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“We fought in an endless, darkened sky - a blanket of pitch black oblivion only illuminated by the flash of orbital bombardment dissipating through the shield and not bolts, but mountains of arcing red lightning whose impact caused the earth to shake. There we fought, in a land where a single break in your armour would corrode your skin to death and where insects would feast on you as you died, or if you were lucky, the extreme temperatures of the planet would take care of you long before you were consumed from inside out. Even in my darkest dreams, I recall formerly indomitable senior officers break down or sometimes commit suicide due to the stress of attacking positions where even the most efficient attack decimated their units. Mountains of our dead and dying, entire armoured units melded together, and the ashes of our comrades obscuring our visors. The sounds in the dark unending night of a potential Dominatus counter-attack, of those wounded screaming for help that would never come, and the unending blizzard of Dominatus ordnance. Where there wasn't darkness, light only illuminated death. Where there was silence, sound only conveyed agony. To those unfortunate enough to smell anything aside from the puke and shit in their hazmat suits, there was only the evacuation of their lungs. Where there was taste, it was the bitter salt of dried tears and sweat inside the uniforms that would be our coffins. And when there was touch, there was only that fleeting sensation that reminded you the last attack had claimed all your friends, and that your gun was your only comrade left. That was the battle we fought, a battle where only our officers had the punishment of being forced to think. We abandoned the cherished values of freedom and thought, for during times like these, it is hard enough to follow orders, harder still to compel the bones and muscles of your body to assault a position that has inflicted 80% casualties on your unit, and hardest to acknowledge that this is all necessary. I yearned for sleep in that endless night - for my nightmares provided me solace from the present.”
- - Anonymous ADC Soldier
In the baleful eye of its sun, a world stood. The capital of a Gigaquadant-spanning empire, it stood as metaphor for the defiance of its ruling race. Its capital city lay as a monument to the pride of its leaders - a mural on which its denizens celebrated their superiority. Beyond that it was dotted by a network of nigh-impenetrable fortresses - towering bastions designed to obliterate the attempts of lesser species to topple the rulers of this world. Vast lines of statues - those of heroes of ages past guarded its boulevards, encouraging its defenders on while the planet itself seemed to be a guard dog, hellbent on serving its master's to the last.-
But this world was not Mirenton, nor Alcanti, not Paris, not Mou' Cyran, nor any of the capitals of the other great powers. It was beset on all sides by the raging fury of virtually the entire Gigaquadrant. It stood as a symbol for the hubris and arrogance of the Dominatus. In the dead eyes of those statues, both on the great roads of Malogenesis or in its museums lay a smug look of the Dominatus' defiance. In the black and gold hulls of the remnants of the fleet defending it lay a metaphor for what historians would question as either a brilliant gambit or delusional insanity. Yes it was an entire system built to celebrate the grandeur of the Dominatus and to defend it at all costs - a mighty cliff reinforced by the arrogance of its masters, but against it came a tide of all those it had wronged - a roaring storm of both ghosts from the past and enemies from the present.
This is the story of every pebble making up that cliff and every drop of water making up that wave. It is a story of two pugilists locked in a mortal struggle - one on the ground, biting like a rabid dog at his aggressors fist, and one above, gouging out the eyes of his opponent. It is a story of glorious works of art and sculpture erased by the unending firestorm of war, of the flickering lights of countless lives being extinguished by the callous disregard of history's march, and of the last dying breaths of mortals who had fancied them gods.
This is the story of the invasion of Demogorgon Prime.
- 1 Prologue
- 2 Denial
- 3 Anger
- 4 Bargaining
- 5 Grief
- 6 Acceptance
- 6.1 More
- 6.2 The Road to Victory
- 6.3 A Change of Perspective
- 6.4 Death Rattles
- 6.5 The Serpent’s Night
- 6.6 Erasing History
- 6.7 The Last Ride
- 6.8 The Hunter and the Hunted
- 6.9 Search and Destroy
- 6.10 Efficiency
- 6.11 The Sound of Silence
- 6.12 Silent Night, Holy Night
- 6.13 Stahl’s Wager
- 6.14 Et Tu, Brute?
- 6.15 Ennui
- 6.16 Vae Victis
- 6.17 The Fire Dies
- 6.18 The Eve of Victory
- 6.19 The Overseer's Creed
- 6.20 He Who Fights Monsters
- 6.21 The Day The Tyranny Died
- 6.22 Patricide
- 6.23 The Death of an Empire
- 6.24 Charon's Toll
- 7 Judgement
- 7.1 Dies Irae
- 7.2 The Storm Speaks
- 7.2.1 Empress Zuki of the Vanara Speaks
- 7.2.2 The Waptoria Alliance of Species Speaks
- 7.2.3 The Apalos Speak
- 7.2.4 Renus Kantus of the Draconid Imperium Speaks
- 7.2.5 Motive speaks
- 7.2.6 The Mendel Pact Speaks
- 7.2.7 The Junction Speaks
- 7.2.8 The DCP Speaks
- 7.2.9 The Grox Speak
- 7.2.10 The Draconis Speak
- 7.2.11 The ATR Speak
- 7.2.12 The Drodo Speak
- 7.2.13 The Multus Esse speak
- 7.2.14 The ULE Speaks
- 7.3 A Race Is Indicted
- 7.4 From Beginning to End
- 8 Burial
- 9 Epilogue
- 10 Quotes
- June 6, 2794 : Allies Enter Mirus via the Manticore Hypergate, beginning the First Battle of Manticore
- June 11, 2794 : Allies Capture Manticore, winning the First Battle of Manticore. The conclusion of this battle sees the Tyranny sending a star-buster that hurts the Allies but spares the hypergate infrastructure and the majority of their fleets.
- June 12 - July 14, 2794 : Allies Assault and Capture Citadel Worlds of Cerberus, Hydra, and Scylla - the codenamed Mortrarius Trinity, surrounding Manticore. Allies are shocked by advances in Tyranny land technology - seen in the deployment of Warlord Heavy Tanks, Shadowblade Tank Destroyers, Oppressor Heavy Tank Destroyers, Daemon Mecha, up-gunned Synthetics including Excubitors, and Overseers with the so-called second-stage enhancements. Casualty estimates for the campaign are revised significantly upwards. June 29 signifies the complete collapse of the first Dominatus defensive line, and begin assaults of second defensive line - the Gnissenkrassau Cordon.
- July 16 - August 30, 2794 : Allies assault and break-through the Gnissenkrassau Cordon. Casualty estimates are only revised slightly upwards as improved Allied Tactics make a less costly conquest of these worlds somewhat more possible. Initial novelty and shock of Dominatus new weapons is quickly mitigated by new field manuals from successful engagements. Allies begin attacks of the Stahl line, the tertiary defensive positions of the Dominatus.
- September 2 - September 28, 2794 : The Stahl Line is attacked and broken through. Tyranny casualties begin to exceed projections - Allied ingenuity and creativity, both technical and methodological is greater than expected. Short crisis in Dominatus High Command, though Stahl calms them by re-iterating that Operation Abaddon, the initial defensive plan for Mirus will soon give way to Operation Medusa.
- September 29, 2794 : Medusa is assassinated by Archon Stahl while planning a new inspection of her flagship. Stahl assumes position as Acting/Regent Tyrant under Castigon Mortarius Heimdall and ceases all research and development, devoting all the Tyranny's might to continuing building up and reinforcing its fleet for Operation Medusa.
- October 5 - October 14, 2794 : The Heimdall Line is attacked and broken through - Allies notice that resistance is less than usual with some assuming that those forces had been withdrawn to reinforce a possible counter-attack. Despite this, Allies, invigorated by the quicker-than-expected breakthrough of the last line, quickly set to linking up with their Mirusian allies, preparing the siege of Armageddon Prime, and beginning their general assault into Dominatus Mirus
- October 16 - November 25, 2794 : Operation Dismemberment, conceived by ADC High Command proceeds as ADC forces quickly sweep through comparatively undefended parts of the regions around Manticore. Deployment of Delphan wormholes begins while ADC forces note that unlike in other galaxies, it is currently impossible to tool Tyranny industry for their own use. Due to lightning-quick gains, enthusiastic ADC forces are overextended, though the lack of Dominatus resistance prevents High Command from explicitly stopping movement at this pace. Despite the threat of a Dominatus counter-attack, Allies surmise that the industrial capacity of the Tyranny must be dismanteld as quickly as possible and thus approve a rapid offensive.
- November 28, 2794 : Massive holo-conference takes place in which Archon and Acting-Tyrant Wolframicht Stahl discusses with the rest of High Command the plans for Operation Medusa - the destruction of Allied forces in Mirus. The unprecedented force gathers in what many later call the greatest act of military deception in the war. Most noteworthy is the assembly of 4 combat-ready Abaddon Class Flagships, one of which is specifically designed to bring down the Manticore Hypergate. This is the largest Dominatus fleet ever assembled, in any phase of the war or of their empire and consists of Mark 2s as well as the new Mark 3 Strikecraft : the Harbinger Class Fighter and the Sovereign Class Bomber.
- December 7 - 9 , 2794 : Operation Medusa begins its first phrase, a feint attack in the Chimera system, thus beginning the Battle of Chimera. Chimera is an important ADC staging ground for the siege of Armageddon Prime, and the Dominatus attack on the system showed all the signs of being a counter-attack including the presence of a half-built Abaddon Class Flagship distinct from the 4 intended for Manticore. The greatest nerve strike of the war soon follows as the Dominatus deploy a massive computer virus throughout the ADC, crippling command, control, and communications systems for the following week. The Dominatus spring their track and devote all their fleets to Manticore.
- December 10 - 14, 2794 : Operation Medusa, the blackout in effect, enters its second phase - a massive blitz into Allied territory aimed both at encircling the Allies outside Manticore, and making their way to the system as quickly as possible. Disjointed and separated Allied fleets are destroyed piecemeal by the Dominatus juggernaut. Land forces without air support are quickly overrun by new Dominatus Super-Heavy vehicles as well as specialised siege/assault vehicles and infantry. Notably, Allied Commanders like Lucian Chartier surmise the complete nature of the Dominatus operation and send couriers back telling all ships to reinforce Manticore ASAP. Despite his valour, Chartier is captured and taken to Abyss 2 as are many Allied officers.
- December 15, 2794 : Uriel Ultanos and Allied High Command find their way back to Manticore and manage to make an official, unencrypted communication that all forces that can be spared, whether in Mirus or back home are to get to Mirus as quickly as possible. Hypergate activity intensifies even more as the Allies hurriedly rush fleets and reinforce the system.
- December 17 - 18, 2794 : Operation Medusa proceeds as planned though massed Dominatus super-weapon use despite warnings aggravates the Apalos to the extent that they get involved in surgical strikes against Dominatus supply lines.
- December 19, 2794 : First Dominatus forces enter striking range of the system, pausing as they wait to be reinforced by the remainder of the Dominatus fleets. Despite Apaolos involvement, the sheer speed and power of the Dominatus advance mean that they arrive a single day ahead of schedule . Under Stahl's orders, they wait till December 21 while their fleets pool before launching the attack.
- December 21, 2794 - January 10, 2795 : The cataclysmic Second Battle of Manticore begins on December 21, 2794 the largest of the Dominatus War, and arguably the largest of pre-hyperspatial warfare Gigaquadrantic history. The ensuing battle claims utterly horrendous casualties on both sides, the largest of any battle in the Dominatus War and culminates with the destruction of the Hypergate and the ULE betrayal of the Tyranny. This leads to a pyrrhic allied victory though the Dominatus elastic defense immediately following this battle means that the two forces are temporarily stalemated. This leads to a de-facto ceasefire as ULE forces protect the ADC remnants and the ADC in their home galaxies begin implementing the contingency plan of reinforcing Mirus in case the Hypergate is destroyed.
