The Starward Strike

Summary: When a hostile alien approaches their world, the sorcerers of Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu launch a mage-driven spacecraft to battle it.

In an eon forgotten to memory and history, the lands of Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu dominated the world later called Earth. Astrologers across the world foretold an imminent doom plummeting to the world, for the stars were right. As mortal realms collapsed into anarchy, a diverse cabal launched a starward strike. Willing to defy fate, the greatest minds of Earth gathered themselves for what would be their first, and perhaps last, space battle.

The archmages of the world were familiar with machinery, but their era's devices were too simplistic and crude. Therefore, alchemy and magic were called forth to perform what their limited machinery could not. The greatest alchemists, blacksmiths, and enchanters were employed both by promise of wealth and coercion. Almost immediately, they commenced work on the Terran Fury.

The stiletto-shaped hull of the craft was made of orichalcum, stolen by a master thief from the Atlantean trade-vaults. It was reinforced by an earth elemental bound to the interior, both to shield the craft from the baleful radiation of the void and provide an approximation of gravity. The forging process was facilitated by golems controlled by Aganos the Artificer, greatest of the Atlantean engineer-enchanters.

The vessel would be accessed by means of two hatches that functioned as an arcane airlock, with an air elemental providing a perpetually breathable atmosphere for the vessel's interior. In addition, it would also assist with lighting by means of small orbs of bottled lightning. The Lemurian sky-seer, Kurata, ensured the vessel could change its weight within atmosphere, to assist with launch and recovery.

While an unorthodox design, the Terran Fury was still a warship. Instead of the rudimentary catapults, rams, and ballistae that dominated battlefields, the mages designed entirely new engines of annihilation. A fire elemental, seething with embers of rage at its confinement, was bound within wands, crossbows, and mounted ballistae across the craft. Hearthfire Hason, the most feared of the Mulian war-mages, took pride at the searing, arcane bolts that his craft could discharge, and still strike at incomprehensible distances. Once they reached the void, elemental fire would propel them onwards.

The last component of the ship was no less important, the water systems. The Lemurian mercantile fleet became an exemplar of cleanliness practices, due to waterworks designed by Gora of the Opal Tower. She bound a water elemental that served many purposes across the craft, from providing drinking water, to sanitation, to removing heat from the weapons mounts, and shielding the craft from damage. Due to her experience helming both mercantile galleys and warships, she was the captain of the craft.

The Terran Fury was launched from a remote, rocky island off the Lemurian coast. The golems and laborers backed away from the craft, which glistened like a polished dagger in the midday sun. Slowly but surely, it lifted off the ground in seemingly erratic spurts. First, it only levitated the height of a grown Atlantean. The second time, it was at treetop height. The third time, it was almost as high as the Mulian temple's sunward altars. By the tenth time, it vanished from view on the ground below.

The four archmages that comprised the crew took their own contingencies against mortality. Aganos distributed his mind over the bound familiars, golems, spirits, and elementals that performed all the menial tasks on the ship. Gora transferred her soul to the figurehead of the Lemurian sea goddess, the Stormbringer, where she oversaw all systems and components of the ship's operations. Hason transmuted his body into an adamantine war-golem, so that even exposure to the vacuum would not deter his fighting prowess. Amongst these, Kurata's transference of herself into an undead entity seemed the least peculiar.

No longer tethered by the constraints of her mortal senses, Kurata extended her awareness through her crystalline divination screens and bound spirits. Above her, Gora demanded to know the vessel's direction and bearing. Aganos sent his excess constructs to assist her divination, with an alacrity that surprised even her. Hason wanted to know if targets were in range. With slight sensation, she felt herself drawn towards their enemy.

Even to her baleful necromancies, Kurata felt it as a blight upon reality. Like a spurt of contaminated blood, their adversary's presence was painful and visceral to behold. Even Hason's rage was extinguished for a second. Gora hesitated to change to their attack bearing. All of the entities bearing Aganos' mind halted in their duties for a long, looming moment. With a grim certainty, Captain Gora ordered their approach towards their enemy.

