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Heeding the Call


Centurius
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[center][url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2dyN5A12js"]Heeding the Call[/url][/center]

With recent events in the world the entire military command structure would once again be called to action. Ariadne already felt ill however the nature of the meeting forced her to attend. Backed by two High Guard she walked into the Council Room, with a sigh she sat down at the head of the table and pressed the button activating the holographic system. Suddenly about two dozen holograms appeared in the other seats. To deal with the different locations each member was pretty much all meetings happened this way.

“It is becoming clear that the Kingdom of Cochin was minor compared to some of the other threats we are facing. Americas that are becoming proactive, Asians with a superiority complex and a collapse of the treaty web maintaining peace in this world.” General Hefner was by far one of the more extreme elements at this council and at the same time one of the few pro-German elements in the general staff. While trying to pay attention Ariadne had great difficulties keeping it, only a day ago the sounds had returned she experienced just after coming out of her coma. However this time they were worse, actively compromising her ability to do pretty much anything. It was as if she was called to do something, she just didn’t know what It was. Just as she was caught into her own thoughts she would be pulled back to reality quite harshly.

“Do you agree your Highness?” Field Marshal Minolis asked, she had followed the first part which was mostly related to dealing with the demonstrations and the second part was most likely focused on maintaining military readiness in the Atlantic. Both were subjects she could agree to. “Yes, while we can not afford to lose Tianxia we must still be ready to deal with any surprises.”

After the meeting she noticed besides the two guards her personal lieutenant had also walked in and most likely had been there for most of the meeting. “Your highness, are you alright? You seemed absent during the meeting”

“Am I alright? Of course I’m not! We just had one of our closest allies attack the other and there’s not a thing we can do about it. “ She sighed as she turned the chair and looked out of a window. “Cancel all my other appointments for today and tomorrow. I need to go to Olympus.”. Mount Olympus was the religious capital of the Eastern Athenian Federation, an enormous complex built on the top of the mountain where the gods lived. Many believed the gods lived there among the different cults, especially the oracles that lived there were said to be able to bridge the gap between mere mortals and the gods. In essence the perfect place to seek spiritual help in making sense of matters.

“Of course your highness, it will be done immediately and your private helicopter will be prepared”

Only two hours later the helicopter, a modified UH-1 Erebos, would arrive at the main landing pad of the complex. Ariadne would order her guards to stay back, Mount Olympus was a sanctuary. No violence at all was allowed and almost everyone respected that. Even though she was wearing a winter coat the cold of the height still got to her, she would hurry to the temple dedicated to the Pythia, formerly living in Delphi but now at this complex. The methods hadn’t changed much from ancient times with many of the same instruments used. As she entered the warmth of the relatively small temple was a complete contrast to the cold outside. Walls, floors and the ceiling were all colored in a perfect carmine. All in all it had a very welcoming environment, only moments after she came in a priestess dressed in a red robe entered from a room in the back.

“Incarnate, we have been expecting you.” The priestess said. “Please follow me, the Pythia has much to talk to you about”

Ariadne nodded slightly surprised, after taking off the coat she followed the priestess into an even smaller room than the previous one, inside it the smell of incense and other gasses would immediately cause a strange feeling, only entering the room had almost caused an out of body experience.

“Please sit Incarnate” The priestess said pointing to a chair. Ariadne followed all the instructions given to her, coming here had already dealt with some of the headaches she had earlier. After waiting for several minutes another woman walked in, from the looks she was in her 70s, clearly it was the Pythia.

“Incarnate, it pleases me to see you again. I take it both the voices and your pain have decreased.” The Pythia said after which she gave Ariadne a cup “Drink this”.

Ariadne sighed, it was to be expected there would be a lot of things that had to be done before she finally got an answer. “With all due respect but I fear I really do not have the time for all these preparations, I need your help. Not your tea”

“Incarnate, you are well beyond my help. The scrolls have foretold of your arrival, the daughter of the gods who will lead the Hellenic state to even greater heights. Only the gods themselves can help you, the tea will bring you into contact with them.”

