Chapter 19:

DrackNath: Understandable.

VladImpaler: I don't do versus fics. Mainly because that would take so much research for so little gain. I leave that to people who are more patient and stubborn than me.


Crocus


The Hungry Wolf Knights were enjoying a small break when a guard asked to meet with the king and princess at once. Quickly collecting themselves, the knights ran down that halls of the palace to where the guard specified the princess and king were. Upon arriving, they were surprised to see the enraged expressions on the royal family. Confused, the leader of the hungry wolf knights walked to the king and princess.

"What is the matter, my king and princess?" Kama asked, wondering what was wrong.

"I wish for you five to escort us to the magic council." Said the king. "They've acted completely out of turn and must be dealt with."

"With respect my king, what did the magic council do?" Kama asked, wondering what the council did to warrant such a response. What the princess said made the hungry wolf knights stand still with shock, Cosmos and Kamika were affect the most.

"The magic council used Etherion on the Protoss." Said Hisui with disgust.


Fairy Tail


"Are you certain, Levy?" Makarov asked as the rest of Fairy Tail were in standing around him in various states of disbelief, rage, and anger.

"Yes, master." Said Levy with tears in her eyes. "Etherion was used on the Protoss, particularly the Daelaam, base. I don't know if Artanis was inside during the event, but so many are dead, master. It's horrifying." Upon hearing this, Natsu clenched his fists in anger. He may not have known the Protoss well, but they helped them against the dragons and have been nice ever since. Well, the Daelaam anyway. And to hear the council just attack them out of abruptly, made his blood boil. And he wasn't alone.

"The council's gonna pay." Growled Natsu with his team agreeing. Though the more level-headed fairies believed that it wasn't them that'll do it.


Magic council.


Doranbolt and Lahar were standing in shock and horror as they witnessed the successful firing of Etherion at the Protoss. Though they didn't like the Protoss for making the council look like fools, that didn't justify using Etherion on them. They then watched as the magic council left the room, most of them looking satisfied while master Org looked regretful of their actions and was seething in anger. He then looked at Lahar and Doranbolt and motioned for them to follow him. Upon noticing that they were alone, Org began to speak.

"Those blasted idiots! What were they thinking!?" Org yelled as the three walked. "What we did to the Protoss will cause the king to dissolve the council and send us all to jail." As much as Org didn't like the Protoss, quite frankly he found them arrogant brutes, particularly Alarak and his Tal'darim, but that didn't mean he wanted them dead. Especially through Etherion. There was also the fact that he was beginning to warm up to the Daelaam. They were, at least, trying to make peaceful relations with Fiore.

"Will you be alright, master Org?" Doranbolt asked.

"Not, my boy, I won't be. Not after this." Org said. "I'll most likely be arrested after this and so will the other council members. They'll most likely go into hiding, some of them at least. So, I want you two to investigate them." The two rune knights looked at Org in shock.

"Why, sir?" Lahar asked. Upon looking around for any prying eyes, Org whispered to the two.

"You two may not have noticed, but lately, the council members have been getting more and more anxious and aggressive with the Protoss. Some were even acting completely out of character. I suspect that something is conspiring against the kingdom and that the council is the key. I want you two to investigate the other magic council members and see if there's anything incriminating against them." Though the two were reluctant to do so, the two nodded in agreement with Org. This sudden attack on the Protoss was something that the council wouldn't normally do, so they suspected something was up. With that, Org left the two alone to get ready for his inevitable arrest.


Meanwhile


Kagura was marching down the streets of her guilds town. People were giving her a wide berth as the magic power she exerted was massive. So much so, that the ground shook each time she took a step. Breathing erratically, Kagura was marching down to the council worker that was passing along the news. Upon seeing the worker, shaking in his shoes as she approached him, she ran up to him and slammed him to a wall. She then glared at the man with such hate and anger that rivaled that of what she felt when she thought Jellal killed her brother.

"Tell me why did the council do it?" Asked Kagura asked, seething in rage as the man began to cower. Upon seeing his cowering face, she calmed down, but only slightly. "Tell me and I'll let you go." Upon seeing him nod, she let him go. As the man recovered from the assault, Kagura was breathing in and out in an effort to calm down. Upon recovering, the man glared at her.

