Invicta

Our Enemy

The Archivist sat across from the woman, or perhaps what was left of the woman she once was. He began recording, refusing to focus his attention on anything else. "As the archivist of Safeharbor, I'm meant to be thorough. I've decided to enter the testimony of one Deidre "Invicta" Hurst into the archives. She refused to remove the helmet, despite my request. Due to her reputation, there will be no follow up, nor interruption. I highly encourage caution to any who hear this testimony, as its validity and value are suspect, at best." When finished, The Archivist waved his hand at her, a passing and indifferent gesture to begin.
Invicta placed a hand on her chest. "Oh? Is it my turn to speak?" She let out a sigh of relief. "No interruptions? You promise? I don't think you'll be able to help yourself."
       
I was born on earth. I grew up in Pittston, Pennsylvania. My upbringing would bore you, a series of uninspiring events from start to finish. I could regale you on my status as an honor roll student, or the scandalous adventures in the backseat of daddy's car. I could speak of my time in service, my education to become a respected biologist, but the Earth is gone. I'd rather not relive that.   I, among many others, are to blame for the fall of the earth. We were called The Origin Exiles long before we arrived at Safeharbor . Even today, we encounter earth-born humans on distant stations who use the term. While meant to be a derogatory title, a stain on our very soul, we can't help but admire it.   We took to the void. That is where my story truly begins, though, it started rather poorly. I fled earth aboard a leaking mining barge. Being an exile ruined my chances of leaving on the arks. So many others were left behind. It wasn't hard to find knowledgeable friends to crew the vessel. Some didn't care that they served the ones responsible for earth's collapse.
   

A Velvet Mutiny

Do you remember Jacob King? He was our captain for the longest time. I was merely a science officer, there to provide what little medical expertise I had. King changed since the fall. He wasn't the man either of us grew up with. After a year or two of bad calls, mutiny was the only course of action.   It began with hushed whispers in isolated quarters of the vessel. I found I was quite the socialite. When the mutiny occurred, it was my name on everyone's mind. It wasn't intentional, but my connection to the crew landed me in the captain's chair. It wasn't a violent affair. The captain stepped down willingly.   Despite this, I hate to say the mutiny wasn't without casualty. Later on, King confided in me, stating he never wanted the responsibility in the first place. He said, "It's your burden now, and I'm glad to be rid of it." He killed himself soon after. I felt responsible, not for taking command, but for taking the only thing that occupied his mind. Your mind can go to the darkest places in the void, and sometimes you can't come up for air.

A Life of Piracy

The void has no rule of law, regardless of what the high and mighty might say. The void cannot be claimed, nor owned. Place a flag if you wish, but it amounts to little more than matter drifting in a vast, unfathomable ocean, a sea of nothing. That flag would be so small, it may never be seen again.   To survive out in the void, you have to break the chain of ethics. Morality means little to those who starve, to those who lay dying. If you're the only thing standing between them and salivation, they will tear you apart. We came across massive fields of debris, the result of bloody conflict. We began to repair the vessel, updating it and arming ourselves with weapons we could barely comprehend.   We tried to pass ourselves off as traders, miners, scavengers. This only led to violence, our ship assailed by the greedy or desperate. It's ironic. Posing as a military vessel is the only way we could avoid conflict. Piracy was the next step. It was high time we became the aggressor.


The Rise of Invicta

My name changed after a twist of fate. While we can trade and refuel on Safeharbor, we could never hope to be welcome there. We ran to the black sea in search of… something. I couldn't imagine what it was. We lacked purpose.   Sure, we got behind a few causes. We helped humans whenever possible. We raided space stations if we came across them and attacked any vessel that appeared weaker compared to our own, so long as there were no humans aboard. We gained a reputation for our efficiency. Eventually, our exploits grew more infrequent. Go far enough in any direction, and it becomes difficult to find anything to pillage.   We lingered on the edge of the abyss, somewhere well beyond that of civilized space. Even The Matriarchal Eden failed to make it out that far. When faced with this darkness, I heard a voice. Whatever it was we were searching for found us first.



Planet X-76E

There was a planet out there. I could picture it perfectly in my mind. It beckoned me from the blackness, somewhere beyond the warped disc of the milky way. I set a course without question, and it was quite the bumpy ride. Traveling in the space between galaxies is not the best decision I've made.   The Sea of Names barely held together. It was beyond repair by the time we arrived. We didn't know what to expect, but we couldn't have predicted just how dark it was. A headlamp did more in revealing yourself than anything else.   It was a dead world, the ground as black as the skies above. The soil was loose, like sand. I lost so many crewmen. You know how quicksand works right? We encountered vast seas of it. We were forced to probe the ground to protect ourselves.

