Dark Aether is a parallel dimension that exists on the planet Aether, and is the prime source of Phazon energy in the region. The events of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes take place on Dark Aether and its counterpart.
Dark Aether was created when a Leviathan impacted the surface of Aether some fifty years prior to the arrival of Samus Aran. It occupied the same spacetime as planet Aether, and even siphoned half of its planetary energy. The creation of the dark dimension also spawned a hostile, amorphous species, which the Luminoth named the Ing, their word for "terror." The Ing stored their planetary energy within the Sky Temple stronghold, and frequently attacked Aether, sparking a decades-long conflict in which the destruction of either planet hung in the balance.
In time the Luminoth invented machines that created rifts from Aether into Dark Aether and launched an offensive. They used these to plant strategic crystals throughout Dark Aether that created zones of light to combat the toxic atmosphere. Lastly, the Luminoth created the Energy Transfer Module to siphon the planetary energy of Dark Aether, but the Ing acquired this for themselves and used it to steal the planetary energy of three Luminoth Temples, until the energy of only one Energy Controller remained on Aether. The Ing stored this stolen energy in three of their own temples in Dark Agon, Dark Torvus, and the Ing Hive.
Drawn by the Phazon that spread throughout Dark Aether, Space Pirates arrived on Aether and soon found ways to use dark energy to open rifts into that dimension. Phazon extraction raids began immediately, and their Science Team worked to prepare more survival gear for the toxic atmosphere.
Shortly after the arrival of the Space Pirates, a mysterious entity known as Dark Samus made planetfall and began taking the Phazon of Dark Aether for herself. She made repeated raids on Space Pirate Phazon stores, and seems to need no protection from the toxic atmosphere of Dark Aether.
Lastly, Samus Aran arrived on Aether after the Galactic Federation lost contact with a squadron of marines, learned of the plight of the Luminoth from U-Mos, and began utilizing the Portals to infiltrate key Ing strongholds on Dark Aether. Her involvement in the local conflict eventually led to the defeat of the Emperor Ing, the seizure of Dark Aether's planetary energy, and the collapse of the entire dimension.
Dark Aether is an inhospitable wasteland filled with toxic atmosphere. Some of this toxicity is apparently fueled by Ingclaws, which secrete toxic Dark Vapor as waste. While local lifeforms are unaffected, most others require powerful technologies to protect themselves. The Luminoth created the Dark Suit and the Light Suit for this purpose. Even Samus Aran's Varia Suit technology provides insufficient protection.
Dark Aether's landscape mirrors that of Light Aether, and some objects exist on both plains simultaneously in a state of Transdimensional Flux. Thus, actions taken in one dimension will sometimes affect objects and environments in the other.
To access Dark Aether, Samus must use portals found scattered throughout Aether. These can either occur naturally or can be mechanically generated by Luminoth technology.
Dark Aether is divided into five major regions, which mirror Aether counterparts.
Sky Temple Grounds
- Main article: Sky Temple Grounds
The Sky Temple Grounds are the Dark Aether counterpart of the Temple Grounds. Significant landmarks here include the Sky Temple Gateway, from which the Sky Temple can be accessed, and the unnamed area where Samus first encounters Dark Samus.
Dark Agon Wastes
- Main article: Dark Agon Wastes
Dark Torvus Bog
- Main article: Dark Torvus Bog
- Main article: Ing Hive
- Main article: Sky Temple
The Sky Temple is the Dark Aether counterpart of the Great Temple. The Emperor Ing and the final store of Dark Aether's planetary energy are housed in the Sky Temple. It's also the site of the last confrontation with Dark Samus before the destruction of Dark Aether.
The Ing are the native species of Dark Aether and exist there in numerous forms, such as Hunter Ing, Warrior Ing, and Ingstorm, among others. The Ing can travel between Light and Dark Aether in a gaseous form, but must quickly possess a living creature to survive on Light Aether's surface.
Other creatures encountered on Dark Aether are usually Darklings, that is, a creature possessed by an Ing. The Ing presence protects them from Dark Aether's harsh environment.
- "The Rift Portal has been opened. The artifact weapon, dubbed the "Dark Beam" by Science Team, provides the energy needed to open the portal, although for a limited time. We've sent expeditions through the portal, and they have returned with incredible news.
The portal leads to a parallel version of Aether. This "Dark Aether" has suffered a global calamity, turning it into a toxic wasteland. It is the homeworld of the shadowy creatures who have been raiding our base for the last cycle. Most importantly, it is the prime location of Phazon in this sector. Extraction plans are being prepared. We will not be denied!" —Space Pirate Logs "Log 05.442.1" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Long ago, a cosmic object fell to our planet, Aether, exploding with great force. A rift was torn in time and space, and a strange power flowed over the world. Where once there was one Aether, there were now two. One of light...and one of shadow, each existing in its own dimension." —U-Mos (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Planet Aether, home of the Luminoth, was struck by a “Phazon Meteor” five decades ago. The impact had catastrophic effects on the already unstable planet, creating a “dark twin” of the planet and a fierce race known as the Ing. A brutal war between the twin planets took place, with the Ing gaining the upper hand. The G.F.S. Tyr went to the sector to investigate pirate activity, but were forced to make an emergency landing on Aether. Shortly after, the entire crew of Tyr was attacked and annihilated by the Ing. Hunter Samus Aran was sent to investigate, and wound up entangled in the local conflict. Aran fought against both Space Pirates and Ing, and arose victorious. Aether’s “dark twin” vanished, taking with it the Ing horde, and the planet’s peace was finally restored.
