The Eden Chroniclers

With argus leading the way, we rush through the pure white halls of the facility. Alarms begin to sound, high pitch wails more that sound more like screams the longer I listen.   Argus calls out and reaches out her arm, "Nox." The draugr takes her hand. It shifts and twitches, then its body melts. It crawls with alarming speed, covering Argus from head to toe before hardening once more.   When we reach the dock, the ship is ready to fly. The docking bay is empty, save for a few shipping containers lining the walls. This feels too easy, and it seems Fraeia feels the same.   "We won't make it off world," they say. "They have planetary defenses."   "Taken care of." Argus stares at the door as if waiting for something. "Go on. Dock with my ship in orbit, The Olympus. I'll escort you out of the system. It's already waiting for you."   Fraeia nods. "We need five minutes at the most to get the ship off the ground. No offense but human ships-"   "I can give you ten," Argus replies. She takes a step toward the entrance of the dock, a massive steel door.   Fraeia backs away and rushes into the ship behind me. I head to the cockpit and prepare the engines for flight. The great door above opens up and waves of rain flood the dock below, slowly draining through vents that no doubt fill the facility's water reserves.   The ride is bumpy but we make it into orbit easily enough. The shaking stops and for a brief moment, all we hear is silence.   Something catches my eye when I activate the panoramic view. I expected a shimmer, some faint glint of light to indicate the presence of another ship. What I see instead is a void, a ship-like shape that somehow appears more empty than the space it floats in.   I check the transponder and it's like Argus said. It's a cruiser class warship, though it's smaller than cruisers tend to be. The shape is the most bizarre feature of the vessel, both curved and angled, smooth and jagged. There's next to no symmetry in its design, as if the plans were drawn by a broken mind.   The hull is painted pitch black, the kind of black that absorbs most light. It's a clever trick when heat dampening doesn't cut it. You can hide from scanners and radar easily enough but the eye is not so easily deceived. When parked above a potentially hostile world, it makes sense to make yourself hard to see.     It takes Fraeia much longer to see it, which surprises me. When they do they point. "There, an Affliction class. That's a Chronicler ship."   "The Olympus." I reply. I check our communications and smile. "It's already sending us docking protocols."
   
No Loose Ends
Argus feels the warmth, the embrace of the suit around her. She waits, though her patience wears thin. No loose ends.   The lights flicker and die, shrouding the room in darkness. Argus smiles. Poor things. They think they're safe in the dark.   A chipper voice rings out in her ear, a man's voice. "Chronicler Bors, Our guests have arrived and we await your return."   "Well done." Argus replies. The faint sound of frantic footsteps echoes down the hall beyond the massive steel doors. "Send Chiron to pick me up. I'm almost done here."   "Understood."   Argus stands motionless as the doors open. Argus counts the shades as they enter the dock, twelve soldiers clear the room yet walk by the draugr without even realizing it's there. They scan every book and cranny, unknowingly positioning themselves right where she wants them. The matriarch, Argus' primary target, waits by the entrance with three members of medical staff.   "Nox, let's make this quick. We're late." The suit writhes in response and Argus feels the needles as they prick her skin. Combat stims, cellular enhancers, and an assortment of other chemical concoctions race through her veins. Time slows to a crawl, and Argus makes her move.   She takes a casual step forward. Her body slides out of the suit, bursting forth with her Dobha in hand. The blade sings as it exits the sheath, and everyone hears it. The soldiers turn at the sound, the matriarch looks up and uncrosses their arms, reaching for her own blade, and the medical staff turn to run in fear.   The draugr transforms. The humanoid body breaks apart, the pieces melting together and flying out in black threads toward the soldiers. They fire back, the rounds exiting the barrel in a white flash and carried on rainbow trails in all directions.   Argus tries not to watch. It's brutal, the squelching and screams alone could prove that. It's rare to hear screams from the eden, even when several soldiers meet their death.   The matriarch draws their blade and raises it to defend themselves. The stance is outdated, or at least it will be.   Argus ducks down, and drives her blade into their leg. When they try to strike back, argus gives the blade a twist and tug to remove it. She blocks the attack, and makes a quick cut to the Matriarch's wrist.   Argus smiles as the matriarch takes the knife in their other hand. They lunge forward, and the knife finds its mark. Argus feels the sting as the knife cleaves through her shoulder, a calculated sacrifice.   In landing the blow, the matriarch leaves themselves open. By the time Argus can feel the pain, her own blade lands a killing blow. The Dobha pierces the matriarch's heart. They stare at Argus with wide eyes. They die in shock and confusion. The first is a reaction to betrayal. The latter comes from a question. How could a human be capable of killing an immortal?   Argus turns as the body falls to the ground. She's thankful for the darkness that hides the horror as the draugr feeds. Argus sheaths the blade, and opens the doors above. Rain floods the room once more, washing away the blood and death.   Chiron waits, an automated transport. The hull is rigid, its shape reminding her of a shard of glass. It lands with it's door already open.   Argus enters and the draugr follows close behind. When finally offworld, Argus gives a sigh of relief. It's almost over. One more task to complete...
   
