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Anshumat

The terrible fires of will burned so brightly within their brows that each was a Universe on their own, and the Gods could say no more.




Anshumat’s first thoughts were forced, abrupt. An instinctual reaction to blinding light, their eyes slow to adjust to the sun that beat overhead. They stumbled forward, collapsing over terrain they held no knowledge of. The ground was quick to meet them, an embrace of dust and sparse grasses. With a groan, they fell silent, their own racket receding into nothing as the realm of sound was instead overtaken by the babble of wildlife and the flow of a river. A breeze whistled through the air lightly.

Slowly, Anshumat’s eyes adjusted, unfamiliar with the light of the sun. They slowly took in their surroundings from their ignoble sprawl upon the ground. Anshumat was sat near the crook of a river, with trees intermixed in the distance. Above them, blue sky and the harsh sun. To the east, a mar upon the sea of blue; small smoke trails. Too small to be a natural fire, they could immediately tell.

“Child,” came a voice like oil. “Tell me, how does existence feel?”

Anshumat threw their head around, looking for the source of the voice. Eventually, they gave up on that line of thought; opting to instead speak, “It is unfamiliar. I know much about it, yet none of that knowledge is lived.”

“A symptom of recent birth, that,” the voice proposed. “Nobody is born knowing everything - even us gods were quick to realise that what we knew quickly grew outdated as time went on… Even though I sorely wish I had just a little more knowledge on this subject.” There came a blast of hot air, likely a frustrated sigh. “I am unsure whether your mind took the shape I wanted - I would like to do some tests, if you do not mind. This is only my second time, and already the situation is wildly different from the first…”

Though Anshumat continued to look around for a source of the voice, they continued to respond, “What tests do you propose? Where and who are you?”

The adjacent voice hummed disapprovingly. “Disabled eyesight? That will surely be a hindrance… It must be this air. Atokhekwoi is quite different from the Foot.” From the riverside came a gentle brush against sand as the snake rose to his feet, his bright, crimson scale glistening with a blood red sheen in the light of Heliopolis. “... As for my identity, child, I am your creator - I am Shengshi, lord of the Thousand Streams. I rule the rivers and command the crops - all terrestrial life owes much of its existence to me; however, I ask for naught in return but their respect, for prosperity is to be shared with all of creation, and I am prosperity’s champion.” He sucked in a small breath. “Does that answer the question?”

Anshumat locked eyes with Shengshi, an act of both silent acknowledgement and silent refutation. They hinged their jaw, smelling the air before responding, “With grandiosity, yes.” Anshumat paused a moment before continuing, “Why did you make me?”

The snake furrowed his brow. “You have been created with the purpose of aiding me in the war against the evils of the east, as well as in the war against my wicked sister Azura, who threatens to upset the very balance of the universe. That is the purpose for which I made you, and for your efforts, you shall be rewarded and treated as only a son of mine would be. You shall be granted whatever you may wish for and my tables will always be stacked high with food and drink in your honour - whatever blessing you may wish for, you shall have it. Now I ask you, is this not a fair trade? Is this not in key with the loyal bond between father and child, my pride?”

Anshumat stared at Shengshi for a while, taking in the offer presented. They closed their mouth, before slowly opening it again to say, “I am not interested in war; and such a reward for such dishonorable acts brings distaste to my very core. Why would you ask this of me?”

The snake blinked with genuine disbelief and shock. He then cleared his throat and leaned in a little closer. “With all due respect, my child, I believe I may have misheard you. I must be ageing, even in my immortal form. Could you kindly repeat to me that answer of yours?” His voice betrayed spikes of rage towards the end of the sentence.

The demigod did not flinch or look away as Shengshi leaned in closer, an act of purposeful defiance. “If I were willed into existence merely to kill and destroy, I would have rather not been willed in at all. I will not prosecute your war for you.”

The snake pressed his lips together as he sucked in yet another breath through the nose. His face contorted into a snarl momentarily, but quickly resumed a peaceful, yet disappointed frown. “My child, you are still so young… I need not an answer this moment, but please, give it some thought. It is only fair to do right by your father, is it not?”

Anshumat clambered to their feet, standing tall in the face of Shengshi, defiantly responding, “There is no need for thought when the choice is to commit atrocities or to not. I will not do right by my father if my father demands I commit inextricable wrongs against others.”

