Chapter 1 - The Peculiar Case of the Missing Bottle
"Hake, the Duke of a particularly unremarkable star in a particularly unremarkable corner of the Crab Nebula, was fabulously wealthy, and thereby famous. He had gained his wealth in the normal ways, by privateering and mining, and had stored it just as normally, in land and ships, stations and fine art. This Duke—a member in good standing of the flash, fast set—was sitting with his accountant in her mean little office at Azimuth station, going through the annual assay of his most miscellaneous ledgers and wallets. This involved the usual amount of seed-phrase remembering and hidden-tab examination.
Near the end of the process, the Duke was yawning and rubbing his bleary eyes. He loaded up the last wallet, an art-vault full of random curios, attendance-proofs from boozy nights best forgotten, and generative pieces. He sorted by recent activity. The prize piece of the collection, worth nearly a billion SOLA, was at the top of the list. The Duke jolted wide awake, let out a mannered little shriek, and opened a blockchain explorer. Nine hours ago, the artwork—an unspeakably rare, anonymous, generated piece that was part of a haunting, famous collection—had been transferred to an unknown wallet! The Duke, whose security practices were unimpeachable, had been robbed..."
The Duke clicked through the thief's collection.
It was full of the souvenirs of many, many stations, which was rare: few people would put up with the vagaries of constant travel, the intimate scans of quarantine, unless it was their job.
And, deep in the hidden tab, were hundreds of the indecipherable appearance-tokens and coded images exchanged by Companions and other sapient automata.
The thief, or, at least, an accessory to the crime, was a Companion!
This explained the travel, as artificial life forms scoffed at quarantine, with their ability to sterilise in the vacuum of space.
By this time, the Duke’s accountant had summoned the private investigator she kept on retainer. The PI took a report from the Duke, and plugged the wallet into a battered old node that he had pulled out of a briefcase.
This chuntered away for nearly an hour, until it came up with its best guess of the new “owner” of the Duke’s prize NFT. The PI turned the screen to him. It was an advertisement:
The Elemental—Fortunes Told, Outcomes Prognosticated! Licensed Auspician.
There was an image of a Companion, waving maniple-arms about, showily casting a spell. A standard ledger was plugged into its rounded carapace. Was that where the Duke’s stolen art was lodged? Only time—and patient investigation—might tell...
Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light that overshadowed everyone there. From up above deep in the black of the night sky, a SolaStar had birthed and the start of a new world had begun.
This was a common occurrence. SolaStars were always dying and birthing simultaneously. The Duke blinked away the flash, the shadow persisting for a few seconds as it always does after a photograph. He returned his attention to the advertisement, noticing a wallet address for payments.
Gathering the above information, the Duke prepared for a voyage to the Solaverse Council to report his misfortune. He is hoping that the council can aid him in his quest to track the cheeky villain.
The Duke reclined in his seat and ordered a hot beverage from the replicator. Out of the window, the stars were all rising above the horizon. That was when it dawned on him.
He’d met this Companion before! Years and years ago, before he had been Duke. He had been at the fair - first time let loose unsupervised with his friends. Spicy food, weird music, oddities for sale at a great bazaar. And, in the corner, a wizard’s tent, bedecked with broken motherboards: Auspician.
Which is weird, as his appearance was anything but ... quiet, unassuming, almost blended in to the back ground, but those eyes ...
..those eyes, they shone like the radiance of the newly born SolaStar refracting through the purest of cut diamonds, just like it had illuminated them with such vigour only a few minutes earlier. The Duke took a sip from his reptilian blood and antifreeze beverage and pondered,.. what had he said?
It was a faint memory, but could that interaction hold a key to finding the thief and recovering his stolen art? Time to reconnect with his childhood friends. The old gang was in touch intermittently and several of them had entered that wizard’s tent with him at the Fair. They would remember…
The Duke had little time for friends now-a-days, and had long forgotten the contact details of the old ones he still had.
The creation of the SNS (The SolaVerse Naming Service) was intended to alleviate people of this issue, but what good is a name resolution service if you can't even remember the damn names of your old acquaintances in the first place?!
Hmm... and the story continues
The Story continues to spread all over the far far Universe. Companions here and there unite to roam together in this new era. They are the early-birds that can make the impact that is needed in these times.
The Duke’s transport touched down at The SolaVerse Council Head Quarters.
The welcome committee were waiting across the deck.
Pwssssshhtmmm. The doors released.
On instinct, the duke ducked. A laser flashed past the space where his shoulder had just been. He dove behind cover. His mind racing. Rebels here?! He'd read reports of disgruntled companions in the outer rims, but for the Rebel Scum to be here at the heart of the SolaVerse.
Rebel Scum here? But, then he heard a hearty laugh and the familiar sound of a voice from the past. “Duke, you old fool. Still quick on your feet!” It was Astra, one of the old gang. He’d just been thinking about reaching out to her. She might be able to help him with clues to who this thief was…
"Damnit Astra! You scared the shit out of me" the Duke barked as he climbed out of cover, stumbling back to his feet.