"Don't say anything you'll regret." Threatened Kagura as she held her sword sheath at the man, who gulped before nodding. Upon seeing him being cooperative, she began to speak. "Why did the council attack the Protoss?"

"I honestly don't know." Said the man as he eyed the young woman in fear. "I'm just telling people that the council's use of Etherion on the Protoss was justified."

"Justified!?" Kagura yelled. "How is the use of Etherion on the Protoss justified when they didn't do anything?!"

"I don't know. The council ordered me and several others to pass the word around. I'm honestly against the use of Etherion on the Protoss. Honest." Kagura, still glaring at the man, sighed before letting him go. "*Sighs* Look, if you want answers, go talk with the council. They've been acting strange lately. More so than usual. For what it's worth, I'm sorry." With that the man left the area, leaving Kagura to ponder what the man told her.

"Why would the council order Etherions firing?" Thought Kagura as she too left the area, ignoring the stares she got from others. "They wouldn't attempt such a thing against a more powerful foe. It's just out of character for the council. Whatever the reason is, I won't get them by just thinking to myself." With that, she marched back to her guild to ask permission from her guild master to leave for the magic council.


Later


"Give me one good reason why I should not send you all to jail and disband the magic council." Said Toma as he glared darkly at the magic council, his guards silent as they also watched the magic council. The head of the council then spoke.

"With respect, sir, we've judged it to be the best course of action for the good of Fiore." Said Gran Doma.

"And how exactly is performing a preemptive strike on an ally of ours good for Fiore?" Demanded Hisui, keeping her emotions in check. Kamika and Cosmos gave a grunt of agreement as they silently glared at the magic council.

"It's simple, princess, the Protoss were preparing to attack us." Gran Doma said. Everyone's eyes widened at that, not believing such a thing. They could believe the Tal'darim for doing so, but the Daelaam were attacked instead.

"Do you have proof of this?" Demanded Toma as he couldn't believe Artanis would do such a thing. Gran Doma simply sighed before speaking.

"I'm afraid I can't divulge that information, sire. Our informant wished to be kept in the dark. Even from you." Explained Gran. The king didn't like that and was about to demand Dorma to answer the question when the doors leading to the council room suddenly slammed opened and out came Artanis, eyes glowing red to indicate his anger. He marched toward the council, the king's guard giving him a wide berth upon seeing how angry he was. Upon reaching, the council, Artanis activated his psi-blades and slammed them on the table, slicing clean through the wood.

"What is the meaning of this!?" Artanis demanded as he glared at the council, who along with everyone else were shocked to see such behavior from Artanis. Though, considering his people were fired upon without warning by an ally, it was justified. "We've been living peacefully together as allies, tense yes, but peacefully nonetheless. I even disregarded my advisors warning to not let anyone enter our base, as a token of friendship. So, why is it that a preemptive strike was ordered on my people!?" Since Artanis was out on the Spear of Adun to speak with Karax on how to get back home, he was spared from Etherion's firing. However, many Protoss still died when it fired. It was so sudden that the teleportation equipment in their armor didn't activate in time to save them. At worst, somewhere around 500 of his men died at the hands of their new allies. There's no doubt in his mind that many would want vengeance for this and that's something he didn't want.

"I'm afraid. Artanis, that due to a strong amount of evidence being provided by an informant that wished to not be revealed, the council decided it was the best course of action for the people of Fiore." Gran said. Artanis, upon hearing that, growled in anger and then probed Gran's mind for answer. But when he did, he only saw darkness. He couldn't see anything in Gram's mind. Not what he was thinking, nor his memories. Blinking in surprise before narrowing his eyes, Artanis decided to simply glare at Gran.

"Know this, Gran," Artanis said as he pointed a finger at Gran. "My people will have justice for this affront." With that, Artanis left the room. Cosmos, in concern, looked to her king for permission to follow Artanis. He granted it with a wave of his hand. Smiling gracefully at her king, she bowed respectfully before pursuing Artanis. She eventually found him looking at the city beyond the council building.