The Sea of names

My ship was christened The UEN Lincoln, but by this point, little of the original vessel remained. We repaired and modified the ship constantly. It wasn't even a shadow of its former self.   We raided Plague Ships whenever possible, stripped them for parts and new technology. The crew of these ships often left behind memoirs, tales of their journey, and ways to notify their next of kin. It was only fair. We took their names and traveled across the vast expanse to bring word of their death to those who'd care.   I chose a new name for my vessel. The Sea of Names seemed an appropriate name for the ship. Our dedication to the dead was the only good publicity we exiles had. It made sense to start every engagement with the best we had to offer.

The Ring

We caught the faintest hint of light on the horizon. We followed it, and reached ruins that shimmered in silver and gold. I thought we were going mad, a shared hallucination that sealed our fate.   The voice called to me again. It came from the top of the ruin. The others opted to stay behind. I completely understood. We thought we were going to die. Why explore? Why should we venture further? I alone would make it to the top, and I beheld a stone ring, roughly 20 feet in diameter. It floated in the air with a swirling pool of light within the hoop.   I watched as something emerged. I assumed it was a portal of sorts. To where, I can't even speculate. A writhing mass of black tendrils fell to the ground at my feet. It held no other features, yet it could speak and knew I was there to listen.
   

Gibraltar

The creature attacked, at first, a feral attempt to protect itself. I didn't run. I fought back. It screeched at me. It cursed me and the words hurt. Nails on a chalkboard sound more like a symphony in comparison. Still, I would not back down. It laughed, the only thing about it that truly scared me.   I made a deal with it. I offered up my self in exchange for the same. We are two minds sharing two bodies. I named it Gibraltar, and it named me Invicta. I refused to go by any other name from then on. I assume it proved my mind for an appropriate title. It had no name before I assigned one to it. It seemed confused by the concept.   What Gibraltar truly is remains a mystery even to itself. It's flesh and blood, but beyond that, we know nothing. You can see it writhing under the suit, right? He's a growing boy, mind you. He's much bigger than you realize.

Changes

Gibraltar taught me so much in the way of genetic modification. I used this to enhance myself, and my crew. This came with some costs, of course. It's not painful, but it makes wearing our suits a necessity. It's a lonely life, but what we gain is maximum efficiency. Our senses, our lifespan, and metabolism are altered beyond what nature decreed. We are objectively superior to the natural human.   The changes are usually internal, but some of the modifications outside of the body yielded unexpected results. I breathe chlorine, for example. Oxygen will kill me without genetic conditioning beforehand. The exposure to the gas gives my skin a green or yellowish tint. It's faint, but noticeable. My hair is also bleached white, and unnaturally thin.   Sadly, I'm not the looker I once was. I still look human under all this gear. I guess that counts for something. The occasional implant would be the only other thing you'd notice.


From the Archivist's notes

Gibraltar is beyond my own understanding, but Invicta did allow me a brief examination of the creature. The creature is silicone based, but that doesn't account for its intelligence, nor its various biological traits. I can conclude that Invicta and Gibraltar share a symbiotic relationship, though the extent of this relationship is unknown.   Gibraltar's body is segmented on a molecular level, and this segmented pattern repeats even on a macro scale. It has more in common with crystalline structures than biological organisms. There doesn't appear to be any organs, nor a means of obtaining nutrients. Invicta claims it needs neither.   Another curious trait of Gibraltar is its density. Its body is ever-changing, as if it gains and loses mass at random, or possibly at will. Perhaps it is an example of higher dimensional life, able to fold its mass in on itself to hide its true size.
 

The first war

The Battle of The Pillars was a tragedy, one that was paid for in full. We exiles assisted in every way we could, even when it was made clear our help was neither wanted nor appreciated.   Our involvement grew less frequent in the later years of the war. I was… occupied. Sorry. I promised not to tell. All Good things to those who wait.   We saved many human lives, and were proud of this fact. So few mention this, and we feel as if the fact was swept under the rug. We will not let it be forgotten. Let it be known that while we were not wanted, we were needed many times over.
           