Where do I even begin? I don't want to reveal too much. I'd hate to get in more trouble than necessary, but someone needs to know of their sins. We must see beyond their facade, this beauty they employ to seduce our hearts as well as our minds.   The eden are seen as benevolent. We make excuses for their more questionable behaviors. "It's simply a quirk of their species," we tell ourselves. "They're just different." We chroniclers learn the truth, and yet have little choice but to accept it. In learning the truth, we become a part of it… The Loop. Doing nothing would just make things worse. This doesn't make sense now, I know, but it will. Mark my words, the lebha are so much more than they make themselves out to be.   Let's speak of the chroniclers, it's all I'm allowed to reveal. Through me, You will see what they are, just I have. I've seen what they become, and what they were before, back when time was young. We associate them with angels, but even in our own folklore, angels and demons are one in the same. Not good, not evil. They just are.
     

Passing time

It's in the name, you see. Chroniclers study time, we mark its passing and spread the knowledge we receive. I'd leave it at that but as I'm sure you've realized, that doesn't tell you much. We're more than historians and archeologists. We're military assets, used in covert operations and to handle blessings of departure when the battle is done.   This makes our position of religious nature, as well. I think that's why I was chosen, in the end. There are so few humans left that we're used to wearing many hats, and filling many roles. For a chronicler, this is of vital importance. We are one-man armies, outfitted with some of the best technology the eden have to offer.   We're damn near immortal as well, some of us having reached Somnihein without even being lebhan. We are an exception to the rule, and that makes us mighty. This is but a passing glance at what we are, however. We should dig deeper.
   

Lebhni Watchers

Our order began with an organization called The Watchers. The Lebhni sought to watch the whole of reality unfold before them, and those who obtained their immortal state were allowed to sit in on this passive observation.   When time came to spread out across the stars, the watchers were the eyes and ears of the entire race. They were the wayfarers of the Lebhni, explorers and researchers in search of beauty. They lost themselves in the luster of the void. This made them excellent storytellers. They'd return home and entertain, retailing others with their wild tales of the great beyond.   As those that were became those that are, the need for military power grew. The watchers were given more than weapons, they were given an identity. Their ships were, and still are, the most advanced ships in the navy, even surpassing the fabled avatar class. Strangely enough, and forgive me for I can't help but say this with a wry smile, they're also the oldest ships in the navy as well.
   

Who watches the watchers?

The watchers, and the chroniclers they became, have complete autonomy. No one, not even a god, can compel us to do anything. Our word is law. This is to prevent corruption from outside the order, but corruption often strikes from within more than without.   The watchers were known to abuse their power, and as such, the Lebha forbade them from stepping foot on Eden worlds until the order managed to police itself.   The chroniclers are, thankfully, much more responsible with the power they inherit. This comes from the vigils we take. We learned that there was so much more to what we are than personal gain. I'll leave it at that.
 

Responsibility

Chroniclers oversee archeological studies, catalogue historical events, participate in scientific research, military operations, and we perform religious services. That's the bulk of what our job entails. We can fight, think, and pray. This just scratches the surface of what we do, however.
 

