In Leg Post 108, the Greyarchy, who have been searching for the ultranexus of the Milky Way Galaxy since they arrived in Leg Post ??, arrive at the planet Tangris, which is the home, and training world, for the Æon Order. The Æon Lords had been feeding false signals to the Greyarchy to circumvent their search for the ultranexus, but now the God-Emperor himself intended to shut down the Æon Order. He confronts the Æon Lords Rigorian and Whippen Kur, who stand defiantly against him and prepare to battle to the death with the God-Emperor himself. However, unexpected by all, the witch-wardens have taken the opportunity to enact the Zero Sanction against Tangris in order to strike at the God-Emperor; though the policy had been a backup policy should they ever need to strike against the Æon Order. Piloting a torpedo, armed with a nullification warhead, Templar Yurk crashed into the planet, which blasted a pulse across the whole world to negate any supernatural powers that people there may have, both Æon Knights and Greyarchy alike. Observing this is Hermes Trismegistus and The Three Fates, both cosmic deities, and Hermes states that he would not intercede in the current actions, believing he was not to interfere in every action of magic in the NeSiverse that occured. Aeon, the cosmic god of time, complained at the two for mucking about with the timestream and the three of them depart, allowing events to ensue without interference. The two Æon Lords find that they are unable to channel their souls, unable to create even ruhands, but they observe that the God-Emperor has slain his own primarchs to maintain a degree of his own powers, albeit reduced. Seeing they are now outmatched, they decide to flee but they seek to help the witch-warden first. Yurk fired his pistol at the God-Emperor, only to find the Grey was not as vulnerable as he had hoped. Yurk throws grenades at the Greyarchy soldiers to aid in the escape of himself and the two Lords.
THE ZERO SANCTION
Metal boots trample grass and plants on the forested world of Tangris, home of the Aeon Lords. Greys march in disciplined ranks, wearing bulky armor decorated with sinister motifs of skulls and suchlike, wielding chainsaw blades and massive guns. The ground is thick both with corpses of Aeon Knights and with Greyarchy soldiers.
These are Greys from an alternate timeline, where they ruled their universe, before their magical nexus was wiped out in a cataclysm. Now they have come to the primary timeline, wreaking havoc throughout the galaxy in search of this timeline's magical ultranexus.
Grey Major: "Milord, we've pinned down the leaders of the on-planet defense."
He snaps off a brisk "aye aye" in response to whatever he was told, and signals his subordinates to take up position around the bluff, but without advancing further.
On the bluff, crouching in the bushes and channeling their souls to shroud their exact presence, two Aeon Lords converse quietly, eyeing the opposition.
Rigorian: "I count forty of them. Not odds we can beat, not with their equipment."
Whippen Kur: "That doesn't matter. Is the last ship away?"
Rigorian: "There were only six shuttles left last I saw. Even if those didn't get away, we evacuated two-thirds of our order successfully."
Whippen Kur: "We'll buy more time then, just in case, before we slip away--"
Rigorian: "Too late."
A Greyarchy dropship, this one much more ornate and well-shielded than any other, comes from orbit, hovering just over the bluff a short distance away, and four Greys leap out of it to land on the ground with a resounding thump. Three of them are over 6 feet tall, which is an astonishing height for a Grey, and the fourth one, the clear leader, is over 7 feet tall, with a swishing cape behind him. All wear impressive armor, all wield ornate weaponry.
God-Emperor of Greykind: "I can sense your presence. There is no escape."
The two Aeon Lords exchange glances. They've been masking their exact presence, but it seems that the God-Emperor of Greykind's legendary mystic might is no mere fable. They share a nod, and stand up out of the bushes, walking forward to meet the God-Emperor and his three accompanying primarchs (out of ten total in his service).
Whippen Kur: "Perhaps escape is not our plan."
God-Emperor of Greykind: "Do you think to defeat me in a heroic duel then? To cut off the head of the serpent whose coils strangle your order?"
Rigorian: "Your coils are loose. We've already evacuated our order, while you lot have been on a wild-goose chase around the forest after us."
The God-Emperor of Greykind's smile is twisted and sinister.
God-Emperor of Greykind: "Perhaps you refer to those six shuttles we caught attempting to slingshot around the planet to evade our blockade."
Whippen Kur murmurs a quiet dirge for the fallen. Still, as Rigorian had pointed out just minutes ago, that leaves two-thirds of the Aeon Knights alive and free. Still a heavy loss, particularly when counting all those who had died in the ground fighting when the Greyarchy's armies dropped from the skies scant hours ago.
Rigorian: "Balance shall be restored in the end. It always is. For every innocent or champion you kill, restitution shall come upon you."
The God-Emperor of Greykind laughs sardonically.
God-Emperor of Greykind: "Threats, is it? I could destroy you both myself, and that's even without three of my primarchs and a legion of my finest troops around us."
