“This world, Nandóband once fell under the Oikoumene and later the Phaedric Empire. Your forebears. An individual of great importance to the Dark Lord can be found there. I know his skill and mastery well and so it is imperative that he be found before the minions of the Primercer locate him. Do not fail me. For if you do, you fail the Dark Lord.”
- - Lord Apeligateza
Mysteries lie beneath the desert sands of the ancient Phaedric world of Nandóband. Learning of this, the Primercer dispatched his servant to locate this source of power and bend it to his will. However, Lord Apeligateza of the Mornûnendur has also heard whispers of what lurks beneath the planet's surface. The stage is set for a confrontation of galactic proportions...
Chapter One: Arrival at Nandóband
The Imperator-class Star Destroyer Basilisk hung in the darkness of space, on a mission vital to the war between the Empire and the Cognatus. Though Captain Marquar Cuinn was unaware of many aspects of the mission, he was told enough to understand its importance. Meanwhile, in a secret sanctum near to the main bridge, the Phaedric Lords Meketanor and Venatorius held their heads bowed. A hologram of Lord Apeligateza, one of the Emperor's closest lieutenants, and a fully fledged Mornûnendur, appeared before them. Apeligateza was notably more dismissive of what he deemed mere acolytes, though was quite able to make use of their talents should the situation arise.
- Apeligateza: "I need not remind you both of the secrecy of this mission. The Libertus who commands this ship has been informed of its finer details, but you will reveal no more than he already knows. Is that quite clear?"
- Meketanor: "Of course, Lord."
- Apeligateza: "This world, Nandóband once fell under the Oikoumene and later the Phaedric Empire. Your forebears. An individual of great importance to the Dark Lord can be found there. I know his skill and mastery well and so it is imperative that he be found before the minions of the Primercer locate him. Do not fail me. For if you do, you fail the Dark Lord."
The hologram dissipated, leaving Venatorius and Meketanor alone.
- Venatorius: "I have memory of this world from my old life. We must be cautious. For the Cognatus are not the only obstacle standing in our way."
- Meketanor': "And what exactly do you mean?"
- Venatorius: "It was one of our ancient throne worlds, where the strongest of our warriors would undergo great trials amongst the desert sands. Beasts and remnants of the dead guard the dunes. But come, the Captain will be expecting his orders."
- Meketanor: "No mere beast will stop me. But very well."
Leaving the room, the two warriors approached the main bridge, catching the eye of more than one nervous Imperial officer. Gazing at the planet Nandóband with his arms behind his back stood Captain Cuinn, who turned and bowed his head.
- Captain Cuinn: "We have entered geosynchronous orbit over the planet, my lords."
- Venatorius: "Very good, captain. Is there any sign of Cognatus activity?"
- Captain Cuinn: "No, my lord. It appears we are the only lifeforms in the syst-"
Before Cuinn could finish his sentence, a massive fleet of Cognatus vessels dropped out of hyperspace directly between the Basilisk and Nandóband.
- Venatorius: "As expected. Captain, a full turbolaser strike on their flagship. Launch all fighters and have a contingent of troopers and walkers meet Lord Meketanor and myself in the main hanger bay. We must reach the surface before they do."
- Captain Cuinn: "Right away my lord."
- Meketanor: "Death to the Cognatus heretics! Destroy them all! Let not survive!"
As countless Imperial Starfighters emerged from the hanger bays of the Basilisk and its escorts, Venatorius made their way down to the main hangar, which was already full of Imperial troopers, wardroids and massive walkers being loaded onto barges. Taking an Imperial Walker Barge to the planet's surface, the Phaedric Lord's descent was covered by the Basilisk, which absorbed the weapon fire of the Cognatus cruisers, which were launching ground forces of their own. Nandóband was ripe for the picking.
Chapter Two: Battle of Nandóband
Touching down on a vast plateau on Nandóband's northern most continent, the endless desert sands of the planet was a forboding sight to both the Imperial and Cognatus ground forces. As legions of Imperial forces landed on the plateau, Venatorius sat in the command chair of one of the massive four-legged Imperial Walkers while Meketanor ignited his weapons and moved the troopers towards an ancient Phaedric Temple. Suddenly, a squadron of Cognatus Bombers appeared on the horizon, bombing the Imperial positions as they approached the temple. Though the anti-air cannons of the Imperial tanks managed to shoot some of the bombers out of the sky, an unlucky walker was disabled by the attack. From the command chair of the lead walker, Venatorius spotted a contingent of Cogsangui warriors approaching Meketanor from behind.
