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Chapter 3

A Message From Below

A message from Prime Urisha Ulukun to Primarch Emaja:

 

“Mother, what on Earth is going on up there?

 

I’m gone for 500 years and the Oruka manages to get attacked twice. And from what I hear, this time you brought the invader inside the Prime Heights yourselves? I thought you and the other Primes said you didn’t need me up there? I thought everyone was better off with me shackled down on the seafloor. Yet Uru lies deep beneath my feet in the Underlands, and his slayer roams free.

Most unfortunate.

 

Well, since I still have almost 500 years of my sentence left, and my subordinates are busy cleaning up Aya’s mess in her absence…. I have decided to send you my daughter, Omanja. She will be my eyes and ears on the Oruka.

 

Your Most Reliable Child, Ulukun

 

PS. Please keep Omanja away from that fool, Sesewo.”

,

The Alympian Investigation: Unsin and Herakless

 

U: Good evening, Herakless.

H: Greetings, friend.

U: My name is Unsin, I’m the Bound Urisha of Security here on the Oruka and Earth.

H: In other words, the Urisha of War?

U: This is peacetime therefore I am the Urisha of Security. Let’s hope I never have reason to change it to war.

H: Agreed.

U: So do you care to explain how you could tell us that you come in peace, and then attempt to kill one of our leaders?

H: As I’ve said before, Ikkarias was acting on his own. There’s a small and secretive faction of Alympians who want to return to our old ways, they want to conquer other worlds and universes. It appears they recruited Ikkarias to their cause before we left without myself or the Higher Alympians noticing. Our true mission - which was ordered directly by the Alympian Triune - was to start peaceful negotiations and foster the trade of culture and technology, not to attack or start a war.

 

U: Well, Uru and Isangbe seemed to believe you, Herakless.

 

H: Because I was telling the truth. As far as I was concerned, we were coming in peace.

 

U: But the facts dictate otherwise – Ikkarias is on the run, Uru is dead, and Isangbe is hiding in Idaduro.

 

H: Please accept a sincere apology from myself and the Alympians, we did not intend for this. I will cooperate in any way I can, and I will earn your trust.

 

U: I trust no one, Herakless. Not even my own mother. But let us see what information you have to offer.

 

H: A life without trust? Surely such a life is one without love… Do you enjoy living this way?

 

U: I fulfill my Onus, that is my purpose, that is all I need in this life. Now answer - The Dark Serpent. What do you know about it? H: It’s a bio-weapon our predecessors designed. They distributed them to different universes to prepare the way for our invasions.

 

U: How did the Alympians get it here?

 

H: I cannot say.

U: You called it a bio-weapon. How exactly do these bio-weapons work?

 

H: Your people excel at construction, our people excel at bio-engineering. It allows us to create all sorts of living wonders.

 

U: Or horrors. Can this technology be applied to custodians like me and you? H: Yes, but not that effectively.

 

U: Humans?

 

H: ...Yes. Our Human crew were all bio-weapons.

 

U: Can a human gain power similar to that of a custodian if they are bio-engineered?

 

H: Yes. I have seen human bio-weapons as strong as lesser Alympians.

 

U: Interesting. How many human bio-weapons are there?

 

H: I cannot say.

 

U: How many Alympians are there?

 

H: I cannot say.

 

U: And were any human bio-weapons sent here?

 

H: Not that I know of.

 

U: What is your level of clearance.

 

H: I’m a high-ranking warrior but not a high ranking Alympian, so my clearance is limited.

 

U: I understand, so I’m talking to a pawn. You probably wouldn’t know the true machinations of your superiors even if you were a part of them. We’ll stop the questioning here for now. Thank you for your cooperation Herakless, we shall speak again soon.

 

H: If you wish.

Herakless the Lesser Alympian. Artwork by Nathan Hawthorne

The Alympian Investigation: Unsin’s diary 1

Herakless may really want peace.

Uru, who could sense whether people were telling the truth, had said as much. But Herakless is still only loyal to one thing – the Alympians. He’s keeping information about their military capabilities secret, and it also appears that there is a way in which they transport things into our universe without us realising.

 

One thing is certain though - 250 years ago I saw a human bio-weapon first hand. The Rejector who lead the Great Human Seige, was definitely genetically altered, but how he had been augmented was the real mystery. If I can figure out how that technology made its way here and who used it to augment The Rejector, then it will explain a great deal.

 

Ikkarias still remains at large, but I know he’ll definitely show his face eventually. He’s ambitious and wants to complete his mission and I’m not sure he has a way home. He’ll strike again for sure.

 

I am also worried about Aya. She should have reappeared by now. The winds run rampant, the Prime Urisha Ulukun’s subordinates are currently covering for her, but a new wind Urisha may have to be appointed if she does not return. I think I will incorporate a search for her into my investigation. Her Onus is a vital part of the Grand Purpose, and her influence and position within Urisha society is vital if we are going to maintain order and balance in this time of uncertainty.

 

So, with all the information we have, I think our next step takes us to the research facility.

The Alympian Investigation: Unsin’s diary 2

I knew it! I was right, there is a link between The Rejector and the Alympians. The Researchers gave up studying the remains of The Rejector but Bobolu and Arunmila had ordered the remains be stored for future reference.

 

Thank the gods. Despite being burned to a crisp by Zangu and Aya, The Rejector still retained some traces of energy, and when we concentrated, we could immediately sense that it was Alympian energy. Interestingly, the researchers said they had tested The Rejectors DNA, and that he was definitely from this Earth and definitely human. But somewhere, somehow, he had been in contact with Alympian technology.

