On the afternoon of December 31st, 935 PF, Lacryman hold on a former Coalition base upon Delsidia III was unexpectedly interrupted. Despite use of potent psionic shields, the base was infiltrated, and quickly overwhelmed by Coalition forces. In the control center, the operatives scrambled to find a solution. How had the Coalition managed to break through their psionic barriers and attack them so secretly?
As they pondered this question and panicked to find a way to suppress the assault, a bolt of lightning raced through the command center and killed an officer. The shadowy figure of Mauta emerged through the door, standing before the Lacrymans not as just the stranded Arkovan refugee, but as the wrathful god he had come to be known as by the Chirotrani. Mauta continued to strike down the frenzied Lacrymans with his bolts of death. Soon after, Arro and ASURA-04 emerged, and joined in the bedlam. Within minutes, only one Lacryman remained alive, held fast in a thrall by Mauta’s power. Arro sent a communication to Janet, who had lead a force into the lower sectors of the base and wiped out the Lacrymans within. Janet reported taking four prisoners. Gathering up the survivors, the crew established new authority on the base, and then returned back to Arro’s appointed vessel, the CS Whiteking.
Aboard the Whiteking, Arro made report to Colonel Ressa Armandag. In the weeks that had passed since the group emerged from Mayan space and joined the new alliance, Arro had managed to lead several successful strikes against Lacryman forces on Delsidia. His most recent victory marked the official removal of Lacryman presence in the Delsidia System, but he was still wary of assault. He and Ressa discussed trying to create a fool-proof defense against them, so that regardless of what tactics they used, they would not be able to make a strike against the Coalition’s new core.
It was eventually proposed that they attempt to combine use of alchemy with technology, and research a barrier composed of minute dimensional disturbances- a fine mesh of tiny, normally harmless anomalies wrapping the circumference of the system. Mauta stated such a device would require an inexplicable amount of energy, but Rachael proposed a lure engine and a powerful computer network could allow the process to be replicated millions of times over again and distributed through a subspace network that would ultimately require them to use only a fraction of the energy to maintain it. The result would be a field of disruption that would block all Lacryman entry into the system without doing any significant damage to the spatial fabric surrounding Delsidia.
Arro asked Janet and Mauta to take ASURA-04 and head back to Maya, to see if Ahriman couldn’t help them find a suitable alchemical frequency that could be used in such a device. Meanwhile, Arro and his science staff set in to begin research immediately. Many on his crew protested, stating there was no immediate rush, and that it was New Year’s Eve. Arro felt it was more important to attend to the task at hand than to be worried about honoring any silly holiday traditions, but after being lambasted by Tesla, he agreed to allow the crew an evening off- although he fully intended to do as much research as possible on his own.
Meanwhile, Chesed received a message from his parents saying they might show up at their glamorous seaside estate on Delsidia III that evening, and that he should come and see them. Chesed invited the rest of the group along, stating it would be more fun than hanging around the ship and waiting for Arro to change his mind.
Chesed, Tuona, Tesla, Kolibri, and Roth all took a shuttle to the planet, and went to Chesed’s family’s Delsidian home. Even Tesla was impressed at the size and luxury of the estate, which was complete with many facilities- indoors pools, large gardens, sports facilities, and even a private Scheinwelt Emulator. As they walked about the property, they were greeted by one of Chesed’s family servants, Woolburry. Woolburry saw that everyone in the party received a suite of their own, stocked with plenty of food and clothing, and prepared a wonderful dinner for everyone.
While enjoying themselves in the manor, Tesla received a message from, strangely enough, Maxwell Demian. He told Tesla that he was wanting to test a certain section of a recently released Scheinwelt program, and given her prowess back at the tournament, he was wondering if she and her friends would be interested. He told her that he was willing to compensate her for her efforts. Given that the Dhozra’s had their own Emulator, Tesla agreed.
She gathered up Tuona, Roth, and Kolibri, and they fired up the emulator, where they helped Demian test the current adversity settings on a certain program entity that had received complaints for being too problematic. After successfully resolving the issue, Demian agreed to send a package of rare goods to Tesla the next day, and the group retired to Chesed’s apartment, where they sat on the veranda and snacked and drank throughout the evening. Everyone shared their own New Year’s traditions, and the Arkovans were educated on the significance of the passing of the new year, a tradition honored by most of the different worlds but not honored by the Chirotrani.
The night passed with much conversation, laughing, and talking. At some point, Tesla received another message, this time from her father. He said he had missed her over Christmas, while she had been working to help remove the Lacryman influence from Delsidia. He sent her a video file that was a recording of an old Christmas when her mother was alive, which brought back all sorts of memories to the girl, both sad and happy. The evening went on, and eventually the group fell asleep, still out on the veranda.
Meanwhile, on Maya, Janet and the others were settling in for the evening in the Alma Nostra headquarters. As the sun set, she started to feel a bit nostalgic for old New Year’s celebrations, and in a moment of free-spiritedness, she and Mauta set off “fireworks”, by way of the sorcerer’s talents, and imbibed in some champagne Janet had smuggled off the ship earlier.
On the Whiteking, Arro sat alone, diligently going over files and trying to find places to obtain components for the proposed dimensional barrier. Ressa entered his chamber unannounced, and the two of them talked for a while, resolving their previous fight. Ressa said she felt horrible for what had happened, and told Arro that she had to confess something. She said that up until now, her allegiance had always laid with the Coalition- she owed her livelihood to it, and she was now responsible for the lives of countless others. Both she and Arro had responsibilities they couldn’t afford to take lightly, but she said she felt as if she had somehow gone too far. She had allowed her adherence to duty to let her compromise how she really felt, and if proposed with that dilemma again, she would not hesitate to throw aside her responsibilities. Arro told her that she would need to consider what that meant, and really scrutinize how she felt. She said she had been doing that for some time, and she knew that is how it would have to be for her to be able to live with the mistake she made when she chose to follow orders and let him be arrested and condemned to death. She confessed that for years, she had hoped that she and Arro could have been more than what they were, but she had managed to kill that possibility when she allowed her ambitions to overshadow her own real desires. She apologized, and got up to leave, but before she did, she told Arro he could trust her, and that in the future, she would always honor those close to her over anything else.
As she walked out of the room, Arro stopped her, and told her she was endangering everything she had stood for, and compromising her position as an officer of the Coalition. Ressa looked a little ashamed, and quietly stated she knew what she was doing, and turned to walk out a third time. However, Arro stopped her once more, pulling Ressa in and embracing her. The two kissed, and for the first time, they allowed themselves to be honest with each other.
The next morning, the group on Delsida woke up to the rising sun. They had been up most of the night, talking and sharing, and also doing a bit of drinking. Tuona said it was one of the best nights of her life, and she looked forward to the next year so they could do it again. She asked them all to help her make sure she could have her own tradition, and told them they would all have to make sure they would be there next year to do the same thing. The group made a promise as they gathered themselves together, and then scurried down to the kitchen for some breakfast.