Second Great Cyrannus War: The New Shadow - Part II: Shadow of the Crusades
I · II · III · IV
Chapter I: Unconfirmed Reports
Shiplord Thaur Vicliquam sat in his command chair aboard the Harbinger of Truth, overlooking some of the latest campaign reports from Cognalorilos. With the outbreak of the Republic-Imperial War, the Unified Order of Cognalorilos had engaged in a battle on multiple fronts, be it the defence of the Republic from the Empire, against the rebellious Praesator Adelheidis of the True Republic or the whispers of a new faction led by Nequam on the outer reaches of Cognatus space. In the back of Thaur's mind, however, was the linguring threat of the Cognatus Empire, under the leadership of the crafty commander Vos Adamae. After the War of Cleansing, Adamae's Cognatus had seemingly retreated from the galactic stage, to tend to their wounds inflicted since the fall of the Primercer.
Nevertheless, with unconfirmed reports of a Cognatus remnant active in the distant Plazith Rim, Thaur long suspected that his former comrades were planning a renewed crusade. As the Second Great War neared the end of its second year, he finally received the news he had feared for months. His second-in-command, Ankhnes Nar Monomai, approached the command chair with an apprehensive expression etched on her face.
Voro twitched his mandibles and looked over the datapad, which, true enough, detailed an attack on the outer Delphan colony of Umon'wor by an armada matching the description of the Lost Fleet, which had mysteriously vanished during the Plazithian Crusades.
- Thaur: "Curious. Most curious. What does the Primarch command?"
- Anhknes: "As he fights against the One Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken, he cannot lend his fleets. Alas, we must face this threat alone."
Thaur nodded his head and rose from his command chair.
- Thaur: "And yet face it we must. Never before has the Fleet of Majestic Integrity been defeated, and I do not plan for that to end today. Set a course for Umon'wor."
One by one, the ships of the Fleet of Majestic Integrity entered the New Republic-controlled wormhole into the Milky Way, and within a day of hyperspace travel, finally emerged in orbit over Umon'wor. The ships they encountered over the ruined planet really were of Cognatus design, matching those of the ships from the time of the Intergalactic War, though it did not take long for them to notice something was off about them; their surfaces appeared covered in dark-purple organic matter and they emitted a black fog from their engines, which partially hid them from sensors. Thaur narrowed his eyes, and as the enemy ships began approaching, he addressed his bridge crew and the other officers of the fleet.
- Thaur: "What sorcery is this?! All ships, let your cannons roar!"
Leading the charge, the mighty Harbinger of Truth, a Melkón-class Dreadnought—the most powerful class of ship ever created by the Cognatus unleashed the full power of its forward cannons. Thaur watched the holoscreen closely, expecting the targetted enemy vessel to be immediately incinerated. However, as the beams of plasma impacted against its organic hull, it simply vanished, absorbed by the black fog. As it was struck, the dark mass appeared to squirm as massive tendrils erupted from its surface.
- Anhknes: "Demons! There is no other explanation!"
At this moment, the bridge was taken by surprise as a purple portal materialized in its center, and from it leaped a Cogsangui; as he landed, they quickly realized he was not only greatly deformed, with massive bony spikes growing across his back and his claws growing to twice the normal size, but he was also rotting, his flesh and bone exposed in the joints of his armor, like an animated corpse.
- Cogsangui: "Followers of the False Thirteenth... Your coming was foretold!"
Thaur and Ankhnes both activated their energy blades.
- Ankhnes: "Demon filth, you sully the blood of Cognalorilos! My blade will end your miserable existence!"
- Cogsangui: "Surrender to the might of the Corruptus, and we may yet show a bit of mercy!"
The demonic Cogsangui rushed at Ankhnes wth his own energy blade, attempting to strike at her. However, her superior skill prevailed as, with an overhead swing, she severed the invader in two diagonally. As his halves fell to the floor, he screeched;
- Cogsangui: "Glory... to the Imperator!"
