Kal Bastion
Realm Artifice

It was a happy and simple time. Bastion Corp was the most successful tech organization in Realm Artifice. But success breeds jealousy and hatred, and the Bastions’ aggressive business dealings made them many enemies. Not that young pup Kal thought about these things much – he just loved the comfortable and luxurious lifestyle that all this success brought. This mindset was commonplace within the realm, as the culture and customs encouraged individual technological advancement and prosperity at all costs. This competition, of course, bred many rivalries, and the powerful Tao family sought to usurp the influence and power of the Bastion name so that they could become the most prominent family in Realm Artifice. 


Playing the long game, the Taos built a carefully crafted – but false-positive business relationship with the Bastions while at the same time using their considerable resources to hire Nekris spies for corporate espionage. Finally, the Nekris spies discovered a secret known only to the Bastion family – the Bastions had developed a proprietary technology that would revolutionize the Chronos industry. After years of waiting, the Taos were finally ready to pounce. Abhorring bloodshed but not above kidnapping, the Taos hired their retainer of Nekris spies to kidnap young Kal and bring him to Realm Umbra. The spies sent a message to the Bastions, telling them they knew about the new proprietary technology and demanded that its development plans be delivered to a particular location in Realm Umbra. 


Fighting their instinctual urge for technological advancement above all else, the Bastions chose their son over technology and intended to meet the demands of the Nekris spies. At the exchange point, the Taos waited from a hidden vantage point to receive the technology after the deal had been finalized. Wanting to further take the Bastions off the board without killing them, the Taos planted falsified evidence of illegal business dealings within Realm Umbra, a crime punishable by life in prison within this realm’s police state. They had even lined the pockets of a prominent police official with enough cash to guarantee their presence at the exchange while also conveniently ignoring the spies and the kidnapping. 


But the Nekris clan had their own plans and weren’t above killing any threat they deemed necessary for removal. At the exchange, the Nekris spies murdered Kal Bastion’s parents right in front of him. With the situation going south quickly, a young officer named Etienne Wasu swept in with his police force just as the spies were about to kill Kal. In the ensuing chaos, the Taos grabbed the proprietary technological plans and fled while Kal watched helplessly. After this tragedy, Kal desperately pleaded with the police to pursue the Tao family, but of course, they wouldn’t – corruption was rampant in Realm Umbra, with many officers on the Tao payroll. 


Understandably, Kal was filled with rage and a desire for revenge. If he wanted justice for his parent’s murder, he wouldn’t be able to rely on anyone but himself. Using his newly inherited fortune and natural Bastion wits and ingenuity, Kal procured the most advanced cybernetic advancements he could get his paws on. Too young to run the Bastion empire and not content to sit back and learn about the art of business while his enemies still thrived, Kal spent his younger years wandering the realms, acquiring as many skills as he possibly could to help him destroy the Tao scum that took away his parents. What shocked Kal was that his Tao enemies weren’t even more wealthy or influential, especially considering that they now had the design plans for Chronos technology that would change the realms forever. Were they missing something? 


Kal sure was – in all his years, he tried to recreate the technology his parents developed, but to no avail. He learned everything he could about all kinds of Chronos, hoping that he would stumble upon something that would jog his memory of his parents’ designs. He remembered glimpses of prototypes and snippets of conversation about it but nothing more. Finally, on his birthday that marked adulthood for Realm Artifice, Kal was ready to give up. His life had been destroyed, and nothing he seemed to do mattered. How could he ever take on the Tao empire? They would eventually figure out how to use the stolen Bastion technology, and he would be powerless to stop it. 


What was he supposed to do now? In the depths of this crisis, Kal received an urgent message from now CEO of Bastion Corp Lak Nistab. Despite Kal’s constant attempts to run as far away from Bastion Corp as possible, Lak always tried to be a father figure to Kal when he needed it – which was always. Although he would have trouble admitting it, Kal did view Lak as a mentor. His parents trusted Lak, and that was good enough for Kal. Lak went on to explain that at exactly midday, the Bastion mainframe directly sent Lak a message that displayed a map leading to a locked hangar in what was thought to be a defunct Bastion warehouse. The entry pad simply had two words displayed on it: “For Kal.” Filled with a rush of emotions, Kal met Lak at the hangar. The hangar opened when Kal placed his paw on the pad, revealing a Chrono. Kal cautiously climbed into the cockpit, noticing the name “Duskwulf” etched into the control panel. Upon trying to start the Chrono, a hologram of Kal’s parents appeared. With a quick gasp and an intense stare, Kal watched as his dad spoke to him, with his mom softly crying in the background:


“Son, if you’re watching this holo message, then both the best and worst things have happened. We saved you from your captors, but we…we didn’t make it. Kal, your mom and I…well. We know that we’ve made a lot of enemies in Realm Artifice. And we haven’t always kept our hands clean. But especially as we race to rescue you from these Nekris captors, we’ve realized a few things. We are tired of building bigger and better technology only for it to be used to build even bigger and better technology. What have we actually done with our lives? Who have we helped? Have we created anything good? And we realized that we have created one good thing – you. And perhaps, also, the technology that lives within this Chrono. You see, whoever ends up with the plans for this technology won’t be able to build it without the blueprints locked away in its schematics. If used with bad intentions, this technology could take many lives. But if used by the right people and in the right ways, this technology could also save lives. Son, your mom and I have no right to ask this of you now. We wanted to wait until you were the right age, but this means that you’ve lived with confusion, anger, and thoughts of revenge for the people who…who have done this to us. I can’t even imagine how that must feel. But your mother and I have two last requests to ask of you. The first is to forget. Forget about money, fame, and glory. Trust us – we’ve sought all these things our entire lives and feel nothing but emptiness. That’s why we created this technology in the first place – to help people. And our dream was for you to lead the way. Which leads to the second and most important request: forget about revenge. You taking down our killers pales in comparison to the good you could do with this Chrono. We trust you, we love you, and we are so sorry to miss seeing you become the hero we always knew you to be.”


Kal laid his head back against the cockpit chair, dazed. Seeing his parents’ faces, even on just a simple holo, brought back a storm of emotions. Suddenly, the Chrono that Kal was sitting in had become a pivotal crossroads in his life. Sure, he could leave it to gather dust in the hangar, but he knew he would never do that. He would pilot his parents’ legacy. But how would Kal use this unexpected gift? Would he use it to fulfill his parents’ dying wish and help people? Or is this Chrono the vehicle for his revenge against the Tao family?


Kal smiled. He loved his parents, but they were obsessed with either/or calculations. He was much more flexible and inclusive. Why couldn’t this Chrono allow him to do both?