"Are you okay?" Asked Cosmos as she walked closer to Artanis. Blinking in surprise, Artanis turned to see Cosmos, looking at him with a look of concern. Sighing to himself, he turned around to face her.

"I'm afraid not, Cosmos." Artanis said as he held his head with one of his hands while the other rubbed the back of his neck. "The consequences of this preemptive strike will be severe. It's been only a few hours since it happened and already, I've been receiving bursts of outrage from my executors and commanders, demanding retribution for this. I've been handling them as best I can, but I fear some will take matter in their own hands unless justice is served." Cosmos nodded her head in understanding. People act irrationally when overwhelmed with anger or when an injustice has been done to them and nothing was done against it.

"Are you planning to solve this peacefully?" Cosmos asked. Artanis just sighed when asked that.

"I will. It may not be enough, but I'll try. However, in order to guarantee success, I need a confession from the council that they acted alone and some evidence to back it up. I feel that my people will also want some punishment be done to them for this affront." Said Artanis.

"Well, the punishment part is happening now." Cosmos said. "The king wasn't happy about this and he won't let this go. But for the confession and evidence…can't you just mind-read the council? Get it that way."

"I tried, but for some reason, Gran was able to block it." Said Artanis. He then looked at Cosmos seriously. "The only way to block a Protoss mind-reading, to my knowledge, is a powerful machine designed for that, or another psionic-user of equal or greater strength. Since, I highly doubt that the council possess such a machine and that Gran is a psionic-user, it has to be someone that equals or surpasses my own psionic-abilities."

"So, you're saying the council has one of you on its payroll?" Cosmos asked, wondering what Artanis is implying.

"I'm saying that all is not what it seems." Said Artanis. With that, Artanis walked away, leaving Cosmos alone. When Artanis had exited the council building, he saw Kagura walking towards said building. Blinking in surprise, he began walk toward the gravity mage. Upon seeing the Protoss hierarch walking towards her, Kagura stopped and looked at him, concern in her eyes.

"Artanis, though it won't help bring your people back, I want to extend my sympathy to you." Kagura said as she bowed in respect. Artanis simply sighed sadly before speaking.

"Thank you. Why are you here, Kagura?"

"Simple." Kagura said as she glared at the council building. "To tell the council what I think about their decision to use Etherion on you people."

"I assume you mean more than that." Artanis commented, looking at her grip on her sword. "Before you do so, I wish to tell you that the king is dealing with them right now and I have faith that he'll punish them appropriately for this."

"But still." Said Kagura with a frown, unsatisfied.

"I understand how you feel Kagura." Artanis said. "But rushing in with emotions clouding your judgement is not the way to handle this situation. If you do this, it'll hurt your guild's reputation and I don't want you to do such a thing for my people. Besides, this is something that my people need to do alone. Many may disagree with this, but my people need to show yours that we can do things without your assistance."

Upon hearing that, made Kagura just nod her head. She could see where Artanis was getting at. He wanted to show his people were capable and able to do things on their own. But…

"Will what you do bring harm to the people of Fiore?" Kagura asked, completely serious. Artanis simply sighed.

"It may. The council is a major influence on the guilds and any magical business." Artanis said. "But if they're corrupt or performing injustice, I say that they must be taken down. Do you not agree?" Kagura just sighed at this. She agreed that the Magic council deserves to be punished, but she was afraid of the repercussions of attacking the council, no matter how inadvertently it would be. After a few minutes of deep consideration, she gave her answer.

"Don't make me regret this." Said Kagura with a serious expression on her face. Artanis just sighed.

"You're not the only one." Artanis said before warping out to the Spear of Adun. Upon there, he trekked to the war council chambers, where his top executors, advisors, and Rohana were waiting for him. Upon arriving, he saw that the various executors arguing with each other upon what to do. Unsurprisingly, Alarak was also there, staying silent as he watched with amusement at the executors fighting amongst themselves.

