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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)

Deathwalker (Free Federation)

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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2007-09-18 09:37pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm

Russian Steppe
Terra
Sol System



"My lord!" Gorchas shouted into the tent. Kargas rose blearily from his sleeping furs. Two of his slave consorts stirred as he rose to his feet. The vampire was a hair under two meters tall and muscled like the god he believed himself to be. His skin was bone white and his dark hair fell about him in a mane as he stepped over the exsanguinated girl at the foot of his bedding.

"What is it?" he asked the clan chieftain.

"Riders, my lord."

"You wake me over riders?"

"Forgive me lord. They ride through the sky."

"Leave me," said Kargas. "I will be out shortly." He dressed hurriedly. It wasn't an attack, it was far too unsubtle. No, it had to be an envoy. The war was going to happen and then there would be only one left.

He donned a long coat of leather studded with bronze scales over a tunic and trousers of fine wool. A curved blade nearly a meter long was slung over his back and he stepped outside his tent. The sun was high in the sky and the brightness momentarily blinded him before his eyes compensated.

The envoys had landed on the ground about a kilometer away and were advancing at a walk. Kargas wrapped himself in a cocoon of power, which helped to repel the sun's searing rays among other things, and examined the envoys. A kilometer away was nothing for a vampire's eyes.

The two on the left were both women, armoured in black iron plate over vampire pale flesh. Banners hanging from their lances displayed the stylized tiger head of Szehana, one of the strongest of the second generation. The two on the right were male and were armoured in a similar manner. Their banners showed the two wolf heads of the Ferir Pack.

A display of power then, demonstrating that powerful factions had already joined them. A threat and a promise. Kargas got the message and examined the two in the center. He recognized neither of them, although he was sure one of them was one of Lekkeo's captains. Szehana wasn't likely to ally with Nrekesh.

Of the last two, the one on the center-left was a human, not a vampire. He was big, even taller than Kargas, and dark haired. He carried a long spear wore armour of black rings and dark furs. His left eye was missing. Power wrapped around him like a black mist. Kargas's eyes narrowed. This was not something he had seen before.

The other wore his power like a mantle of blood. He wore an eloborate breastplate and neckguard of black metal embossed with gold. His face was fine boned and his expression feral. Red hair brushed his soldiers. He locked gazes with Kargas and then Kargas recognized him. Lekkeo. He had changed his hair colour and was garbed differently than the previous times he had seen him, but it was still Lekkeo.

"Kargas," Lekkeo called out as he approached the camp. Five hundred men watched him with bows and bronze tipped lances in easy reach and his voice dripped surety in his own superiority. "War is coming Kargas. You need to choose a side."

"Who is that human with you?" Kargas asked, changing the subject to buy himself time to think.

"Friend, comrade, ally, partner, you pick the word. They all apply."

"Is that all?"

"Is that a convoluted way of implying I'm a faggot and thus weak?" asked Lekkeo cheerfully. "If so, you need to spend time away from the tribes. They've made you stupid."

"Insults are a poor way of convincing me to join you. You are not the last of the Seven."

"No, that's true. Seven of us walked back to this world and now two remain. And soon there will only be me. Your choice is yield to my will or be destroyed."

Kargas's blood sons snarled from amongst the ranks of his warriors. "You dare come here, to my camp, in the midst of my warriors, and threaten me!" Kargas roared.

Lightning split the sky twisting and arcing to strike the human beside Lekkeo. His spear glowed blindingly bright and thunder hammered them all, sending some of his warriors to their knees. "I dare," Lekkeo said calmly. "You are dust if I wish it. I alone can wipe this encampment bare of life. You do not want to know what Wodan can accomplish if he so wishes.

"When we returned to the this world, we each walked our own road. There were wrongs committed and then feuds and murder. Now there are two of us left and there will soon only be one. The freedom we sought became license to commit war and atrocity. Those days are over. You will kneel to me or perish. Choose."

Kargas snarled, but he had no delusions of being as strong as the greatest of the Seven and Lekkeo still carried the weapons from that ancient god war. The strange human, Wodan, was terrifyingly powerful as well.

His mouth tasted of vomit. Slowly, he fell to his knees. "I am yours lord."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2011-05-05 04:14pm, edited 3 times in total.
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LadyTevar
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-19 01:53pm 

White Mage


Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17601
Location: Tahalshia Manor
So... background on the Vampires of your last epic? Sweet!
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-20 01:36am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Space Fortress Keelak'k
Mor'rose System
The Slaver Lord Autocracy



"A slave girl for your thoughts, Zarkess," said a soldier in power armour. The vampire, a Slaver Lord of the First Circle, turned away from the view port and faced the speaker. He was one of two soldiers present, wearing armour set to the Slaver base colour of a metallic red several shades darker than blood.

Both of the soldiers had been subjected to massive sorcerours and technological augmentation and conditioned to be the lethalist killers imaginable. The last part sounded more impressive than it was. Neither of them had any will to speak of, having been reduced to biomechanical automatons. They were simply extensions of their master's will. The words one had spoken had not been his own, but his master's.

"Just recalling old grudges," Zarkess replied. "From long ago. Another time. I'll hold you to that slave girl."

Their master stepped into the observation gallery. He towered over his guards and the ancient vampire. His skin was pale from spending far too much time under artificial lighting. His hair was dark and his eyes were endless pools of hell-red light. Like Zarkess, he wore the armour of a Slaver Lord, although his suit was grander.

His cloak and glyph ladden armour-cloth were deep red and sewn with orichalcum mage-circuits. He wore a breastplate and shoulder guards of orchalcum and the bladed neckguard-amulet piece known as a collar of thorns. Orichalcum amulets set with power crystals formed the protective vambraces and spaulders that covered the back of his hands and projected blades from his knuckles.

"I'll give you five," said Daemonstraum, the Great Traitor, Master of Hell, and Autocrat of the Slaver Lords. "Still dwelling on Lamech?"

"Yes," replied Zarkess. "I've killed endless numbers of his followers and its not enough."

"I know," said Daemonstraum. "Nothing short of watching him break before you and beg will ever be enough." He had used that long festering humilliation to subvert the ancient vampire centuries ago. Zarkess was strong and had grown quite cunning over the millenia, but he was in the end a rather petty creature lacking in vision. It made him one of the most loyal of the First Circle, but it did impare his effectiveness. "Have you made any progress?"

"I have. My agent is on Shadowcatch."

"You have a lot of faith in her."

"She is one of the most cunning and venomous beings I have ever encountered. The slave pits stripped her of everything human. She's a complete sociopath."

"Sociopath's are not a commodity my empire has in short supply," replied Daemonstraum. "Results are another story."

"It isn't my fault the front has bogged down," Zarkess replied. "Taking a heavily fortified world is difficult and time consuming, especially if you want to make any kind of use of it over the next hundred years. And they are all heavily fortified now and the Grand Alliance will fight to the death. Even when we win the planets are scorched almost as bad as if we had nuked them from orbit."

"I'm not talking about the line of advance," said Daemonstraum. "I don't see why you have so much faith in her. What can she do that an alpha cannot?"

"Deliver success," Zarkess replied. Light flared in Daemonstraum's eyes and for a moment the vampire's spine turned to ice.

"Yes," said Daemonstraum, the word leaving a bitter taste in his mouth, "the Necroslaves have gotten very good catching them. Even the Class Sixes."

"Are we doing anything about that?"

"We're working on the Class Sevens," Daemonstraum replied. "Very well. If your agent can produce results, good enough. If not, well, what is one among billions? Last time I looked we were winning the war. We can afford a few setbacks on the road to victory."

"Very well spoken, my lord."

Daemonstraum smiled. "So, blondes or red heads?"
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-21 01:14am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Nox
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation



"Whoops!" said the blonde as she fell forward, her drink sloshing out of her cup as she toppled. The lanky, brown haired man sitting there had a moment to look up and then he was soaked in hot brown liquid and falling out of his chair with a gorgeous woman on top of him. "Rape it!" she cursed.

They both attempted to get up and untangle themselves as other patrons of the cafe avoided mess. "Damn it," she said. "I'm sorry."

"It's alright," said the man. "Nothing that won't come out in the wash. Although its not going to be one of my favorite times I've been entangled with a woman."

She laughed. "Alright then, but I spilled your drink. Let me get you another."

"Let a beautiful woman buy me a drink? I think I'll have to say yes."

"What were you drinking?"

"Double, extra sugar."

"Don't go away, I'll be right back."

"Wouldn't dream of it," he replied. Soon enough she came back with a steaming cup in either hand.

"Okay," she said, sitting opposite of him and pushing one mug over. "I'm Mirella, by the way," she said, extending her hand.

"Nessan," he said, shaking her hand.

"So what do you do?" she asked.

"Student, at Darkhold."

"Ahh. Necromancer?"

"No, not really. I mean I have the Talent, but I'm going purely medical, so some necromancy will be included. Regen specialty is what I'm aiming for."

"Ahh. So no death heads for you."

"Nope. You?"

"Couldn't heal a paper cut. Apply for combat sorcery for the next term. Get the pentagrams and lightning bolts before I do my service."