- January 12 - January 18, 2795 : The Lanat offensive eventually stalls as the Dominatus trade space for time. Stahl loses position as Acting Tyrant and merely continues as Archon. This means that while he still has control over the general direction of the Dominatus military, that he no longer has absolute power, especially over either research or industry. The Mark 3 Program is ordered to resume, construction of the TIAMAT continues, and black projects (such as the Nemesis and Ultra-Heavy Program) are authorised.
- January 21 - February 12, 2795 : The Tyranny launch Operation Twilight of the Gods, a two-phase operation aimed at severing allied reinforcement lines from the ULE while capturing Allied leadership before reinforcements arrive so as to possibly force a ceasefire. The first phase succeeds - the Allied force, mostly constituted of Multus Esse remannts, Tralor fleets, the Mendel Pact, the Dynastic Systems, the Waptoria Alliance of Species amongst others are almost dismembered, with only extreme acts of allied ingenuity preventing a complete encirclement and collapse of the majority of their forces.
- February 13, 2795 - March 20, 2795 : Operation Twilight of the Gods enters its second phase as the Dominatus race against time to defeat the Allied forces before they are relieved by reinforcements on the projected date of March 28, 2795. Allied forces are cornered, with leadership mostly pushed back to the Phlegethon subsector. This phase of the war sees the Dominatus deploy the first Mark 3s Corvettes, Frigates, Destroyers, Cruisers, and Capital Ships. Mark 3s are substantially more effective than Mark 2s, with a Mark 3 of a certain class being noticeably more powerful than a Mark 2 of a higher class (i.e. cruiser vs capital ship). The feared Ogre tank is first deployed during this period as are the deadly Seraphim division of the Tyranny's Daemon Mecha. The Tyranny's deployment of these new technologies forces the Allies back and only due to last-minute heroism and ingenuity do the Allies form substantive defensive lines around their leadership.
- March 21, 2795 - March 26, 2795 : Operation Twilight of the Gods ends with the Battle of the Terminus, named not for a system but its later significance commences. Tenacious Allied defense makes it clear to the Dominatus during the engagements of March 26, 2795 that even if the Allies were not going to receive reinforcements, the earliest at which Allied leadership would be encircled and captured would be April 8, 2795. This realisation forces a massed Dominatus retreat as they re-establish defensive lines.
- March 27, 2795 : Major crisis as Dominatus hastily withdraw and establish defensive lines. The new Nemesis Missile is put into action, the experimental hyperspatial artillery being fired at the oncoming Second Mirus Invasion Force. Initial attacks are frighteningly effective, but allied counter-measures such as zig-zagging among others do much to mitigate the effectiveness of these new weapons. The Dominatus are unable to address this problem for the rest of the war and as such the Nemesis is relegated to the position of a mere novelty. Archon Stahl is temporarily relieved of command as the rest of Dominatus High Command weighs its options.
- March 30, 2795 : With the arrival of Allied reinforcements and an obviously inexorable advance in all directions, Dominatus commanders come to the notion that only a miracle can save them now - they have no chance to win via conventional means. That miracle is the TIAMAT project. With its theoretical problems solved earlier on, the Tyranny puts as much of its remaining might as possible into the project. The remaining resources are put to holding off the unstoppable Allied advance for as long as possible.
- April 2, 2795 : The relieved Stahl begins a tour of the faltering Tyranny, stopping by the Abyss Installation and visiting the captured Marshal Lucian Chartier, who has been languishing there ever since before the Battle of Manticore. Chartier is later freed after Stahl makes a wager with him.
- April 5, 2795 : Stahl's tour is cut short as he is reinstated as Archon. He is to be given absolute command of the military given his defensive genius and is given the sole directive to stall the Allied advance for as much as possible. Operation Final Gambit is planned and put into action as Stahl does his best to stall the allies for 5 months, the time estimated under which the TIAMAT will be completed.
- July 13, 2795 : Sybaris is captured, and Hedon is revealed to have defected to Uriel. This causes a temporary but incredible panic in the already chaotic Dominatus High Command, which has lost 70% of its territory so far, with the remainder being divided and unable to reinforce other pockets. Despite this, the majority of the Dominatus fleet and its best ground forces lie in the Thanatos subsector, ready to hold it for one more month.
- July 28 - August 25 : The Battle of the Stygian Gate is fought in which the Dominatus command a stunning defense of the entrance to the Thanatos subsector.
- August 25 - September 14 : Allies continue mop up operations - the last large Dominatus defense remaining is Demogorgon Prime and while battlefleets are sent in clean up duty to other parts of Mirus, the Allies pool their forces for one last offensive. Meanwhile, Stahl, having seen the TIAMAT completed on September 7, 2795 merely waits as Dominatus forces continually rehearse for the battle. Demogorgon Prime has been turned into a fortress over the past-several months as the Dominatus need to hold out till the TIAMAT charges up enough to activate.
The War So Far
For 4 years, a war had raged, a slave revolt on December 27, 2791 had ripped through the Tyranny, and in response to the weakening of the Dominatus juggernaut, its rivals had gone to war with it. However, Dominatus fortune as well as an uncoordinated initial effort meant that the Dominatus recovered enough to launch campaigns in the distant galaxies of Bunsen, Borealis, Andromeda, and the Plazith Rim against their opponents, campaigns which came frightfully close to a Dominatus victory before leading to the Dominatus being vanquished from these galaxies. After the defeat of the Dominatus in these galaxies, these races banded together, forming the Anti-Dominatus Coalition, and lead an attack on Dominatus Mirus, attacking at the hypergate system of Manticore. In a series of cataclysmic battles, they took Manticore and much of the surrounding territory.
Despite this, the Dominatus counterattack drove them back to Manticore, where the cataclysmic second battle of Manticore took place. The largest naval battle of the entire Dominatus War, it was an event watched with eager and panicked eyes by both the participants of the war, and other prying eyes. The betrayal of the Dominatus by the ULE, which the Dominatus believed would help them, broke the stalemate and led to a Dominatus military retreat, combined with the destruction of the hypergate, leaving the extragalactic forces stranded and the Dominatus navy wrecked. The ensuing campaigns saw the Dominatus rebuild their strength while the ULE and the remnants of the Invasion force battled alone against the Dominatus.
The Dominatus nearly succeeded in the defeat of these dismembered and undersupplied forces at the Battle of Terminus until the second invasion group arrived from a tour in deep intergalactic space and reestablished supply lines. This began a nigh-unstoppable push in which the Dominatus lost more ground everyday than they gained. While it was a slow grind against the might of a Gigaquadrantic hyperpower, it was an inexorable march which saw the Dominatus pushed back in spite of their new weapons developments. Despite the inclusion of scorched earth policies and daring tactics such as the use of Cyclops special forces and increased cooperation between its constituents, the Dominatus found themselves in an increasingly precarious position. With the fall of the Overseer Citadels, even the Imperium of War abandoned the Tyranny while the Troodontid Empire refused to intervene. Without any allies left, the Dominatus were left to fight alone.
Acting Tyrant Wolframicht Stahl was banished while more insane minds in the Dominatus General Staff influenced the demigod like child Tyrant Castigon Mortarius Heimdall to invest solely in the TIAMAT, a Dominatus hyperweapon that rewrote the fabric of the universe itself. The Dominatus strategy then hinged on a delaying act while the TIAMAT was developed as much as possible, with the end goal of using it in a final apocalyptic battle over Demogorgon Prime to defeat the ADC. The unstoppable ADC advanced eventually brought it to the home systems of the Dominatus where they waited patiently, mustering forces in preparation for the final battle of the war. Both sides pooled their forces and waited for the orders to prepare for the end of days.
The End of Days
An uneasy silence swept through the most fortified system in the Gigaquadrant as the Dominatus and their "children" awaited what all knew to be the final battle of the war. The shattered remnants of the Dominatus navy, spearheaded by the Mark III Ascendancy Class Ultracarrier Ascendancy looked at the entrance point to the system imbued with uneasy feelings. On one hand, their entire late war strategy had centered around preparing for a final massive confrontation over Demogorgon Prime.
Their aim was not to win the battle - they were too far outnumbered, but to delay the invading forces while the somewhat functional TIAMAT charged its main weapon. Tyrant Castigon Mortarius Heimdall had made the ultimate sacrifice and embedded himself, the product of the Dominatus' latest attempts to enhanced themselves, into the TIAMAT, which Dominatus scientists had supreme confidence in working. With this knowledge, the last fleets of the Tyranny were filled with a mixture of feelings - a sense of excitement at the opportunity to save their vaunted Tyranny, an alternating sense of uneasiness and acceptance at their impending morality, a sense of anxiety towards their final battle, and the cold unfeeling devotion to duty that had been programmed into them.
Below on Demogorgon Prime itself, the ground forces waited for the inevitable invasion - in their towering citadels, their eldritch, cathedral like bunkers, and their imposing walls, they waited. The shield was estimated to be strong enough to blunt the worst of the bombardment of the entire projected allied fleet, forcing the ADC to land ground troops for both symbolic and practical reasons. The Dominatus had prepared the entire planet as a monument to the carnage to ensue - the spires which dotted the planet looked condescendingly down at the drop sites, while those in the bunkers prepared to bathe their forsaken home in their nemesis' blood. Their goal was merely to tie up the allied ground forces till the Tiamat went into effect, and an ensuing counterattack would crush those foolish enough to think they could conquer the Tyranny's home.
All manner of denizens inhabited the thought to be impregnable bastion of Dominatus power. Dominatus armor and mecha waited patiently in emplacements and hidden caverns while synthetics, overseers, and Dominatus manned the emplacements. Even the twisted and mutated wildlife of the defiled planet rallied with their Dominatus masters, waiting in the land, the air, and sea, to feast upon the helpless corpses of physically living but damned souls. In hidden locations the Dominatus' largest warmachines sat, ready for the call to attack and visit ruination amongst the ADC. Impelled by both arrogance and desperation, the Dominatus had prepared Demogorgon Prime for the wrath of the gods. Perhaps they fancied themselves composers, creating a symphony of destruction to rhyme with the last verse of their national anthem.
With martial might,
and brilliant minds,
we make gods kneel before us
All that exists,
and even more,
will be driven before us.
Our foes perish,
crushed by our will,
swallowed whole by oblivion.
We will prevail,
the Tyranny will rule all!
One could even say that the angry ghosts of those who had gone before looked to the slaughter with enticing and eager smiles. The dead eyes of the cyclopean statues of the Tyranny's heroes which dominated the streets of Malogenesis seemed to have grins etched upon their unmoving faces. The scenes of art and music at the Tyranny's cultural bastions seemed to echo the delusional bloodlust and determination of its defenders as the Dominatus pictured in scenes depicting the wholesale slaughter and holocaust of civilizations, both past, present and future, looked encouragingly at the beings taunting the Gigaquadrant.
The Face of Mortality
No longer Acting Tyrant, but instead again Archon and Supreme Commander of the garrison of Demorgorgon Prime, Wolframicht Stahl paced the colossal halls of Apogee, the Dominatus military headquarters. The simulations had informed him that he had created as defensible a planet as possible, but the steadfastness and confidence that informed his tone as he gave final orders hid a mind wracked by doubts from the outcomes of the previous campaigns.