The snake forced a snicker. “I see now what I did wrong - I provided insufficient context for these wars. Forgive me, child, I shall correct this error posthaste: Now, to start off with, the war on this continent is between life, and the inferno that wants to annihilate it. It is not a war of atrocities, no - it is a war against atrocities. Now, the second war - the war in the Heavens, is against those that would seek to undo the very foundations of the universe. This war is not an inextricable wrongdoing - it is a conflict to end such a mistake. Now, I will ask one final time: In light of this intelligence, will you seek to undo that which no doubt will seek to annihilate you and all that you care for?”

Anshumat responded viciously, “Even with honeyed words, my answer is the same.” They turned their back on Shengshi, beginning to walk away from the god.

The snake closed his eyes. “You… Insolent ingrate.” A tentacle of water sprouted from the river and dove for Anshumat to seize him.

The demigod did not expect to be seized, and did not make any move to prevent it, until it was too late. They twisted their head to stare at Shengshi, in an expression of both defiance and shock. Saying nothing, Anshumat struggled against the water.

“I have spent thirty years on your creation - half a mortal life’s worth of work, research, failure… Only for you, this honourless, dutiless insect, to be the result… Are you without a heart, little cretin? Feel you not the filial piety within your soul, child? Know you no loyalty to your creator?” The snake brought the tentacle closer to his face and scowled sternly at him. “Well?”

Anshumat spat at Shengshi, “To wage war on a divine scale is the act of one without a heart. I will maintain my honor by having no part of it. I do not owe loyalty to those who would see merit in such a scale of war.”

The snake wiped the spittle off his face and glared at it. “I must have made a fatal misstep in the creation process… How, oh Architect, how could I have made such a useless, ungrateful brat? I even went so far as to shield his existence from the enemy by bringing him to this primal land! How could my holy essence be coursing through the veins of this disrespectful, heartless excuse for divinity?” The snake tightened his fists and the tentacle squeezed around Anshumat with bone-crushing strength. “... Yet, I am a creature of patience - I will allow you one final chance to be accepted as my child. Speak your apology, or seal your fate.”

Anshumat, their frame crushed as it was, did not speak. Instead, they slammed their head forward, their scarab-like shell flinging towards Shengshi’s face in an attempt to mar it with a brutal headbutt. The snake recoiled with a snarl as the demigod smacked his forehead into his and shot a glare back.

“Sealed fate, it is.” With a snap of his fingers, three more tentacles rose from the nearby river, turning into colossal snakes. One by one, the snakes bore down on Ashumat like fanged hammer-heads, crushing their bones and puncturing their skin. With every jab of watery jaws, spikes of sand and stone were left behind in the wound like sadistic corks to hinder bleeding, just so the demigod would not pass out from blood loss. The snake looked on with stern disappointment as the punishment continued for hours. As the final strike dug its teeth into the thoroughly wounded Anshumat, the snake dismissed the snakes and collected his hands behind his back.

“If that killed you, then you are no child one mine. I am a merciful father, know this - should you return to me and seek safety, then I shall give it to you. However, come to me with this insolent attitude again, and not even your soul will remain after I am finished with you.”

The snake turned away from the beaten body and dove into the river.

Anshumat fell to their knees as soon as they were freed, wheezing and gurgling as they struggled to stay conscious. They tried to stand up, collapsing downwards onto their front. Bleary eyes looked skywards, towards the smoke trails, and desperately, Anshumat began to crawl towards them. Every movement brought agony to their pockmarked frame.

It was nearing sunset, several hours later, when Anshumat finally saw the edge of the treeline that separated them from the smoke trails. They dragged themselves along with one arm, their other arm having long since gone limp. Anshumat wheezed, spats of divine ichor leaking from their mouth.

When they broke from the treeline, Anshumat saw a small tribe of Selka, poised next to the river as they cooked fish and small bits of whatever they could find on land. They spotted Anshumat quickly, and reacted with a mixture of fear and curiosity. Anshumat reached out desperately towards them, before everything went black.