He nodded. The needs of the war curtailed a lot of personal freedoms and choices, but the State generally prefered to send fully trained people into the meat grinder. "Not sounding like we're likely to share too many classes."

"Yep," she said. "Although there's the more general ones. Of course, Darkhold is fucking huge."

"True," he said. "I'll have to think of some non lame exuse to call you up or bump into you."

"Non lame would be good," she agreed.

"How about I find you interesting and would like to spend more time with you?"

"Not bad," she replied smiling. "Might have to think about it."

He leaned back in his chair smiling. "Okay."

She mirrored his pose. "Okay."

"I have to ask," he said.

"Yes, this is my real hair colour. I'll have to like you more than I do now to let you check all the details yourself."

"I guess I have a goal to work towards."

"All good things are worth striving for," she replied. She pulled out a thin plastic plaque. Nessan did as well. She beamed her com code to him. "I'll catch you later," she said and picked up her drink. "Don't disappoint me," she called back over her shoulder.

"Damn," he murmured. "How's that for luck," he said to himself.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-24 02:43am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Nox
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


"Home!" said Nessan loudly as he opened the front door to the apartment. Janna was over and there was no telling what she and Ellic were up to. Best to give them a little warning if they had, for example, gotten frisky in the living room.

"We're not having sex," said a voice from the dinner table. "We're actually studying," Jenna continued. Ellic snickered.

"Good for you," Nessan replied to the slight woman. "You might even pass."

She stuck her tongue out at him. "Besides, you should talk. Out with Mirella again?"

"Of course he was," Ellic replied. "When the gods throw a gorgeous blond at you and she literally lands in your lap, you don't offend them by not making time with her."

"And what about brunettes?" Jenna asked with a slight edge in her voice.

"They are a delight, verily the keepers to the gates of paradise," the stocky man replied. "Especially the short ones, they are the avatars of womanly perfection."

"Good save," said Nessan as he took off his jacket and shoes.

"You think?" Jenna asked.

"I think," said Nessan. "Not being an avatar of womanly perfection, I of course defer to your superior judgement."

She leaned back in her chair, clasping her hands behind her head. "Then I will have mercy on my subject."

"Thank the merciless gods," Ellic said with a half smile. "But seriously buddy, you getting in enough study time?"

"Yes, oh mighty apprentice skullface," replied Nessan. "Although between her and school my free time has dropped to zero. She's worth it though."

Ellic shook his head. "You've got it bad."

"Yep."

"He really does," said Ellic to Jenna. "There was a girl, pretty cute, last year but it was nothing like this."

"I've noticed," she said. "It's been a month and he's completely smitten. Mirella could show up in Slaver Lord armour and he wouldn't notice."

"You're ganging up on me," Nessan said. "Not fair."

"Fighting fair is for suckers," said Ellic. "We learn that in skullface school."

"I'm going to my room," said Nessan. "Get in some studying before I crash."

"Hey," said Ellic. "Before you go all brainburned on us, interested in going to the great outdoors after midterms? For a weekend say?"

"You just want someone competent to do your cooking for you," Nessan said.

"Guilty, but a day or two away from the city, spending most of it with good friends and Mirella sounds good doesn't it?"

"Actually, Mirella wants to grab some time away from Darkhold, schedule permitting."

"Then run it buy her. Good food, some beers, an open fire, beautiful wilderness, screwing like weasels after the sun goes down . . ."

"I get the picture," said Nessan. "I'll run it by her."

"Good," said Jenna. "Get the boss's stamp of approval. Always good when borrowing a cook."

"Goodnight," said Nessan and closed his bedroom door.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2011-05-05 04:23pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-24 11:51pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Senetta Nature Preserve
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation



"Damn Mirella, you picked a nice place," said Ellic as he took off his pack. Grass it was so dark it was closer to purple than green waved in the wind. A small stream snaked through the center, rushing from the waterfall fed pool through the glade plunging off the cliff at far end. Dark leaved trees lined the edges. "A little remote, but worth it."

"Beautiful, isn't it?" she said. The blond woman dropped her pack.

"Thank the merciless gods," groaned Jenna, struggling to get her pack off.

"It wasn't that hard of a hike," said Mirella.

"Says the long legged amazon with damn near thirty centimeters on me," said Jenna. "Also, your boyfriend didn't throw some extra stuff in your pack."

"If there's an emergency-," Ellic began.

"Yes, yes, we'll all be greatful," said Jenna. "But right now I hate you."

"Ack," said Nessan.

"Ack indeed," said Mirella. "This is the second coolest view around here."

"Second?" asked Nessan.

"Second. First best camping site. Drop the packs. It's not far. You'll really have to see it."

"Alright," said Nessan. He slipped his pack off.

"Gods no," moaned Jenna in mock agony.

"Lazy bones," her lover mocked gently.

"Give me a minute to recover my strength," she said.

After a few minutes they followed Mirella down a faint path out of the clearing that gently descended down the slope and around the mountain side. After a minute or so Jenna asked "how much further?"

"Hey," said Ellic, "I'm the one with a pack."

"Not far at all," said Mirella. She lead them out into another clearing, this one completely surrounded by trees. A large moss covered rock that reached up to five meters high erupted from the ground in the center of the clearing.

"Uh, nice rock," said Ellic.

"What's the trick?" asked Jenna.

"Glad you asked," said Mirella. She put her hand on Ellic's shoulder. There was a surge of magic. Lightning swarmed over the student necromancer's body. He screamed and fell writhing.

Jenna's mouth gaped open. Mirella gestured and an invisible force smashed the petit woman to the ground where she lolled senseless. The Slaver turned to Nessan.

His face was a mask of horror. A lash of blue-white power cracked from his right hand, exploding into sparks where it contacted Mirella's shields. "Not nearly good enough lover. Like your performance in bed. Let me show you how."

A streamer of golden energy flowed from her, boring through his shields and wrapping him in a cocoon of sorcery. "Better no?" she said playfully.

Doors hidden in the rock swung open. Inside was darkness. Two thin armatures, appearing to be robotic stickmen, stepped out into the glade. "Secure these two," Mirella said, gesturing to Jenna and Ellic. "Alcoves one and two."

They mutely went to work. "Don't worry about them," said Mirella. "They won't remember a thing about this when I'm done with them. You, on the other hand are in for a world of pain before you die."
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Raj Ahten
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-25 03:46pm 

Jedi Council Member


Joined: 2006-04-30 12:49pm
Posts: 1946
Location: Back in NOVA
I was wondering when the slaver would make a move and everyone else would suffer a horrible fate. (how horrible has yet to be determined).
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-25 07:26pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Senetta Nature Preserve
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation



Mirella bent over and grabbed Nessan by the collar and dragged him forward. "They get mind scrubbed," she said, "because it would be really inconvient to have them disappear or remember this little party. You, on the other hand, are much more important. Although not in a good way."

He could distinguish more of the interior of her cache as she dragged him closer. The body of a tall male human floated in a vat. "Powers," he said.

"Startling resemblance huh?" Mirella said with a smile. "Clone, unmodified. Fast grown. Just needs a download of your memories and to finish off the conditioning."

"Why? Why me? I'm not important."

"No," she said, slamming him against the wall, "you're not. You do, however, have access to Darkhold. Which means your replacement has access to people who are important. People he can lure out and I can replace."

"They won't last."

Manacles closed around his limbs. Power surged through them, part of a scrambler field to interfere with his ability to work sorcery. "Of course not. They don't have to last. They just need to get me data on Darkhold's secrets."

A circlet was brought over by a servo-arm. It settled on his arm. "This won't take long," Mirella said with a smirk. She touched a finger to his forehead. "Faster if you don't resist. Here, let me help you with that."

Nessan convulsed in agony, unable to even scream. "See? You don't care about anything but making it stop. The good news is that this won't take too long. The bad news is after this I don't have to worry about not breaking my toys."

Nessan continued to twist and squirm as pain wracked his body. Mirella watched her instruments and tapped her foot impatiently. "Alright lover," she said. She gestured and the manacles opened. Mirella grabbed him by the shoulder and threw him out of the cache. "Enough with this bloodless nerve induction bullshit. Now I'm going to have some fun."

Nessan got to his feet as she walked out, a black whip dangling from her right hand. Nessan bent his legs slightly and extended his hands. Mirella smiled as she recognized the casting stance. Cataracts of silver light spilled from his hands and struck Mirella. She smiled as the sorcerous attack splattered off her shields.

"Not good enough," she said and the whip cracked. The tail ripped through Nessan's feeble wards and nearly took his eye. Blood spilled from the wound that ran from his forehead and down his right cheek. Nessan fell sprawling on the grass.

"Nahgri Whip," said Mirella. "Strips away flesh, mind, and soul. There will be nothing recognizable as you left by the time you die."

Nessan rolled over and struggled to his feet. The whip struck again, slicing through his shirt and jacket to cut flesh. He fell again, blood streaming down his back. "Get up," she commanded. "Get up so you can finish dying." She placed another stripe across his back.

Nessan struggled to get on to his hands and knees. "That's it," Mirella cooed. "You necroslaves like to talk about dying on your feet. Now you'll get the opportunity."

