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 The Final Eclipse

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Robless
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Tue 23 Jul 2013, 11:58 pm

(Doing more good admin stuff, like moving the plot along. Again, I'll try not to break things but if I do, let me know and I'll fix it up.)

-~-

He moved like a shadow: unpredictable, blurred around the edges, never quite where you would think he is. His movements were graceful, but elevated - almost superhuman - in nature. His blade was nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Death followed close behind.

They have always said that death rides on dark wings.

The angel of death was this man, and he was the messenger of doom. Lieutenant Cassus Drugari. The silent assassin. The dark nightmare. The shadow of life. They called him many names; all of them true and all of them equally terrifying.

His opponent didn't stand a chance. His unrelenting attack demanded every ounce of energy out of his foe to merely withstand the crippling blows without collapsing. The few openings he gave him were taken full advantage of, but even that wasn't enough. Every one of his opponent's strikes were dodged, countered, and relentless beaten back by the onslaught of black metal.

The shadow wore his rival down, slowly but surely to his demise. The Dreadknight soon began to reach his breaking point. Each time he slipped up, he was punished severely. One or two sword strikes breached his defenses and landed light but painful blows, eroding his concentration further. The process repeated itself, over and over, never completely the same each time but devastating all the same.

He knew it. He could see it in Zevon's eyes. He felt it course through his veins. Fear. Darkness. Defeat. It was over. A momentary pause, a false opening. Zevon's spear thrust forward. It didn't stop. The spear was torn from his hands. It turned back towards him. Through his armor, into his gut.

Weakness in his knees. Pain that he couldn't feel. A cold, hard floor. A dark figure standing over him. A blade at his throat.

"Can you feel the darkness?"

Impact. Light. Darkness. Nothing.

-~-

The shock of Gwain's hammer shattered the bones in his arm. Cassus could feel himself flying backwards. He hit the wall with enough speed to bend its metal exterior. Pain engulfed his entire body. He coughed. A dark red fluid covered his hands. His vision went blurry. There was nothing he could do to stop himself from sliding down and collapsing against the wall.

"Gwain...you bastard." Cassus coughed again. "Why?"

The voice of a kind warrior answered. "Only to save Zevon."

"What have you - " He coughed one more time. More blood came out. He would live, but for how long he could not say. He didn't have much time to finish what he started. "What have you done to Drajigh?"

"He's dead."

A glint of silver. The angel of death had one last resort. A pistol, resembling that of an old matchlock, yet sleeker and more ornate. It was the darkest of blacks, with elegant silver patterns engraved along its two barrels, one over the other. One bullet, made of metal more ancient than the dragons themselves, was enough to take down all but the toughest of dragons.

"Et tu, noble knight."

Two shots, once through the knee and once through the chest. Darkness. Nothing, once more.

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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Verax
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Fri 26 Jul 2013, 1:12 pm

The Voyager - Hanger CL-027

Viz watched as Aya started to head for her transport. Unluckily for Aya, Viz could move fast enough to create a sonic boom, let alone get in the way of someone walking in a rather straight line. She looked at Aya sadly, knowing how it felt to be so useless, wanting to change things for the better in the only way they felt they could.

She also knew the mistake that Aya would make, and wouldn't let it happen.

"Shade is going to wake up either way, Aya... all you'll manage to do is get yourself even more problems. If you want to help, don't go throwing yourself at your family like this, don't give the Dreadlord someone else to worry about. Stay here. Stay safe." She pauses, with depressed eyes.

"Or you know, I could just have my dragon eat your ship. He is kind of hungry. But-" Viz is then cut off by a brilliant flash of light and the Voyager rocking quite a bit. "WHAT THE MOTHERFUCKING HELL WAS THAT?!"

The Voyager - Hallway

Zero was simply taking his head for a walk down a random hallway for no particular reason other than he felt like it. If he had a particular reason, he'd be muttering about it as opposed to humming show tunes, which is what he was doing. While fussing over his head to stop chewing on it's leash, he stumbles across the recent conflict. He looks between the corpses of Gwain and Drajigh, before turning over to the injured Cassus and Zevon.

"Well this isn't good." His face scrunches up. "We should probably get you some place more safe. Any place in particular you want me to take you? I'd recommend Australia."

The Voyager - Main Hanger

Verax was waiting for Aya, when he witnessed the Marauder I jumping into the Cataclysm, the Cataclysm's subsequent destruction, and is filled with rage. Millions of lives were aboard that ship, and he had just failed them all. As well, it was a hammer blow to the whole idea of the ships. They were supposed to be both immovable walls and unstoppable forces, by destroying one, it became clear that they were neither. It threatened the Voyager, which was weaker and less defended than the Cataclysm, for it it could happen to one, whats to stop someone from trying again on it? If it would stop the Dreadlord, the Alteriians would probably find sacrificing such a ship a small price.

Verax had to prevent that. While the civilians were safe, the men and women who stood behind him depended on him to protect them and lead them to victory. He would be the vanguard to their destined future, at any price.

As well, while a tactical advantage, destroying Verax's belongings did come with a nasty, though probably unaccounted for consequence; it made him very, VERY angry.