And then, his body slowly turned into dust, leaving only his charred armor behind. Distracted by the demon's presence on the bridge, Thaur was suddenly caught off-guard when a tendril bisected a nearby vessel and critically damaged another. It was clear to him that this was a battle that they could not win alone.
- Thaur: "All ships, enter the void at once! We will return when we've gathered the fleets of our allies."
Ankhnes de-activated her blade and apporached the charred remains of the demon Cogsangui's armour.
- Ankhnes: "Fleetlord, do you know who is this 'Imperator' it spoke of?"
- Thaur: "I fear not. But I intend to find out."
Chapter II: The Meeting of Minds
In the aftermath of the attack in the Umon'wor System, Primarch Voro agreed to deploy additional forces to counter the threat posed by this new faction of Cognatus, which seemingly existed under the thrall of the Corruptus. A week after the battle, Fleetlord Thaur's forces awaited reinforcements at a designated rendezvous point several parsecs away from Umon'wor. The first ship to arrive was the Tythóran under the command of Commodore Monoud of the Cyrannian Republic, joined by a small corvette utilised by the Aldárae Order, and carrying Master Alinor Nanuq, one of the most revered masters of that Order. Thaur had heard rumours of this new force in the Cyrandia Cluster from his brothers and sisters on the frontlines of the war with the Empire, and was pleased to see that they had saw fit to aid them against the demon filth sullying the name 'Cognatus'. Reinforcements from the Borealis Galaxy took the form of Royal Captain Vyutrin of the Indoctrinate Collective, who was followed by a sizeable force of Battleships and Battlecruisers; having recently dealt with the Corruptus in their home, they would aid their Cognatus allies in the battle against the parasites on their former home galaxy, accompanied by the veteran Corruptus-slayer Hachiman - a name spoken in fear by cultists across the stars.
- Vyutrin: "This is Royal Captain Vyutrin of the Draka Fang. High Command has received your call for aid and has sent us to deal with the Corruptus infestation. ... Damnable monsters are everywhere, I swear."
- Hachiman: "Shinha Hachiman reporting. I've seen and dealt with worse things in Borealis. Nothing too difficult that I shouldn't be able to take care of, I don't think."
- Vyutrin: "I was told you had become a capable soldier, but now I see you are as childish and abrasive as you were when we met! Overconfidence leads only to the road of defeat!"
- Hachiman: "Oh, relax! I'm sure it's a sizable threat if the residents of Cyrannus called for our help. Don't think I'm not taking this seriously. I'm representing the Realm of Dreams, after all, and I gotta make sure I do things right around here. I'm hoping to avoid as many casualties as it took to initially quell the Corruptus in Borealis."
- Monoud: "I simply hope that we can put an end to their interventions in the conflict. We've lost too many already to these vile demons, who could have otherwise proven useful in the war against the Empire."
- Vyutrin: "Shiplord, I would ask for a status report. Tell us exactly what we're dealing with here."
Sitting on his throne on the bridge of the Harbinger of Truth, Thaur interacted with a holoscreen, and sent relevant information to each of the commanders gathered in the fleet.
- Thaur: "I fought these demons on the bridge of my own ship, they are not to be underestimated. Not only are they embued with the dark powers of the Corruptus, but they have the skill of Cogsangui warriors. I suspect that they originated during the closing stages of the War of Many Stars, when a considerable battlefleet vanished from the skies above Capricaerón. While their vessels may appear old, they are far more powerful than they appear, for they too have been strenghtened by the black fog."
- Vyutrin: "Cogsangui corrupted by the Nightmare... My kind and the Dracogonarious provided support to the Allies during the war with the old Cognatus Empire. To imagine that but empowered even further..."
- Hachiman: "Are the Cogsangui truly as terrifying as I've heard them to be? I've heard rumours that their kind can match even the likes of the Zazane in combat. Hmph, looks like this will be tougher than the regular cultists and soldiers I've gotten used to fighting."
