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In The Shadow Of An Empire is a story written by Tigertot (tbc) as a sequel to Zalvar Online's storyline. It takes place two weeks after Ascerth: One Year Later, and is part of the Ghostrealmverse.

Chapter 1: Battle for Xeblion

Above the jungle world of Xeblion, two spacefleets collide. One belongs to the infamous Circle of Shadows, an organization made up of shadow magic wielders that has now invaded the Zalvar Sector. Their ships have a green and black color scheme. On the opposing side lies the Vanguard of Spirits, an army dedicated to stopping the users of shadow magic throughout the cosmos. Their ships are more sleek in design, with a blue and gold color scheme. Among the leaders of the Vanguard's fleet are Taikari, Keraniza, Zerrik, and Gralnin, four mercenaries who later pledged their lives to the Vanguard. One year has passed since their entrance, and they're now working to lead this battle against the Circle, who seeks to capture Xeblion and use it as a staging area for a new phase of the war.

"Taikari, our ships are ready for battle when you give the signal," uttered a sulkrik tactician aboard Taikari's flagship. On the bridge of her ship, countless technicians, tacticians, and officers were on board, preparing for battle. Taikari stood at the front of the bridge, looking at the enemy fleet. Her past set of armor, which was colored green and grey, was now replaced with a green and gold set, designed specifically by the Vanguard's blacksmiths.

"Send the first squadrons, and ensure that our cruisers keep battering the enemy ships with cannonfire," replied Taikari. "I'm going to pull up the communicators with the other ships."

The tactician nodded before directing several technicians to relay the orders. As the ships flew towards the Circle of Shadows' fleet, Taikari pulled up three holographic projections, which depicted her three allies: Keraniza, a Catonean known for her preference for explosives, Zerrik, a volant warrior who prefers to use melee weaponry, and Gralnin, a saff sniper known for his cool, collected attitude.

"We've sent our squadrons in already," uttered Keraniza as she smirked. "I know my pilots can take it."

"Let's make a bet then," replied Zerrik. "Whoever's squadron takes down the least enemy ships has to pay for everyone's drinks next time."

"Sounds like a plan," replied Gralnin. "Looks like I won't be paying."

Taikari smirked at the trio, knowing that they all had a strong bond with each other. She then looked to the battle to see the ships clashing, with the Vanguard having a clear advantage.


"My lord, they followed us to Xeblion!" exclaimed a krexxon general. His body was surging with shadow energy, and he had a hood on. He was also kneeling before a projection of the infamous leader of the Circle of Shadows: the Soul Grazer. As usual, his axe, Vorsalach, was on his back as he stood before the general. "Our forces are being hit hard by their ships."

"I'm disappointed Raznok," replied the Soul Grazer. "We need a foothold in the Zalvar Sector as soon as possible if we are to locate the artifact."

"We'll call a retreat immediately," replied Raznok. "I won't fail you again."

"I hope not," replied the Soul Grazer. "Next time, you'll pay with your life."

The projection faded as Raznok witnessed one of his fleet's warships being blown to pieces by the Vanguard of Spirits' ships.

"Retreat to the fleet near Nodrerth!" exclaimed Raznok. "We can at least help them secure a foothold there."


The Circle of Shadows' ships warped away, leaving Taikari and her allies confused.

"That's strange," uttered Gralnin. "It's not like them to retreat that early into the battle."

"Guess that's because MY SHIPS WERE WHOOPING THEIR ASSES!" exclaimed Keraniza. "Guess that means Zerrik is in dead last and is gonna pay for our drinks."

"Son of a bitch," replied Zerrik. "We'll meet on the Relendar I guess."


Taikari and her allies sat down within a ship, having their dinner for the night while speaking with the leader of the Vanguard via hologram:  Grand Exarch Xanvor: one of the few surviving zalvosh in the galaxy.

"So, I spoke with the Neolight Council today," uttered Xanvor. "They've pledged Neolight Station's soldiers to our cause, and also bringing mercenaries into our service."

"That's good," replied Taikari. "Neolight's got a lot of strong mercenaries. Most of 'em hate my guts though."

"Cause a ruckus there or something?" asked Zerrik. Taikari simply nodded.

"They were mostly jealous of how successful I was as a mercenary." replied Taikari as she smirked. "Plus I was pretty much unbeatable in a fight."

"Anyways, I've got an assignment for you," replied Xanvor. "You're not gonna like it though."

"Try us," replied Keraniza. Xanvor simply smirked in response.

"I want you four to try and bring the krexxon empire to our side," replied Xanvor. "They may have been an enemy of my race, but I'm sure they're no friend of the Circle."

"Are you insane?!?!?" exclaimed Gralnin. "I've heard rumors that the krexxon destroy any ships that enter their territory!"

"We'll need their help if we are to stop the Circle of Shadows," replied Xanvor. "And that's an order."

Xanvor's hologram disappeared as the group got up from their seats.

"We'll take a scouting vessel," uttered Taikari. "That way, we can evade their ships faster."