Nessan spun, a stream of bloody light surging from his fist. It struck the ground at her feet and the explosion knocked her off her feet. Nessan could run, but she would just take him again. Or he could run in another direction.

Nessan charged into the cache, angling for Ellic. His hands touched cold metal. He sent a surge of power through the shackles, shattering them. Then another line of fire erupted across his back. He fell against his friend. "Get her out of here while I distract her," Nessan whispered. Blood welled up from his lips. The corrossive sorceries of the Nahgri Whip were already causing internal bleeding.

Nessan turned to face Mirella. She gestured an the One Power yanked him through the air. He landed on his face in the grass at her feet. "Tricky," she said. "Won't save you."

Ellic uttered a word and the shackles binding Jenna and those on his feet shattered. "Run," he said. "Get the phone in my pack and get distance." Mirella would easily be able to jam anything close to her.

"You stubborn bastard," Mirella cursed. Ellic launched two pairs of shimmering blue-white bolts at her. They smashed into her shields and forced her back a step. The Slaver Lord snarled. She would have bruises from those.

Jenna was running. Mirella gestured and extended her will. The petite woman folded over and then Mirella twisted her wrist and flicked her hand. Bone deep bloody weals opened in Jenna's face and her head snapped back.

Ellic roared and his hands crackled with lightning. A surge of power arced forward and struck Mirella. She screamed and was thrown back, landing sprawled in a smoking heap. Ellic swayed. Mirella rose to a crouch. She extended a clawed hand.

A cataract of bloody light smashed through Ellic's shields. The necromancer fell back. Mirella rose to her feet, her flesh marred by burn spots where Ellic had breached her shields. She paused to reinforce them. "Get up little slave. I'm not through with you yet. Or your bitch."

Ellic shakily stood, a smoking hole in his clothes. Jade light flashed from Mirella's outstretched hand and ate through Ellic's battered shields. His clothes burned away in clouds of smoke and his skin dissolved exposing wet red muscle. Muscle and organs were eaten away by the corrosive power of Mirella's spells, leaving only bloody red bones draped with a few shreds of meat. The Slaver Lord smiled cruelly, reveling in her triumph as Ellic's corpse collapsed.

Mirella turned to Nessan. He was gone. Her blood turned to ice as she realized she had killed one of those she needed to keep alive and her prize was gone. She extended her sensor net. There. Nessan was running towards the first clearing.

Mirella broke into a run, becoming a blur of speed as she rushed after her former lover. He could not, would not escape her. She could see him as he reached the camp sight. He was just ahead of her. She raised her hand and the Nahgri Whip.

The whip lashed out. Another bloody line opened on Nessan's back and he stumbled into the stream. Mirella overshot her prey and slowed to a walk as she went back to where Nessan was half drifting, half crawling down stream. "Your running out of mountainside," she said and laid another stripe on his back. "That's a twenty meter drop off the side ahead of you."

Nessan struggled to his feet and lurched forward. Mirella struck again and again and Nessan fell. "No where to go lover."

She watched Nessan struggle to his feet and face her "Wrong," he whispered. "One place to go." With the last of his strength he channeled the One Power. Sorcery augmented his leap. He rose into the air and surged away from her. Over the cliff.

She walked to the edge and looked down. His body lay broken on the ledge below. She smiled. "So much for dying fighting."

Then her sensor net picked up a transmission on the emergency channel. Eavesdropping on the call was easy. It consisted of one word. "Slavers," Jenna moaned.

"Noooooo!" Mirella screamed. "No! No! No!" She would rend flesh from bone and subject her to pain beyond imagining. She would-. The rational part of her mind took over. Vampires and Internal Security Reaction Squads would be crawling over this area in less than a minute. Revenge would have to wait. Now she had to escape.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2010-01-22 07:03pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-25 09:37pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
I accidently clicked "submit" when I was about a third of the way through the above piece. Sorry for any confusion.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-09-26 02:34am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Darkhold
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


"Imperator," Sadrin Shatterskull called out. Zerakis turned and their gazes locked. Sadrin saw skulls floating in pools of darkness.

"Yes?" said the war leader of the Grand Alliance. Sadrin had ten centimeters on Zerakis, who wasn't a short man. Both necromancers wore long shadow cloaks over black leather uniforms of enchanted Slaver hide.

"My lord, there has been an incident with a Slaver infiltrator."

Zerakis cocked an eyebrow. "On Shadowcatch?"

"Yes. We've got people out hunting the Slaver, but one of the survivors is of interest."

Zerakis resumed walking through the darkened corridor. "How so?"

"Well, he's alive. And he still has the Talent."

"I take it his injuries are severe enough for that to be notable."

"The twenty meter fall was nasty, broken bones, ruptured organs, blood loss. The usual. We can deal with that damage and mostly have. He's been worked over with a Nahgri Whip."

Zerakis muttered something under his breath. "The Slavers really know how to misapply their skills."

"Yes lord. Anyway, I don't think I've seen anyone take that kind of punishment from a Nahgri Whip and retain their mind."

"We got to him quickly?"

"Of course, but I think there's something more."

"You were right to bring this to me. I'll take a look at the case."

----------------------------------------------

Nessan blinked as he opened his eyes. White light shined down on him. White walls, antisceptic smell, lots of sensors pointing at him. He was in a recovery room. A tall man with bone white skin loomed over him. He was wearing Darkhold black. Then Nessan took in what he was seeing.

"My lord!"

"Easy," said Zerakis. "You seem to have survived with your sanity and Talent mostly intact. You seemed to have begun healing yourself as the damage was inflicted, ameliorating the worst of it."

"My friends? How are they?"

"I'm sorry. Ellic is dead. Jenna will make a full recovery."

Nessan's vision blurred. He bared his teeth. "Raping Slavers." He paused to whip away his tears. "Why are you bothering with me?"

"To be blunt, your case is interesting. You have taken far less long term damage from the Nahgri Whip than you should have. Studying you and your case could yield medically valuable information. It is one of the least unpleasant parts of my work. And, of course, of all the people present at Darkhold I am the individual most qualified to ensure that you make as full a recovery as possible."

"I don't wish to sound ungrateful-"

"Then don't. Studying your case could end up helping thousands or millions over the years. Or it couldn't. We don't know until we do the study. I have time in my schedule to participate in a few cases and I do. You made the list, which means you were very unlucky and survived. That's all."

"My lord, can I ask a favor?"

"What is it?"

"I don't know what kind of shape I'll be in at the end of this, but I want to kill Slavers. Spells, guns, swords, whatever. I want to see them burn."

"I'll take that into account," said Zerakis. "I need to be going now."

He left the room, data streaming before his eyes. "Psychologically unsuited for front line work" floated in his field of vision in neon blue letters. Interesting.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2011-05-05 04:27pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-10-11 02:49am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Darkhold
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


Zerakis slipped through the door to the control room, finding it already full of doctors and black cloaked necromancers. Projections and analysis of the brain being scanned were superimposes over the walls. "My lord," said a pale necromancer who had a long braid of dark hair. "This is unexpected."

"I'm just dropping in like everyone else," said Zerakis. "Please continue as if you weren't surrounded by a crowd of noisy people."

"Your will," she said. "Any advice on how to do that while the founder of Darkhold and Emperor of the Grand Alliance is standing in the same room."

"Be professional," he said as he studied the scans.

"A fascinating case is it not?" hissed the only sithi in the room. He wore a shining metal harness that held sensors and instruments. "He has taken more punishment from a Nahgri Whip that any other individual we have been able to examine."

"Since its a terrible combat weapon and the injuries it inflicts tend to be long term dissabling, the Slavers usually use it to permenently cripple someone they want to spend a long time killing," Zerakis replied. "Not exactly a common kind of patient Sherass."

"But you are here as well," the sithi replied.

"I don't deny interest. Nessan was quite talented, but psych exams said he would make a far better healer than a necromancer. And since that was what he desired to be, thats where he was enrolled."

"It may shock you," said Sherass, "but I have read his records. And seen his old scans." The hexapedal dragon pointed at a pair of projections. "See the contrast in responses?"

"Radically changed in a number of areas. Far from unheard of after a traumatic experience."

"True. You humans are so emotionally fragile. No wonder the Old Kordassi had the vampire virus alter your brains and brain chemistry."

Zerakis looked through the glass into the scanning room where Nessan was being asked questions while lying on a form contouring diagnotic bed. Three tons of scanning equipment had emitters pointed at his head or leads directly connecting to his skin. "I doubt it was because Stone Age humans were prone to being emotionally fragile."

"Did you read this is the second Slaver involved trauma to happen to him?" said Sharess. "He lost his family during the evacuation of Jellan City on H'ekszass."

"Yes," said Zerakis. He was looking down at Nessan. His eyes were cold and empty, but that was merely an expression that could be controlled. Dark currents of energy were swirling around him, an active flexing of his ability to tap into The One Power. Corrosive energies, dangerous to handle.

Zerakis activated a com link to Darkhold's systems. "Pending physical, admit Nessan Krannil to full initiate training. All data on his performance and progress is to be sent to me."