- Venatorius: "Meketanor, this is Venatorius. There are Cognatus fools approaching from your aft, wipe them out."
- Meketanor: "These sands will be drenched by the blood of heretics!"
An otherworldly howl came out of Meketanor, light shining out of his empty featureless eyes as he charged ahead at the Cognatus forces, unleashing flurries of blade swipes at them. As they were servants of the Primercer, they were perhaps the most offensive creatures he had ever laid his eyes upon. Literal heretics for the god he followed. While fighting the Cogsangui, a large Cognatus tank appeared over one of the dunes. Noticing this, Venatorius opened a channel to Meketanor.
- Venatorius: "You would do well to duck."
Powering up the walker's primary weapon, Venatorius unleashed two massive bolts of energy from the main cannon, which impacted against the tank causing a massive explosion which turned the surrounding area to glass. All surrounding the temple, skirmishes brought out between the Imperials and the Cognatus, both vying to reach its secrets before the other. Ultimately though, the overwhelming firepower of the Imperial Walkers coupled with the unstoppable wrath of Meketanor allowed the Empire to reach the entrance first. When his walker arrived, Venatorius disembarked and joined Meketanor near the entrance to the door. Uttering some ancient language under his breath with his arm outstretched, the door opened on his command. The temple within hadn't been entered for tens of thousands of years with its walls being covered with ancient hieroglyphics dating back to the earliest days of the Phaedric Empire. Suddenly, Venatorius and Meketanor heard a deep and emotionless voice emanating from the darkest reaches of the temple.
- Voice: "Who dares enter this domain?"
- Meketanor: "What now?"
Before the voice could answer, another figure emerged from behind Venatorius and Meketanor. Igniting his sword, the Blade of the Primercer appeared, his eyes filled with rage and malice.
- Blade of the Primercer: "Worthless currs. You should not have come."
Igniting his own blade, Venatorius released a condescending laugh.
- Venatorius: "Have you learned nothing from our last meeting?"
- Meketanor: "Filthy follower of the false god!"
Growling, the Blade unleashed a wave of energy which blasted both Venatorius and Meketanor deeper into the temple.
- Blade of the Primercer: "My master has granted me powers beyond your understanding. Now, face your deaths with honour!"
Roaring in rage, the Blade rushed forward, engaging both Meketanor and Venatorius simultaneously, his lightning fast reflexes allowing him to block strikes from his enemies. Meketanor growled and roared in anger as he attempted to hit the Blade, swinging his own blade in rage while trying to claw the Cogsangui with his free hand. Meketanor's claws were easily sharp enough to cut through most alloys, but his attacks with it were predictable. Gathering a sworm of lightning in his hand, Venatorius unleashed a volley at the Blade, who managed to deflect it into one of the remaining Imperial troopers, completely incinerating him.
- Blade of the Primercer: "You are both weak!"
- Meketanor: "I will rip the head from your shoulders!"
The voice once again sounded in the ears of all three combatants.
- Voice: "Unacceptable. This violation must end."
Massive waves of energy threw all three out of the temple and into the sand beyond. Just as he was getting to his feet to continue the fight, the Blade suddenly writhed in pain and disappeared into nothingness. A ghostly figure emerged from the temple, which coalesced into a reptilian humanoid figure much like Venatorius, garbed in ancient Phaedric armour and wielding a sword.
- Venatorius: "One of my kin!"
- Meketanor: "Gah. Another fossil."
Chapter Three: Temple of Thaurlathrón
The ancient figure had the shape of a humanoid and yet his voice was cold and emotionless, making his body merely a shell used to contain his power. His armour gleamed in the sunlight, the spikes and cords of the encassment shining in the red glow.
- Maethoruin: "I am Maethoruin. Guardian of this place. The warrior you fought was unworthy of the secrets within. But you two. From you I sense that we share loyalties. Identify yourselves."
- Meketanor: "I am Meketanor, greatest servant of Dark Lord Tyrómairon!"
- Venatorius: "I am Venatorius. The crimson conquerer of our old Phaedric Empire and loyal servant to the Galactic Emperor."
- Maethoruin: "As expected. Come, I shall lead you to the one you seek."
Pointing the way into the temple, Maethoruin began pacing toward the ancient entrance while Venatorius ordered the remaining troopers to patrol the nearby desert and pick off what little Cognatus presence remains. The temple went on and on for many kilometres until all light from Nandóband's primary was replaced by the deep darkness of the temple, which more and more reminded Venatorius of a tomb. Suddenly, the trio came to a stop before an ancient shaft leading ever deeper into the temple's recesses.