"Rise, Acolytes of Nihility," uttered the Soul Grazer, within a sanctum of sorts. Five individuals walked before him, and kneeled at his feet.

"I've spent months training you as the enforcers of my will," uttered the Soul Grazer. "My agents of destruction."

Each of the Acolytes had been trained in shadow magic by the Grazer himself, and gifted with a weapon. You had the Defiler, known for wielding the plague-seeping staff Yol'gonoz, and the master of disease. The Deceiver wielded the twin swords known as Walnorak and Juhikon, and was the master of manipulation and deception. The Breaker wielded the warhammer known as Nalvorok, and was known for being the master of combat. Perhaps the most insidious of the five was the Magus, a master of magic. Uniquely, he didn't have a weapon, and utilized sheer magical prowess instead to rip apart his enemies. And last, but not least, was the Torturer, a gruesome individual who wielded a unique weapon known as Mkalburar, which was a set of spiked balls attached to a chain, which he could control with his magical abilities. He was known for his sadistic attitude.

"Master, we await your orders as always," replied the Defiler. The Soul Grazer smirked before bringing up a map of the galaxy.

"Infiltrate the krexxon empire, and give our agents there the boost they need to overthrow the emperor and secure the empire's resources for ourselves," replied the Soul Grazer. "Do not fail me."

"Yes sir," replied the Breaker as the Magus ripped open a portal, with the five Acolytes heading through. The Soul Grazer grinned as he looked out the window of the sanctum, witnessing a vortex of magical energy emerging from the planet itself. It felt good to be in the home of the Nullifier.

Chapter 2: The Amphibios Engineer

Taikari and her allies walked into the hangar of the Relendar, where countless ships were being repaired and launched into space. They arrived at a small scouting vessel, with an engineer tinkering with the ship's underside. He had greenish, scaly skin, and had a holographic visor of sorts alongside some intricately-designed armor. He kept a trident-like spear on his back.

"Oh, you're here early," uttered the engineer. "Might as well introduce myself."

The engineer got up from his position, and saluted the group.

"Name's Vor'nal," replied the engineer. "One of the few Amphibios in this galaxy. Seems like this place is fairly isolated from my homeland."

"Yeah, never seen your kind before," replied Taikari. "So you were just finishing up preparations for our ship?"

"Yep," replied Vor'nal. "Designed this beauty specifically for a stealth mission such as yours. Armed with a cloaking device and a few weapons."

"Well, I like the design," replied Keraniza. "It's sleek, and'll do us good for a battle such as this."

Vor'nal smirked as he pressed a few buttons on a device, before the ship's doors opened.

"Is it okay if I accompany you?" asked Vor'nal. "I've been itching for some action. I wanna see how you guys tackle missions like this."

"Sounds good," replied Zerrik. "Besides, you know this ship better than we do."

Vor'nal chuckled slightly as he entered the ship with the others.


The five Acolytes of Nihility stood within a krexxon warship, overseeing the ship's crew handling their tasks.

"So this is what the cults in the empire gave us," uttered the Breaker. "Not the best ship quality, but I'll take it."

"This isn't a military operation anyways," replied the Deceiver. "We're here to stage a coup within the empire, remember?"

"Who cares about some coup?!?!" exclaimed the Magus. "I JUST WANT SOME ACTION!!!"

The Magus began to let loose orbs of magical energy into the air, before the Torturer backhanded him.

"You're just lucky that I don't rip your guts out for that," replied the Torturer. "Keep it together."

"Let's just focus on the mission," replied the Defiler.


"We're entering krexxon space now," uttered Taikari. "Keep a sharp eye out for enemy ships."

"We'll just need to use the cloaking device once they spot us," replied Vor'nal. "It's that eas-"

The group fell to the ground as their ship felt a "tug". Immediately, they looked through the windows of the ship to see a massive krexxon warship.

"Tractor beam," uttered Gralnin. "That was pretty damn quick."

After some time, the group's ship arrived in the warship's hangar. Five krexxon burst down the door, pointing their weapons at the crew. They also conveniently had translation devices on, so that Taikari and her allies could understand them.

"Step out of the ship if you wish to live," uttered one of the krexxon. The group put their hands into the air as they walked out of the ship, seeing a whole legion of krexxon soldiers in the hangar. They were all armed to the teeth with assorted weapons, and looked at the group with disgust. However, one krexxon in particular forced his way in front of the group. He looked as if he was the leader, with more ornately-designed armor on.

"Lower your weapons," uttered the krexxon. "I wish to speak with these five personally."

"But sir, they violated-"

"Do NOT question your commanding officer!"

The krexxon led the five into a small room nearby, where he sat down with them. Taikari was confused as to why this was happening.

"You may be wondering why I didn't give the order for my soldiers to kill you on the spot," uttered the krexxon. "You see, I know why you're here."

"How so?" replied Vor'nal. "You're aware of the Vanguard of Spirits?"

"Mhm," replied the krexxon. "I've been observing your escapades across the galaxy, and I'm impressed."

"So you're not going to kill us?" asked Zerrik. The krexxon shook his head in response.

