The call came down in the year 960 A.E. It came at the beginning of the month now known as Starmourn, in the time before everything changed.
Everyone felt it.
You felt it.
But only a select few among every sentient soul in the sector were charged to join in the defense of the Isochronon, the Empyreal whose long-dead corpse (or what passes for such immense beings as corpses) lay under seige in the Gnomon Institute, a facility safeguarded to house it.Let’s lay down some backstory, shall we?
For months, the galaxy as you knew it had been under the assault of strange, anomalous creatures. For months, semi-stable rifts had opened at weak points in the timestream, pulling hapless adventurers backwards and forwards in time.
Heroic researchers from each faction performed dangerous experiments, seeking to understand the ongoing instability within the sector. Laboratories were opened on Biloxan, on Delphi, on Tranquility Deepness. Sometimes, these experiments came with catastrophic results. Many lost their lives in the pursuit of knowledge. Some, like the Elgan scientist Flipilaria, lost years or seconds, trapped in a fog of time until the actions of her friends and compatriots restored her.
The ongoing catastrophe eventually reached such a state of destruction that the Gnomon Institute revealed itself, opening its doors to the galaxy for the first time in millenia. Chronomaster Javick Amadi, head of the Institute, explained that the anomalies were a defense mechanism of the Isochronon, which was under a subtle attack by the Ishvana – an attack that became more violent and desperate as the weeks wore on.
Eventually, the Ishvana’s methods shifted from exploratory and subtle to a full-fledged assault. The halls and chambers of The Gnomon Institute were swarmed with an army of invaders. Rylek Ironbound, Kreelein, Lanaya, Lupisentia Ironbound, Naldan T’aeir, Rhujj Redstrike, Vega T’rvati, Hope, Jaidyn Nova, Flipilaria, Zarrach Merzavetz, and many more were instrumental in the ongoing defense of the Institute, keeping its chambers and hallways clear enough for the researchers to erect forcefields, for reinforcements to be assembled and deployed.
For a short time, it seemed like perhaps that was all that would happen. A tentative, fragile peace lasted, even if the air of tension and expectation was palpable. Silence reigned in the halls of the Institute.
It didn’t last.
A great stillness and tension descended upon the galaxy. A broad-band mindsim broadcast went out on all frequencies – the Gnomon Institute reported a galacticlevel threat. The Chamber of the Isochronon, so far unmolested by the Ishvana’s assault, had been breached at last.
Wherever they were, whatever they were doing at the time, a host of temporal defenders were pulled through time rifts into the very heart of the Gnomon Institute. Among these brave souls were Zarrach Merzavetch, Akiko, Clover Moonchild, Hope, Digit, Azlyn, Flipilaria, Holgorath Ironbound, Lupisentia Ironbound, Rylek Ironbound, Isabella, Jaidyn Nova, Kass Stareater, Lanaya, Milo Moonchild, Naldan T’aeir , Quark, Steve Sol’lun, Van T’rath, and Lord Commander Vega T’rvati. But time is a funny thing. Perhaps you were there. Or perhaps you will be, in your future.
The chamber was an alien place. During debriefing and interviews after the fact,some described it as similar to standing in a barren wasteland, a landscape made of flesh. The only conclusion that could have possibly been drawn was that herewas the remains of the Isochronon, large enough to be a small continent in its own right. Many recounted the scent of lost things, and the strange, unnatural stillness. A stillness that lasted until the eruption of the Ishvana’s final, greatest attack.
Erupting from the landscape was a monster nearly as large as the Isochronon itself, but of a completely different make – oily and black with the evil sheen of the Ishvana’s darkest servants. Immense limbs thrust up through the ground, powered by something vast and unseen. Defense against this attack required coordination, direction, but this was difficult to achieve when time itself was fracturing, reflecting infinite versions of reality in a starry void. Several defenders told commsphere reporters that they heard a great voice calling for aid, that a sense of something incomprehensibly ancient was present in that place.
In every direction, purple light fractured and insubstantial anomalies poured forth, mobbing the Ishvana’s attackers in several billion separate realities at once. The attack went on for an eternity – or for hours – or for just a few seconds – but eventually, each immense portion of the Ishvana’s soldiers had been defeated, and a glow of life suffused the dead landscape on which they fought. All heard the rumble of the Isochronon’s voice, assuring the mortals that it had been defended – that it would maintain temporal continuity in whatever version of reality it still existed in.
After the defenders exited from the greatly changed Chamber, Chronomaster Javick Amadi approached the group. Already, he said, the Institute was reporting that the speed of the Synchronization had increased exponentially. The shape of reality had shifted slightly – the names of months and weekdays had changed, and even the memory of what they used to be called were slipping from the minds of most people who hadn’t been present at the heart of eternity.
No longer would the Synchronization occur every month, but every four days instead, evidence of the Isochronon’s watchfulness. Javick requested that the new Chronomasters continue to protect the Institute and the Isochronon from any continued assault by the Ishvana – for its defense was more critical than ever.
The full extent of the changes wrought by the Isochronon’s waking will take time to fully comprehend. After centuries of service, Javick Amadi left the defense of the Institute in the hands of the warriors who had protected it so well, and departed for planets unknown.
The Event Horizon, a research vessel owned by the Ironbound dynasty, still exists at the edge of the sector to this day, captured in an eternal state of unnatural temporal flux.
The doors of the Gnomon Institute remain open.
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