"I know how powerful you've become. But if I don't even try to stop you, what good am I?"
"Yes... I've taken it upon myself to ask that very question: what good are you?"
This story is an entrant for Captain Ned Edgwalker's G-Mod writing contest.
Prologue - The Immortal and The Brewing Storm
"I do not care. Search it again."
Dread Master Kalendrite delved deeper into the hazy mist, sparing another drop of his crimson blood to satisfy its sorcerous hunger. But even as he strained his eyes, nearly trembling in his own boots at the wrath that could soon follow, nothing had changed. The vision remained constant - a man cloaked in a robe of white descended further into the heart of New Adasta, valiantly slaying the devotees of the Lord of Calamity as he drew closer to the Heart of Darkness itself - the Dark Temple. As he bravely stepped inside, he recognized that only one of the two archenemies would leave New Adasta alive.
Even Dread Master Kalendrite, a master of fear itself (or so he thought) feared his fate would not be one of satisfying endings. Nothing could make Thel Olihim, the Lord of Affliction and the Emperor of the Chiss, more enraged. With a brief flash of lightning, Kalendrite fell to his knees, his entire body fried in an instant.
As the storm on the horizon grew, battering New Adasta with endless waves of rain, ice, and snow, the Chiss Emperor knew the Ballad of the Mighty had begun.
Chapter I: White Rabbit
Somewhere in the outskirts of the Lechanster capital, the beautiful city of Vastiling, a working-class family huddled around their television, closely watching and listening to President Wolf's speech.
"The final solution to this issue is the least interesting to the government. This would involve armed forces seizing land from our neighboring nations whether or not bloodshed occurs. This is the final resort the Chan Council will ratify if all other means can not be met. I personally stand against this option, however I know that it is imperative that we sacrifice to ensure the stability of our home."
His speech carried on for a few minutes more, and the thousands of Vastilian citizens cheered as he finally completed his address. Immediately, political commentators began to debate on the topic of the ethicality of Wolf's new propositions. "The fact he would even suggest invasion simply mortifies me," noted Lydia Ravenscar, an influential member of the Edgelandian Grey Wolf Conservation Society. "We have the funding. Why bother considering anything but peaceful and mutual land purchasing from, say, the Theocratic Empire just down the road?"
"No, no, no!" shouted Jackson Obama. "I don't want to hear any more of this imperialistic trash, and frankly, neither does the rest of Lechanster! We should make due with what we have, and if we begin to overcrowd, then that's just the cost of being free and democratic!" Obama would quickly be escorted off the premises. Back inside the Kagan household, the patriarch of the family shut off the news in disgust. "So much bullshit in one station. Don't they have anything better to yell at each other about?"
"I'm louder than you so I win this argument," jokingly replied Betty Kagan. She was an older woman, showing clear signs of aging, but showing a certain kind of free spirit and youthfulness despite this. She turned to her teenage son, who demonstrated once again he'd rather dive into a good book than concern himself with politics. "Tom, why don't you come sit with the rest of the family? You look so miserable over there." "You'd be surprised," Tom replied from his desk in the other room, reluctantly rising and striding towards the living room.
From the impossibly tall and imposing Chiss Embassy that watched over all of Vastilling, a small group began to gather near the window of the top floor conference room. Cipher 9 and Watcher 10 of Imperial Intelligence and a small entourage of agents had finally come to an agreement. "So it's settled," Cipher 9 said in an accomplished tone. "We will bring in some... assistance, find who we're looking for, and the Lechanster government will be none the wiser." "A foolproof plan," added Watcher 10. The agents nodded in agreement. Cipher 9 turned to his small court of Operatives. "Keeper 13, locate the McKagan household. 16, secure the premises. And Watcher 10..." The Watcher turned in obedience.
"Contact Lord Wrath," he said with a devlish grimace.
Six hours later...
The Eminence Grise, a mysterious and deadly Chiss shuttle, descended on to the landing pad of the Chiss Descendancy Embassy. Already waiting patiently at the pad was Cipher 9 and his entourage representing Imperial Intelligence, along with a small squadron of Chiss Ascension Soldiers and several Chrome Troopers. As the shuttle landed, a dark, imposing figure covered in red and black robes and a frightening robotic mask emerged from its passenger hold.
"The Emperor's Wrath, in all of his glory," Cipher 9 said, kneeling before the Dark Lord. "We are most honored by your prompt presence." "You may set aside your sycophancy and rise, Cipher. I'm sure you realize that I am here for the boy, not to rub the shoulders of Imperial Intelligence," the Wrath said, briskly entering the Embassy. "Of course, Dark Lord. Watcher 10 and her subservients have already pinpointed the location of the Kagan residence, and the area is completely blocked off from the public eye," Cipher 9 explained. "Then you have proven your worth, and you have my trust... for now. Assemble all of your troops to this landing pad. We set out in 15 minutes."