"Nope," replied the krexxon. "I might as well introduce myself as well. Name's High General Celthoz."

"I'm Taikari, and these are Keraniza, Zerrik, Gralnin, and Vor'nal," replied Taikari. "Generals within the Vanguard of Spirits."

"Good to meet you five," replied Celthoz. "Hopefully we can work together to help stop the ones who utilize shadow magic.


The Soul Grazer meditated within his citadel on Jalgor, until a transmission came in from the Acolytes of Nihility. He answered it, and came face to face with them.

"These cultists are proving to be promising," uttered the Torturer. "Seems like krexxon society is relatively unoccupied with major problems right now, so that's a plus."

"Excellent," replied the Soul Grazer. "Continue to assist them in their endeavors."


Chapter 3: Heart of the Empire

Celthoz's ship began to descend onto a purplish-black planet, covered mostly in rock and minerals. A massive city could be seen, with massive statues towering over the citizens. Taikari and her allies looked at the city with intrigue. They had never been to a place like this before

"This is Krexxak," uttered Celthoz. "The homeworld of the krexxon, and the heart of our empire. The city you see there is known as Krexatar."

Celthoz's ship touched down within a hangar. He then went into a nearby crate, pulling out some necklace-like devices.

"You'll need to put these on to survive in the city," uttered Celthoz as he handed each of the Vanguard members a necklace. "They'll disguise you as an ordinary krexxon soldier."

"So outsiders are killed on the spot?" asked Taikari. "Seems pretty brutal."

"Our people are fairly xenophobic," replied Celthoz. "Outsiders that survive, if ever, are almost always enslaved. Just act as if you're my soldiers, and you'll make it."

Taikari and her allies equipped the necklaces, before pressing a button in the center. Immediately, the disguise took effect, making them resemble krexxon.

"This is some pretty awesome tech," uttered Vor'nal. "You gotta show me how this is built when you have a chance."

Celthoz nodded at Vor'nal as the group exited the ship, walking into the streets of Krexatar. It was bustling with citizens, and guards patrolled the streets constantly. Unlike past cities Taikari had been to, Krexatar was relatively peaceful, though this was likely due to the authoritarian nature of the krexxon government.

"I assume those are statues of past emperors?" asked Keraniza. Celthoz nodded in response, before pointing to one statue in particular. It was massive, and had ornately-designed armor.

"This here is Grand Imperator Por'naz," uttered Celthoz. "The first krexxon emperor. Before we were an empire, we had tried multiple forms of government, ranging from democracy, to communism, to monarchy. However, our society eventually entered a brutal civil war due to the chaos. Por'naz managed to unite the warring clans, and bring them together under one banner."

"Impressive," replied Zerrik. "Seems like you speak highly of him."

"Believe me, I do," replied Celthoz. "But there's one individual I knew who admired him even more."

"Who might that be?" asked Gralnin.

"My brother, the late Supreme Commander Ethros," replied Celthoz. "He looked up to Por'naz, and saw him as his "idol", so to speak. He was a cunning commander who'd often use battle strategies Por'naz pioneered. We didn't usually fight together, but he was able to turn the tide of any battle."

"What became of him?" asked Taikari. "He sounds like a powerful warrior, and one we could've used the help of."

"He became...obsessed with the zalvosh and their technology, and managed to find databases referring to a superweapon they had built in the middle of the cosmos," replied Celthoz. "After locating the superweapon, he took a military force there, and attempted to invade the planet that now surrounded it. Somehow he was killed in the ensuing invasion and we lost."

"You know, that weapon might be the key to turning the tides of the war against the Circle of Shadows," replied Taikari. "We need to find its location."

"It's kept within our databases," replied Celthoz. "I'd need a good reason to be able to get access to it."


"My lord, the cults continue to learn magic from us," uttered the Deceiver. "Soon they'll be strong enough to overthrow the emperor."

The Acolytes kneeled before a projection of the Soul Grazer as various cultists conducted their business within the ship.

"Excellent," replied the Soul Grazer. "I'll be sending weapons in via a gateway shortly. They'll help for the inevitable attack on Krexatar."

As the projection disappeared, a krexxon cultist dashed up to the group.

"We have a lead on the hunt for Ascerth's location," uttered the cultist. "Apparently it's within a military computer database."

"We'll have to hack the system," replied the Breaker.


Within Celthoz's home, Taikari and her allies contacted Grand Exarch Xanvor.

"We managed to find a krexxon contact who spared our lives," uttered Vor'nal. "He also says that his brother knew something about an ancient superweapon your people made."

"That must've been the project on using life energy as fuel," replied Xanvor. "We best secure it, and rework it to use magical energy as fuel."

"We'll do our best," replied Taikari as the transmission turned off.


Chapter 4: Political Turmoil

Taikari and her allies found themselves within a krexxon facility, analyzing various storage arrays.

"I forget where my brother looked..." uttered Celthoz as he checked the shelves. As the group looked through, Vor'nal began to hear a buzzing noise coming from a device on his belt. Normally, he'd use this device for listening in on conversations between other people. Immediately, Vor'nal put the device up to his ear to listen in.