"So his fate is sealed," said Sharess.

"Our fate is to win this war or throughout this arm of the galaxy the living will envy the dead."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-10-17 01:50am 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Star Dreadnought Enslaver
Sstanna System
The Slaver Lord Autocracy



Mirella stared at the pair of slaves guarding the door. They wore red lacquered powered plate armour reinforced with shield talismans. Their heads were bare, exposing the black starburst tattoos on the left side of their faces that marked them as Daemonstraum's property. Swords with meter long blades and heavy pistols hung on their hips. Short barreled heavy beam guns were slung over their backs. Their eyes were silver and their expressions were blank.

The door opened. She hesitated for a moment and then stepped inside. Daemonstraum reclined in a throne at the other end of the room, attended by several computer panels and holoprojectors that allowed him to have all the facts and datalinks he needed at his disposal. Four more blank faced guards lined the walls and two women were sprawled at his feet.

Both of the women had short, dark hair, starship tans, and bore his mark on his face. One wore the uniform of a soldier of the Third Legion of the Free Federation's Stormguard. The other wore a dark red bodysuit marked with the golden insignia of the Fourth Circle. "Approach," Daemonstraum said languidly.

She tore her gaze away from the fallen Slaver Lord and met Daemonstraum's gaze. She lowered her eyes immediately. "My lord, I apologize for my failure."

"You take responsibility for it?" he said with deceptive casualness.

"My lord, I would love to have a convenient scapegoat for my failure but I do not. I was discovered before I could complete my mission and barely managed to escape. I did make some useful kills, but they do not justify the expense of the mission." She threw herself down on the thick carpet. "My lord, I failed, but I have many successes on my record. I crave your mercy so I may deliver victories to you and atone for my failure."

"Escaping Shadowcatch while Internal Security is hunting you is no mean feat," said Daemonstraum. "Rise." She regained her feet. "Meershek is currently being contested. The Devil Dogs are spearheading our assault, but the necroslaves are being predictably stubborn. A terror team disrupting their operations behind the lines would be useful. You will have command of that team and generous support." He reached down and stroked the hair of the former Slaver. "If you are not successful, there will be one more way you can be useful to me."

She swallowed nervously. "As you command, my lord. I will be as the whirlwind."

"Perhaps you will be, but I am not interested in boasts, only results."

"Of course, my autarch. May I have your permission to withdraw and begin preparations?"

"You are dismissed." She turned and almost fled from the room. Daemonstraum watched her leave and turned to the brain burned Free Federation soldier kneeling beside him. "So, shall Kargas's protege serve us well, or will she be just another casualty." The woman lowered her gaze. "Bah. Maybe I should leave them with a little more brain."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-10-19 03:12am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Darkhold
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


The walls of the room were scored by slashes and blackened by fires. Shields capable of repelling a hit from the main gun of a Bastion super heavy tank. Despite groaning enviromental systems and heat transfer systems which dumped the load of the energy sinks away from the room, the air swam with heat shimmers. Unshielded flesh would boil off the bone if exposed to the air of the room.

Light blazed around Nessan's hand as he struck again and again, unleashing violet lightnings and streams of jade witchfire. Spheres of cobalt light detonated violently against the shields as lashes of scarlet light licked the walls. Nessan struck and struck and struck.

"Enough," said a voice from a ceiling speaker. "Enough." Flickering silver light died on the scarred necromancer's hands.

"As you say," Nessan replied. He was dressed in the simple black pants and tunic of armour cloth, reinforced by warding talismans crafted by his own hands. On his collars he wore the insignia of a trained battle sorcerer, a five pointed star within a pentagon. Darkhold's more elusive death's heads had yet to be earned.

There was a delay as the enviromental systems and energy sinks turned the room from a flesh roasting oven to a merely stiffling hot and then the door opened. Wearing a shadowcloak over Slaverhide leathers, Zerakis Demonsbane, Imperator of the Grand Alliance, First Lord of Death, and the Founder of Darkhold walked into the practice room.

"Imperator," said Nessan with a bow. Zerakis stepped forward and with his index finger stroked a line down the right side of Nessan's face, from his brow to just above his mouth. He showed Nessan his fingertip. It was streaked with blood.

"Your scar bleeds."

"They all do. Every time I call upon the power. Worse if I try to heal. The more I augment my flesh, the less I suffer. It seems that some of the effects of the Nahgri Whip can be overcome."

"But not all," said Zerakis quietly.

"It depends on how much you credit to the whip and how much you credit to the Slaver Lords," said Nessan. "I am not the man I was, but who would be, after that? Twice the Slavers turned my life to ash."

"Yet you do not join the Vestraga."

"I accepted their invitation once, but it holds nothing for me. Their indulgences are empty, not a defiance of death but an acceptance of it. My heart might be ice, but there is nothing in me that accepts the inevitability of Slaver victory. I will grind their bones to dust and tear down every atrocious thing they have built. My life is over, save for their deaths."

"Yes," said Zerakis. "I see this. You are not the only one and you will not be the last. Men and woman with scorched hearts, but unbroken minds and spirits."

"I am not sure what you are asking of me, my lord."

"Your training here will soon be over. I myself am torned between the two obligations: that of the planner to remain behind try to build a better future and that of the magelord whose power can shift the outcome of battles."

"You have always split your time between both."

"There have always been men and women who can do the job of Imperator if I fall. Most of them already make policy, their minds already serving the state at the highest level. There are, on the other hand, few who can wield power like I can. And it is fitting that the highest ranks risk death along with lowest."

"And who is lower in status that he handlers of corpses and workers of the forbidden?" said Nessan.

"Yes, we were despised on Terra. Even by the people we saved. Especially by the people we saved. Well, not by all. Some travelled with us to new worlds."

"What do you wish of me lord?"

"When I next leave for the front it will be with the praetorians of the Third Legion of the Dark Guard. Several sorcerers will accompany as students and assistants. You will be one of them."

"I had been wondering why you were taking such an interest in me."

"That's not the only reason and you're not the only one I watch, but yes, I see your promise. I would impart what useful knowledge I can and make use of your skills."

"Your will, Imperator. May I die in harness."

"Yes, you probably will."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2009-11-04 04:31pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-11-22 03:13pm 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Darkhold
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


A dozen necromancers stood rigidly at attention in the dark hall. There were thirteen of them in total; eleven humans, a sithi, and a vampire. Nine of the humans were male, which was an unusually high ratio but far from unheard of. The witch covens that had gone to the stars with Zerakis still attracted large numbers of young women into their ranks, although their ties to Darkhold grew stronger and the borders became fuzzier every year.

A stern woman, her face ghost white in the poor lighting, stepped forward. Everyone in the room could recognize the tell-tale palor that indicated she had only recently exited regen and only the most advanced technology and sorcery gave her the visage of a potentially handsome woman instead of a faceless horror. Her hair hung in a long dark braid halfway down her back. Barbed silver wire glinted among the strands.

A foolish foe might grab the braid in battle, not recognizing the silver strands for what they were. The braid was strewn with spell traps, scorpions, like those sorcerers on both sides frequently placed on the hilts of their weapons. Grabbing your foes weapon was a mistake few lived to repeat.

The room saw use on a monthly basis and supposedly was thoroughly cleaned afterword. The stench of death and old blood still lingered in the air and on the stones. A few ancient stains marked the dark stone. The chamber was kept as clean as was necessary, but there was no attempt to remove the memory of what occurred here.

Her eyes were flints of onyx. "Commence," she commanded. The students all drew forth razor edged blades.

Nessan hesitated for a moment, catching the reflections of his eyes in the shining steel. He had pulled back the dying from the brink of death and trained to kill in a thousand different ways. There was only one trial left. Not everyone passed and he was uniquely hindered. Would he fail and have to repeat it again?

No, he decided, he would not. In a single swift motion he opened his throat from ear to ear. Blood, dark under this light, gushed forth, staining his tunic and spill out over the floor.

Most of the other students had made their cuts, the vampire using a silver edged blade so it would actually be a challenge. Hands clutched at throats as Darkhold's future lords reached out to the One Power with only their minds and their wills alone and attempted to keep their bodies functioning as they struggled to repair the ghastly wounds. At least one would fail.

Nessan drew upon One Power, feeling strands respond to his will and flow through him. He drew it into his flesh, willing it keep his heart and his lungs working even when the meat machine that was his body failed. He extended a flow up from his body to his brain, feeding it even as his blood failed to do so.

More of it spilled between his fingers. One of the other students collapsed and the Necromancer Lord intoned a phrase, sending him into stasis and accelerating his healing. Her eyes never left the rest of the group.

Nessan concentrated upon healing his flesh, now that he had bought himself a little time. Once his greatest area of expertise, now he was little more than a clumsy butcher thanks to Mirella. He fed streams of the One Power into his throat to repair the injury made by the blade.

The wound did not close. The scar across his face opened and ruby drops slid down his face. Nessan tried harder, binding more energy. How much longer before he lost consciousness? Not long.

The red stream slackened, but his flesh stubbornly refused to knit. He fought down rising panic and seized as much energy as he could, drawing it down to fortify his flesh and heal his wounds. He had one last chance.

