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Heart of what remains of the Stellar Khanate
Lor time mark 1487.3 [March 28, 2016 (Terran Calendar)] 

S'zan Sar moved to his assigned location in a formation that included dozens of his fellow Khanate soldiers.  Sar's platoon was just one of hundreds that was gathering in the large courtyard of the Star Khan's reconstructed palace.   

Like many of the core worlds of the Stellar Khanate, Zultas had been one of the first hit by the Communion when it suddenly arrived, sweeping aside Khanate defenses and assimilating both ships and personnel.  Luckily for Sar, he had been aboard a starship assigned to one of the border regions, and thus had escaped the fate of many other Khanate  soldiers and citizens.   

While under Communion control, the cyberforming of Zultas had begun, turning large regions of the world into computonium.  Since the Communion's defeat terraforming of the world had begun to reverse the damage, the computonium buildings and terrain stripped away to be reused or sold on the black market. 

Sar's starship had been among the forces that had stayed loyal to Star Khan, although the Khanate’s ruler had been severally weakened as a result of the cybernetics the Communion had implanted in him.  Had the right opportunity presented itself, Sar might have considered deserting from the Khanate forces, as many had done.  Several warlords had declared their dominion over the Khanate, but in reality only brought a limited number of systems under their control.  Other worlds had simply declared themselves independent from the Khanate, often reforming the governments that had been in power when they had been conquered by Star Khan. 

Now, Sar was back on Zultas, his unit among the many recalled to the Khanate capital.  Countless rumors had spread through the Khanate forces about why they had been recalled and consolidated around Zultas.  Some had said that Star Khan was dying, and his potential heirs wanted as many loyal troops nearby to help them retain power once he died.  Others claimed that one of the warlords challenging Star Khan's rule was preparing strike directly at the Khanate capital.  But even as rumors ran rampant among the gathered forces, the appearance of Justicars among them ensured that order and obedience remained in place.   

Even as the thousands of Khanate troopers gathered into formation within the courtyard of the Khan's palace, Justicars could be seen moving among the ranks.  Dressed in teal, black and white armor similar to that worn by Star Khan himself, and carrying power staves, the Justicars were among Star Khan's chief lieutenants, serving to ensure order and discipline throughout the Khanate.  Although many had been killed during the Communion invasion, the remaining Justicars had been one of the key factors in preventing the Khanate from completely disintegrating.   

Sar was pulled from his thoughts, as a figure appeared up on a large balcony that overlooked the courtyard.  Kinan Khan, dressed in his powerful power armor with the large white six pointed star on the chest, moved out toward the edge of the balcony, overlooking the massed troops below.  Two other unusual figures could be seen just behind and to either side of Star Khan.  On his left stood a massive figure easily over seven feet high, a Kovald heavy-worlder with a massive, muscular build.  Over one shoulder the hulking figure had a thick metallic club with multiple studs along one end.  To Star Khan's right was a lean female figure, a four-armed humanoid known as a Shoon, a popular choice as gladiators in Zultas' game-pits.  This Shoon was dressed in a black reinforced bodysuit, and carried a staff in two of her four hands.   

Although the thousands of gathered Khanate soldiers had been quiet while standing in formation, an even deeper silence seemed to gather over the courtyard as Star Khan reached the edge of the balcony.  Gone was any evidence of the alterations the Communion had made to Star Khan.  Dressed once more in his regal power armor, the Zultasian ruler stood proudly, his coldly intelligent black eyes looking out over the crowd below...

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"Loyal soldiers of the Stellar Khanate." Star Khan began, his voice as deep and resonating as ever, "through your noble and tireless efforts, the Khanate has been preserved, even as a multitude of forces were arrayed against us to tear it apart!  As I recovered from the grievous harm caused me by the Communion and the 'Coalition' after they rescued me from the Communion's clutches, you stood against the traitors and usurpers that sought to capitalize on my weakness."

"Your bravery and dedication has been noted, and you will be rewarded!"  A loud cheer sounded over the courtyard as the gathered Khanate soldiers responded to their revived leader.

Star Khan waited a moment as the cheer died down.  "But for the moment, there is still much to be done.  While you and thousands of others have been fighting to preserve the Stellar Khanate, I have been overseeing preparations that will strengthen our forces and allow us strike back at those that have betrayed the Khanate or taken advantage of our vulnerability.  Those preparations are now complete, and it is time to restore the Khanate to its former glory!" 

Another round of cheers erupted over the courtyard, and as Star Khan waited for it to die down once more, more than a dozen figures emerged from the lower floor of the palace, walking out to form a line in the open space between the assembled Khanate troopers and the palace.  The figures were all Zultasians, dressed in Justicar armor, but without the helmet and hood worn over the helmet.  Turning to face toward the palace and Star Khan, the figures all kneeled down, as a group of other figures emerged, half carrying a Justicar helmet and hood, the other half a power staff. 