In war

We're called when things get bad. A chronicler is expensive. Deploying a chronicler on the battlefield is dangerous, as we have a tendency to be eccentric and wild when in combat. That's because of the drugs.   There are roughly 58 distinct combat enhancers we use, and some make it hard to tell the difference between friend and foe. Obviously, this means we tend to operate in isolation, one chronicler per ship.   We use "prototype" weaponry, from combat drones, and deployable nanite plagues, to locust swarms and draugr biosuits. No one person should have this much power and how there are thousands of us.
   

In study

Our primary goal in historical and scientific study Is hard to explain without discussing the first sin. The lebhni did something we humans can easily understand. They broke into heaven too, though it was a heaven of their own. Their actions in that holy place led to the emergence of Somnihein, the creation of The Loop itself.   Our job is to figure out how the lebhni did it, and why. If possible, it's also asked of us to fix whatever broke, allowing the flow of entropy to be restored. It's a pipe dream. Nothing can fix it. Reality doesn't work that way. Even if it did, there are things out there hellbent on preventing it, things like Gibralrar, nergal, and even the lebhan gods themselves.   Have you ever wondered what other galaxies may hold? Andromeda was a sight to behold, and you wouldn't believe what I found there, even if I had proof. That's my point: Chroniclers exist on the fringe of reality and the truths we discover are impossible to comprehend by those of a stable mind.
   

In faith

Have you noticed yet? We chroniclers are breakers of chains, but since we're sanctioned by the lebhan faith, we get a free pass. On top of this, we lack the power of Somnihein on such a. wide scale, unable to corrupt the masses to our cause.   To most of the eden, we are mad dogs. Insanity runs deep among those in my order and it brands us as heretic and zealot alike. I personally never put stock in the lebhan faith, but after all I've seen, it's hard to stay neutral. The Lebha are not religious. They never have been. Religion implies belief. You can't put faith in what you already know. Knowledge corrupts faith.   The Lebha refer to their gods in such mundane ways. Disenchanted would be a good term. Can you imagine discovering you were right along only to find it didn't make a difference to begin with? Where was I? I'm rambling again…

Tools of the trade

Much like our responsibilities, our tools are just as varied.  
  • The black garb: our suits are sleek, skin tight, and made of a carbon nanomaterial stronger yet lighter than steel. This is nothing new, but it's considered light armor in contrast to what most Eden soldiers wear.
 
  • Temporal emitters: Don't get any ideas. We can't speed up or slow down time. Do you know how many mistakes I could just wipe away? No. Temporal emission is the process of slightly altering the gravitational field our bodies make. Being able to isolate singularities has its perks. It takes advantage of relativity, and gives us the slightest little shift. It puts me less than a nanosecond ahead of everyone else. Believe me, that's all you really need.
 
  • Draugr: biosuits are not ideal forms of technology, but you can't deny their effectiveness. There are far too many things that go wrong and yet, the draugr continues to impress. Draugr are native to the vigil I took, and if you're lucky, you can befriend one. Chroniclers are always searching for the next tool to add to their toolbox. If you manage to find a proper symbiotic match, you take it. It makes the journey a little less lonely.
 
  • Locusts: Have you ever heard of grey goo? The locust is a small nanorobotic construct that breaks down biological material for repurposing. We use it to clear the dead from the battlefield once we've done our job but it's just as easy to kill two birds with one stone and just release them at the start of the battle instead. It's not pretty.
 
  • Nanite plagues: Sometimes we want to finish a fight before it begins. Nanite plagues are just what the title says. We can release nanites in a planet's atmosphere. Each will have the means of simulating or even constructing particular contagions. We can even isolate those contagions and have them attack only specific members of the population. Its particularly useful in assassination.
 
  • Bifrost rifles: It's the rainbow trail the rounds leave behind. I love watching it. The Eden use prism in everything so I thought the name fit the bill. A bifrost rifle is standard issue. Every Eden soldier has one. It's a railgun that fires tiny slivers of metal at roughly the speed of sound. The prism adds severe radiation poisoning on top of the physical damage.
 