Agony wracked his body. Blood burst from his face and exploded out of the scars on his back. The blood passing through his fingers slowed to a trickle and then stopped. He swayed on his feet and the slash across his throat began to heal.

He was alive, he realized, only because of the sorcery running through his flesh and keeping his body operating. Should it be removed and he would fall over on the spot. The Necromancer Lord met his gaze. "The Corpse That Walks," she intoned. "Congratulations. Few pass the test in that matter."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nessan walked forward and took Zerakis's hand. "Congratulations," said Zerakis, "you are now one of Darkhold's necromancers. The Death's Heads are yours."

There was no ceremony or crowd of on lookers, just a private acknowledgment in a sprawling study full of paper and crystalline data stacks. "You are entitled to the ring, of course," Zerakis continued. "Forged by your own hand, as always." Zerakis wore one himself, the model for the all the others. It was a band of silver, set with a single stone of polished jet. His personal ring was band of blackened iron set with fire opal, nearly identical to the black iron rings set with ruby that the Slaver Lords had adopted as their own equivalent.

Nessan had forged a band of black adamantine set with silver runes as he personal ring. He had worn it for months, having forged it when he made the Darkhold ring he had only dawned hours before. "It feels strange to finally wear it," said Nessan.

"You'll need every weapon and advantage you can get," said Zerakis. "Have you forged a witchmask?"

"No," said Nessan, "I won't be needing one. I have no family to be targeted and wards will do the job of protecting my head well enough. Let Mirella's wounds be the last thing they see before I snuff their lives."

"And a name?"

"I have chosen 'Kail'."

"'Walking Dead' in a kith dialect so dead only thaumaturgic theroticians with interests in esoterica even speak it." Zerakis smiled.

"The Slavers destroyed everything about Nessan. His family, his friends, his love, his dreams. Everything but his flesh and his will. Let them taste the mercy of the dead who walk," said Kail. "It is fitting."

"Yes," said Zerakis Demonsbane, who had seen more angry and hate filled young men and women die swift and ignoble deaths than he cared to remember, "it is." There is no justice but that which we make, he thought. For three hundred years the Slavers have committed crimes enough to make Heaven weep, yet no tears fall. Instead they have made us a hard and merciless people. When some of these bright and driven young monsters start living passed the first blush of youth and come into the fullness of their power, then we shall make the universe shake.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2010-01-19 01:08am, edited 1 time in total.
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Alan Bolte
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-11-22 04:54pm 

Sith Devotee


Joined: 2002-07-05 12:17am
Posts: 2611
Location: Columbus, OH
Imperial Overlord wrote:
"The Corpse That Walks," she intoned. "Congratulations. Few pass the test in that matter."
Did you mean, "in that manner"? Or am I misunderstanding the intent?
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LadyTevar
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-11-22 06:15pm 

White Mage


Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17601
Location: Tahalshia Manor
Alan Bolte wrote:
Imperial Overlord wrote:
"The Corpse That Walks," she intoned. "Congratulations. Few pass the test in that matter."
Did you mean, "in that manner"? Or am I misunderstanding the intent?


ImpO wrote:
He was alive, he realized, only because of the sorcery running through his flesh and keeping his body operating. Should it be removed and he would fall over on the spot.

At that point, his body was Dead. His magic was the only thing holding his soul to his body and keeping him upright and moving. In short, he was Possessing himself as he tried to heal the wound that killed him.
Not the best way to do it, as it would take a lot more power and leave you vulnerable to someone disrupting the magic, but it works until you have the luxury of time to heal completely.

What amuses me is that in ImpOverlord's first saga set in this universe, Nesson/Kail is the powerful Necromancer we see building a pyramid of skulls in 'Hell' and showing up just in time to finish off the last defenders of the usurpers.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-11-22 09:01pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
LadyTevar wrote:
ly thing holding his soul to his body and keeping him upright and moving. In short, he was Possessing himself as he tried to heal the wound that killed him.
Not the best way to do it, as it would take a lot more power and leave you vulnerable to someone disrupting the magic, but it works until you have the luxury of time to heal completely.


Becoming The Corpse That Walks is considered a superior solution by Darkhold (it requires a greater application of the necromantic arts and this is a graduating exercise for necromancers), but its the hardest one to do. Kail is an exception in that it is easier for him because his abilities to magically heal are crippled. And it has nothing to due with possession. It is simply using sorcery to make an otherwise too badly damaged body continue to function.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-11-23 06:29pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Darkhold
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


Landers dropped almost soundlessly through the night sky. They were boxy, ugly ships covered in armour plate whose sole purpose was to carry soldiers to and from their destinations. They were fourth generation descendants from the models that had started the war, having evolved with the technology and gradually perfected. Soldiers hated them and called them "flying coffins".

Pools of white light on a barren field awaited them. The dark seethed with activity. The Third Legion of the Dark Guard, the defenders of Darkhold and Shadowcatch, waited to embark. The Third Legion bore the name "Armour of the Dead" and wore as its badge a helmeted skull that breathed green flames.

Zerakis would be leading them, although without Zarana. They were to be the bodyguard and fist of the First Lord of Death. It was an honour they were fiercely proud of. They hungered for the deaths of Slavers. After centuries of war, hatred of the Slaver Lords was the national religion of The Free Federation.

Zerakis watched the black armoured soldiers and tanks board in silence. With him were the necromancers Kail and Salidor Bloodaxe. Salidor was a huge, broad shouldered man who almost equaled Daemonstraum in size. He wore adamantine plate over Slaver hide leathers and a shadowcloak trailed from his shoulders. His face was cleanshaven and he wore his dark hair short and neat.

"The Legions of the Dark Guard cultivate a certain mystique," Zerakis said. "For reasons of morale, it is best to indulge it whenever possible. They are very good at what they do and their presence alone can cause panic among the enemy."

"And that includes departing in darkness?" asked Kail.

"Yes," answered Salidor. "There are a lot of necromancers in their ranks and they will demand much from you. Their standards for everything are high. Even if too many of them are e'Halven." He turned and spat.

"The Nihlists at least stay sane," said Zerakis sadly. "And they are right. The war will consume most of them as it has done every generation since it began."

"I would not expect you to defend them, dreadlord," replied Salidor.

"My children are almost all dead," said Zerakis. "Despair is our most potent enemy. I can understand the temptation to give in, even if only a little. If that little capitulation and the indulgences they throw themselves into are necessary for them to continue to kill Slavers then I will accept it. They are free to live their lives that way. That I disapprove does not matter. That they kill Slavers does and they do. Your thoughts Kail?"

"The only thing I have left to lose is my life and I hunger endlessly for Slaver death. Until they end me, I will be the death of them. Everything else tastes like ash."

Reaver Class Battlecruiser Dragonfire
Sejassa System
Slaver Lord Autocracy


They would be engaging the orbital defences and battlefleet around Sejassa in a little more than two hours. Kail walked the corridors of the ship as lovers disentangled themselves and armed each others. Old comrades nodded tearsly to each other and checked each other's equipments. Veterans cycled among the younger soldiers, checking up on them.

Kail was disconnected from all of this, a mere observer. Soon he would go into battle at Zerakis's back, guarding him from surprise attacks and learning what he could from the First Lord of Death. He was Zerakis's aid, but he was not of the Guard. He had no friends or lovers in their ranks. He was a ghost of flesh and bone that walked among them.

It disturbed the part of him that he had tried to cut off and pretend was dead. Necromancer or not, he was still a human being and thus a social creature. Sorcery could alter his hormones and rechannel his drives, but even so he was still a man. A part of him ached.

Bloodaxe came up behind him. "You will have to change," he said.

Kail turned. The other necromancer had spent a decade in the field, earning his bloodname with Slaver skulls. "What is that in reference to?"

"To lead humans you must change. You cannont be nothing by ice and death. They will only follow a man."

"Who says I should lead?"

"If you gain the power you desire, it will be the most effectively employed on the battlefield as part of an army. You must have tactical authority to maximize its use. To have that, you must lead. There is no solitary path to the heart of the Autocracy. It is a road we must carve out of flesh and pave with bone together."

"Lamech is one man and he murdered a world."

"Lamech leads armies now and is hard pressed to win a battle," replied Salidor. "We are no longer in the mythic age of heroes, if that every existed. We are in the age of empires. One man can make a mark, but a tide of men and ships can wash that away. That is Zerakis's final lesson to you."

"And why are you telling me this instead of him?"

"You're busy wallowing in your pain and might not notice. There is no shortage of suffering, yours is special only to you. Men will die and Mirella will claim more victims while you indulge your feelings."

Kail barred his teeth. "Do not mock me."

"I don't. Don't fail them," he swept his hand towards the legion's quarters, "by being less than you can be."
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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2010-01-20 05:29am 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Inner System
Sejassa System
Slaver Lord Autocracy


Five Reavers coasted through space, attended by twice their number of lesser vessels. Half their escorts were horseshoe crab shaped Shark class heavy destroyers, kilo for kilo the most heavily armed warships in known space. Strike cruisers and missile boats made up the rest.

