Stormbreath-IV

An artificial sun orbits the cradle world of Callisto. It is a burning satellite, a masterpiece of thaumaturgic and psionic engineering, a self-sustaining loop of power. It feeds upon itself, recursively channeling energy to create heat and light. It was built with a conflux of arcane magic and invocations to solar deities, igniting a potent spark. In a thousand years, it will burn out, but until then, there can be life on Callisto.

At the moment, the life of Callisto is limited, trapped within a dome. This is is the only settlement of the taronyu, refugees from a a place of destruction. The planet is warm enough to settle - thanks to the artificial sun - but the atmosphere needs work. After that, the landscape must be seeded, and work continues.


Seyvaro is short, for a taronyu. Vis stature is comparable to an average human, but ve stands small among vis own species. And in a world only populated by taronyu, that is what matters. Vis height is not the only thing that sets vem apart, for vis skin is blotchy, with spots of olive green along vis dark tans. It is an unusual condition among the taronyu - not terribly so, all things considered, but enough to stand out from the crowd.

Ve's always been an outsider, on the edges of taronyu society. Before the Death of Mo’ara, ve had worked for the Tihawnum as an anomaly hunter, tasked to find and deal with any anomalies which might harm society. Seyvaro had never failed, but vis division had. Quite poorly, in fact. They had let things run out of control.

There is no Tihawnum Bureau of Anomaly Management, not anymore. The Tihawnum has larger projects to devote time, attention and money to, ones that cannot be given to other agencies. The terraforming of Callisto, the construction of New Kelutral, initiatives to promote offspring. Ensuring the future of the species.

Most of the former agents of the Bureau have transferred into other roles, finding new tasks. Not Seyvaro. Ve is one of the only Foundation agents on the new world, one of those taronyu that have transferred into a group with similar goals to the Tihawnum.

The Foundation is, of course, working on expanding their reach and control over the moon. There is a plot of land under their name, and negotiations with the Tihawnum are in place to build a new site there, and to formally establish a treaty of operations between them. They would have liked to have been present from the start, but the Tihawnum leveraged the secrecy of their arrival in Sol and were able to work their way out of falling entirely under the control of the Foundation.

Until then, the Foundation presence on Callisto is limited and secretive. A small cell of agents — mostly kept anonymous and off the record — reporting to handlers with contacts to the greater organization. Their existence is classified, and the Foundation denies they exist. But there are always matters that the Foundation wants to handle themselves, and these issues require their intervention.

Seyvaro is discreetly meeting with vis handler, a fellow taronyu. Apparently one of the handlers is a human — a handler of handlers, perhaps — but not this one. Seyvaro has never meant another agent of the Foundation. The pair have met in a bar, just loud enough to not be overheard and quiet enough to hear each other. The handler has a folder to xir right, a drink to xir left and a gun in xir lap.

"We have not begun any form of species reintroduction to Callisto. All of our food is currently being synthesized locally or supplied from off-world. There are only taronyu here."

"I know this. Why are you telling me?"

The handler removes a photograph from the folder. It is a picture of the night sky in New Kelutral, life under the dome. There are stars, thousands of them. Jupiter sits between the stars, dominating the sky, as it constantly does.

And in the middle, something is flying.

"Ah. I see. I’ll get my gun."

"You’ll have a partner."

"Just as well. Trainee?"

"Mhmm. Foundation is looking to expand their operations here."

"Aren't they always?"


The new partner is a recruit by the name of Mendala. Ne's a fresh face, evidently one of the younger individuals who was placed into stasis by the Tìhawnum. Ne know little of the Foundation, and even less of the Bureau of Anomaly Management. Ne are familiar with anomalies (because of course ne is: same with everyone) but not with containment.

Mendala has joined Seyvaro on the rooftop of one of the tallest buildings in New Kelutral. It looks out over the entire city, and the two can watch everything. Right now, they are scanning the artificial sky for any shapes that should not be there. The entity they are hunting was seen in the sky, and it stands to reason it will be found again here.

Mendala speaks first. "Do you have any idea what this could be?"

Seyvaro shrugs, and whispers in a noticeably quieter voice than the one that Mendala used. "There are many things. A monster from outer space, from our own brains, one that was here before we arrived, a mutant, a ghost. Anything."

"So you have no real idea?"

"Never really had a job where I had a good handle on what was happening, if I'm honest."

"So we're just waiting for it to show up, now? Nothing more?"

"We do what the Foundation needs us to do, whatever that might be. And right now, that's to wait. The job is not as exciting as you might have been hoping for."

"I'm not bored, just cautious. They told me I would be helping the species, and that resonated."

"Of course it does. That's why we were chosen to survive the end of the world."

"Fair enough. Same could be said for anyone."

The two sit waiting for over an hour, not saying much to each other. The monster they had been sent to track is taking it's time to arrive, and for a while it seems like it will not make an appearance that night. But almost immediately after midnight, Mendala notices one of the dome's roof lights flicker. There is something flying around the roof of the dome.

Mendala gently nudges Seyvaro with one arm, and points into the air with the other. Seyvaro is quick to get behind the scope of the rifle, and then swivels into place, finding vis mark within seconds. It's moving quick, and Seyvaro must keep vis eye up looking for the shape, to put it in the middle of the scope's crosshairs. It passes in front of Jupiter, tidally locked in the sky of Callisto, and is easy to track for a moment.

The shape moves through the crosshairs of Seyvaro's gun. Ve have a single moment to fire, and Seyvaro pauses during it. Ve lean up, and begin to fold the gun back up. Mendala drops nis binoculars, and turns to Seyvaro.

"What are you doing? You had the shot, didn’t you?"

"I think I know what it is. I’m going to need to talk to the parents."