"So we got an audience with the emperor. Think it's time to put the plan into action?"

"I think so. We'll use magic to bribe the guards into granting us time alone with the guy, then we can kill him."

"Sounds good."

Vor'nal expressed a face of shock as he ran up to the rest of the group.

"I overheard a conversation between some individuals," uttered Vor'nal. "Apparently they're gonna be trying to assassinate the emperor!"

"We need to get there immediately,' replied Celthoz. "We can use this to persuade him to join us!"


"Grand Imperator, we have some officials seeking to speak with you," uttered a krexxon guard. He stood within a massive throne room, where the currently-reigning emperor, Grand Imperator Rov'keron, sat on his throne. He wore an intricately-designed set of armor, and was of intimidating stature. Clearly, he possessed power.

"Let them in," replied the Grand Imperator. "But keep a close eye on them."

The guards stood at attention as three krexxon walked in. They had green energy flowing through their bodies, and had spiked armor on.

"Leave us," uttered one of the krexxon as he cast a spell at the guards. Immediately, they fell to the ground unconscious.

"What in Por'naz's name is going on!?!?" exclaimed the Grand Imperator. One of the krexxon simply proceeded to show a holographic projection of the Soul Grazer to the Grand Imperator.

"Greetings Grand Imperator," uttered the Soul Grazer. "I am known only as the Soul Grazer, leader of the Circle of Shadows."

"You magic-ridden abominations are not allowed here!" exclaimed the Grand Imperator. "I can have these three executed!!"

"I'm afraid that won't be happening," replied the Soul Grazer. "As I speak, countless krexxon worlds are separating from your empire, to bring about a revolution. A revolution that will bring your resources and technology into our control. And even the location of the zalvosh superweapon."

"How is that possible?!?!" exclaimed the Grand Imperator. "The krexxon empire has remained strong for one hundred thousand years!"

"Manipulation my friend," replied the Soul Grazer. "We've planted our agents into every sect of krexxon society. And now to firmly plant them here. Kill this fool."

"Yes my lord," replied one of the krexxon as they shut off the hologram. He then began to choke the Grand Imperator with his magic as he struggled to break free. As another krexxon readied a blast of magic, he was instantly shot in the head, and fell to the ground. Taikari and her allies were in the nearby hallway, albeit disguised as krexxon.

"Don't worry, we've got this!" exclaimed Keraniza with her krexxon disguise on. The Grand Imperator nodded as the group proceeded to fight the krexxon before them. Yet, their magic allowed them to stand toe to toe with their opponents.

"These guys fight tough!" exclaimed Celthoz as he stabbed one of the krexxon in the chest with his wrist-mounted shockblade, leaving only one enemy krexxon behind. Taikari went for him, firing her pistols at the figure. Yet, he caught Taikari in a choking spell, which managed to eliminate her krexxon disguise. While this shocked the Grand Imperator, he was intrigued. As Taikari was choking, Celthoz stabbed the krexxon in the back, defeating him instantly.

"Thanks..." uttered Taikari as she looked at Celthoz. Yet, the group looked to see that the Grand Imperator was well aware of them not being krexxon.

"Celthoz, did you bring outsiders into MY EMPIRE?!?!" exclaimed the Grand Imperator. Celthoz began sweating profusely as Taikari walked up to the Grand Imperator. While nervous, she knew what she was doing.

"My colleagues and I are from the Vanguard of Spirits," uttered Taikari. "We're here to see if your people wish to join us in the war against the Circle of Shadows and their vile magic."

"Outsiders are forbidden to enter our lands, which is an offense punishable by death," replied the Grand Imperator as Taikari and her allies, who were now undisguised, gulped. "But that being said, if it wasn't for you and your allies, I'd be dead."

"So is that a yes?" replied Gralnin. The Grand Imperator shook his head in response.

"While my people fervently oppose the Circle of Shadows and their foul magics, there is a much bigger concern here," replied the Grand Imperator. "My empire has just been plunged into civil war, and the Circle is commanding the opposing side. If you and your Vanguard can assist us in the war effort, consider my empire an ally of yours."

"That's what we were planning to do anyways," replied Zerrik. "We cannot let them get their hands on that zalvosh superweapon."

"Then it's settled," replied the Grand Imperator. "We will fight alongside each other against this common foe."


"The assassination attempt failed, but the civil war has begun," uttered the Magus as he and the rest of the Acolytes of Nihility spoke to the Soul Grazer via hologram. "Apparently those famous generals of the Vanguard of Spirits saved the emperor's life."

The Soul Grazer clenched his fist in anger, before looking at the group.

"Direct the war effort so that we can find Ascerth's location," replied the Soul Grazer. "And ELIMINATE those generals!"

"Yes sir," replied the Deceiver as the hologram disappeared.

"There's intelligence that suggests it's located on Bolzek-15," uttered the Torturer. "It's a planet known for possessing a database full of information. Problem is, it's located deep within enemy territory."

