It had been several months since Katrina's last operation against the Kuragin Republic. Since that time, the Republic had dissolved and been re-formed into the new Adamarian Federation. Although a political revolution could have been an opportune time for the Calvarians to cause mayhem within the ranks of their nemesis, the swift and effective coup that was formulated by the new president Michael Williams left them with little opportunity to create disorganization. Now, Michael was rebuilding the military of the old Kuragin Republic into an effective and deadly war machine, the likes of which hadn't been built by the Kuragin peoples in hundreds of years. Time was running out. It was during this time that Katrina was called to a private meeting with Emperor Ben-Jammin himself to discuss the matter.
Katrina stepped through the door to one of Ben's study rooms, within one of his many hidden castles spread across Calvarian space. The room was dark and filled with books, scrolls, and relics of ancient times, of which Ben was particularly fond.
Ben-Jammin: "Ah, Katrina. It feels like an eternity since we last spoke."
Katrina: "Well, it is a first to see you without that armor of yours on."
Ben-Jammin: "I'm getting a new one. The Chrome was nice, but a bit too cliche. That and it didn't look awesome enough."
Katrina: "You would be the one to favor appearance over protection."
Ben-Jammin: "Intimidation alone can be quite a fearsome weapon."
Ben-Jammin: "The Calvarian commanders have been busy analyzing the data you recovered from Outpost 79."
Katrina: "You mean the one the Kura-I mean, Adamarians built on the edge of our territory?"
Ben-Jammin: "Aye, the same. That new terminology will take some getting used to. Regardless, the new military that Mr. Williams is creating is already very formidable, and I fear that if his build-up isn't stopped, or at least impeded, soon we may be facing a massive enemy military power that exceeds our own."
Katrina: "What of the other brikverse nations? Surely our exports and aid to the other empires has bought us some allies."
Ben-Jammin: "Perhaps, but I wouldn't wish to involve them in Calvarian affairs. The little contact we have had with the other nations has already shown that they aren't at all like our people. I worry that out own people won't be able to work alongside them, and I won't risk our "allies" interfering in our business. The Galactic Republic has already offered their support, but again I don't want their troops here and I don't want the negative stigma of dealing with peaches, even though I don't really have anything against them. Bringing allies into our territory would make us look weak and that's not a good thing in the eyes of our society."
Katrina: "Our people believe in their emperor and in what he feels is right. They will go with your decision, no matter what."
Ben-Jammin: *sighs* "I believe what you say. But for now, let us focus on the issue at hand. The issue I brought you here for."
Ben walks over to a table covered in maps, scrolls, and goblets.
Ben-Jammin: "The military heads informed me of everything they managed to uncover from that outpost you raided. Most of the data you found seemed to be little more than mundane logistics and supply routes that the Adamarians had been using for some time. Most of what we found we already knew thanks to CSIB agents, but there were some pieces of information that I found rather troubling."
Katrina: "Like what?"
Ben-Jammin: "One of the pieces we found was an encrypted message that was sent to one of the Adamarian core planets. Its using a newer code system that we haven't yet been able to break, but we believe that it may be relating to the formation of the new government. A sort of "post" sent to all Adamarian bases across the galaxy that informs them of the creation of the new government. Until we crack their code however, we can't be certain."
Katrina: "Anything else they discovered?"
Ben-Jammin: "Yes, and this one is of the most concern to me. According to the files, one of the logistics routes being used by the Adamarians was shipping a large amount of mining gear to a strange planet known as Falrena."
Katrina: "Apart from the fact that they're digging up more materials for their war effort, is there something else about that?"
Ben-Jammin: "The files said that, shortly before your attack, they found something. A relic or artifact of some sort, within one of their mines. Apparently it killed all the miners nearby and vaporized their equipment. Since then, the Adamarian garrison on the planet has requested a significantly larger number of gear and even an increase in military personnel."
Katrina smiles. "Sounds like another mission for me."
Ben-Jammin: "Indeed, that was what I called you for. Your going to Falrena to discover what that artifact is. It may have killed a few miners, but it can't be much of a challenge for one such as yourself. Regardless, take caution. Falrena lies on the very fringes of Calvarian space, and its likely that the Adamarians are already well aware of the lost of their outpost. Be careful."