The Slavers saw them coming. The disruption field projected by Zerakis made FTL communication and travel impossible within an AU. They knew a field that strong meant the Free Federation was coming for blood.

Fleeing wasn't an option, either through FTL or real space. The term "battlecruiser" applied to the Reavers was a rough translation. "Very Fast heavy dreadnought" might be a better term. The Reavers could outrun Slaver battleships, dish out twice the firepower and take three times the punishment. There were eight battleships in orbit, recent iterations of the Tyrant class vessels built along standard slaver lines. They were fat cylinders nearly a kilometer and a half long, studded with force field generators, sensors, beam cannons, and energy sinks. They were armoured in ceramic and steel and their interiors were filled with power generators, troop compartments, and missile magazines. Slaver space doctrine was simple: seize and hold valuable real estate. They wallowed like pigs and were comparatively easy and cheap to construct.

The Grand Alliance had developed raiding tactics that allowed them to rip the guts out of the Slaver's logistic networks. The Slavers had expanded their numbers of fast attack craft like the four Saber class vessels attending the battleships. Stubby cylinders four hundred meters long, their interiors were mostly power plant and engine. Massive assembly yards located in a score of systems turned them out as fast as automated production and a battered supply chain could manage. The Slaver considered assignment to one a sign of their superior's displeasure. Kordassi engineers considered them an acceptable design incorporating proven equipment. The Grand Alliance called them shark bait.

A small host of weapons satellites and two armed space stations swelled the Slaver force, as did ground batteries. The ground weapons were relatively unimportant in the space battle, burdened as they were by having to overcome both gravity and atmosphere to strike at the enemy. They were far better suited to repel orbital fire, but that part of the battle hadn't happened yet.

The Free Federation ships closed the distance. The Slavers waited for them to come. The dagger shape of the Reaver class allowed the heavy beam weapons on the ships' flanks to all fire forward, a design trait that was one of the reasons that various iterations of the Reaver's hull continued to be the dominant ship of the line for the Free Federation and the Nazarian Domain. Similar weapons were massed in the the crescent shaped bows of the Sharks. The high energy lasers were invisible in vacuum, but their interactions as they hit force field networks produced brilliant flashes of colour.

The heavy cannons on both sides were refracted away by the shield networks. The network of energy sinks ate what did get through and began to radiate it away. The dance of death had begun.

As the ship's closed, the beams struck with greater focus and energy. The shields deflected and ate less and more got through the energy sinks, far more than they could radiate away or completely absorb. The sinks began to drift towards overload. Composite hulls began to heat or melt and wounds were opened in their armour. The adamantium hulled Reavers were unmarked. Missiles were launched.

As weapons they had shorter effective ranges that heavy laser cannons. While they could theoretically travel forever, they had rapidly score hits to overcome a ship's defences. Given the limitations of their fuel supply, ability to radiate heat, and the effects of point defence, this essentially cut down their effective range to a much more modest half a light second. Huge volleys were unleashed from magnetic launch tubes and then their drives ignited. Hundreds of lights flared into life in the void.

The Slavers concentrated their fire on the battlecruiser Iron Will. Shield flares covered the hull and missiles converged. Point defence clusters on other ships ripped missiles out of the void as the Free Federation vessels defended their comrade. Iron Will killed its forward acceleration and decelerated, slowing the rate of closing as other cruisers maneuver to create protective fire shadows and take fire for their comrade. The measures helped draw fire away from the Iron Will, but didn't prevent nearly half the Slaver fleet from concentrating fire. Energy sinks pushed towards overload.

The Sharks had marginally faster acceleration than the Reavers and closed faster. They targeted the Sabers and lashed them with high energy lasers and sent streams of missiles flying towards them. Slaver point defence wasn't as good and their numbers fewer. The Free Federation was also firing more missiles. The Sabers didn't have the force fields, energy sink networks, and thickness of armour of the larger networks. The inevitable happened.

Lasers tore through armour and ripped into the Saber's guts. Capacitors violently discharged, power lines were severed, guns destroyed, and force field generators destroyed. Destroyed energy sinks liberated their energy into the network, reducing the networks capacity and driving the surviving sinks closer to overload. Thermal nuclear hell bloomed around them, bathing them in radiation. More energy was absorbed than the energy sinks could handle and they slagged themselves as the stored energy was liberated in flashes of light and heat. Large patches of armour melted away and the insides of the ships were bathed in hard radiation. Lasers flashed like invisible knives, finishing the mortally wounded ships. Fires burned briefly as spilled fuel and oxygen combusted in strange patterns around dismembered ships.

The Reavers concentrated their fire on three Tyrants and their superior throw weight began to tell. The battle satellites and armed space stations helped the Slavers, but not enough. The Iron Will's energy sinks overloaded and the system shut down until enough energy had been radiated away they the regained the capacity to absorb some of the incoming fire. The Free Federation battlecruiser's hull grew hot in several spots. Thin scars were blazed in its hull.

One of the Tyrant's died over the span of a ten seconds. The laser began to breach hull. A missile magazine exploded and then a force field generator failed. Beams started scoring serious hits across half of its hull and its defences crumbled. Two nuke proximity hits added to the damage and then a half dozen laser hits finished hulking the vessel. The three nuke hits that followed were pure overkill.

The next Tyrant fell when bracketed by seven close range nuke detonations. Three large pieces and a cloud of gas and debris were what was left. One of the Sharks fell to massed beam weapon fire from three battle satellites. Two kilometer long strike cruisers finished clearing the sky of weapon platforms half a minute latter and turned their attention to the space stations. The Sharks added the fury to that of the Reavers and felled a third Tyrant.

Atmosphere vented from hits on the Iron Will's exterior. Hard radiation from close range nuke hits penetrated force fields and hull in sufficient amounts to trigger radiation alarms. An energy sink was destroyed, the stored energy violently discharging and vaporizing a chunk of hull. Two force field generatiors were destroyed and the Slaver weapons struck the hull with greater energy. A cloak of light sheathed the ship, energy refracted from nuclear detonations and beam weapon strikes. The ship was slowly dying.

The other four Reavers closed. At this range, their laser strikes could ravage the Tyrants' armour even with full force field and energy sink networks. Missiles flew fast and furious. Along the Reavers' prow, six huge doors opened. The accelerator tubes ran two-thirds the length of the ship and they were of arcanetech. They were the Dragon's Teeth.

Miniature suns flared unbearably bright and golden from the ships' tubes. Sorcery kept the fusing material together as they were fired into the Tryants. They detonated on impact and for a moment the sun was pale in comparison. Each blast was nearly five hundred megatons and although each Tyrant only took a fraction of that, the total was staggering. Two Tyrants died immediately and another was heavily damaged. Lasers and missiles finished it half a minute later.

A few final, desperate volleys were exchanged. Ragged missile volleys almost entirely failed to penetrate the Free Federation point defence. Lasers scored more serious wounds. A Shark was seriously wounded. Hit after hit on Iron Will caused over strained defences to collapse. Lasers knifed into compartments. Gas and men were vented into space. Power failed and two fires raged. Systems failed. Surviving crew and soldiers resting in armoured holds sealed themselves in armour and in habitalable compartments and waited for rescue. Then the Dragon's Teeth were again ready to fire.

The battle for control of space was over.
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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2010-01-23 06:52pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
High Orbit Above Sejassa
Sejassa System
Slaver Lord Autocracy


Above Sejassa, the soldiers of the Free Federation practiced their religion. Lasers left brilliant ionization trails as they knifed through atmosphere to strike their targets. Nuclear ordinance sent mushroom clouds rising in the sky and stars fell to earth as the Dragon's Teeth were unleashed.

Kail watched the world receive hammer blow after hammer blow. Missiles clawed up the gravity well and fought atmo to strike at the Reavers, but point defence and shield networks held them off. Mobile and hidden batteries opened up and then fire rained back down. Bombardment shields of varying types flared as they protected mobile weapon batteries and planetary defence batteries. Flared, failed, and died.

Sejassa was a beautiful world of small green continents and long chains of archipelagos surrounded by blue sea and shrouded in white clouds. Two hundred years ago it had a population of fifty million humans and five million sithi. Five hundred years ago it had a population of twenty million humans and two hundred million sithi. One hundred and eighty seven years ago the Slaver Lords conquered it.

"Kithhalla will be be a hell zone for the next decade," said Zerakis. Kail had known that the First Lord of Death was behind him, of course. His sensor net was all encompassing.

"It's not the largest or the most important continent," said Kail. "The loss is acceptable." Data displays showed the fire zones of the remaining ground defence installations. This part of Sejassa was almost clear. "What will it be like?"

"Sejassa? Regimented," said Zerakis. "Mass industrial and agra facilities. Everything automated."

"Except the slaves."

"Those too. Vat grown or captured, brain burned and conditioned. Neomar Kordassi dogma requires slaves and the Slaver Lords require victims. They might get a better investment with war bots, but if robots would satisfy them there would be no war. But there are religions and there are sociopaths and so we have war to the knife. There will be Kordassi and Slavers, adults and children."

"I am ready for this."

"You haven't mercy killed the brain burned before."

"I haven't killed at all."