The first thing Anshumat noticed was that they hurt less. It was of little relief, given the searing agonies still involved, but it was noticeable. They tried opening their eyes, finding one to be blocked by something. They were in a sloped tent, made of animal furs. Open at the top, smoke from a fire in the center of the tent lazily drifted out. Anshumat attempted to reach out to unblock their eye, but they found their right arm to be stuck in place.

A glance downwards confirmed why that was; a wrap of furs had been slung about it, holding it in place against Anshumat’s chest. Their left arm was barely better, partially casted with river clay and highly inflexible. They reached up with their one good arm to touch their blocked eye, finding it also blocked with crude bandages made of furs and leaves.

One small mercy was that it was easier to breath; every bit of air was still agony to take in, but Anshumat did not have to wheeze as hard to force the air in. Their entire body was wrapped in the same crude bandages, and near the entrance to the tent, a bucket of bloodied debris, presumably pulled from Anshumat’s body.

Anshumat next attempted to stand up, but found they were unable to do so. They had gotten to their knees when the dizziness hit, and they collapsed back down into a sprawl upon the ground. Anshumat wheezed from the effort, trying to regain their lost breath. Something stirred outside the tent, provoked by the sound of Anshumat’s collapse.

The flap to the tent opened as what was definitely a Selka entered, moving over to Anshumat’s side. Anshumat stared up at them, and after a brief moment of checking the bandages, the Selka spoke. “Do not try to move. You are still too weak.”

Anshumat wheezed out in response, “Who are you?”, and the Selka responded immediately, “I should ask the same of you. Nobody should have survived such wounds, let alone crawl an hour’s walk from where they were wounded.”

The demigod let their head list back into the ground, wheezing to catch their breath before continuing, “The pain makes me wish that I did not.”

The Selka kneeled down next to Anshumat, saying, “There is no way for me to alleviate that beyond what I already have. Your wounds should have been mortal, I would not believe you lived if you were not in front of me now. Many in my tribe assumed you would not last the night.”

Anshumat violently coughed, painfully expelling one of their hard-earned breaths. “I did not assume I would either. I am Anshumat; who are you?”

The Selka produced a rough-hewn rag of twine, wetting it in a nearby bucket of water and dabbing it on Anshumat’s head. “I am Artonu: but names alone do not provide answers to all my questions. You are clearly not Selka, nor anything my tribe has ever seen before.”

The demigod looked up at the top of the tent thoughtfully, before saying, “I am not quite sure now what I am, either. I defied my father and he saw fit to do such horrors to me that I would rather renounce my position as his progeny and all that comes with it than continue on this path.”

A look of sympathy crossed Artonu’s face, and the Selka sorrowfully spoke back, “To have such wounds visited upon you by your own father is a crime I hope I never see again. To bring your own child so close to their death is against all good in the world.”

Anshumat simply nodded, too exhausted to speak further. Their chest hurt as wooziness came over them, too much air used too quickly for their injured body to keep up. Artonu looked over the demigod, and seemed to notice it as well.

The Selka dabbed their head once more, before placing the rag on the bucket. He advised, “You must rest now. I will return later to see to your health.” Before Anshumat could get the chance to respond and use up more of their precious oxygen, Artonu had left the tent and closed up the flap again.

Anshumat wheezed out a sigh, looking towards the fire as they tried to relax to lessen the pain.



Tiamat



The portion of warehouses in the middle of the Industrial district were all almost universally abandoned or condemned -- their previous owners abandoning them for more favorable positions offering easier access to other districts and areas along the edges of the industrial district. This was a veritable wet dream for Tiamat, as few people traversed the streets. The area was too trashed and polluted for the homeless to wish to take up residence, and more well-off residents plain had no reason to go there. She knew, however, that it would be the first place a search party would check.

And it seemed she was not incorrect in that assessment. She had climbed into a large stack to get a superior view of the area, and she had almost immediately spotted the small squad of men going from warehouse to warehouse. When she had zoomed her vision in on them, she counted a total of five men, one clad in the armor of a REAPER mercenary. Looking over the others, they all appeared to be local thugs, presumably well-paid to get them to follow along. They were clad in whatever they could put together, local civilian-grade guns.

Tiamat didn’t judge them too hefty a threat: the main issue would be the mercenary. They were carrying a particularly distinctive weapon, some form of anti-tank rifle, perhaps. It looked like a new model, and Tiamat figured it had been designed specifically with her in mind. If that was the case, she could not afford to let the mercenary get a shot off. She needed to take out all of them quickly and cleanly, then get them out of sight.