Somehow the words of the Pythia seemed true, after she finished talking Ariadne would drink what was in the cup, almost immediately it caused a weird sensation. Loss of motor control would be one of the first signs the tea was working, not much later she would enter a dream-like state. Both in the room, but also not. As if she truly was in a higher plain.

“Empress of the Hellenes, you have come” A distant voice said, Ariadne recognized it as the same voice that sometimes talked behind the music in her mind. “I have, but to seek your help. Why have you called?”
“To make sure you follow your destiny” The voice came closer until from the darkness a figure appeared, upon closer look it resembled many of the images of Lady Athena on display. “You have achieved a lot but your destiny is not complete, many have come before you. Alexander the Great, Heraclius, have led the Hellenes to greatness. Others have tried, but none have managed to given the Hellenes what they truly deserve. I have called upon you to make this happen but the road will be long and difficult. Before you are ready you must prepare. You must go to the tribes of the north and learn their ways, you must gather control of the armies and resources the Hellenes deserve. You must remove all doubt in the heart of your people. People will try to stop you, even other gods will but you must never give up. Good luck my daughter, keep in mind you will always be watched.”

Before Ariadne could ask a question in response the figure disappeared and the darkness returned, after closing her eyes and opening them again she would see the ceiling of the temple again. After all senses had returned to her she noticed she was no longer in the room but in a bed used by the priestesses. “How long was I out?” She asked confused. A priestess turned around and walked toward her. “You have been talking to the gods for two days, incarnate. Some were getting worried that you might never want to return from their realm.” Ariadne nodded after which she tried to stand up, while difficult at first she eventually managed to get on her feet and began slowly walking, “Thank you for your help, but I must now return” Luckily all the voices, music and headache were gone but the message was clear. A lot had to change in the Athenian Federation and outside of it, the old ways would soon enough be over once and for all.

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Colonel Kiin had managed to make himself quite a reputation in recent years, having been a Razor from the very first day he joined the armed forces he had seen many of the conflicts the Federation had been involved in. As such he was quite surprised when his new orders were a being redeployed to Defense Zone Phoenix, the HF designation for the Imperial Palace in Athens. One of the best soldiers in the Hellenic Army lowered to the level of having to supervise the normal High Guard, or at least that was what he thought while driving to the palace. Once there he began to learn that this was farm from the truth. He was informed that he and another Razor would be tasked with protecting the Empress on a secret trip to Bulgaria, more specifically the Alterans that lived there. While he still considered it an assignment not worthy of his skills it was better than a desk job. After the initial briefing he was escorted by High Guard to a room at another floor of the enormous complex there he noticed the other Razor who would be tasked with protection. Her tan gave away that she was most likely from one of the territories closer to the equator, Cape Verde perhaps? As he walked closer the uniform gave away the rank of Major.

“Major?” Dovah asked
The woman immediately turned around and saluted in traditional Hellenic fashion “Major Aline Duzarte Colonel.”
Just when Dovah wanted to respond the doors in front of them opened and a High Guard with a lot more decorations on his uniform walked out. “The Empress is ready to receive you”
The two walked into the office which was surprisingly lacking in personnel considering the amount of paperwork and such which had to pass through it each day. Once further inside they saw the Empress talking to the Captain of the Guard.
“Your Highness, these are Colonel Dovah Kiin and Major Aline Duzarte. They will be your protection in the north. Though I do still think you should reconsider, there is enough time to go there. Preferrably when the protests cool down”
Ariadne sighed “I appreciate your concern though again you have nothing to fear. Colonel, Major have you been fully informed of where we are going?”
“Yes, your highness” The two replied almost at the same time.
“Very well, then I will see you tomorrow”

The next day a normal UH-1 would be ready to take the Empress and the two Razors to Bulgaria, Stara Zagora to be exact. A small city close to the Balkan Mountains, the home of the Alteran people. As was procedure Ariadne stepped in first followed by the two Razors. The trip would take about one and a half hour, as the Empress had officially taken a leave from the position there was no work that had to be done. To the Razors it looked weird to see the Empress in combat armor like a common soldier. However it would be their best possible cover, if it looked like they were just three soldiers on a regular patrol they wouldn’t catch the attention of the dissident elements within the Federation. Likewise the fact that officially the Empress was at Mount Olympus for a religious ritual would aid their cover.