"The parents? Of that thing? You know what it is?"

"No. The parents of the prnen. All of them. But yes, I do have an idea about what it could be."


"Thank you for meeting with us, Mx. Tayrangi."

Sasilpey is — among other positions — the official taronyu Ambassador to the Foundation, and is the only individual legally associated with the Foundation in New Kelutral. Seyvaro and Mendala operate in the darkness, but Tayrangi lives in the light. Xe stand near the door between two worlds, able to look through into the Foundation without entering. Xe have done xir best to not step any closer.

Xir position and loftly role in taronyu society and the Tihawnum government is mostly an accident. Before the end of the world, xe was well-ranked, but not terribly high. Over a thousand outranked xem. But not one of those spoke Ortothan, and when the Foundation arrived, it was Sasilpey that was chosen to make first contact. That catapulted xyr career into stardom and success, cementing xem as an interplanetary celebrity.

"Of course. I heard this matter concerned the future of our species, and I take a vested interest in that, as you can imagine."

The house is simple, but well-crafted. It is one of the nicer houses in New Kelutral, but Sasilpey is not one to flaunt xyr wealth. However, not much is needed to flaunt - the few non-essential items that the home has are enough to display status. New Kelutral is a colony, and anything from off-world can be subtly expensive. Sasilpey sits in the middle of it all and bounces xir child - Karishma - on xir lap.

"I really only have one question, very simple. But I need an answer."

"Of course, certainly."

"Have you warned your child against the ikranay? Have you told nem that if ne misbehave, the ikranay will come for nem in the night?"

"Just in passing. You know how it is when you are young. Your parents must have done the same thing to you, no? I wanted to preserve the culture of home, I didn’t mean to scare Karishma, not truly."

"Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one who has."

"See? I didn't do anything wrong."

"No, that's not why I'm here. I'm here because an ikranay was spotted in the skies above New Kelutral."

Mendala reacts with surprise - the mission is supposed to be secret, after all. Seyvaro holds up vis hand, without turning to look at Mendala's reaction. Ve have already guessed what it is, and are not worried. Sasilpey might be an outsider, but xe are one of the closest allies the Foundation has on Callisto, even if xe do not work for the group. Sasilpey merely nods at the news.

"Ah. Your partner is surprised. Let me assure them I am no stranger to the anomalous. So my bedtime stories brought the ikranay back from legend, you think?"

Seyvaro shifts in xyr chair.

"Perhaps. It would not be the first time that belief and values have shaped the world in ways they were not supposed to. Not you alone, of course, but all the parents."

"There is power in belief. Much stronger power than it should, by any metric. Perhaps that is what keeps the world turning as it does. Our current sun hangs in the sky because of belief, that is for sure."

"Indeed, it does. Well, I have no further questions for you, Mx. Tayrangi. We may be in contact over the next few days, depending on what the Foundation feels is necessary."

"Fare thee well, Seyvaro. And to you, Mendala, I hope we do not have to meet again. The Foundation is not a good employer."

Neither Seyvaro or Mendala respond as they exit the house. While they are on the threshold, Mendala pauses, and briefly glances back as if to say something, but doesn't. Ne turns around to see Seyvaro has gotten ahead of them, and rush to catch up.


Jovian Orbital Satellite-03 is the Foundation's most advanced containment facility in the neighborhood of Jupiter. It is the closest the Tihawnum allows the Foundation to come to Callisto, and it is where all official business is conducted. A short space-flight - only a few hours - but not close enough for the highest up of the Foundation. Too close for the Tihawnum, however.

Seyvaro and Mendala were summoned here after giving their report to their handler. The handler took a single look at their conclusions - most importantly, their recommendations - and threw the decision up the chain of command. Somebody else more important would have to deal with the problem.

Agent Black is an ornery man, full of bluster. In the three minutes since Seyvaro and Mendala have been meeting with him, he has already popped two tablets of nicotine gum into his mouth, in addition to however many where in his mouth before. Seyvaro and Mendala instantly dislike him.

"You just want to leave it. Let it be."

"The ikranay is, well mostly harmless. And the Bureau of Anomaly Management would have done left it."

"This is a monster."

"Sir, if I may. It does little more than scare misbehaving children. Appear in the dead of the night, and scream at their window."

"It would not violate our normalcy. More importantly than that, I feel it would help it. We need the artifacts of our past, the remnants that remind of us home."

"It is familiar. It makes this colony feel more like home."

"It's anomalous. It's wraith of black smoke. You've told me this yourself."

"The taronyu view the anomalous quite differently than you do, sir."

"The Bureau's goal was only to contain dangerous anomalies, not all of them."

"That's not our goal, Seyvaro."

"Perhaps not. But what is your plan?"

"What do you mean?"

"I explained my theory for this creature's genesis. Belief. If there is no ikranay in the skies, what do you think will happen? How did we get here in the first place?"

"It'd just be a waste of time."

"An infinite amount of banshees in the sky."

"That's the kind of talk I'll accept, not the normalcy argument. Should've led with that."

"Perhaps, but I wished to be honest."

Seyvaro and Mendala leave Black's office together, and float down the halls of the JOS-03. There is no gravity, and they force themselves back to their escape pod. It is only until they have left the Foundation site that they begin to speak again. Mendala raises a question.

"You don't like the Foundation, do you?"

"No. But they need me. They don't have many choices for employees, do they?"

"But why do you stay?"

"So I can do what I did. Push them away, moderate their goals, drive them closer to my former employers. There will come a day that they try to take Callisto under their wing, but until then, we can enact as much change as we can. We keep our culture alive, as much as we can."

"Who are we working for, Seyvaro?"

"The same group the Tihawnum has always served. Never anyone else. My loyalties have never changed. Our fellow taronyu, above all else."

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