"Enough!" Artanis yelled, catching everyone's attention. After taking a moment to brace himself for the inevitable headache, Artanis spoke. "I've decided on our course of action. We will try to maintain the alliance we have with the Fiore people." As expected, his executors immediately expressed their protests.

"But hierarch, our people's blood is on their hands!" Said executor Vanar. He was always against making peaceful relations with the people of Fiore, believing it would let them attack the Protoss while their guard was down.

"You didn't let me finish." Artanis said. "While we are committed to negotiations, our most capable dark templar, avengers, and blood hunters to investigate the council members and find proof that they acted on their own. That way, our people will know that it was only them and them alone that did this. They will also attempt to find any evidence that the council members has access to Terran technology."

"But why would they do that?" Asked executor Vanar as he and the others looked confused at the last set of orders.

"During my visit to the council, I attempted to mind-read the head of the magic council, but he some how managed to block my attempts at reading his mind." Artanis explained, shocking everyone with this.

"Hierarch." Spoke Alarak, finally entering the conversation. "If what you say is true, then I may have some evidence that may help our case." With everyone's eyes on him, he continued. "Though you forbade it, I tasked some of my finest blood hunters to spy on the council." Upon seeing Artanis narrowed eyes, Alarak scoffed. "Just because we're allies with the Terrans of Fiore, doesn't mean we can't spy on them. It's for the safety and security of our people, Artanis. Anyway, they managed to pick up some interesting things about the council. Apparently, some of their guards were commenting that they've been acting out-of-character for awhile now. They've been getting more aggressive lately. They've been speaking of more aggressive acts against the guilds, even the more…conservative ones, when they would just issue a warning."

Artanis blinked at this, something was indeed off with the council if that was the case. From what Fairy Tail and Cosmos told him, the council was pretty lenient when it comes to collateral damage, usually just issuing warnings. There were warnings of forced disbandment for some guilds, Fairy Tail in particular, but that was usually how far the council would go. To hear the council thinking of more aggressive policies, was suspicious to the hierarch. Giving him time to absorb this information, Alarak continued once he was satisfied that Artanis got it all.

"That's not all, hierarch. Just last night, two of my blood hunters managed to overhear Gran Doma speaking with someone. They managed to sneak into Gran's room and saw something of great interest. The conversation was on a Terran Dominion communicator." Hearing that made Artanis widen his eyes. There was no way that any citizen of Fiore would have something like that nor how to operate it unless it was provided.

"It appears this is more complicated than I thought." Artanis said. He then looked at everyone. "We need to act now before someone terrible happens. Here's what we'll do." Artanis then explained his plan to his executors.


The next day

Magic council building


"I'm surprised that you would want to see us again, Artanis, after what happened yesterday." Gran said as he and the rest of the magic council was meeting Alarak, Artanis, and their advisors for a meeting that the Protoss themselves had arranged in order to discuss about the preemptive attack on the Protoss.

"Against the better judgement of my advisors, I thought it would be better in the long term to hear you out on why you attacked us." Artanis said, keeping a civil stance on the matter.

"Wise." Said Gran before the two started to discuss politics. Meanwhile, unknown to all, but the Protoss, several teams of avengers, dark templar, and blood hunters are investigating the homes of the magic council in hopes on recovering anything incriminating against the council. Most had come up short. All except one.

"Are you sure?" Asked Karanix as he observed Xaanul pushing away some furniture to reveal a hidden passageway.

"Yes, a fellow blood hunter and I were tailing the head of the magic council when we saw him use this secret passageway." Xaanul said as he led Karanix and Lejada through the secret passageway. As they were walking, Xaanul explained more. "We followed him one time and discovered that he had a Terran communication device here and was using it to contact someone."

"Do you know who it was?" Asked Lejada.

"No, but I believe it to be someone working for Amon."

"It could very likely be." Karanix said, remembering the forces of Amon they faced during the dragon invasion were from the future, meaning that they are here now in hiding or were coming in a later date. Eventually, they found a secret room, filled with documents, some basic furniture, and a Terran communication device. "This is a start. Now we just have to find incriminating evidence."

"We could just take the device." Said Xaanul as he examined the Terran device. A case-like object with a holographic projector in the middle. "Our engineers can get to work on it as soon as possible."

