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December 25, 2014

South Pole Basin 

Lunar Farside 

 

It is not true that Farsiders never leave their city, merely that such events are rare and usually for a purpose. The construction of the South Pole station by Farsiders had been one such purposeful occasion, one launched over a Terran century ago by a Farsider monarch concerned about a recent Terran visit to the Moon. (Some Terran visitors to Farside City have pointed out that the Apollo missions took place over six decades later, but the Farsiders have the records of earlier 'interlopers' to show skeptical visitors of today.) With its neutrino detectors and concealed telescopes, the South Pole station is well-placed to directly monitor doings on Earth. Or for that matter, as Lady Lunar proved in the early 1980s, to strike at it. 

 

A collection of intellects vast and furious on Earth had realized the station's potential not long after the Communion crisis began - concealed as the station was, it was the perfect place to strike at an enemy in Earth orbit by surprise. What had been a location for observation could become a location for misdirection; a notion that appealed to the ruling government of Farside City, which liked the idea of saving the world they orbit without their true role ever being known. (Farsiders do love their secrets!)

 

And so, for much of the last two months, the greatest minds of Earth have come to its only natural satellite with a singular purpose. To build a machine to protect the planet from the Communion! Steve Murdock had offered what advice he could during its construction, but his experience with dimensional technology was all practical. It had come down to Dragonfly's specific genius and Miss Americana's vast storehouse of general knowledge to put the great work into practice. Caradoc, and the other non-scientists in the party of heroes guarding the weapon (as Steve was not allowed to call it around his employer) had rapidly found another role in the small lunar colony. 

 

Lunar soil ashy beneath his feet, Caradoc raised his gleaming blade to the sky, the shining tip above the heads even of the tallest Farsiders in their environmental suits. A new group of Farsider militiamen had been deployed that week - and their usual trainers were busy with an Earth-Prime holiday, an important one, but one that he could miss while Gina Evans was safely ensconced in the tiny pre-fab quarters that she had occupied for the last month. There would be time enough for celebration when the work was done. 

 

He spoke over the radio. 

 

"Your enemy will target your environmental suits first! They are not pirates, or conquerors, or enslavers. Your dead flesh will feed their ever-growing armies." He lowered his blade as the group shifted uneasily, and for a moment there was dead silence on the lunar plain besides the domed Farsider military base even on the radio frequencies they used to speak with each other outside the dome. 

 

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Running a successful technology company, being the boss of bright minds and coordinating multiple projects both simple and complex, had done exactly nothing for Dragonfly's ability to be hands-off on interesting, big projects. The subject of this particular project didn't help that any, either: she'd freely admitted that this technology didn't work on quite the same principles as her own suit, but she still considered it sensitive enough that she wasn't keen on letting anyone but their little group of Earthlings work on some of the pieces.

One of those pieces was sitting on the ground in front of her, mostly-complete, the many-jointed little arms deployed from her suit gauntlets carefully welding something in its innards. "W- no, don't touch that," she shot at one of the Farsiders she'd drafted as an assistant; it was more scolding than malice, but it wasn't the first time, either, and she no longer even turned around to look. "It's calibrating. Blue one - the blue one - yes, that one. Blinking means it's done mapping local space. Go plug it in."

She waited until he'd gone before sighing and resuming her work. "Think I could just buy little masks and environment suits for employees, fly them up here?" she asked Jill, snorting to herself at the mental image. "Not used to working with Farsiders; keep wishing I had a dozen Tresses instead. Better at taking - following - instructions."

She sat back, inspecting her work for a moment. "But. I have you, and that's most important. Keeps me honest," she joked, turning to look at her girlfriend. "No more orbital death rays. Good mad science. Environmentally friendly, won't be used to show them all!"

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"Aw, but showing them all appeals to my barely repressed exhibitionist streak," Jill teased, draping an arm over Dragonfly's shoulder, careful not to get too close to the soldering elements on her girlfriend's fingertips. Thankfully there hadn't been any dire accidents to demand the medic's immediate attention and even her bioelectric force fields weren't much use around so many delicate, unshielded electronics but keeping Mara grounded while she was so deep into mad science mode was just about a full time job anyway.

