The Curious Case of Lieutenant Ash
As the Great War careened towards its momentous conclusion, elements of Galactic Terran Intelligence found themselves with a difficult question to answer. As if the Hammer of Light fanatics were not enough, some members of the GTA military began to report feelings of nonspecific, fear-inducing emotional contact with Shivan forces. The first report was based on analysis of flight data recordings from the massacre at Riviera Station. Lieutenant Ash, the last survivor of Terran Patrol Wing Gamma Three-Niner, claimed to ‘feel’ Shivan forces following him. This was initially attributed to post-traumatic shock from the Shivan encounter, but GTI scout wings had been following Shivan movements for weeks prior to the Riviera attack, and other pilots began to report similar sensations of nonspecific mental contact.
After the McCarthy defection, post-trial interrogation of McCarthy by GTI operatives suggested that he, too, had become convinced of the Shivan threat after communication with a Vasudan captive who related the Hammer of Light ideology and stories of transcendent contact with the Shivans by meditating Vasudans. The Vasudan captive did not attribute this communication to any supernatural force, but to some form of detectable communication in use by the Shivans. Project Nagari was initiated to isolate this means of communication, determine which humans were Sensitive to it and why, and attempt to create a countermeasure or even a form of communication.
Project Nagari was only entering its initial stages when the Hades Rebellion came crashing down. But its conclusions fell into the hands of the Vasudans, and Khonsu II read its initial postulates – regarding quantum-pulse transmission and Shivan behavior – with great interest. When the Jester stepped forward in the wake of the Capella massacre as another example of such ‘sensitivity’, Khonsu had already prepared contingency plans to verify the trustworthiness of such a prophet. Although the Nagari research was incomplete and uncertain, initial testing suggested that Nabirasul possessed the profile of a possible P-sensitive individual.
The Missing Pieces
Neither Khonsu II nor Aken Bosch (who first replicated this natural communication ability in artificial form via Project ETAK) were aware that other sensitives had played, or would soon play, a critical role in Terran-Vasudan history. Two already mentioned here were Samuel Bei and his father. Another, lesser known, was the pilot who destroyed the Lucifer, who received not only a sense of the purpose of the Shivans, but in fact later reported full-length audiovisual hallucinations of an Ancient narrating the rise and fall of their empire at the hands of the Shivans. Although this pilot was trapped in Sol, and so never came into contact with Project Nagari, he was debriefed extensively. These reported visions were discovered to align perfectly with the myths and legends that the pilot’s Vasudan comrades (also trapped after the node collapse) remembered about the ancient race that had once visited Vasuda Prime.
It is not entirely possible to confirm the notion that this pilot’s visions served as one of the focal points of the Ubuntu Party’s rise to power. Certainly the claims by some that the Elders maintain contact with advanced alien species are similar to this pilot’s visions. What is almost certain is that the Vasudan pilots who accompanied this Terran into Sol vanished into the ranks of the mysterious, semi-mystical Fedayeen black ops force at some point after the Ubuntu Party solidified its power. It is believed that these pilots remain alive today.
The inescapable conclusion of Project Nagari was that elements of the Terran and Vasudan populations were capable of decidedly non-mystical communication with alien species via the detection of modulated quantum pulses. What was not clear was whether the Shivans (and their lesser-known counterparts) were simply being eavesdropped upon, or whether they were intentionally reaching out.
The Jester’s visions were incomplete and incoherent. What became clear to Khonsu II was this:
- The Shivans were a vastly more alien, powerful, and extant force than anyone had at first believed.
- The purpose of the Shivans was discernible and definite, but incredibly vast, and somehow linked to something the Jester referred to as a ‘broken trinity’.
- The Jester was fixated upon something he called a ‘deepness’ which he could not describe.
- Something unspeakably terrible would occur within the next fifty years.
At least one vision concerning this latter point left the Jester in need of antipsychotics before he could regain the faculty of speech.
It was at this point that Khonsu II elected to reform the Medjai and begin preparing the Vasudan race to fight the oncoming apocalypse. When, in later years, he became aware of the imminent Terran invasion of Sol, he elected not to intervene, simply because he could not afford to weaken his own military in the face of the unknown threat.
When the initial Terran incursion into Sol stalled, elements of the Terran High Command approached Khonsu and proposed the beginnings of a new reconciliation centered around Vasudan logistical support for the Terran invasion. Khonsu presented the idea to the Medjai and the rest of the Vasudan government, suggesting that it might end the war and bring the Terrans close again in time to face the new threat.
As the civil war ground on, deliberations began. Khonsu II was faced with a fateful decision: would he cast his lot in one side of the Terran civil war in order to safeguard his people against future catastrophe? Or would he maintain his independence and the moral high ground, and risk extinction?