After some general conversations between Colonel Kiin and Major Duzarte the latter would ask another question just as the helicopter began approaching the base.
“So these Alterans, what kind of people are they? I mean I’ve only heard of them before in stories.” Aline asked, most in the west didn’t know all that much of the smaller cultures in the east just as those in the east lacked knowledge on the west. The Alterans however were especially the subject of legend.
“Basically several decades ago a group of people grew tired of the ways of war and the massive destruction in this region, blaming the modern technologies they withdrew in isolation choosing to follow the old ways. Ever since they left we haven’t really heard all that much from them, our UAVs and satellites have footage on their settlements however few have ever come close to them and lived to tell the tale.” Dovah said.
“Wait, if they are dangerous why do you let them live like that?”
Ariadne decided to join the conversation as it was reaching the more political elements right now. “Simple really, they aren’t dangerous just highly territorial. And their record as excellent warriors is not a legend, when the original ALA expanded to the area first a group was sent there, using the most simplistic weapons they managed to kill an entire squad of our soldiers. At the time we were still establishing our position in the world and needed everyone on the external side. Once the external threats had been handled there had been years without any incidents so I believe we just went with a live and let live policy. I mean one day some of them might come out themselves and the way they are developing they could actually mean something for us in the future.”
Just as she finished her sentence the radio inside their combat armor would activate. “We are about to land at HAB Stara Zagora, the local commander informs us that a M1206 with driver is ready to take you to your destination.”
“Well it looks like our adventure can begin” Ariadne said triggering the system to close the helmet part of the armor and as such hiding her identity, the Razors would soon follow. Once all ready the three stepped out of the plane and walked to the vehicle ready to take them to the Balkan Mountain Range. They could only go so far however the vehicle would be able to at least take them within a walking distance to the nearest Alteran settlement.

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  • 2 weeks later...

After driving for about half an hour the M1206 would stop near a path that clearly hadn’t been used in a pretty long time.
“We have arrived at the location as ordered sir and ma’am’s” A sergeant said after opening the door of the M1206. The three already had all the supplies they needed to survive for weeks and honestly the record of the Alterans pretty much ensured them that they didn’t have to wait that long. “Still can’t believe they’re letting you out there alone. Must have really done something to piss off Command.”
Dovah chuckled “If only you knew sergeant, thanks for the ride. We’ll be on our way now.” He said as he took point and began walking on the path, Ariadne would follow him with finally Aline being the last one. The nearest settlement was at least another 6 hour walk however Athenian scouts had found Alteran patrols pretty close to the path before so who knew, perhaps they might actually catch them?
“So these Alterans, how do we know they won’t attack us the moment they see us?” Aline asked while keeping her rifle ready to fire. “Well first of all it might be an idea to lower that thing, if they see us coming with guns pointed I expect the welcome won’t be peaceful. Otherwise, we aren’t sure. Our armor should protect us against their weapons mostly.”
As they kept on walking Dovah suddenly heard a noise. “Down” He said as he changed the helmet to an infrared mode and looked at a forest to their right. The heat signatures seen were clearly human, about twelve of them. “We have visitors.”