  • Drones: I've always loved drones, but the eden have something special. Their drones are autonomous, each with it's our personality and unique AI presets. These drones are the closest thing to friends a chronicler has. They have a myriad of uses as well. From recon and sample collection to combat and psychotherapy.
   
The ship's interior is bleak, oppressive. It's dark, impossible to navigate, and every time I turn a corner there's something that doesn't add up. The ship is old, ancient even by eden standards, yet the tech here is so beyond anything I've even heard of.   Even the chairs we sit on could barely pass as comfortable. It's like the entire ship is designed to keep those inside on edge.   Despite the oppressive atmosphere, the ship's crew, if you can call them that, Are lively and full of energy. We are constantly being greeted by floating orbs, their voices cheerful as they go about their business. The orbs are black, with names written across their frame in white. The first we met was named Athena, a security drone. The second was named Apollo, who seems to run the ship when Argus is away.   When argus joins us, she does so in the company of a white orb that speaks with a woman's voice. "Do you want to talk about it, Francis?"   Argus waves her hand as if to shoo the orb away. "Not now, Psyche. We have guests." She sits across from me and smiles. "Almost there."   Fraeia crosses their arms and asks, "Where?"     Argus sighs, their upbeat demeanor dissolving. The woman before us looks tired, a sadness over them I can't quite put into words. "Right, okay. I'm sorry if I seem scattered. I have one last thing to do before I go."   "What happened to you?" I ask. She looks up at me and cocks her head, prompting me to be more specific, "You seem so different."   "Time does that." She replies.   "You know what I mean. What happened?"   "I can't really say. It wouldn't make sense and you wouldn't believe me. I'm older than I look." She hangs her head and runs her hand through her hair. "We'll get you refueled and set you back on the right path. Don't worry. My failures aren't worth telling."   "You're a chronicler though, an icon… a hero to an entire species."   Argus looks me in the eye and shakes their head. "It has costs. I have to hide truths best left buried. I've been through hell and back. I've seen things, done things I'd rather forget. I was excited to become a chronicler but...." She gestures to the ship around us and chuckles. "When armed with the greatest tech there ever was and ever will be, it's easy to forget how fragile we are. I'm not an eden. I wish I never agreed to take the vigil." She shakes her head again and leans back in her seat. "Humans aren't designed to be heroes." She stands up and gestures to the docking bay. "It's time. I'm needed elsewhere."     Fraeia nods and stands. I do the same. When I look Argus in the eye I see my own pain reflected back. It hits me then: this is a woman who's ready to die. I may never see her again. It reminds me of that day with Mouse on the spire.   If even Argus, the most steadfast of all of us, can't go on living, then how could I hope to push through?
       