Zerakis turned to him and looked at the younger man with eyes that were skulls floating in endless black pools. "Sometimes I forget. You haven't killed and you're harder than most."

"Bloodaxe says I need be more approachable, more human to lead better."

"Hard to say. He might be right. He usually is. Some men can't lead. Other do so easily. Some have to find the right environment, the right frame of mind."

"You have doubts."

"About many things. Live as long as I have and you will too."

"Perhaps." Kail shifted slightly. "Bloodaxe was one of yours, studying under you. Your apprentice, your protege."

"Yes. And now he is ready to move on. And you to take his place."

"My lord, with respect, I must ask a question."

"Ask."

"Why are you here? You are Imperator. You're too valuable-"

"To lose in combat? Not anymore. Those who will succeed me will follow in my path. Here I make a difference. Only Daemonstraum can match my strength. Lamech is almost my equal, but he has other assets that make it a close contest. Only Nalhan exceeds it. I can end armies, win fleet battles. I am useful to the State as warlord and symbol, more useful to the state as a destroyer and symbol. And one last reason."

"That is?"

"The one you know intimately. The reason Salidor maybe wrong. I hunger for the death, Slaver death, and I will not be denied. Not and stay sane. I know you Kail. In this respect, you and I are alike."

"Is that why you chose me?"

"Part of it."

"What now?"

"Now? The bombardment is ending. Regional planetary defence batteries are suppressed. Time to begin the ground campaign, destroy the enemy army, and attempt to capture as many of those factories intact as possible. Capture noncombatant slaves, sort them, send the ten percent who can be saved back for treatment and mercy kill the other ninety. Kill all Slavers and adult Kordassi. Fortify. Colonize. Develop resources. Raise new legions, build new warships."

"I wasn't thinking that far ahead."

"Start. In the short term, we land and kill every living thing in our path."
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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2010-01-25 08:08pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Sejassa
Sejassa System
Slaver Lord Autocracy


Missiles knifed through the atmosphere, each one bearing a thermonuclear payload. Half of them were sliced out of the air by defence batteries. Columns of blinding light shot down from the sky, striking the ground in brilliant flares where they hit smashed through force fields and overloaded energy sinks. Fires flared around the impact sites and danced above scorched earth.

The nukes were calculated air bursts. Four burst above the target area, creating rising mushroom clouds of thermonuclear flames. Other burst between the target zone and the remaining areas suspected of concealing mobile defence batteries. Shockwaves filled the atmosphere and electrons were stripped from atoms by the fury of the fusion bombs. Sensors filled with static and garbage. The landing had begun.

The first wave was accompanied by a host of electronic warfare drones and arcanetech cloak throwers. They added their own distortions and false signals to the storm of distortion generated by the nukes. With them were dropships, tough armoured craft shaped like tapered bricks and only slightly more aerodynamic. They fell from their skies.

The Dark Guard went first. Their drop ships were ward protected, an almost luxurious expenditure of limited sorcererous resources. The sorcerers in their ranks bent their strength to reinforcing the wards for the duration of the drop.

Kail was strapped in drop couch just behind Zerakis. Both sorcerers to reinforcing the wards. Their power was such that direct hit by one of the Dragon's Teeth wouldn't be enough to destroy the drop ship. With them were Zerakis's Twelve, his bodyguard. Ten in full power armour and two sorcerers wearing spell stiched Slaverhide armour and witch masks. All bore shadowcloaks.

No killing beams or missile strikes lashed out at the drop ships. The Free Federation had been thorough and the Slavers too were old hands at this game. They knew the strength of the incoming ships' defences and how low their chances of inflicting real damage were. Their best chance had been to cripple a Reaver in orbit and that had failed. Now it was up to the ground pounders.

Twenty meters from the ground, doors opened and soldiers of the Third Legion of the Dark Guard leapt out. They landed on the blackened ground and spread out, running full tilt. Behind them landing gates slammed down and matte black heavy tanks hit the ground, or rather slid out and hovered a meter over the blasted land. The tanks cruised forward, slower than the infantry to avoid accidents, and began forming into spearheads as the Third Legion drop ships continued to land. Above them, heavy lifters carrying theater shielding, surface to orbit batteries, ammunition haulers, and all the rest of the panoply necessary to support a modern invasion. Once a new landing zone was secured the Strike and the Line Legions, less lavishly equipped than the Dark Guard Praetorians but deadly fighters nonetheless, would deploy along with field hospitals, repair facilities, ammunition carriers, and the rest of the soldiers and equipment necessary to support an extended campaign.

Zerakis loped just behind the front lines. Spreading out to secure a larger landing area was essential. The nuked site was secure, but now a rad zone and any large cluster of men or machines was a target for heavy weapons. The plains to the west were a suitable site and the Guard was racing to secure them.

The result was anticlimactic. The Slaver Overlord had declined to contest the landing zone, having correctly guessed it would be futile. The Third Legion expended a fortune in ordinance securing a sea of soggy earth and long grass without a single Slaver Janissary showing his head. Reinforcements were called down from orbit and the landings began in earnest.

"Is it always like this?" Kail asked.

"They usually contest, but not always," said Zerakis. "Less often against Guard Legions. We're too good at this."

"So they're digging in and hoping reinforcements come before we tear them out."

"They're guarding the valuable real estate and have the advantage of prepared defences. Time isn't their enemy."

"So they'll send in a relief force."

"They'll scout first. Retreating the fleet away from orbital fire and beginning support operations are normal. Reloading from freighters, reinforcements, deploying weapon platforms, and so on. They know we'll entrench. The more they pull away to hit us, the weaker their own lines become. And their ships are slow. It hinders them in a number of ways and makes each deployment more of a risk. They also can't afford a mass retooling."

"There shipyards can't be out of commission that long," agreed Kail. "We hurt them too badly in space."

"Yes," said Zerakis. "They need superior numbers, both on the ground and in space. And ships take longer to build that clone legions or killbots. You're taking the long view, good."

"Thank you. After we finish deploying we attack?"

"You're impatient? Good. Yes, we attack. We'll make sure a few survive."

"Why?"

"To spread the terror of My Name."

"Against brain burned cannon fodder?"

Zerakis smiled. "Against far more than that. Morale is critical, for them as well as us. It'll shatter like glass under a sledgehammer and give us an advantage that dwarfs the Deathwind." He saw Kail's look. "You doubt?"

"More than the Deathwind?"

"You'll see."

"As you say Dreadlord."
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Kingmaker
PostPosted: 2010-01-25 09:04pm 

Padawan Learner


Joined: 2009-12-10 04:35am
Posts: 332
Hey, this is pretty cool. It's nice to see fantasy and sci-fi crossed like this. After all, who doesn't like high magic and laser beams?

I saw the other Free Federation story posted recently. Is this part of a longer pre-existing series or something you are just starting on?
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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2010-01-26 05:45am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Kingmaker wrote:
Hey, this is pretty cool. It's nice to see fantasy and sci-fi crossed like this. After all, who doesn't like high magic and laser beams?

I saw the other Free Federation story posted recently. Is this part of a longer pre-existing series or something you are just starting on?


A longer, jury rigged alt history. The first story I posted was Rebirth and it takes place much later. It uses some of the same characters.
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LadyTevar
PostPosted: 2010-01-28 12:42am 

White Mage


Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17601
Location: Tahalshia Manor
I went and caught up on the first story, reading it in one sitting.

My dearest friend, I am happy you are finally telling the back story.
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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2010-02-03 07:14am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11493
Location: The Tower at Charm
Sejassa
Sejassa System
Slaver Lord Autocracy


They waited, still as death, for their prey to approach. It did not matter to them the landings were effectively uncontested nor that the Free Federation had landed in overwhelming force. That one of the feared Dark Guard legions and Zerakis himself was spearheading the attack was merely data to them. The near mathematical certainty of their demise was something they did not even consider.

Instead they waited patiently for him to come to them. Sshaness fell in the first day. There masters knew that it would from the moment the Free Federation chose their landing zone. Herizzel was the logical next target. The city's industrial sector and clone tanks would be of use to the Free Federation, if captured intact. The automated factories would be reprogrammed to make equipment and weapons for them while the clone tanks were by their very nature easily repurposed into medical facilities. Taken intact, Sejassa would become the arsenal that would support the attack on the next Slaver system. So the hunters had been slipped into Herizzel where they now waited.

Nuclear and plasma ordinance did not hammer the city. The Free Federation would not destroy the prize while they had other means of cracking the defences at their disposal. Standing in dark rooms, the hunters watched data relays as the Dark Guard shock troops, supported by tanks and rocket batteries, hammered the front lines. Zerakis lead from the front.

They watched as display after display went dark. The Imperator charged the line, anchoring around his bodyguard a ward-shield that was almost unbreachable while hammering each weapon emplacement and position with overwhelming force. His bodyguard contributed as did the war machines and soldiers in the second rank, but it was Zerakis who did most of the work.

Azure edged pulse waves shredded neurons and processor networks. Blue-white fire consumed bunkers and hardened weapon emplacements in conflagrations the unshielded eye could not watch. Rockets, kinetic slugs, and lasers were answered with scything cyan beams that tore through concrete, rock, and steel in a fountain of white hot fragments. Zerakis's shields held. The Slavers died.

