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Rubra

A Edenist Serpent who germinated Valisk, a bitek habitat second only in its renown to Tranquillity. Unlike Tranquillity, however, Valisk was inhabited by a more decadent population. The habitat orbits the gas giant Opunita. Unlike other bitek habitats, Valisk featured a desert landscape extending from its northern endcap that gave way slowly to a grassy savanna plain just prior to the salt water reservoir at the southern endcap.

Originally, Rubra opened Valisk to all peoples seeking religious freedom. It was especially attractive in the early days to fundamentalist Brahmins, but all manner of people came sooner or later. Many of the cults became so off the wall with their drug and stimulant-induced programs that Rubra ended up banishing any more from entering.

About 25 years after germinating Valisk, Rubra performed what Hamilton refers to as a “triumph of genetic retro-engineering” when he copied voidhawk bitek sequencing to create a fleet of blackhawk, all captained by Rubra’s prodigious off-spring. Already immensely successful in the stellar transportation business, Rubra’s fleet of blackhawks made him unchallenged in the galaxy.

At his death, Rubra transferred his personality pattern into Valisk’s neural strata. From that point the habitat took on all of Rubra’s obsessional tendencies and his business, Magellanic Itg, began to decline. His 250 offspring each had a special modification made to their affinity gene. They were bonded to the habitat and to their individual blackhawks alone. Effectively, this meant that his offspring and all their descendants were bonded to his personality.

During a weekly routine check on one of his 8,000 descendents living on Valisk, he discovers a flaw in his neural strata routines. He further discovers some of his sub-routines missing altogether. There is no logic behind any of it, the flaws appear to be totally random, which causes him concern. In tracing the sudden discovery of malfunction further, he discovers the source. Dariat. After 15 years of absolutely no contact, Dariat, for some unknown reason is assaulting his neural strata.

Realizing that his mental capabilities are not optimal and after receiving a late communication about the Yaku and its sequestered passengers, Rubra grudgingly expands his affinity band to consult with the Kohistan Consensus for the first time in over 100 years. He learns from the about Laton's "proteanic virus" and agrees to make all flights in to and out of Valisk prohibited until he can track down the three sequestered passengers from the Yaku. What Rubra doesn't realize, but soon finds out, is that possession is already spreading within the habitat. He tracks down Kiera Salter. She threatens him, but he manages to temporarily isolate her group. He informs the Kohistan Consensus that he will not be able to save the majority of his population from possession, and that he will have to take on a great deal on internal damage in order to save what he can.

As possession takes its course through Valisk, Rubra attempts to warn his citizenry about the spread, where the possessed are as they move from starscraper to starscraper. His mercenary troops are ineffective for the most part against the possessors. Their technology fails them and they end up no match for the energistic force inherent in possession.

In a short time, only a few hundred non-possessed remain on Valisk. Rubra uses his many subroutines to guide each one as best he can away from the possessed, but inevitably his efforts are failing. He discovers Dariat as some of the possessed subdue another victim. Rubra taunts Dariat causing the later to fly into a fit of rage that almost causes his energistic abilities to go out of control. Still, Rubra asks Dariat to join forces with him. In joining forces he hopes to become strong enough to overcome the possession that is overtaking Valisk. He attempts to persuade Dariat by telling him that he will reveal some secrets his knows (being the habitat’s personality) about Dariat’s long lost love, Anastasia Rigel. Dariat is enraged further by such tactics.

He continues to try to get Dariat to agree to join him. Dariat is adverse to the idea, even though Rubra reasons that, while they each is opposed in his own way to Kiera Salter, they are too weak to effectively oppose her unless they unite. Shifting his attention to the Kohistan Consensus, he is requested to allow for the destruction of the support base for the hellhawks at Valisk. Rubra grants this request. He destroys his own SD system so that it can’t be used against the 300 voidhawks that emerge suddenly upon Rubra’s OK signal. The voidhawks blast away Valisk’s industrial stations, thereby depriving Kiera of their armament manufacturing abilities while refusing to allow the hellhawks to launch from their docking stations. Rubra makes contact with a sulking Kiera, telling her that she must not make any attempt to acquire combat wasps from other sources or the hellhawks will be destroyed in the next voidhawk attack.

As thousands of Deadnights flock to Valisk in response to Kiera Salter’s seductive message, Rubra unleashes his population of servitor chimps to harass the possessed. Soon about 10% of the servitors are eliminated in sneak attacks, but he manages to take out two or three possessed every day in the bargain. He uses Bonney Lewin as a pawn in his persistent game of luring Dariat back to him. By promising to lead Bonney to Dariat and then by assisting Dariat in getting away, he creates a genuine need for himself in Dariat’s mind. Again he asks Dariat to join him in the Valisk’s neural strata. Again Dariat refuses, though he does accepts Rubra’s help in avoiding Bonney’s manhunt. In due course, Rubra plays another card in his mind game with Dariat, leads her to Tatiana Rigel, the sister of Anastasia, Dariat’s long-lost lover.

He is able to convince Dariat to join with him the Valisk’s neural strata only after Bonney organizes a 3,000 possessed posse to track Dariat down and threatens to destroy the habitat with nuclear devices. As per Dariat’s request, he arranges with the Kohistan Consensus for a voidhawk to rendezvous at Valisk to take Tatiana away to safety.

Rubra does everything he can to protect the couple from Bonney’s massive man hunt. In an complex, extended and thrilling chase, Rubra is forced to cleverly lure many of the possessed into a trap where he drowns them, sending their souls back into the beyond. This only serves to strengthen Bonney’s resolve, however. The possessed decide to take Valisk out of the universe. Soon, two-thirds of Valisk’s shell begins to glow crimson as the forces of possession begin to unite and summon the energistic power required to remove the habitat.

Dariat rejoins Rubra in the habitat’s neural strata. His presence rapidly expands and serves to counteract the once growing force of the possessed. Within minutes, the Kohistan voidhawk force has retrieved Tatiana and Horgan (who retook his body when Dariat exited it). The once crimson glow diminishes and Valisk begins to physically shrink, last detected by the voidhawks as a “purple-white micro-star blazing coldly.” In the end, however, there is no trace of Valisk’s existence. It “had neither vaporized nor shattered, it had simply and cleanly departed from the universe.”