Following their victory over the Bone Collectors, the Council of Gaia had only one other mission to complete before assaulting the Temple of Mesegius and heading back to their time. They had to attempt to take the Duk’zarist sky keep known as Ascension. More than that, the CoG knew that they must recreate the wards, seals and events to maintain the time line as they knew it, or else Omega would have increased access to Gaia as the time stream fragmented.
Vito, in his role as Senator of Solomon, gave an impassioned speech in the senatorial hall, calling the nation to arms against a hostile and aggressive move by the Duk’zarist. Senator Marcus put up a token resistance, but knew that if they chose, the Council would ruin him, indicting him in Sentor Quinn’s death. Vito was able requisition the necessary troops and received intelligence on several possible outlying allies that would aid in the assault.
The Council raced to the site of Ascension. From their previous (or was it future) knowledge, they knew of the passages that honeycombed the mountain beneath the sky keep. It took weeks for Jericho, Tsura and Vito to craft the circle which would keep them alive when they fell through the ice in the far future, the wards that would heal and repower them, and the strange torches that would light their way. Ophion, Archamus and his legionnaires scouted the paths, and keep the Duk’zarist patrols from discovering the great labor that was underway beneath their very feet.
Meanwhile, under the watchful eyes of Taro and Tetsuro, the Council’s allies crafted the great rune door that would seal these passages behind them, to complete the requirements of their future memories. All the while, they pondered their fate. Were these still their choices, or were all of their action predestined?
As they planned their assault, the thread of dissension ate away at their alliance. Necessary secrecy chafed at their allies, as the Council’s plans were their own for fear of affecting the future. Adding to the tension was the fact that Jericho still wore the face of Solomon’s most feared enemy, Man-Hater Woe. While those closest to the Council knew of his eccentricities, the horrible fact of his decision to wear the face of the dead gnawed like a cancer at the heart of the Alliance. The stress fractures grew too much for this motley crew to handle.
On the eve of the assault, the Turgoth Auxiliary broke and in their fear laden madness attacked the rest of their former associates. The battled flared briefly and was over once the Council could directly intervene, however the damage had been done. Already a chancy plan that relied on the element of surprise, the attack not only stole valuable lives that were required for the mission, but stole the very element the plan needed, as the sounds of combat drifted up to the Duk’zarist workers.
In his anger, Archamus called upon the dark god Mesegius, whose eye still lingered on the Council where her former chosen had existed. She answered his curse of vengeance, and the Turgoth were instantly slain where they stood. Only Tsura, Vito and Taro knew that this path was fated as well, and the Turgoth would arise centuries later as an undead horde to aid in the second taking of Ascension.
Left with little choice, the Alliance made their stand in the courtyard of Ascension. Assailed by Duk’zarist warriors, mages and constructs, the battle was lost from the beginning. But the Council was able to complete the final piece of their elaborate plan to cheat time. Fighting their way to the control room, Vito was able to interface with Ascension’s controls and crashed the sky-keep into the mountain side, condemning the sky-keep to millennia of dereliction, till Matthew Gaul would uncover and free the fortress from its rocky prison.
The sky-keep burned, rocking as it slammed into the cliff-side of its birth. The sounds of the melee reverberated through the halls of Ascension and the smells of fire and death wafted up as well. The carrion birds would feed well tonight. Reaching an escape pod, the Council took one last look around at the sky-keep’s gleaming control room and the beauty of the Duk’zarist design. Gaul would have to cobble together large portions of it to get it up and running again, and as a by-product would ruin the perfect symmetry of the Duk’zarist aesthetic. Saying farewell to the room they would not see again for a thousand years, the escape pod arced out across the dawn sky and slammed into the snow miles away.
Vito’s sky-skiff met them at the agreed upon location, and it was with a heavy heart the Council headed towards Leviathan and the temple that was their way home. So many lives lost, just to preserve the time-line. But this was the duty for which Raphael created the Council of Gaia, to make the hard choices that would save creation. Thousands slaughtered to save millions. A miracle of magi-tech destroyed to save all that preceded and would follow it. The Council’s war was far greater that any single life, creation or moment in time. If they failed in their self-appointed calling they risked far more than death or damnation, they risked oblivion…