He had asked for the power of an Acting Tyrant and had been granted it - he had spearheaded the initial Dominatus defense of Mirus. He had no excuse for failure as a commander save for his own insufficiency - there was no Medusa to blame as in the campaigns of 2791, 2792, and 2793. And it had seemed that perhaps at Manticore, the Dominatus might have snatched victory in this cataclysmic war. But their strategy, one based on complete ruthlessness and overwhelming force both drew new enemies such as the Apalos, and inspired current ones to a fanatic defense. And in the end, the fragile honor between thieves and criminals, the weak and faulty glue in their alliance with the ULE ended with a betrayal all should have seen coming.
In the days that followed, the Dominatus attempted to use their last reserves to consolidate a frontline while the ULE relieved the ADC forces. Despite cutting off the ADC by destroying the Manticore Hypergate, and bleeding out the ADC invasion force to such an extent that only the Tralor could launch offensive action, the Dominatus had lost enough that the General Staff no longer had faith in Stahl. Indeed he was demoted back to a General Staff position while minds who had faith in the Dominatus' most advanced weapons hinged their strategies on those.
Perhaps in his campaigns against the ULE after, he saw some success, blunting their offensive while the new Dominatus fleets went after the ADC in Operation Medusa. But it was too little, too late - the arrival of the second Allied Invasion Group at the Battle of Terminus as well as the funds devoted to new research as opposed to current designs saw a Dominatus navy too weak to do anything but fight a fighting retreat. Perhaps under his lead, if all resources had gone into Mark IIs, his campaigns against the ULE would have succeeded and he could have forced the ADC into a ceasefire, but such counterfactuals were the bread and butter of the myth of Dominatus invincibility.
Stahl knew as much as anyone that the myth of the unstoppable Dominatus, the fastest growing empire in the Gigaquadrant as of late was one that never acknowledged their luck. They could have been crushed like an insect by the ULE in its early days and could have been easily expunged from its extragalactic holdings by those galaxies' resident powers. Only a supreme amount of fortune, infighting amongst the incumbent powers, and random luck let the Dominatus enter a position where their meteoric rise was not immediately stomped out by cautious foes. It was this luck that had allowed them to get this far, this luck that had allowed them to not have been stomped out in 2792 by a unified enemy, and this luck that had let them fight against the entire Gigaquadrant.
And so he saw that the results of this defensive campaign, one in which the Dominatus lost ground everyday as one in which reality was finally catching up with the Tyranny. And even he began to agree, as sector capitals were lost, overseer citadels overrun, that the last best hope of the Tyranny lay not in the cold rationale of traditional military tactics and stratagems, but in the lunacy of trust in their last great weapons. He did not share with those who didn't already know the bleakness of the situation - for in his resigned mind, he saw that the fanaticism and insanity of blind faith in miracles was a better motivator than the acknowledgement of the cold nihilism of an uncaring universe.
A Feverish Dream
The last years of the war saw the Dominatus military machine degenerate into a massed craze of scientists, generals, and admirals vying for the limited resources they had. Each supposedly war-winning invention that was deployed though quickly proved itself to be simply too little and too late in the face of the growing allied Juggernaut. Dominatus and overseers who martyred themselves for the most extreme augmentations simply saw themselves blasted apart when ADC air supremacy found them on their rampages. In the cold calculus of ADC commanders, earth-shattering bombardments could be called down upon their own troops if it meant the annihilation of the ever-rarer Dominatus. Ultra-Heavy vehicles saw themselves utterly dominate the battlefield till they found themselves utterly and hopelessly outgunned by ADC starships. The Mark 3s were a nightmare for ADC forces the first time they were encountered, with stories of small Mark 3 strike groups crushing small Allied fleets circulating through the Allied consciousness. But this fear was eventually quashed completely by the sheer weight of Allied forces and numbers. Even the Dominatus Nemesis Missile program, which culminated in the launch of an integralactic hyperspatial weapon of mass destruction finished only with the destruction of a tiny sliver of Allied industrial capacity in Plazith. Indeed, such an experimental weapon served only to anger the Allies rather than do anything substantial.
Perhaps to the average allied trooper, the Dominatus still inspired an incomparable degree of terror. One can imagine the feelings felt by an Allied trooper when confronted by an army wherein the baseline trooper was a 4 meter tall cybernetic soldier with an exoskeleton comparable to advanced power armor. Indeed, such a trooper must have felt that such an army was the product of the feverish imagination of a maniac hellbent on making an army based not on the constraints of reality and logic but on the crazed ideas of fantasy. But those with a strategic view felt only a sense of cautious encouragement : each day presented another vanquished nightmare. These days the Overseer Citadels had had been razed to the ground, permanently preventing the Tyranny’s production of its signature super soldiers. In one such episode, Paragon Uriel Ultanos presided over the complete destruction of the gaudy spires of Sybaris. He saw each spire of gold melt into formless rivers, each marble edifice crumble into dust, and each diamond shattered into an invisible mist. In another, Imperator Caligustus ordered Bruteigon and whatever Berzeker his fleet could reach to be rescued from the jaws of death as Mirusians and Hegemony alike ruptured the fragile crust of Chaedes with flood basalt to erase the Dominatus presence on Chaedes forever. Those overseers which the War-Imperials could not reach in time and those who simply refused to retreat -of which there were many- burned even as they drowned in molten rock. To add insult to the injury, the Imperium of War then not only retreated from Dominatus territory altogether, correctly assuming the ADC could not waste further time by chasing them, they began to draw up plans to reannex the Bellus subsector should the Tyranny fall. Each day saw the Dominatus pushed back, some encircled and destroyed, some starved of supplies and annihilated, and others pushed to their breaking point. Indeed the apocalyptic battles that took place, especially those over the Dominatus’ sector capitals, proved to be abattoirs to the ADC, battles with the casualties of smaller wars. But once those worlds were silenced, as they inevitably were by the combination of a mass of allied bodies and tactical genius, the Dominatus were deprived of both significant prestige and industrial capacity. Yes, a trooper on one of those desolate wastelands, surrounded by mountains of dead comrades and faced with the prospect of an attack by the Dominatus’ newest weapons could feel a sense of dread and futility, but those on top saw a clear path to the destruction of their mortal foe.
The Dominatus, on the other hand, having formed a temporary junta saw everywhere their latest attempts to turn the tide fail, and put their faith in a crazed plan that would be laughed at by saner heads had it not come at such a dark time. It called for the Dominatus to buy as much time for the development and testing of the new TIAMAT as possible. Indeed, the Dominatus hedged their bets solely on their most unpredictable, but by far their most powerful weapon on war. The Dominatus were committed to paying any price for their long-term survival, and thus the allies saw the Dominatus change tactics. Frenzied offensives became the norm amongst the previously retreating Dominatus. These attacks were so ferocious and sometimes damaging that they forced the ADC to stall temporarily, reinforce its lines and plan cautiously before proceeding. Unknown to the Allies, these last attacks were draining the very last of the Dominatus’ strategic reserves; if they had known how utterly desperate the Dominatus were, perhaps these furious, sometimes cataclysmic attacks, were indicators of the ADC’s nearby victory.
Dominatus “heroes” if they could be called as such demonstrated acts of valor comparable to the Allies’ own at the colossal Second Battle of Manticore. In the defense of the Stygian Gate, the offense at Terminus, and the Lanat campaign, they demonstrated an uncanny degree of tactical acumen and shrewdness hitherto not seen. But all in the Tyranny knew that the war had progressed to the point where there was simply no hope in winning through the proven methods of the past. One poem written shortly after some Dominatus archives were recovered after the war compared the Dominatus strategy to a professional army sacrificing itself in the hopes that a group of cultists could summon an angry god. Indeed by the end of the war, the Dominatus had succeeded in developing the TIAMAT as far as they could, and had prepared for an epic confrontation with all the forces they could muster at Demogorgon Prime, where the TIAMAT had been moved. The development had taken so long that it only had a chance of working when the Thanatos subsector had been breached, and paranoid Dominatus had destroyed their own naval Installation after developing the TIAMAT. It was obvious to all in the Tyranny, that in this last battle, quite literally everything would be decided.
The Heart of Darkness
Allied Intelligence had ascertained many things about Demogorgon Prime. Indeed, even without any reconnaissance, the majority of the facts pointed to an unsavory conclusion. In this last battle, the fate of the war would be decided. In this last battle, the Dominatus would deploy each and every last one of their forces. In this last battle, they would face the most defended system in the galaxy and the remnants of the Dominatus’ once thought unstoppable navy. To those allied commanders who had once planned for the defense of Mirenton or Alcanti when it was thought the Dominatus would batter through all of their defenses, they envisioned a system made fortress, one perhaps more defensible than the Dominatus sector capitals or Hypergates. But each one was prepared to pay the final price to exit the war.
Outside the Demogorgon system, the allies pooled an utterly gigantic fleet, one perhaps only exceeded in size by the one that battled at Manticore. The allies were perhaps at the economic and industrial breaking point due to the cost of waging such a titanic war in a foreign galaxy, but they stood poised to enter the ring one last time. Commanders recognized the time as one likely to never again occur. Speeches youths are forced to memorize were made that day as the most powerful militaries of the Gigaquadrant gathered one last time to descend on the Dominatus. Perhaps Emperor Wormulus’s speech entitled “Why?” in which he expounded on the DCP’s greatness.
Why are we here?
It is not to form a new order! It is not to have material to boast about! It is not to prove ourselves to our superiors!
The current order is one we have created! We have planet-wide annals dedicated to the history of our supremacy! We have no superiors!
Why are we here?
It is because the Gigaquadrant has forgot why we are Plazith’s hegemon. It is because a rising power thought they could challenge us and wrest away our pre-eminence. It is because the Gigaquadrant is forgetful, and needs it burnt into its consciousness that the Delpha Coalition of Planet’s supremacy is not an ephemeral tumor brought by luck, but mandated by our destiny.
Why are we here?
It is not to fight the Dominatus. It is to fight the doubts that are perhaps present in the minds of those who have forgotten who we are. It is not to raze this miserable excuse of a planet to the ground, but to completely incinerate the thought that at any time in the future, history will forget about the Delphi Coalition of Planets. It is not to gain another war story, but to demonstrate to those who perhaps have not seen that such stories are regular to a civilization such as ours.
Why are we here?
It is because we are the linchpin of the current order for a reason. It is because we are a necessary force for order. It is because the Dominatus are but a hiccup in the vast march of history and we are the synchronized stomping of the boots.
Why are we here?
It is because the Dominatus have forgotten what exactly it means to fight the Delpha Coalition of Planets. It is because in their pride, they have thought themselves our equals. It is because they have forgotten why we will stand and they will fall.
Why are we here?
Because we are order, and they are chaos.
Because we are civilization, they are barbarians.
Because we are destined to succeed, they are destined to fail.
Why are we here?
Why have we always been here?
Why will we always be here?
Because we are the Delpha Coalition of Planets.
But the volume of oratory gave way to the silence of prayer.
They prayed to their gods.
They prayed to themselves.
They prayed to fate.
They prayed to free will.
They prayed to technology.
They prayed to magic.
And in the vast darkness outside the Demogorgon system, their prayers floated aimlessly, looking blindly for answers.
Only tomorrow could the damned be separated from the blessed.
Tomorrow was Judgement Day.
