Based on the Star Trek: The Next Generation adventure “Marie Celestial” originally published in the book “A Fragile Peace: The Neutral Zone Campaign Vol. 1” by Last Unicorn Games © 1998
Tipping the Scales
The wind whistled through the peaks of Galdarast Prime, it’s high whipping pitches buffeting the cold rock while it’s song was echoed by the cries of falcons. Across craggy mountains and through deep valleys it blew, until, almost self consciously, it caught itself on the rim of a great dark crater. It seemed to lose it’s bluster in an instant and instead turn away ashamedly from the spires within. The flags hung limply across the grand temple of the Church of the Reaper.
Built from black, volcanic rock across the dry caldera of an extinct volcano, the temple was an awe-inspiring and frightening sight. Great towers adorned with skull and scythe motifs dominated both the domed cathedral and the plain office buildings. Mausoleums of archaic design crowded the modernized roadways. And on the outer edges symbolic pyres gave the sooty ground the appearance of volcanic life. Even the efficiently laid out space port on the other side of the crater seemed grim.
Death was the Reaper’s business, and no devotee would be allowed to forget that here. Needless to say, Galdarast Prime didn’t receive too many willing visitors.
It was, however, the hub for the Church, it’s system heavily defended by the Savarans as well as the impressive fleets of it’s wealthy cardinals. Despite the brooding facade the Church’s temple was not just for contemplation of mortality, but was the bustling business end of a galaxy wide religious order. The ferrymen worked tirelessly to ease the last gasps of all, to see the balance of life and death maintained, and to hunt down those who would pervert the spirits or the bodies of the dead for their own ends. Most bereaved gave a little of their worldly wealth to ease the transition of their departed into the next world. Given how many trillions of lives had passed on since the inception of the Dragon Empire, it followed that the Church was incredibly well funded.
In the basement of a gruesomely festooned office building, racks of servers whispered away in a perfectly controlled dance of data. Expensive portals to other worlds across the Empire remained open day and night feeding, not materials or people across the stars, but information. Records of the dead and dying were the primary movers. Extrapolating necromancy hot spots sucked up bandwidth. Finances whirled around them all.
But in one small corner of the network a few unusual subroutines continued their daily waltz. Processors that had until relatively recently been seeking very particular stories about uplift events or grainy pictures of a half-seen space vessel, now seemed to focus on feeds coming from the border between Golion and Altaran space. The Serpent’s Teardrop. Phrases like “temporal anomoly,” “dark zone interaction,” and “resurrection of a deity” organized themselves around a few, particular, unique names. Galen. David. Elocinda. Celie. Praxus. Silverhand.
Data whipped like the wind across an archaic display. Cardinal Trenar’s unblinking eyes didn’t miss a moment of it. Patterns played themselves out, the raw information conjoining inside his insect mind with perceptions beyond what the data net could bring him. He saw events triggered, lives changed, and shadows deepening across countless parsecs. Throughout all the myriad layers of information racing across the screens and through his mind he clearly saw something tipping the scales out of balance.
“Perhapssss,” he hissed to himself, “it is time to tip the scale back…”
With that he unfolded like a dry slender origami and stepped slowly from the midst of the data center towards the temple’s research laboratories.