 

How is that possible? I’ve been thinking... generally speaking, humans are unaware that other universes exist with one exception – some humans born from female Urisha. Often these children are born on the Oruka and are brought to Earth when no Urisha traits present themselves. I’ve asked for The Rejector’s DNA to be checked against all Urisha alive within the past 500 years. We will see what results this produces.

 

As a side note. Aya has still not been found. I’ve sent out agents to search her residences on the Oruka and Earth and there is no evidence of her having visited any of them since the feast. Am I looking in the wrong place? We may have had our differences but, I do worry for her wellbeing.

The Alympian Investigation: Unsin’s Diary 3

 

The Oruka is uneasy. Edidwa said he glimpsed Ikkarias flying near the Oruka yesterday while carrying out his soil tests. One of my own scouts also said he found a feather near the walls of the Prime Heights. It is as I assumed - Ikkarias is trying to finish the job he started and is investigating our defenses. But the Urisha are ready this time. He shall not breach these walls, nor shall he claim another Urisha soul, I swear it upon my Onus.

The Alympian Investigation: Unisin’s Diary 4

It took a while, but the researchers finally got back to me. It turns out that The Rejector has two relatives on the Oruka. One is an Ancient Urisha, but I checked with Darakowe and he said that the records indicate that this particular Urisha has been in Idaduro for hundreds of years - so I can probably rule them out. The other, however, is young and very active... It would appear that I have to contact my mother, because The Rejector is somehow related to her gardening instructor, Toju.

The Alympian Investigation: Unsin and Toju

U: Good afternoon, Toju, it is good to see you again.

T: Good afternoon, Unsin. You seem stressed, are you looking after yourself?

U: Keeping everyone safe is a stressful job, but I would not have it any other way.

T: I am glad you are content in your work, but you should take some time to see Usanyin when you get a chance. Some of her herbs may do you well and it would put your mother at ease - she worries, you know?

U: Let her worry.

T: So, Etin said you wanted to see me about the Alympian Investigation? How can I help?

U: Well, are you familiar with The Rejector?

T: I was barely fifty when he attacked, but yes, I remember.

U: I’m not going to beat around the bush Toju – we have tested his remains and it turns out that he was related to you. Did you by any chance have any family members who would have been alive 250 years ago?

T: Not that I’m aware of. I don’t know who my mother is, and my father and brother died when I was young.

U: How?

T: A shipwreck. Aya saved me and left them.

U: That sounds very much like Aya. So, you never saw them die? 

T: No.

U: …. The records say that when asked about his origins, the Rejector would always reply that he “came from the sea”. Do you think it would be safe to assume that The Rejector may have been your human brother? It would actually sort of make sense... The shipwreck – that traumatic event must have shaped the rest of his life.

T: You’re right it does make sense... Th-This is, a lot for me to take in. Aya said they died.

 

U: Aya probably didn’t care to check. Aya never cared much for human lives. Isn’t that why you parted ways?

 

T: That’s exactly why we parted ways. Aya is heartless. She cares for nothing but balance and The Grand Purpose, and yet fails to see the value or joy to be found in the lives that the Grand Purpose serves. She tried to make me like that, but I rejected her training.

 

U: Heartless you say? But aren’t I and my high-ranking contemporaries exactly the same?

 

T: Yes, yes I do. I honestly believe that this attitude has become a plague on our generation. But I don’t think it’s a hopeless situation. The contemporary Urisha are not lost – you, Unsin, are not lost. Try as you might to hide it, I see the joy with which you carry out your duty. I see how you go out of your way to save lives and end wars faster. Isn’t that what it means to be an Urisha? Isn't that why Uru and Isangbe chose kindness rather than violence?

 

U: ...I don’t know.

 

T: Well. As someone who started out as a human on earth... I do.

 

U: …We’re drifting off task.

 

T: Sorry. Did you have more questions then?

 

U: Yes, about Aya... do have you any idea where she might be?

 

T: You’ve checked all her houses and the cities she frequents?

 

U: Yes

 

T: And you’ve asked Ulukun?

 

U: Ulukun?

 

T: Yes, she visits them regularly. They’re good friends.

 

U: Ulukun sent their daughter to the Oruka recently, their message didn’t indicate Aya was with them.

 

T: But it did not deny it either did it? Ulukun has their own goals – goals that do not necessarily align with the rest of the Prime’s. Maybe inquire of them?

 

U: That’s actually really helpful, Toju. No wonder my mother likes you so much - you’ve got an observant head on those shoulders.

 

T: I'm glad I could be of help to the Grand Purpose – and the mighty Unsin (laughs).

U: I better get going... Oh yes, before I leave, there was one more thing I wished to discuss. The Rejector had one more relative here, I think it may be your mother... Would you like to know who she is?

 

T: Aya said that my mother was unimportant and had probably forgotten about me, so I never tried looking. I think at the moment I’ve had enough revelations about my past. I will ask that you would extend me the kindness of keeping it to yourself for now.

 

U: Of course, whenever you are ready.

Unsin's Diary 5

 

That conversation with Toju has been playing on my mind for a good few days now. Is it possible that the Urisha have somehow been corrupted? Something has been going on for hundreds of years underneath our noses and now the integrity of an entire generation of Urisha  has been brought into question – including myself.