- Vyutrin: "We're dealing with an army of some of the finest warriors in the Gigaquadrant. And it seems the Nightmare has turned them... undead?"
- Ankhnes Nar Monomai: "They dilute our blood with their corruption, yes. I cut one assunder, and yet it continued to attack. I have never seen such black sorcery."
- Vyutrin: "The heaviest ordnance will be required. The only way to defeat the Corruptus is to employ overwhelming force and to rid them of their leader."
- Thaur: "The warrior that Ankhnes killed, it spoke of an Imperator."
Master Nanuq scratched his chin.
- Alinor Nanuq: "How curious. Neither the Corruptus or the Cognatus use such a title."
- Hachiman: "I've never heard the Corruptus use it. You sure it's not an old term the Cognatus used before now?"
- Alinor: "No, I have studied their history in great detail. Leaders are hailed for their abilities in war and granted titles such as Primarch and Warmaster. It is, however, possible that a rogue Cognatus fleetlord took the title upon himself when he allied with the demons."
- Hachiman: "Sounds like we're dealing with something new and unpredictable on our hands, in that case. I would advise against approaching this "Imperator" directly: Corruptus leaders tend to be even more empowered by the Nightmare than their warriors."
- Monoud: "Imperator is a title used by the Basileus... which does not bode well to us, given the aftermath of the Borealis Front. The President has made an announcement about taking caution of a certain Basileus associated with the Corruptus."
- Alinor: "Interesting. Master Rosalayne and the crew of the Auethnen Raptor spoke of the involvement of that dark Basileus. He would certainly fit the description of an Imperator allied to the Nightmare."
- Vyutrin: "This means these infestations are linked somehow. We'll require especially heavy ordnance then. Perhaps capture some prisoners and make them talk. But mostly very heavy ordnance to blow the bastards to pieces."
- Hachiman: "And I'll do my best to provide my powers to the cause. Conventional weaponry - barring heavy ordnance - won't do much to these things, but they'll find it difficult to recover and stand back up if I provide you with their bane. Dream energy."
- Alinor: "I look forward to witnessing your skills. Master Ryen spoke highly of you during the campaign against the corrupted Dalek."
- Hachiman: "Ah, Master Ryen. It means a lot to me that he'd speak such good things of me. I'll try not to disappoint."
- Vyutrin: "We must make haste then. The Corruptus will spread like a disease if left unchecked, and who knows for how long these zombie demon Cognatus have been lurking this galaxy?"
Chapter III: An Old Enemy Returns
Soon after the meeting, the allied fleet prepared to depart the rendezvous point toward the Umon'wor system in the hopes of ascertaining the true extent of the threat. Were these Cognatus limited to a single fleet? Or had the dark shadow of the Corruptus extended over this unexplored region of the Milky Way? As he gazed at the void passing by the viewports on the bridge, Thaur recalled the history of the Umon'wor system, which had been the site of a massacre carried out by the Delpha Coalition of Planets in their efforts against the First Cognatus Empire, where they employed bioweapons to poison the population and deliver them a slow and painful demise. Now, the planet was inhabited by the undead, hateful remnants of the First Empire, turned into thralls of the Corruptus.
As the fleets arrived and prepared for battle, the Republic and Collective could see the full extent of the corruption; the ships of the enemy appeared old and badly cared for, though a significant part of their surface was covered in organic demonic mass, with glaring eyes, biting maws and squirming tentacles sprouting from it. It was a rather 'savage' display, as the Corruptus was not particularly known for employing this sort of spaceship disfiguration. Commodore Monoud was shocked, however, to find that the Corruptus were deploying not only corrupted Cognatus vessels, but also the distinctive profiles of Imperial warships.
- Monoud: "This proves that the infestation in Borealis is linked! How else would they acquire Imperial ships?"
