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Fourteenth Chthonian

"What good is a brotherhood if it isn't there when you need it most?"

Introduction

The Fourteenth Chthonian is the first of a series of dual-canonical short stories written by the authors of the Mecharussian and Frenkish narratives to expand the Frencoverse and add to its lore. It details the search for the Chthonian Orfey in 2151 by the Chthonians Dzheyson, Tesey, Kheraklz, Atalanta and Bellerofont. The story is loosely based upon the Greco-Roman myth of Jason and the Argonauts.

The link to The Fourteenth Chthonian is to be found here.

Plot summary

The Fourteenth Chthonian opens with a gathering of Chthonians - Dzheyson, Tesey, Kheraklz, Atalanta and Bellerofont - near to Magadan in Mechanocratic Russia, who catch wind of a distress call from an 'Orfey' who went missing during the Hokkaido Campaign and claims to have escaped the clutches of the Imperial Intelligence Agency. The five 'Argonauts' agree to travel aboard a heavily-modified Ka-91 Gus dropship (which they are quick to term the Argo) to the New Frenco Empire to search for Orfey, though not without Tesey expressing great concern beforehand.

The origin of the distress call turns out to be the docks in the Hub, where after parking the dropship they - to their great surprise - find Orfey alive and seemingly well, but behaving strangely. The Argonauts prepare to depart from the Hub, but the Argo gets shot down over Balboa Park by a surface-to-air missile. Although all of the Argonauts emerge from the wreck alive (though Orfey disappears), they are attacked by Colonel Fred Harrigan and a small army of Dragoons. They fight their way through the Dragoons and escape after detonating the fusion reactor of the downed Argo, but not before Atalanta is gravely wounded by Harrigan.

After eluding the Imperial Police Enforcers sent after them, both through Kheraklz battering his way through their lines with his greataxe and Dzheyson stealing a police Cadillac Darter, the Argonauts take shelter in the Hub's undercity while Bellerofont hijacks a AHQ-900 UCAV in search of better transport. After Atalanta tells them that Harrigan "knew we were coming" thanks to an 'Ephialtes', they are quick to realise that Orfey has betrayed them. While they figure out why, Tesey and Atalanta - who fought in the Hokkaido Campaign - reveal that Orfey fell in love with an outsider woman, Yulia; another Chthonian, Aristey, lusted for her, but killed her out of frustration when he learned that she was already happily married to Orfey. They state that, during the chaotic Mecharussian retreat, they threw Aristey over the side of their boat and allowed him to fall into Harrigan's clutches for his betrayal.

As they hide in the service tunnels, the Argonauts are confronted by Ephialtes and several Dragoons. After ordering Tesey to take Atalanta to safety, Dzheyson attempts to talk Ephialtes down, but fails to do so after Kheraklz loses his temper and attacks him. After incapacitating them both, Ephialtes chases after Tesey and Atalanta. Soon locating them, he states his intention to take the wounded Atalanta and turn her against the brotherhood; Tesey reveals what he and Atalanta did to Aristey by way of response. He then warns him that he will never join Harrigan and will fight to the death to protect her, saying that he will never be able to live with himself if he wins the fight because he will have failed to bring Orfey home like he promised. Moved by his speech, Ephialtes allows the Argonauts to leave, but warns them that should they meet again, he will not be so kind.

The Argonauts are soon confronted by the Enforcers again, but with the help of Bellerofont, who has hijacked a UH-14 Raven tiltrotor helicopter, manage to escape the ambush. After a chase through the skies, involving four other Ravens and a Lockheed AC-620 Condor gunship, they are saved from destruction at the last minute by the arrival of the MSS Polunochnaya, the personal command ship of General Elena Trotskaya. Upon boarding the vessel, they quickly depart from the Empire back to friendly soil.

Shortly afterwards, Harrigan and Ephialtes are both castigated by IIA chief coordinator Jane Smyth for causing havoc in the Hub. After Harrigan loses his temper with her, Smyth merely warns him not to underestimate Trotskaya "unless you want us to find an incinerator big enough for that massive corpse of yours".

The Fourteenth Chthonian closes with Trotskaya taking Dzheyson and Tesey to the Tomb of the Chthonians on Franz Josef Land. There, she gives them the important task of searching for any missing Chthonians still out there, stating that the revelation that Orfey is still alive has renewed her hopes of rebuilding the Chthonian brotherhood. Tesey accepts his new mission with the statement "I think I'm up for another wacky adventure".

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