And anger leads to reckless behavior. With not a second spent in angst or mourning, his armor's helmet went up, and he dove out of the Voyager and towards the surface of the planet below, intent to draw blood, an ocean of it, even. The souls lost on the Cataclysm would each be repaid, for every one that died aboard that Dreadnought, Verax intended to take two from the Alteriians.

~*~
"Oh? Did I by some off chance forget to inform you that I'm being slowly possessed by the Myrionith God of darkness and evil, and It wants nothing else to forcibly wipe away all hope and goodness and light in the universe, and the only way I can stop It is by conquering said universe? No? Forgive me, planning universal domination can cause such small matters to slip the mind."
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Tue 30 Jul 2013, 7:44 pm

The worst part was that Aya knew Viz was right even as the Dreadknight tried to convince her. Something chuckled at her from the back of her mind, a voice she'd heard only once--but which had left enough of an impression on her that she'd probably never forget it.

Aya stumbled and caught herself against the wall as the shockwave rolled through the Voyager. Exhilaration and fear fought for dominance in her mind as she rushed to the nearest viewport and was stunned to see the wreckage left around empty space where the Cataclysm had been only moments ago. That was the Cataclysm.

Fear. If the Cataclysm had been destroyed, that meant they could destroy the Voyager, too.

Exhilaration. Destruction, so achingly close...

No. No, no. Fear won out, but she watched as Verax launched himself from the ship and down towards the planet. She spun back to Viz. "Verax just left. I... I should go with him." Logically her mind fought with her over this: following Verax down to the planet would be anything but safe, but with the Cataclysm gone could she even consider the Voyager safe anymore? Probably not. She looked to Viz desperately, uncertain of what to do, wanting to follow him but knowing he would want her safe...

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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Dreston Turn
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Wed 31 Jul 2013, 10:40 pm

Before Aya had the chance to make her choice, Bane appeared around a corner and walked urgently up to her. He winked at her playfully as he had before, but this time the small smile didn't reach his eyes. There was sadness there instead, but Aya couldn't dwell on it because Bane quickly dropped to a knee before her. "Miss Aya, I am sorry to drop in on you like this. The Dreadlord has left the ship and is headed towards a duel between himself and the High-Druid, and he has left you in my charge. He wants you safe, and he has tasked me with ensuring that no harm comes to you." Bane smiled reassuringly without being condescending, and added, "However, I would not be adverse to taking you someplace you'd rather be. After all, this ship may no longer be safe. If you wish to follow Verax..." Bane nodded to her slowly, a knowing look in his eye, "then let us waste no more time." Bane extended his hand to her as he stood, smiling with sorrow creased into his expression.

"He will be glad to see you in celebration of his victory."

~*~
“We are, we are, we are made from broken parts.
We are, we are, we are broken from the start.
And our hearts, our hearts, they were beating in the dark
'Cause we are, we are, we are built from broken parts.”

― "We Are" by Hollywood Undead
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Archelaus
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Fri 30 Aug 2013, 10:10 pm

The song played from somewhere, nowhere, everywhere.
From the ashes flourishing upon the souls of the dead,
Caught on the ground, mangled, frozen, bent as they never were in life.
The song played, woven from the cloth of glory.
The flaming red rivers rose, the blackened building's buckling all round
In a shock-wave, the leading edge of a melody.
The harmony of death. The minor key of sound a weapon makes, discharging, swinging, firing.

It played from every dead heart, every broken fist, every shattered eye.
It played from every crushed dream, every fragmented hope, every desolate wish.
It played and it played, interspersing the burning darkness,
Trailing the sky like a streak of Cimmerian lightning,
And yet it came from nowhere, and everywhere, and somewhere.
But it played.

--- --- ---

Archelaus could feel the spirit of life seeping from the spaces above him. Here he stood, the greatest vanguard of his civilization in ten-thousand year's time, watching the history of his people fall away. Watching the lifeblood of his brothers and sisters pouring onto the ground. Into the ground. Disappearing into the mindless matter of atoms and molecules. He watched art go up in flames. The greatest monuments flatten into sand. The songs of his people were hitting their final chord of battle.

He had protected his people for nearly a thousand years. But not one more year, it would seem. He had fielded the coalition of his forces for the last months, preparing their epic final stand for the coming onslaught, hoping to delay it in space. Stop it at a halt, while the remaining scientists desperately searched for an advantage, a path to victory... but in his heart, he knew.

Would he die, so far from the bones of his fathers? So far from the homes and the stories of his people? So far from a planet that once knew the valor of a future, the breathing spirit of unexplored time. So far from his heart that had spluttered and failed, eight hundred years ago, in a massacre.

All seemed intent on death. It is the order of life, to die. Ten thousand soldiers died in the first two seconds. A hundred thousand in the first ten. More than a million had been laid to waste in the first furious minute. In the first day, the entire galactic fleet of the Alteriians faced the cold grave of space and twisted metal. Hundreds of thousands of ships, millions. In the next day, more than a billion suffered the agony of The Beyond on the face of the planet, as it was bombarded with every form of calloused, soul-less killing. How many were left of the billions? It was death, all empty, warmth-less, pride-less, pointless, death.

That did not worry him. Death is accepted by all, eventually. It is a matter of how, and of when, that matters.