- Vyutrin: "Oh, we're off to a great start, it seems. Prime your weapons and prepare for battle!"
At this moment, their screens displayed the image of an undead Cognatus soldier, who furiously yelled at them.
- Corrupted Cogsangui: "Heretics! You have returned to be defeated again!"
- Hachiman: "Go back to whatever hell you crawled out of!"
- Corrupted Cogsangui: "No honour to the infidels! Show them the might of the True Cognatus!"
With this, the demonic fleet opened fire upon the allies. Dark tendrils of energy emerged from the Corruptus vessels, blackened turbolaser bolts replacing the resplendent green energy usually employed by Imperial ships. However, the allied fleet was prepared this time, and responded in kind, unleashing the full power of the armada upon the Corruptus vessels. Alongside Monoud on the Tythóran, Master Nanuq meditated on the battle, bolstering the allies and strengthening shields through the Light. Best equipped against the corrupted Imperial ships, Thaur's forces concentrated on bringing down the line of Imperial Destroyers harrassing the Collective and Republic fleets. To aid their allies, the Indoctrinate Collective had provided them with their Pseudothoi technology, built to replicate Dream Essence, which helped their weapons pierce the fleshy exterior of the demonified vessels. Captain Vyutrin ordered the bombardment of the enemy as his ships moved into the fray, demanding them be reduced to ashes.
Hachiman was not a naval expert by any means, yet he was not useless in the face of the armada of the dead. Those Corruptus vessels that either evaded or managed to withstand bombardment from the allied fleet would soon suffer the Dream Destined's wrath, his presence warping from one vessel to another as he used his powers - anathema to creatures born or twisted by the Nightmare - to purge their bridges and burn away the hearts of their crypto-organic ships. Master Nanuq bolstered the allies as their shield, while Hachiman struck at the enemy's heart as their sword.
- Hachiman: "Witness your doom!"
Their combined efforts proved particularly effective compared to the Order of Cognalorilos' first attack; not only were they far more numerous, but the Light and the Dream Essence worked exceptionally well together, reducing the defenses of the fallen Cognatus to cinders as their ships begun to fall to them. As the battle ensued, however, the Harbinger of Truth was met with another transmission from the enemy, which forced itself into Shiplord Vicliquam's screens without his crew's input; it was not a mere undead this time however, but a much greater Cogsangui, his form obscured both by shadow and by a suit of impressive armor. His voice carried great weight while his eyes, visible under his helm, glowed a malign red colour.
- ???: "Thaur Vicliquam... How unfortunate to learn you are not among my legion."
Thaur found the voice familiar, but could not place it.
- Thaur: "You know my name, monster, but I do not know yours. Reveal yourself!"
- ???: "Monster? This is not how you refer to your Imperial Warmaster, Shiplord."
Thaur's eyes widened.
- Thaur: "... Xae Vandon?! I-impossible! Lies, deceit from the mouth of a demon!"
The Cogsangui laughed as he made his form clear to the Shiplord; his armor was far more grandiose than the one he wore during the Intergalactic War, and a large, bulbous Corruptus Heart erupted from his chest.
- Xae Vandon: "You would be correct to assume I died. The darkness from beyond consumed us all. However, the Imperator has given me and my loyal subjects new life, and has shown me the true path to domination; the Thirteenth are false. There is only That Which Devours."
- Thaur: "Your words are poison, Vandon! Dead or not, the Cognatus are forever free from your grasp. We follow a true lord, and under his guidance, not even your legions of deadmen can prevail!"
- Xae Vandon: "You cling to a false hope. Surrender and kneel before the Corruptus, or we will have to take you by force. The coming of our glorious imperium cannot be stopped."
- Hachiman: "... Friend of yours, Shiplord?"
- Thaur: "He was the most feared Warmaster in our history, he who instigated the War of Many Stars, he whose power rests atop a mountain of innocent bones."
- Hachiman: "Ah, great. That's news I like to hear."
