Forgotten - Prologue
Eetherbiail quickly pushed the aging man off him onto the floor and rose to his feet. His attempts to wipe the thick black tar from his robes were futile as the Sith Warrior fumed and turned his attention to the cause of his most recent discomfort. Quickly Evant came up behind him with a towel, tossing it over his shoulder.
“Use this,” Evant said as Eether turned his attention instead on the newly appointed Proconsul of the Clan and source of the towel.
“I’m not sure this is going to be enough,” Eether sighed as he glared again at the man on the ground and walked away from the commotion. The towel immediately soaked itself in the tar but did little to resolve the situation with his robes.
“Medic!” Dante called out from across the room.
“There aren’t medics on standby Dante, this isn’t a war zone it’s the Imperial Palace,” Xen responded, approaching the fallen man and feeling for a pulse. “Still alive.”
“Well there should always be medics, for exactly this reason,” Dante responded with a heavy sigh, lifting the man from the ground and laying him out on the chaise lounge. Careful to avoid too much tar.
“With all the training mishaps at Fort Hammer, we didn’t have extra sitting around on standby for archeologists who collapse on the floor of the Imperial Palace,” Xen stated defensively, looking out over the gathered summit of Clan Scholae Palatinae who were collectively absorbing the announcements and trying to figure out what was going on.
“So, is this the problem then? Or, is the problem somewhere else?” Evant asked, looking as confused as everyone else.
“Why don’t you ask Polis? Oh wait,” Xen responded sarcastically.
“We have a problem in the ancient ruins below the city,” a new unfamiliar voice spoke from the entrance to the room.
“Karen, how great to see you. Care to explain what happened to Polis Jones?” Xen asked, greeting the new guest of the Clan summit.
Karen smiled. Her bright smile and glow on her face changed the tone of the entire room in an instant. “He’ll be fine. The tar is actually from some work being done outside the palace here. Which is a mess by the way. He ran the whole way here from the ruins and likely just collapsed from exhaustion. I told him to call ahead, but of course…”
“Yeah, Polis always did have a thing for dramatic entrances,” Xen replied.
“We really do have a problem though. We were investigating some ruins nearby that were discovered by the construction workers here doing renovations to the palace. Automated defenses have come to life. Ancient technology are active once again. It’s been like this during exploration after exploration all across the system,” Karen explained.
“None of this is news. We’ve been slowly uncovering things since we arrived nearly twenty years ago. That’s the entire job of the Cocytus Historic Society.” Xen responded, an exhausted look on his face.
“This is different. Corruption at the Lake of Shadows and Black Forest on Judecca have turned the wildlife violent, we can’t even get near the ruins in those areas. A recent expedition into the caves of Marynos had droid technology like we’ve never seen attack and kill research assistants. It’s getting harder to do our jobs,” Karen pleaded, realizing she wasn’t getting her point across.
“Hey, they knew the risks going in. The Empire is not responsible for their deaths. That said, we do have plenty of soldiers who could use some good training. Perhaps we can arrange something to help get you some better protection,” Xen suggested, looking to Dante to get his buy in on the idea.
“No, not more soldiers. We need to take this seriously. We need your Jedi assistance on several important expeditions we’re planning. We need to go deep. Who knows what we’ll find and inexperienced rookies aren’t going to get us there,” Karen sighed, concerned now she might not get what she wants.
Polis moaned from the chaise lounge and mumbled something incoherent before rolling off and onto the floor with a massive thud. Karen rushed over to his attention and grabbed a pillow of the couch and placed it gently under his head on the floor. “Oh Polis…”
“Look Karen, if it’s that important, you can ask for volunteers. I’ve got my hands full though,” Xen responded, trying to appease her enough to leave.
“Oh thank you Xen! You won’t regret this!” Karen replied, a huge smile on her face as she jumped to her feet and hugged the imposing Emperor.
A massive hulking figure moved through the empty warehouse towards a bright green glow in the corner. It was empty, save for the collection of humans who gathered in the middle of the night. The dozen or so in the crowd lay silent, all wearing identical bright green hooded robes. Shadows masked their faces. Their leader, the approaching figure, moved with confidence, his hood down to reveal his bright jolly face still masked behind a massive black curly beard. His eyes glowed green as it reflected the light of the candles glowing and illuminating the warehouse as he turned to address the room.