And his people should have accepted death nearly eight hundred years ago, at a battle never thought about. Never discussed. The empty halves of themselves lining the filaments of a search that never bore fruit. They were husks. They were alone. A lantern in the universe alone, smothered by a force they defeated at every turn, but still lost to. There was an old Alteriian saying... win every battle, but lose the war.
Numbers, strategies.
Empty.

Thoughts.

Vertrus. The Lonely Place. The Dark Planet. It seemed fitting.

It seemed fitting that he, Archelaus, the High Druid. The last High Druid, would face his death far from the one he loved, far from the places of his people, on a black rock filled with rivers of fire, surrounded by the terrifying sound of destruction.

He wondered where she was. Who she was with. If she might see the cold grey edges of life he had endured for so long, from her parting... a thought his mind could not hold, as it fathomed the limitless tangles of sorrow that blazed through his mind.

But Archelaus never paused. The leader of the Alteriians could never pause. His place demanded no less.

He would have given anything to give up that place, and see the eyes of his beloved once more. Any belief, any thought, any age old hatred, any conflict born in the echos of time and the universe itself, could not compare with his love for her.  It had always been for her, that he fought. It had always been for her happiness, her peace, her understanding. She was the key to his locked heart, the special rose in the garden of his memories.

What is death, compared to love?

Archelaus called for the Rolxaan. He fit his battle armor into place. He lifted the ancient weapons his people had uses since before time had been recorded by the voices of his people. He leapt from the military fortress that sat astride the geo-thermal currents of adopted home, and leapt into the field that he knew Verax would land in, just as he knew he could never truly defeat him, just as he knew his heart had been given away to another, just as he knew it was time for the Alteriians to rest from their weary plight.

He had once last war to wage, one last battle to fight... one last breath to take.

"VERAX...!" his voice boomed, the command and the poise of military commander.
"BETRAYER!" it screamed, as a godfather, as a teacher, as a philosopher
"This is the end." It whispered.

"You sought to kill and destroy, you sought to extinguish a light that will never be, and can NEVER be put out. You murdered, you lied, you terrorized, you might delude yourself with the grand schemes of your plans, but the terror and blood of trillions rests upon your hands alone. Your choices. You may sit on a throne, but you will never deserve its honor. You may wear a suit of armor, but you were never worthy of its weight! You may call yourself the destroyer... and perhaps you will destroy me. But you can never destroy your deeds. And you can never destroy what the Alteriians, and thousands of other races represent. And you can never destroy the bonds of love so tightly woven that even now, my heart calls out for another path to walk."

His eyes flashed fire and anger, his fingers formed a fist that would never relent, and his shoulders stood like iron in the twilight. Dark, un-moving, steadfast. And he stepped onto the field of battle.

"But that path is far gone. Meet your doom, slayer. You will never see the light of the Narushah's embrace."

But in his heart he spoke only words of love, for a woman who would never hear them, who would never know what his soul spoke---even still... his starlight in the deep...
"Aurora..."

~*~
"Certainty of death, *small* chance of success... What are we waiting for?" - Gimli
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Verax
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Mon 16 Sep 2013, 11:19 pm

Verax fell to the planet's surface with an unremarkable clatter. He stood to face Archelaus, when the High Druid lashed out at him with a relentless verbal onslaught. Each word caused him to flinch and retreat, and when at last the attack had ended, the Dreadlord tensed with anger.

Then he sighed.

"I know.... I know Archelaus I know. I know I'm not fit to rule the dirt I walk over, I'm not fit to bear the weight of the warrior's armor I wear, that I've commited crimes so heinous I will never be forgiven. That I destroy. That I'm not doing the right thing."

"But I know unless I make this wrong choice, no one will ever be able make another right one."

He sighs, with a terrible pained expression. "I am undeserving of any light or mercy... but, High Druid, you are also right. This is the end of the path. However the road I walk cannot be shaken so easily."

He holds out his arm and black tendrils of power dance along it.

"If you cannot bring all your power to bear, you will never destroy me. If you cannot muster every inch of strength within you, this universe is as good as mine. I will not yield to you simply because I should, for it is a disgrace as a warrior to hold back in a situation like this, you understand."

And then Verax smirks, steeling his mind and tensing his body to react in any and every way. "Well I think we have the boasting and monolouging out of the way. Let's make this a battle the story tellers can write an epic about, shall we?"

------

Zero picked up Cassus. "Usually I'd talk about what's going on right now, but time is going too fast, we need to wrap this up. And you're needed planet side."

And out of nowhere Zevon is shot in the head by a magnum Zero wasn't holding a second ago. "Don't worry he'll get better. And now-"

With nothing more than a blip, Cassus and Zero are on the surface of the warring world. Zero drops the assassin to the ground with an unceremonious plop. "Don't worry shipping and handling fees were already taken care of, now if you'll excuse me, plot device man, AWAAAAAAY!"

And he runs off before suddenly not being there any more after five steps.

~*~
"Oh? Did I by some off chance forget to inform you that I'm being slowly possessed by the Myrionith God of darkness and evil, and It wants nothing else to forcibly wipe away all hope and goodness and light in the universe, and the only way I can stop It is by conquering said universe? No? Forgive me, planning universal domination can cause such small matters to slip the mind."
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 12:32 pm

(((This is the part where Archelaus and Verax fight some more and then stuff happens. They tear each other's shit up. Yeah. That's basically it. I'm sick and tired of waiting so WE'RE JUST SKIPPING IT.)))

