Among the howling peaks of Hymalazia the air had almost remained pure. The heavy corruption that scoured the planet, unable to rise to the pristine height of the great mountains, the pinnacle of the world.
Here three figures remained, stoic against the howling winds which could rip a mortal man from the mountain and cast them into oblivion. One stood, surveying both his companions and the world beyond. From these peaks, the world stretched out below, an unending view of dust and smog wreathed landscapes, many of which had once been the great oceans, now retracted to what the world that had been could only consider poisonous saline lakes. The world that was, would be his, and by extension, all of humanity. The true sons and daughters of mankind who would rule the stars.
The standing figure was a being of cosmic proportions, a towering giant wreathed in supernatural power, howling as loudly in the mind as the wind did in the air, clad simply in the dark armour of his people, and nothing more, against the biting mountain cold.
The kneeling figures were barely less impressive, humanity writ large, albeit in a starkly different manner. One had stoic features, at odds with the savagery of the armour he bore, the other embraced it, a warlord of epic proportions, ready to strike at those who would risk his master’s ire. Both were wrought from the same genetic perfection, but they embodied different aspects of the forces beneath the command of the towering godly giant. One would lead the belicose legions of the Thunder Warriors, the other would command the noble forces of the Custodians, even if both were ultimately drawn from the latter’s number.
“Aristagorus, we have received the response from the warlords of Gyptus, from the self-proclaimed Dynasts of their ancient cities.”
“What tell the wordsmiths, Oh Emperor?”
“They have seen the fealty of the Achmaenid Empire, and described it was weakness. Many of our servants were slain for the peace and unity they offered in good faith.”
“Unleash us, Sire, let us show them the folly of their arrogance.”
“Your request is my will, you shall take the Imperial Army, take my Thunder Warriors. Cast down the dynasts, take their riches as your spoils, yet those who bend their knees may keep their lives. That is the will of your Emperor.”
“So shall it be, in your name.” As he spoke, the wilder figure, Aristagorus, rose from his kneeling posture, bowing his head to the Emperor once more, before noding in familiarity to the other figure, still upon his knees. The dark tan of his skin casting back the gleaming of the mountain Sun. “When next we meet, it shall be in our shared glory.” Then he strode down the mountain, a bulwark against the raging storm.
The remaining figure, Valdor, remained in silence, as immune to the bluster of the departing figure as the mountain itself was from the storm, no matter how it raged.
“I have another duty for you, Constantin Valdor.”
“Speak it and it shall be so, My Emperor.”
“A matter of greater finesse. The Terrawatt Clans of the North have sought my aid, the barbarians of Ursch threaten them, and so they may yet be brought into the fold. We are not yet positioned to wrest the North from the hated-Patriarch, yet we may aid and appraise. Select those you trust with such duty, and find your measure of these Clans.” The Emperor, a corona of ligth from the storm about it, spoke with as much force as the wind. “It is a matter of less honour, but its execution is as important.”
“The only honour I seek is your own, the only glory I seek is humanity’s birthright.”
“Then be about your duty.”
[The Delta Nilus] [Siege of the City of Memphos]
“Turn back! His Divine Majesty Commands You!”
The battle cry, or prayer, it matter not, was fiercly meant, screamed from the lips of a true believer, as one of the robed warriors of the enemy crashed down upon their target.
“Your gods are not here, little man, just me.” Aristagorus’ fist met the warrior as he lunged through the air, catching him before he could land, let alone land a blow. The gene-enhanced armoured fist of the Emperor’s Champion caving through rudimentary armour, blood, and bone with ease. Where once there was man, there was suddenly red mist, the baseline human bisected by the force of the punch alone.
The tribune fought bare faced, his helmet clamped to his side, as he and his warriors pushed through the outskirts of the ancient city. He relished the taste of war, the adrenaline of perceiving the war with his true sense. His features were handsome but harsh, bronzed skin bare of any hair, with eye nearly golden in their vibrance.
All along the Delta Nilus, so named for the ancient river which had once fed this ancient land, now simply a spider’s web of barely fertile channels in the desiccated desert, battles were raging as the forces of the Emperor, along with his new Imperial allies, pushed against the cities of the Gyptus. The enemy were not strongly united, the towering cities of the Gyptian Dynasts each wielding armies and wealth in their own right, but they were dug in, and to turn them out of each city was a battle of fierce intensity. Memphos was the largest of the Northern Gyptian cities, boasting the grandest of the great Temple monuments in the region. To cast it down would be a great victory, a triumph of the Imperial Truth over this heathen religion.
Aristagorous cared little for the complexities of his creator’s vision or beliefs, but he did for the opportunity for conquest, to lead his warriors in glory and to hear the lamentation of his enemy.
With brutal efficiency, he lead the Thunder Warriors with him through the building, they were warriors unto his nature, ethused by the slughter yet not entirely lost in it like the savages to the North. Mortal men fell before them in such close confines with ease, no amount of desperate prayer or begs for mercy would save them. Their overlords had refused to kneel even when the armies of the legions massed beyond their city, now the fools would pay the price for following the wrong lord.
A victorious roar of triumph left his lips as he bursed through the final doorway onto the roof. The heavy side arm he wield in one hand barking with great force, the stub rounds boring clean through the first two assailants. The target of the strike, the automated artillery defence gun which continued, even as its defenders fell, to pound away into the night, was finally silenced with the throw of his spear, the weapon crushing into the firing mechanism and finally ceasing the attack. As he did so, a resounding crackled chorus of vox reports in his ear informed him that similar strike groups had cleared their targets, the army could continue its adance.
“Move into the city, let them know the folly of defyin us, men of the Emperor!” The order was simplistic, but the plan had been constructed to greater detail before the strike. Now they would simply claim what was their right.