"We'll have to capture nearby planets then," replied the Breaker. "Then we can force our way there."


"The krexxon empire has been plunged into civil war," uttered Taikari as she and her allies spoke with Xanvor via hologram. "But the emperor trusts us now and his side is an ally of ours. Bad news is that the Circle is in charge of the enemy forces."

"This war is a major priority for our forces," replied Xanvor. "I'll be sure to bring the Relendar over once the Zalvar Sector front cools down enough so that our forces can be diverted."

"Yes sir," replied Taikari as the hologram turned off. She then turned to her allies.

"This war is gonna be brutal," uttered Keraniza. "But we'll make it through. If we lose this, then the superweapon will be theirs."

Chapter 5: Defending the Mines

Venzol-17. A small mining outpost of the krexxon empire, with operations extending all over this rocky world. And now, a site of intense battle. This small outpost sits on the border between the territory of the krexxon empire, and that of the Circle of Shadows-supported rebels. Taikari and her allies found themselves preparing for the impending attack, within a military base. Celthoz and several other krexxon generals stood around a holographic table alongside Taikari's group, pointing out troop formations.

"We've sighted their landing craft up on the northern end of the planet," uttered one of the generals. "They lack air support, but they're continuing to use that magic of theirs."

"Can't believe we're a month into this war and we still haven't figured out a proper way to counter their magic," replied Celthoz. "Taikari, you got any ideas?"

"My allies are still occupied with fighting the Circle of Shadows elsewhere," replied Taikari. "Unfortunately, we're on our own for this one."

"We can position our snipers behind the rock formations and take out the foot soldiers by surprise," replied Gralnin. "I can lead the snipers myself."

"That's a good idea," replied another krexxon general. "And we can use our air support to our advantage since they lack it."

"Then it's settled," replied Celthoz. "I'll see all of you on the battlefield."

As the group split up, Taikari sat down, fiddling with her pistols before the attack. Recently, she had modified them so that a shockblade was built in, as melee combat was hard with just pistols. Keraniza walked up to her, and sat down with a smile on her face.

"This one's gonna be tough," uttered Keraniza. "If this planet falls, they could end up getting to the database and then finding the weapon's location."

"Yeah, I'm worried my leadership here won't be enough," replied Taikari. "These krexxon fight quite differently than the Vanguard's soldiers, and it's cost us a few battles. What if..."

Taikari began to cry slightly as Keraniza patted her on the back.

"WHAT IF I FAIL US?!?!" exclaimed Taikari as she continued to cry. Keraniza put both of her hands on Taikari's shoulders, and stared at her, smiling.

"You've led us through far worse," replied Keraniza. "When we were working to deliver Payload to the Vanguard, you led us through it even with the risk of being captured and murdered. I'm sure you'll lead us to victory."

"Thanks Keraniza," replied Taikari. "Let's have each others' backs on the battlefield."

"You bet," replied Keraniza as she winked at Taikari. The two of them then entered an elevator alongside Gralnin, Zerrik, Celthoz, and Vor'nal.

"I'll probably stick to the back of the battlefield," uttered Vor'nal. "Up-front fighting ain't my thing."

"Look at this guy," replied Zerrik as he gripped his hammer. "You gotta try getting into battle some time!"

"I know, but I'm just...physically weak in a sense," replied Vor'nal. "Back on my homeworld, people made fun of me due to my tendency to avoid physical confrontations. I was always more of a tech-savvy guy."

"Certainly looks like it," replied Gralnin. "Your stuff is of good quality."

"Thanks," replied Vor'nal. "It certainly let me leave my homeworld nicely. I had to get out of there due to the abusiveness getting to me."

"That sucks," replied Celthoz. "But you found a nice calling for yourself here."

"Yeah, I did," replied Vor'nal. "I'm glad I got this far in life."


"Spirits, do you hear my call?" asked Xanvor as he meditated within the Relendar.

"We hear you loud and clear."

"I've been sensing magical ripples that seem...like a sign of hope," replied Xanvor. "Could it be?"

"The legends are true. We've found the Divinios."

"Impossible," replied Xanvor. "That was just a myth that we attempted to test but failed."

"Apparently two Ascendants are related to her, and are in the process of training her."

"If she is the Divinios, then she should become the most powerful mortal magic user alive," replied Xanvor. "And a powerful ally."


"Here they come!" exclaimed Celthoz as the enemy soldiers arrived. Taikari grinned before dashing into battle, pistols in hand. She targeted a lone krexxon soldier, shooting at his armor. Yet, a protective shield emerged, and absorbed the blasterfire. The krexxon responded with a shockblade strike, which Taikari parried. The two of them dueled for some time, with neither one gaining an advantage. After some time, the krexxon had Taikari pinned down, and was about to stab her in the chest until a small metallic device landed on his armor.

"Surprise!" exclaimed Keraniza as she pressed a button on her wrist. The metallic device instantly exploded, killing the krexxon and saving Taikari's life. She smirked at Keraniza before continuing to fight. After some time, the battlefield was mostly clear of enemy soldiers.