(((Also I'll post when I get home.)))

(((EDIT: Okay. Let's do this.)))

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 9:40 pm

She knew she would have only moments. No time to think, no time to do anything but what she had to. No words, no smiles, no thoughts. Just action. She could not delay it any longer. She had to see them, one last time, she had to. She could hardly think even if she wanted to. Sleepless eyes, dark circles, hunched back, hands shaking. Hands that had been shaking for weeks. There was nothing more to say, and the time had come. No matter how much longer she stared at the pages, there were no more words.

And so, it was time to go.

As she materialized on the field of their duel, she took only a moment to look on her kings. The white king loomed over the black king, eyes meeting in a blaze of fury, and in less than an instant she knew what she needed to do. Summoning strength to her weary feet she threw herself forward, into the fray, between ivory and ebony. There was a moment where his hand faltered as her eyes intercepted his gaze, seeming to stretch on longer than the milliseconds of shattering reality, and then it was over.

It happened faster than anyone could fully comprehend. The observers were only able to connect the sequence after it was already over.

A hesitation, a transformation, a heart's end.

One hand raised to still and intercept another, warped into something gruesome in less than a second, a heart ripped from it's home. For another eternity in the prison of a second, they stood there. The twisted claw protruded brutally from her chest, blackness already beginning to eat away at the wound. Two faces written in clear shock, the other too complex to read.

Then the moment was over, and she fell.

The claws shifted back to fingers and she fell first to her knees, then to the ground.

Two kings, of ebony and ivory, rush to the sides of the silver queen, but it's too late. The white king turns her over, pulls her close, while the black king's eyes fill with something indescribable. She laughs, and they can't understand it. She murmurs something to herself—she didn't expect it to hurt quite like this—and she looks up at her kings.

She brings a silver hand to an ivory cheek, weakly pulls his forehead to her own. She tells him that which he already knows, in quiet tones. His hands are shaking nearly as badly as hers, now, but she turns to the black king and beckons him closer. Pearly eyes are accusatory, hateful, but she grasps the pitch hand regardless.

What was known to one was not so known to the other, and his eyes flash with grief at her words. The darkness eats away at her chest, and she starts to gasp quietly as she loses her strength. She can feel her life draining away, feel the blackness setting in. The two kings can only watch as she dies.

Heads bowed, one in grief beyond measure, one in hatred of self, and she was gone.


“I love you,”

“both of you.”

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Sat 02 Nov 2013, 9:10 pm

It was a clash that truly was worthy of being labled an epic. As the ground was sundered and torn with every clash of light and dark, as the air ripped itself apart with each meeting of equal, yet opposing forces, as the very hinges of the universe were shaken loose with every strike, the Dreadlord and High Druid's fight initially seemed to be one without reprieve and without a possible victor. Intially. As the fight wore on, bit by bit, stike by strike, as attack and counter attack met, white began to overwhelm the black. Even pulling every bit of strength that permeated his being, striking the High Druid with the fury and power of a god again and again, Verax was gradually at first pushed back. Then faster, and more brutally. The black king fought harder and more furiously, and still the shadows were quickly pushed back by the brilliance radiating from his adversary, until even when immersed in raw power, pulling a final gambit, Verax was struck down by Archelaus.

The fallen lord looked up at his old friend, his eyes held no anemity, no regret and no fear. He had fought and he had lost. There was no shame or saddness to be had. The universe could save itself, he realized. It did not need him.

"Well then don't just stand there, you fool. Put an end to this." The Dreadlord coughed out. He closed his eyes and braced himself for the end when something happened.

No! He thought, as time slowed to a crawl. The slender gracious figure of the one he saved threw themself into the fray.

You're not supposed to be here! What are you doing? Don- His thoughts were cut off in a flash of white pain.

His arm.

It twitched then died. The skin burnt off and the blood that flooded out turned black and bubbled into a second skin, rippling with muscle and blacker than soul of a demon. It lunged out at the interloper, pierced her chest, gripped and tore out her heart, bearly leaving her torso intact.

And then it was over. The shadows melted away, the darkness scattered and the pain in Verax's head vanished. His arm, ressurected, fell to his side, as if the life given back to it meant nothing.

I did this.... He thought.

I did this... His eyes blurred with tears that he blinked back.

Eris-Tam turned her head to face Verax, and though he wanted desperately to look from them, he could not pull his eyes away from hers, and he moved closer, as he thought she wanted. Stricken by grief, his heart cried out in pain as her hand to his own, and he did not even think to look at Archelaus. He looked down.

Damn it... damn it damnitdamnitdamnitdamnitdamnit why?! WHY? Why is it all I touch ends in misery?! What cruel trick of fate ordained my existence, mine that brings nothing but death, anguish and ruin?!

But the king who now would seek death could not bring it upon himself. Again, life denied him even that. So he watched as the darkness ate away at what remained of her.

"I love you,"

Don't say that...! Anything but this please... you can't..

"both of you."

And then she was gone. Forever lost to all.

Thus, as her spirit left her body, the last soul was needed.

