In Faust's Footsteps (Gear)

MKR

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Aug 19, 2018
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#1
It had not been long since his return to Luna's surface. The Knights had had the courtesy to clear out his personal berth prior to his arrival, which apparently had taken two days longer than he believed much to his annoyance as it seemed that his time spent with Gail had taken longer than what it felt like. Then again keeping track of time in a place best described as between places is nigh impossible.

Nevertheless, he relented. Time had come and gone and it was for the best to hope he hadn't missed too much, for one the brute that sent him off seemed to have taken its departure in the meanwhile too. For his part the scientist hoped that departure had been to an early grave, but he had a nagging feeling that was not the case. In addition there was now the matter of the Temple of Gragios' newfound silence. A line of behavior more akin to one of its competitors.

So it seemed that for the time being Derrick got to step out of the shadow of the Astranagant and right back into that of Gragios.

However he had at least taken the time to shower and swap to a fresh set of clothes, for the most part it was the same. The ever present white coat with gold accents remained but instead of the purple shirt underneath only the white vest and black tie were there. Casual wear by the standards of his social circles but frankly, he couldn't muster enough cares to wear anything more 'professional' to a temple that may now be nothing more than a tomb.

With a sigh he set out, feeling as if today would be another long day.
 

GEAR

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#2
A curious quiet had settled in over the domain of Gragios.

The great mechanical temple that served as the flywheel of innovation, the nexus of the Dark God of Creation's power, its myriad entryways concealed behind cascading walls of ever-churning machinery... were now still. Doubtlessly, this would have occurred to Derrick as the Astranagant floated through the depths - yet nothing emerged to menace him, no DAMON or Lamalice had trod these halls - the wards and sentries, cycloptic, half-formed beings anchored from the whirling depths to our plane, lay watchful as ever, glaring out at him as he passed their ranks.

To be a patron of Gragios was to celebrate the very act of creation itself, to be the artist, the scientist, the inventor - all beings whom were blessed with the spark of creativity, the "eureka!" moment on behalf of the entity. As such, even the docks appeared to be works of art and science themselves as he approached, excessive in their beauty even by Lunarian standards, wrought of gold and silver, imprinted with shades of nobility and creeping, crawling vines.

Yet Derrick would know not to look too closely at the figures that appeared in its reflections, for those lost, tormented souls were the property of his dark master forevermore, trapped and doomed to serve as the fuel for his endless, albeit wonderous acts of creation... and destruction.

Still, the docks were... far from empty. The form of several Autowarlocks were present, hunched in their berths, suspended by some fashion of magic - yet there were no dock crews, no pilots milling about, no trolleys of magic artifacts being bustled back and forth - only the inviting, golden-lit alcove that led to the interior, waiting pleasantly for his return, as it had all along...
 

MKR

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Aug 19, 2018
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#3
As he approached Derrick took a cursory glance over a notebook he had brought, this grimly innovative place never failed to give him ideas. Be it by design or accident Gragios' temple was a well of inspiration, befitting of the muse whom it was devoted to. At the sight of the still walls and silent dock however, the notebook was closed and put into one of his pockets.

The presence of the eyes in the abyss below, gazing at his arrival, indicated that whatever had happened was not done by external forces. Or rather by unwanted visitors. There was not enough damage for DAMON to be the perpetrators, let alone any remaining DAMON to greet him. No, something else was afoot.

So he docked the Astranagant by himself, though he was no magus it seemed that as the Autowarlocks besides him yet remained suspended the Astranagant too would be fine. The more... Artistic units that rested in the hangar of the temple were given to Gragios' dedicated. An equal mix of art, magic, and science that would seem impractical for anyone to use but nevertheless proved potent in the hands of their pilots.

And now among them rested the eyesore that was the Astranagant, its deep black crystalline form contrasting with both the surroundings and the more artistic units. One of his peers once described it as 'seeing an abstract art piece among an expose of finely crafted statues but discovering they were all made by the same artist.' The description was apt back then, but with his recent discoveries it seemed Gragios was less the artist behind the Astranagant and more the publisher.

Nevertheless, with the Black Angel docked and looming over the surroundings, Derrick began to venture deeper into the inviting bowels of the temple intending to discover the truth of the matter.
 

GEAR

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#4
Treading through the great halls of Gragios' keep, the splendor was as consistent as the outside had suggested. Sparks of data flickered through the glass and gold walls, and it seemed a place that even the moody Zivon would have grudgingly found aesthetically pleasing. Yet, it wasn't long before the glamorous consistency of the place came to an abrupt end.