“My brethren. We, the Evanescent, have been called to action. From all across the Cocytus System you have descended upon this meeting. Far from civilization and the prying eyes of the Empire. To see our one goal above all else finally realized. To awaken the Old Gods, so they can pass judgement on this system and all who have come to inhabit it.”
As he finished, the crowd before him began to chant in low tones some intelligible tune. In honor of the Old Gods. The torches in the room shone brightly for a moment as they did. Whatever their cause, the Force was definitely listening.
“I, Lord Onasi, call upon all of you, the Council of the Old Gods, to put in motion the ultimate plan of awakening. You all have been my closests advisors for years, all of you, patient and absolute in your resolve. Yet the time of action has come. Speak now or step forward, to accept your destiny.”
A tense moment of silence followed. As the Council reflected on the request and made their decisions. None from the crowd moved.
“Why now?” an unidentified and anonymous voice asked.
“It came to me in a vision. The evils that this Empire has spread since they set foot in the home of the Old Gods. Their awakening will allow them a personal audience with their Emperor. I have foreseen it,” Onasi responded, authoritatively.
“Very well,” the voice responded, stepping forward to accept what lay ahead.
Slowly, one by one, all members of the crowd stepped forward to accept their destiny. To awaken the Old Gods. A smile grew large beneath the bearded face of Lord Onasi.
Black Jungles, Judecca
Shadow Nighthunter moved slowly and silently, twisting her body to cross between two massive trees. Each step found its place effortlessly in the active and rampant jungle. All around her the sounds of wildlife flooded out everything else and became white noise, it was teeming with life. The air was so thick you could feel it and it immediately soaked nearly everything leaving it wet to the touch, Behind her, Eetherbiail attended to Polis Jones and Karen who were leading the entire operation but refused to go in first.
“I really do think you’d be better off inside the caves, and not out here with the vicious wildlife,” Eether noted, tracing a rip in his robes with his fingers and examining the blue blood that soaked the lower half, a reminder of the most recent attempt on his life.
“We just want you to check it out first, give the all clear,” Polis stated defensively. “It wasn’t clear last time we set foot in there.”
“It isn’t all clear out here. It hasn’t been all clear since we set foot off the shuttle. At least in that cave wildlife isn’t coming at you from all directions, at best, two,” Eether argued. His eyes scanning the brambles and vines in the distance as he detected movement.
“I’m not concerned about quantity, I’m concerned about quality,” Polis argued, watching Shadow disappear into the cave in the distance peeking behind the large trees he was hiding behind.
A few tense moments followed. Eether shook his head and kept his eyes sharp. After a few minutes Shadow emerged again from the cave and rushed over.
“All clear in there. No danger I can see,” Shadow reported with a shrug, and a look of disappointment almost.
“See?” Eether spat sarcastically at Polis and walked towards the cave.
The four of them each one by one ducked inside the cave and headed into the massive opening below the ground. It was a complete change in scenery from outside. A large lake of stale water pooled at the bottom, sitting completely still and overgrown with weeds and sludge, it almost looked like you might be able to walk across it. On all the walls around them a colorful rainbow of fungus grew, many variants glowing and casting a cadescent blue glow on the entire area.
“Strange that this cave is in the middle of a forest,” Eether commented.
“Not natural, it was put here, for a reason,” Karen responded, igniting and tossing bright white glow sticks across the cave to provide better illumination to the entire area.
“The Infinite Empire left this. A research lab I do believe,” Polis added, pulling off his backpack and taking out a small generator and powering it on. A bright blue glow joined the glow sticks and fungus and a dull hum joined the sounds of wildlife echoing from the entrance outside. “So you ask yourself, why does nothing live here?”
“I, actually hadn’t asked myself that, but that’s probably a good question,” Eether added.
“The Dark Side taints everything,” Polis answered his own question. He reached up and pulled several vines off the wall and revealed phrases written in an ancient lost language that was unrecognizable.
“What attacked you last time you were here?” Eether asked, his eyes glancing at the entrance waiting for possible trouble.