“What now your Highness?” Dovah asked, while thinking about it Ariadne would soon remember a book she had read. “Show them your faces, they won’t trust us otherwise” Ariadne said as she triggered the system to remove the helmet. After some doubts Dovah and Aline did took, while they still had to wait for a few minutes a single man came out of the forest. “I am Orpheus of the Alterans of Sodan, who are you and what is your purpose on our territory?”
After laying her rifle on the ground Ariadne walked toward Orpheus. “I am Ariadne Notaras of Heraclius, Empress of the Eastern Athenian Federation. I come in peace on a spiritual voyage to the mighty Alterans.” Orpheus nodded. “You claim you come in peace yet you bring weapons of great destruction with you and hide your faces, how can we trust you?”
“You can not, however I hope I can prove my honesty if you bring me to your leaders”.
After a few moments Orpheus signaled the others to come out of the forest. “We shall take you to Sodan, I have to ask you to give up your weapons from this point on” Dovah walked to Ariadne and would whisper “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”. Ariadne ignored him and removed her sidearm from the holster. “Do what they say Razors, they could beat us in a fight anyway.” She said, both Aline and Dovah would also give up their weapons after which they began walking again to the settlement, this time with people who really knew where it was at exactly. After walking for a few hours it began to turn dark however by now they already saw the fires of the settlement. After only another five minutes they were in the village named Sodan. “Your friends will have to stay here Ariadne of Athens. The Chief will only receive one stranger at a time”. Ariadne nodded and ordered the Razors to wait while she followed Orpheus into a central building. The interior truly gave her the feeling of walking into the past, the only light provided by fire and almost fully made of wood it was a true contrast compared to Athens.

“Orpheus who is this stranger you have taken with you?” An older man asked sitting on a kind of throne, his clothes also suggested a higher status. “Ariadne of Athens Chief, she claims to have come here on a spiritual voyage”

The Chief nodded “Come closer Ariadne of Athens”. Once she was he looked deeply into her eyes. “You are not from this ground yet your spirit is, you say you come here on a spiritual voyage. What could the Alterans have to offer you in this field?”
Ariadne sighed, the story would probably be unbelievable. Even for the Alterans. “In a vision by the goddess Athena she has told me the path to lead my people to greatness goes through this place. One of my first tasks was to learn the ways of the tribes of the north, the Alterans”. The look on the Chief’s face was not the one she had expected, rather than being filled with disbelieve he looked worried. Without saying anything he left the room. “Stay here for now” Orpheus said as he followed the Chief. Hours went by until the Chief and Orpheus returned this time with a woman along with them. “My apologies Ariadne of Athens however we had to discuss something, you say you came here at the instructions of Lady Athena?” The Chief asked, Ariadne nodded shortly after which the woman walked to her and seemed to inspect her. “She might be the one Chief” The woman said.
“Please follow me” The Chief said, Ariadne began feeling uncomfortable with this rather sudden change of attitude, also with what the woman meant with ‘The One’. However she also was curious and somehow felt she had to follow them, as such she chose to join them for now. After leaving the building the group walked to what seemed a dense area of forest, after walking for ten minutes they arrived at a cave which was heavily guarded. “Ariadne of Athens you are about to see something no stranger ever has and only a few Alterans have.” In the cave that seemed to go on forever the walls were filled with writing. “Many seasons ago our ancestors have turned away from all that made us weak and destroyed us. While the oldest ancestor has long since died their legacy remains in this cave. It is the holiest side to our people. One thing they foretold was the arrival of a woman with a strong will but only limited strength to end the isolation of the Alterans. This woman was to be guided by the great Lady Athena. She would prove herself by challenging the strongest warrior of the Alteran people in our most sacred of rituals. A battle to the death. This shall be your test. Are you prepared to go through this ritual Ariadne of Athens?”
Ariadne stared at the walls as the Chief told the story, she recognized the language and could read most of the passage that they had just outlined. “With all due respect but as you said yourself limited strength. How could I hope to defeat a warrior of the Alterans?”
Orpheus smiled “That will be my job, I will teach you our most sacred combat styles so you can properly fight any Alteran” he said while Ariadne kept staring at the walls. “Very well, I will go through the ritual and I will win”.
Immediately after saying it she felt a cold sensation and the thought that she had just said the worlds that would end up to be her death. “You truly have the spirit of Athena in you, now rest. You have a long training ahead”
Ariadne nodded after which she left the cave and walked back to the settlement, after telling her escort about the events she decided to go to the house where she and the two Razors could sleep as long as they stayed there.

