News had reached Confederate High Command of something dire. Training exercises across the Confederacy had been brought to and abrupt halt as the Vylmiran Navy initiated emergency departure procedures. They were being summoned away to somewhere. Quickly. And quietly. Hours later, they understood the truth. A nest had been found. Not of Bryn'adul as many suspected. But of the very same creatures that had invaded their capital from the Netherworld. The operation to suppress them was a success. Though not without losses. By the time the Vylmiran Navy had arrived, they found nought but a debris field, and a single escape pod with three survivors. The report the three gave spoke of an evolution. The beasts could traverse space, and had attacked them aboard the ship they had crewed. All hands were lost, save for the three that stood before the committee now. For many, that was the end of it. Another win, another list of casualties. Such was the price of freedom. But for others, a lack of additional survivors was far more dire.
For it had not been any ship that stood alone against the onslaught of otherworldly beings.
It was the Desolation. Now shredded down to scrap and refuse. All hands had been lost.
Including her captain.
One quiet night, a shadow flew over Theed. His wings carried him silent upon the wind. His task was of the utmost importance. He had to find Mother. Fortunately, this was easily accomplished, as the late night found the icy Exarch within her office. He landed quiet on the open window and hooted once to announce his presence. <<Mother. I've come home.>> Attached to his leg, which he held out for inspection as soon as Srina took note of him, was a small case containing a datastick. Within it, a single file. A holorecording.
It began with a large man stooping over a desk to insert the datastick just off screen, before settling back into his chair, perfectly framed within the image. As he did so, his speech filtered through, obviously having started before the recording. "...Take this to her. Some of them deserve to know the truth, I suppose. I owe them that much." Voph sat in his chair silent for a moment, then the image flickered, and he sat upon it like a throne, his head held high, his blindfolded gaze piercing if unseeing. "Srina. My friend. If you are seeing this message, then I must thank Horace for following his instruction, no matter how strongly he may object. I will also assure you that this is for the best. Whatever guilt you may feel, this was my decision. No one else's. If you are seeing this...I am gone. And I intend to stay that way this time."
There was a long pause. Voph sighed quietly, and reached up to remove his blindfold. His bare sockets stared hollow into the room. "I was never meant for this world. Though it is difficult to fathom, you are born of an era of peace. A prosperity I could only dream of in my younger days. It was the culmination of my life's work. But an era of peace, I was never meant to see. I have served my purpose. Time, and again. But in this world...what use is the hand of war upon a body of peace? In the time after the Cataclysm, I searched for answers. Something had waged war upon the galaxy. Something that would not stop with only a single assault. I am old, Srina. I have long tired of the politics and games of nations. I swore after I left the Empire that I would never serve another master. And while Metus is an admirable man, and one I would follow to the death, his goals cannot align with mine."
Voph paused, as if considering what to say. "I found it in a dream. A name. Ektheros. What or who this is, I do not know. But I know that it was responsible for the Cataclysm. I leave you now to do what I do best. To hunt the un-huntable. I fight not for my own glory, nor for that of a nation. But so that the galaxy might one day know peace. So swore my father. So swore I. Though I wish you, and the others in high enough esteem to be called friend, might have known me better, I think beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have known me at my best. Do not weep for my passing; for it is not truly the end, but a new beginning. I leave to the care of yourself, Locke, Lechner, and Noctura all of my possessions to divide and use as you all see fit. To the land of darkness I shall return. To the beacon of light within the sea of agony. An enemy hunts us. All of us. And it is one I will not rest until I have destroyed. Perhaps one day, people shall sing of my triumphs. Until then, pray for my success."
Voph leaned forward to stop the recording, but paused. "Understand that I have chosen a path you cannot follow. I shall see it to completion, or I shall become lost in the wilds. It has been an honor to know you, to defend you, and to fight along side you. And though my task is dire, it is not the end. Not yet. Where I go, you cannot follow. But if you, or any of the galaxy should need me, find Noctura. Tell her the Observations are clearest at the Eye. She will know what to do. I wish you luck, Exarch. Perhaps one day we shall see each other again on the shores of glory. One day when wars are over, and peace has finally, truthfully, been achieved."
Thanks for a fun two years, Chaos. I'll miss you guys.