The Free Federation
A single drop of blood dropped from Incaradine's left hand as black clouds gathered overhead. It hit the ground and hissed, smoke rising from it. Then there was another. And another. "Legate," Sandro Stormfist began, "it is beginning."
Incaradine opened his eyes. Silver light spilled out. "Yes," he said. There was enough access to the Between for the Powers to send aid to their champions. Incaradine had long ago paid the price demanded by the Slaughter God of the Zarkos Elvindar and billions had been saved. He looked up.
Gold eyes glowed briefly in the clouds, the sign of Zerakis. A woman in white came up behind him, a shadowcloak fluttering around you. "Incaradine," she began. Her voice was ragged, her toned clip. She hated him. He was everything about the Darkhold that she hated, a cruel man who took savage joy in wrecking death and destruction.
"Yes, its happening. I take it that Zerakis and Zarana have lent their might to their grandson."
"Thirty seconds from my mark until we strike. Mark." Thirty seconds until Incaradine and the only living grandchild of Zerakis and Zarana smashed into the Praetorian defences and tried to break them with enough power and fury. It had a good chance of working and even if it failed it would probably weaken them badly enough for the rest of the push to succeed with relatively light casualties.
If it failed, they were probably dead. There was a small chance that they could be extracted, but Incaradine wasn't going to put money on that. His wives would fight to save him with all the terrible fury they possessed, but it would probably be too late for that. Victory or death awaited.
Data poured down comm channels, from the general channel to the height of the command net. The torrent consisted of a series of images and one word. "Kail."
"Belay the advance!" Incaradine ordered. "Celene! Confirm!"
"It is true, brother of my heart. He has returned. We are coming. I am whole." Rain began to fall.
Ten thousand voices took up a chant. "KAIL! KAIL! THE GREAT LORD KAIL! KAIL! KAIL! THE GREAT LORD KAIL!"
"The Lord and the Lady! The Lord and the Lady!"
Lightning flashed from the gathered clouds and the golden eyes appeared again. An image appeared, a two kilometer high form that bestrode the city like a colossus. It was of Kail in his full glory. A voice boomed. "None can stand against the Deathwalker! None can stand against the fury of the heirs of Zerakis!"
"Rape it," Incaradine snarled. "If that doesn't demoralize them nothing will. Hit them!" He ran forward and his Twelve rushed to keep up with him.
The image faded, but the fear did not fade from the hearts of the defenders. Many of the Praetorians were brain burned into mindless loyalty to their master, but a few possessed free will as did the police and most of the Directorate troops. They knew that they were naked before the fury of gods, sorcerers, and ancient heroes returned from the grave.
The White had done its best to paint the Lords of Darkhold as villains instead of heroes, but in doing so they had not diminished their fearsome reputation. They were men and women who could reach beyond death and wrestle out of its embrace. Men and women who could slaughter whole legions. Legion killers.
Fear gripped hearts with fingers of ice as they saw the legendary signs of Zerakis's will manifesting. The human founders of the Free Federation were siding with the enemy. Figures out of legend were attacking them and dead heroes were returning to fight alongside the enemy. For some it was too much. They inched away into hiding as the rain became a torrent.
Then they struck, Incaradine and Nerath Shadowstorm, two sorcerers wielding borrowed power, their very flesh sizzling with the consequences of the abuse they were putting it through. The Praetorians had set up in rough semicircle around the Senate building, using the bunkers and blockhouses as strong points. The buildings were surrounded by rose gardens and covered in white plaster to make them seem less like a hostile fortress, an artistic endeavour that was modestly successful.
Stray beams and missiles flew past to blast apart the gardens or hit the shields protecting the actual Senate. The Praetorians returned fire, those that were still in position and fighting. Lightning flashed down from the sky and struck a figure somewhere in the Grand Alliance lines. Then another and then a chain of lighting arcing down towards him.
White hot bolts flashed from the Grand Alliance lines, turning bunkers into fireballs. Whirlwinds dropped down from the storm clouds and sent Praetorians flying. Guns slipped from nervously fingers as fear turned to terror and soldiers began to run.
Incaradine hit the Praetorian lines like a rabid wolverine. Power spilled out of open wounds, white streamers of energy that sliced or blasted through flesh while Incaradine slew with blades or searing beams from his eyes. Blood trickled down the Paingiver's chin, but he did not slow and he did not stop. He was Incaradine and he had faced a greater doom long ago and emerged victorious. He would not give in now.
Shadowstorm fought with him, wrapped in a corona of blazing power. He was a quiet and earnest man who would have been happier having never picked up a sword. He would never believe how close he was to his grandfather in spirit. Blood sprayed off his shining blade as he hacked and slew like a butcher in a mud pit. He spoke words of power and flesh burned. His shields faltered from the weight of enemy fire and he reinforced them before engulfing the enemy in a column of blue-white fire. Armour melted away, flesh turned to ash, and teeth exploded in the conflagration. Blood was all over his hands, some of it his own. He could not remember how it had gotten there.
All along the line the Grand Alliance hammered the Praetorians, paying for every meter taken in blood and fire. The Praetorians wavered under the onslaught and then, seemingly all at once, broke. Like a fire or a fever the rout spread as they fell back or ran. A few hold outs stayed and fought as others hustled towards the Senate building for one last stand or fled into the rest of the city.
"Forward!" Incaradine screamed over the command net and on the general channels. They had won the fight, but they could still lose the prize. He staggered and almost fell. Arms like steel cables held him up. "Forward! Take the Senate!" They had to take the Senate. They had to. If the Praetorians turned their weapons on their charges then billions more could die. They could even lose the war. Holding them was no guarantee of a victory, but by the uncaring gods it would help.
"Easy my husband," Dianna said as she held him.
"Go," he snarled. Bloody spittle dripped from his lips. "Go! Finish it!"
She nodded and dropped him in the mud, as much as it pained her. He would survive, their newborn victory might not. There was only one right move. She raised Night's Edge, once the sword of Zerakis and Kail and now hers. Cyan light clung to its adamantium edges. "Advance!" She shouted. "To victory!"
The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.Librium Arcana