 

It’s probable that the Rejector’s hatred for Urisha comes from Aya’s actions on the day she found Toju, but could there be something more to it than that? I am started to fear what I unearth, but it seems I have no choice but to keep digging. I have updated the Primarch’s on the investigations progress, and they have ordered me to go down to Earth. It’s time to pay a visit to the Underwater Kingdom of Prime Urisha Ulukun. 

**The Second Attempt on Emaja’s Life** 

 

The Lesser Alympian Ikkarias made another assassination attempt on the Primarch Emaja. Once again he got within an inch of success, and if Isangbe had not been there, she would have surely fallen this time.  

 

Somehow Ikkarias slipped through the Urisha defenses, shields, and guards completely undetected. Fortunately, his attack coincided with the day that Isangbe had decided to come out of Idaduro to consult Emaja about his future as an Urisha. When Ikkarias tried to strike, rather than being met with the delicate Emaja, he was met with Isangbe’s incredible strength and protective barriers.  

 

On that day all were reminded of why Isangbe was called a prodigy. The Young Urisha singlehandedly fought off the Alympian assassin and protected Primarch Emaja. 

 

 By the time Unsin and her soldiers arrived, Ikkarias had escaped again – but not unscathed. Isangbe stood staring out the broken window holding a twitching wing in his hands, his face almost unrecogniseable, contorted by fury and coated in Ikkarias’s green blood. 

 

 

Unsin’s Diary 6 

 

Something is amiss. There is no way Ikkarias should have got through our defenses. We are definitely compromised; there are traitors among us and I have no idea how far this goes. I need to go to Ulukun’s Palace, but while they continue to diligently carry out their Onus - even going above and beyond to assist Yinza with the weather - I can’t justify leaving the Oruka to question them right now. 

 

 The Prime's have insisted I stay here for at least a decade more to reinforce and restructure our defenses. It’s a long time to put an investigation on hold even for us Urisha, but I definitely agree this is the wisest course. I’m sending Sesewo off-world (much to his displeasure for some reason) to retrieve the rest of the Alympian ship. I’m hoping that the ship will help us understand them a bit better. I’m also about to reawaken the Ebeji to be personal bodyguards to the Primarch’s - they’ve rested long enough. 

 

Isangbe has returned to Isolation. I grow increasingly concerned for his mental wellbeing. Emaja said he was like an animal when fighting, and almost tore of Ikkarias’s arm along with the wing. Isangbe himself said he had never seen clearer. I wish that I could bring him on board with the preparations and upgrades; prior to the Alympian’s appearance, his judgment as Uru’s student was always sound and reliable, but he’s just too unpredictable at the moment and I think he needs more time to heal. 

 

Even though Emaja and Arunmila had voiced past concerns over the future, I never foresaw the Urisha having to go to such lengths for our own security. Our greatest issue is that the rot appears to be coming from within the Urusga itself,  so we can never be too prepared. Now, it’s time to get to work! May the god of flame and war watch over us closely. 

 

 

Sesewo’s Letter 

Unsin found a letter under the desk in her office. It appeared to have been hidden there by Sesewo shortly before his departure: 

“Dearest Unsin, 

For how long have we known each other? How long have we fought together? Was I not by your side when the humans laid siege to our homes? Was I not willing to go to the ends of the earth and beyond in service of you and the Grand Purpose? 

They call me the sun chaser. Not just because I am ambitious or because I was willing to leave this planet, but because I have spent centuries chasing after you – the brightest of the stars to grace the Oruka. 

So why must you send me away again? Have the centuries not proved how much we can achieve together? Even during this time of peril, the Oruka and the Earth are safer with us defending it. So why have you cast me out into the great star sea? I am but a piece of driftwood, splintered from a great ship, drifting aimlessly through the vast expanse. What purpose is there for me out here when you are not with me. What completeness can I find with naught but my Onus and subordinates to keep me anchored to this world?  

I will depart this time without protest, but I hope that upon my return you will consider the possibility of us being together, and the joy that may come from our union. 

 

With deepest love,

Sesewo” 

The Onus System 

The Onus system, as the gods and academics call it, is a marvel of this universe. It is a fluid, malleable system, but a system designed with care and insight. All Urisha are born with an innate desire to serve the Grand Purpose and maintain balance on the Earth, but the shape that will take is a mystery while they are young, and remains flexible as they mature and live out their adult lives.

  

Urisha are all born with special abilities, some abilities are more common than others, and they present in Urisha uniquely even if they have the same root. All Urisha can train their abilities, and some Urisha can even learn completely new abilities, such as is common among those destined to become Bound, Praised and Prime Urisha. Despite this, most Urisha do not have the innate ability, temperament, or motivation to bring about such high and varied levels of power. This maintains a clear heirarchical balance of power throughout Urisha society. 

 

The gods choose the proportion of powers within newly born Urisha as well as their strength, however these features are distributed randomly to minimise the gods influence on Urisha choice. This stops things such as selective childbearing, generational class systems, and Primarch dynasties. 

New Onuses are sometimes created within society and new powers may appear within Urisha, although it doesn’t happen often. Sesewo is a good example of an Onus which was created by the Urisha because it was needed. His original Onus as a Security Urisha was to protect the Oruka and Earth, but in his new Onus - Space Exploration - Sesewo uses the same skills and powers to carry out his original Onus in a new and more specialised way. In line with this, Omanja is a good example of a new power appearing. since the Urisha have begun reaching out to space, the gods had gravity manipulation distributed among some of the next set of Urisha to be born. 