"That felt too easy," uttered Taikari. "But I guess there's more soldiers comin-"

A small shuttle immediately landed on the ground as the Acolytes of Nihility walked out, brandishing their weapons. They smirked at the group as they walked before them.

"Looks like we've got the Vanguard of Spirits's greatest generals cornered," uttered the Torturer. "I look forward to making all of you squeal in pain as I rip the flesh from your-"

"Calm down," replied the Deceiver. "They don't even know who the hell we are."

Taikari and her allies stood confused as their opponents began to bicker with one-another. Eventually, the Defiler came before them.

"We are the Acolytes of Nihility," uttered the Defiler. "The personal agents of the Soul Grazer. And the ones who'll be responsible for delivering your heads to him."

Taikari and her allies immediately got out their weapons, and turned to face the acolytes. If it wasn't for Celthoz being there, they would've been outnumbered. Taikari found herself up against the Magus, who let out volleys of green flame at her. His face was concealed behind a robe, and he began to put up magical barriers to defend against Taikari's gunshots and shockblades.

"Conventional weapons are useless," uttered the Magus. "My powers are unstoppable."

Eventually, Taikari got the upper hand against the Magus, and pointed her guns down at him after kicking him onto the ground. Yet, nearby, she saw that the Breaker was confronting Keraniza, and was about to land a vicious hammer strike to her head. Taikari was torn between ending the life of one of the Acolytes, or saving her friend's life. Yet, she picked the latter, firing a pistol shot at the Breaker to distract him as Keraniza got back up. As the two groups continued to fight, Taikari heard exploding noises behind her.

"Did you hear that?" asked Celthoz. The group looked up to see the base suffering immense damage, as if an ambush had occured.

"It was all a trap!" exclaimed Zerrik. The group turned to face the base, and made a run for it, evading the attacks of the Acolytes as they ran for a nearby shuttle, manned by Vor'nal. From the shuttle, he fired blaster shots to encourage the Acolytes to stop chasing them.


"Looks like we lost..." uttered Taikari as she sat down within the shuttle, looking out through the window. The base was burning down, and enemy ships were now orbiting the planet. A tear shed down Taikari's eye, for she had failed to win the battle she had promised to win. As she cried, Keraniza sat down next to her, smiling.

"You may have lost the battle, but you saved my life," replied Keraniza. "And I saved yours."

"That is true," replied Taikari. "Plus I sorta went out of my way to save you."

Taikari smirked slightly as she and Keraniza sat on the shuttle together.


"The attack was a success," uttered the Deceiver. "However, the generals escaped."

Via hologram, the Soul Grazer clenched his fist in anger. Clearly, he was upset.

"Prepare for the attack on Bolzek-15," replied the Soul Grazer. "Ascerth's location will soon be in our hands."


Chapter 6: Infiltration

Above the snow world of Bolzek-15, a space battle raged on. Both the Circle of Shadows and the krexxon empire were fighting one-another, for the planet's contents would shift the tide of both the krexxon civil war, and the war against the Circle of Shadows as a whole. Within Celthoz's ship, Taikari and her allies were strategizing.

"Seems like they're using magic to empower their ships' cannons," uttered Taikari. "And our ships can't counter it!"

"The flagship over there is especially powerful," replied Celthoz as he pointed at a nearby warship. It was especially large, with a massive cannon on top that was targeting individual cruisers and ripping them apart with magically-fueled blasts. One blast hit a smaller ship as it was blown into smithereens.

"Maybe we should try infiltrating it," uttered Keraniza. "And take it out from within."

"That could work," replied Celthoz. "Question is, who's up for it?"

Vor'nal nervously walked up to the trio, as if he had to say something.

"Um, I think I'd like to have a crack at it," uttered Vor'nal. "Besides, I believe I'm the most tech-savvy person out of all of us?"

"I'll come with you," replied Gralnin. "You'll need backup."

"Eh, why the hell not," replied Zerrik. "I'd like some action anyways."

"Then it's settled," replied Taikari. "You three will infiltrate the flagship."


Vor'nal's group arrived in the flagship's hangar, using a stolen enemy shuttle. Inside, guards were standing at attention and patrolling the area.

"Let's put on our disguises," uttered Vor'nal as he activated his. The trio of "krexxon" walked out of the shuttle, and entered an elevator, followed by two other krexxon, who immediately started a conversation with each other.

"I heard they found that artifact's location."

"The one that's gonna be used to empower the weapon?"

"Yeah, that one. Apparently there's a whole bunch of fuckin' sentient birds there."

"No freakin' way."

"Ah well, there's nothing else that's useful there. It's gonna be a grab and go mission."

Eventually, the two krexxon left the elevator for a floor that had a barracks, while the trio put in the number to go to the maintenance level of the ship. The elevator itself had windows, which could be used to see the space battle raging on outside. It seemed like neither side was gaining ground. The elevator came to a halt after a few seconds, bringing the group to the maintenance level. It mostly consisted of bridges held up by strange technology, floating above the central core of the warship.

