The doors of the Great Hall of Lavigny’s Legion were made of an ebony material. Leon thought it might be metal, or some sort of dull marble. Carved in relief were scenes of a great battle in space, ships of elegant Imperial design fired lasers of embossed silver at indistinct targets that exploded with eye catching gems and gold-leaf sparks. Emblazoned above it all, the numbers “528” stood proud in front of the Imperial Eagle. The firelight flickered from sconces on either side. There were no artificial lights here, no cameras or computers to be seen. Leon stood alone, and waited as instructed.
Something unseen clunked. The doors lurched and crawled open to reveal another large hall. This one was almost pitch black save for a single brazier on the opposite side. Large columns flanked the central walkway.
“Leon Falkner.” A voice said. The acoustics of the room were impeccable. The voice was deep, resounding, and the source was impossible to decipher. There was no artificial enhancement Leon could pick out, it was all done with the ancient craft of carved stone and sound-waves.
“Yes?” Leon squeaked, then cleared his throat.
“Enter.” Leon stepped forward, steps echoing off walls shrouded in darkness. The doors ground shut behind him. He was plunged into darkness. He hesitated, nothing moving except the flickering of the brazier across the room. Leon squinted, trying to make out anything in the darkness. A cold drip of sweat went down his neck.
“You claim,” the voice came again. “You wish to join the Legion.” Leon turn around. Within the room, it sounded like there were a chorus of voices speaking at once. He turned to look at the doors. They were shut, flush with the wall. There was no turning back.
“I do.” Leon said, his voice resolute.
“Are you prepared to give your life in service to the Empire, should it ever be required of you?” The voice spoke from all corners of the room. The pillars of stone seemed like fingers enclosing him in a vice grip. The hairs of his neck stood on end. Leon could feel eyes on him.
“I am.” Leon said. His eyes were adjusting, there seemed to be small points of lights all around him. Dust? He noticed he was in the center of the room now. He didn’t remember walking forward.
“Do you hereby swear your unwavering loyalty to Our Emperor, Arrisa Lavingy-Duval, may she live and reign forever, and her exalted Legion?” The words hung in the air. The fire crackled, awaiting his answer.
‘Once a Citizen, Always a Citizen.’ Was the Federation motto. It where he was born. Its where he got his pilot’s wings. It’s where his father was murdered. Something within Leon galvanized.
“I do so swear.” His words echoed into silence. That was it. He was a traitor. A turncoat. Doomed to be hunted by Fed agents for the rest of his life.
The brazier flared. First a brilliant red, then somehow to a deep and imperious purple. The flames shot towards the ceiling, then swooped downward, striking torches on either side. One after the other, purple flame ignited along the walls. The great hall was illuminated with an otherworldly glow. With the light of the torches he could see that there were small bits carved into the columns and walls. It was familiar.
It was a star map. Expertly carved, as if he was floating over the planet. He turned and made out the carved figure of an eagle perched over a single bright star: Achenar.
A robed figure emerged from the darkness, smiling wide.
“Welcome home, Initiate.” the voice said, connected to a body at last.