 

Some Onus names can change dispute having the same responsibility, for example, should war break out, Unsin may become the Urisha of war instead if deemed appropriate (i.e if. the Urisha are taking a more aggressive approach). 

 

 

Unsin’s Diary 7 

It’s been over five years since Ikkarias’s last attack and Aya’s disappearance. Since then, we have begun fortifying the Oruka, and Sesewo’s crew has set off to bring back the Alympian ship. Down to this day, I have not told a soul about his letter. It plays on my mind constantly; how had I worked alongside him for so long and not have understood him or his feelings? To be fair, right now I do not understand my own feelings, despite five years having passed since I found the letter. I have thought of talking to mother or Emaja about it but I cannot, and though I have been spending more of my free time with Toju, I don’t feel comfortable discussing this with her. I guess this will remain an annoying thorn in my side until Sesewo returns with the ship. The last report he sent said they were making good progress and should be home shortly. Hopefully I can find resolution when that day comes. 

 

Unsin’s Diary 8 

We are ready. The Oruka is fortified, the divisions have been restructured and we have even developed new sensors (using Herakless as a test subject – he wasn’t harmed) to help us detect Alympian energy. Sesewo should also be returning any day now.  

 

All has progressed smoothly and I've even have the time to train my metal and fire abilities by I  sparring a bit with Herakless (this time he did get harmed) under Egun's supervision. Egun said it’s a good idea to help both train me further and get me familiar with Alympian power levels and fighting styles. Herakless has probably figured out our intentions, but after Ikkarias's second attack he's been helping us more as a gesture of goodwill. When Egun is unavailable and I have free time, I work together with mother to help Toju train. It seems Aya was wise to take her as an understudy - Toju has the potential to be an absolute powerhouse on par with Praised and Prime Urisha in the future… Not that she cares.  

Most significantly, though, I was called before the Prime's today. Arunmila says he hasn’t heard from many of his marine researchers and recorders in decades and is suspicious that Ulukun may have something to do with it. He does not believe it is linked to the Alympian investigation but the Primes as a whole think that I should head down to Ulukun's dominion to continue investigating anyway. I need a team to go with me, so I’ll have to think carefully about who I choose. 

 

 

**The Alympian Investigation: Isangbe’s Return** 

 

Unsin knocked loudly on the door of Isangbe’s quarters. “Isangbe! It’s been a decade now, how much longer will you cower in your room while your master’s slayer roams free?” 

 

“Isangbe!” Unsin kicked the door open, sending splinters of wood careering across the room. 

 

Unsin gasped when she looked into the room – it was empty. It looked like it had been uninhabited for years; everything was packed away and a thick layer of dust covered everything. This was worrying – no one had seen Isangbe since he tore off Ikkarias’s wing, the same wing which was now nailed to the wall opposite the bed. Unsin’s heart began to hammer in her chest, if something had happened to the Young Urisha, she would not be able to forgive herself. 

 

“Isangbe!” Unsin called pointlessly, searching around the room as if she would somehow find him hiding in the shadows somewhere. 

 

 She gave up and ran quickly to the Prime Heights, knowing that this report must go straight to the Primarchs. Unsin leapt up the palace stairs and burst into the Primarch’s inner chambers, stumbling to the floor. 

 

“What is the meaning of this, Unsin?” Egun said, standing up furiously, papers gripped in his hands. 

 

“I wanted Isangbe to join my team, but when I went to look for him, he was nowhere to be found.” Unsin blustered. 

 

The Primarchs looked at each other concerned. 

 

“This is very disturbing news, Unsin,” Emaja said, walking forward and gently helping Unsin to her feet. 

 

“Only to those who allow themselves to be disturbed.” The deep voice came from the doorway behind them. The three Urisha turned to see who had spoken. They were greeted by the smiling face of a tall and muscle bound Urisha, with a golden streak in his hair. His body was draped with red, black, green and white robes, on his chest was the shining star of Justice. 

 

“Isangbe?” Egun asked walking forward to have a closer look at the imposing figure, “where have you been, young one.” 

 

“Training on Earth,” Isangbe replied, “It appears that Uru, in his wisdom, left me all the resources I would need to complete my training without him. Arunmila had warned him that not all the high ranking Urisha may survive the future to come.” 

 

Emaja smiled “How very like Uru. Maturity suits you Isangbe - you wear it well.” 

 

“Thank you, Primarch,” Isangbe turned to Unsin, “I heard you calling me, Unsin, so I came as fast as I could. Do you need me for something?” 

Unsin smiled. 

 

 

The Hunter’s Mission 

Uranyin always had mixed feelings when he was summoned by his father. He respected the Primarch more than any other Urisha, but he always felt distant. Uranyin was raised on Earth by his mother's family and had come to the Oruka as a teenager. He was shocked to find, when he arrived, that Egun did not care for his children much more than he did any other Urisha or human. In his father’s eyes, all played their part in The Grand Purpose, and there would be no nepotism nor favours – but there would also be no hierarchy. Apart from the Urisha chain of command, Egun saw his son as his equal. 

"Bound Hunter Uranyin,” Egun said officiously, “it pleases me to see you well.” 

“Likewise, father,” Uranyin referred to him like this often, knowing it annoyed the Primarch. Egun rolled his eyes, unimpressed. 