"True, but we may need more proof than that." Lejada said as she browed through Gran's secret room. "Besides, some people may take that kind of evidence as fake, orchestrated by us. Despite it clearly not being our technology."

"Better safe than sorry, Xaanul." Karanix said as he helped Lejada with rummaging through the documents in the room. Xaanul just growled before taking the communication device and partake in guarding the entrance, since the others were busy in uncovering more evidence. Eventually, they scrounged up some documents containing orders from an unknown individual with no seal or insignia in order to determine who it was.

"These will have to do." Said Karanix.

"And this." Said Xaanul as he held the communication device. The three then warped back to the spear of Adun. From there, they went to Phase smith Karax so he can hack into the communication device, which he did so earnestly. While doing so, the three contacted Artanis and Alarak to inform them of the success of their mission. What they heard on the other end though shocked them.


Meanwhile

Magic Council building


"*Laughs* This is truly a pathetic plan to kill us!" Alarak yelled as he sliced a Terran Specter in half. Artanis meanwhile was holding down a wounded Gran as they were under fire from Terran specters. Gran was dazed and looked like he came out of a trance. Artanis couldn't believe this. One minute they were speaking with the magic council and the next Terran ghosts and specters along with Tal'darim blood hunters decloaked and opened fire on them, killing most of the magic council in the first barrage as well as some of the guards. Artanis managed to save Gran and another council member called Org, the former being wounded with a hit to the shoulder. As his guards and Alarak were fighting the specters, Artanis was busy healing Gran from his wounds, who was starting to come to his senses.

"W-what happened?" Asked Gran as he was being healed by Artanis.

"Not now." Said Artanis. "Just rest." Artanis then fired a bolt of psionic energy at a ghost that tried to snuck up them. The bolt blasted a hole in their chest, killing them. He peeked from his cover, only to jump back and lock blades with a blood hunter. He growled in annoyance before pushing back and slashing at the Templar, his shields flaring to protect him. The fight would have commenced when one of Artanis's guards rammed his weapon through the blood hunter, breaking his shield and impaling him via the stomach. The blood hunter, not willing to go out without a fight, swung his blade and nearly broke through the guard's shield. Fortunately, another guard came in and finished the blood hunter off before going back into the fray. Sighing as he finished healing Gran, Artanis looked to see the battle. It was going grim. The Terran/ Tal'darim task force outnumbered his men and the remaining council knights by a small, but still significant amount. It was only a matter of time before they were overwhelmed. He tried to contact the Spear of Adun for assistance, but something was blocking his communications.

"This was planned." Thought Artanis as he stood watch over the two councilmen. "Someone wanted to both cripple Fiore and us. But who?" He couldn't think more about it when suddenly he was attacked by several ghosts, their bullets nearly piercing his shields. Just before his shields went down, he summoned a wave of psionic energy and launched it at them, killing a few of them. He was about to summon another psionic wave when his instincts screamed at him about something coming in from behind him. Turning around, he managed to block a bane blade from hitting his stomach. Growling in anger, the blood hunter tried to stab him with his other bane blade, but Artanis blocked that as well. Head butting the blood hunter, Artanis was about to finish the blood hunter when another came and tackled him to the ground, stabbing him in the back in the meantime. Growling in pain, Artanis slammed the blood hunter to the ground and teleported out of the way. Wincing a bit from the wound in his back, Artanis grabbed the blood hunter and slammed him to the first blood hunter, that was about to jump him. He then ignited his psi-blades and engaged them after they got up. The three engaged in a short fight, but Artanis, with superior skill and experience, killed one after breaking his shields. He soon used his psionics against the other one and shocked him to death. After killing him, Artanis used his psionics to heal himself as he watched two of his guards were forced to teleport back to the Spear of Adun when a ghost caused fatal damage to the both of them, one with his rifle and the other with psionics. Sighing to himself, Artanis was about to join in the fray when suddenly the doors opened and a large group of rune knights appeared.