- Xae Vandon: "The Imperator will be particularly pleased when I deliver him the broken body of the Dreamy champion. You are the most revolting thing I have laid my eyes on since I discovered the Libertus."
- Hachiman: "Seems to me that you haven't had the chance to look in a mirror since your Imperator brought you back."
- Xae Vandon: "Heed my words, Thaur Vicliquam. All of our kind will soon return to its rightful owner: me. Those who oppose me will be butchered and raised from the dead to serve again. There is no escape."
- Thaur: "No, you heed my words! Crawl back into the shadow you hid under for all these years, or I shall not rest until my blade pieces your blackened hide, and severs the head from your Basileus master's shoulders."
- Xae Vandon: "You will regret this decision, "Shiplord"."
With this, the dark Warmaster's image faded from view as the Corruptus fleet, crippled by the combined power of the allies, begun retreating into hyperspace, securing their victory over the Umon'wor system.
Chapter IV: Zealous Campaign for Plazith Rim
After the allied victory in the Umon'wor System, what began as a skirmish soon evolved into a devastating theatre of war. With the fall of the Allied Terran Republic in previous weeks, the war with the Empire in the Plazith Rim entered a lull, prompting Republic Command to redirect most of the Plazithian armada to aid the Cognatus and the other allied nations against the resurgent Corruptus threat. For weeks, the Indoctrinate Collective, Hachiman, and the forces under the command of Thaur Vicliquam and Commodore Monoud fought bitterly against the demonic forces under the command of Xae Vandon, keeping in near constant contact with Primarch Voro back in Cyrannus, who utilised his experience in serving under Vandon during the War of Many Stars to provide potential insight into Vandon's new reign of terror.
Their newest discovery was the world of Second Pinnacle, once one of the First Cognatus Empire's mightiest citadels in the Milky Way, now turned into a shipyard where its monstrous spaceships were created. The allied forces agreed this planet needed to be liberated from the Corruptus' hands if they ever hoped to break the advance of the so-called "True Cognatus Empire", and with its fall, they hoped to learn the location of Xae Vandon himself.
As the ground forces of the allies descended upon the hallowed world, they were struck with the sight of massive statues, but not of Cogsangui; statues of Mar-Júun, posing as if he were an emperor and decorated with the vile symbols of the Corruptus as if they were religious idols. As he looked upon them, Hachiman scratched his nose and turned to his allies with a mildly amused expression;
- Hachiman: "He ain't even trying to be subtle here."
- Nanuq: "His ilk seldom bother."
- Vyutrin: "I suppose we know who the mysterious Basileus is now. Granted, I don't know who that is, but I feel the rest of you do."
- Hachiman: "I've only heard of Mar-Júun. Apparently he's an assassin, the type who likes to stab you from the shadows. It's... weird applying that description to someone demanding statues be made in his image."
- Thaur: "Yes, and stranger still for Cognatus to revere a cutthroat. His power must be great to sway my former kin."
- Vyutrin: "These are no longer Cogsangui. They're mindless corpses. Treat them as such."
As the armies advanced through the planet, they were met with fierce resistance; hordes of the First Empire's former slave races attacked them, with waves of mad, cackling Vevilog and monstrous, mutated Nequam among them. These creatures were at an even worse state than the Cogsangui they had encountered, who at least had some resemblance of sapience left. The Indoctrinate Collective forces under Vyutrin cut them down as they appeared, gunfire blazing while Hachiman used his essence - the bane of the Corruptus - to effortnessly cut through their decaying bodies. Thaur, joined by Ankhnes, activated their blades and began carving through the fallen Cogsangui, making sure to look each and every walking corpse in the eye before they cut them down—a final honour for former warriors. Meanwhile, Nanuq blasted away approaching creatures, and burning many away with arcane starfire.