Learning about the extraterrestrial threat potentially headed for Earth had been sobering, dredging up memories of the Curator and his ringworld. It had been hard to wrap her head around the idea of an entire planet being completely wiped away, to imagine a war raging so far away that it was effectively invisible to them at home. She hoped that Iana, the Lor princess who'd crossed paths with the Interceptors more than once, was alright. Somehow, though, knowing that they were there, on the Moon of all places, actively preparing kept the whole thing from becoming overwhelming.

Leaning forward she planted a light peck on the side of Dragonfly's helmet. "Feliz aniversario, muñequita."

 

* * * * *


"...which is why we're out here running evasion drills, 'cause that seems like a real waste of perfectly good flesh, amirite?" Jack of all Blades cut in over the radio after several beats of uncomfortable silence, taking advantage of the lower gravity to add a theatrical somersault to the apex of his bounding leap and land next to Caradoc. The Farsiders had been willing enough to make alterations to one of their environment suits for the swashbuckling Terran and if it fit a little snugly neither he nor the more appreciative among the locals seemed inclined to complain.

Along with his wife and daughter he'd spent Christmas morning at his mother's house which had turned into quite the production now that Eden was getting old enough to actually enjoy the festivities. As much as he might have liked to take the entire day off his sister was determined to stay by Dragonfly's side throughout the lunar project and he had to admit that the chance to train a troop of moon men to help defend against alien defenders was too good for his ego to pass up. With his mother looking after Eden and Amaryllis Madison on Sanctuary, he and Min had teleported up to the station to lend a hand.

Which turned out to have been a good idea, since he wasn't sure how much more of the freed Omegadrone's pep talk the Farsiders could have taken. "Maybe dial back the fatalism a couple notches, huh, Steve-o?" he suggested in an encouraging tone over a private channel. "We're not dead yet, hermano."

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"Yeah, real inspiring," drawled Geckoman, lying on a moon-dust covered incline. He had foolishly had his Christmas dinner with Liz before teleporting up with Erik and Min, and was full of turkey and trimming and ham and veggies and oh god why. He lifted the arms of his space suit, slightly cumbersome, to recline behind his helmet. He'd brought his own custom spacesuit with him, and as such it largely resembled his usual costume. Only a little bulkier, with a full helmet with orange tinted lens, and large yellow Gs emblazoned on each side. He'd even stuck his belt on the outside of it.

 

Geckoman was oddly quiet, staring up at all the stars and vast infinite darkness of space he could see above him. "Man, it makes you wonder. With all that... space out in space, how many weird and horrific things are out there? How many of them want to come here? Do we need more lasers?"

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"That's the spirit of optimism we'll need to defeat the threat from beyond the stars!" Miss Americana quipped cheerfully, coming in for a neat landing after a short flight from the administration building. She wore a clear bubble helmet that fit to a snug silver cowl around her shoulders, but other than that and a certain extra thickness to her red, white and blue costume, she could've been standing on the surface of the Earth. Raising her camera, she caught a candid shot of Caradoc and Jack of All Blades, then a few pictures of the Farsiders in training.

 

With Dragonfly supervising the construction of the not-a-weapon, Miss A had found herself relegated to the position of back-up brain and project liaison. There was only so much that could be done to calm the public about the nebulous, rumored threat bearing down from the stars. ArcheTech was at the forefront of the public relations effort, of course, with Miss A herself hosting webcasts while the social media team put out FAQs and AMAs in bulk, tweeted updates, tumbled, instagrammed and snapchatted photos, and in general put out a phenomenal amount of useless but comforting information that managed to avoid conveying exactly how dire the situation really was. Being on the moon was almost like a vacation; at least she was taking pictures of other people for once! "Have we heard anything from the League yet?" 