Far above the battlefield the mummified wraith watched, feeling that final key pass through it. Vabin the Iron Winged circled the kings from above, and at last his time had come. Darkness pulsed from his body, then folded and twisted back into him, his wrappings came undone, the pure blackness underneath exploded out and drenched the world. The gate was open and the stage was set. No longer did the guardian of death and darkness have to keep balance, he allowed it to soak into the world. His body crumbled to ash, but the guardian felt content. All of existence would be returned to a perfect balance. Absolute emptiness.

Within Verax something resonated with the massive flux of darkness, causing the Dreadlord to stagger as it roared within him.

"...... Run." He whispered, admitting defeat.

It was over. They had lost.

The demon was waking, clawing its way to the surface with unprecedented vigor and with a sense of purpose and victory. It would awake. It would not be denied. It would not be forestalled any longer. The shade was finally eclipsing the light. And nothing could stop it.

~*~
"Oh? Did I by some off chance forget to inform you that I'm being slowly possessed by the Myrionith God of darkness and evil, and It wants nothing else to forcibly wipe away all hope and goodness and light in the universe, and the only way I can stop It is by conquering said universe? No? Forgive me, planning universal domination can cause such small matters to slip the mind."
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Mon 18 Nov 2013, 1:54 pm

Moments after the scene played out, both Cassus on the planet's surface and Robless in the cell on the Voyager heard the small blips that signalled an incoming message. They read as follows.


"Greetings.

"I have programmed my implant to deliver this message to all of you (Robless, Zyria, and Cassus) as soon as my vital signs have disappeared. This means that when you receive this, I will have died only moments ago. Time is funny like that. I am only glad that I was informed of this outcome before I lost my chance to thank all of you. I have decided to leave this as something of a goodbye to everyone, and as a warning.

"You are probably wondering how I knew to prepare this message. A short time before what will be my death, I started having visions which I believe were thrust upon me by some omnipotent entity, though I have no solid knowledge as to the true origin of the visions. They were not intended to be malicious though they were confusing, and would leave my mind ill at ease for weeks at a time. In the first bout of visions, I saw myself die. I saw myself die in the arms of my love, Archelaus, and I saw Verax beside him. For one moment in the midst of their duel, they have set aside their differences to fret over me in my last moments. This, if anything, is a testament to the goodness in them both, and to the idea that even the bitterest of enemies can share common ground when it comes to the things they care about. I know, but I cannot regret, the last words that left my lips. They probably only worsened the outcome of all of this and will be one of many reasons for the suffering you all will shortly endure. For that I do apologize, but I said those words even knowing what will happen and I would never dream of taking them back. I told them I loved them. Both of them.

"If my speculations are correct, none of you have time to waste. Maybe not even enough time to read this message, so I will keep it short. If I am right, and if I have managed to decode my cryptic visions correctly, my death will trigger the release of Shade. In this case… all I can suggest to all of you is to hide. I will hope that Aya is with you, because it occurs to me that she may be the only thing that will be able to end this struggle with Shade… I know she proved useful to Verax for keeping It from overwhelming him; I cannot know for certain, for my visions have not been so extensive. As for the rest of you… I really cannot advise you all on what to do. I would, of course, prefer that you all are safe… but the only place you could be safe is aboard the Custodian, and that leaves no one behind to fight Shade. So… no matter what you decide, please be careful. I sincerely hope none of you will join be in death before your time.

"I guess you won’t be seeing me again. I don’t know how the afterlife works; I’m not sure if I will be able to watch over you while you go about your destinies. But the best of luck to everyone, and know that I will watch over you if I am able. Please do not despair too much over me; know that my life has been long and fulfilling, and though it has certainly had its abyssal valleys it has also had the highest mountains I could ask for.

"As a conclusion… I would like to leave you with a piece of information that some of you may be aware of but are unwilling to acknowledge. I know it to be true: This war was never us against Verax. It was Verax against a god. He fought as hard as he could, and many of you tried to make that harder for him, whether knowingly or not. I know that he forgave all of you, though, even if he would never himself say it. When Shade came into being It tore Verax apart. As far as I am aware, he is now dead.

"Attached are personal messages for each of you, to express my gratitude for all you have ever done for me, and perhaps a few humble requests that, if fulfilled, would make me much less worried about leaving this world.

"Thank you, all of you, and… good luck in the coming struggle.
Goodbye.

"Eris-Tam, your friend, your sister, your lover."



Additionally, Robless received an attachment addressed to him.


"To: Valderis Robless

"Hello, Valderis. I know I spent much of my life hating you, resenting you, and I know that you now understand why I felt that way. Also know that I hold nothing against you. Nothing you did while under the Thel-ghan’che’s power was your fault and I have accepted that. You owe me nothing. I only did what was right… and honestly what I did had selfish purposes as well. With the Thel-ghan’che gone, I did not have to worry about it using you to hurt any more of my people or my loved ones. So please… do not feel that I have passed without you having the chance to really repay any sort of debt.

"But… if you want to do me a favor, then… make sure that my brother, Cassus Drugari, is safe once I have gone. He very well may blame himself for not being there to protect me. He loves me very much and I love him, and since he has served so long with you I would hope that you could at least keep an eye on him. For me.

"Thank you, Robless. For everything. Goodbye, old enemy, new friend."



Cassus received the following attachment as well.