Moment of Reckoning
It was a story that repeated itself numerous times before. An infinite armada of ships surging through the vast voids of space to a battle. The unceasing brutality and scale of the war had numbed even the most sensitive of souls to the unending horrors of a war against a mortal species that fancied themselves the masters of the gods themselves. Despite this, the cold and dried up scars which criss-crossed the skins, hides, and exoskeletons of the Tyranny’s myriad foes rustled with a burning fire that stood in stark contrast to the scabbed and necrotized flesh of ennui and callous monotony. For in this battle, they saw a doorway out of the several years of an eternity in hell.
They counted amongst themselves veterans of the colossal battles of the war. Veterans of such battles of the Deathstorm, of Invictus, of Manticore, of Terminus, and of countless other such meat grinders flew through the dark, uncaring void of space to smite their mortal enemy. Perhaps even the Junction, the unbelievably ancient power, more a force of nature and a fact of the universe than a civilization perhaps felt a tinge of emotion, one long denied to their jaded selves as fully appreciated the feast to come.
And on the other side of the vast void the Tyranny’s sensors displayed a fact seen on countless other monitors in the past - the might of the Gigaquadrant falling upon a single system. Who knows what the Allies would have felt if they had seen the Dominatus and their minions turn to the last god that they had faith in. This god was not the supposed cold rationalism and knowledge of their supremacy that had served as the basis of their condescension to supposedly lower races but instead the lunatic fanaticism and zealotry of a civilization whose fate hinged solely on a miracle.
In that desolate region of space, shrouded under the baleful eye of Demogorgon, the Dominatus stood watch. Perhaps in the few moments before Armageddon they paused to reflect on a time they had been plotting the victory parades that would take place after the conquest of Mirenton, Alcanti, Paris, among countless other Gigaquadrantic capitals. The most circulated book in the Tyranny, a fantastic and wishful alternate history imagined a conquest of Alcanti and the destruction and complete humiliation of Uriel. These giants had stood over mountains of dead enemy corpses in the individual embers of battle that constituted the initial campaigns against the Allies and had gorged themselves on the all-encompassing fear that they inspired in their enemies.
To most Dominatus, the most appetizing meal they had was not that in which pain and agony filled their enemies completely. This was insufficient. They needed their foes to fully acknowledge the superiority of the Tyranny. They needed their foes, to abandon hope and maoschistically embrace futility. Only when an enemy’s soul died, having fully submitted itself to the Dominatus did the ravaging of the enemy’s body give any pleasure. It was an almost orgasmic feeling for a Dominatus to see a once-strong foe cross the threshold into hopelessness and despair.
The oldest amongst the Dominatus, those who had fought during the Wars of Reunification had enough vision to acknowledge that this sense of futility and hopelessness was knocking at their door. Only the flimsy bastion provided by in the insane hope of the TIAMAT’s success prevented them from crossing this threshold. And they had delayed testing whether this bastion would hold up to the cold and inexorable march of reality. But the day had come in which they would have their moment of reckoning.
The storm had come.
Death Comes to Us All
The same words that described the carnage of battles such as Asphodel, Manticore, Terminus, the Deathstorm among others rang through in this final stanza of war. But all knew that they were writing the last lines in this long epic. This was, like every other invasion of an extremely important Dominatus location less a battle but more a tsunami crashing against a mountain. The Tyranny's twin flagships, the Infinity Class Titan Infinity and Ascendancy Class Ultracarrier Ascendancy arrogantly stood vigil over the incoming tide. They were the twin peaks of the Dominatus' last fleet, a motley selection of Mark 3s, Mark 2s, and stationary defense installations. Each wave was repulsed, but each wave gradually eroded the cliff.
The last 2 Dominatus Grand Admirals knew that they were simply holding a delaying action for the yet unseen TIAMAT to charge up. Indeed, they could see their fleet gradually diminish as the unending waves kept coming. Each passing second saw the blood-red shields of the Dominatus dissipate more and more. Each passing second saw the black and gold of the Supremhydron lost in the blinding light of the ADC's firepower. Each passing second saw the Dominatus navy become more and more of a memory than a fighting force.
This was not as much a battle against ADC but inevitability. The Dominatus navy knew that it was a dead man walking, slowly dragged by the chains of fate to the execution block. It struggled with all of its might, lit with the fiery determination of an animal backed into its last corner. It was obvious to all that this was a war with no quarter for any party. The Dominatus' nigh-magical weapons, made possible by their technological wizardry sounded less like the the mathematically perfect feats of unimaginably complex engineering but the last desperate shouts of a dying animal fending off the reaper.
Indeed the Dominatus seemed to scream and roar, not just at the ADC but at history. It was a roar demanding the universe remember the Tyranny. It was the Dominatus clinging to their delusional and genocidal narcissism and trying to etch a last legacy into a realm so dedicated to pushing them into the cold void of oblivion. They fought not just the incurable miasma of history but the conflagration of the hate of all those they had angered. But their shouts grew more stifled, more hoarse, as they choked on the results of their hubris. Their frantic movements, once those of organized resistance slowly but surely became the involuntary convulsions of a dying man.
There was nowhere to retreat too. There was no next battle. Only death. And even death itself denied the Dominatus solace. For each destroyed Dominatus ship and each dying Dominatus did not go into a rest knowing that it had served its duty and that history would remember their sacrifice. They went into the void tormented by the twin mistresses of anguish and uncertainty, the former a reminder that they had not destroyed enough of the enemy, and the latter a reminder that even if they had, it was most probable that the Dominatus would cease to exist.
The Dominatus tried to stand against the furious storm for as long as possible. They were a colossus of flesh and bone that stood at the epicenter of history taunting the whole universe. But Each hole made in the Dominatus line was a line that could not be filled. Each ship destroyed was once which was gone forever.Each bone broken, was one that would never again men. Each piece of skin ripped off by the maelstrom was one that would never again grow back. And with each sickening snap, and each flayed piece of skin, the Dominatus were forced to kneel, for even the most determined of men is unable to stand with broken knees and broken elbows.
But even kneeling, the Dominatus fleet did not give up. When it could not stand like a man, it moved like a furious but wounded dog, biting and barking furiously at the cold and unstoppable banshees of eternity. And when it could not move like a dog, it instead squirmed like a worm, trying to bite at the cold iron of fate's boot. But fate does not care for the determination and valor of those destined to be vanquished. The cold calculus of reality gives advantage is not swayed by pathos or ethos but simply logos.
It had become a sick cliche of this war that the ADC would suffer titanic casualties in any battle against a well-defended Dominatus position, and this was no different. But that did nothing to change the outcome. For the now worm-like Dominatus fleet was squashed slowly, painfully, and certainly by the march of history. Infinity imploded upon itself after having been built several months prior. Ascendancy descended unceremoniously into the void of space.
Time was not of consequence to anything but the TIAMAT. The battle unfolded in its preordained way. As was usual, the Allied fleet suffered monstrous losses. But for the first time, The Dominatus fleet was reduced to nothing more than a footnote in history. The once proud fleet that had menaced each galaxy of the Gigaquadrant was now simply an ever-changing fog of cosmic dust permeating itself throughout the system. The roar had been silenced, the fierce growl slowly having subsided into the death croaks of a gurgling corpse.
For all the Allies knew, they owned the space above Demogorgon Prime. To them, all that was left was a siege that would rhyme with the battle that had just concluded.
The ADC had prepared for the eventuality of a planetary invasion. It was a move made necessary by the Dominatus planetary shield, and beyond practicality, a move justified by its symbolism. Each and everyone of the ADC's constituent nations had a vision of their flag on the Tyrant's spire. Each and everyone of them had the same vision of the Dominatus' monuments purged from history. Each and everyone of them had a vision of the Dominatus consciousness, forged in the marble and steel of Malogenesis, the planet's capital, ripped from the annals of time.
The deluge was such that even with the almost impossible technological wizardry of the Dominatus shield, the skies were set aflame by the fury of the bombardment. Fire and light rained from the heavens replete with the screaming howls of countless strike craft buzzing about like a horde of locusts. But the damned on the ground did not for a second consider resignation to their fate. The planet shouted with defiance as the myriad anti-aircraft installations shouted back in defiance. Molten streams of metal traveling at near relativistic speeds impaled Allied craft, screeching missiles incinerated others while bolts of raw energy disintegrated yet more.
And yet as parts of the virtually endless swarm were incinerated, more flew down from above to fill in the gaps. But yet a darker, more pervasive, and less porous cloud appeared. The lowest layer of this cloud was one composed almost solely of prisoners, expendables, and other such undesirables. Indeed the DCP had conspired to punish races and empty some of its prisons by transferring a multitude of prisoners from their cells to landing craft. Indeed the sheer weight of numbers and the wide spaces involved meant that a large amount of these craft eventually hit the ground, only to be pummeled mercilessly by the almost city-sized bastions of the Dominatus.
One can imagine the horror an an average infantryman felt upon landing. To get out of the landing craft alive was to be greeted by the sight of burning skies from which countless angels fell to the gnawing mouths of the hell below. And if one survived past that sight, it was to be greeted by the unweclome sight of the sheer power of the Dominatus military installations. Spires several kilometers tall, nestled in city-wide citadels formed the centerpiece of the Dominatus defense. These utterly massive fortresses could cause catastrophic levels of damage to landing zones with a single barrage, and arrogantly stood with a nigh-omniscient view of the entire battlefield. Beyond these spires stood numerous other bastions, town-sized installations that towered over the landscape. These sentinels gazed down upon the tiny allied soldiers and without so much a thought banished them from existence. The smallest such defenses were cathedral sized bunkers which marked the god-forsaken land. While lacking in the raw firepower of their larger brethren, they were dispersed such that the average allied trooper was always perfectly exposes. The overlapping killzones meant cover against one bunker was simply the firing line of another, and as the day would show, only the piles of dead ADC troops would provide any sort of cover.
And perhaps for the more average species of the ADC, one can imagine the ensuing horror they felt upon being hit, even by indirect fire. For the all encompassing body suits or power armor to be breached meant full exposure to the maddening environment of Demogorgon Prime. It was to see ones skin scourged by the ravages of heat, or frost, or a poisonous fog. It was for a small wound to fester with the radioactive and chemical waste that permeated the evil fog. It was for still living men to be consumed from the inside out by the parasitic and invasive flies that constituted the lowest rung of the planet's food chain. But the cries of men eaten alive from within by the mutated abominations that populated Demogorgon Prime were drowned out by the cacophony above. The arbiters above had no thought for mercy or respite, and the pleas below were only assuaged after the gentle shepherd of death ended the torture.
The first waves were always damned. They were never meant to accomplish anything against the Dominatus defenses. They were merely there to serve as bait.
