The Dream-Quest of Lost Teitanis

Commander Ottavio

For centuries, the Ruga homesteaders of Arkelos II provided meat for the Imperial Dominion's grinder in the cluster's wars. Strong, durable, trainable, with a fierce streak of self-reliant stubbornness untainted by any perception of how the Sector Governor was co-opting it for the Emperor's purposes.

Then, the darkness came. The subspace telecommunications links went silent; the Merouz warplines went dark. Arkelos II and its garrison, mechanized elements of the 235th Frontier Infantry Division, were left to their own devices as the years rolled by. The need for military manpower now greatly lessened if not eliminated, the Ruga were free to return to their farms and their tense, frosty way of life.

One young Dominion officer, however, saw the demobilization of the Ruga as a criminal waste of material. One day, Major Ottavio reasoned, the Merouz warp lines might reawaken. And perhaps it would be friendly, helpful Dominion vessels that would come through them. And then again, perhaps it would be something else.

Far from demobilizing the populace, Ottavio favored maintaining strong Imperial Divisions, even authorizing new units on the planetary governor's own authority. He grew quite exercised about it in fact. And ultimately, this led to his being sidelined from the chain of command.

None of which was helped by the rumors that he was on the take.


A Traveler Returns

The legends have kicked around inhabited space for generations: the tale of a single spacepod blasting away from doomed Kithairon in the nick of time as the Shaitan world-buster scoured all life from the surface and cracked the planet’s mantle. 

These legends grew in embellished detail over the centuries as they were circulated in spaceport bars and publishing houses throughout the scattered enclaves of remaining Dominion space. The force of the Shaitan detonation, it seemed, had torn a hole in the fabric of Merouz space just large enough for the spacepod, which carried little in the way of supplies or fuel, to be sucked through. The pilot - by all accounts, a mere lowly Able Spacer in the rump Kithairon planetary defense fleet - was embarked on a great and mysterious journey through time and space. 

A journey mainly through latter-day storytellers’ imaginations.

But a Dominion universe that has yielded so many unlikely stories in the course of its ten thousand year recorded history has one more stunning revelation in store for its storytellers.

The legends of the miraculously spared refugee Kithairon space pod turn out to all be true.

Every single one of them.

Seeing the strange, piercing glow on the horizon beyond the low, flat Kithairon skyline, World Security Able Spacer Stennet acted without thinking. Sprinting toward the nearest craft - space pod X4372, idling on the tarmac - he leaped aboard, sealed the hatch, and ignoring the growing rumble and rising screams outside, flashed through the sketchiest preflight checklist of his career. In minutes, he was airborne.

Only later did he have time to consider what he’d done, what he’d seen.

What his thoughts were on those matters, history does not record.

But history may be about to find out.

Because Able Spacer Stennet is coming home.




The Second Dominion

The Ruga of Ottavio's acquaintance, strangely enough, themselves seemed restless at the thought of standing down. Their spiritual leaders whispered in counsel in the old dialects. They reached out to Ottavio - told him, in whispered asides and occasionally, it seemed to him, even in the fever of his ecstatic dreams: Your way is the correct way. The old strength can be reclaimed.

We are with you.

And so it was that Ottavio Pholus, descendent of one of the Dominion's most ancient and conservative houses, arrived at the unlikeliest of callings: He became a rebel leader. A new Dominion would be formed on the inert foundations of the Arkelos II garrison, one rooted in the ancient ideals and drawing from the considerable, exotic strength of the Ruga people. 

This planet would be rebuilt and refortified. And if the day came when the Merouz warplines did reestablish themselves, whatever came through them - even if it was Dominion vessels - would find that there was already a Dominion here. A new Dominion.

The Second Dominion.


The 235th Frontier Mechanized Infantry Division

"Weapons check."

A riffling clatter of hardware sifted up and down the small block of men. Tight nods down each line; no words were needed. The weapons were in order, ammunition arrayed and chambered.

The weapons are always in order. Always.

"A and B Sections, perimeter," Lt. Col. Maxim Sarg intoned tightly. "Threat level yellow. The word is, they're on the move. There's something they want in F sector."

Another rebel tribe, moving in. Same as always. It never ends. 

No, that's not it, he thought. More specifically - it always ends. It always ends the same.


Arkelos Plateau - F Sector

The rebel officers and mystic clerics of the self-styled Second Dominion seem to understand that the object that has crashed in F Sector, and its occupant, bear great material and spiritual significance. The command group of Section 12, C Company, 235th Division understands only that the wrecked craft reads as a Dominion vessel, origin and configuration unknown; and that if the rebels want it, well, they likely shouldn't be allowed to have it.