‘Your people think we’re traitors. You really expect ‘em to believe us…when we tell ‘em their Queen betrayed ‘em? Or even give us the chance before they tear us apart?’ Rogue asks her companion, Tritt, of the alien race the Swarm. Rushing across the alien world together, Tritt replies ‘No. But we only need time to level the accusation. They will instinctively search the Queen’s memories through the hive-mind to confirm their beliefs’. Rogue reminds Tritt that the Queen blocked those memories, hid them away, but Tritt tells her that against probing from all the Swarm at once, such barriers cannot hold. He states that when his people see the Queen conspiring with the King of their enemies, plotting a battle whose sole purpose is to slay thousands on both sides simply to keep them in power, then they will listen. ‘We can stop this carnage before it begins’ Tritt tells Rogue.
Tritt tells Rogue that he can see she is exhausted, but that it is imperative they reach his people before they engage the Vray in battle, for once blood is shed, they will not heed them, there will be no hope of stopping them. Rogue tells Tritt to hold on, as they reach the edge of a cliff. She remarks that she hears something, and as they look out to the ground below, they find the Tritt engaged in battle with the Vray. ‘Ancestors, forgive me’ Tritt utters, while several Swarm Colossi tear up the landscape, and the Vray mourn their dead. ‘We are too late’ Tritt exclaims. ‘No! Ah can’t accept that!’ Rogue tells him as she leaps from the cliff, but Tritt points out that the battle has take on its own life, and that blood calls out for blood. ‘No force on this world can stop my people and the Vray from slaughtering each other now’ he explains. Rogue reminds Tritt that she isn’t from this world and declares that she isn’t about to let people kill each other over a lie.
Rogue picks up a weapon lying on the ground and uses it to knock one of the Swarm from a large multi-legged insect they are riding. ‘If Ah put this sword to your Queen’s throat, your people will listen’ Rogue exclaims. But, Tritt tells her to listen, and points out that the war rages, that she rushes headlong to her death. Rogue doesn’t stop, she charges the insect towards the battle. ‘Ah, well. At least it will be memorable’ Tritt decides. In the middle of the battle field, the Queen urges her warriors on, boasting that today, their numbers win out. ‘Today we wipe the stain of the Vray from our world!’ she exclaims, when suddenly, ‘My Queen -’ one of the warriors calls out, alerting her to something fast approaching. ‘No. it is not possible -’ the Queen gasps as she sees Rogue up ahead, still riding the insect like beast. ‘Kill it!’ the Queen screeches. ‘Forget the Vray. Slay the outworlder at all costs!’ the Queen orders.
Doing her best to keep the Swarm off her, Rogue kicks one of them away and tells that she isn’t their enemy, that it is their Queen who has betrayed them. But Rogue realizes that there is too much noise, they Swarm can’t - or won’t - hear her. ‘Overwhelm the mammal!’ one of the Swarm calls out, as a mass of them wash over Rogue like a wave. Rogue calls out to Tritt, telling him that she has got to force his way into the hive-mind and show them what they saw. ‘I cannot! Only the Queen is capable of such a thing!’ Tritt replies as he battles another of the Swarm. ‘Then we’re both gonna die…your people will live under a Queen who uses ‘em for cannon fodder…and you won’t even have tried!’ Rogue calls out. Tritt pauses, before deciding that he has committed many blasphemies today. ‘What is one more?’ he asks as he shoves his spike into one of the other Swarm’s heads.
Once again part of the hive-mind, Tritt calls out to the warriors of the swarm, announcing that the outworlder speaks the truth, that there is betrayal in the give-mind. ‘What there can never be…are lies’ he points out, as he opens his mind to the Swarm, showing them what he saw in the Queen’s mind - the Queen of the Swarm and the King of the Vray talking about how conflict keeps their numbers manageable and makes them strong enough to endure, leaving more resources for the survivors. The Swarm start to panic - ‘The Queen colludes with the enemy? With the King of the Vray himself?’ one of them exclaims, while another declares that she betrays the hive to preserve her own power. ‘It is incomprehensible, it is so…not-Swarm!’ another gasps.
‘Lies! Every bit of it! This is the Outworlder’s doing! Some alien trick!’ the Queen exclaims. ‘Trick?’ one of the Swarm asks. ‘It is the hive-mind’ another points out. ‘The entirety of the Swarm cannot be trucked, even by you’ a third tells the Queen as they close in around her. ‘We all saw it, we felt it is true’ one tells her. ‘You hid this from us. Blocked it from the hive-mind. Made a part of yourself separate’. The Swarm tell her that if that is how she wishes to live, then so be it. ‘You may now keep all the secrets you wish. But you will keep them alone. Forever’ the Swarm declare, before they all turn and walk away from the Queen. ‘Nooo! I…I cannot hear you! My people! Where have you gone?’ the Queen calls out, before dropping to the ground, clutching her head, she exclaims that the silence is everywhere, that there is no escaping it. ‘Please! Have mercy! The crushing quiet…someone speak to me…’ she utters, while Rogue stands and looks at her, before she, too, turns and walks away.