A high pitched squeal echoed in the massive chamber as a hole opened up high on the wall above them and a bronze colored droid emerged, rolling out the shape of a ball down the curved shape of the cave edge and transforming into an armored humanoid figure with a massive spear.
A dozen more holes opened up on different walls. Vines falling as they engaged.
In the center, emerald and cyan blades hummed to life.
“I hate droids.”
Forgotten Temple, Antenora
The lone Antenoran hid in the shadows as a figure approached. The middle-aged human peered into the darkness as if he knew someone was there even without seeing them. All around them the spires of the Forgotten Temple stood motionless, a testament to their former grandeur. An absolute and eerie silence hung over the entire area, a disorienting lack of sound.
“They call themselves the Evanescent,” the human spoke out. “A lively bunch, intent on awakening their Old Gods.”
Slowly from the shadows, the hidden Antenoran showed himself. Ornate flowing robes wrapped his body masking his figure, a hood pulled up over his head. “Glad to know we aren’t alone in our hatred of the Empire.”
“Why did we have to meet up out here in the middle of nowhere? Could we have met at that cantina you like in Wekraneh?”
“Since the Ognerate Emperor died, too many have laid their claims to the throne. I must remain diligent until the last of those who oppose my rule in the Pacre Datship are taken care of.”
“I took care of half your problem this morning personally.”
“You have been a blessing since you joined my side Chaz. Your efficiency and ability to make things happen are commendable.”
“Thank you my Lord.”
“I can’t think of anyone else I’d want by my side when I once again rule all of Antenora.”
“So how do you propose we go about offering our services to the Evanescent and making that happen?”
“They have thus far underestimated the Empire, they will suffer setbacks, and then they will come looking for us. We just have to be ready to answer their call.”
Ruined Temples, Ptolomea
Main Ritual Chamber
Masked by the shadows formed by elaborate pillars completely surrounding the massive underground chamber, the volunteer members of Scholae Palatinae moved in to prepare for their assault. Each stealthily moving to take their own pillar ready to strike. The bulky armored figure in the middle rose his hand in the air, and made a gesture to signal the beginning of the next phase of the operation.
Delak Krennel smiled as he rolled around the pillar and drew his blaster rifle on the ceremony being undertaken in the distance. A flurry of shots from his blaster rifle joined others, illuminating the chamber with flashes of light as their targets fled. To his right, Ulfsark drew his own blaster pistol and fired into the distance, his shots joining the fray.
On the opposite side, Chrome and upside emerged from their own pillars and immediately began firing. The dozen targets in the center of the room were overwhelmed and surprised. Within seconds half of them were injured or dead. From the center of their firing, Archangel rushed from his own pillar towards the most elaborately dressed of their targets. The man hardly put up a fight, merely bracing for the impact as the bulk of a man leapt and tackled him to the ground.
The torrent of fire slowed as the four Dark Jedi slowly approached, being more accurate and thorough with their shots now, taking up defensive positions around Archangel who had flipped the man over to get a good look at him.
“Who are you?” Archangel spat, demanding an answer.
“I am a servant of the Old Gods. Your actions here today will be met with retribut-”
The man went unconscious as Archangel smacked his head into the ground and then hauled him up over his shoulder, standing and surveying the room. Delak smiled at the actions of the Sith Battlelord and holstered his weapon.
“Wrong answer. I’ll just let the Emperor ask you himself,” Archangel stated to the unconscious man as he adjusted him into a comfortable position for the extraction.
“Easier than drills at the Fort,” Delak smiled and reached down to search the robes of a fallen member of the Evanescent.
“What kind of a name is the Evanescent anyways?” Chrome asked, picking up a book from an altar at the center of the room.
“The Emperor will want to see that book. Pack up anything that looks like it might contain information and let’s get a move on before the clean up crew arrives,” Archangel ordered as he began to walk towards the exit.
“Black Sun, Blood Raptors, Shadow Syndicate, all the good names were taken,” Ulfsark answered as he searched some robes and found nothing.
“I’m getting kind of tired of people trying to destabilize the Empire. When are they going to learn they can’t mess with us?” Delak answered, finding nothing on the last of the bodies before shrugging his shoulders. “I can’t find anything. I’m getting out of here.”