"We need to get access to a computer console first," uttered Vor'nal.

"I came here for some action, not stealth!" exclaimed Zerrik.

"If we break cover, we'll get our asses handed to us," replied Gralnin. "Now shut that beak of yours and keep moving. If we're caught, we're fucked."

"Is that so?" replied a voice. The trio turned around to see two krexxon guards standing nearby, shockblades in hand.

"If we catch these guys, we'll surely get a promotion for sure!" exclaimed one of the krexxon. "Just you and me Xyalgan, bossin' other folks around, getting all the-"

"Don't dick around R'yuun," interrupted Xyalgan. "We're just gonna throw 'em into a prison cell and leave them to rot."

"Yeah, but you have to consider the glory side of things," replied R'yuun. "Catching traitors is always bound to get us attention."

"Oh, here we go again with the attention garbage," replied Xyalgan. "You're so fucking narcissistic that I ought to shut you up. It's like you feed off of it."

"I mean, we joined the Circle of Shadows because we were sick of the emperor's set of laws, right?" replied R'yuun. "And plus, that one cutie who'd always be there when I went to get coffee joined too."

"So you decide to bring romance into this?!?" exclaimed Xyalgan. "I told you ten times she's seeing someone already."

"Miracles can happen," replied R'yuun. "Anyways, let's turn these traitors in."

As the duo turned around, they noticed that Vor'nal, Gralnin, and Zerrik had ran off.

"And this is why I can't stand being around you," replied Xyalgan. "Always dicking around on the job."


Vor'nal's group snuck into a room full of computers, with Vor'nal inserting a device into one of them. It ended up overloading the system and granting him full access.

"You seem like you know your stuff," uttered Gralnin. "It's good that we evaded those two idiots as well."

"Leave this to me," replied Vor'nal. "I'm gonna be overloading the auxilary power generators so that the whole thing blows up, and linking it to this device here. That way, we have time to escape and remotely destroy the ship."

As Vor'nal did his work, Gralnin and Zerrik stood at the door, guarding the computers.

"Y'know, I never thought stealth would be this easy," uttered Gralnin. "It feels too easy."

"I agree," replied Zerrik. "But let's not jinx it."

Vor'nal finished putting in the computer code, before taking his hacking device out and placing it on his belt.

"We're good to go," replied Vor'nal. As the trio left the room, both R'yuun and Xyalgan ran after them.

"THERE THEY ARE!!!" exclaimed R'yuun as he brandished his shockblades. "Now let's see who's the idiot of us two!"

"Shut up..." replied Xyalgan as he pulled out his weapons. Zerrik and Gralnin immediately dived in front of Vor'nal, and prepared to take on their foes. Gralnin would utilize hand-to-hand combat to take out R'yuun, while Xyalgan and Zerrik duked it out with their shockblades and hammer, respectively.

"You're still incompetent as a fighter..." uttered Xyalgan. "Can't handle a sniper of all people."

"Hey, at least I'm not dealing with beak boy over there," replied R'yuun. Eventually, Zerrik managed to land a hammer strike to Xyalgan's armor, knocking him out. R'yuun, scared, simply fled screaming "HELP ME!" and "INTRUDERS!"

"Coward," muttered Gralnin. The trio continued to move forward, eventually arriving in their shuttle. Yet, countless krexxon soldiers began to rush for them as they flew out of the warship.

"Let's blow this thing up and head back," uttered Vor'nal as he pressed the button on his device while smirking. Behind them, the warship was beginning to face internal explosions, before letting loose a devastating blast.


"They've found the Divinios."

As the Soul Grazer heard those words whilst meditating, he continued to commune with the Nullifier in shock. The legend of the Divinios was feared by all members of the Circle of Shadows.

"If the legends are true, we need to act quickly," replied the Soul Grazer. "If she's allowed to awaken, it means our crusade is over."

"Make sure the superweapon's location is found. We MUST take control of it immediately!"

"Of course my lord. There has been a major blow dealt in the space battle above the planet, but my lieutenants are going to be heading down to the planet personally to secure it."

"Do not fail me Soul Grazer. Your powers may be great, but even the greatest strengths can't overcome some situations."


Chapter 7: Now or Never

The krexxon stronghold towered over the icy landscape, with a constant battle raging on outside. Taikari and her allies found themselves within the central command center, strategizing.

"They've managed to take the lower levels of the building, and are slowly ascending," uttered Celthoz. "Fortunately, they'll have to kill us first if they want the information they're here for."

"Maybe we need to take the scorched earth policy," replied Taikari. "Otherwise, we're done for."

"Elaborate," replied a krexxon general. "That idea sounds VERY risky."

"We can order for the base to be destroyed from within, and move the valuable information elsewhere in the midst of the chaos," replied Taikari. "They'll probably think some soldier destroyed a vital fuel pipe or something. Plus, I assume we have cloak-capable ships in the hangar, correct?"

"We do," replied Celthoz. "But the power to the hangar doors was cut. We'd need to either figure out a way to get the power going again, or sneak people in through an alternative route."