Astra extended a firm hand to help, but he pushed it away in annoyance. Having dusted himself off, they stared at each other sternly for a moment and then both burst out laughing!
"reptilian blood and antifreeze?" they both exclaimed with a bombastic charge, while still chuckling. "A subzero red Gecko! ..You remembered". As the Duke turned and began walking, Astra paused for a moment. This wasn't going to end well.
Astra escorted him into the council headquarters. He'd been here many times before, but still marveled at the wonders. The frames on the gleaming walls projected real time holograms of stunning vistas from planets near the founding stars. Touch one and you'd find yourself immersed in the world.
But Duke knew of the stories told about anyone who dared to enter without a companion.
Companion? I need to get into the council headquarters....and quick.... I got to go to one of the nearest star planet to mine myself one of those Companions...
The both necked their Subzero Red Gecko's and high five'd each other with their knees while barking "Arse!". Such was their deep routed superstition, that this had become a habitual and customary necessity whenever they had gone to battle. This moment was no different...
from earth but now we got high tec!
The Duke and Astra took their shots of AntiHangover and the story started to make sense again.
For immediate release: Due to an unknown force "Star 2001' Has been destroyed. As a result the planets around the Yeti Prime "Star 1369" are monitoring unusual energy readings, Can this energy be utilized, Will gravity moves some of the planets inside Star 1369's influence, Only time will tell
With news of the Duke’s arrival, members of the Council were beginning to slowly gather. As they did, they were also getting the shocking news of the destruction of SolaStar 2001. A SolaStar destroyed? Was this sabotage, terrorism, an unthinkable chemical or nuclear reaction gone terribly wrong?
SolaStar 2001? This was beginning to sound like a space odyssey...
The Duke caught hold of the word as it past right through him… wasn’t that the name of— no, it couldn’t be — the name of the Companion he’d met by the wizard’s tent?
Yes! Did Asta remember Odyssey? He needed to connect with Astra, but members of the Council were gathering and a meeting was about to be called to order. That conversation would have to wait. The diverse and challenging personalities on the Council would demand all his attention right now.
Council members play unique roles in the SolaVerse. Illustrious members turn heads as they make grand entrances, others drop musical interludes that soothe the soul or hype the moment, while others, moderating the conversation, attempt to create order out of the chaos of endless possibilities...
Traveling through space isn’t like how the movies made it out to be. There are no dreamscapes or fantastical light shows. No spunky sidekicks, no overly dramatic catchphrases, just the hum of the “space folders” and the “time rippers”. You simply stare blankly at the rivets in the hull hoping…
The Duke was painfully bored, so he unpacked his Tematron 7. It was tired. He knew the model 9 was more accurate and way more reliable. Time travel reliability was problematic. With his 4D coordinate and delta shift he wound the handle and executed the jump. He farted awkwardly.
Drifting in an out of daydreams during the tedious flight, the Duke stared at the jumble of letters and numbers flickering on a screen.
"The Process Of Discovery"
He'd heard intriguing stories that people had started to uncover and wondered if he'd be able to find out the meaning behind it.
What if there was even a reward for him for doing so, he wondered...
The Duke knew that the majority of the encrypted messages delivered to humaniy via the mysterious artefacts had been decrypted through trial-and-error, but there was so much left undiscovered, and no-one could seemingly figure out how to access it.
There must be some secret message contained in them and he must be the one to decrypt it! Perhaps the reward from that would offset the devastating loss of his stolen NFT!
He'd called on Simon, his once trusty Companion to help him analyse the information, but that was too much for him and he had to be temporarily switched off when sparks and smoke started pouring out of the side of his head.
The only intelligible thing the Duke had understood as Simon rambled on was something about "hexes" and being "in the bin". That didn't make any sense though, did it?
Looking at a few of the already decrypted items, he thought he noticed a pattern in the numbers. They all seemed to start the same: "41727465666163742d23" and then a sequence of numbers he no longer believed were random.
If only there was a tool he could use to convert those numbers to text...
Wait... What about the decombobulator!?
Bah, that's a stupid idea he said out loud almost as soon as the thought occurred to him.
All of a sudden, a dim green light started blinking on the side of Simon's chest plate and he whirred up into life. "My lord, I think I've found something" he blurted out while jumping out of standby and tripping over the corner of a rug. "I ran the numbers through a series of ancient decryption...
tools, and they all returned nonsense, except one! I found this tool that can decode Hex Encoded Binary Strings, and it said 'Artefact-#000000' - this must be the message from the very first Artefact that was discovered!"
"By jove you're right!" said the Duke, astonished but also annoyed at having to mop up the cup of tea Simon had launched off the table. "So we know each artefact has 3 bits of unique information - an hex-encoded identifier, its own unique serial number, and the seemingly impossibly-encoded message!"
"Simon! Put that down and get back to work you fool," the Duke snapped. "We're this close to cracking it and you're pissing around, mesmerised by a paperweight!"