Snaking along the paneled walls to his right... was a long, dark crack. It grew in width and intensity as he went further down, before opening up into a grand Hall, a mind-melting display of techno-aristocratic art, technology, and sorcery that was the central hub of the complex. No macabre temple was this, but a monument to the glory of creation, full of warmth and the fierce interplay of ideas, the promise of what could be, and a shining beacon of hope for the universe...

Or... So it would normally have been.

The great twin staircases, weaving up through the complexes like a DNA helix, were tattered and broken. Shards of glass littered the floor, and scattered about the hall were the crumpled, dark-robed forms of his fellow peers, numbering at least eight. The data-screens and holograms that had normally decorated the chamber had been smashed, blown to absolute pieces, as though rent with a particularly large and menacing claw, leaving only scattered, hazy phantoms that chattered a staccato static.

Burn marks and rent furniture in all directions indicated there had been some form of a struggle - even now, the faint tang of residual mana expenditure, of expended catalysts and relics filled the air, a caustic, metallic scent reminiscent of work Derrick was all too familiar with.
 

MKR

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Aug 19, 2018
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#5
As he followed the crack in the wall, the scientist wondered the cause and upon seeing the main hall he cringed at the display. The warmth this place held was in all respects faux, the only connections the men here held were their debt to the mutual muse and their appreciation of science and art. It was a workplace not a friend club, at least except for a few.

On the grand scale of things this temple, while no dark gloomy cave where some blood sacrifice was being conducted, stood as a monument to science, arts and the narcissism of all those that dwelled within. That of course also meant that of the one living man in the room.

With a sigh, Derrick went to see if he could get some of the screens and devices back up and running. His time among the number here meant he could at least recognize the use of mana and catalysts, but technology was his playing field. As he approached one screen he noted the claw mark. Internally he wondered what could've caused it, and hoped it had long since vacated the area.
 

GEAR

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#6
With some effort, Derrick was able to get one of the nearby floating holograms to cooperate, its distorted surface hovering back towards his beckoning grasp, the Lunarian nanomachines coursing through his veins identifying him as one of the cult's own. Yet, were he to work away at its display, searching for its records, he would find only empty folders and bare documents, broad swathes of white, as if the entire resource had been erased.

This in itself was deeply worrying enough - Gragios' adherents kept their secrets close, and the computer network that ran through the complex was heavily guarded and nigh-impenetrable. For all of its data to be scrubbed in so little time was almost unthinkable, even if the archivists themselves had made the decision to do so - such was Gragios' value of knowledge as a vital component in creation.

As he pondered this, however, a low groan came from a short ways away, emnating from one of the collapsed figures, his fingers moving slightly against the carpet, trying to find purchase of some kind.
 

MKR

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Aug 19, 2018
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#7
An inconvenience, an annoyance and a major setback to many sciences. Those were his thoughts on the emptied archives, it was something that should've proven to be nigh impossible too be it for anyone within or outside of their ranks, but if anything it showed that no mere beast had rampaged these halls, unless the monster devoured data.

His thoughts however were pulled away by the groan and Derrick ran over to his peer, aiming to help them get on their feet, leaning against something or otherwise. Someone's luck pulling through was good in many ways, not only would they live to see another day but they could also explain who, or what, had done this.
So, as Derrick worked to get them up on their feet he would look over his peer, guaging his wounds and what medical apparatus would be best suited for use here and should the formerly unconscious cultist seem to not be on the verge of death, he would pose a question to them.

"What happened?"
 

GEAR

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#8
As Derrick reached out to grasp his peer's arm, the long sleeves of their robe would come away loose in his hand, with a tearing sound leaving him holding a mere strip of cloth as they sagged forward onto their knees. Within his grasp, the material had an almost liquid like quality to it, dripping through his fingers, the blessed fibers of its being on the brink of collapse.

There was a soft, wet, schwump noise as something fell from the end of it, onto the floor between them.

A human hand and bone, its surface gray and gleaming, as it dissolved into a black, inky mass. The texture of the skin was unmistakeable, ripe and amethyst - it was the same as the dread creatures that were spreading across the solar system, destroying everything in their path.

The remaining sleeve reached out, touching his knee weakly.

"The... Grand Archives..." Gurgled an indistinct voice.

It was perhaps fortunate that their features were hidden behind a golden, ceremonial mask, evidently interrupted in the middle of some ritual or another, for given the condition of the rest of their body, their face could only have been a gristly sight. Black liquid dripped out about its humanoid, stoic features, dribbling onto the floor.

"...A traitor... brother..." He choked, seemingly with great effort;

"Returned..."