"To: Cassus Drugari

"Cassus. I love you, brother. Please… do not feel that you could have done anything to shield me from this fate. And know that I forgive you. For everything—for participating in the war, especially. I do not blame you. I am so sorry for leaving you when we were young… I didn’t want to be a burden to you. I was young and stupid then… and I apologize, from the bottom of my heart.

"I know that you are not innocent, and haven’t been for quite some time, but it does not matter. None of us are truly innocent anymore, I think. But please… live your life how you want to live it. Do this for me. Once this whole war against Shade has passed, fulfill your dreams, whatever they may be. If that means that you keep fighting, then keep fighting. Just do what you want. Be who you want to be. And know that I love you, and I always have. I… I know you probably worry that you were a disappointment to me as a brother, but… that’s not true. I wouldn’t rather have anyone else as my brother, just you. Remember that, even though I am gone. Do not die with regret, like I have. Die proud, and strong, like I know you are.

"Goodbye, Cass. Live your dreams."

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Tue 19 Nov 2013, 11:46 pm

Robless looked up from the chair he sat in. The roof of the room that contained his cell began to move. There was a gentle jolt, and then the cell itself seemed to levitate upwards. A safety mechanism, maybe?

Before he could think about further, a powerful force knocked Robless to the ground, forcing the breath out of his lungs and blurring his visions. Robless laid there, on his hands and knees, trying to pull himself back together. It was too late. Something told him that Verax had lost, and that Shade was on the verge of manifesting into the physical universe.

A voice in his head startled him. Tam’s voice.

Hello, Valderis.

“T-Tam?” She was communicating with him, but why? Robless knew - he could sense - the words coming out, yet he couldn’t accept them. For all the deaths he had caused, one more should be trivial, but it was one too many.

Make sure Cassus is safe.

Suddenly, Robless felt a little helpless. Lost. Stranded in his little cube, floating above the Black Planet, staring down through the glass. Almost everyone close to him that he was supposed to protect was down there, somewhere, so far away.

The glass beneath him started to vibrate, trembling. The colors shifted and Robless felt the essence of the room itself warp itself. A familiar sensation ran down his spine. A dimensional jump drive, on this cube? No, it couldn’t be. It was too soon to say goodbyes. He had to go down there, get closer, but it was taking him away.

Goodbye, old enemy, new friend.

Robless pressed on the glass one more time, trying to escape. He blinked. Teardrops landed in front of him, falling onto the floor of the cell and rolling across the glass. He mustered the strength to utter a few parting words.

“I’m sorry...sorry I couldn’t be there...sorry to leave you all again. Goodbye - Tam, and all of you - goodbye.”

Then the cell blinked out of the dimension and vanished, to a destination unknown.

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Thu 21 Nov 2013, 7:09 pm

Cassus returned to the edge of consciousness, head pounding. His face was buried in volcanic ash, but he couldn’t pull his head up. Every move he tried to make resulted in a flash of burning pain throughout his body. The next thing he noticed was the high gravity - a sensation he knew all too well.

After much struggle, Cassus managed to roll himself on his back. Looking at the sky, he opened his eyes. Dimmed light, strangely-hued colors. The orange glow of lava shimmered on the edges of his vision. It was definitely Vertrus. How he ended up on the planet’s surface he did not know. The only thing he was sure of was that he had been unconscious for an indefinite period of time. That, and the fact that he hadn’t died from his wounds yet.

Laying there, resting, Cassus remained for another unknown span of time. Normally, his sense of time was accurate, but the injuries he sustained and the adjustments his body enhancements had to make hampered his ability to think. At least now his energy had returned a little and he could move without any severe pain. Cassus sat up slowly and began to survey his surroundings.

A few feet away from him, his helmet was smashed into the ground, utterly trashed. He didn’t know what happened to his weapons, except for the blade still clutched in his hand. There was blood on the ground and on his armor - some of it his - but it was dried and Cassus could tell his own bleeding had stopped. The landscape beyond his immediate location was harsh, scorched, and barely habitable by even Alteriian standards.

Ahead of him was a hill; perhaps it would be a good vantage point. Cassus slowly began to crawl towards it. Beyond the crest of the hill, he could pick up a few sounds. Voices, maybe, the sounds of a battle, flashes of energy his eyes were just beginning to register. Dangerous, for sure, but he had to investigate.

By the time Cassus got to the hill, the lights and noises had ceased. Only the sound of lava flows rumbled in his ears, drowning out whatever softer sounds there might have been. He had almost climbed to the top when he heard a soft beep.

The sounds of his sister’s voice filled Cassus with hope, followed by a quickly growing feeling of dread in his stomach.

“No...no...no, no, no...this can’t be happening,” Cassus said to himself desperately. He tried to stand up and run towards the battle that he knew had just happened, but despite how badly he wanted to get up, Cassus only lost his balance and stumbled forwards. He rolled down the hill, rough terrain disorienting and bruising him.

Cassus reached the bottom of the hill, painfully. Half-crawling, half-stumbling, he made his way in the direction he thought he was headed before. At this point, he was in tears of frustration, despair, and of the pain throughout his body.

“Damn it, no…” It had to be false, sent in mistake; it couldn’t be true.