- Maethoruin: "We have reached the deepest sanctum of the temple. The resting place discovered by my people so many centuries ago. Never have we dared to disturb the Great One housed within, though I sense that you act under the authority of one of his kin."
- Meketanor: "Correct. He must be awakened, so that he may serve the Dark Lord once again."
- Maethoruin: "So be it."
Jumping down the shaft, the three Phaedric Lords fell for what must have been a full fifteen minutes, using their powers over space and time to sooth their landing. Unlike the temple, the sanctum in which they entered was full of Oikoumene technology, still active after millions of years without a living soul, Ultraterrestrial or otherwise. The room was bathed in an eerie orange light, illuminating a large circular object at the far end of the room. Approaching the object, Maethoruin held out his hand, shooting bolts of lightning at it. Venatorius quickly did the same, followed by Meketanor. The sphere suddenly activated, revealing a large saurian figure garbed in elaborate Oikoumene armour. Raising his head as if awakening from a deep slumber, the figure growled and flexed his limbs, prompting all three of the Phaedra to kneel in defference.
- Thaurlathron: "I awaken from my slumber to the sight of lessers. Who are you?"
- Meketanor: "I am Meketanor, Dark Lord Tyrómairon's most trusted acolyte! He has ordered us to retrieve you."
- Thaurlathron: "The Herus has non-Oikoumene under him? For what purpose? What makes you so special? Where is he?"
- Meketanor: "The Dark Lord himself is not here, great one. But you may analyze us and be proven that we were granted our powers by none other than him. We can trust our words."
- Thaurlathron: "... If there is no other choice. I assume a long time has passed since my stasis. I must ensure the Herus' tools are running smoothly, or else, I will have to make them."
The Phaedric Lords were nowhere in sight. In the inner sanctum of the Galactic Emperor deep within the core of Orbispira, only Apeligateza, Ekrillium, Mormuadain and the Dark Lord himself dwelled. With a faint pop, another figure translocated into the sanctum. Standing tall, Thaurlathron stood regarding his fellow Mornûnendur before bowing his head to the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord scrutinised him in turn.
- Tyrómairon: "Welcome, Monaus Thaurlathron. So many eons it has been and yet here you stand before me as though it was but a fleeting flicker of a star's lifetime."
- 'Thaurlathron: "Indeed, it feels as if the stasis had just been put in place. Where are the others, my Lord? Are were truly just the five of us left?"
- Mormuadain: "No doubt there are more, brother, in stasis as you have been. Alas, the time of the Oikoumene by flesh has passed, replaced with the Empire. Oikoumene by spirit and leadership."
- 'Thaurlathron: "I have taken the opportunity to glance over this new Empire. It appears formidable. Obviously nowhere as mighty as we were in our time, but formidable nonetheless."
- Tyrómairon: "Fear not, loyal Monaus. The roots of the Empire will grow ever deeper under our tending. Our strength and wisdom will guide it to dominance, regardless of the Traitor's meddling."
- Thaurlathron: "I will use all of my power to ensure our plans go unopposed. But if I may say, if the Traitor lives, there may be others still active who pledge allegiance to him. Our enemy is predictable, for as far as your acolytes have told me, he is mimicking the Phaedric Order."
- Apeligateza: "His acolytes are inconsequential. As are those who pledge themselves to us. The final confrontation will pit Oikoumene against Oikoumene. The idea is abhorant to every tenent of our civilisation and yet, the Traitor was he who initiated this conflict, though he will not be he who ends it."
- Thaurlathron: "I specifically meant enemy Oikoumene. The biomechanical drone in specific has warned me he has been confronted by Chaneonix in the past."
Ekrillum sighed deeply as he absentmindedly fiddled with globes of energy in his hands.
- Ekrillium: "Chaneonix will not act against our will to the same extent as the Traitor. He too is loyal to the Oikoumene as are we and willing to accept our continued guidance of the Empire. Though events have molded his perspective in such a way that his goals may conflict with our own."
- Thaurlathron: "Regardless, we will surely have everything under control. As I said, I am happy to oblige in using all under my power to defeat the Traitor and bring our dominance."
On his Oikoumene throne, the Dark Lord steppled his claws and smiled.
- Tyrómairon: "Everything is proceeding according to the Grand Plan. Do not doubt the reality that our ascendance, and that of the Empire, is nigh."