"Proof of Madam"

Proof of Madam--of which there are three, proud symbols of our high society.

The first to rally--a call to arms, Her dignity shields our nation from harm.

The second to protect, and all wounds heal, to safeguard our loved ones with satin veil.

The last, of gold--of perfect poise, treasure of She whom our nation employs.

Proof of Madam, our Empress divine, forever hold vigil from celestial shrine.


Long before any being from our home planet of Coral had ever set a single foot on Ragol, stories of legendary artifacts were far from scarce, woven into the various cultures and societies which made up the once-great Alliance of Nations. Tales of epic struggles for the possession of blessed objects and lost technology from ancient civilizations gave much-needed hope to the optimistic; perhaps finding such objects could bring hope to our desolate planet, having been sucked dry of its once-bountiful resources thanks to petty wars and selfish endeavors. The lore gave motivation to the greedy, sending so many on fruitless journeys that far too often ended in disappointment and death. . .

I was born into the nation of Zouryx--the least militaristic of all of the allied nations, and certainly one of the most enigmatic to foreigners. Most outsiders dubbed our territory an empire, which somehow managed to fend off warfare thanks to our policy of neutral diplomacy--far from the definition of an empire, if I do say so, myself. Vast expansion was never a priority, nor was the idea of domination; more often than not, our nation served as mediator to ceaselessly-feuding countries. Regardless of this, the term was no doubt bestowed upon us as a result of the steadfast monarchy that kept ours as utopian of a society as it somehow was, and we were known to all but our own as the Zouryx Empire.

For hundreds of years, in fact, the queens (or empresses, according to the alliance) of Zouryx led with vigilance and compassion for all who resided within our borders, and thousands escaped to our sanctuary to be sheltered by their embraceful reign, protected from the battle-scarred world we called home. It seemed to be a mystery to all but the royal bloodline how we remained the safe-haven of Coral, despite centuries of thoughtless violence that ultimately rendered the planet inhospitable.

Our people seemed to be unusually blessed with another gift, as well. The alliance had a term for those sensitive to the planet's energies, able to connect with what many believed to be the ethereal, celestial plane: Forces. Our world's scientists would eventually prove that this ability was, in fact, the interaction of one's mind with photons--clusters of energy found naturally all over Coral. Those gifted could harness photon energy with unbelievable results. . . although given the war-torn state, it was far too often geared toward that of destruction.

While most of the world pursued advanced technologies such as devilish weaponry and intergalactic travel, our people made conserving what little we had our top priority, creating a society from the immense power eminating from the planet. Coral granted us life and prosperity, and in return, we provided what sliver of it was in our jurisdiction as much sanctuary as we possibly could. However, it didn't take long before what we were was an island surrounded by desolation, and the various nations nearly destroyed each other in desperation for what had laid within our borders.

So desperate were we all to find a way to remain where we had always been. . . but that was a wish that was galaxies away from the truth.

In a sudden revelation, the seemingly endless fighting between countries came to an abrupt end. The realization that warring was killing the planet and was rendering it incapable of supporting life was one shared by enemies and allies alike, and the Alliance of Nations soon welcomed representatives from every society on the planet.

We could no longer remain on Coral, if we were to survive.

For the first time in what seemed like aeons, there was peace--albeit frantic, desperate peace. Banding together, the alliance decided that a mass migration to the nearest planet capable of supporting life, Ragol, was the only feasible resolution; a resolution sponsored most heavily by the head of the allied military Principal Tyrell and the then-current ruler of Zouryx, Empress Ayra. Two immense space colonies were to be constructed in record time to escape Coral: Pioneer 1, with Ayra in charge, and following initial colonization, Pioneer 2, led by Tyrell.

As such, our livelihood and families were split apart, just as so many others were, to reduce the chances of failure and increase the probability of survival for those who had once called Coral home. Tyrell's daughter, Rico, was placed in charge of exploring the unknown lands on what would be our new planet of residence, while I obtained the position of diplomatic relations and peacekeeping between those of Coral's nations--for we now were truly in this together. If my mother and Rico were to be onboard Pioneer 1, Tyrell and I were to make the pilgrimage on Pioneer 2.

Yes. . . My mother. For I am, in fact, Alena Aurora Adelheid-Zouryx, daughter and crown princess of the Zouryx Empire.

The allied military forces were divided to travel on both convoys, along with those from every nation and every walk of life imaginable: regents and merchants, ambassadors and beggars, the rich and the poor. . . We were all in this together.