After a couple more minutes of excruciating pain, Cassus could see it clearly. Tam laid on the ground, fading away from existence, Archelaus standing over her in sorrow. Verax was sprawled out on the ground, clearly in agony and in a state of near-death as Shade was about to awaken.

All the hope that his sister was alive vanished; she was dead, dead and gone. Cassus slowly crawled over towards Tam and fell on his knees, visibly shaking, the life half-drained out of his face, tears streaming down his cheeks. He reached out and held her hand in his.

“I’m sorry...so sorry. You had to...had to leave again, huh?” He attempted an unconvincing smile, a little laugh, through his tears. “I...I love you, sister. Take care...wherever you go.”

Cassus laid her hand down gently on the ground. The energy holding her together starting to fade, with nothing to supply it. It was too late to do anything. Tam was gone, permanently. Shade was about to awaken, and he needed to go. Hopefully the Custodian was on its way.

He walked over to Archelaus, motioning to leave. No response. “Come on, Archelaus, we have to go.” Still no response. Cassus looked at his face. Archelaus’ eyes were dead, almost as dead as Tam. Cassus left the poor Alteriian to his fate and went over to Verax. He was dead, too, in pain and living, but still dead.

Three dead and one man left. This was the condition he would get used to, Cassus figured. He sighed, tired, and started to walk off into the wasteland on his own.

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Mon 25 Nov 2013, 12:26 pm

Bane had to hold the child back.

She screamed and lunged and fought, clawing at his scaled arm as she reached out towards her mother, and he had to hold her back. Her desperate, breaking voice was the only sound to penetrate the silence. His arms, one around her shoulders and one around her waist, stood between her and the people she loved. The scratching and fighting against his arms did the girl no good, causing Bane little discomfort, and he wrestled her backwards and away from the scene.

At least until a dark discharge of energy struck him square in the chest and he winced and gasped, stumbling back and releasing Eris-Aya from his grip, hand pressed to the mark like a burn on his scales.

The little outburst sobered the girl up quickly, and her arms fell limp to her sides as she looked at what she'd done. Bane watched the light in her eyes die slowly, and she looked down. While Bane stood and recovered, she turned to stare longingly at her mother's body and at Verax, but no longer struggled to reach them.

Bane carefully approached her, ignoring the slight pain in his ribs and chest, and gently took her hand, turning her around and walking her away from the scene and into his ship. She strapped herself in numbly once they were inside, and the reptilian cast her a sympathetic glance before he started the engines and took off.

They were gone before Cassus arrived.

~*~
“We are, we are, we are made from broken parts.
We are, we are, we are broken from the start.
And our hearts, our hearts, they were beating in the dark
'Cause we are, we are, we are built from broken parts.”

― "We Are" by Hollywood Undead
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Fri 29 Nov 2013, 1:23 am

As the NSI gunship that held Serros, Zyria, and Caz entered the atmosphere, the crew immediately began scanning for signs of life in the area where the duel had been reported. They picked up three, two very close to each other and one a small distance off. A signal from Cassus' suit determined the further one to be him, and so the ship set down nearby.

The bay doors opened, and a small portion of the squad on board exited and waiting for the Admiral and the leaders. Serros immediately followed, nodding to Caz and Zyria. "Come on. He'll want to know that someone's still safe."

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Fri 29 Nov 2013, 11:45 am

Zyria nodded, hurrying out with Caz to follow the others. "Yes, of course." She grasped her Neiede's hand for a moment, squeezing it hopefully, and stepped forward to look for Cassus. The area around them was barren, an absolute wasteland. Only the dead would wander this planet, it was empty darkness. The only bright side to such despair was that spotting the exhausted form of Cassus was simple. He was wandering along a path parallel to the ship, close enough that one would think he'd have noticed, but there was no determining how easily sound carried, and with Tam's death, the man could be in any state at this point.

The Plutonian called as loudly as she could, "Cassus!" and separated from the others to begin her jog to him. Another familiar face, someone battered, but not dead. As drained as everyone was, it was another fighter. There was still hope, even if it was in the form of hopelessness.

"Cassus!"

~*~
"We become aware of the void as we fill it." ~Antonio Porchia
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Fri 29 Nov 2013, 1:13 pm

"Is that...Zyria?"

Cassus turned around, almost losing his balance. He saw silhouettes of the search party in the distance - NSI soldiers, an officer, and what he assumed was Caz and Zyria - and the shape of a gunship not far behind them. Maybe not everyone in this blasted land was dead.

Cassus stumbled towards the group, picking up sight of Zyria running towards him. “Zyria!” He tripped and started falling forwards, only to have Zyria catch him and support him. Normally, Cassus would’ve declined her assistance walking back to the group, but he felt too weak to object.

“Alright, let’s go.”

They began their way back together.

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Fri 29 Nov 2013, 1:32 pm

Serros quickly and urgently directed the medics they'd brought along to set up in the cargo hold to take care of Cassus' injuries, before returning to assist in getting the man onto the ship. Together, Zyria and Serros helped him over and carefully sat him against the wall. The medical staff immediately got to work on his arm, scanning for the extent of the damage. One of the doctors informed Serros that they would need to put the assassin under to repair the shattered bones, but Serros raised a palm to hold them off for a moment.