 

“I have a mission for you and any free members of your squad. It requires the usual discretion. Your colleagues Unsin and Sesewo need not know.” 

 

“Of course." 

 

“Good. You may have heard young Isangbe has returned. I would like you to investigate what exactly he was doing on Earth.” 

 

“Unsin has requested I go with her to Ulukun’s palace, but I’ll get my best hunters on it.” Uranyin responded, “But may I ask why you’re investigating Isangbe?” 

 

“You think it’s a strange request don’t you?” Egun laughed, “Well besides his appearance, the child seems changed up here and in here,” Egun pointed to his head and chest, “I cant quite put my finger on what that change is. Unknowns in a time like this can be the difference between peaceful order and complete chaos. We want only the former.” 

 

“I understand, Primarch.” Uranyin dipped his head respectfully, “I’ll make sure you’re updated on the findings… and I’ll keep an eye on him down at Ulukun's.” 

**Unsin’s Response** 

Sesewo unbuckled his seatbelt and stretched. 

 

“Good job everyone! Another successful mission!” He smiled and looked down at his crew who had swiveled their chairs round to face him; it was a mixture of researchers, engineers, metalworkers and soldiers. All of them looked relieved to finally be home. 

 

“Now let’s get out of here!” 

 

They disembarked to a roar of applause just like last time. Urisha of all ages stood clapping, and cheering them on, and there at the forefront was Bound Urisha Unsin, accompanied by the annoying grandchild of Emaja floating by her side. But Sesewo only had eyes for Unsin. 

 

“Sunchaser! It is good to see you have returned safely,” Unsin said pushing Omanja lightly, which sent the young Urisha careening off in the direction of the ship. 

 

“It’s um… great to see you too Unsin,” Sesewo responded, “I-“ 

 

“Go get cleaned up, we’ll talk tomorrow after you’ve been debriefed,” Unsin interrupted, and walked off to have a closer look at the Alympian ship that Sesewo’s crew had brought back. Omanja flew behind her giggling and somersaults through the air. Sesewo sighed and walked off with the rest of his crew towards HQ. 

 

**The next day** 

 

Sesewo sat on the balcony edge of his office, staring at the mountain range down on the Earth beneath. He had missed the Earth terribly, it was always so full of life, so full of hope. Out in space there was beauty, but nothing quite like his home.  

 

He heard the door slide open behind him. 

 

“Were you able to rest last night?” Unsin said walking in and throwing him a carefully wrapped present. 

 

“Not really,” he admitted, then looked down at the gift, “A present from some fangirl of yours from Darakowe’s recording department. You’re quite popular these days, you know?” 

 

“I’m just fulfilling my Onus, same as everyone else.” Sesewo tossed the gift aside – it was worthless to him. 

 

“That you are, and you're doing it well. I never took you for the poetic type though,” Unsin held up the letter Sesewo had hidden on her desk before departing. He immediately felt hot with embarrassment. 

 

“This is a very good way to keep me agitated for a decade,” Unsin mused, “I assume it wasn’t exactly a peaceful ten years for you either with this on your mind.” 

 

“Not exactly.” 

 

“Good. You brought it on yourself,” She tossed it down onto the desk in front of them. 

 

“So what is your answer? Will you send me away again?” Sesewo asked walking around the desk to close the gap between them. 

 

“Maybe, but not right now,” Unsin replied, “I still don’t know how to answer this Sesewo, you’ve always been a good friend. And as Urisha with a similar Onus, it’s always been good to have you by my side. But right now, the Oruka and the planet is on edge. I barely have time to think about what I’m going to eat, let alone who I’m going to be eating, sleeping, and living with.” 

 

“So you're rejecting me?” Seswo said, slumping down onto the table. Unsin grabbed his chin gently, causing Sesewo’s purple locs to sway. 

 

“It’s a not now,” She kissed him on the forehead, “Your sun is still out of reach. Keep chasing.” 

 

Sesewo smiled, and Unsin turned to walk out. 

 

“Unsin, I hear you need a team to go with you to Ulukun’s palace,” Unsin stopped and stopped walking and turned around. 

 

“You know Omanja is coming too, right?” 

 

“I’ll endure it,” Sesewo smiled 

 

“Then you’re in. We leave in 6 days.” 

Turning Point 3 cover featuring Ulukun bound in chains. Artwork by Nathan Hawthorne

Turning Point 3: The One Who Dwells Below

Unsin and her team descended to the ocean floor in their transport craft. It had been a while since she had been to Ulukun's Palace, but it remained just as impressive as the last time she saw it. It was as dramatic as its owner, a vast complex consisting of turquoise green spires, circular theatres and aquariums, coral gardens, and arched walkways linking one part to another. Precious metals and gems adorned every structure, and sea life of all kinds darted around grand sculptures of Urisha and humans from nautical history.

As they came closer to the Palace, the five could begin to make out figures among the glowing walls going about their daily work and research. Unsin remembered that many who worked with or under Ulukun had moved their permanent residence to the Palace after Ulukun’s banishment both in support of their actions, and for practicality since Ulukun's building projects meant more Urisha could live closer to where they worked on Earth.

 

Some of the Urisha paused to wave at the team’s craft as it passed, and Isangbe and Omanja waved back excitedly.

“I never got a chance to come down here during my training,” Isangbe said as they maneuvered underneath a crystalline archway, it was quite relieving to see his youthful excitement was still hiding in his larger body, “the Palace really is spectacular!”