The Tip of the Spear
Above the carnage below, the Allies prepared for the next phase of the offensive. The objective was to damage the Dominatus bunker system enough so that it would no longer preclude the possibility of landing heavier equipment. The Allies were thus forced to rely solely on elite ground forces in conjunction with air support to take these bastions. The usual suspects were involved - DCP Ultra Troopers and Legionnaires, Draconis Marines, Wraith Legionnaires, and Blood Dragons, French Parachutistes, Fordanta, ISF Paladins, ULE Commandos and Cybertroopers, the Junction’s monstrosities among others. But in this battle, the Olympians of the Enlightenment Collaborative were also deployed at the tip of the spear. These fearsome troopers, each designed as a counter to the Tyranny’s monstrous Overseer legions, had seen action in the later stages of Mirus during the conquest of the Overseer Citadels and little else. Even then, they had played second fiddle to the non-Mirusian powers of the Allies. This, at the time, was warranted due to the relative inexperience of the Olympians, though it still caused significant resentment amongst the more prideful of Olympian Creeds. At Sybaris, for example, the Solar Siblings and their Arhat Elegant'e has refused to do battle alongside the reformed Sons of Hedon Template Hedon Morillium. At Hunn, the Storm Strikers had struck out alone, leaving allied armied behind in a futile attempt to claim the head of the Horsemen of Destiny's Template, Pestilon. Perhaps most problematic had been the aftermath of the battle for Masoch. There, the Tartarian Arbiters had nearly clashed with the supersoldiers of the Hegemony who had fought besides them in the conquest of that world, for first freeing the slave population enjoyed by the Harbingers as playthings and destroying said Harbingers first were mutually opposing objectives. Then, the Arbiters had quarreled with the high command of the Katar Sector Alliance for failing to reïnforce both them from the start - even though the KSA elements of the Anti-Dominatus Coalition had been in charge of the battle. At the time of the battle for Demogorgon Prime however, this problematic behavior had been stamped out amongst all Olympian Creeds by rapidly mounting experience. Finally, the Collaborative found an opportunity to deploy its best at the very tip of the spear.
The Mirusians, save for perhaps the ULE, had always been considered auxiliary troops by the rest of the Gigaquadrantic hyperpowers and superpowers which constituted the ADC. Even when they were assigned to frontline combat after linking up with the ADC, they did not receive the assignments or the rewards that similarly accomplished ADC troopers received, no matter how important their contributions might have been - and as the ones knowing the lay of the land, they often had the vital and dangerous task of acting as scouts. All that would change during the battle for Demogorgon Prime, during which Barda Clett had pleaded successfully that the Olympians could stand alongside the very best of the ADC in a fight against a once thought unstoppable foe.
Epizoume Toicho of the Celestial Hoplites stood in the assault bay of his personalized Aurora Dropship and waited intently for the order to attack. He was personally charged with leading the assault on the Dominatus command post bunker overlooking a key Mendel War-Guardianship site. The Shock Troopers of Cicoluis needed that command post cleared before they could deploy the brunt of their armored divisions, and early attempts at landing had been thwarted by the sheer power and accuracy of the Dominatus artillery. It was up to three Arhats and their elite retinues to clear out this command bunker, one significantly better defended than the average defense bunker, so as to clear the way.
The viewport he looked out of gave him a vision of a world seemingly designed to kill him. He had only heard reports of the carnage below. He could only see it through the footage provided to him as an officer, the looks of anguish on the faces of his fellow commanders who, if not on the ground, saw their forces virtually exterminated by the Dominatus defenses. Epizoume Toicho, the first full Olympian, had killed dozens of Dominatus in duels, and many more of the overseers and beyond that many more of their synthetic war machines. Jal Si'laven of the Valara'a Sinthe, the passenger of the ship to his right, had fought against a Dominatus Sovereign Executor and survived. Alphahpla of the Shrouded Slayers, presumably the passenger of the ship to his left, had kept his deployments so secret that even the Tyranny’s infamously efficient Terpeshoire Spy Network could not accurately pinpoint them. It were rare feats that put them on equal footing as the many more famous ADC fighters, and ones they took pride in. But perhaps Epizoume’s biggest claim to fame was having survived the first-wave assault on the Dominatus stronghold of Krieg, its northernmost sector capital. Even a warrior of his caliber, and a leader of such a brood remembered with sadness what being part of the first wave was like.
In Epizoume’s mind, it was to walk through a literal meat grinder while being shot at from all sides, it was to walk through plains on which not rain fell, but fallen landing craft and artillery shells, and it was to take shelter in the mounds of the corpses of ones comrades so as to have a brief respite from the slaughter. Each minute counted - the earlier he captured the command post, the earlier his allies could be saved from such a horrid fate. Epizoume Toicho could not accept the plight of the average War-Guardian, Clone Soldier or Biotic Trooper, to be killed before having fired a shot at the monsters who burnt their worlds and desecrated their culture. He could not accept that the Dominatus did not even consider the Collaborative to be equals of their other foes. He could not accept that the Dominatus, a constant reminder of the continuing nightmare, still breathed.
As Arhats, the most well-trained idividuals the Collaborative could deploy, Epizoume Toicho, Jal Si'laven and even Alphahpla led from the front. They were at the very tip of the spear, the first ships in the Olympian wedge. Theirs were the first to fall through the heavens into the hell of Demogorgon Prime. Theirs were the first wracked by the hungry winds and vicious lightning of the planet. Theirs were the first ships to initiate evasive maneuvers as they neared the target. The ablative cover of non-Olympian landers and other such strike craft provided them some respite, but the sheer power of Dominatus anti-air began taking its toll amongst their rapidly moving landing craft. The wedge split up, each contingent going to its assigned bunker, and at this moment, Jal Si'laven put them all on the speaker to inspire them. Such had always been his way, a moment of reprieve before the run trough the gauntlet, a moment to remind his troops -and to remind himself- for what they fought.
Olympians, what do you see before you? Is it the hell that is Vestibon, one of the triple wombs from which the Dominatus abominations sprang forth? Is it the arrogance of the Dominatus, made into stone and steel by their technological wizardry? Is it an ever-lasting insult to our dignity of our civilization? An insult that if not addressed is a lasting indictment on who we are as a people? The Dominatus are a repudiation for all that we stand for! They are a vile beast that cannot be reasoned with, and today, we have the opportunity to rid the Gigaquadrant of this monstrosity.
Look at what stands below you. It is made of stone. It is made of bone. It is made of mesh. It is made of flesh. Our comrades wither and rot because these bunkers yet stand. If you were to see the look of sorrow on a general’s face, the suffocated moans for help of a War-Guardian, or the clipped wings of a Biotic lander, you would recognize that we have the most important task of the invasion.
Today the Gigaquadrant grants us an entrance to the grand stage. We have but a change to prove ourselves not just as warriors, but as a nation. We are here to send out the message that we have arrived. We have arrived as a nation of warriors, dedicated to the consecration of all that is right and just. We have arrived as Olympians, the ambassadors of the Collaborative. For it is through us today that those above will judge our civilization. We have arrived as liberators of the galaxy, from slavery to the Dominatus, from slavery to terror, from slavery to the rampant abuse of unholy power, from the tyranny of Demogorgon Prime, from the perversity of twisted science, and from a nightmare.
It is by our hand, and by our hand alone, that these shackles are broken.
It is by our hand, and by our hand alone, that we cast off these chains.
It is by our hand, and by our hand alone, that the oppressed defeat the oppressors.
Thus all Tyrants Die!
The anti-aircraft fire had taken its toll, but the Olympians had reached their position. They leaped off their transports to the bunkers below. It was as if vengeful angels were descending from heaven to smite the demons below. It was not only the elite retinues of the Ahrats themselves who descended, seismic spears, arming swords and energy dirks pointed at the ground below. They were supposed by the full weight of Mirusian firepower - the fleets of the United Knights Alliance, Grand Republic of Tyris Mayor, Mendel Pact and Federation of Glory Dominatus all working in tandem. Arachne Class Mecha, specifically made for fire support and air support contested these skies, and they barked in deadly symphony with the Dominatus’ stationary AA defenses against the aerial onslaught above.
Epizoume and his Creed descended like comets upon the earth. Their numbers thinned due to the sheer weight of Anti-Aircraft Fire, which not even their escorts nor other forces in the battle could fully distract, but each passing second saw them get closer and closer to the top of the bunker. A blazing meteor of gold with artisan-etched markings of vibrant green, the sacred colors of the Enlightenment Collaborative, his golden aspis a blazig protective disk held in front of him, his trident crackling with earth-scattering force, Epizoume Toicho prepared as his Immortal guard entered firing range of the Dominatus troops below.
Still screaming from the heavens, the Epizoume’s Immmortals opened fire using their Hardlight weaponry on the Dominatus synthetics below. In return they received the full firepower of the Dominatus infantry garrisoning the bunker. Annihilator Variant Chiliarchs, the most commonly found heavy weapons users in the Tyranny, opened fire with gatling railgun and mini-MHD cannons. Slugs of insanely accelerated metal and molten streams of transuranium fired at relativistic rates took their toll amongst the heavily armored Hoplites, who despite their heavy and advanced armor were still far from invulnerable to heavy Domintus infantry ordnance. Their response, however, was equally devastating. It seemed that the wrath of all of the Collaborative had fallen upon the Dominatus, and the Dominatus were reeling. The initial particle beam fire took its toll, but only in the aftermath of the frenzied onslaught of spear, sword and dirk use that followed the seismic impact of the combined landing of all three Olympian Creeds did the Dominatus forces begin retreating from the rooftop.
The leader of the rooftop’s garrison, the fearsome, 15 meter tall Apex Daemon known as Charon was so heavily armed that each of his barrages killed groups of the Celestial Hoplites and Valara'a Sinthe alike, despite their advanced powered armor. Jal Si'laven thought this to be an unacceptable, and in one slash of his longsword, immobilized the synthetic beast by wrecking its hip joints. Charon turned his full firepower upon Jal, but the enhanced Volver effortlessly dodged this and with the insane agility and strength befitting of an Ahrat, leapt into the air and with all his might, forced his blade down through Charon’s face, before boosting downwards and cleaving the mecha in half.
Having secured the rooftop, the Creeds split up as the Olympians proceeded downwards and medical craft took the scores of wounded back. Only their enhanced constitutions prevented the wounded from succumbing to the fearsome environment of the planet, as their bodies resisted the massive flies that sought out new hosts. Proceeding to the corridors below, they encountered some of the Tyranny’s more powerful synthetic soldiers. The Excubitors, veteran Chiliarchs transferred to newer and stronger bodies, contested their advance.
The Excubitor’s most common weapon was the SERSMME Multi-Stage-Projectile Rifle. Created for use against the DCP’s Commandoes, and the Draconid Imperium’s marines, its main design specification was that one shot be able to penetrate both the shielding and the armor and then completely destroy the soldier inside. Against such a fearsome weapon, many of the Celestial Hoplites succumbed. But emboldened by the presence of their Ahrats and propelled by the heroism and courage befitting of the Olympians, they rapidly closed the gap, slaughtering the Excubitors in close ranged combat. They lost men, and good men at that, but then what were they expected to do? Not all could live to tell the tale, and not all were expected to.
The sounds of particle beam against armor tore through the corridors of the baroque and sinister bunker, but even with the increasingly dire death toll, the Hoplites pushed on to the command room. It was perhaps lightly defended by comparison, the rest of the garrison having been eliminated it and the Hoplites cleared it out with ease. But before they could celebrate, they found themselves assaulted by Akemainyu himself. Akemainyu had himself heard of the Hoplites and their countertactics to his Eternal Guard. Thus he felt the urgent need to skewer Epizoume Toicho on his beam katana and had teleported to the bunker using its internal teleporter.
The Hoplites were alerted to his coming with the faint screams of Olympians split in half by the ludicrously powerful blade. Crafted by the Dominatus themselves in credit for Akemainyu’s service, it was almost as if the Hoplites’ armor and shielding, the pride of the Olympians and the Collaborative, was nothing but tissue paper in the face of such a ludicrously powerful foe. Even alone, Akemainyu seemed nothing but unstoppable. The corridors presented such an environment that the monster couldn’t be flanked, and his onyx black armor was splattered only with the remains of the Hoplites.