"Assembled before you are nobles and commanders who have continued to prove their loyalty to the Khanate.  Instead of seeking to expand their own power at the expense of the Khanate, or leaving to join those who have betrayed us, they remained steadfast in their duty.  As reward for their unwavering loyalty, I am inducting each into the ranks of the Justicars."  At Star Khan's words, an attendant with a helmet and hood stepped in front of each of the kneeling new Justicars, placing the helmet on the individuals' head, followed by the hood.   

"As Justicars, you will be the charged with ensuring obedience and loyalty to the Khanate from all its citizens, and will be answerable only to me as you perform your duty."  As Star Khan spoke, the attendants that had provided the helmets and hoods stepped back, as the other attendants carrying the power staves stepped in front of each kneeling figure.  The attendants held out the weapons, which the kneeling figures reached up to grasp, but did not take from the attendants just yet.  "Do you swear completely loyalty to me and the Stellar Khanate, promising to continually strive to protect the Khanate from all enemies?" 

"We so swear!"  Responded the kneeling figures in unison, as the attendants then released the power staves and stepped back from the new Justicars, returning to their place near the palace wall.

"Then rise my new Justicars!"  Star Khan called out, rising his hands upward as the kneeling figures stood back upright to cheers from the gathered Khanate soldiers.  After letting the cheers sound for a time, Star Khan waived his hands outward to signal a stop, and once the gathered troops had gone quiet, he continued, "With the ranks of the Justicars expanded, and the efforts to reinforce our might forces complete, the time has come to remind the galaxy why it feared the Stellar Khanate!" 

"You and your comrades will begin the task of restoring the Khanate to its true glory!  Those that tried to seize power for themselves and wrested away control of Khanate systems will be brought to heel and punished for their crimes against the Khanate! The usurper Sovereign will be driven from the worlds he seized in the wake of the Communion's defeat and reduced to a mere pirate once more!  Those worlds that have sought to claim independence will be brought back into the fold!"

"And when we are done, The Star Knights, the Praetorians, the Republic, the Unity and all the other powers that have ignored our suffering will once again tremble in the shadow of the Khanate and the stars will be ours for the taking!"  Star Khan's voice had continuously risen during the last several lines of his speech, his hands reaching up toward the sky as he finished.

"Khan!  Khan!  Khan!"  The gathered troops began chanting, their voice echoing in the courtyard and beyond.  Star Khan looked back down at his gathered forces, listening to their chant for a few moments, before he turned away from the courtyard and started back toward the door into his palace, followed by the Kovald and Soon.

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As the doors to the balcony closed behind Star Khan and his two attendants, the galactic tyrant staggered, almost collapsing to the ground before the towering Kovald caught him and helped keep him on his feet.  The air around Star Khan flickered a moment, and then the hologram which had been surrounding him shutoff, reveling his true appearance.   

While Star Khan was wearing his power armor, the partially translucent cables that the Communion had attached to his throat, wrists and spine were once more in place, a thin flow of silver fluid sloshing through them.  The conqueror's normally lean features were even more gaunt and thin than they had been while he had been the Communion's herald and mouthpiece.  Although his cold black eyes still held their typical intelligence, they were sunken, with dark circles surrounding them. 

"I need more of the Communion nanite plasma."  Star Khan stated in a tired, weak voice.   

"Our supply is running rather low I am afraid great Khan."  Replied a smooth confident voice as two other figures approached the weakened Star Khan and his two guards. 

The figure that had spoken was tall, with a lean figure, dressed in a white jumpsuit that identified him as a scientist.  A wide belt with several rectangular attachments was around the figure’s waist.  What skin that was visible was dark orange in color, and his short hair black mixed with dark red.  But perhaps the figures most striking feature were his dark yellow eyes, which gleamed with a cunning intelligence that seemed to constantly be analyzing everything. 

The other figure was a bit shorter, dressed in black robes which hung loosely on her figure.  The female figure had pale skin, with long dark grey hair.  Bright violet eyes shone out from her delicate face, seeming to possess both deep wisdom and a wild intensity.   

"Then you need to make more of the nanite plasma!"  Star Khan snarled weakly, focusing his dark gaze on the figure dressed in white.  

The orange skinned humanoid stopped near the Zultasian tyrant, examining him for a moment as he calmly replied, "unfortunately I still have not been able to successfully produce a synthesized nanite plasma that provides all the benefits of the true Communion nanites.  In any event, reliance on the nanites is only a short term solution, we need to restore the organic tissue and organs the Communion removed, to make you whole once more." 