The crease of Derrick's clothes brushed his skin very faintly, as the cultist gave a weak squeeze, though whether it was one of pain or reassurance, it was impossible to tell from the mere slits that were present on the faceplate.

"Be... careful..."

...And with that, they were gone. The body bent forward, head dropping onto its lap as the robes collapsed, the dark liquid now flowing out in all directions as their body dissolved, leaving only foul, silvery vapors streaming into the air before Derrick.
 

MKR

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Aug 19, 2018
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#9
It seemed his judgement was mistaken. Whomever is, was, behind that mask would not live another day. They suffered another moment instead and Derrick was forced to watch in grim horror as the tapestry of their life unwound in a morbid fashion. Their flesh warped like that of Lamalice, falling apart at the seems. The Lunarian, now lone survivor in this mess, let go of the liquid clothing.

His stomach churned at the display, throwing up in his mouth ever so slightly as the dark liquid began to stain the floor. This had been a few degrees worse than anything he'd seen before, oh he had been fine bringing grievous wounds upon DAMON and attempting to erase the very existence of the monstrosity that came out of the ZONE. Even crushing the Zelvoid, and its pilot, had not made him sick.

Because in all of those cases, it had either been a monster or he did not have to see the effects and deaths bestowed upon the unfortunate. This however... He could smell the corrupted flesh, see the liquids pouring out of the former person. This was not impersonal or efficient, by all means those were the gifts bestowed upon pilots. They were not forced to watch a slow painful death unfurl before their eyes in combat, but this. Someone had done this to another person, warped their existence in such a manner.

Derrick did not dare look at the pile of clothing as he stepped past it, pushing his mind elsewhere. Lamalice had avoided Luna like the plague before, why was an existence similar to theirs forced upon its denizens and by a traitor nonetheless. Derrick put his hands inside his pockets, took a deep breath and continued inwards. The computers would not levy any information, the denizens had likely all been subject to the same as he had just seen which left him with notably less avenues of information gathering.

It was due time to determine if this traitor had been here solely to settle a score, or if they had come for something else and for that on his priority list were the vault of items both magical and mechanical and the personal studies of his colleagues. If anything was missing from either the next step was determining what had gone missing.
 

GEAR

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#10
Derrick traversed the halls of the great temple, as they wound ever deeper. Here and there were scattered more remains, more signs of struggle, lying in pools of dark, shimmering liquid that had once constituted their innards in what could only be thought of as a truly horrific, agonizing death. Here, even the demonic sentries had been dismantled viciously, their great marbled edifices pulverized into shattered rubble that littered the hallways, the spectral, wounded remnants of phantasms left frozen in place, mere residue of what had once made for intimidating guard dogs.

Holographic steps hummed to life beneath his feet as he moved ever deeper - some treacherously fading moments before his feet touched them, not a test for the unwary, but a sign that even the temple's power sources were damaged. It would only be a matter of time before the protective wards about the place would fade, and their presence would be discovered by the unbelievers. What would follow... was best not yet contemplated. Outsiders had little understanding of the ways of the great creator, and like all else, they would destroy that which they were ignorant of - the Lunar Royal Family in particular would brook no challenge to its authority, and it was perhaps something of a blessing that the computer networks were as bare as they were, as it would make him and perhaps others all the more difficult to track down.

Eventually, his steps would take him to the spiral center of the place, the crown jewel and heart of Gragios' presence in the waking world: The Grand Archives.

A crescent hallway leading out from one of several staircases funneled him closer to the multi-tiered, almost cylindrical chamber that was at the center of the temple. Unlike the vault of Volkruss, with its curated artifacts of nightmare and deathly silence, punctuated only be the occasional dying scream as an ignorant cultist failed to treat a volume of malefic power with the respect it demanded, Gragios' vault was open to all to celebrate in great works of creation - a joyous pavilion of discovery, where the artist need not fear censure, and the scientist be free to experiment to his heart's desire.

A symbol of hope for the universe - such was the almost contradictory nature of the Dark God of Creation, Gizos Gragios.

The level he had arrived at, in his experience, was the uppermost balcony - the eighteenth floor, and there were three entrances before him on the inside of the crescent shaped room, decorated lavishly with gold and hard-light doorways. Unlike other areas, this place at least appeared to be untouched - the culprit, perhaps, had entered at a lower level. In his experience, the one located on the left would lead to an elevator that could take him down to any of the below floors, in multiples of three, the sacred number. The door immediately before him would allow him access to the top level of the archives, and the one to his right would lead to a set of stairs that would afford him a slower, yet perhaps more subtle form of descent.