Chapter 1

Volume I – Phoenix Rising

Chapter 1: Awakenings (Some time in the far distant future….)

Prologue – How it all began…

The year is 1950 SE and your spacecraft is exploring the quarantined world of Ceril VII of the Terran Empire to determine the reason for the isolation of the system. Rumours of an ancient, powerful empire that once ruled this sector of space over 12 millennia ago have recently led to clues that let you to this planet.

It took millions of credits to bribe officials and historians to gather the data you needed to identify the necessary solar system, where the rulers of this ancient culture were once seated. Years of research and searching had finally come to fruition, and your expedition set out many months ago so that you could be the first from the Terran Empire to set foot and explore this archaeological marvel.

Awakening from cryo-sleep aboard your star ship you immediately recognise that something is amiss. As your memory slowly returns, your first feelings of disorientation are replaced by a mixture of fear and anticipation. Fear rising from concerns that your archaeological expedition to seek the ancient planet of a technologically advanced, yet long dead race will fail. With feelings of anticipation that perhaps this is the end of your journey into this restricted (quarantined) system.

Ceril VII, long restricted to all ships from the Empire, is surely before you for why else would you have been awakened from cryo-sleep. But something is amiss….

You barely notice the computer readout as you rush to make repairs or your escape…

*Ceril VII*
Ceril Star Class : G3v
Circumference : 39 000 Km
Hydrosphere : 71% 
Mean Orbit : 150 600 000 Km
Day : 28.5 Std day 
Year : 1.01 Std year
Gravity : 1G
Climate : temperate 
Atmosphere : 21%O² - 75%N² - 3%CO² - 1% Trace Elements. 

…and something else is ahead – something glowing brightly…

Even before you are fully awake, recollections of your dreams – vivid and intense – invade your thoughts. But how – no one is meant to dream in cryo-sleep….

You dream – a dream of physical awakening… of terrors and fears beyond your ability to comprehend, where your ability to win through the dream is lost – in death.

Yet, as one dream finishes, a second commences, but deeper and more worrying. Your spiritual awakening continues, with life and death on balance, and a miraculous encounter with a saviour beyond your understanding. As you dream, your ship continues its destination towards disaster.

As you slowly awaken, your dreams seem to haunt your reality as you try to distinguish hope from desperation, imprisonment from freedom, life from death. Your cryo-tube has opened and in the distance you hear the klaxon of an emergency as the computer voice drones on, unusually slowly and almost slurred –

Emergency – All hands abandon ship – Emergency – All hands abandon ship

The cryo-chamber is empty bar the six recently awakened figures. You can see that 3 of the cryo-tubes have failed; corpses (some horribly disfigured) lie within them. Though this is unfathomable, given the advanced technology of the cryo-system, you cannot spend time trying to understand the circumstances as the ship suddenly lurches and the artificial gravity system momentarily fails.

Strange CometThough it is impossible your own eyes reveal what the ship’s mechanical sensors cannot. A huge rift in space has opened and from it spews vileness that cannot be contained by the very universe. Shapes seem to writhe in space, flowing like a disease as it spreads bathing the comet, its tail flaring bright, which has so recently caused your own ships undoing as well as the blue green planet and its moons that seemed the only haven in this hostile sector.

The ship suddenly veers heading for the planet below. Its engines whine as they are pushed beyond tolerance levels and the acceleration rocks you all to the ground. You are unable to act as the ship suddenly turns, heading towards the largest satellite of the planet below and as you pray for a swift death, the sensors on the ship register gravity that cushions the ship somewhat, but not sufficient to stop you hitting the lunar surface at thousands of kilometres per hour.

As your ship hurtles towards the surface of the largest moon of what must be Ceril VII, the external sensors detect an environmental anomaly forming not far from your projected crash point. A bubble of “air”, possibly breathable by humans, seems to expand from the surface filling an area almost 20 square kilometres in size. However, as the ship plummets through the atmosphere the external sensors are knocked out of commission and all data and evidence of this anomaly are lost.

As the computer lists the damages incurred, you cannot imagine how you survived such a crash and what are your next actions?

As you leave the ship, you notice that you are in what seems to be a spares desert, though it is unlike any desert imaginable. Stars shine overhead, flickering through the dome of air that allows you to breathe. Underfoot gravel and dust from an airless moon lifts slowly off with each footstep. Yet amidst this strangeness, even stranger are the forms of trees growing up to amazing heights, reflecting colours of a vivid rainbow.

Approaching you is a creature from mythology – for surely no other being could be half man and half beast. A Satyr or some mythological dream has come to haunt you in this nightmare that has become your lives.

Following the strange creatures of this moon, you can see your destination ahead. It seems like some ancient building or temple and as you move inexplicably towards your breath seems to quicken with anticipation

As the Satyr beckons you forward, you struggle up what seems like an endless set of steps towards the most magnificent ancient temple you have ever seen. Histories and fiction fail to capture the magnificence of this building, its columns stretching to the heavens, or seeming to.

However, before you can reach the top you feel your lungs stiffening, and your legs failing you. Your journey up the steps seems to have driven the very life from your bodies. Arranged in front of you are immense beings, emanating such power that you cannot believe your eyes are not burnt from their very sockets.

The largest, most regal of these beings speaks to you – well your mind hears his voice as if he was talking from within your very being – “Your bodies have been contaminated with such foulness that I cannot aid you more. Yet your presence here, at this time of such confluence, cannot belittle your place in the future of all life.

As your heart beat slows, your consciousness starts to drift, almost returning to the dream state you encountered in the cryo-tubes so few hours ago. In your dreams, you can almost hear the words uttered by these beings of immense light.

Your future is nigh and though we can do little with the physical husks you have, we can move with subterfuge with thine spirits. Take head of your dreams and thy destiny will arise and speak not of your memories for the Unlife and its many agents know not that we are here.

Evil has many tools and tricks – be wary and learn. The Long Night has returned and our fight for survival has yet to begin. Remember and awaken…

As you drift off into oblivious rest, dozens of images race through your minds, dreamlike images of places and beings that are too unreal to truly exist; yet so real that fear, hope and anxiety well up with each image. Images flick by of beings of great beauty and foes of such evil that your mind cannot fathom their meaning. Your thoughts become a rush of disjointed meaningless images – an awakening of your soul, awakening across all time and space – a Celestial Awakening, showing you images from the past, visages of great events and foreboding of future tragedy.

And slowly, as your awareness awakens, you die….

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Chapter 1

Return of the Long Night Rimllar