering armor tailored to each individual, all in black. The soldier stirred. His head lifted and his eyelids fluttered, but they could not focus.
“He is coming around.” One of the cloaked figures said. She stepped into the light, showing black-furred features and a tail that protruded from beneath her robes. Two red streaks cut from the bottom of her eyes to her jaw. “Can you hear me?”
A strangled sound came from the soldier’s throat, but he was able to focus his eyes on the dark figure. “Where…” He coughed. The dry sound rattled in his chest.
“Safe.” She replied. “You are safe, captain.”
The sound of his title made the soldier start. He tried to sit up, to leave the chair, but the soft parts of his face contorted and he fell back. “My men…”
“Gone, I’m afraid. But you are safe.” The woman in black circled the chair. “Now, we have your rank. What is your name--”
“Preceptor.” The speaker’s voice came from offscreen. It was low, rasping, yet tinged with an electric buzz that indicated either an artificial source or a digital filter. When he spoke, the woman in black turned to the viewer and knelt. The speaker was behind the camera, if he was present at all.
“My Prelate.” She bowed her head.
“I would speak to our guest myself. You may retire, Preceptor.” The woman in black rose and joined her colleagues in the shadows. “Your name then, captain.”
“I am Kirian, captain of the destroyer Sentinel Talon.” Kirian paused. His lips worked behind his mouth plates, as if trying to hold back words that, eventually, forced their way out of him. “...I was given the true name Heart’s Razor by my grandfather, beneath the light of my thirteenth moon, upon my induction into the warrior caste.” The captain brought a clawed hand to his traitorous throat, and his eyes asked why he said those words.
“Excellent.” The prelate replied. “We can begin then, Captain Kirian.”
“Why…” Kirian’s hand grazed the tubs running to his arm.
“I will have the truth from you, one way or another. You can tell me no lie.”
“What do you want?”
“To talk, for now. You have seen something quite remarkable, haven’t you, Captain?”
“Yes.” Kirian said. “Yes. I was…” He looked up at the ceiling. “...Part of a fleet. On my ship. With my crew.” He paused and looked back beyond the camera. “Then we found it. Him? It.” Kirian settled on the last.
“And now you are here. Because of my Brahmins, you are alive. You will have the opportunity to thank them later.”
“Why didn’t you save my crew?” Kirian asked. His claws tightened against the arms of his chair and he made to lean forward. He trembled, both rage and weakness working in him. “You saved me, why not them?”
“Because I only needed one.” The Prelate replied. “This is not a charity, or an act of kindness. You earned your respite, Captain, by your years of excellent service, which placed you in the position where, for a moment, you became of use to me. Remember that when you answer me. I can pull the truth from you, but I would rather have it given freely, as Kirian understood it. I want your story, Captain. Nothing more.”
Kirian trembled but did not voice any objection. “Where should I start?”
“The beginning, of course. You were called, and you arrived.”
“Yes. The Council called all the Auxiliaries for the Orion Arm Sector, but it wasn’t publicized. My ship, we were sent to fulfill our defense quota. We met up with the OAFF at Issicus.” Kirian paused. “I’ve never seen so many warships in one place.”
“What was your mission?”
“Sentinel Talon was assigned as part of an Auxiliary escort for the Righteous Reparation on a reconnaissance mission to find it, the thing they call He That Hungers.”
“Did you call it that, before you left Issicus?”
Kirian shook his head. “No, no...The Council calls it the Orion Arm Anomaly. But that’s not what it is. That’s not what it ever was.”
“You found it.”
Kirian looked up, past the camera. His eyes were wide, yellow centers crowding out the black sclera. “In the ruins of Sarlacc. Amidst the dead rock. We received the distress signal and by the time we arrived any action was over. But He remained.”
“Describe it, this anomaly.”
“It’s not an anomaly!” Kirian rocked forward and drew the lines running into his arm taut. “It’s alive, though it doesn’t look it. It thinks and it feels and it rages...it’s an entire world unto itself, a world with a maw. It looks built, the star shone off of its metal surface, but nothing could have built it. It would have taken a million years to assemble, it is so vast.”
“There are beings with patience and time to construct such a thing.”
“It was not built!” Kirian shouted again. “It was not made. It is and it was and shall come again. It is a god, Prelate, whatever you or your Black Block might think. It is a living god.”
“There have been other gods, from other dark places. Pretenders to divinity. You are digressing, Captain. Tell me what happened next.”
The fight drained out of Kirian as the solution fed from within the Black Block ship sapped his will. “I thought we would run, but, the order from the Righteous Reparation was to advance. I was stunned, but, I am a soldier. We kept the formation close and went right for it, on its maw. I thought the Council commander was crazy.”
“What did you expect? Auxiliaries defending an obsolete battleship. You had to know what it carried.”
“I guessed. And I was right. We got in close, past the pincers on either side of its maw. It was like we were maneuvering past a planetoid. We were just a speck, the entire squadron. We reached the redline, and the Righteous Reparation deployed the geobomb, right down its throat. Only it didn’t go. It veered at 100 kilometers and struck at the horizon.” Kirian looked down at his feet. “I’ve never seen one go off before. It’s beautiful, when it catches the starlight.”
“The Council can destroy worlds as well, but none think them gods. Given that my Brahmins had to rescue you, I take it this attack was ineffective.”
“It howled.” Kirian’s gaze snapped up to the point just off the camera and he trembled, as if hearing the sound again. “Its maw opened and I could hear it, Prelate. It was...laughing at us.” Kirian straightened. “The geobomb detonated with full force. It lifted one of its plates, a whole continent, but not far. Just enough for us to see what inside. It’s alive, Prelate, whatever it looks like. It squirms and writhes and what was inside pulled the plate back down. Like it was never hurt. Like we never existed. It...exhaled, then, that’s all I can say...the sensors picked it up as some kind of radiation and it cut right through us.”
“You picked an unwise angle of attack.”
“I could hear it!” Kirian leaned forward and one of his feet found the floor. It shook, and could not support him, but he was trying. “I didn’t always know what it said, but I could hear it. And my men could too. It had a thousand names but I can’t recall one. It’s ancient, Prelate, beyond anything we know. It has seen so much. Mostly...mostly...it hungers. Not for us, for something else. Something I couldn’t know. My mind was too small…”
Kirian’s other foot found the floor and he balanced against his chair. Two Brahmins stepped out of the shadows to stand between him and the camera.
“I know who you are. You’re Azzak. You have to help us!” Kirian tried to stand but he immediately stumbled. His claws found the Brahmins and tugged at their robes. He had enough strength to support himself. “Prelate! Call on the Black Block, help us! You have to, bring every ship, every soldier, everything...we have to stop it. If we don’t...if we don’t...Even its voice is eating me. I will never lose it.” Tears welled at the edge of Kirian’s dark eyes. “Stand with us! It’s our only hope…”
“I think not.” Azzak replied. “I’ve reserved that task for another. You and your Council can play your games and waste as many ships as there are stars. I will not. You have told me all I need hear, Captain.”
The Brahmins sat Kirian back in the chair. He had no more to say, or perhaps could no longer speak, once the command was given.
“Preceptor. Take our guest and return him to Council space. He has done his service.”
“As is your will, Prelate.”
The camera feed then cut off.