As their approached, Kurata felt the fabric of her familiar dimensions fray and twist like worn fabric. Strange, wraith-like entities flit about the cabin of the craft, causing even Aganos' servitors to avoid them. A pair of beings, each superficially resembling a Mulian mummy wrapped in linen, halted before the figurehead bearing their Captain's soul. They gathered around it, and began to pick, almost curiously, at the wards that kept the ship running.

Such a reaction caused Hason to launch himself forwards in abject rage. With an energy bowcaster in one hand and heat-lathed khopesh in the other, he laid onto the incorporeal aberrations. The salvo of blows and bolts passed through them, until Kurata adjusted her own insight. Her undead form drifted into the chamber and focused on the unwanted guests, dragging them fully into her dimension. Hason attacked again, laughing as the creatures melted into grayish, ectoplasmic pus on the floor. She did not have the heart to inform him that the very act of dragging them into their dimension was toxic to their very existence, rather than his blows.

Gora found the celerity of the extraplanar incursion preferable to a longer battle. Insisting on conserving their resources, she focused on the thing that loomed ahead of them in space. Like the ghostly visitors, it transposed itself between dimensions. It appeared as a geometric shape with angular tendrils protruding from connections between polygonal crystal plates. There was no clear head on the aberration, nor any eyes or organs of clear terrestrial analog. Nevertheless, she plotted an approach towards what looked like the largest part of its ever-flickering form.

Aganos mustered his servitors like a conductor before a symphony. His bound spirits relayed messages between his golems, familiars, and elementals. He readied the engines and weapon systems to fire by increasing circulation from the water elemental and adjusting the hull's density in the event of some counter-attack. As frightening as the ghost-like interlopers had been, the dust drying before a doll-like golem's eyes were evidence they could be beaten. Of all his work as an engineer, this would be the most important.

Much to his shock, Hason found his salvo to have no effect. He called on Kurata to drag his target into this reality, but even her abilities could not target its entire form. Instead, she focused on points she thought would allow them shots at deeper, more vulnerable organs within. Hason shouted the martial cries that rocked a thousand terrestrial battlefields, but they sounded of desperation instead of confidence. His weapons never stopped firing, even as the creature seemed to notice them.

A tendril appeared in the heart of the ship, much as the earlier intruders did. It swept aside the elemental enchantments that kept the ship running, as though years of careful preparations were stardust. The interior of the ship went dark, as though the strange appendage, devoid of the curves of organic life, eagerly sucked the magic from the room. Outside, the apparent scars of their strafing run vanished beneath a sea of writing tendrils.

With horrid realization, Kurata realized they instead empowered the creature. She wondered if their role in fate was that of a self-fulfilling prophecy, one where their stubborn defiance would bring about their world's doom. The creature could pull aspects of itself from beyond other timelines and universes, but she recognized a commonality with it. She wondered if those earlier creatures were perhaps its own scouts or servitors, and she proposed her plan in a muted, telepathic tone. As a necromancer, she'd always hoped to last through the eons. She wondered if her imminent plan for self-sacrifice was another cosmic irony only the gods had foreseen.

Gora grimly asked the others before giving her final command. The dead golems floated through the gravity-deprived ship, as Aganos struggled to reply. He did so begrudgingly, as taking an unforeseen engineering issue as some moral failing. Hason also consented, but with the confidence of a warrior making a last stand. They may fail, but they would bring their foe with them. With the crew in unanimous agreement, Gora launched their final failsafe.

Kurata used what remained of their magical power to bring the entity entirely into their reality. The eldritch forces that powered the ship now dragged forth the monster to a realm where it was as powerless as a beached whale. The magic that sustained all of them began to falter and fail, and they realized their ritual had an unintended side-effect. Back on Earth, the arcane powers faltered and failed. Chaos reigned, cities burned, and civilizations crumbled overnight.

It was with grim satisfaction Kurata, Gora, Aganos, and Hason saw their foe annihilated. While they had saved humanity, their homelands would fade into history. The magic that sustained them faltered and failed, as their ship hit a graveyard orbit. What was left of them became a shooting star that nevertheless inspired folklore in the eons to come: Surya, Viracocha, Ra, Helios, Apollo, Phaeton, Sol Invictus, Dijun, and countless others. While Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu faded into folklore, their greatest minds ensured life endured.