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"...yes, you will triumph over your enemies and save your families," said Steve, belatedly echoing Geckoman and Jack of all Blades' words as he realized the impact his own speech would have on the morale of the Farsiders. He did his best to sound reassuring as he spoke, wincing as his words seemed inadequate to the task. At least the others are here now with me. It wasn't that he doubted the competence of the men and women that they'd been training over the last few weeks. With the end of their formal isolation some forty Earth-Prime years earlier, the Farsiders had developed a strong tradition of civil defense, with both men and women trained in light arms and melee alike. The Farsider military might have little experience in war, but it certainly had the training and equipment for it - at least by the standards of Earth-Prime.

 

 But this is all too familiar. 

 

After all, he had seen the domes of the Farsiders cracked and broken and watched them writhe as they were dragged out for the forges, their flesh combusting in the Lunar heat even as it was-

 

But that will not happen here. He looked at the heroes with him, first his friends and then the robotic shadow of his lover, and nodded. 

 

"All will be well," he spoke aloud. "You are a brave people, with the finest defenders in existence at your side." That, at least, was perfectly true. 

<"Planetary space suits all of you,"> he said on his private channel to the other heroes, "<you should be here more often.>" Responding to Geckoman, he added, "There are a great many creatures in this universe hostile to your form of life. But many of them are not even aware of Earth-Prime's existence," he said, obviously doing his best to be reassuring. "Nor will they be for some time." 

 

"Mamsers!" said one of the Farsiders, a short, stocky fellow for his people, which meant he was nearly as wide as Erik and only a few inches taller than Caradoc in full armor, approached, his gold and green suit gleaming when he passed through patches of light on his way to join the heroes. The shortened version of his name, to Terran ears, sounded something like 'Peteo'. "We've lost contact with the City," he said, his voice conveying what a threat that was to your average citizen of the far side of the Moon. "Can you reach your people?" 

 

Sure enough, they could not - not even Miss Americana's equipment could reach the Lighthouse. 

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"Awww. Happy anniversary, princesse," Dragonfly replied, with a tone that betrayed her smile even behind her helmet. "Admittedly not how I'd wanted to spend it. Need to make sure we have a planet for many future ones, though. Which reminds me - have a surprise for you, once we're done here. Unfinished, can still show it off. Make up for spending the day - this day - on an orbiting rock watching me yell at--"

"We've lost contact with the City," he said, his voice conveying what a threat that was to your average citizen of the far side of the Moon. "Can you reach your people?"

"What?" Dragonfly's head snapped to the side, calling up her suit's communication suite. "That isn't...can't reach my home base, either," she confirmed, darkly. The tools coming out of her gauntlets retracted, plating snapping together with an ominous click. "Loss of contact to one point is accident or coincidence. Loss of contact to three - in three separate locations - is attack or anomaly. Considering circumstances...."

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Geckoman had gone from horizontal to vertical in a flash, despite the sluggishness of wearing a spacesuit in low gravity. "Man, why can't we take a nice vacation anywhere, guys? See some sights, sip on some margaritas, take in the sweet moon vistas." He wasn't openly arming himself, but to those familiar with him (like the Interceptors and Dragonfly), his casual fiddling with his belt showed him loosening equipment in sheaths and unfastening covers and pockets. His stance was loose, yet ready.

 

"So, guess they're here. Or something is." Geckoman kept his voice deliberately upbeat and light. "Find 'em, kick 'em in the ass and then go home?"

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"That would be because we're ruggedly handsome, incredibly brave inspirations to all humanity, Goggles," Jack explained before taking a look at Geckoman's space helmet and waving a hand in his direction. "Space-Goggles. Whatever." Turning back to Caradoc, his expression went more serious. "So, listen. I've got a feeling I'm gonna have to go loud on this one. How much of that Omega juice you sling around do you figure I could handle without getting crispy on the inside?" The fencer doubted the enemy was going to polite enough to stick to close combat where his usual tactics would be effective. He'd experimented with larger scale energy constructs in the past but it was always a risky thing.