15 minutes later...
"We are locked and loaded, Dark Lord." Immediately, the Chiss force mounted upon their speeders and began to cross Vastilling. Lechanster onlookers began to wander their eyes, sparing a few glances at the gathering Chiss assembly. One or two could swear they saw a figure of distinct importance, but spared no second glance.
"This is the place, my Lord." The Chiss dismounted their speeders and began to investigate the home. While they had prepared an elaborate intrusion plan, they soon realized no such procedure was necessary. The residence was empty, or so they thought. "Tear this home apart until you find the boy. I will not return to the Emperor empty-handed."
Suddenly, the room burst to life, and a cloaked militant appeared from the shadows and took cover behind a desk in the kitchen. Armed with only a small pistol, he would quickly be outgunned by the Ascension Soldiers and the Dark Lord's sorcery. Sensing he would be overrun, he pulled a deadswitch and blew up in a blaze of glory, taking two soldiers with him. At the last second, the Emperor's Wrath shielded himself with a strange dark force, deflecting the incoming flames.
Chapter II: Cast No Shadow
Tom Kagan was not used to being kidnapped and having a bag draped over his head. Naturally, this situation was not an easy one to handle. The nauseous teenager was met with a blast of searing white light produced by a crude bulb on the ceiling of a dark room. He quickly noticed his hands were distinctly restricted in movement and struggled to free his rope-bound hands to no avail.
"Hello? Hello?!" Tom shouted, with no response spared for an agonizing 30 seconds. Well, this is it. This is the end. At last, on the edge of terror, a door concealed by the all-consuming opaqueness of the room swung open, and the voice of a middle aged Nultsian began to emanate from beyond.
"Tell me your name. Now," said the man, whose face was still concealed. Tom cocked his head in the direction the face came from. "Huh?" he asked shyly. "Your name, dammit! Now!" the Nultsian demanded. "I'm Tom Kagan... who are you?" Without warning, the source of the demanding voice revealed itself, taking the shape of, as expected, a middle aged and gruff man, sporting a Corvian complexion. Wearing only a worn tank-top and faded jeans, the man sported light brown hair and a cut thats primary function was clearly to keep it out of his eyes. Sorald
"Now give me your address," the Nultsian said, running up to Tom and grabbing his neck. "Ivar, for fuck's sake, you can't expect people to answer you if you're strangling them to death," said another man, walking into the room. "Sorry," said Ivar, loosening his grip on Tom and backing off.
"You have my apologies, I'm Solidar. I wish we could have made this process a bit smoother, but... they came," explained the man. In contrast to Ivar, this figure wore a minimalist vest and only slightly torn jeans, and sporting erratic yet well-kept dirty blonde hair. "Now... if you don't mind, could you tell us your address?"
"113... Oros Street. Now can you please tell me what the hell this is?" Tom asked, slightly annoyed. Solidar turned to Ivar, prompting him to nod. "Looks like you're the one we've been looking for after all. We're the Aecorian Resistance. I'm sure you've heard of the Chiss Descendancy?"
Tom recognized the name immediately. He'd heard a lot about the Chiss Empire, or the Interplanetary Magocracy as they called it, but had never seen pictures or videos of it. The Empire seemed to be exceedingly secretive. The only people allowed in the Descendancy were the Chiss people themselves, who were hardly seen in the rest of region, much less the world. Even for their secrecy, the Descendancy was undoubtedly one of the greatest powers in the GFW region. He wasn't sure if the Empire was truly "interplanetary," but considering their technological power, he wouldn't be surprised. "I've heard of them," Tom said as Solidar freed his hands.
"One of their biggest cities is called Aecorus. It used to be an independent citystate and openly condemned the actions of the oppressive Descendancy. The Chiss don't appreciate people talking shit about them, if you follow," Solidar explained. "So they did the only thing they knew how to do. They rode in with the full force of their armada and completely decimated the entire city. The survivors were locked away. Where, we have no clue."
"What does any of this have to do with me?" Tom asked. "Like any Empire, the Chiss Descendancy has a supreme leader, an absolute dictator. He doesn't have any name - not that we know of - so most people just call him the Chiss Emperor. Most people were led to believe he's holding up in the Dark Temple in the capital of the Descendancy, but all signs lead to him being in an orbital station above New Adasta. Funny story about that..."
Tom coughed. "Oh yeah, you're still here. The Emperor has a top secret group of holy prophets. The Prophets of Adasta. He uses their prophetic abilities to see into the future and predict his many enemies' movements before they happen. We have a mole inside of the Prophets. He's told us that Dread Master Kalendrite, the High Prophet, discovered an interesting vision into the future. The Dark Temple would be infiltrated by a hero dressed in white robes. This hero - he would slay the Emperor. Many have tried, but all have failed. We believe you may be the one to finally succeed."