"Save the council and the Protoss leaders!" Yelled Doranbolt as he lead the group inside. Seeing that they were now outnumbered, the ambush group retreated, but not before killing a few rune knights on the way out. Sighing in relief, Artanis went over to Gran and looked at him.

"Are you alright, sir?" Asked Artanis. Gran just looked at Artanis and just nodded.

"Org needs some medical attention, though." Said Gran as he held the Org's wound. Upon seeing Doranbolt, Gran looked at him. "Get a medical team, Doranbolt." Doranbolt, though he was disgusted with Gran's recent actions, just nodded and yelled for a medical team to arrive. As this was happening, Artanis looked at Gran.

"Gran, I know that you're a little winded from recent events, but given the surprise attack, I ask you to tell me what was going on." Said Artanis. "Why did my men uncover you with Terran technology in your home."

"Terran technology?" Asked Gran in confusion. "I don't know what you're talking about." Artanis, surprised a bit, attempted to read his mind and, to his shock, found he could read it perfectly. As if nothing was blocking his attempts in the first place. Narrowing his eyes, he attempted to delve into Gran's mind further to figure out what was going on. As he searched through his most recent memories, all Artanis got was nothing but distorted memories or complete blanks. Seeing this, he stopped and looked at Doranbolt.

"Get this both these men medical help, Doranbolt." Said Artanis. "I'll be on my way with Alarak." Doranbolt just nodded before tending to Gran and Org. Signaling his men to leave with him, the Daelaam began to leave with the Tal'darim.

"Did you discover anything from Gran?" Asked Alarak as the Protoss left the council building. Artanis just sighed as he walked.

"Not much. The man had no knowledge of any Terran technology in his home." Upon hearing that, Alarak looked at Artanis.

"What? How could that be?" Asked Alarak. "Was he just a puppet?" Artanis just nodded.

"He must have been. I searched his mind and I found nothing but blanks and disoriented memories in his mind for recent days. Its obvious he was under the influence of someone. But only a powerful psionic user can make someone their thrall. And there's only a few that I know of." Alarak nodded.

"Yourself, me, Vorazun, Amon, Kerrigan, and the hybrids." Said Alarak, causing Artanis to nod.

"Yes, remember back during the dragon invasion? How all of Amon's forces just faded away when the gate fell? That meant that they are here, waiting for something." Alarak nodded at that.

"Must be. You said that you found a Terran base here. Abandoned and in ruins now, but the fact it was here in the first place means the Terrans of Amon were here." Artanis nodded. The hybrids inside just confirmed that theory.

"Yes, and the weapon they made there could prove dangerous to all the inhabitants of Fiore. We need to find them, quickly." Alarak nodded at that, eager for something worthy to kill.


Meanwhile


"How could we fail to eliminate them!" Demanded a human in formal military dresswear. Surrounding him were a Tal'darim ascendant and a Zerg brood mother.

"Its quite simple, Terran. You underestimated Artanis and Alarak. They're far more powerful than you give them credit for." Said the ascendant. That caused the Terran to look at him in anger.

"But we had the element of surprise, technology, and numbers! They shouldn't have been able to survive!" The ascendant just chuckled, annoying his Terran companion more.

"Like I said, you underestimated them. They've survived far worse than what we have at our disposal." Before the two could come to blows the Zerg brood mother suddenly grew stiff.

"He's coming." Said the brood mother. Upon hearing that, the two stopped what they were doing to stay calm, though the Terran glared at the Tal'darim, who simply ignored it. Soon, black smoke appeared before them and out of it came the head of a Xel'naga, its multiple eyes glowing red and glaring at them all.

"What happened?" Asked the Xel'naga.

"My lord.' Said the Ascendant. "Our forces have failed to eliminate all members of the council. The Face weapon is not yet ready. Regrettably, Alarak and Artanis are still alive. We have failed." Growling, the Xel'naga pondered on what to do.

"Very well." Said the Xel'naga. "Allow the Tartaros guild to proceed with their plan. Once they've activated Face, however, kill them all. All of them." The three bowed at that.

"As you wish." Said the three in unison. With that, the Xel'naga left, the black smoke dissipating. Despite his disappearance, the three could still feel his presence in the room.