Epizoume Toicho raced forwards to confront this monstrosity and eventually found him in a corridor, having pulverized the head of one of Epizoume Toicho’s veteran Immortals by stomping. Incensed by such a callous show of force, Epizoume sprinted towards the towering Mahanyan monster, which let loose such a massively powered wave of energy from his katana that even Epizoume was thrown back. Akemainyu them charged towards Epizoume, sword held high. It was only barely that Epizoume was able to begin parrying the abominable foe’s strikes and even then, with each parry he was forced back.
After some fighting, Akemainyu had pushed Epizoume to a wall, and kicked him against it with such force that he scattered the Ahrat’s armor and flung the enhanced Soldarian through segments of the wall. Amused, he walked to the now prone Epizoume Toicho and stomped down on the Ahrat’s chest while holding his katana high for a final strike. The weight of his foot prevented Epizoume from moving before he condescendingly taunted the Arhat of the Celestial Hoplites, the one that was supposedly trained from birth to be his better, one last time.
Akemainyu - I was wrong in having thought you a challenge. Any last words, worm?
Epizoume - Thus all Tyrants Die!
Akemainyu chuckled before bringing his blade down. But right at the midway point, Epizoume swung his shield to block Akemainyu’s crushing boot and flung his xyston upwards into Akemainyu’s eye. Roaring in pain, Akemainyu let one hand off his katana to rip out the xyston. Grabbing it as if it was a large toothpick, he slowly took it out of his left eye socket before chuckling again. But midway through this chuckle, Epizoume drew another weapon and implanted this xiphos squarely into the arrogant Mahanayan’s skull through the provided opening. Bristling with energy, the xiphos incinerated the Mahanayan from the head down as Akemainyu’s screams were overpowered with the iridescence of the Celestial Hoplite Arhat’s weapon, henceforth to be amongst the most revered relics of his Creed. Soon, all that was left of the towering 8.5 meter tall Overseer Template was a pile of goop inside broken black armor.
Epizoume Toicho had defeated one of the most powerful of the Dominatus’ Templates, and successfully cleared the bunker. Wounded and exhausted, he was dragged by an alarmed Jal Si'laven and an expressionless Alphahpla as well as the remainder of his Immortals to the rooftop above. There, on the cathedral-sized bastion did he finally see the fruits of their collective labor. Though they had paid the price in extremely heavy casualties, but through the efforts of the Olympians, the War-Guardian landing zones, specifically those of the Shock Troopers of Cicoluis were much less hotly contested, and they could start bringing down the big guns. The Olympians had proven that they could stand with the Gigaquadrant’s foremost powers as equals in combat, and from that day on, no ADC commander would consider the Mirusians as anything else but equals in the field of combat.
On Fire We Fly
To Kyrennus Varus Savenior, stepping inside the belly of an AO-8 dropship was nothing new. The veteran of dozens of combat drops even prior to the Dominatus War, he truly personified the dignified experience and animal ferocity of the Talon Marines. Clad from wing to wing in some of the best armor that the Aetheral Talon Body could afford him, he took each step slowly and somberly as he entered the dropship for the last time. As the doors closed, he took a final breath before awaiting the order to drop.
Even with air dominance, landing upon a Dominatus fortress world was a risky undertaking. It was for a skilled pilot to dart like a madman through barrages of anti-air fire that close-air-support struggled to take out. It was for a marine to fight the biological and cybernetic monstrosities of a civilization that justifiably threatened an entire Gigaquadrant on open ground. It was to know that the encounter would end in either victory or death. Even though Kyrennus was familiar with these grim realities, and even though he was amongst the most well-trained of the Gigaquadrant's professional soldiers, his mind always found a way to drift.
Perhaps it drifted to memories of his homeworld. Perhaps it drifted to memories of previous campaigns prior to the Dominatus War. Not this day. As he looked to the camera-ports and remebered the strategic maps showing the disposition of the baroque and cyclopean Dominatus bunkers, he remembered an operation that though past, was seared permanently into his memory. Looking at the god-forsaken world beneath him, his mind flitted to a similar memory - the assault on Sybaris.
Corporal Kyrennus looked out at the camera-ports as he pondered his mission. Orders had come from a senior figure in high command that contingents from his legion would be assigned to a critical mission. Details were sparse and released on a need-to-know basis, but Kyrennus knew that it would involve infiltrating the production lines of the Sons to recover the Ultima Servilis serum. While in his craft, he reviewed likely scenarios as well as the foes he would probably have to face.
After the fall of Invictus, command of the Sons of Hedon had been shared by its three most powerful Praetors: Sodom, Gommorah, and Moloch. During the Mirus Campaign, each had received extensive modifications and enhancements with effects which reflected the atrocities they had each committed during the Andromeda Campaign. Sodom, who had committed unspeakable crimes involving eating and consumption of Andromedans had turned into little more than a maliciously intelligent mass of teeth, tongues, and jaws held together in the shape of a Draconis. Gommorah, who had committed numerous crimes of the flesh, had turned into a seething mass of tentacles and tendrils clad in the almost impervious armor of an Overseer Praetor under the command of an appallingly sick but commensurately capable mind. But first among equals, both in power, and sheer evil was Moloch.
Despite having fallen from their pre-eminence after the fall of Invictus, and then later on during Archon Stahl’s reforms, the Sons still represented one of the most frightening foes faced by the Anti-Dominatus Coalition.The defeat at Invictus and their inability to eliminate Uriel as well as Medusa’s death had seen them lost their often envy-inducing position of prestige. However, it was a foolish man who presumed that any of this led to a loss in either combat effectiveness or sheer bowel-inducing terror. The Sons were recipients of some of the earliest Overseer enhancement programs: vehicles and exoskeletons created specifically for Overseer use were often first tested by them, and they often provided the first volunteers for the yet untested second-stage enhancements given to Overseers.
Overseers of the later stages of the Mirus Campaign were very different from those in the first stages of the Dominatus War. The combination of second-stage biological and cybernetic enhancements, even more advanced equipment and armor, and years of experience as well as doctrinal changes meant that the Overseers that survived, while not nearly as numerous as those which had gone forth in the Tyranny’s extragalactic campaigns, were potent enough that more often than not, they were considered one man armies. Indeed, in their latest form, Overseers were encountered considerably less frequently, but when they were, the ADC often considered the squads which had made first contact to be dead men walking. Whereas at the start of the war, this was mostly due to the sheer novelty and shock, but now it was just due to their sheer power.
For a squad of elite shock troopers such as Draconis Marines, who while formidable, were not super soldiers, to come up on top against a few Sons of Hedon was considered a rare event. In this manner, the men under Kyrennus command had distinguished themselves as amongst the few who could be counted to perform admirably well against the Sons through a combination of skill, creativity, and pure luck. It was for this reason that after Uriel had ordered the ITN Marines to secure a copy of the Ultima Servilis Serum for Draconis on Sybaris, that Kyrennus’ men had come to the top of the recommended list.
Kyrennus was a veteran of many a landing, and had seen many a planet. However, Sybaris seemed different - it was less a planet and more the delusional fantasy of a deranged and insane epicurean given nigh-infinite resources. It was a planet defined by rampant and wanton excess - the complete and utter lack of balance on the world. Kyrennus' target was the single most opulent palace in the entire planet, a sprawling citadel formerly occupied by Hedon Morilium himself. One in which gold was considered the least valuable material, decorated in patterns that took the Draconis proclivity for the arts to an obscene extreme. Kyrennus had to rapidly shake himself from the twisted mirage. At least the aphrodisiac-like perfume that defined the atmosphere of the world was partially burnt away by orbital bombardment and the dust plumes of mass Talon Ground Legion landings, while the saccharine symphonies emanating from the ground were drowned out by the sounds of mass shelling. If they were not, Kyrennus may have very well been tempted to take off his helmet and plummet to the ground.
Steeling his mind, he turned back to the task at hand - his men would find the Ultima Servilis Serum. Another team would disable the fortresses' main power supply, and another would cover the exfiltration. High Command had repeatedly stressed that this was a stealth mission and that confrontation with Overseers was to be avoided if possible. To this end, the teams had been equipped with the most advanced camouflage and dampening technologies the Andromedan Commonwealth had access to. They had also been given anti-tank armaments in case of any unavoidable circumstances. Slipping beneath the sensors in their stealthy AO-8 variant, they landed on a rooftop and began deploying.
While most drops would have had Kyrennus and his squad hopping from the AO-8 and softly descending on afterburners, the maximum stealth requirement made this option inappropriate. Instead, to maintain maximum stealth, the craft hovered above one of the palace's rooftops low enough so that the crew could safely jump down without assisted technology. Landing softly, the 15-man marine team quietly moved to the closest access hatch. With a laser cutter, one of the marines cut away the door from the lock. Opening the hatch softly, they descended one by one into the palace's interior, ducking for any form of cover as each one dropped through into the unknown realm.
Kyrennus and his troops had grown accustomed to the baroque and cyclopean interiors of Dominatus fortresses. But upon entering the hallways, they were instantly assaulted by a crass gaudiness to which previous experiences could not compare. Kyrennus himself had to reprimand his troops and remind them that they were quite literally in the belly of the beast as they advanced.
The gaudy decorations interior did not get any easier to bear as the team moved though the hallways. The team split up to some degree, staying close but making use of alternate hallways to spread themselves out on the way towards what intelligence would identify as laboratory storage. At every corner, soldiers ducked, checked for signs of patrols before calling their companions to follow them as they slipped silently down the hallways. The noise-cancelling modifications to their gear allowed them to slip around unheard, on a few occasions a crossing had to duck into adjacent and generally empty rooms to avoid a patrol.
As they descended, it became apparent this was more than a recovery mission, it was an education on the twisted abominations the Dominatus had planned to install as masters of Andromeda. Bunks and bedrooms were one thing, closer to the ground level the squad had on occasion ducked into dens where at first glance were abnormal prisoner pens. The pitiable creatures whose every ounce of non-servility had been torn out of them horrified the marines, causing some to consider rescue. But the mission came first, and these souls would have to wait until the structure was liberated of its original owner for any hope of freedom. The soldiers resolved to continue on their mission.
They felt themselves get closer and closer to the laboratories and vats. It was not just intelligence that told them they were getting nearer, but an unnatural uneasiness that gnawed at them more and more as they went on. They entered a room that stank with rotten and unnatural flesh, with unsuccessfully fused alloys and bone, with wings torn in half by the weight of augmentations. It was a room that echoed with cracks and drips and what almost seemed to be screams from mouthless heads.
Although sealed from the stench in their hermetically sealed suits of armour, a few of the marines began to choke, moving their arm to their faces. One of them, of enlisted rank, had broken formation to observe one of the piles. With gentle kicks to move the mound of aggregate flesh and metal, they looked back to their partners.
Marine - What exactly did they put their own kind through?
Fireteam Leader - Does it matter? It's bad enough they have been killing our own and dragging them to a living nightmare, now they're slaughtering their own for the sake of a stronger being.
Marine - It's a total mess if you ask me.
Other Marine - Praise to that.
Perhaps Draconis stealth fooled even the enhanced Sons of Hedon, but a nightmarish bark vaguely reminiscent of that a Sarshaan emitted sent chills down the spines of the marines. For a Sarshaan to be present meant that one of the Equites Ferrum was present. It was a situation that Draconis marines were trained almost explicitly to avoid - a 16 meter long enhanced Sarshaan clad in armor ridden by an Imperator of the Sons of Hedon was not exactly a foe that the marines wished to fight. The beast sniffed and paced as it tried to ascertain the location of the marines, who were forced to acknowledge that they had a fight on their hands.