 

* * * * *


Jill had already generated a half dozen dinner table sized disc of coherent bioelectricity by the time Dragonfly finished explaining what one loss of contact could mean, spacing them out to each side and over their heads. "Raincheck on the surprise, Marbar. How close are you to having this thing up and running?"

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"While I'm sure you're the best judge of your own capabilities for handling hostile energies, Jack," Miss Americana began diplomatically, if hastily, "it might be safer for you to absorb the charge from my laser beams instead of taking any chances with Caradoc's energy. I'd be glad to offer you some." Her hands began crackling with red, white and blue sparks of energy even as she kept talking. "It might also be prudent to move the trainees and ourselves to a more secure location until we get some idea of what's going on. If the Communion is interrupting our long-range communications, they may already be in-system." 

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"Aye, my blade would surprise yon hosts," agreed Steve. The holographic disguise that made shrieking black entropic energy resemble glowing mystical power would not work when transferred to Jack of all Blades - and the presence of Terminus energy during this attack could only increase the danger they were in. "Inside!" he called to the Farsiders, his voice cold and mechanical in their suits' receivers. "Beta positions!" Caradoc was an unimaginative, albeit careful, fighter - but Harrier, unlike his peers, had fought many battles in space and had taken a role working directly alongside the Farsiders in their military logistics. 

 

Inside, the atmosphere dome was a comfort - albeit a thin one, the crysteel overhead bulletproof and shielded against the sun's harsh rays, but all too vulnerable to the kind of firepower an interstellar enemy could bring to bear. They took up positions in the command post, a station built by the gadgeteers in the group that offered full access to the base's comm and computer systems, as well as some upgrades of their own. Sure enough, radio traffic from Earth and Farside City itself had been cut off by whatever effect had entered the system. "I'm still not detecting any penetration by the Planet-Killer or the other Communion signatures out in the inner Oort cloud," said Nyxon, the Farsider technician manning the control systems when they came in. "It's more like..." 

 

Suddenly, their radios crackled to life again. 

 

"Greetings, citizens of Farside City! The Star Knights are here to assist you!" Zooming in on the signal as it approached, the heroes could see no less than half-a-dozen armored Star Knights on their way towards their base, just emerging from the small space-time vortex that Star Knights occasionally used for long-distance interstellar travel. His armored body silhouetted against the big wall-screens that showed the oncoming Star Knights, Caradoc's feelings were hard to read. 

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"Not close enough to running," Dragonfly frowned, glancing over at the assembled machinery. Bits and pieces of it flitted through her mind, collecting together into their unified, space-bending whole...but there were too many gaps, too many missing parts. Not to mention the power.... "Worst case, could do something really stupid with it and my suit - get maybe a quick burst out of it. As likely to tear holes in spacetime, though." or violently fragment suit and occupant "Call it plan 'Z'. Option of last resort. Hey!"

She directed the last part at the Star Knights, striding their way across the lunar surface - she'd brought up her force field when the comms had cut out, and while she wasn't overtly aggressive she'd been doing the hero thing too long to immediately take it down. Who knew why they'd shown up or what they were chasing? Or what was chasing them? "Either your 'assistance' cut off most communications or we have problems. Problems might be you. No offense."

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"Well if you wanna play it safe, sure," Jack told Caradoc and Miss Americana, cracking his knuckles through the gloves of his spacesuit, "but my general philosophy is that if something sucks for me it sucks more for the guys I'm hitting." If anyone present had an opinion on just what that philosophy suggested about him they either had the good grace to remain silent or were interrupted by the arrival of the Star Knights.

The swordsman had never met one of the armored cosmic lawmen in person but the situation made the scar tissue between his shoulder blades itch. "Gecks, you said the Knights took heavy losses trying to save Princess Iana's planet, right? Does it seem weird to anybody else that they'd have a bunch left over to send here if things are still hairy out in fancy-pants space?" Communications back to the surface cutting out right when the cavalry showed up didn't exactly put him at ease. "Call me paranoid but I think somebody's stealing your whole-lotta-hurt-in-a-shiny-tin-can shtick, Steve."