Cannon fodder troops waited in positions deeper in the city. They had no hope of more than slowing the Free Federation and inflicting a handful of casualties, but their masters did not care. The top of the pyramid had fled, leaving the rest to die. The hunters shifted position. Their prey was coming.

Cities reflect their builders. Sithi need large amounts of personal space and elvindar desire privacy. Humans are more tolerant of crowding and tend towards supporting large public facilities to serve their communities rather than smaller private or clan enclaves. Kordassi tend to build large, low communal structures with rounded surfaces and few right angles. Herrizel has been a sithi city two hundred years ago, before the conquest. Now Naomar Kordassi domes and cylinders were mixed with the sharp edged, stacked levels of sithi towers.

Four of the hunters shifted position, their bodies hyperspeed blurs obscured by cloaking systems and active camouflage. They darted passed the squat, toadlike Kordassi who were cowering in hiding. There was no saving them, even if the hunters had been inclined to try. The Free Federation was merely ruthless in its treatment of slaver soldiers, but their masters could only expect worse. Brain burned slaves could expect merciful deaths, but their masters had unleashed four hundred years of war and a boundless tide of suffering and death. The Free Federation's hatred for them was endless.

The hunters found new positions and froze. They waited motionlessly as Zerakis broke the defences and the Dark Guard massacred the remainder with the aid of the One hundred and Second and Three hundred and Ninth Strike Legions. The Imperator was advancing ahead of his troops, an invincible hammer acting as the vanguard of merely mortal men. Who could withstand Zerakis's might? Who could breach his defences? Of course he lead from the front. The hunters knew their prey well.

A tower toppled, shattered at the base. Two hundred meters of sharp edged glass, steel, and ceramic toppled onto a low, wide dome. The earth shock with the thunder of the impact. Dust rose into the sky. Zerakis was coming. The sensor net of the First Lord of Death and his Twelve, sorcerous and scientific, probed the region. To fire was to be found instantly. To hide was futile. To be found was to die.

The hunters did not dare use active sensors, but they did not need to. Passive was enough when Zerakis created a swath of destruction and a widening ring of fleeing Kordassi who realized their hiding places were not safe. The Great Necromancer did not waste power on the fleeing refugees. His attention was focused on finding those that might try to stop him. Nuclear minds, plasma charges, snipers with orichalcum devastator rounds, and Slaver Lords of the First Circle were what he was looking for. The hunters waited.

He came through the street that opened into a square of widely spaced, sharp edged skyscrapers. Behind him came his Twelve, the ritual and very practical bodyguard assigned to every legate. Twelve and one more, a tall man wearing a shadowcloak shaped like a trenchcoat. He wore no witchmask, no heavy armour, or Slaverhide leathers filled with power. He was assigned a low priority by the hunters.

Zerakis came forward, his Twelve spreading out behind him and at his hide. One hunter twitched and then exploded into motion. The ambush had been sprung. The other hunters flashed forward, stealth abandoned and shielding wards at full strength, talismans reinforced by the hunter's own strength.

The first hunter was five stories up when he exploded out the window, a rail gun in his hands loaded with orichalcum devastors. The planet's gravity dragged him down at slightly more than nine meters per second squared, a speed that was too slow. Augmented muscles, boosted by a flood of sorcerous power from the arcantech network hardwired to his nervous system, propelled him forward with enough force to clear the two hundred meters between him and Zerakis by the time he touched ground. Targeters attached to the weapon relayed data through his links and painted an orange cross hair that he raised toward Zerakis's chest. The necromancer lord's multilayered shields were too hard to read, but the hunter knew that they would be strongest around the head.

He never got to squeeze the trigger. A witchmasked sorcerer caught him in the hip with a cyan power bolt that cracked his shield and spun him around while cutting his forward velocity. The flickering beam of a radiance cannon tracked him on the way down, the laser shifting frequency as it dumped energy into the hunter's already overstressed shields. The killing beam sliced through form fitting soft composite body armour, flash boiling the water in flesh and heating adamantium bones. The hunter fell fifty meters from Zerakis, as the radiance cannon destroyed muscles and organs. He tried twice to get up and fight, failing both times. He died with his brain cooked in his laser scarred skull and every other major organ, including both hearts.

The other seven hunters each struck from a different direction, human shaped blurs moving at incredible speed. Rings of jade light flashed around Zerakis's hands as he exploded the organs of two hunters, hammering his workings through their shields with a combination of brute strength and an eye for the weak points in their patterns. His twelve took down another two. Kail's power bolts slammed another to the ground with battered shields. Two of the Twelve fell, felled by burst of sorcerours charged bullets. Two hunters closed.

Their moved too fast for all but the augmented to see them as other than blurs, but their opponents were augmented to maximum capacity. Orichalcum blades, glowing blue-white with overchage, snapped out of the hunter's forearms as they engaged at point blank range. Both hunters fired long burst at a soldier in power armour, penetrating shields and shredding the breastplate and the torso beneath in a spray of blood and flesh. A burst shredded one of hunters' left shoulder. The other hammered the shooter off her feet with a cyan force bolt.

Blades flashed, swords and axes on one side and arm blades on the other. Half of the wounded hunter's face was slashed away, adamantium bones cleaved away and thigh cleaved open to the bone. The other suffered a shattered rib, ruptured lung, and bisected heart. They sent three legionnaires falling with lethal wounds. Half face engaged the rest of the Twelve, the blood flow from her wounds already slowing to a trickle as her ruptured veins and arteries squeezed closed and coagulants activated. The other rushed Zerakis as the third survivor rose from the ground in a berserker charge straight at Kail.

Half-face lasted three seconds, crippling one foe and seriously wounding two others, before falling to the ground with four shattered leg bones and both arms severed. Kail hit the the charger with blood red hell blast that cracked shields but didn't stop it. An emerald ring flashed into existence around his hands and he unleashed rupture spells that exploded the hunter's hearts and lungs. The hunter barely slowed. It closed, energized arm blades shining like plasma arcs.

Cyan force beams flashed from Kail's hands, smashing through ruined shields, sending the hunter rocking back on its heals, breaking adamantium ribs and driving the fragments through the assassin's flesh. The hunter's entire chest was a mass of ruined tissue, but it did not stop. It leapt forward and shields sparked and hissed as they clashed against each other.

Zerakis wheeled to face the assassin coming at him. Beams of white light blazed in his hands as the assassin closed to less than three meters away. The heat wash of the Imperator's killing sorcery was felt a hundred meters away. The air became a distorted mass of heat haze as the hunter briefly became a sun. Ash and blackened bone were falling to the ground as the light faded.

Kail's foe stabbed him in the left shoulder and tore across his body, slicing through the necromancer's collar bone and breastbone. Kail blocked the stab at his face with an forearm parry against the the hunter's inner arm. The attack overbore him and he fell on his back, blood spilling from his wounds. He managed to pin the hunter's left arm under him in fall, but the hunter ripped upward with his right. The blade side through the necromancer's throat and scraped against spell reinforced bone before punching up through the bottom of Kail's jaw and into his mouth, piercing his tongue. And then it halted with Kail holding onto the hunter's arm in a death grip.

The hunter spat blood out of his mouth, splattering the congealing mass onto the necromancer's chest. Venom glands sprayed toxin into the necromancer's face. Flesh hissed and bubbled and the necromancer's eyes melted into streams of goo that flowed out his sockets. Kail's right hand closed on the dying hunter's throat. Too little, too late.

The hunter's skull exploded in a spray of blood and brains. Kail pushed the corpse away, blood oozing from his ruined face. One of the Twelve helped him to his feet. "Easy," said figure in rune marked power armour. "Demonsbane will heal you in a minute."

Kail tried to talk and ended up gargling blood. "Don't talk," said the soldier. Kail couldn't match the armour to a name. "You'll be fine. The rest of the legion is catching up."

"He's trying to say that he doesn't heal easy," said Zerakis as he walked forward, shadow cloak shrouding him like a robe. "But hard is a relative term." He raised his hands and Kail's wounds closed and his eyes reformed. "See?"

"Thank you," said Kail.

"You're welcome. Get a close combat weapon and scorpion it. Sometimes you need one."

"I will. Those are alphas right?" he said, pointing at the dead assassins. "I didn't think they would be that deadly."

"They aren't," said Zerakis. His lips twitched and a slight smile appeared. "At least the previous model wasn't. These are new. It seems that the Class Sixes are much more formidable than their predecessors. Internal self destruct charges won't leave much for autopsy and reading their corpses is notoriously difficult. Our sensor net data and personal experience will make up the majority of our intel on them until we get something better."

"One step forward and two steps back," the soldier who had supported Kail muttered.

"No," said Kail. "We don't know that. All but one of us survived and they lost all eight. Eight armed with the best weapons in their arsenal, weapons that cost them more to make than it costs us. The Class Fives cost a small fortune each. These ones won't be cheaper."

Zerakis nodded. "Exactly. They could potentially cost enough resources for the new model be a net loss to the Slavers. In which case I'm happy to kill as many of them as they can decant."
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