As they pushed through the tide, however, a new figure appeared in the battlefield; towering over all others was a massive undead Cogsangui warrior, his armor searing in dark purple flame as he carried a blade in one hand and a massive whip in the other, lashing at his own forces as he pointed his weapon at the enemies.
- ???: "Weaklings! You would fall to the blades of these infidels! You are not worthy of serving the glorious imperium!"
- Hachiman: "Big one incoming!"
- Thaur: "Stay clear of the beast's whip!"
The massive warrior leaped into the fray, sending his whip at the direction of the allies.
- ???: "Fall before the might of Slavemaster Xyton Arivin, traitors!"
Ankhnes leaped out of the way.
- Anhknes: "I remember that name from our histories, the great foe of Votarah!"
- Hachiman: "I don't think he's in the mood to chat with us."
- Xyton: "Second Pinnacle will not fall so long as I draw breath!"
Vyutrin and his men opened fire upon Xyton, though he created a barrier of nightmarish energies around him to shield himself; gunfire was ineffective. With a swing of his blade, he struck down many Dracogonarious marines instantly, while Vyutrin jumped back in order to evade his blows. Nanuq shielded himself from the attack with an orb of light, protecting himself and the Cognatus warriors from Xyton's wrath.
- Nanuq: "This foe is beyond your weapons, soldiers!"
- Vyutrin: "Yeah, yeah, I can tell! Do something!"
- Xyton: "You will serve the glorious imperium as slaves!"
While preparing for another blow, Xyton was surprised by Hachiman, who dived in between the corrupted warrior's legs and then leaped into his back, thrusting his katana into it and causing him to roar out in pain. Dream energy was pumped into the undead monster's body, causing light to shine through cracks on his skin and armor, and he retaliated by swinging a hand at his back, grabbing the young Tā warrior and tossing him into the ground beneath him furiously. Ankhnes charged forward to aid Hachiman, leaping at Xyton with her pike in hand, aiming for the corrupted Cogsangui's chest. Just as Xyton was about to pivot, Nanuq unleashed a wave of Light, throwing him into the air and sending him crashing to the ground. Before Xyton could rise to his feet, Ankhnes sent her pike pummeling into his demonic heart. The once noble warrior let out a blood curdling scream, the force of which knocked Ankhnes back.
- Xyton: "Curse you, infidels! ... The Warmaster will... have... you!"
With this, the corrupted warrior's body went limp before slowly dissolving into black ash, signalling his death. In the following hours, the allies successfully pushed the rest of the Corruptus forces back, marking their victory over Second Pinnacle and a serious defeat to Xae Vandon's forces.
Back to their ships, they would receive news from their scouts and scanners that they had discovered the nexus of the True Cognatus' power deeper into the sector. They set course, in hopes of dealing with the threat of the Corruptus before it could spread any further.
Chapter V: The Battle for Decided Conviction
Decided Conviction was once the capital of the First Cognatus Empire during the Intergalactic War. But now, as the allied armada entered its system, it was a hallowed graveyard, with its once proud cities reduced to twisted monuments dedicated to Mar-Júun. As they arrived, it was fiercely protected by corrupted Cognatus and Heleanorian ships, with more arriving from hyperspace to halt their advance, unleashing all of their fury upon the 'heathens'. On the bridge of the Tythoran, Commodore Monoud frowned as he gazed at the corrupted Imperial vessels on the viewscreen, it would seem that the arm of Mar-Júun had extended from the fall of the Empire in Borealis, to the current campaign in the Milky Way. As the Commodore organized the battle in space, the rest of the forces made their way to the surface in order to confront Xae Vandon himself in his palace; only with his defeat would the Corruptus forces be vanquished.
As they descended, they could witnessed massive piles of Cogsangui corpses being used in rituals, with demons of the Corruptus breathing life into them and bringing them back from their eternal rest as frenzied undead. The sight of it sent a chill down Hachiman's spine, as it reminded him of the experiments done by his old enemy Mordathai a little too much.
- Thaur: "We must burn this world until nothing remains but ash."