Rigorian: "No threat. I speak of the universe. It always finds balance in the end."
God-Emperor of Greykind: "Do your platitudes give you comfort in the face of your own death?"
Both Aeon Lords already knew they were dead men. They'd surrendered themselves to that fate the moment they took on the role of leading the Greyarchy troops away from the evacuating Knights. But the longer they stalled with talking, the more of a chance they had to assess their surroundings and inflict as much damage as possible before meeting their deaths.
God-Emperor of Greykind: "Without your precious order, there will be no more flares to distract me. I shall have the ultranexus that is rightfully mine!"
The galaxy's defenders had realized early on that the Greyarchy was after Earth's ultranexus. Fortunately the Greyarchy didn't know where Earth was, or even that Earth was the planet they were looking for. The Aeon Knights had dispatched groups all around the galaxy, channeling their souls in tandem to present bright mystic flares that distracted the Greyarchy's forces with false flags, sending them on wild goose chases around the galaxy that led them no closer to the ultranexus.
But the God-Emperor of Greykind had finally caught onto this, and had realized the source of these fakeouts. And now Tangris is a conquered world.
Whippen Kur: "You'll find that plenty of Aeon remain to stymy you, your majesty. And the galaxy has other defenders yet."
The God-Emperor of Greykind's only response is to draw his chainsaw sword and raise his other fist, which crackles with the flames of an impending fireball. The two Aeon Lords tense, ready to spring into action for the last fight of their lives-
A scream of metal tears through the atmosphere as a blazing comet appears high overhead and shoots straight down towards them. Everyone - Greys and Aeon Lords - looks straight up at it, as it hurls downwards at phenomenal speed, outdistancing the lasers fired at it by the Grey blockade in orbit.
Inside the rapid delivery vessel, Templar Yurk of the witch-wardens guides his ship, which is little more than a well-shielded torpedo. Sweat pours down his brow as he plummets, his warhead armed, his hands clenching the steering to slip out of the way of orbital lasers. General Thrass has assigned this task to him, to deliver the Zero Sanction upon Tangris, where the God-Emperor of Greykind and three of his primarchs currently are, out in the open.
The witch-wardens have expected an attack on Tangris ever since the Aeon started their ruses, and have prepared. Not a defense of the Aeon, no, but an ultimate counterstrike. The Zero Sanction is a weapon that Grand Lord Inquisitor Alpha developed centuries ago, designed to be a last resort against the Aeon should it ever be needed. It would blanket a world in a blast of esoteric energy that would blunt the souls caught on the planet.
Normal people would experience little or no effect, but Aeon would theoretically lose their ability to channel their souls. According to General Thrass, Lord Inquisitor Alpha had expressed confidence that the same technique would be sufficient to severely weaken, and perhaps outright remove, the God-Emperor of Greykind's own supernatural prowess, despite it not being soul-based.
As for any unfortunate Aeon still on the planet? Acceptable casualties. Even the most progressive of the witch-wardens are none too fond of anyone with supernatural abilities, no matter how much of a force for good they might be.
Grey Primarch #1: "I can't telekinetically shove it away, it's got some kind of shielding--"
Then it hits. Or more correctly, at a scant fifty meters above them, Templar Yurk's delivery vessel's warhead activates. Its tip glows with a bright white light, as a sonic boom pulses through the air, the only physical effects of a soul-blunting explosion.
Then it stops. Everything stops.
Hermes Trismegistus: "As I see it, my role is to keep magic as a whole in the NeSiverse running, not to worry about each and every user of it. And I don't answer to the same people that he, or you, did."
Three Fates are three identical women who seem to share a mind. She/They are the cosmic deity over all fate and destiny in the NeSiverse. Hermes Trismegistus is a Greek god from Earth, who became a fantastically powerful mage close to two millennia ago, and recently also become the Runekeeper, cosmic deity over all magic in the NeSiverse. A thick tome is carried in the crook of his elbow.
Three Fates: "Perhaps, but even now we must both answer to Ohgmorkoth."
Hermes Trismegistus: "Just call him the Big O, like he wants to be called. Much simpler."
Three Fates: "Says the man who insists on his surname being spelled out every single time."
Ohgmorkoth is the nominal supreme deity of the NeSiverse, but is really more interested in hedonism, and leaves it to his vizier, Fladnag the White, to manage affairs.
Aeon: "Oi, you! Stop mucking about with time!"
Another god, this one the cosmic deity of all time in the NeSiverse - whose name might easily be confused with the name of the order of knights and lords whose planet Tangris is - appears, looking crossly at his fellows.
Three Fates: "Just exercising our prerogative to observe a momentous event!"
Aeon: "If you're not going to interfere, then all you're doing is making my job harder! Do you think time runs itself?"
Hermes Trismegistus: "I don't remember you ever giving the Doctor such a hard time about his time hijinks."