The next morning she would wake up to a loud sound after shortly getting her bearings she saw Orpheus standing at the end of the bed. “Time to wake up, your training is about to begin” As Ariadne turned to a window she saw that it was still quite dark outside, with a sigh she looked at the origin of the sound. Alteran clothes and some kind of weapon, a staff with two blunt edges at each side.
“Fine, I’ll meet you in the other room in ten minutes”
The basic furniture was quite different than the facilities she had in the palace but was to be expected and probably needed. After getting dressed and shortly inspecting the weapon she walked to the other room after which Orpheus and her would head for the central training location, along the walk she saw the village slowly waking up. It seemed peaceful and quiet, people that had everything they needed and enjoyed it. As they approached the training location Ariadne would realize what exactly she was getting into as another pair was already fighting. Their weapons seemed everything but blunt and the technique something to seriously fear. However she had to do this or she would never truly find out her purpose.

---

After close to three months of training in which Ariadne had no contact with the outside world at all the big day had come. She was as ready as she had ever been learned a lot from her trainings. Though Orpheus was an excellent trainer and much of the success she probably owed to them. Now she was standing in the training location for one more time. The blunt weapon had by now been changed with the more lethal and dangerous one. Her opponent still unknown and Dovah trying to desperately talk her out of it. As the sun reached its highest point the Chief she had come to known as Spyros walked to a platform at the side while Orpheus walked to the other side of the arena.
“We come here today in the most sacred of rituals, the battle to the death. Not only that but on this day the battle is watched by the gods and the future of our people shall be divided. Ariadne of Athens and Orpheus of Sodan may you fight honorably”

The fact that she was going to fight Orpheus was a significant shock, her trainer and someone she had grown to consider a friend. With some reluctance she walked to the center of the arena after which the two weapons would symbolically hit each other to indicate the battle had begun .From the way how Orpheus moved and hit it was clear why they considered him the best fighter among the Alterans. The event was visited by many, even those from entirely different settlements however it seemed that the effects counted for both Orpheus as Ariadne as both seemed nervous. She tried to remember the lessons as she tried her best to block the attacks, after spotting a weakness during one of is attacks she would immediately retaliate managing to hit him in his leg which would severely slow his movements. Ariadne decided it was now or never and that the offensive was needed to win before she got too tired, after blocking another two attacks she used her smaller height to her advantage and managed to get behind Orpheus hitting him in the back with the sharpest edge of the weapon. Before she truly realized what had happened Orpheus lied on his stomach and dropped his weapon. “Well done Ariadne of Athens, now… Finish it” Orpheus said as loud as he could but talking clearly was harder for him. She looked at the Chief who seemed satisfied and the crow who began to cheer all expecting her to kill Orpheus. After considering everything she threw away her weapon and turned to the Chief. “You ask me to kill one of your brothers who is beaten. I can not and will not kill a man that can still do so much for the Alterans and the Athenians”

Shock and awe could be clearly heard from the spectators however the Chief seemed to not be shocked at all. As he looked at the crowd he walked forward. “What we have not told her nor you is that the walls also say the one is also merciful and acts with wisdom. Ariadne of Athens, you have passed the final tests and truly are the savior of our people. I swear my loyalty and that of the Alterans of Sodan to you” He said while kneeling for Ariadne. The spectators after some loud lines did the same. The first part of the quest was complete and Ariadne would soon find out the next part. After a celebration in the evening and Orpheus getting some medical care he needed it was time to head back to Athens. Dovah had heard of stability issues in Rebel Army and that it might be about to fall. At moments like these Ariadne could not afford to stay away, however with the Alterans prepared to open up to the community at large and experiencing their combat skill firsthand they sure would be a great asset to Athens longterm.

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