After the Aether incident, the Federation sent the G.F.S. Anhur back to Aether to deal with the pirate base. Upon arrival, the crew and marines of the Anhur assisted the native Luminoth in dismantling an abandoned Space Pirate mining facility. During the operation, the crew detected the presence of Phazon. The ship’s crew investigated and collected several kilograms of ore, which would later lead to the development of the PED." —Galactic Federation Data "Anhur Incident" (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption)
- "When Dark Aether was born, our planetary energy was divided. Half for our world, and half for theirs. Should one world gain control of this energy, the other will perish." —U-Mos (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "It was the end of peace on Aether, for a new race was born that day on the dark world...one filled with hate and terrible power. They are the Ing. The Ing are creatures of shadow and darkness, knowing nothing of peace or mercy." —U-Mos (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "In time, we created machines to open rifts to our enemy's world. Volunteer scouts went through the rifts and found a twisted world, harsh and poisonous...a Dark Aether. They discovered that this world held the missing half of our planet's energy. They also saw the true face of the enemy, a race we came to call Ing, meaning terror. Our scouts could not survive long on the surface of Dark Aether, so venomous was its air. Still, we vowed to return. We prepared for war." —Luminoth Lore "Dark Aether" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "We learned that the ruler of the Ing dwelled in a place dubbed the Sky Temple by our forces. This place held the planetary energy of Dark Aether as well. It was heavily guarded, and entry was barred by a great gate requiring ten keys to unlock. These keys were hidden throughout Dark Aether by the Ing. A mission was planned, one that would find the hidden keys and recover our missing energy from the Sky Temple." —Luminoth Lore "The Sky Temple" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "The Ing have taken our energy to three temples on Dark Aether. Find these temples, and transfer the energy from them to our own." —U-Mos (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "We were not prepared to fight a long war. The forces of the enemy outnumbered ours vastly. We sought a way to end the war quickly, without extended combat. We decided to build a device to recover our lost planetary energy from Dark Aether. Without this energy, the dark world would cease to be, and our world would be restored to stability." —Luminoth Lore "Recovering Energy" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "We developed Crystals that brought the Light of Aether to the dark world. Using these Crystals allowed our warriors to explore the enemy lands, to bring war to the Ing. Sadly, the Crystals were not enough. We needed stronger weapons, better armor. We withdrew from Dark Aether while our greatest minds devised new engines of war." —Luminoth Lore "Our War Begins" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "While our forces on Dark Aether fought desperate battles against superior numbers, our best minds completed their work. The Energy Transfer Module, a device designed to recover our lost planetary energy, was ready at last. A force of our greatest warriors was assembled, each equipped with the best armor and weaponry available. We sent this brave cadre of fighters to invade the Sky Temple and seize the missing energy lying within." —Luminoth Lore "The Final Crusade" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "A massive Ing attack came to the land of Agon. Soon, the Temple of Agon was surrounded by the Horde, with no hope of salvation. Our gallant warriors there were slain, and Agon fell to the enemy. Our blood chilled when we learned that the energy within that temple was drained. The Ing had found the Energy Transfer Module, and were using it as a weapon against us." —Luminoth Lore "Agon Falls" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Our battered forces gathered in the Sanctuary Fortress to prepare for the inevitable siege there. They didn't wait long. Wave after wave of Ing assaulted the greatest of our fortresses, with one goal in mind: to seize the energy there. The Ing turned the machines of Sanctuary against our warriors, and soon all was lost. The energy of Sanctuary was taken by the Ing. Only one Energy Controller remained on Aether." —Luminoth Lore "Sanctuary Falls" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Science teams detected the presence of Phazon in the Dasha system four cycles ago. High Command authorized the deployment of our team shortly thereafter. Our orders are to establish a base on planet Aether and evaluate local Phazon resources. Because this world lies on the periphery of Galactic Federation territory, we are following stealth protocols at the highest level. A cadre of elite Commandos has been dispatched to provide security for our force as well. This operation is now under way." —Space Pirate Logs "Log 04.468.1" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Phazon extraction raids are under way on Dark Aether. The toxicity of the atmosphere has taken a toll on our workforce, as have the hostile natives of that world. Science Team is preparing survival gear to protect our work teams, and we have increased our security presence in extraction areas. Fortunately, High Command is sending more troops and supplies. Our troops and resources are spread dangerously thin, and this mission cannot fail." —Space Pirate Logs "Log 06.221.7" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Samus Aran, the accursed Hunter, has arrived.
The sudden arrival of the Hunter is strange enough, but her actions are stranger still. She does not seek our destruction, but our Phazon. With each raid, she steals Phazon ore, only killing those who attempt to deny her. What she needs it for, we do not know - though Science Team suspects she requires it to power her new armorsuit. Dark in color, it is equipped with strange new weapons. The troops now call her the "Dark Hunter." It is a fitting title." —Space Pirate Logs "Log 06.362.2" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Morphology: Ingclaw
Toxin-spewing immobile darkling.
Target surrounded by impenetrable shell. Produces deadly vapor. The Ingclaw secretes an incredibly durable shell over itself shortly after birth. From that moment on, it remains rooted in place. The creature feeds on the flotsam floating in the atmosphere of Dark Aether, and produces waste in the form of a toxic dark vapor." —Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Logbook "Ingclaw" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Object scan complete. Target is in a state of dimensional flux. Unable to completely scan Bomb Slot target. 50% of its component atoms are in another dimension, or on the surface of Dark Aether." —Scan Data (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Amidst this turmoil, we discovered many disturbing anomalies. Spatial disturbances appeared across the land. Objects went into a state of dimensional flux, their atoms divided between Aether and...somewhere else. There was little time to ponder these strange happenings, for we had to deal with the devastation of our lands." —Luminoth Lore "The World Warped" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
- "Can't determine origin of Aether's "dark twin." Contains high levels of Phazon ore. Native bioforms attack on sight." — Logbook "Dark Aether" (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)