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"Yeah, the roboman said that the Star Knights got devastated fighting the Communion." Geckoman peered through his helmet, googles visible underneath. "That is quite suspicious." He sauntered forward a little towards the Star Knights.

 

The man in the green suit wiggled one finger. "But I'm feeling festive, so let's assume you are Star Knights. We're," he inclined his head at Erik. "Friends with some people of Lor. I know you're overstretched and lost a lot of your own, so while we appreciate the help, if you're not sure you can spare it, please. We can handle this. Go to where it's needed most." His eyes darkened. "If not, and my friends' suspicions are correct, run. Like I said, this is Earth. We can handle this."

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Miss Americana took her scanner out from one of the extremely subtle pockets in her uniform and trained it casually in the direction of the newcomers. "It's most likely them who are our problem, Dragonfly," she reported, her voice mild but her eyes extremely alert. "They've got some kind of scanner block up and I can't get any readings on them at all. That's not the usual pattern for Star Knights as far as I'm aware. They like to show up clearly, the better for potential allies to trust them." She tucked the scanner away and cracked her knuckles. "So we pretty much have a problem, and we can't really get a good look at it remotely. The Farsiders are all under cover, should we go out and say hello?" 

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Caradoc grimly studied the approaching Star Knights, his mind on doomforges and organic consciousnesses controlled by cybernetic infiltration. "Yes. Let us go out to meet them." He tensed at the sight of Dragonfly already out there, and at the thought of his employer in jeopardy (and without his noticing!) he had no more words as his blade flashed to life and he strode directly for the nearest airlock alongside his companions. 

 

The Star Knights were a group of human-shaped armored figures cast in crimson, azure, gold, sable, and salmon. There were variations -  crimson had an extra set of arms jutting from his lower rib cage, azure's mask bore three eyeholes arranged on its forehead, and sable loped along on big, long arms like a gorilla, but for the most part all of them could have passed for normal superheroes above the streets of Freedom City. 

 

Crimson, evidently the leader, spoke in a strange young man's voice that was (by radio senses) _not_ coming from his suit, nor did the words entirely match up with the movements of his body as he produced a small verdrigris box from the chestplate of his suit. 

 

"Communications blackout was to protect you. We have come to deputize you. All of you. Trade your science for ours and know our protection."

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One would almost swear that space-crickets could be heard chirping for a moment as the silence hung over their offer, but that silence was shortly and unceremoniously broken when Dragonfly made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a humorless snort. "....no?" she answered, sounding more bemused than uncertain. "No. Don't mean to offend, would genuinely like to see Star Knight science some day, but not interested in trading. My science - this science, not all mine, admittedly, Farsiders and Miss Americana do good work - is not for sale at any price. Available by necessity only, and you do not demonstrate that requirement."

"Also not sure your offer is genuine," she added, cocking her head at them. "Not keen on being 'deputized' anyway - not really a team player - but have at least some reason to be suspicious of a large group of - am told - decimated space police happening to show up with mysterious, unclear, sort of threatening deals. Not big on the trust thing."

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Geckoman smiled. Then laughed, and shook his head. "See, now I don't know if you answered my question! Grue! The Curator! The Terminus!" He rolled his hips and moved towards the "Star Knights". "Our children killed Omega, big guy. We're planet Earth, son."

 

The green hero spread his arms wide, showing his yellow G to the floating suits of armour. "If you're the Star Knights, come to arrogantly proclaim defence of us like you'd normally do, unaware of how little we need your organisation... well, please remember, we welcome your Earth members for their courage and willingness to fight, not any need to deputize ourself to them. And if you're weird space nasties, put the little box away. Our science ain't for trade, but hot damn, does it trump your science. Isn't that right, Dragon Lass?" He snorted. Geckoman was not averse to help and teamwork. He'd spent so much time fighting alongside other people. Yet none of them proclaimed him to be their deputy. To his mind, a friend helped, an asshole decided you were under him. The question was how robotic were these particular assholes?