Taikari and her allies grinned at each other.


"I want you five to personally join the battle," uttered the Soul Grazer via hologram. "Enough sitting around strategizing."

"My lord, are you sure?" replied the Defiler with a voice of concern. "We're doing fine as is."

"Do not QUESTION your master's orders!!" exclaimed the Soul Grazer. "Besides, those generals I hate so much could be down there."

"Very well," replied the Deceiver. "Let's head out there then."

As the hologram faded away, the Magus prepared a portal.

"He seems to hate those guys a lot," replied the Torturer. "I mean, they're our enemies, but it's like he has a personal vendetta against them."

"Let's just rip these fools apart," replied the Magus. "Every death we cause only strengthens the master."


Taikari and her allies found themselves sneaking through a maintenance shaft, in order to reach the hangar. Blasterfire could be heard all around the building.

"Hey, watch where you're sticking your leg!" exclaimed Vor'nal. "You nearly hit my nose."

"Just wear a helmet next time," replied Zerrik as he smirked. Eventually, the group reached the end of the shaft, emerging out via an air vent. The hangar itself was mostly empty, save for a single shuttle. Vor'nal immediately went for a nearby computer terminal, placing a large device onto it.

"This should restart the power system..." uttered Vor'nal, before being knocked back by a surge of electricity from the terminal. The lights turned on, and the main hangar doors opened up again. Right as the Acolytes of Nihility walked through.

"Gotcha," uttered the Breaker. "I knew I heard some footsteps in there. Trying to sneak the weapon's location away?"

Taikari gulped as she looked down at her belt. The location was saved onto a data storage crystal she had.

"Well, you'll have to kill us first," replied Keraniza as she pulled out her grenade launcher and smirked. The Torturer, beneath his chain-like helmet, began to spin around his weaponry before charging at the group, with the rest following him. Taikari found herself against the Breaker and his giant hammer Nalvorok, which often left a miniature earthquake of sorts wherever it hit.

"Hold...STILL!!!" exclaimed the Breaker as he swung around his hammer. A single bash would be almost lethal. Fortunately, Taikari was quite agile, utilizing various dodging techniques to avoid Nalvorok. Yet, one hammer swing caught her from the side, sending her flying towards the nearby wall. The data storage crystal containing the weapon's location fell off of her belt, with the Breaker grinning in response.

"All too easy..." replied the Breaker as he walked forward. "Shall I murder you first, or take the crystal and then bash your brains out?"

"Neither," replied Gralnin as he aimed his sniper rifle at the Breaker. A single shot pierced his helmet as the armored brute fell to the ground, his hammer sliding off to the side. Clearly, he was dying.

"Time to finally use that spell I perfected!" exclaimed the Magus as he let loose a blast of energy into the Breaker's dying body. The magical energies convalesced within him, before transforming him into a giant, hulking brute. Green skin was now visible, alongside giant black spikes that came out of his back. And some sort of face was visible, one with giant horns and nothing more than a face of pure destruction. The Breaker roared as he charged Taikari, swatting her aside with his hand. She fell into a nearby computer terminal, and a crack formed in her helmet. Her right eye was visible as she glared at the Breaker in anger.

"Look at that, he's now a mindless monster," uttered Taikari as she whipped out her pistols. She fired them at the Breaker as he charged her again. Yet, this was all a distraction. The Deceiver used magic to pull the storage crystal towards her, grasping it in her hand.

"Aaaand it looks like we win," replied the Deceiver. "Great tactic there to empower the dying brute here."

"You won't get away with this," replied Zerrik. "We'll find the planet and bring the war to it."

"Good luck with that," replied the Torturer. "We'll be keeping a close eye on things there."

The Magus opened a portal as the Acolytes of Nihility walked through. Just before it closed, the Magus snapped his fingers as the now-mutated Breaker ran over to it, snarling at his foes. A tear went down Taikari's eye as she pulled out a communicator.

"Bad news," uttered Taikari. "They have the planet's location."


Within Celthoz's warship, Taikari, Celthoz, and a hologram of Grand Exarch Xanvor were busy talking.

"What now?" asked Celthoz. "The civil war's mostly cooled down now that they got what they needed, and they're busy moving troops somewhere."

"I've heard rumors of them working to secure an artifact for use with their invasion," replied Xanvor. "Something known as the Heart of Kalnar."

"The Heart of Kalnar?" replied Taikari. "Not familiar with it."

"It was used thousands of years ago by the magical spirits of Kalnar to combat the Circle of Shadows initially," replied Xanvor. "Yet, its power was heavily depleted and it was buried on some random planet to recharge. I fear they may be looking to...corrupt this crystalline object."

"Any idea where it is?" replied Celthoz. "I'm willing to commit any of my soldiers to your cause."

"Fortunately the spirits told me where it is," replied Xanvor. "But we'll need to be quick."

THE END

"Your training is nearly complete."

"So it's almost here?"

"Mhm. The forces of evil are coming for Ascerth soon. They'll need your help as soon as possible."