Katrina: "Don't worry, my lord. Whatever is in that mine will be ours shortly."
Ben-Jammin: "There is one other matter that I wanted to discuss with you."
Ben signals toward the door nearby, and soon after a band of men in blue and black armor march into the room.
The armored men enter the room, eight in all, and form lines in front of the Emperor and his Knight.
Ben-Jammin: "Since your last mission, I've been training a new, yet smaller, branch of specialized marines that I've created specifically for your command. Allow me to introduce the Neo-Crusaders, a band of the best warriors to come from anywhere in Calvaria. All of them have seen no less than twelve battles and have emerged victorious, and all of them have been trained in numerous combat methods by veterans and trainers from across the brikverse. They are among the greatest warriors you will ever see."
Katrina: "Well, this is new. Thank you, my lord. I am honored to take command of these warriors."
Ben-Jammin: "Know one thing, however. If you wish to lead them, you must prove your own honor before them. These men were taken from the very cradle of our race, and they put victory in battle and honor above all else. They will not follow your lead until you have shown them that you are truly a warrior beyond compare."
Katrina: "Prove my honor?"
Suddenly the commander of the Neo-Crusaders lunges forward, with a Blue Transparent Chainsaw
in hand! Katrina quickly ignites her beamsword and parries his blow just in time.
Katrina jumps to the side as the commander swings around for a second blow, which Katrina blocks with her shield. Ben-Jammin sits behind his desk and patiently watches as his most trusted companion battles his new creation.
The commander swings his blade around for another strike as Katrina catches it with her beamsword.
Thinking quickly, she bashes the commander in the face with her shield, knocks his weapon from his hands, and kicks him in the chest, sending him flying into the wall.
As she readies her final strike, Katrina is surprised as the commander rolls over and kicks her. The force from the blow was powerful, even with her armor on, and Katrina went flying backwards as her beamsword fell from her grasp.
Katrina quickly gets to her feet as the commander grabs his chainsword and prepares to strike.
The commander is surprised as Katrina grabs his wrists, quickly stopping his attack.
Katrina: "Enough of this!"
Katrina pushes him back and kicks him in the face with such force, it was surprising that his visor didn't break.
She then sweeps his legs, sending him crashing to the ground, dazed.
Katrina recovers her gear, and pins the commander to the ground. Ben slowly claps behind the table.
Katrina: "What was that? Are you trying to have me killed?"
Ben-Jammin: "Killed? Why would I kill my closest confidant, greatest warrior, and only real friend?" He laughs calmly. "No, they wouldn't kill you. I would never have allowed it. You only dueled to prove your strength to them. They never would kill unless I gave the order. Well, would. They are yours to command now. Congratulations."
Neo-Crusaders: "Hail, Lady Candor! Hail Emperor!"
Katrina: "These warriors will certainly serve us well."
Ben-Jammin: "You'll find that they are more than a match for even the most elite Adamarian troops. They fear neither death nor pain, and have no pity against the enemy. They answer to you now."
Katrina: "Thank you again, my lord."
Ben-Jammin: "Oh, you don't have to call me that. I truly prefer Ben or Ben-Jammin. The whole my lord thing is both cliche and irritating at times, to be honest."
Katrina smiles. "Well, I guess its time I headed out."
Ben-Jammin: "Time is of the essence. Hurry, but more importantly, be careful."
Katrina nodded and walked away. For an all-powerful emperor Ben was certainly a kind soul. She never really understood him, but she still hoped that he wouldn't change. He had respect for all, and put the interests of his empire above himself. She felt better now that she knew he trusted and admired her, and she wouldn't do anything to break that trust. Ben had said that she was the only real friend that he had, and now that she thought about it, she felt the same way. Even the other Calvarian Knights didn't seem to feel comfortable around her. Were they jealous? Did they suspect that she was attempting to manipulate the emperor? No, she thought, they wouldn't allow their jealousy and pride to come in the way of their goals. She certainly wouldn't. Katrina quickly put these thoughts aside, as it was time for her to do what she did best.
Prove her honor.