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"When the Communion comes, they will destroy inorganic as well as organic life," offered Pink, emotion stirring in that voice. "We come to liberate you so that you-" 

 

Red held up a hand, bringing the others to silence. "It cannot..." That mechanical head cocked, checking the group as Caradoc made his arrival to stand alongside his employer and her allies. Miss Americana followed, reinforcing for the Star Knights that they had the advantage neither in numbers or power. "All are the same. We cannot speak for what Star Knights have said. Mentor has been corrupted by a Communion virus. We stand apart from what we once were. But the enemies of all life approach your planet. What will you do?" 

 

Caradoc badly wanted to ask them "What do you mean, you 'stand apart'?" but he remained silent in the presence of so many people so much better at asking questions, his hand warily on the handle of his glowing blade. The atmosphere was tense, sand shifting beneath their feet. 

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"Can you tell us more about what happened to the Star Knights?" Miss Americana asked, curious in spite of herself. "We know many of them were destroyed along with the home planet of the Lor. How did this virus get started, and what kind of damage did it do? How did all of you escape from being destroyed?" She tried her sensors once more, but they were still frustratingly blank. With time and effort she was sure she could overcome the jamming, but that didn't seem to be on the agenda at the moment. 

 

Instead, she offered up her best diplomatic smile, which was very good indeed. "I'd also like to know what science you're interested in trading. On Earth I am the head of a large scientific corporation, and the exchange of knowledge is our business. If you could tell us more about what you need to know, maybe we can come to some sort of arrangement." 

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Dragonfly smiled despite herself at the praise to her own science, relative to the better-known Knights, but it was hidden behind her helmet...and an incoming stream of data grabbed her attention before she had a chance to reply. That was interesting. With other, more diplomatically-capable heroes handling the talking (and a reassuring lack of trust from her peers) she turned the lion's share of her attention over to the only remaining foreign signal on her suit comms.

Yes, she sent back, an almost organic stream of data - binary, like Pink's original message, accented but no less fluent. I can understand you. Binary - interesting choice. Robots, I'm guessing. Strong AI? Explains interest in danger to inorganics. Does not explain deception, though.

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It had been years since Erik Espadas' metamagi senses had first awakened and he'd grown as accustomed to them as the standard five the same way one got used to sleeping through the rumble of nearby train tracks. There was no moment in which he wasn't aware of the ozone tang of electricity running throughout the city, the white noise of heat from a stove or a nearby body, the myriad of indescribable ways in which the energy all around him filtered through like synesthesia. So he couldn't fail to feel the telegraph tapping aroma of radio waves being sent from the group of Star Knights directly as Dragonfly and Caradoc. Erik had been attacked my mind controlled friends or controlled himself often enough that he didn't need to be a scientist to figure out why a bunch of obviously fake space robots would be singling out the two armored heroes and the swordsman felt his already thin patience decisively snap. Nobody but nobody was hacking his sister's girlfriend or his morose drinking buddy on his watch.

"Ay, Rainbow Brite, keep your EM to yourself! They're pulling an Archeville, hit 'em hard!" he snarled on an open channel, already sprinting forward with bounds that could have been impossible in Earth's gravity. Ignoring Miss Americana's earlier concerns Jack reached out for the most readily available source and drew a dripping handful of viscous ultraviolet non-light from Caradoc's weapon, the sensation of the entropic power making his stomach clench and twist involuntarily. As he pushed through the nausea and pushed off from the lunar rock into a lunge the energy solidified into a wickedly curved scimitar which he raised in a two-handed grip. A heartbeat later his arc brought his down atop the apparent leader in the red armor with a merciless slash that cleaved from the left clavicle across to the right underarm before twisting back and ripping through the chest plate in the opposite direction. The phoney Star Knight didn't even have a chance to react before it was all over.