“Mum always has brilliant construction ideas, so I’ve asked her to build me a Palace just as amazing as this one on the moon one day!” Omanja responded and then began explaining what different buildings they passed were for.

“Remember why we're here, Isangbe,” Unsin interrupted, “Keep an eye out for anything untoward. And Omanja; you’re here at your grandmother's request as our guide, so focus only on what's relevant.”

Sesewo rolled his eyes and Uranyin chuckled softly.

 

Their craft went down under the sea floor beneath Palace before rising up to the water’s surface in an interior dock. The security Urisha on duty there welcomed them.

 

“Good afternoon, Bound Urisha Unsin, welcome to Ulukun's Palace,” the Urisha smiled.

 

“Idakun. Its good to see you again,” Unsin looked at him with narrowed eyes, mildly annoyed, “I see you’re enjoying your stay here, since you rejected my offer for transfer back to the Oruka.”

 

“I like it here, Ulukun treats me well,” Idakun said, defiantly.

 

Sesewo looked at Unsin and shook his head. It doesn’t matter what Idakun was implying, now was not the time.

 

“I see,” Unsin said, walking past the guard, “Well then, we shall be heading on our way. Omanja will take us where we need to go.”

 

“That won’t be necessary,” Idakun called after her, “you have a guide to take you to Ulukun's office.”

 

(Part 2)

They walked through the door where they found a familiar figure adorned with more jewelry and gemstones than seemed possible, in certain light she was hard to look at.

 

“Ije!” Omanja ran up and hugged the Urisha, causing her jewelry to jingle with the force.

 

“Mum wants to see you, run along,” Ije replied patting Omanja on the back. Omanja

released her, skipped a few steps and then floated off down the corridor.

 

“It's great to see you again, Ije,” Unsin smiled.

“It's been a long, long time hasn’t it, my friends,” Ije laughed, hugging Unsin, Sesewo, and Uranyin.

 

“Why don’t you come see us anymore?” Sesewo asked.

 

“For the same reason you don’t come and see me! My onus keeps me ever so busy. Also, last time I was on the Oruka for more than a day, I almost got my head shot off during that human invasion. Day trips are all you’re getting out of me. Now, come this way.”

 

They walked through several winding corridors lined with artifacts from across the world.

 

“I recognize that necklace,” Uranyin said peering into an alcove housing a thick gold chain with a particularly large ruby pendant dangling from its centre, “It was on the neck of that King I… dealt with  a hundred years ago.”

Ije looked at him bemused, shrugged, then carried on walking.

“You're Isangbe, right?” Ije said looking at the tall figure, “you’re a lot bigger than they said you were. I hear you’ve done some impressive stuff even though you’re barely over one hundred.”

“I just try to do what’s right,” Isangbe said shyly.

 

“Good answer. You’ll do good as the Urisha of Justice when your time comes,” Ije said,  “You know you remind me of-“

“Are we almost there yet?” Unsin interrupted. “I’ve been counting these turns, and we’ve definitely looped back on ourselves multiple times, Ije.”

 

Unsin knew it had been a bad idea to bring Omanja. Ulukun was no doubt being given all information pertinent to this mission right now, while Ije stalled for time.

 

“Yeah, yeah, ever the quick one aren't you Unsin. Ulukun's office is just round this corner,” Ije said smirking. They stopped at an ornate door, covered in carved dolphins, turtles, and crustaceans.

“But just a word of warning - Ulukun has grown increasingly sarcastic during their imprisonment, please bear with them," Ije reached up and knocked the door twice before opening it and letting them in. She did not follow.

The round room was lined with bejeweled bookshelves from top to bottom. Around its edge was a tiled ring that could be walked on, but most of the room was taken up by a large dark pool. From the centre of the pool Unsin could see several red-hot glowing chains stretching out of the water and rising up to the ceiling. The room appeared empty.

 

“Is anybody here?” Sesewo whispered.

 

“Yes, I can smell a fourth person in here with us,” Uranyin said.

 

“What do we do?” Isangbe turned to Unsin.

 

“We call,” she replied, then in a loud voice shouted, “Prime Urisha Ulukun, we wish to speak with you!”

 

The surface of the water rippled slightly, then became increasingly agitated as a tall figure slowly rose from beneath the water's surface. Attached to the figure's neck, wrists, and hair were glowing hot manacles connected to the chains that were fastened to the ceiling. The figure looked up and hidden within the shadows of their long hair, a smiling face could be identified.

“Young Unsin, a pleasure to see you after all this time.” Ulukun said, their slow calming voice bouncing around the room, “and what do we have here? Isangbe, the young Urisha who saved my mother, but also caused the death of my good friend Uru. And I see you’ve also brought Sesewo and Uranyin. Four of the deadliest Urisha alive right now are in my room. How… unnerving. One might wonder what the purpose of your visit really is.”

“We have simply come for answers, Ulukun," Unsin said walking forward to the water’s edge.

“Answers?” Ulukun laughed and walked closer to Unsin. Isangbe’s mouth dropped open in surprise as he noticed Ulukun was walking on the water itself, “then why not see Arunmila. After all, The Tome knows all.”

“Even his reach does not stretch to your kingdom," Unsin responded.

 

“Interesting, that, isn’t it?” Ulukun’s smile widened, and they turned around and began walking slowly around the pool, “I wonder, Unsin, what would you like to know? Do you wish to retire me, like you did your mother? Did you know it was I who suggested that you were chosen instead of Aya for Urisha of War? I have always been on your side.”