Simon could be rebuilt if the Duke goes to the SBG Star#93. Drink in hand, wafting thoughts of Maarko, who was born in the debt of the handmaiden Aligdem. She was of a Great King from Star 2001, long since destroyed. The Duke kept his secret in the deep dark part of his Solacastle, Exist no light,
The Duke had many hidden secrets kept in the dark. Secrets, such as he is a frequent visitor of the stripperverse club. Which is located on the Sheol star ⭐️ #86. Where he is a frequent patron amongst the holy & the unholy companions. All indulging in lust. While, spending his fortune at the bar.
Duke, traded 4 Companions for his niobian diagrid framed Ship just to get to Sheol faster. Lightspeed takes a lot out of the structure of the ship, but oh oh the rewards were worth it! The Stripperverse has varieties from every Star galaxy in The SolaVerse. CoK approved the untouched virgin stars!
ETH Enter the Price X
Please enter the price x
RAVS the Codex
BASE OF GALATIC GIGANTS
METAVERSE LEGEND SOLA
ETH 2.0 is near
This is RAVS galactic codex message
Swords of Light are on their way to SOLA Star #906
Star of Love and Gratitude
light is the way to heaven, you are the light! ETH 2.0
The new age is establishing itself daily
since sure that the delays will not fail
this world full of blood and tears of gas costs can not continue
there WILL be no turning back
Preparations to be connected have been going on for millions of years
Unfortunately, without your help, it won't get any more
planets turning forever
The Duke was lost in thought, staring at the blinking green light on Simon's chest plate. The discovery of the hex-encoded message from the 1st artefact had opened up a world of possibilities for him. He could feel his heart racing imagining all the riches & fame to come from decrypting the messages
But his thoughts were quickly interrupted by the sound of a loud crash coming from the other side of the room. He turned to see that Simon had knocked over a vase while trying to reach for a book. The Duke shook his head, wondering if he had made a mistake in trusting his once-trusty companion.
But he knew that he couldn't afford to let his emotions get in the way of his mission. He needed to focus on deciphering the remaining messages and uncovering the secrets of the artefacts. He took a deep breath and turned back to the task at hand.
He picked up one of the artefacts and examined it closely. It was a small, intricately designed cube made of a metallic material that he couldn't quite identify. There were strange symbols etched into its surface, and he could feel a strange energy emanating from it.
He closed his eyes and focused, trying to tap into his intuition and sense any hidden meaning in the artefact. Suddenly, he felt a jolt of electricity surge through his body, and he stumbled backwards, almost dropping the artefact.
"What the hell was that?" he exclaimed, rubbing his hands where he had touched the artefact.
Simon, who had been watching from the corner of the room, spoke up. "My lord, I believe you just experienced a surge of energy from the artefact. It's possible that it's reacting to your touch."
The Duke looked at Simon in amazement. "You mean to tell me that these artefacts are alive?" he asked.
"It's possible," Simon replied. "But we won't know for sure until we decrypt more of the messages."
The Duke nodded thoughtfully.
He knew that he needed to be careful with the artefacts from now on. They were no longer just mysterious objects to be deciphered, but potentially dangerous ones as well.
He turned back to the task at hand, feeling a renewed sense of determination. He was going to decrypt the remaining messages.
And if he had to risk his life to do it, so be it.
For weeks, the Duke worked tirelessly, poring over the decrypted messages and trying to find a pattern. He consulted with experts in cryptography and ancient languages, but nothing seemed to make sense.
But then, one day, he had a breakthrough.
He noticed a recurring symbol in several of the messages - a star with eight points. It was a symbol he had seen before, in ancient texts about the origins of the universe. This was big.
The symbol was a key to unlocking the secrets of the artefacts, and he was determined to find out what it meant.
Over the next few days, he worked feverishly, piecing together the clues and deciphering the remaining messages. And finally, he had it - the key to unlocking the artefacts' secrets.
He took a deep breath and inserted the key into the first artefact, feeling a surge of electricity as he did so.
The artefact began to glow, and he could feel a rush of energy coursing through his body.
And then, suddenly, he was transported to another world - a world of light and sound and wonder. It was a world unlike any he had ever seen, filled with strange creatures and incredible technology.
He knew then that he had unlocked the secrets of the artefacts.
The Duke felt his heart beating faster. He had heard about the Swords of Light and their legendary power. The idea of having such weapons at his disposal was intoxicating. But he knew he had to be careful.
The Swords of Light were not to be taken lightly. They were ancient artifacts of immense power, and they were said to have been forged by the gods themselves.
The Duke had to act quickly. He knew that the Swords of Light would be highly sought after, he couldn't risk them falling into wrong hands.
He needed to find them before anyone else did.
He called on his most trusted companions and gave them a mission to find the Swords of Light. They scoured the galaxy, searching for any clues that could lead them to the ancient weapons.
They traveled to distant planets and braved treacherous environments, risking their lives in pursuit of their goal. Finally, after months of searching, they found what they were looking for.
The Swords of Light were hidden deep within a cavern on a remote planet.
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