At the battle-line, the Swarm stop and stand still. The Vray King and Commander Chahr stand at the front of their own forces, while Chahr announces that he has never seen disarray in the Swam ranks. The King exclaims that they must exploit it while they can. ‘Warriors, on my command -’ he begins, but Chahr tells his King to wait, as he sees Rogue up ahead. The King sees her, too, but tells Chahr that she is not the woman he allied with, that she is one of them now - one of the mind-slaves. But Chahr exclaims that Rogue appears to be speaking to the Swarm, commanding them. ‘Look, they are pulling back - only defending themselves, making no aggressive moves’ Chahr points out. The King declares that they must take advantage of the Swarm’s hesitation and orders his warriors of the Vray to attack.
However, Rogue appears before them, and tells Chahr to listen to her, announcing that the Swarm’s Quen betrayed them, just as his King has betrayed him, too. ‘He planned this with her. He wants you to die!’ Rogue exclaims. The King shoves his weapon into one of the Vray, ‘Tricks and deceptions! But they will fail! My people will never believe such outrageous lies!’ the King booms. ‘Nor did mine. Until they saw it for themselves’ Tritt remarks, while Rogue asks Tritt if he can show them, too. Tritt replies that he could one at a time, but not if they fight, and that the Vray would need to submit to the hive-mind voluntarily. ‘Hah! You think us idiots? Suicidal? To bare our necks for your fangs?’ Chahr exclaims, but Rogue tells him to look at her, ‘You know me. Am Ah acting like someone clouded my mind?’ she asks him. ‘Think about it. Ain’t there a nagging little voice in the back of your mind saying something ain’t right?’ Rogue asks him.
Rogue smiles and tells Chahr that she knows it is hard accepting the truth, that might turn his world upside down. ‘Ah been there…recently’ she explains, adding that she knows she can’t force him, even if she could. ‘Ah’d never do that. Ah’m just asking you to trust me’ she tells him. Chahr looks at Rogue, and tells her that she resembles in all respects the brace and honorable warrior h knew. ‘I could tell when I saw you that you were no mind-salve. You must understand, Rogue, to submit to this thing…it is what we fear most. Mt every instinct screams against it. But my hear tells me to trust you’ Chahr announces, before removing his helmet, and telling Trutt to do as he will. Tritt’s spike appears and he shoves it into the back of Chahr’s neck, despite the King telling him that he is a fool, that it is a trap. A wide-eyed Chahr replies that this is a trap, the entire battle. ‘Meant to slay thousands of us. To keep us at war - and you, my King, in power - forever!’ Chahr exclaims.
Chahr calls out to Taros and his lieutenants, telling them that if they feel any duty to him, then he wants them to lay down their arms and submit to the hive-mind, to see what he has seen. ‘Wh - Commander, you can’t be serious! Submit? To the enemy?’ Taros enquires. Chahr tells his lieutenants that he won’t order them, but he asks them, as their war-brother. Taros is the first to drop to he knees and submit to the process, ‘This loyalty, you have earned’ Taros tells Chahr, and when the process is complete, he exclaims ‘But the ancients…it’s true!’, however another warrior won’t believe until he sees for himself, so he, too, drops to his knees for the mind-enlightening showing. Rogue stands with Chahr, Taros and the others who have gone through the process, as Chahr calls out to his people, ‘The Swarm are not your enemy!’ he tells them. ‘The enemy stands among you, calling himself King!’ Chahr exclaims.
‘Damn you…damn you, outworlder This is all your fault!’ the King booms as he turns away from slaying the Swarm, to rush towards Rogue, sword ready. However, Rogue picks up her own weapon and uses it to block the King’s attack. Rogue announces that she has had it with people blaming her for exposing their bad behavior. ‘Your sin, your fault’ she exclaims. ‘My half-brother Kurt taught me that. Best man Ah ever knew’ Rogue remarks, while announcing that he also taught her how to sword-fight, as she ducks the King’s attack, then leaps back up and kicks him backwards. The King falls to the ground, but Rogue doesn’t sly him, as she states that her half-brother also taught her to respect life. She shoves her weapon into the ground, and turns and walks away from the King, while Chahr rushes over, ‘That is not what you taught us, my King!’ Chahr points out, before he beheads the King as the Vray look on, although Rogue turns away.
Chahr and Tritt turn to each other, with Rogue standing between them. Chahr tells Rogue that he knows she thinks there will be peace between the Vray and the Swarm, but that she is mistaken, for the Swarm have slain too many of his brothers, and worse, forced them into their hive-mind, made them slaves. ‘Revenge. A typical motice among the selfish individualists of the Vray. But he is correct that the conflict will not end. The resources of our world cannot support us both’ Tritt replies. Tritt calls Rogue his hive-sister and tells her that he is sorry, but they cannot declare a cease-fire out of unreasoned idealism. ‘Then don’t. Do it because the alternative is you all die’ Rogue exclaims. She points out that it is true, their world is changed, that there isn’t enough here for both of them, unless they work together to find solutions. She reminds her friends that they both talk about how much better things were back in the old days, before the never-ending war, and asks them how they dealt with each other back then.