 

“I am an Urisha of Security, Ulukun. We are not engaged in war with anyone.”

 

“Is that so?” Ulukun laughed, “The wing on Isangbe’s wall would imply otherwise.”

 

“How did they-“ Isangbe began, but Unsin stuck out her hand motioning him to be silent.

 

“I will humour you no longer. What do you know of the Alympians, Ulukun?” Unsin asked.

“Unpleasant sounding bunch aren’t they? Omanja had been informing me of everything that happened on the Oruka. Can’t say I know much about them beyond her letters though.” A throne rose out of the water and Ulukun sat on it.

“How about their technology, especially their ability to make genetically altered humans?"

 

Ulukun smiled “that does sound intriguing. Sounds like something you’ve come up against before, Unsin, doesn’t it?”

 

“Yes - The Rejector,” Unsin replied, “we have reason to think he was made here in an underwater complex by Alympians and Urisha working together. The sea is your domain, you know everything that happens here!”

 

“Is that an accusation, my dear?” Ulukun feigned offense, “are you saying I created The Rejector? Why would I do that?”

“Enough of this! Ulukun, where is Aya and where is Ikkarias? I can sense the selective truth in your words,” Isangbe shouted.

 

Ulukun looked at Isangbe gleefully, “How interesting, I had heard that Uru trained you well...”

“Sesewo, turn on the Alympian sensor,” Unsin ordered.

 

“Yes, Unsin" Sesewo pulled out the small device and turned it on. The alarm beeped immediately, “It's not strong but the energy is all over this room it gets stronger in the direction of that door, though.” Sesewo motioned to the right.

 

“Let's go," Unsin said and began walking in the direction Sesewo had indicated, “Uranyin, watch our rear.”

 

“Leaving already? What a shame," Ulukun slowly rose out of their seat and began to follow the group at a distance their chains clanking with each step.

 

The group made their way down a winding corridor until they came to a large metal door. Unsin nodded to Sesewo and he pushed it open.

The four gasped in unison. Behind those doors was a massive laboratory. Urisha rushed to and fro, chattering and attending to the multiple control panels, chemicals, and pipes that littered the room. There were several person-sized test tubes and tanks in various corners of the room, but it was the one in the centre that really stood out. For floating within it was the one-winged figure of Ikkarias, and in front of that with her back to them stood Aya.

(Part 3)

“Unsin, I see you’ve finally found me!” Aya turned around and lowered her clipboard, “Took you long enough."

 

“Sesewo, send a call to the security forces we are going to arrest everyone in this palace,” Unsin said, staring at her old rival furiously.

 

“Calm down, calm down,” Aya said as Ulukun walked past the group to stand by her side, “before you do anything as drastic as arresting everyone, let's talk this out like the good old friends that we are.”

“Talk? What is there to talk about?!” Uranyin shouted pointing at Ulukun and Aya. “You are plotting in secret! You are working against the Prime Council!”

 

Unsin placed her hand on Uranyin’s and slowly lowered it, “He’s not wrong, Aya. You must explain this, both you and Ulukun. Because this doesn’t make sense at all.”

“Okay. Let me help you understand. I will give you the short version of events…” Ulukun said and perched on a lab stool, “By the way, you really should have brought a scribe. This is a great story.”

“Just speak.”

“When I was a young river Urisha - not much older than Isangbe - I happened across a small underwater cavern. In there I found a large egg. I had no idea what it was, but I monitored it for decades while it grew, studying and trying to understand it because I could tell it wasn’t of this Earth. As you can guess I was horrified when it turned out to be The Dark Serpent. It burst out of the earth, began attacking us all, so on, so forth.”

“You knew and you never told us? So many of our friends and so many humans died fighting that thing!” Sesewo shouted.

 

“And we mourned them, and we moved on. Pay attention,” Ulukun said with annoyance, “Now not long after we slayed it and the rebuilding had begun, I started my own investigation into how it had got here. What I found was astonishing - A portal leading to another universe was hidden within our very own planet. So I went through it.

“On the other side was another earth, and a race of custodians like us who dwelt on a mountain. Mighty warriors – conquerors known as the Alympians. They were also masters of science. There was a third species there, not Alympian, but not human either. The Alympians invited me to partner with them to help them take our Earth. They in turn would leave me to rule as their vassal. I agreed to the deal, provided they show me how to create augmented humans. This of course worked well for me. I had often clashed with the Primes concerning how we should carry out our Onus. I knew that I would be a Prime one day, but never a Primarch. As a Prime, I wouldn’t have the power to change things, so I agreed to their deal and later Aya, who shared my vision, joined me. We planned to double-cross them of course - but that would come later.

“Time passed and I, unfortunately, lost my temper, flooded the world, and ended up chained to the sea floor. But Aya could still move freely. The Alympians helped us create The Rejector using a boy Aya left for dead after a storm. I gave him power and training and sent him to invade the Oruka; he would weaken the Oruka, and the Alympians would come after. However Unsin, you are a formidable Urisha. The Rejector failed to cause significant damage and Aya had to burn him to oblivion to cover our tracks. Meanwhile, there was a power shift with the Alympians and they lost their interest in conquest, effectively calling off the deal.”

“Yes, Herakless mentioned all Alympians want peace barring a small faction,” Unsin said.