Tom sat in place, his jaw perpetually open. He didn't seem to be handling this new information particularly well. "No great leader can be taken on immediately. His Empire is expansive, but it his its weak spots. If we can liberate Aecorus, his people will turn against him, and hopefully it will be enough to allow you to beat him with as little resistance as possible. Sounds simple, yeah?"
Chapter III: Destroyer of Worlds
Above the blue planet, the Imperial Dreadnaught Queen Christie's Revenge and two Tyrant Destroyers moved out of the atmosphere above Lechanster and into the Chiss controlled extraterrestrial territory. Far in the distance, the volcanic moon of Oricon gleamed, almost matching the waste output of the city of Vader. "That was the last we saw of any Aecorian Rebels," Cipher 9 explained to the Emperor's Wrath vio hologram. "They aren't as resourceful as we were led to believe. They can't have left Vastilling by now," added Watcher 10.
"Incorrect, Watcher 10. This rebel cell has proved to be especially capable. Among them are two top-priority separatists, and now that they have the boy, they will be arriving in The Liberal Mordor within a few days. And do you know what city is a mere few clicks distance from Heil, Cipher 9?" the Wrath asked. The Cipher cocked his head in confusion. "Sir?" he asked meekly. "Aecorus, you blind fool!" the Wrath exclaimed, telekinetically choking Cipher 9. "I want every available squadron in the region to scour the area until they are found," demanded the Wrath, releasing him and cutting out the hologram.
A highly decorated Chiss hastily emerged from the outside corridor and approached the Wrath. "Dark Lord," the Chiss said, gaining his attention. "Yes, Admiral Thrawn, what is it?" he responded in a notably more respectful tone than with his prior guests. "The Emperor requests for you to make contact with him," Admiral Thrawn said. "Move the fleet out of Earth's orbit and await the order to jump to hyperspace," the Wrath commanded, departing to his personal quarters.
The Wrath entered his expansive chambers, completely isolated from the rest of the ship and of any curious Chiss Commanders. At the center of the bleak, charcoal room was a massive holotable with an incoming transmission. "What is thy bidding, my master?" the Wrath asked, bowing as the spitting image of the Chiss Emperor appeared on the holotable. The figure was imposing; its mere image sent chills down any observer's spine and locked any adversaries' throats. The Emperor's face was completely obscured by an opaque shadow produced by his hooded robes.
"There is a great disturbance in the Force," the Emperor said.
"I have felt it."
"We have a new enemy. The young rebel whom the Prophets of Adasta discovered with their powers. I have no doubt this is the same boy whose victory was foretold all those years ago within the Ruins of Ravenscar."
"How is that possible? The ruins portrayed a hero of great power in the Force, not a... teenager."
"Search your feelings, Lord Wrath, and you will know it to be true. I will not allow this destiny to come to fruition. I have defied fate many times in the past, and I intend to do it again. Send the Lords of the Furnace to Liberal Mordor. Pray they will destroy him once and for all."
"My Lord... I request that I be sent in their stead."
"No... I have need of you elsewhere."
The hologram of the Emperor was replaced with the image of the Star Chamber, a massive orbital station the Wrath had only heard stories of. The Wrath inputted a hologram priority code to Admiral Thrawn. "Admiral, set course for Oricon."
Chapter IV: A Hero's Quest
The three rebels traveled hastily through the ever-changing environment, narrowly avoiding a plethora of Chiss squadrons and hazardous terrain. The further they ventured from Lechanster, the darker the land became until the first lakes of molten rock began to appear. Liberal Mordor was finally in sight. But for the youngest rebel, now draped in white battle robes, only one thing mattered: Where is my family?
"We're only another day or two's worth away from Aecorus now," Solidar said as the group ascended to the top of a hill overlooking Heil. "All we have to do is make it through the rest of Mordor and carefully tiptoe around any people we see that have blue skin." The capital city of Liberal Mordor was now clearly in view, appearing like an oasis of sustenance in the center of a volcanic desert - an anomaly of nature.
"About that," Tom said. "What's this place's policy about foreigners searching for terrorists on their soil?" Ivar chuckled. "Do what you fucking want, but do it quietly." Just as the rebels reached border control, a search party approached the checkpoint and stopped the group ahead of them. The search party was relatively small but appeared to be more than capable of a little discrete crowd control. Leading them was a sharply dressed officer in a white, slick military suit, carrying a blaster pistol on his belt and a massive rifle on his back. With him was two Ascension Soldiers in black exosuits, imposing gas masks, and bayonet-fitted rifles.
"Stop right there. Surrender your belongings and we can go through this... smoothly."