Captain Irima Ironwing sounded the alarm in Hallifax last Klangiary when an unexpected security breach occurred at the elevator beneath the city. Her signal was swiftly answered by Qilllilitli Skydrifter, Calioliahali Skydrifter, Mmellialleh Skydrifter, Ayisdra Ysav'rai, and Intern Tem. Soon they encountered the suspicious individual within the elevator: a strange intruder named Rauye Rhineseer, a lucidian who had been seen fiddling with the elevator's circuits.
Smooth-tongued and confident, Rauye provided paperwork that, at first blush, provided her the designated clearance to enter a classified area referred to as the Office of Sanitation and Clandestine Affairs. Once the purview of the Minister of Peace and the Sentinels guild of Hallifax, this location purportedly contained highly secure communications and sensitive documents. None present had seen such a place in the city, or indeed, were aware that such an office even existed at all.
Considering the abrupt appearance of this Rauye and the elaborate nature of her claims, the Hallifaxians gathered expressed skepticism about the documents' authenticity and began to investigate them, while Captain Irima Ironwing faithfully kept sole watch at the elevator. Various members of the higher echelons of Hallifaxian bureaucracy were interrogated about the sheaf of documents, until it became clear they were nothing but a clever forgery.
A showdown ensued with Rauye Rhineseer at the Conclave, where she was seen brazenly requesting access to the schemantics of the mysterious office. A wrinkle had formed in her plan: the Conclave could only authorize the passcode for this office upon a Hallifaxian's authorization of a security protocol entitled Code Black Anomaly. When her lies were not answered with assistance, Rauye revealed the truth of her plans: she was one of the pirates of Teyitha Contelli's crew, and if the Hallifaxians would not help her, she would torture Captain Irima Ironwing until they complied.
Indeed, the brave storm trill had been captured at the elevator by Rauye's motley crew, and the Captain's screams as they tormented her echoed hauntingly through the city as the Hallifaxians deliberated. The safety of the Collective, it was decided, was too important to risk on a single life. No matter how Rauye wheedled them, they were unified and firm in their stance: no one would authorize the protocols to enter the Office of Sanitation and Clandestine Affairs. Rauye's pistol punished Ayisdra for defying her in a single, fatal blow, and soon his fate was repeated by most present. It seemed all was at a stalemate as the Captain's cries resounded in the city.
That is, until a single trill servant could no longer take Irima's suffering. Revealing himself as her brother, Norin, he offered to make a deal with Rauye: if she would spare his sister, he would authorize the protocols she requested. To the horror of all present, Norin fulfilled his side of the agreement, and Code Black Anomaly went into effect as the trill servant wept with guilt and shame. A race was on to outwit Rauye Rhineseer and learn the passcode before she could.
Holograms flickered into existence in the city of Hallifax, which each provided clues to the passcode for the Office of Clandestine Affairs. Along with those holograms, countless hostile automatons patrolled the city, aggressive in their pursuit of the perceived security threat as a warning flashed for all citizens to return to their homesteads. Instead, the Hallifaxians went to work deciphering the various clues they were given to solve an intricate puzzle involving notable Sentinels of years past and the high-level projects they oversaw. It was Qillililitli who solved the integral clue to receive the passcode, granting them access to the mysterious Office of Clandestine Affairs as well as knowledge of the mysterious Project AEON, which involved a black cognito rock that was Rauye's ultimate objective.
Others had gathered to join in the quest to reach the cognito rock before Rauye, including Luce Shevat, Tikki, and Fillirriqili Skydrifter. Their comrades agreed to officially appoint Fillirriqili as the Subminister of Peace, allowing him the ability to call off Code Black Anomaly and force the automatons to retreat. This gave them entry beyond the Office of Clandestine Affairs, providing a curious tesseract cube that, when activated, provided entry to a strange sight, and insight into one of Hallifax's long lost histories.
Project AEON involved Xaschoc and Jhaethi Aalin, two Institute siblings who had discovered a method of freezing a moment in time. It was a project funded by the Holy Celestian Empire that was equal parts a success and failure, for the result successfully locked both researchers in time, looping infinitely for a single moment that neither could escape. Such a risky and unstable result was dangerous, and thus was quickly erased from history to prevent its repetition. The timelock that had trapped the Aalin siblings was sustained by a black cognito rock that Rauye coveted.
It was here that the tesseract cube led our companions, where they witnessed the moment between the Aalins loop over and over again, frozen for an eternity. Luce was the one to lift the black cognito rock, shattering their spell as the two scientists entered the time stream once more. Even as they shouted warnings to their modern comrades, the Hallifaxians remained within the pocket of time, creating a paradox that ultimately led to everyone's collective death and the evaporation of the Aalins from the timestream. Their ultimate fate is, and quite possibly shall forever be, unknown.
The cognito rock had, in the aftermath, changed hands to Ayisdra Ysav'rai, who hid at the Matrix while the others met with Rauye Rhineseer, her pirates, and a bound and beaten Captain Irima Ironwing. A scuffle ensued, but Rauye's sharp eye and eerily accurate pistol made quick work of any opponent. This was a battle that would have to take place with words, not warfare.
Rauye revealed that the black cognito rock was part of a compass formed by the Vernal God Ilaedron the Fair, and by itself, was worth quite little to the city aside from their dubious temporal experiment. She proposed a new deal: the life of the Captain and an old artifact that once belonged to the city of Hallifax, in exchange for the cognito rock that provided no value to the Collective. Indeed, she argued it might even be in safer hands, given what happened to the Aalins. "We are pirates," she quipped with a wink, "not mad scientists." It was a compelling argument.
The item that Rauye offered Hallifax was a pulsating energy core, which seemed alive as it hummed in the Captain's bound hands. Given it had once belonged to the city, and Hallifax held no sentiment towards the cognito rock in the wake of the tragedy it had inflicted, the deal was eventually struck. A very pleased Rauye left both Captain Irima Ironwing and the crystal core behind as she and her pirates departed the now-harmonious city.
The newly received core was intensely examined by the curious Hallifaxians. The Conclave sensed its similarity to the beings of Continuum, and suggested it enter the care of a scientist with expertise in bioengineering. Junior Scientist Gith'axa Lars quickly took to the task, promising to update all present on the crystal core's behavior. The only matter left to discuss was, then, the fate of the servant that had plunged Hallifax into chaos.
Captain Irima Ironwing and others such as Calioliahali advocated for capital punishment, stating that a single life was not to be held as equal to the Collective. Yet others such as Tikki and Qillilitli advocated for a redemptive strategy, allowing for the servant to restore his honour. Ultimately, Norin's fate was decided by the Board of Directors present, who determined he should be [REDACTED]. The purpose of the energy core remains to be seen.