With silent hand gestures, the marines spread themselves out across the room, hoping the Sarshaan would miss them. Communicating though their built in comms, their voices dampened by the padding an plating that insulated them from the foul air and fouler smell, concerned about what to do. In days past this creature was mounted cavalry. Mutated by the twisted science of the Dominatus and ridden by a veteran of this depraved Overseer legion, observations put this creature as an easy match for armoured vehicles. Bringing grenades, explosive rounds and explosive packaging, the anti-armour weaponry that they had hoped not to use would be their best option.
But to shock the beast they had a plan - the foul air was perfect for an incendiary, and although they were close to the objective, they assumed the Sons would design this chamber so as to not allow the foul air to escape. Ready at the four corners of the room, marines tossed incendiary grenades into the air, exploding around the Sarshaan and igniting the foul gases that lingered in the air surrounding them into fireballs.
The beast and its rider rose up as the flames engulfed them. Of course, the Tyranny's armor meant that a fireball would only shock the beast and burn the paint, but pure animal instinct meant that the beast rose up on its hindlegs to roar, exposing its relatively unarmored belly to the Draconis marines. As the beast reared, some of the marines behind it fired magnetically-propelled rounds, designed to pierce dense armour, into the gaps in the pits of its legs. On the front, other soldiers did similarly, aiming for important locations in the creature's anatomy. Modified by dark sciences or not, this beast behaved much the same as smaller versions documented extensively by the Draconis. Some of the marines might have even known how to ride one in more civilian circumstances. The rounds impacted and blew out 2 of the creatures legs as well as some of its vital organs. The internal explosions blasted those limbs off while throwing the rider off. The creature however, reacted by limping with an almost prenatural speed to the nearest marine, and while bleeding, swallowed the marine whole before roaring in triumph.
The marines responded with more rounds. Fireteam leaders tossed adhesive grenades to squadmates who then tossed them at the beast. Companions of the engulfed marine resorted to concentrated fire in the beast's belly. All but two moved and fired almost forgetting about the cast-off rider. The beast roared and limped, using its tail to swat a marine with such force that his armor cracked. The rider had come to his senses and began to advance on the marines. However, the marines had created such a potent killzone that the Imperator was within seconds, hit by two anti-tank rounds, severely wounding him. The beast on the other hand, was fighting a losing battle as its regenerative abilities were insufficient to deal with the seemingly never ending barrage of grenades and anti-tank shells. The rider was only able to get a single fatal shot off with his massive sonic carbine before he was killed by yet another barrage, while the beast's remaining legs were blown off, rendering it mere target practice for the marines.
Despite their victory, the marines had paused to consider the casualties they had suffered in the surprise attack - the engulfed marine was a crushed and half-digested mess of armor, blood, and bone. The one swatted to the wall was paralyzed due to the sheer impact and was only mobile due to the sheer resilience of the suit's internal servomotors. The one shot at by the rider was less a man and more a slurry of organic fluid pouring out of two holes on either side of his armor. There was a silence at the surveyed losses. While the marine who had hit the wall had survived, made mobile only by the mechanisms in his armour's limbs, the two other marines were unrecoverable. Marines had managed to cut open the beast's belly and extract the half-digested body of the eaten marine, his ID tags were partially melted but were roughly legible, while the marine shot by the sonic carbine, although merely a slurry now, had the fortune that his armor compartment preserved his tags. Counting their losses they took a moment to reflect - Kyrennus was a veteran against the horrors the Dominatus had produced, but pulling though each encounter cleanly with monstrosities like the Overseers never got any easier. Kyrennus cursed and remembered fondly the days when the Son's sonic weaponry didn't completely pulverize the marine's body. Back then, at least some casualties to the Sons were listed as just wounded in action. Now this group was an extreme minority - in general there were only the unscathed and the dead.
The troops continued through the gateway at the other end of the room and entered what could only be described as something spawned from their most feverish nightmares. As one of the larger Overseer legions, the production and enhancement facilities of the Sons of Hedon were some of the largest in the entire Tyranny. The vats beneath Hedon's fortresses were an industrialised orchestra of biological perversion. As the troops pensively walked through the abominable building, they saw the Sons at all levels of enhancement. Newborn Draconis clones were first pumped with the first installment of the Ultima Servilis serum. Their nascent wings were then eviscerated with scientific precision before being replaced by synthetically engineered polymers. Other Sons at different stages saw their bones pulverized and replaced with a lace made of synthetically engineered carbon nanotubes. Regardless, everywhere they looked, the marines could see comatose Draconis, if they could even be called that, operated on by a mad symphony of surgical machines and test tubes which pumped only Lifefather knew what into them. And for some were not really comatose - Kyrennus could see their faces distort in unspeakable agony as mouths that were sewn shut refused to open. But perhaps the most disturbing part were the live vivisections that took place. Kyrennus was a hardened man, but he could only balk as surgical machines tore open Draconis who were kept alive only by the Dominatus' perverted technology and had their internal organs replaced. Sybaris was one of the last Overseer Citadels to be taken, and he had heard reports through the ADC grapevine of the horrors one would face, but everywhere he looked, he was still faced with the numbness associated not just with staring into the Dominatus abyss, but diving head first.
There were mutterings throughout the squad. Soldiers looked away, others tried to keep down their rations. Squad leaders occasionally received requests of “permission to regurgitate rations, sir" from queasy soldiers. Kyrennus’ officers knew it easily: They had stepped into a realm of nightmares, a place where not even the darkest of horror stories could ever put to words. Then one of Kyrennus’ sergents spoke.
Marine - Corporal, this place should be reduced to ruins.
Kyrennus - That's not our mission, sergeant.
The sergeant stopped. Through his helmet he glared with disgust at his commander.
Sergeant - Not our mission? Look around you sir! If this war doesn't end every aberrant around us is an enemy.
Kyrennus - The priority is intel recovery sergeant, when the ground forces clear the frontline and secure the fortress, we can deal with these...
Kyrennus paused - what word describes the monstrosities he was looking at?
Kyrennus - Well I don't know what to call them. They're certainly not Draconis.
Sergeant - They don't deserve a name. They're Tyranny bioweapons, no need to go giving them monikers.
"Names hold power" as the ancients texts say. To give something a name is to give it an identity. There were military codes for hostile entities of all kinds. A proper name? Words could not describe how vile and perverse the vat creatures were - to give them a name was to recognise them as something more than a weapon of flesh.
Almost immediately after this conversation, they stumbled upon a vial of Draconis Ultima Servilis serum that had not yet been injected into a proto-son. Taking it out, they soon noticed the lights go out - the other squad had obviously done their job of taking out the power supply. Remembering their orders, they made their way back in the pitch black darkness of the citadel. Kyrennus could not believe that they had accomplished their mission - against the Dominatus, things were never as simple or easy as they first seemed. But today it seemed, they had seen the very worst of the Dominatus military machine, and after this, they could see nothing worse.
The marines maintained a level of professionalism at all cost. The more experienced marines knew that they were only half-done: Now they had their objective, sealed away in a back-mounted storage compartment Kyrennus had attached to his armour, they still had to leave. They needed to return to the rooftop, using the darkness to ease their escape.
As on their way in, the marines spread out, covering multiple corridors. They had a priority item on them, and keeping scattered not only reduced the chances of a patrol finding the entire team, but only one of several teams - if discovered - had the serum.
All seemed to be proceeding as planned. But then, the communications channels blazed with a scream from the team assigned to destroying the power supply. And then a barrage of fire from the marines. The fire made an impact only on the walls of the citadel, but the walls seemed to respond with a laugh, if it could be called that, that sounded across all the communications channels of the squads involved. It was less a laugh, and more the anguished screams of dozens of Andromedans and ADC personnel from all ages and walks of life. It was a laugh that boomed over the more panicked fire of the marines. It was a chorus of screams that was joined by another, and another, as more of the marines succumbed to a foe that was moving too fast for them to see. But through this chorus, one could hear the panicked attempts of the other squad leader's attempts to reorganize and figure out how to deal with the threat. But even soldiers as professional as the marines could not keep up completely steel discipline against what seemed to be an invincible and sinister force of nature.
Kyrennus desperately attempted to establish contact with the picked-off squads. Each channel was accompanied by screams and gunfire. With hand gestures and comms code, Kyrennus ordered for his squad to engage combat synchronisation. In a blink, Kyrennus was able to see the video feeds of his squad leaders alongside his own. There was no hint as to what the assailant was, but it was fast and was picking off marines one by one.
Almost as Kyrennus had established contact, it seemed that the monster decided that it was time to be serious. In but a few moments, Kyrennus saw the linked monitors of the other squad's marines go off in quick succession. In fact, the marines were neutralized at such a rate that the screams did not subside before they were joined by new ones. It seemed like only a moment after the team leader, the squad's last remaining member had cursed at the unseen foe was his helmet removed by what seemed to be a tendril and pointed at the terrified face of the marine. It was through the night vision of his helmet did Kyrennus see an image that would accompany him for the rest of his life. Held immobile, the marine cursed and screamed while two massive hands held his face in place. It was then it seemed a massive array of twisted biological implements - living saws, scalpels, and tendons seemed to emerge from the marine's assailant. Kyrennus saw as slowly, this surgical nightmare blazed with a dark energy and scraped off the still-living marine's face. Most disturbingly, Kyrennus saw as the still emoting face seemed to get absorbed by the implements, flowing to the edge of the immense wing at the edge of the visor. All Kyrennus could hear was the new laugh, a chorus of anguished screams that had gained a new member. And then, before the comms went dark, he heard the monster speak for the first time. The frenzied and tortured mass screamed in unison.
??? - Kyrennus, I'm coming.
Gritting his teeth there was no time for subtlety. With anyone left, Kyrannus ran - his pace assisted by the motors in his armoured limbs. The marine's death scarred him deeply, the screams raced though his mind both hearing the screams echo though the halls and remembering what he just saw. In his escape he hoped none of the other Sons would get in his way - if there were any - and moved with haste to reach the marines guarding the extraction point.
The mad dash almost drew the fire of the marines guarding the corridor to the dropzone, where their AO-8 was waiting for them, but almost as soon as they passed into the AO-8, they heard a similar sinister sound.
Kyrennus - Get this brick airborne, now now now!
The panicked shouting and the malicious laugh gave way to the flapping of giant wings. The marines in the corridor let loose a fearsome salvo of advanced weapons-fire, and relief swept through them as the flapping stopped.
Kyrennus could only see through the camera-ports of the AO-8 in the midst of the lift-off sequence as a moving tornado of wings, an unnaturally long whip, and a massive battleaxe burst through the marines in the corridor. The pitch black darkness gave away only screams and the sound of the rampage itself. Kyrennus watched alarmed as the abomination tore through the elite marine barricade as if it was nothing. As the lift-off sequence neared completion, he questioned what kind of monster was capable of such damage and sadism. It was then that, quite literally, speaking of the devil lead to its summoning.
In the illuminated rooftop, Kyrennus finally bore witness to the force that had exterminated two squads. It was a towering Draconis, perhaps taller than even Hedon himself with the ancillary augmentations and appendages that crowded the beast. Its wings bore the anguished faces of not only ADC soldiers, but also civilian men, women, and most disturbingly, children from Andromeda. Its stomach, while ostensibly protected by armor, split like a many-sided mouth into a maw of horrific implements of torture and surgery. With each one of its movements, the wind seemed to impel the tormented souls that defined its body to sing in pain.