‘There…was trade’ Tritt explains. ‘But our people kept to their own’ Chahr points out. Rogue tells them that won’t work any more, and that it is time to think outside the box. ‘You trusted each other for the mutual benefit of your people. Ah’m asking you to do it once more’ she tells them. She removes both of her gloves and suggests they go into the hive-mind once more. She takes both their hands. ‘Let me show you’ she offers. They are linked, and Rogue reminds Chahr that he told her his ancestors studied magi and built beautiful cities, did amazing thinks like travelling dimensions, and how, once the war started, that all fell by the wayside, and they forgot what they had learned. Rogue tells Tritt that h showed her pretty much the same thing in the hive-mind, not so much the magic, but that his ancients innovated, solved problems creatively, and how they haven’t been able to get back to that.
Rogue tells Chahr and Tritt that their stories are almost identical, and points out that when they traded with each other, worked together, they thrived. ‘And when you went to war…you started to die. Not just your people…your civilizations’. Rogue shows them an image of the King of the Vray and the Swarm Queen together and tells them that this is what she was after, reaching back into the ancestral memory of the Swarm. ‘Ah thought this might’ve been the case’ she tells them, pointing out that they did more than trade - they helped each other’s strengths to overcome their individual weaknesses. ‘That’s your choice for the future. Keep fighting, trying to add a few ticks to the clock…or cooperate. Stand together…or die apart’.
The link ends, and Chahr remarks that this is intriguing, and true, for with their leaders hone, they must find new purpose, or else everything has been for nothing. Chahr points out that the Swarm culture centers around the hive-mind, but that is not the way of the Vray - for them, it is an obscenity. ‘Words that once would have been a grave insult. Demanding retaliation. But at long last, I understand’ Tritt remarks. He continues, stating that the Swarm honestly believed it was for the greater good, that they were enlightening barbarians. ‘We could not comprehend why any would refuse the hive-mind’ he explains, before remarking that seeing how fiercely Rogue fought for her individuality, and for Chahr, overcoming his fear, experiencing the difference between one voluntarily entering the hive-mind and one being forced in.
Tritt tells everyone that to compel something upon one who does not wish it, that is what their Queen did to them. ‘It harms both the one and the many. It does not make us stronger. It makes us less. And so - your warriors. Thos we have captured. We release them from the hive-mind’ Tritt announces, assuring that they will be released gently and willingly, so as not to cause trauma to their psyches. Tritt continues, stating that the Vray will be returned with no preconditions, only their regrets and apologies. Tritt adds that he hopes in the future the hive-mind can be what it was today - not a weapon, but a tool, allowing them to understand each other. ‘Perhaps…perhaps it would do no harm to talk’ Chahr replies.
Later, in Altaica, the Vray Capital City. Rogue, Tritt and Chahr are gathered together, and Tritt announces that this goes better than he had imagined possible. Chahr agrees, and states that it appears their ancestors’ collaboration was more extensive than either of their peoples realized. ‘Already we have unlocked the secrets of much ancient technology, and developed several proposals for reaching water far beneath the ground’ he adds. Rogue tells her friends that they are both going to need new leaders, and it seems to her that the obvious choices are them. ‘Perhaps. I would like to experiment with these “free elections” you spoke of’ Chahr remarks, while Tritt reports that the Swarm have already done so, and that the hive-mind chose this morning. But all would follow the one who ended the never-ending war. Rogue, if you would stay -’ Tritt begins, but Rogue tells him that she can’t, as there is a war raging back home and she has already spent far too long away. Chahr tells Rogue that they understand, and that if it is her wish, they have finally found the means to help her, as she has aided them.
A small object glows in Chahr’s hand and he reveals that it was used by the ancients to travel the planes. ‘As I told you, it has been ages since anyone attempted such a journey successfully. It seems the missing ingredient was proper navigation. The countless dimensions can only be sorted through by countless minds’. Chahr smiles and turns to Tritt, ‘Or, if you will…’ he begins, ‘A hive-mind’ Tritt smiles. ‘You mean it? This can send me…home?’ Rogue asks. Chahr tells her that it would be a lie to say there are no risks, but yes, they can. ‘Will Ah end up where I left, or…’ Rogue’s voice trails off, while Tritt tells her that when the hive-mind touches hers, it can send her anywhere on her Earth she wishes to go. He asks her if they should begin, and Rogue replies ‘Please. Ah left friends in a bad way’. Energies swirl around Rogue, before a bubble forms, and Chahr tells Rogue that she should go to her friends. ‘But know this, Rogue…you will be missed’ he declares.
Chahr tells Rogue that they cannot accompany her, as their world needs them now more than ever. ‘But short of that, if there is any aid we can provide -’ Rogue cuts him off and thanks him, assuring him that they have done plenty already. ‘With your help, Ah stopped a war in a dimension Ah don’t even understand. If Ah can do that here…Ah can help do it on mah own world. Ah hope’ Rogue tells him as she steps through the portal…and emerges in the midst of battle….