Li Shi Sent On A Mission… The New Shard Art Project!

Every step sent echoes reverberating through the wide, gleaming halls. She moved cautiously but quickly; afraid of what they wanted from her, but more afraid of displeasing them. She got to the end of the hall and put her hands on the secretary's desk to keep them from shaking at her sides.

“Li Shi, age 12, here in accordance with this summons -” she pulled her papers out of her bag and showed them to the man behind the desk, “- addressed to my family by the Honorable Empress of Virshi Mau and the Extraterrestrial Relations Committee of the United Nations Council.” The man flipped through her papers, checked the notifications on his computer, checked her records on the UN’s database, and then stamped her papers and handed them back to her.

“Please leave your cell and any other nonessential electronic devices in this basket and proceed.” He pulled a steel bin from under the deck in front of her and she put her cell phone, watch, earpiece, and digital sketchpad in the magnetic tray and then approached the security guards by the doors. One of them patted her down while the other waved a metal detector over her. Confident that she wasn't in any way armed, they took her papers and opened the tall, ornate, amber-colored wooden doors and asked her to enter. She took a seat in the back and watched the proceedings until she was called to stand before the audience of the circular auditorium.

“-And to assist in this study of the greater world before us we have called upon the Black Class of the Virshi Nation to be our “scout” as you so eloquently put it, Minister Darmadi… To see for yourself we have invited the candidate here as well. May the woman in question please approach the stand.” The speaker of the council looked out in her direction and soon all eyes were on her.

The council room felt almost like a coliseum, but without the sun or the fresh air. It was conservatively built with efficient use of space – meaning everything was close together. Usually Shi would be happy in a small closed space, but here it felt suffocating and claustrophobic. She approached the stand in the center of the room and bowed first to the speaker of the council and then turned around and bowed to the entire council. She faced them all and adjusted the microphone.

“Thank you all… It is an honor to be here in your presence. My family, the Li clan, have been in the service of the Empress for over a thousand years.” Some in the crowd looked at each other and looked at her critically and disapprovingly. There was a long history of the Virshi Mau having unproportionate sway in the global government and they did not like the idea of their “researcher” reporting to her empress before her planet.

“… but here today I am in service of the entire world. I know I seem young… but I am well trained in all the arts my clan is known for and have been specifically chosen by my clan for what you have asked of me. I have never been beyond Arast and I have no preconceived notions of the other peoples of the world; I am honored to be chosen for this mission and will do whatever I can to provide information for my people.” She stopped and looked out at the sea of red eyes before her and tried to gauge what they were thinking.

“We have not yet decided if you will be the one chosen for this mission, there have been several other candidates before you.” The Speaker cut through and ushered in a thick silence that suddenly flooded into the room.

“You may wait outside while we deliberate. Thank you for your testimony. You may leave.” With that Shi left the council room and waited in the lobby. She hoped she sold herself well. All of this overwhelmed her and her head was spinning. After what felt like an eternity an aid came and escorted her back inside.

“Li Shi of the Li clan of the Black Class of the Virshi nations.” She walked to the stand, her head bowed out of respect as her name and title were repeated to the councilmembers: the people who would decide whether she was to stay on Arast, or leave her planet for however many years.

“… We’ve come to the decision that, though you are inexperienced, as a member of one of the more… reputable and qualified clans of your class… and because you were chosen by the matriarch of your clan, a well respected and trusted woman with a long track record of aiding our people, we have decided that you will be our agent on the intergalactic stage. Your mission is to go out and explore the galaxy and collect data on the different peoples that populate it and the events going on in the world, and send this information to the council as soon as possible. To stay ahead we need the latest information from our own people. We must not engage in intergalactic politics blind, so you shall be our first set of eyes, Li Shi. The Tsukhur may prefer to “wing it” but we can do better than that. We have already met several of the races within our sector, but there are many we know nothing about. Any data will be invaluable to our diplomats. Keep your work and your data hidden and be quick and efficient. Be our ninja.” She paused and let the faintest crack of a smile show on her face, “I heard you are also an aspiring artist, perhaps that could be your cover? Why not send us the data as those playing cards people your age are so fond of?” The Speaker discreetly chuckled. Shi wasn't sure if she was being serious or not. She asked, and the speaker chuckled again.

“Do your work however you see fit. A private ship will be ready for you at the end of the month and will meet you in your province. As your trial assignment we would like for you to make a report on Arast and Tsukh, so we can see what to expect of you and this program.”

One month later Li Shi said her goodbyes to her parents and grandparents, especially her grandmother, the matriarch of the family, and wished her 57 siblings and their families goodbye as well. A small private spacecraft awaited her at the launch port. It was small and new looking with two crew members: a stoic eriyan combat medic named Ryu Masako, and a small, bright green, toraki technician and pilot named Ngari Tani. Masako took Shi’s bags and soon they took off while Shi’s first report sat in the office of the speaker of the global government council of Arast: a single gold card.

[ Hey everyone! TL;DR I'm starting a new shard art project! For Aeras I did the bestiary, and for this yet-named shard, I'm doing a custom mtg set that in-world is a sort of secret monthly report on the goings on of the galaxy. With your permission, I'll be illustrating and designing mtg cards for your races, stories, and any other notable features of your claims that I'm inspired by. If you have any things in particular that you want me to make a card for, just pm me! However you should know it might be a while until I get to it, and even longer before I post it :/ When I do make a card for your stuff, I'll send you rough drafts, outlines and the near-final stages for approval and modification. Unlike the last shard where all my art was pen and paper, this art will be all digital so it'll be easier to modify. I'll (hopefully) be able to make weekly updates every Monday, however the art takes a lot longer to do than last shard, so if I'm busy I might have to skip a week, sorry! Many of you already know about this and know I've already made art for your races, but I'll be spacing those out so I'll have some stuff saved for when summer ends and I'm busy again :,(

For now, here is week 1 and the art album!


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