- Vyutrin: "Indeed. We find this Xae Vandon and we reduce him to cinders."
- Hachiman: "Misguided as these warriors may have been in life... They don't deserve this fate. No one does."
Ankhnes turned to face Hachiman.
- Ankhnes: "You have faced the Corruptus before, have you not? Will the warriors cease to be when Vandon dies?"
- Hachiman: "Maybe. Corruptus forces tend to fall into disarray when their leader is defeated. Killing Vandon might do the trick but... maybe it's Mar-Júun we need to get rid of before this nightmare ends for real."
- Vyutrin: "Count me in on that. The bastard's clearly no good existing."
- Nanuq: "Madness begets madness. Even Mar-Júun serves another, and fight as we may, I fear the stars may never be safe from their corruption."
Elite undead warriors stood in their way as they entered the palace of the Warmaster, who proved a challenge but nonetheless fell to their blades. Where the First Empire once held idols and icons dedicated to the Thirteenth, now stood idols in the image of not just Mar-Júun, but his own insidious masters. In orbit over the planet, the allied forces under the command of Commodore Monoud fought tooth-and-nail against the corrupted armada, with ships on both sides falling to the surface of Decided Conviction, sending down waves of debris and fire down on the heads of both the demons, and the team. Eventually, when they arrived at the centre of the sprawling palace, they encountered Xae Vandon himself sitting upon a great throne, his hands clasped on its arms as he watched them with an unamused expression, which was hidden under his ferasome helmet.
- Xae Vandon: "How unpleasant of you to be here. It seems infidels really become a problem once they rally together. A mistake I seem to repeat a second time."
Thaur was the first to ignite his blade.
- Thaur: "You avoided defeat once, "Warmaster", but you shall not be so lucky this time."
- Xae Vandon: "You are a fool, "Fleetlord". Even now, the Imperator's armies grow stronger. My warriors and those he has found across the First Gigaquadrant are preparing for our great march into Cyrannus. The coming of our glorious imperium cannot be stopped."
- Hachiman: "Lay down your weapons and we'll be quick with ending your suffering, guy."
- Xae Vandon: "Hah. "End my suffering"? You foolish child, I am perfectly conscious of my actions... It shall not be me suffering, but all those who oppose the coming of the Glorious Crimson Imperium of Cyrandia!"
Raising from his throne, Xae Vandon threw a hand back, and from his essence manifested a large blade of nightmarish energies. He let out a powerful roar and charged at the group, swinging his weapon at Thaur's direction.
- Xae Vandon: "If you will not serve me willingly in life, then you will do so in death!
Meeting Vandon's blade, Thaur summoned all of his strength to counter the greater power of Vandon, blocking and slashing when he saw an opening. As he was about to retaliate, Hachiman sent a blow of his own, though the dreamy warrior found himself stopped as a large tendril erupted out of the Warmaster's skin and parried his katana. A malevolent grin grew on Xae Vandon's face as he struck Thaur, sending demonic energies across the Cogsangui warrior's skin which burned like flame. Falling to his knees, Thaur narrowly avoided death, only to be saved by Ankhnes' pike, which absorbed some of Vandon's energies. The nimble young Cogsangui began slashing at Vandon, while Nanuq provided support by hurling pieces of debris at the Warmaster, while forming protective shields around the injured Thaur.
Snarling in growing anger, Xae Vandon retaliated against Ankhnes' onslaught, attempting to strike at her with his demonic blade while Hachiman found himself being constricted by the Warmaster's tentacle until he managed to land a blow upon its base, cutting it off from his body and causing Vandon to let out a furious, pained shriek, leaving him defenseless for but a moment. Seeing his chance, Nanuq outstretched a hand and summoned a force of Light, catching Vandon in a paralysing grip, preventing him from moving.
- Hachiman: "Here's to your master, pal! Light and Dream up your face!"