The admiral gripped Drugari's uninjured arm hard enough to bring the man's attention to him, then spoke. "Cassus Drugari. You are on an NSI gunship manned by one of the few remaining squads of the First Fleet. I am Admiral Griffam Serros. I don't know if we've met. Admiral Hale promoted me in his place when he executed a move to take out the Cataclysm. A suicide mission."

Serros took a quick breath, and continued. "You're safe, for now. But now that you're caught up with the situation, we need your help. We need to know whether Archelaus can be saved. What did you see, soldier?"

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Fri 29 Nov 2013, 11:34 pm

Cassus waved the medics away with his good arm, who only backed off once Serros intervened, to his appreciation. The pain had begun to set in as he had stopped moving, but Cassus knew he’d been closer to death than this.

Cassus looked up at Serros and nodded respectfully. “Sir.”

“That was Admiral Hale, then? He sure knows how to go out with a bang.”

He resettled himself in his seat, his voice assuming a more serious tone at Serros’ last remark.

“Tam was dead when I got there. Verax was losing to Shade, dying. And Archelaus? He’s gone, completely. Alive, physically, but inside he’s dead. Didn’t budge, and the only response I got was a thousand-yard stare. They’re all as good as dead. I would be too, if you guys didn’t show up. Someone’s gotta tell the story, I guess.”

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Sat 30 Nov 2013, 1:12 am

Serros smiled a little sadly. "You're a valuable asset. One of the few we've got left. And there are people who care about you. Who might need you, now that the threat Shade poses is closer than ever." The admiral lowered his eyes for a moment then, saying quietly, "It's a shame, about Archelaus. So many have been lost... it's quite a blow to lose another of our strongest allies at this point in the game."

He turned to look up to Zyria. "I'm sorry. It doesn't sound like there's anything we can do for him."

Bringing himself back to present matters, Serros lightened his tone a bit and increased the formality, hoping that more structure would help the group deal with the situation and appropriately move forward. "Now. Drugari, I'll allow you to make the call on your medical treatment. Your injury will need treatment eventually or you could die from it, but if your call is to put it off then I will order the medics to leave it until your life is immediately at stake. It's up to you."

Something beeped quietly, and the admiral turned away slightly to examine new incoming reports. "Apparently the Voyager has turned away from the planet and is engaging interdimensional jump drives." Another ping, and Serros added, "The ship has jumped out of the system, and it looks like the intended destination is the negative sixth. Someone had to have given the order to abandon the fifth dimension, and I doubt it was the Dreadlord. Maybe there's someone operating under his orders to take care of things..." the admiral trailed off thoughtfully.

"In any case, we need to leave. If the Voyager's done the same, that's probably our cue to go. Take us out," he called to the pilots.

A small chorus of "Yes, sir!" answered, and the gunship lifted once more from the surface of Vertrus.

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Sat 30 Nov 2013, 11:50 pm

Cassus leaned back and sighed, exhausted. It had been a long day, in more ways than one. He’d been through worse physical trauma, but a rest would be good.

“Alright then. Tell the medics to do what they can to patch me up. I’ll need whatever strength I can have.”

He closed his eyes, remembering the dead wasteland he just escaped. There was a blasted landscape, lava flows, heavy atmosphere. There was Verax, struggling futilely against the inevitable. There was Archelaus looking on, forever, dead eyes matching the fate of his planet and race.

Among all this, there was his sister, Eris-Tam, laying peacefully. She was the most alive one of them all, even in death. Cassus spent all his life searching for her, trying to protect her, and when they finally met again, it was only for a brief moment. Living a normal life was impossible then - it still was - and before he knew it, she was gone again.

Cassus drifted off to sleep, thinking of his sister. He barely registered the medical personnel’s presence before he was completely asleep.

~*~
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." - Marianne Williamson
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PostSubject: Re: The Final Eclipse   Sun 01 Dec 2013, 12:48 am

Serros sighed sadly, then nodded to the medics. "Get to work. He's asleep, so you shouldn't have to put him under, but get him morphine anyways. If he wakes up in the middle we won't want any trouble."

Within moments, the gunship had once more engaged interdimensional jump drives and was off, towards the negative dimensions. Following the search team's signals, the ship was able to find its way into the negative sixth; with a signal to locate that was within that dimension, they were able to find it and access it.

Soon enough, in about an hour, they'd made it to Verax's home universe. Communications with the search crews showed that the signal originated from Escadiza, the homeworld of the Myrionith people, and of which most people had only heard stories and legends. Apparently, that was where they were to land, on a planet that was hardly anything but desolate wasteland.

The search crews were near the source of the signal already. Serros hoped beyond hope that they would find Commander Robless when they reached it; without him there was a good chance that they wouldn't make it much farther.

--

Cassus slept, and he slept heavily.

Something, somewhere, was trying to reach out to him.

A voice, maybe? Or maybe just a feeling.

The sense of touch is the easiest to access in a dream, isn't it? More powerful, and simpler, far simpler than sight or hearing. And memories, those are also easiest. No need to create new imagery... just bring forward what's already there.

Just try a little harder... reach a little... farther...

She'd have to work on this.



While he slept, Cassus dreamt of holding his little sister in his arms.

--

continued in the [Only admins are allowed to see this link]

~*~
“This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”
― Terry Pratchett
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