Pulling himself back up to his feet and free from the support of the Kovald heavy worlder, Star Khan swayed ever so slightly before managing to maintain his balance.  "You are no closer to any procedure to restore me than you are to replicating the nanites." 

"Do not be so sure great Khan."  The white clad figure stated as his yellow eyes coming up to focus on Star Khan's black ones.  "I believe my research has found a viable option, but it will require gathering a number of materials.  There is some information that we will need, which can only obtain from some of your most dangerous foes.  I already have a plan for obtaining the necessary information, one which will also provide an opportunity to secure an additional supply of Communion nanites to help sustain you for the time being."

Star Khan was quiet a moment as he peered into the figure's dark yellow eyes.  At least he gave a slight sneer as he replied, "then let us waste no more time."  The tyrant's head then turned to regard the female in the black robes.  "And what of your brethren?  Are they willing to serve me in exchange for an opportunity for revenge against the Lor Republic?" 

The dark clad female, the very image of a Lor, peered at Star Khan with an intense gaze.  "The Conclave is ready to assist your forces as needed Kinan Khan.  However, we will not do so as slaves.  Do not attempt to leash us as Hounds, or you and your forces will learn to regret that folly!" 

Star Khan studied the female Lor a moment, before giving her a small nod of his head.  "You and your brethren will remain free, so long as you remain loyal to me and aid my forces in reclaiming the systems that have been taken from me." 

The female Lor bowed slightly in response, and Star Khan then turned his gaze back to the orange skinned humanoid in white.  "Begin the preparations, I will pass on instructions to the Justicars remaining behind to begin the reconquest of the systems that have broken away."

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Magna-Lor, the new capital of the Lor Republic
The Tower of the Sacred Assembly of the Prophets
Lor time mark 1488.9 [April 2, 2016 (Terran Calendar)] 

One of the oldest Lor colonies, Magna-Lor was selected as the site of the new capital for the Republic after the defeat of the Communion.  The planets population had swelled as a result of the displacement of citizens from various Republic worlds that had fallen to the Communion.  This had led to wave of new construction across the planet, its cities swelling in size. 

Nova Lor-Van was the largest, oldest city on Magna-Lor, renamed after the destruction of Lor-Van, and thus had become the central seat of the Republic government.  Like all the other cities on the world, its boundaries had grown immensely from new construction, but the heart of the city had wide plazas lined by classical Lor buildings.  One of the most prominent was the Tower of the Sacred Assembly of the Prophet.   

The Sacred Assembly of the Prophet dated back to the earliest records on Lor-Van, a religious assembly that included a small number of psionically talented Lor with precognitive abilities.  These prophets and seers were believed to have been chosen by the Star Gods to guide the Lor to their destiny, and had become influential advisors amongst the Lor.   

It was with the Assembly's influence that the Lor moved quickly toward a global civilization on Lor-Van and then expanded into the stars.  But, as the Lor expanded their understanding of science, the average citizens’ faith in the Assembly as a religion had waned.  Over the centuries, the Republic government and military assumed what had been the Assembly’s role in the training of mentats, and the Sacred Assembly had become little more than a ceremonial aspect of Republic society.   

That was until the destruction of Lor-Van, and the desperate struggle against the Communion.   

The surviving towers of the Assembly throughout the Republic began to see an influx of Lor returning to prey to the Star Gods and seek the guidance from the seers.  With the Assembly gaining influence once more, it was able to reassert many of its ancient privileges on Magna-Lor and elsewhere.   

Just as the Republic government centralized around Magna-Lor, so too did the Assembly tower on the planet become the most prominent.  The current High Prophet, seeress Arolla-Nor, resided in the tower on Magna-Lor, along with most of her advisors.  The most talented seeress the Assembly had known in some ten generations, Arolla-Nor had managed to rise to her current position following the death of the previous High Prophet and many of the other senior prophets on Lor-Van.  Still a relatively young adult by Lor standards, Arolla-Nor was the youngest High Prophet in the Assembly’s history. 

Arolla-Nor currently knelt in the center of a chamber on the upper floors of the tower, a number of other prophets kneeling around her.  All were dressed in long white robes, embellished with golden thread along the fronts and sleeves.  Tall windows rose on all four walls, providing spectacular views of Nova Lor-Van beyond.  But none of the room’s occupants were focused on the view, all having their eyes closed in deep in meditation.   

Suddenly Arolla-Nor's eyes shot open, as she rocked slightly where she knelt.  Those gathered around her opened their eyes as well, apparently aware the High Prophet had emerged from her meditation.   

"Have you seen a vision High Prophet?"  One of the others gathered in the chamber asked as the Arolla-Nor climbed to her feet.

"Yes, an opportunity has presented itself."  She replied with a sweet smile.  "I need to get to Coalition Victory Station as quickly as possible."

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