Once, the room had been the seat of Adari power, from which the royal family of the greatest nation on Sayleen set policy, laid plans, and worked politics to keep hold of a power that had served them for a millenium or more. Now, Heran Kyall Varrn reflected, that time was past. He had taken control of the Adari warroom as a symbol, originally. The American-style portraits had been removed and replaced by proper Sayleen mosaics, depicting the families of the Varrn in traditional scenes. The American-style oak table had been burned and replaced with a much more somber kathor-wood one, just as large and able to handle more weight. The windows were as open as ever, shielded by the best artifice that a nation's money could buy and letting only slightly filtered light in, but the crests above them had been torn free, to be replaced by the symbols of the Varrn.
The American-style computers, Kyall had kept. There was symbolism, and there was practicality.
Now, looking over the displays the computers projected across the table, he thought back to the early days of the war and was amazed by his own naivete to have trusted Clockwork's projections for a moment. “That tree is an annoyance, no more. I have seen it in action, and it can only control so many drones at a time.” The words floated up from the past, and Kyall fought back a snarl as the reports continued to roll in.
“Heavy fighting along the Julathi Penninsula.” Reported one spotter, one ear to her headphones. “Our scouts are requesting permission to join forces with an Adari regiment caught in the bluffs.”
“Granted.” While Kyall watched the map, the generals of the Varrn alliance were doing the same. Grandmaster Jerathi Saal snapped out the words. “Blanket permission is granted wherever the enemy has appeared. Pass the word to all officers of rank Forcelord and above. We have to keep the enemy off the bluffs!”
“Warthread Y'Parn reports successful firebombing of the Paulin Reach. Estimated enemy casualties 341,209.” Another spotter reported. Kyall caught his breath. His father had owned a summer home in the Paulin Reach. Unspoiled by the Chitrani invasion, it had been a beautiful expanse of blue trees and green sea. Now…
Now it had joined too much of his world. When Rex Mundi had revealed himself, his cybernetic corruption had spread into the Ash living on Sayleen, as well as the ninja trees of Earth. As near as the now-allied forces of Sayleen could determine, Ecchs had limited his orders to the Sayleen-bound zombie tree to harry both forces, winnowing them down in case Rex Mundi's dominion were to be extended to Sayleen next.
Ash had followed those orders with gusto. Over an eighth of Sayleen's plant life had already been destroyed, and bitter, heavy fighting surrounded every remaining forest and algae cluster. Ash had already spread to the point that he badly outnumbered the combined armies of the fifteen nations.
It was only a matter of time, now.
“At least one of your allies is proving useful.” Grandmaster Saal sniped at Kyall.
Kyall took the jibe without anger. “Yes.” He agreed with both the spoken and unspoken statements. “The Yocanu have fought bravely, especially given that this world is not theirs. I will remember that.” The Oligarchs, on the other hand… failures. Wastes. To have trusted them in the first place, allowed them to bring this horror to his world…
“Not much chance.” Saal shook his head. “It's a matter of time, now, my lord. I would like to suggest again that we contact Rex Mundi and discuss his terms. If we…”
“We can't.” Kyall said simply. The room fell silent, orders momentarily forgotten, as everyone turned to look at him. “Our only method of communication with Earth is the psibeacon.”
“But… he must answer a hail. Our people are dying!” Saal said in disbelief. “He has won, all that he has to do is accept our surrender!”
“Our surrender?” Kyall turned on him, lashed out. Saal took the blow stoically. “Do you think he cares? Rex Mundi doesn't care about human lives. What are Sayleen lives to him? If he comes to this world to find it a barren, desolate wasteland, our species extinct and his gods-cursed zombies the only thing still moving, do you think that he will feel remorse? Guilt?” He spat on the floor. “He will feel nothing.”
“Then what do we do?” One soldier asked quietly.
Kyall looked around, and only barely managed to restrain a wince. He had not meant to speak so bluntly. Now stories would spread that the cause was doomed, and he couldn't have that. The only thing to do was to reveal his one hope, and pray that Ash could not disrupt it. “We do the only thing that we can. We counter-attack.”
The room was silent. He had everyone's attention. “Our scientists have been working on the captured psi-beacons day and night since we captured them. Rex Mundi has prevented us from connecting to Atlantis, but Earth still has one psicrystal nexus open.” He smiled slowly. “His.”
“I hadn't heard of this.” Saal said slowly.
Kyall shrugged. “As it stands, Mundi is still blocking us. But we're making progress, rapidly. If anything disrupts his control, even for a moment, we will be able to start sending troops directly into his base. We will find the codes to control his beast, and turn it to our side. We will take possession of the device with which he thinks to own the universe, and we will use it for the glory of the Sayleen.” His eyes burned with passion. “We will force the humans off of our world, and we will rebuild every last tree and blade of grass that this.. this monster has taken from us. Rex Mundi thinks that we are unimportant, that we aren't worth thinking about until his real problems have been resolved.” His smile widened, and he raised a fist. “We will show him just how much of a mistake he has made!”
The cheers were reflexive, but the soldiers were reassured. Even Saal, who must recognize the difficulty of what Kyall proposed, looked glad to have an objective. Kyall reflected that perhaps it was good that he had snapped. The troops' morale was clearly poor. They needed a goal.
And soon, Rex Mundi would learn the folly of having left Sayleen alone for so long.