The next few years blazed by in a blur. Pioneer 1 arrived at Ragol and quickly colonized the beautiful planet, signaling our departure. I'll never forget the sadness I felt when leaving Coral. . . not just for the home we would never again reside upon, but also for the terrible knot in my stomach. I was so thankful to at least have my younger brother by my side, who was, like myself, a prodigy of a Force--but I could not help but fear for my mother, Tyrell's daughter, and the hundreds of thousands onboard the first ship. Despite its lush resources and incomparable beauty, something about Ragol just seemed betrayingly. . . sinister.

It is a tragedy that no one had any concept of the loss we would be forced to accept, when hope was so exceedingly high.

We arrived, established a com-link with those on the surface, and then. . . the explosion. It was one of pure energy, reeking of darkness and impurity, causing many of the Forces on our ship to black out. I remember it far too well. . . immense, and gargantuan--expanding to the size of nearly half of the planet itself. When it finally had dissipated, Tyrell immediately checked the com-link.

No response. Complete silence. Nothing.

Sending a unit of the Hunter's Guild--Tyrell's supply of trained soldiers from all of the nations--to the surface, our worst fears were then realized.

Everyone from Pioneer 1 had vanished--disappeared in a flash, and all too suddenly to be seemingly possible. Humans, newmans, even the androids; innocent citizens, famous scientists, and expert soldiers. Gone.

Tyrell's daughter Rico was gone. My mother Ayra. . . was gone.

What was left, however, were the remnants of what land had been colonized, along with fiercely aggressive creatures native to Ragol--previously reported to be passive in nature. Most of the constructed structures remained, along with the main command center we had secured a communications link with just a few moments prior, and electronic systems were functioning properly. Those who had journeyed to this planet on Pioneer 1, however. . . had disappeared.

Since my mother had commanded the first vessel, she took with her the majority of the royal guard and one of the three enchanted relics which had protected our land for as long as anyone could remember: the Proofs of Madam. Scepter, wand, and staff--the three Proofs were blessed by the lifeforce that flowed through our now-deceased homeworld and defined our proud haven of a nation. One was presented to Principal Tyrell, henceforth named the Principal's Gift Parasol. The other was presented to me: we referred to it as the Madam's Parasol. The third she kept for herself, labeled the most plainly of all: the Madam's Umbrella. The clever woman that Ayra was, she disguised the treasures as simple accessories--for the fear that the enemies of the world might turn and use their power for evil was a fear that constantly haunted her.

I decided then and there that I would do everything in my ability--now acting as empress of the people of Zouryx--to discover the truth of what had happened to the people of Pioneer 1, Tyrell's daughter Rico, our country's now-lost heirloom. . . and my beloved mother.


The four of us stared at that hovering crimson container for what seemed like an eternity (for the record, I still don't know how those odd things performed such a feat; technology always has baffled me. . . but I digress) and I could not believe my eyes. I had decided to explore the curious ruins personally, which had been discovered by Rico, according to the trail of message discs leading us to the alien locale. We stood around the item-cube in as much of a circle as a quartet possibly could (more like a square, really--and quite awkwardly, in fact) and shared a brief moment of awe before my personal assistant, an enthusiastic RAcaseal, managed to shatter the dramatic silence: "Um. . . Your highness--," before suddenly jumping in surprise.

Her soft, yet simulated voice was interrupted by the sound of--yes, I admit it--my own human one unleashing an uncharacteristic, high-pitched, almost Nar Lily-esque squeal of delight (and in retrospect, that was awfully unladylike of me. Oh, goodness. . .) just as she had lifted the container in her metallic hands.

Quickly clearing my throat and putting away my Rappy Fan (I always felt somewhat guilty for wielding a weapon made from such adorable creatures) I found what my tongue was having difficulty expressing. "Finally. . ." I whispered in a humble, hushed tone while I took the offered container from the android in both of my hands. "Words cannot express how. . . (I seem to recall pausing here for effect) how much this means to me. Thank you. All of you." The HUnewearl in our presence chuckled beneath her breath--typical of my best of friends; my personal bodyguard for the excursion--a mercenary of a HUmar whom I had hired from the Hunter's Guild--merely rolled his eyes and folded his arms about his chest. I do certainly wish I could remember his name. . . If I recall correctly, it sounded similar to "rash" (oh my, how unpleasant. . .)--perhaps it was "Ash"? No, that couldn't be it, could it? Hmm. Oh, well. My memory alludes me far too often, I'm afraid.

