It all began when the people of Gaia finally realized something terrible had happened to their planet. Twenty thousand years of industrialization, crust and mantle mining, rampant pollution, global warming and warfare for what dwindling resources remained took its toll on Gaia. Soon growing crops became nearly impossible, even with the aid of technology. Centuries of sporadic warfare finally became constant; the fight for once luxury items such as Etherecite became a fight to survive, or gain enough resources to flee to an off world colony, such as Mars or the Moons of Jupiter.
Still, no one expected the situation to become any worse than that. Mankind had dealt with famines and war before and emerged at worst battered. Leading experts at the time were confident in their knowledge that the search for a suitable colony to inhabit would take no more than fifty years.
Their lack of foresight would become the foundation of society.
Excerpt from A Complete History of the Democratic Union from the chapter “The Ravaging”
“Remain at this position and await a security team. Failure will result in immediate termination.”
Morrison sank into one of the many ornate, plush chairs outside War Councilor Yin's office.
“Tell me, commissar, why exactly did you want me to show you around? Couldn't you just have gotten an official guide?”
Morrison looked up. Commissar Vsevolod was staring intently at a blank section of wall, his eyes changing colours rapidly as he mumbled to himself.
“Ten-two-three shift one left... What?” grumbled Vsevolod.
“I asked why you asked specifically for me, and not a guide.”
“No reason. Orders from above.”
Morrison was about to object when a section of wall across from the chairs slid open. Two men, fully garbed in black robes and hoods stepped forward. One began to speak, his voice a curious mixture of stuttering, dissonant tones.
“Councilor Yin... will see... you. G-go.”
A second section of wall slid open, leading into a massive pavilion covered in famous paintings, statues and fountains covered in jewels.
Morrison fought to keep his jaw from falling out from his mouth. By Anjahlieka! It's like a museum- no, not even a museum would have these riches. I've never even imagined this amount of wealth in one place! War Councilor? Bah! None I've ever hear-
Vsevolod grabbed his shoulder. “What are you standing there for? The Councilor is waiting, let's go.”
The two continued into the pavilion, followed by the strange men.
Morrison's mood lightened as they went further inside. Yet something felt wrong. His eyes continually seemed to be catching glimpses of shadow where there was nothing. After five minutes of steady walking, he turned to Vsevolod.
“Commissar, are you seeing... never mind. Probably just-”
Vsevolod blinked and let out a series of barking sounds that could have been laughter. “You've got a good eye. Those would be the Tongues. Councilor Yin's personally trained bodyguard. They're watching us. Each one has been trained from birth, is armed to the tooth and highly suspicious of anyone they've never seen. Don't do anything stupid, Count. They'll kill you before you even realized you were dying.”
Morrison paled. The ornate surroundings became much more sinister.
“Erm... Commissar? Just who is this... councilor?”
Vsevolod stopped frowning, his mouth straightening into a firm line.
“You'll see. Wait.”
Suddenly a set of doors swung open in front of the group. A beautiful woman of moderate height in flowing crimson robes sauntered out, her black, waist-length hair seemingly glowing, obscuring half of her face.
Morrison nearly fell over.
Two more women appeared, flanking the crimson-garbed one. They were dressed in black trenchcoats, jackboots and masks without eye-slits.
Morrison nearly fell over again.
Suddenly, gleaming black swords, at least five feet long, materialized in the two women's hands.
Morrison actually fell over.
The woman grinned.
“What took you so long?”