Author's Note: Hello again, all ye. I have, unofficially, hit some major plot holes with other fanfics, as well as losing some entirely and having to re-write. Luckily for those who care, I got semi-inspired and am going off with this new 'masterpiece' fanfic. I took a few liberties, but it's still SC2 canon. There will be some OC's later on, but they are only for story driving purposes, not Mary and/or Marty Stus. This one's gonna be long, and I think it's gonna be good, if you want to read on. This is my take on SC2 and beyond, with major twists, turns, life and death, war and peace, the works. Another warning, there will be character death later on (not tellin' who, of course), but it is only because this is authoritative, not just a little story. Its plan, in my mind, is very grand. So sit back, get a nice cigar if you smoke (don't smoke!) and enjoy the tale of the Odyssey of Souls…

Prologue – Gone, But Not Forgotten

Old eyes, aged and half-closed in wisdom's ancient prime, fell coldly upon the equally withered parchment before them. Their focused pupils locked upon those pages, just beneath the craned nose of the gazer, and the whole head that bore those eyes turned down and sagged into its holding neck, looking with a fixed stare at the heavily inked words and intensely designed gallery of pictures that lurked on each thick slab of papyrus strung together to form the volume.

"It is that time...A time I hoped would never come, my friends...The time when shadow's leeching wave must come again, like the tide, slow in the coming but tight in the drawing and wrenching like the noose which time has become, closing by the second and making this harder for us all...The shadow is coming back, for man has made too much of Earth to leave even a cranny unturned and since we could not eliminate the darkness, it will be found...History will repeat, but for the worse, I fear..." The ancient elder, his eyes nestled between wrinkled bags and grayed strands of snow-white hair dangling over his face, leaned down and put his scraggly index finger to the paper, tracing the intricate and miniscule text keenly. He laid that finger like a bird upon one large picture which filled the span of two whole pages, luminous despite loss of color, pallor, and most of its focus and texture. Slowly, at least in the mind of the looker, the picture began to resonate with a strange, visible life as the image fluctuated.
"If you do not know the tale...I know it all too well."

There was a clash and a thunderous clap and another clash, a surge of flame, black like night, and a surge of light as golden as the sun which barely cut that glistening cape of jet. The single piercing ray, poking through a cloud of blackness foul, seemed to barely form a lighted sliver in the endless night which had overtaken all. The sky was black and red in turn, a dark crimson blotched with colorless masses of billowing cloud. Blood-red marked the rim of the horizon and blasting lances of sickly orange in electric waves overflowed through the atmosphere, only serving to augment the hellish conditions. But, far below, the single orb of golden energy pulsed onward with its rays projected out and beating at the dark.

"Two fought there, though many were fighting in all other places on the globe; the shadow and the light in battle. The one of power, as you know, friends, was the darkness himself, the shadow. He had not yet achieved the ultimate level to prevail, but had been so close. The sight of him still chills me to the bone, though it might not do the same for you." The elder pulled his finger along the picture, flicking crumbs of clinging dust from the tapestry-reminiscent picture. He caressed the crinkled paper of the pages and the crease between them, setting his finger again upon an illustrious figure, glowing with a monstrous but regal majesty, in the right corner. He tapped his finger against the section, which two began to swell and breathe with life, and shook his head in a melancholy fashion as the view flared up before him.
"And so it was, as I remember. The darkness, in his glory had brought darkness to the world over the course of a great and terrible war. Now it was he who held the power, but light would not flinch from battling him, by the grace of the gods at least. The armies of earth fought him eternally, or so it seemed; armies of the mortal and immortal, the real and fantastic united to destroy the evil's forces. All over the planet upon which I stand he sent his dark handed shadow, but he was fought at every turn, halted at every bridge, until he had finally been boxed into the world's corner, his lieutenants all banished into the farther reaches of the cosmos and only he remaining. There, he unleashed his final onslaught upon the forces of light with merciless resolve, employing all his power."

The red sky already ablaze, a terrible sort of moving blackness surged over it. A mass of wing and scale that cloaked the heavens in terrible array, countless rhythmically beating wings in their gargantuan spans as a ravenous, endless claw made of the separate beasts plowed down, striking the ground and splitting into the massive silhouettes of monsters that headed this way and that, their murderous shrieks and cacophonous roars rending any notion of silence that the world possessed. Things crawled up from the searing lace of cracks in the earth, tendrils of deep and mutilated hue shot up, tentacle and claw, sinuous arm and jagged talon, toothy snout and flaring nostril, all pouring out of the earth and up into the air before alighting in bird-like fashion upon the splintered worldly crust and rushing off to do dark biddings for their equally dark master.

"But there were those who stood for the longest time. The other righteous warriors were driven back, but they remained standing throughout it all and battled him, Nightmare, the first Nightmare, the darkness, for a good many days until it was thought that their battle would split the very world with its tremendous force. At long last, after the cataclysmic fight had ripped the earth asunder time and time again."

There was light and then there was darkness, there was a flash and a shadow, both as fleeting as ever before. The light and the darkness fought back and forth, their whole countenance raging back and forth across the sky. Below, it was impossible for the skies to see what occurred as sounds so great the universe had never heard them before and could barely stand them boomed like cosmic thunder which shattered the very continuum of sound that rippled like a wave from the hovering sphere of a planet as it's course through the murky span of space slowed. Finally, a blinding and dazzling array of sparkling beams began to shine through the slits in the darkness, tainting its blackness with unbridled white and sunny gold that overcame the shadow in the atmosphere and peeled over it as a cape or veil would. The loudest sound of all, a shrieking bellowing clap of galactic thunder, could be heard as the world was engulfed in light.

"And there he was left. The rest were banished from our time, from our very world for what we thought to be eternity. Nightmare, though, remained upon the battlefield, beneath the ruins of his empire, never again to be found and never again to bring that terrible darkness to this world…until today." The elder gave a long and winding sigh as he wrapped his withered digits around the books side and pulled it closed, watching a second spray of dust push up from the table he leaned against, hunched over and peering at the rust-colored gilds of the antiquated volume. His eyes, cold and hard again, turned up to the dim light.
"I am a learned man, my friends, and read as I can. Today, the people of this planet still know of those creatures summoned by that Nightmare so many centuries ago. No one has guessed that they were once here, upon this planet….and, soon enough, will be again." The elder slowly drew his hand across the plaque upon the book's cover, tracing over the etched, three-dimensional lettering embossed on it in dull gold. Slowly, he eyed the many words written so carefully and forebodingly into the archival jacket of that lore. "Those years ago, that Nightmare died, but a new one has risen. But, he is weak of mind and of body. The old ones will be summoned to do this job, the ancient deities, the real darkness….soon."