With a thrust of his hands, Hachiman unleashed a blast of Dream Energy at the paralyzed Warmaster, which amplified by Nanuq's Light, caused the undead demon to roar out in agony as his body was set ablaze with energy, sending him flying across the chamber and crashing into a wall, leaving large cracks upon it as he fell to the ground. Struggling to regain his footing, he clenched his teeth in anger as he glared at the group.
- Xae Vandon: "My service is not yet done... We shall meet again, Fleetlord!"
Realizing the enemy was trying to escape, Hachiman rushed at the Warmaster, attempting to thrust his katana through his heart, though Xae Vandon teleported away before he had the chance, disappearing in a cloud of dark purple smoke.
- Hachiman: "Damnit!"
- Nanuq: "Returning to his master, no doubt. Yet do not forget that we have won a key victory today, young one. He no longer has the ability to ravage the Plazith Rim."
- Hachiman: "Suppose you're right. But this an't the last we'll see of him, for sure."
- Vyutrin: "Are you well, Fleetlord?"
Thaur rose to his feet and growled.
- Thaur: "Another scar to add to my collection. We may not have killed the false Warmaster today, but I will not rest until my blade pieces his heart."
- Vyutrin: "Damn straight!"
With Vandon gone, the undead forces in the planet appeared to panic as they lost all sense of direction, many desperately attempting to summon portals in order to flee from the battlefield while, in orbit, the Corruptus ships begun retreating into hyperspace once again, fleeing from the battle. Victory was theirs, though the war was not yet over.
With Decided Conviction freed of the Corruptus, it seemed the so-called True Cognatus fled the Milky Way galaxy en masse, disappearing into Endless Space. The campaign to purge the galaxy of their influence was a success as the leaders of the forces met one last time over communications, where they reflected upon the events of the conflict.
- Vyutrin: "I'll be contacting Indoctrinate Command and inform them of what happened. Plazith Rim is safe for now, but it's clear Cyrannus is under threat."
- Nanuq: "Indeed. I was troubled by the presence of ships from the Borealis Front, proof that the Corruptus are coordinating in preparation for a massive strike against the home galaxy."
- Hachiman: "You can count with my aid in fighting the Nightmare. I was kinda trained to do it, heh. I'm sure I can lend a hand in dealing with Mar-Júun."
- Vyutrin: "As if the Empire wasn't enough trouble. The Corruptus are this universe's greatest inconvenience."
- Ankhnes: "You all handled yourselves well. It would be an honour to fight alongside you all, to see this threat dealt with."
Before parting ways, Commodore Monoud approached the group, a grave look in his eyes. With a datapad in hand, he cleared his voice.
- Monoud: "I have received communication from Republic Command... Rambo Nation has fallen."
- Thaur: "Truly? How?!"
- Hachiman: "... W-What? Huh?!"
- Vyutrin: "What?! What do you mean "fallen"?!"
- Monoud: "It would seem that Rambert was corrupted by Mar-Júun, to serve as his puppet in preparation for the rise of this "Glorious Imperium". Thankfully, he was dealt with, but before the Republic and the Rambo Loyalists could restore order, the Empire pounced on the Rambo Capital, dissolving the Concordat and bringing the Rambo fully under Imperial rule."
- Hachiman: "... Shit!"
- Vyutrin: "The Corruptus was not just here, but also at the Quadrants? We have severely miscalculated the threat this enemy poses!"
- Nanuq: "It would seem that the day of reckoning draws near. We must be ready."
- Hachiman: "Aw man, not Rambo Nation! I never got the chance to visit it. ... I hear there's some nice ladies in there. Urm, I mean, nevermind."
- Vyutrin: "One thing is certain, I tell you; this cannot stand. Rambo Nation must be avenged! Mar-Júun must die!"
Nanuq nodded gravely.
- Nanuq: "I must return to Aldár to discuss these developments with my fellow masters. We must defend Cyrannus against this new threat."