The Archivist ended the recording, staring silently as if waiting for her to speak.
"So that's it then?" She asked.
"I guess so, unless you've more to add." The Archivist replied.
The woman stood, but didn't leave immediately. She crossed her arms and scoffed. "You don't believe a word of it, do you?"
The archivist didn't answer for a time, the silence growing heavier with every passing moment. Finally, he settled on a reply, "Skepticism is in my nature."
"And honesty is in mine."
"Says the one who destroyed our home."
"We didn't mean to, Lorne." She said, her voice rising, "We didn't wake up and think, 'Hmm, this is a good day to end the world.'" She turned from him, shaking her head. It looked as if he was about to speak, and Invicta snapped before he could get a word out. "Not another word. Has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?"
The archivist chuckled. "Many times. I consider it a compliment."
She started for the door and took a moment to look back. He sat with his back straight and his head held high, victorious and full of pride.
Invicta laughed. Not one to be outdone, she left him with the most painful of parting words before storming out of The Archives, "Caydie Kines is alive."


Cover image: by Adobe Stock

Comments

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Master TimeBender
Unknown User
27 Feb, 2021 21:58

This is such a fascinating and creepy article! I love it. You can tell there's history between the Archivist and Invicta, so it's very intriguing.

~TimeBender~ Check out my story worlds if you so desire! Error Earth,Modern Fantasy EarthNearthRetaliation Crew EarthSweet Dreams Bakery, Universe 7-41
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
27 Feb, 2021 22:12

Oh yes! They have some history for sure. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much!

27 Feb, 2021 22:23

When I saw the article in my notifications I almost threw my phone I was so excited. Aaaargh god this is so interesting!! I love the tension between Invicta and the Archivist, and I have so many questions about who / what Gibraltar is, what it wants, what the big picture is...   Also oh boy that last information Invicta drops before she leaves.... I wonder how the Archivist reacted to it   Great work as always Dylon!!

Feel free to check out my submission to the Peculiar Plant Challenge !
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
27 Feb, 2021 23:09

I was hoping to get this reaction! Thanks so much my friend. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm so very excited to get the story going.

Journeyman Monkos
Andrew Booth
28 Feb, 2021 05:12

Ohhhh that last line you sneaky devil

Creator of the world of Mythia, where writing is magic!
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
1 Mar, 2021 08:31

It was a little sneaky. More to come, for sure! Thank you kind sir!

28 Feb, 2021 06:24

This was an interesting article. I loved getting the backstory on Invicta for the first time considering all of the previous mentions of her in your other articles. I also like how it broke away from your previous articles' perspectives. I had to reread the opening quote to actually put together why it'd switched, but it was really interesting. Nice work, as always.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
1 Mar, 2021 08:31

Thank you as always! Also, I missed and article of yours for feedback. Ima get on that! I almost forgot about it. Thanks so much again and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

28 Feb, 2021 18:11

CAYDIE'S ALIVE! you may have said something like that before, but this is news to me. unless it's some cruel joke at the archivist's expense, but call me naive cuz I tend to trust folks when they tell me their principles are against lying. and, well, who says it can't be both?   Also, c'thulu confirmed, sorta.   So if Invictus is to be beleived, the end of the earth was, to some extent, an accident. What forces could they have been playing with where you could go, "Oops! now an entire civillization has to relocate!" The only thing in canon I can think of right now is a terraforming disaster, but why in the world do you terraform earth? I mean, it could just be global warming in effect, but the Archivist seems to think that the destruction of earth could be attributed specifically to the exiles...   Oh yeah, and the maniacal cackling in the recordings doesn't really mesh with a natural disaster.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
28 Feb, 2021 18:48

Truth! Caydie is definitely alive, up to this point, all articles say otherwise but one. The articles tell a story overall. though I wrote the articles out of order. Technically plague ships would occur right after this to explain that her being alive. I'm getting the reading order together. XD this is where the story is meant to pick up the pace.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
28 Feb, 2021 18:49

Hit done too soon. Sorry. Allso I love how your putting the pieces together. I think you have the most dots connected out of everyone thus far. Thanks so much!

Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
13 Mar, 2021 23:08

Gotta say, love how you're telling all of these as a linear story! Great as always!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
11 Apr, 2021 03:02

Oops, missed this one. my bad! thanks so much. I reall enjoy doing it, so im glad its well recieved.

Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
28 Mar, 2021 06:37

*Screams* Caydie is alive? Oh my goodness! The way she dropped those last words so casually. I'm always intrigued by every new article. And now I am once again wondering who the Archivist was before he became the Archivist. It was already obvious from past articles, but this confirms it. The Archivist and Invicta knew each other before they became what they are now. I think they know each other from a time before Earth was destroyed. So who was he back then? What role did he play?

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
30 Mar, 2021 01:19

Oooo someone is asking some good questions. Yes indeed. The archivist claims he forgot most of his former life but invicta is a subject he wouldnt likely forget. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much!

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