If she failed to keep their presence and their death hidden, REAPER would have a lock on her location. She waited until the squad entered into another empty warehouse, before climbing down the stack with an extreme rapidity. She jumped across the densely-packed rooftops, getting a much closer position on the opposite side of the street from the warehouse they were searching.

She took cover, and peeked out a small mirror on a stick. She had made it earlier, as seeing an area without being seen from that area was always useful.

“You heard that too, right?”

“Of course I did. How could I miss it?”

There was a pregnant pause as the two thugs taking point, one armed with a shotgun and the other with a poorly maintained AR styled civilian rifle continued bantering with one another.

Nerves. the agent thought to herself. Paying little mind to the conversation between the rather disposable people in front of her. A nudge from her side drew her out of her thoughts when the man to the left of her began to try to get her attention.

“You never told us what we’re tracking.”

He had been quiet this whole time, not asking many questions and keeping mostly to himself. He was eying her firearm cautiously and the thumping sounds from earlier had likely set him off. The thug behind him piped up before she could answer.

“Something big, obviously. You don't carry a gun like that for a driveby.”

She opened her mouth to quiet the lot of them, as talking was both unnecessary and problematic. But stopped when she saw the glint of a mirror in an odd place above them. The agent whistled, getting the attention of the rifleman in front of her. She pointed up at the oddly placed mirror and the rifleman, having put two and two together raise his gun and fired two shots, soundly smashing the mirror and then knocking it away from its resting place further than it already had been from the first shot.

Tiamat moved into action, knowing she’d been spotted. With a roll, she slammed out of the cover, going into the open on the rooftop as she grabbed hold of her pistol. The agent barked out to the thugs, “Keep it down! Don’t let it get any shots off!” She proceeded to emphasise this by lifting her rifle and taking a shot at the robot. It whizzed by Tiamat, and the agent began to cycle the bolt.

Tiamat, by this time, had left her roll, and had her pistol out. Her first priority was to line up a shot on the agent, and she did so with eagerness. A massive crack filled the air as a slug was propelled from her pistol, and in less than a second, the slug landed home.

The slug slammed into the faceplate of the agent, and, ionizing the metal, travelled into the agent’s head proper. Her brain also ionizing, the massive influx of heat created a gruesome result -- her head exploded violently into gore intermixed with rapidly cooling plasma.

Several more shots rang out from what remained of the search party, two of them hitting Tiamat in her torso. One thug scrambled for the firearm that the agent had been carrying, diving to her body in an attempt to use her weapon- thinking it might save them. A second shot from Tiamat’s pistol ended his hopes, and Tiamat then holstered the pistol.

She unsheathed the polearm that rested on her back, and flicked a switch on the panel centered on the handle. She jumped off the roof as the blade began to violently glow, and she charged into the last three thugs. They shot wildly, many of the bullets going wide from the unexpected charge.

The blade met the first thug, and it swiped through him like a hot knife through butter. His clothes caught fire, and before he fell Tiamat was to the next thug. She executed the same maneuver. The last thug began to run, firing behind him.

Tiamat turned to him, and picked up the AR that had been dropped by her previous victim. She fired the rest of the mag with one hand into the last thug, a synthetic scream of anger coming from her mouthpiece.

The area fell silent. Tiamat stood in place for a moment, turning off and sheathing the polearm, as she relaxed slightly. She looked around, thinking, I made too much of a mess. Too loud. Fuck!

Now she had to get them back into the warehouse. She continued to give glances all about her, deathly afraid that somebody would come running to see what the noise was about. She grabbed the first two bodies she saw, the agent and the thug she had cut in half. The thug’s intestines sloughed out and dragged across the ground, leaving a streak in their wake.

She looked at it and suppressed panic. She had to get it clean, one way or the other, and fast. She’d deal with the streak later.


doubling down on tech god dibs don't steal it you poos
@Scarifar godspeed got a channel in the rpguild discord but then it got deleted. Otherwise, they haven't told me either and if so I'm angry
dork


big words, coming from a

DWEEB
I call tech god ya nerds
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