After making several excursions across Ragol, and after what seemed like days of slaughtering what were possibly hundreds of Bulclaws in those eerie catacombs (those creatures certainly had a troublesome tendency to befoul my lovely blond locks). . . After putting up with my absolutely horrid luck for months on end, and being forced to wield those hideously unfashionable store-bought frames and barrier-shields--it had been found.

In a haze of excitement I pressed a finger to that drab, gray button upon the container in my hands, and it disappeared (once again, our technology shall always baffle me)--causing what we had been searching for to materialize within my hands.

My mother's Madam's Umbrella: only to be wielded by royal women and high-society ladies such as myself. The long-lost of the trio of treasures that were all that remained to remind us of our home that had become a mere memory.

I unfolded the expensive-looking "accessory" (I still don't understand how the Hunter's Guild could classify such an exquisite artifact as a partisan-type weapon) and rested the needlessly long handle against my shoulder, twirling it a few times overhead before giving it a swing or two. It was impossible for any of us to stifle our laughter at the sound of the rather satisfying pop the canopy made when it bloomed--and even more difficult to not make it do so repeatedly, for my personal amusement. I resisted, thanks to my eloquence; I was never known for being similar to one of those ever-so-common, ditzy FOmarls from the guild's Force Academy, you know.

But that. . . That is when I realized it.

I pursed my lips as if I had bitten into a spoiled Cake Sisters'--erm, well . . . uh, cake; I narrowed my eyes into slender almonds (. . . Mmm, almonds. . .) and gripped the handle so tightly that my knuckles were drained of their color. Haltingly, I inched my gaze above my pristine example of a FOmarl's issued hairpiece (although I still insist that mine is a crown) toward the bloom of the bright blue umbrella. Much like the Madam's Parasol, it was known to all for its legendary protection against ultraviolet rays--surely, it would able to guard me from the blinding fluorescent lights aboard Pioneer 2.

At a Booma's pace, my distinctly disgruntled gaze traveled downward and to the ground in front of me. I shifted my focus back to the umbrella's shade, and back down again. Up. . . and down, yet again, and again. It took an exorbitant amount of what I thought were obvious hints before the expressions upon my companions' faces managed to shift from elation to concern. Finally, I heard an audible swallow from my lady-newman friend, having been driven into legitimate worry by my actions.

I frowned and placed my available arm akimbo. "This. . . This is. . .," I stammered, struggling to find the words that were alluding my tongue--very uncharacteristic of a woman of magniloquence such as myself. "It's. . . and my. . . they don't--!!" Tears began to well up in the corners of my eyes.

The HUmar groaned, "Please don't tell me it's not what you were looking for, your--erm--grace. . . uh, Empress-ness. . ." He rubbed the back of his head as a slight blush painted his face--or at least that's how I remember it.

"N-No, it most definitely is, dear. The only issue is. . ."

I made an excessively long pause, allowing my tearful eyes to meet those of my three companions.

". . . it's blue."

The others blinked in disbelief (well, not the android, of course, but still--) while the HUmar's left eyebrow lifted so high, I thought it would float away from his face. I continued, forcing back a giggle as I gestured toward my purple, white and gold FOmarl robes--the royal colors of my beloved nation that once was. "It. . . It doesn't match my dress."

There was silence.

"Um, guys? This," I slammed the bottom of the umbrella's handle into the ground, resulting in a resounding echo. ". . . is blue. The parasol I own, as you know, is pink, so it remains in my quarters. This dress that I wear. . . purple. Don't you get it?! This totally doesn't match. In fact, it clashes, and horribly so!"

More silence.

I could no longer maintain my serious facade, and I erupted into laughter while tears of genuine joy rolled down my cheeks. It only took a moment for the others to join me, the four of us laughing in unison with gut-busting intensity.

It took a few moments before I managed to maintain my composure, wiping my makeup-streaked face. Sniffling before clearing my throat yet again, the others grew quiet once more.

"But seriously, guys. . . This thing clashes something fierce. This just won't do. Perhaps I should buy a different dress? No, no. . . I could never betray these colors. . ."

Thus, my quest to somehow obtain the Principal's Gift Parasol from Tyrell began, knowing that its golden hue would be my best (if only) chance at having a decent, color-coded ensemble.

. . . but that's another story.