“Small? Try half the Alympians. These two factions are constantly at each other’s throats. The Alympians are more divided and weaker than you think - an identity crisis of sorts. The Conqueror faction told us the portal would close soon and they would not reopen it, but they said they would send a ship through space loaded with augmented humans to help us take the Oruka.”

“Instead, they crashed and you got two Alympians in a stasis pods,” Sesewo inserted.

 

“Exactly. What a joke,” Ulukun shook their head in annoyance, “Aya did what she could to try and help them remove Emaja so that Aya could become Primarch legitimately, but Ikkarias couldn’t even pull that off. Even with Omanja in there creating blind spots and holes in your security, Ikkarias still couldn’t finish the job. What a disappointment. We’ve found a better use for him now as you can see."

 

Ulukun motioned to the unconcious figure in the tank, "Once we figure out the augmentation process, we’ll just take the Oruka ourselves. And we shall be the new leaders of the Urisha.”

“I can’t believe you Ulukun. You’ve been scheming this for over a thousand years, just so that you can be Primarch?” Unsin said in disbelief.

“Just so I can be Primarch? Unsin don’t be so naïve. I don’t care about position. I am Urisha. I want what you want: BALANCE. To serve The Grand Purpose and have this world work as it should. It’s just that the world would work much better if we intervened more and if the humans served us rather than us serving them.” Ulukun stood up and pointed at Unsin and her team, “And I know you know it. The system hasn’t worked – Not as well as it should.”

 

Ulukun began pacing backward and forwards, Unsin could tell that they were starting to get worked up. The air became humid and the liquid in the tubes and tanks began to float, even the sweat on her brow was starting to drift from her face.

 

“How many times has mankind driven itself to near extinction? How many animals and plants have we lost never to be seen again? And we just watch it happen? One augmented human managed to turn an entire generation on us, one augmented human and his supporters was able to break into OUR homes and kill OUR brothers and sisters. And we’re supposed to protect this world from external forces? We can’t even protect ourselves from the humans.” Ulukun stopped pacing and put their face right up to Unsin’s.

“We are weak, Unsin. We are vulnerable and our entire planet is suffering because of it. I know you feel the same. The old ways have failed us. Our elders would rather patter about investigating and holding feasts than take the fight to our enemies. I will change that - we will change that. Join us and we shall become even greater than the bound, praised and prime Urisha of former generations. We shall create an order superior in every way.”

“I hate that you were the cause of Uru's death. I miss him every day.” Isangbe said ”But I see what you were trying to show me, Aya. You knew that he trained me to listen to the old ways, I made my decisions based on the old ways, and it got him killed.”

 

“A painful lesson, but I am glad that you understood it. I did it to show you that the old ways do not work, that they are too soft. Will you join us young one? I can see how powerful you have become.”

 

“Your way is the only way that I think will be prepared for the troubles ahead. Strength, power and order will be what will save this world. I will join you.”

 

“What is this?” Uranyin screamed in shock, “How can you turn on the Primarchs - on all Urisha? Unsin speak some sense into the boy.”

 

Unsin said nothing. Sesewo turned to her with fear in his eyes for the first time in centuries, “Unsin, they are not wrong, the Urisha have fallen on hard times these past one thousand years. Change is needed. But surely we can’t turn on the other Primes and Primarchs. What should we do?”

 

Turning Point 3: The One Who Dwells Below

Unsin’s Choice:

-Join Prime Urisha Ulukun in rebelling against the Primes and Primarchs,

or

-Reject Ulukun’s offer and escape the palace.

The New Isangbe

 

Primarch Egun sat down at his overloaded desk. He traced his fingers along the golden fillegree that flowed along its length, before sighing and grabbing a stack of reports. He leafed through them scanning the titles briefly before stopping at one bearing the Hunter's seal. 

He cracked the seal on the envelope and took out the report. It was the outcome of the discrete investigation he had requested into Isangbe. 

Egun read through it quickly, his brow furrowing more and more with each sentence.
The hunters had found where Isangbe first began training on Earth and had tracked Isangbe's journey using the evidence and traces he had left behind. 

It appeared that wherever Isangbe went the lands became more peaceful, the crime rate dropped and corruption was negligible. But on closer inspection the hunters found a trail of bodies and missing persons that increased with each year that Isangbe travelled. Some of them had been put to death for as little as stealing a piece of fruit.


Isangbe had perfected the art of meting out justice - but with a cruel and merciless hand. This was not what Uru had intended. 

The report floated into thr air and burnt into ash as Egun slumped back into his chair, dropping his head into his hands. Another failure to add to his tally. Another Urisha who had lost their way. And he had just given permission for Unsin to take Isangbe to Ulukun, one of the most wayward and persuasive Urisha alive.

Unsin's Choice

 

Unsin shook her head defiantly.

"We are Urisha. Strength and power are essential to our being, but kindness and mercy even moreso. We will not become the very thing we were created to protect this planet from." Unsin reached her right hand upwards and her hand began to glow. A ball of fire began to form in her outstretched hand. "I will never side with you."

 

Unsin blasted the ball into Ikkarias's tank engulfing the room in smoke. By the time the smoke had cleared Unsin, Sesewo and Uranyin were no where to be seen.

 

"Do not follow them and instruct guards to not engage them" Ulukun ordered, "they have made their choice, let them go. In the meantime, we shall continue to prepare ourselves."

 

"Prepare for what, Ulukun?" Isangbe asked.

"For War."

The First Urisha Civil War had begun.

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