Elysium
When the ship disembarks, argus moves to the bridge. Psyche hovers nearby, her endless questions proving to be more annoying than normal. Argus ignores them all the same, turning to Apollo who hovers on the far side of the bridge. "Apollo, I need you to lay in a course."   "Where to?"   "You know where." Argus replies with a knowing look.   The orb hovers in silence for several moments before speaking, "Understood. Farewell, Chronicler Bors."   "No need for goodbyes. The end is the beginning, after all." Argus takes a deep breath. "Prepare Chiron for launch."  
  In an unnamed system on a vigil world deep in eden space, a young woman named Argus sits in the cold snow. Her shelter is in ruins, the fire having gone out ages ago.   She wonders if it will hurt, the death that sings so sweetly on the cold breeze as it nips her face. The first vigils were fine, but this?   The vigil of soul is said to be the hardest to take and the hardest to explain. She was told to set up camp and wait. That's it. She will know if she succeeds. She spends her nights studying the faith, and her days with her eyes fixed to the horizon. She knows not what she waits for, or how long it will take. She only knows that she's almost out of time.   She ponders removing the suit, to speed up the process and finally meet the inevitable end, but something keeps her from doing it. She could just quit, have them pick her up, but the shame of defeat would be too much. What would mom think? she asks herself. Just a little longer... I'm almost there.   It's then that she hears signs of life, the crunch of snow as it packs down underfoot. She tries to peer through the screen of white, the blizzard that's been raging for days. She sees nothing, but as the sounds grow she sees a shadow appear.   It's humanoid. That's a good sign Argus has been here for ages and hasn't said a word to anyone since her arrival. It would be nice to speak to someone again.   The figure gets closer, waves when it sees Argus sitting in the snow, and sprints to close the remaining gap. They're wearing an eden suit, one designed to handle this frigid cold. It even has a helmet, unlike her own.   The figure sits beside her and nudges her shoulder, speaking in a voice that almost sounded familiar, "Sorry, I'm late."   Argus nods and tries to speak but can't seem to get the words out. It's as if her voice were frozen stiff as well.   "I remember, don't worry." The figure pulls out a device, a rod with heating elements wrapped around the top. It activates and in moments, Argus feels a rush of warmth as the coils glow orange, to red, and then white. She can almost feel the bones thawing.   "Thank you," she finally manages to say.   "Come on. You're done here." The figure stands and Argus follows.   Just a few meters away is a ship, and Argus rushes onboard. The figure appears with a blanket, wrapping Argus up the way a mother would their child.   "Who are you?" Argus asks.   "The one you've been waiting for." The figure answers.   A chipper voice calls out on the intercom, "Seal secured. Welcome to Olympus Chronicler Bors."   Argus looks up at the ceiling then to the figure. "I did it?"   "Well done."   "That's all I needed to do?" She asks.   "Almost." The figure replies.   They remove their helmet and Argus narrows her eyes. This face, that voice... adrenaline enters her veins. Her heart starts pounding against the inside of her chest.   The figure is human, a woman. Argus sees her own face staring back. She speaks with the same voice, but this woman is older… much older. Argus stares into the women's eyes and can almost see the end of time reflected back.   The woman speaks, rubbing the back of her head as she does, "Yeah, this is awkward."   "I don't understand."   "We're all bound by the loop." The woman gestures to the door, "That door leads to the rest of your life. Might wanna hang on. It's gonna be a wild ride."   "What about you?"   "This is where we disappear." They give a playful nudge toward the door with a voice as soft as silk, "Go on."  
  When the young woman finally leaves, Argus let's out the tears she's been holding back. Her body aches, her mind worn and tarnished. The transport disembarks from The Olympus and sets a course for The Fever Breach.   Argus composes herself and smiles at her surroundings. She takes the time to reflect on her life, the longest life ever lived by a human, if she even is human at this point.   "I hope it doesn't hurt," she says. She doesn't get a reply. "Maybe mom will be there." Again, there is only silence. Chiron was always the silent type. Argus stands with her head high as the warp drive activates.   She pulls out two coins from her pocket, taken ages ago from a blue planet her species once called home. "What they don't know wont hurt them."   She places the coins on the dash and chuckles. "Here's your payment ferryman. Hurl me into the Breach. Today, I enter Elysium."

Comments

Author's Notes

While often the spoilers are just a little extra story for context and the like, in this article, the spoilers are quite important. I would strongly suggest giving them a read if you're following along with the story.


Please Login in order to comment!
Feb 25, 2022 06:41

So many answers! Argus sounds ... troubled. And fast. Really love all of these concepts!

Check out my world World Behind the Veil!
Feb 25, 2022 07:56 by Bart Weergang

I don't understand.

Gues you could say:

I'm not in the Loop.

Feb 25, 2022 11:39 by R. Dylon Elder

This article shows what the chroniclers are and how they relate to the loop through Argus but it doesn't make it clear. My hope is it will be clear in the end, but I figured quite a few wouldn't be in the loop yet.

Feb 25, 2022 14:16

Whoa. You definitely need to write this as a novel or three. There is so much to unpack here. This world you have created is rich and alien in a way that feels almost comprehended. Of course I want to plunge ahead and see what happens. But I also want to linger and ponder and explore, probe it like a wound to feel how bad the pain is.

Jun 4, 2022 05:29 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Hmhmhmhmhmhmhhmhmhm that spoiler seems very familiar, haha. Ok, I vaguely recall who Argus is/was now— and I can see that the confusion was partly on purpose, what with her...having changed so much, herself.   Glad to finally learn about the chroniclers! Fascinating people, and we seem closer to the truth at the center of everything, now...

Powered by World Anvil