“Right behind you Delak,” Ulfsark answered giving up as well.
Chrome flipped open the book and scanned a page covered in blood. Flipping again he saw crudely drawn maps of the Ptolomea marking out certain areas with circles. Later, star charts of skies from the perspective of the Cocytus System. He rolled his eyes and slammed it shut, tossing it into his pack.
Forgotten Temple, Antenora
Sitting high above the rest of the room in a makeshift throne, the self proclaimed Emperor of the Pacre Datship awaited his guests. Having only recently scratched his way into the position as the victor in a power vacuum left when the former Emperor died, he was more than busy trying to pull together scraps to fight the new Empire that ran the Cocytus System.
Lord Onasi slowly approached, his brilliant gold and emerald robes dragging behind him. “Emperor Vanis, how great to finally meet you in person.”
Vanis smiled, rising from his throne towering over his new guest. To his right, an attractive young soldier stood at attention, his hand cautiously on his blaster. “At ease Chaz. I don’t expect we’ll have any trouble with our new friend here.”
The leader of the Evanescent cast a friendly smile at the right hand man of the leader of the Pacre Datship. Tensions seemed to lift from the entire meeting. Vanis slowly stepped down from his throne to meet on even ground, though still a good foot taller than his guest. Chaz remained near the throne ready for trouble. Near the entrance, Lord Onasi’s own personal body guard stood at attention. A reminder that both sides were cynical, burned too many times by the Empire.
“I am so glad you could make it out to my little corner of the Cocytus System, I must admit my Empire has seen better days, but with your help that all could change for us.”
Onasi frowned. “I want nothing for myself, everything I do is for the Old Gods.”
“Of course. Although our methods of worship and cultures differ, our interests remain the same to pay homage to our own Gods, one and the same, and bring about their coming to set the path straight.”
“I know of your history, of what your Empire has accomplished. But, that too will come to judgement when we are successful. So our objectives remain in alignment.”
“I am so glad to hear it. All the Pacre Dateship resources are at your disposal. We have a network of spies all across Antenora. We have a deep collection of history and artifacts hidden away for our combined use.”
“Most excellent, my personal close assitant here, Mira Spar, will see to it that you are given tours of our facilities across the Cocytus System as needed. We have a presence on every planet and the Council of the Old Gods are preparing as we speak for the final ritual.”
Onasi gestured to the heavily armored lithe female behind him as she stepped forward and smiled. A surprised look on her face at the attention she was getting during the meeting with the leader of the Pacre Datship.
“It would be my honor to share our facilities with our new friends,” Mira stated, smiling with a short bow to Vanis and Chaz.
Vanis smiled. “To awaken the Old Gods, the Empire won’t know what hit them.”
The Imperius sun was rising in the distance, casting the Summer Palace in a brilliant glow despite scaffolding and construction materials everywhere. Yet the Consul and his Deputy were already awake well before the sun reviewing debriefing reports from the field. Concerns they had ignored till now, were being backed by the voices of their Brothers and Sisters of Scholae Palatinae. Voices they couldn’t ignore anymore than the sun.
“I got a field report from Archangel, it seems there are some cult like activities going on in our system,” Xen reported, his eyes not leaving the datapad he was reviewing.
“Seriously? Didn’t we just finish cleaning up cult like activities. I’m starting to think people aren’t getting the memo that the Empire is absolute, and they can’t just go stirring up trouble whenever they’re bored,” Evant responded, tossing a pile of papers onto the desk nearby and turning his attention to Xen.
“Give them an inch,” Xen said, exhausted.
“So, you know if you put full Clan attention on this you’ll never hear the end of it from Polis Jones, right?” Evant smiled, enjoying the momentary distraction from the work.
“Yeah, well I just finished reviewing the training regiments Dante has planned for the ISG, and they could use the live missions.”
“I’m sure that’s exactly how Polis will see it.”
“I don’t care, I am going to have Dante and Archangel prepare a full mission profile to track down all these Evanescent cultists and put an end to their shenanigans.”
“Sounds like fun.”
Xen smiled and pointed at the pile of papers on the desk. “Fun for someone else. You need to finish picking a general contractor for the new Imperial Palace.”