Exhaling and letting the terminus radiation evaporate from his fingertips, Jack turned his attention to the remaining Knights and pointedly, purposefully shoved his glove into the gaping tear he'd left in the red armor as the force that powered it, weaker than he would have expected, leaked out into the airless void. As he withdrew his hand a raw, crackling blade of crimson came with it, longer than his usual weapons of choice, closer to a claymore than a rapier for all that it was equally weightless. He hefted it to one side and set his jaw, the blade responding by snapping into sharper definition while a pair of smaller arcs of energy emerged to form a hand guard. "There can be only one, pendejos. Get out of my sight or bring it on!"

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You can talk! Was there joy in binary? It was hard to say - but the stuttering of 0s and zeroes certainly sounded emotional. I thought both of you were dumb when that other one didn't answer me! My name is Salmon. What's yours? Then followed an inarticulate eruption of ones and zeroes from Pink as Jack of all Blades sprang into action and sliced its compatriot in half, the top half arcing away under the low lunar gravity. low lunar gravity. As Jack shoved his hand into the rent in the armor, he realized he could feel something inside - something soft and flexible covering something hard and unyielding that nevertheless did not feel like the rent armor that had given him the energy. 

 

The top half of the Crimson knight landed next to Caradoc, who truthfully was so surprised that he had not moved or spoken during the whole affray. It rolled, and as it did the top half of the armor retracted into a tiara-like shape around the forehead of the fallen creature within, revealing the dessicated, grey-scaled face and torso of an alien whose blank white eyes stared endlessly at nothing. Jack realized, as he saw the figure, that it was a humanoid torso, or what was left of one, that he had been feeling inside the armor. 

 

"01100011 01110010 01101001 01101101 01110011 01101111 01101110!" exclaimed the goldenrod Star Knight in the rear. "Vengeance!" 

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Geckoman sighed. Dammit, Erik. He'd glanced at what had rolled over to Caradoc. And at what was in the armour Erik'd cut open. Man, he was glad he could not smell things in this spacesuit, except maybe his own sweat. "Man, no vengeance, no vengeance!" He turned and began to run from the goldenrod Star Knight armour, visibly unwilling and panicked at the notion of having to fight a Star Knight armour.

 

Of course, halfway into his movement, one of his steps, rather than carrying him across the weightless surface, launched him. The Geckoman threw himself in a spinning backwards jump from a standing position. He closed the distance between his original position and the position of the yellow Knight, coming down from above with a crashing zero gravity spinning kick.

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Caradoc looked down at the gaping eyes of the corpse beneath his feet - he had seen enough to know a corpse when he saw it. 

 

They called for vengeance. 

 

Around him, the city burned and the bodies of its defenders lay in ribbons, desecrated before the eyes of the watching world so that its citizens might know the cold fires of entropy on their soul before the Doom Coil devoured their souls and destroyed their world. His limbs broken, an eye gone, Bowman begged, "Say something! Damn you! Say something!" a moment before Harrier's iron fist ended his life. As the Freedom League had fallen, the Omegadrones had said not a word. Why would they? 

 

They called for vengeance. 

 

Caradoc was back on the Moon, amid a scene of war against the Star Knights, with the Communion bearing down on them and his friends and lover at war with, at war with - my life means nothing. 

 

When the salmon-colored Star Knight stepped forward, burning energy weapon in its hands, Harrier knew exactly what he had to do. He stepped between the robot and Jack of all Blades and grabbed its arm, pulling the blade close against his abdomen. He felt Terminus steel rend and flesh burn beneath it, pain radiating through his body as he held that wrist tight. When he spoke, his voice was a harsh whisper that carried across the radio link among the heroes on the Moon. 

 

"We are not your enemies."  

 

BOOM! 

 

And with that, the sky erupted with a Hawking flash and radio explosion as space itself tore open! Erupting from the flash above came a lean, long silvery vessel, its lines showing no viewports, no windows, no features at all. A vessel of the Communion - and as great green bolts came erupting from the ship to rip and tear at the ground all around them, it was clear it did not come in peace! 

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