Aeon: "He travels through time. He doesn't stop it. Usually."
Three Fates: "Such a spoilsport. I was enjoying the scent of destiny in the air."
Aeon: "If you want that, go to the debris of the Time Lock War in Earth's solar system. Still quite a scent there."
Three Fates makes a face, or more correctly, three identical faces.
Three Fates: "Much too strong an odor, even for us."
Hermes Trismegistus: "Peace. We've seen what we wanted to see. It is not our intention to complicate your duties, Aeon. We'll leave. Won't we, Three Fates?"
Three Fates: "Fine."
The deities disappear, and time starts up again. The explosion bursts out, the air rippling all over the planet. Every last Aeon Knight still on the world, every last Greyarchy soldier who can use magic, they all feel it. As though something inside them is shriveling.
The God-Emperor of Greykind, in less than an instant, is the first to realize exactly what is happening. Even as the guided torpedo continues its flight to the surface and slams into the ground between the primarchs and the two Aeon Lords - creating a minor earthquake and sending sprays of dirt and rock everywhere - the God-Emperor snarls defiantly and clenches his fist, summoning his will against this weapon.
When the smoke starts to clear, Rigorian and Whippen Kur pick themselves up.
Rigorian: "What the devil?"
He attempts to summon his ruhand, but cannot. Whippen Kur already knows what has happened. Their souls have been blunted. A quick glance around shows Greyarchy soldiers hurled to the ground and slowly getting to their feet. A number of them - clearly magic users, or more correctly former magic users - are looking rather lost and confused.
Whippen Kur steps to the side, to look past the impact crater of the torpedo, to see the fate of the God-Emperor and his primarchs.
The God-Emperor is slowly rising to his feet, his armor steaming, and faint power crackles around him. His three primarchs are smoking corpses on the ground around him. Grim realization sets in for the Aeon Lord: the God-Emperor literally drained the souls of his three nearest primarchs to sustain himself. He is still far weaker in magic than he was before, but not totally powerless.
Rigorian: "We have to get out of here while we still can."
Whippen Kur: "Wait - that torpedo had a pilot. I could sense it before the blast. He may still be alive."
Rigorian knows better than to try to argue with his friend. He quickly helps Whippen Kur shift some debris, and some groaning ensues as the battered templar of the witch-wardens rises to his feet. He is as tall as Whippen Kur, being a Lorek, a species with no hair or eyes. His matte black armor is steaming, and he's sweating profusely, but is alert due to the alchemical boosts running through his system. He yanks his ballistic cyberpunk revolver out of his holster and turns towards the God-Emperor of Greykind.
Whippen Kur: "A witch-warden. I should not be surprised."
Rigorian: "Are you mad, Lorek? Leave that Grey git and his army, we should get out of here!"
Templar Yurk: "I have a duty."
He cocks his pistol and fires. The God-Emperor snaps his head around at the sound of the shot, just in time to take a heavy step back from the stopping power of the bullet, which leaves a deep dent in his armor - but does not penetrate it. Three more shots in quick succession force him back several more steps, keeping him off guard, but he snarls and thrusts out his hand.
A fireball hurls toward Yurk, but it is less a fireball and more of a spray of sparks. Yurk doesn't even flinch, his armor and witch-warden protections more than sufficient to protect him against this weak magic. Whippen Kur and Rigorian experience, for the first time in more years than they can count, the sensation of being helpless; they have no powers or weapons anymore.
God-Emperor of Greykind: "Insolent cur! Major! Fire!"
The Greyarchy Major in charge of the squad surrounding the bluff has been checking his troops, but instantly forms them up in a haphazard approximation of proper formation and gives the order. Laser bolts sear through the air. Most of them miss, due to the short amount of time the Greys had to aim, on top of their still being frazzled from the Zero Sanction's blast.
Templar Yurk: "Ugh!"
A few laser blasts scorch his armor, and at least one cuts through it to give him a light injury. Whippen Kur and Rigorian have dropped to the ground and avoided injury. Yurk aims again at the God-Emperor's head and fires, but the Grey leader's armor has a built-in force field to protect his head, and the bullet doesn't pierce it, although the force of the impact nonetheless snaps the God-Emperor's head back with a pained yelp as he stumbles back and goes to one knee. Yurk presses his lips into a thin line, then comes to a decision.
Templar Yurk: "Be ready to run."
God-Emperor of Greykind: "Major, I said FIRE!"
The witch-warden templar has pulled a pair of grenades from his bandolier. With expert precision he throws them simultaneously in opposite directions. The Major and the soldiers nearest him are torn apart by the blast, while the God-Emperor is thrown back several meters to land on his back, though his armor - the finest in the Greyarchy - protects him from serious harm.
When the smoke clears, the witch-warden and both Aeon Lords are gone.