Kyrennus had heard stories of Sodom and Gommorah and listened. But he had dismissed the stories of this last Draconis as mere exaggeration. Barracks-talk had centered around a Draconis who had tormented Andromedans to the extent that they would sacrifice their dearest loved ones to a fate worse than death. It was a Draconis who exceeded even the average Harbinger of Agony in cruelty, one who tortured parents to sell the souls of their children, comrades in arms, the souls of their best friends, among countless others. Perhaps those damned souls had once lived merely as his prisoners. But now, they were subsumed into his body, screaming extensions of the brute's mindless sadism.
It was with this unwelcome sight that Kyrennus finally acknowledged that Praetor Moloch of the Sons of Hedon was real, and that if anything, the tales associated with him only downplayed the terror he inspired. That the demon Moloch was real sent a paralysing chill down his spine. The thought that the vat-grown creatures deserved no label paled in how to describe Moloch. "Demon", "horror" and "hellspawn" were all appropriate. The sight of a demon who by the mere sight of it had clearly made prisoners part of his own body defied any thoughts that he could have been anything but a nightmare incarnate. Something compelled him to open one of the hatches and look at the entity from the dropship.
He opened it just in time to see what would forever strike him as the most flagrant example of a mutated Son's incredible power. Moloch had thrown his axe into the AO-8's weapon and targeting systems, essentially disabling them, while he coiled his impossibly long whip around one of its wings. Kyrennus could only look in shock as he saw the beast, pulsing with raw power, fight with the activating thrusters of the aircraft. It struck his mind as simply impossible - not even an Overseer Praetor should have been capable of such raw strength. It was almost as if Moloch had the ability to temporarily channel the life essence of his captive prisoners into the enhancement of one of his attributes. Kyrennus could only watch as Moloch tugged the whip and brought the ship closer and closer to a standstill.
Kyrennus held on as the dropship was rocked about. With the craft's weapons disabled, any weapons required a manual effort. Fumbling about, he pulled up from below the bay a heavy repeating fusion cannon. Moloch was out in the open, he could not move so long as he tugged at the dropship like an angler with a large fish. Centre mass, that was the most effective target to hit. After charging up, He pressed down on the trigger, releasing a hailstorm of particle cannon rounds on this one single beast. Under most circumstances, anyone encountering this illuminated rainstorm would have been riddled to fried meat and charred armour.
Only due to his special Dominatus-artificed armor, a privilege given to only templates and the most esteemed of Praetors, was Moloch able to weather the storm. But even someone given the most advanced in "infantry" armor could see the shields deplete. Knowing that a long-term engagement was a losing proposition, Moloch channeled all of his strength into one tug, and with that last struggle, the AO-8 came crashing down.
Moloch did not bother to check the crash site as he seemed to almost instantly teleport to Kyrennus' location. Trapped beneath the repeating fusion cannon, Kyrennus could only look up in horror as Moloch removed his helmet. Instantly, Kyrennus was saturated with the perverse smells and tastes of the planet. But he was soon brought back to reality as he stared into the open gaping maw of Moloch. Struggling in vain, he cursed and wished as the appendages got closer to his face.
It seemed a miracle answered him when in a split instant, a mecha even taller than Moloch smashed into the acting commander of the Sons of Hedon. Casting Moloch to the ground was a titan machine vaguely in the form of a Draconis. Flanked by two great amber wing-like sails emerging from its back, the machine stood over the downed Son. As Moloch was the epitome of darkness, the machine was plated in a white almost radiant coating, the edges of the various plates trimmed with decorated gold. But the most significant detail was upon the machine's head: Flowing from the right eye socket, dancing decorations surrounded a motif that to Moloch was instantly recogniseable - the mark of a full Dominatus.
Moloch, while dazed by the power of Uriel's personal mecha, was even more stunned that it possessed the mark. But this amazement was soon replaced by rage - entombed in a vat of amniotic fluid beneath the mecha lay the man who had killed Hedon Morilium, Father of the Sons of Hedon and chosen of Medusa Heimdall. Moloch had been on one of the last ships that left Invictus, and had prepared vigorously for such an encounter. He had painstakingly developed a strategy to deal with the one who the Dominatus knew as the Destroyer of Invictus, Slayer of Lord Hedon, Dread-Bane of the Dominatus, the Great Worm, and the Devil of Andromeda. Now, in addition to that, he had to contend that he was facing one who, by the account of an unknown party, had gained some kind of parity with his Dominatus masters. If not for his prowess as a warrior and his dedication to vengeance, perhaps Moloch would have been intimidated.
Uriel stared silently, denying any satisfaction from responding to Moloch's rage. Instead, the mecha drew a greatsword from a compartment in their back, and held the point end in Moloch's direction.
Moloch's strategy was never to engage Uriel in a duel - even a Praetor of his standing could not best Uriel's personal mecha in a test of raw brute strength. Despite this, to deceive Uriel, he entertained the notion by parrying Uriel's greatsword with the axe he had retrieved from the burning AO-8 as well as his whip. Such was the force of each of Uriel's blows that Moloch was forced to give ground even when such blows were parried.
Moloch was playing a dangerous game - only his short bursts of insane speed could allow him to fight long and well enough to trap Uriel into the thought that this was going to be a duel. While perhaps he could have channeled his energy into short bursts of insane power aimed at beating the mech, Moloch had a separate idea.
Indeed, after a long battle, Uriel ended up impaling Moloch belly-first on his sword. To his surprise, the monstrous Praetor along with his chorus of voices laughed as an almost ichor like blood leaked from the wound. Deep inside the machine, Uriel had understood enough of the Sons to know that Moloch was enjoying the pain. The mech tilted its head. Drew the sword out and with a great swing aimed to land another blow on the titan. It was with a surprising gust of wind that Moloch embraced the mecha with both his body and his whip. The Draconis aberration’s body split open as a wide array of internally held biomechanical and cybernetic wires and tendrils snaked around the mecha. It was almost as if instantaneously, the mecha had been covered in a web-like mesh of Moloch's entrails.
Moloch smiled as he executed the moves he had rehearsed time and time again to bring down the slayer of his father. Channeling all his energy, the web worked against the armor plating of the mecha, gradually tearing apart, dissolving, and piercing the mecha in strategic locations. Uriel could only watch helplessly from his vat of aminotic fluid as the abomination snaked his way through the giant mecha. Struggling in vain much like Kyrennus, Uriel felt a feeling of dread similar in magnitude to that he had felt on Invictus when his vat was pried out of the mecha and onto the floor.
Withdrawing himself and returning to what could be called his normal form, Moloch stood over Uriel with his abdominal implements pointed at Uriel's face. Seeing that he was about to execute Uriel, Moloch had streamed this on every communications channel and speaker on Sybaris.
Moloch - It is an insult to my masters that your wear the mark. It is an insult to my legion that the Slayer of Hedon still lives. It is an insult to me that you are not screaming. But these are all errors. And errors are not mistakes unless they are not rectified.
Uriel - When you are cast into the void...ask your progenitor why he carved the mark!
Moloch paused for a single moment, his enhanced brain needing extra time to comprehend the implications of Uriel's statement. In this single moment, a titanic Draconis, about as large as Moloch charged and pushed Moloch away from Uriel.
If Uriel was a giant of white and gold in his armour, this one was a goliath of adamant silver. While Uriel was ensconced deep inside his mech, the new assailant had emerged without helmet, revealing a head encased in thick silver scales. Although donned in a suit of armour that accentuated his physique - displaying with artistic pride the sculpted muscles that this giant possessed, the plates were as white as the sun shining above, but the fierce eyes and thick, plaited dreadlocks told Moloch exactly who this guardian angel was.
The cameras that Moloch had centered on the to-be-executed Uriel then focused on the face of the brilliant and imposing figure. Moloch saw, as did every Son of Hedon, and every cybernetic auxiliary that their father had abandoned them. For a single moment, it seemed that every Son, whether fighting on the ground, cruising the skies in the battlesuits of the Mortem Militum, or riding a Sarshaan paused. And in that single moment, Uriel saw the unrelenting sadism and arrogance in Moloch's almost pitch-black eyes give way to different feelings - fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Moloch - Father?
Hedon stood up from Moloch's fallen body. Although he didn't move or make any gesture beyond looking directly into Moloch's eyes, this alone gave Moloch his answer.
Uriel saw the maliciously calm and collected Moloch, a being so confident in his power and the supremacy and eventual victory of the Dominatus degenerate into a gibbering mass of panicked protestations.
Moloch - You were Medusa's Chosen! You were the progenitor of the Tyranny's most favored legion. You were the Right Hand of the Dominatus! Why?
Uriel - Because he saw in me a strength his masters lacked.
Uriel had pulled himself out of his pod. Moloch's devastation of the mech had rendered it useless, but the pod had preserved him and Hedon's timely arrival had preserved the container from further violation. As he emerged from it, the amniotic fluid poured out, revealing Uriel's raw form, the scar that Hedon had given him was plain as day - it was not some affectation he had adopted, but something he was given. Moloch knew, as Hedon did, that only the Dominatus knew the significance of the mark, nothing he had heard about the Worm King could explain why he would carve this on himself, only a Dominatus or someone who knew the mark could have applied it.
The revelations were too much for even a mind as twisted as Moloch's to bear. Surrendering his sentience, he channeled all the power contained by the prisoners's faces into an expression of raw hatred. An amorphous collection of angry scales, limbs, and biomechanical weapons burst from the hole that Uriel's mech-sword had left in the armor. But it became apparent that such was the flood of organic and mechanical material than even the Dominatus-crafted armor created to contain it burst against the blizzard or chaotic flesh and steel. Moloch's wings grew to even more colossal proportions as his lower body burst into a gibbering mass of saws, axes, and swords made of the synthetic bone of the Overseers. Most disturbingly, Moloch's upper body split into a titanic gaping maw of teeth and the screaming heads of prisoners, his ribs having split open and having been overcome by tendrils pulsing with dark energies.
From a hatch in the amniotic fluid, Uriel pulled out a linked set of armour. He had been wearing his body glove while inside the vat and as the armour came down it magnetically moved and attached itself to this outer skin. From another compartment, Uriel drew a sabre and a fusion carbine. Hedon had watched Moloch's horrid transformation, but it only made him disgusted. Gripping the great blades Uriel had kept, he wasted no time and charged for the beast that was his former second in command.
The monster formerly known as Moloch could only claw in a chaotic and crazed manner at its two assailants. There was no reason in its movements, no skill in its rapid and frenzied swings, and no functioning mind behind any of its decisions. Both Uriel and Hedon, so used to fighting skilled duelists, or even monsters with brains, faced little trouble in evading the frantic attacks from the tornado of flesh and bone.
Hedon evaded the uncontrolled flailings of the beast, with cleaves of his swords he sliced appendages, bone axes, bone swords, and the various implements that the screaming monstrosity threw at him. His flesh was seared after Uriel delivered round after round of energised particles into the pulsing flesh. Close shaves with the writing tendrils gave Uriel an opportunity to lacerate the flesh, every cut, every hack, every scar would whittle at the beast. No brother of Moloch's interfered. Even among his kin, Moloch was now a monster. What he had surrendered himself to was not something they could support. For all their debauchery, all the sadism and abuse of those they deemed inferior, the Sons of Hedon shared the belief of their genetic relatives that animals and civilized beings had a clear distinction. And Moloch was slipping past that line into the realms of the animal.
After what seemed to be an eternity of slashing and shooting at the formless and chaotic mass, Moloch's senseless writhing seemed to stop as the the monster collapsed to the floor, unable to move. Moloch's head surfaced to the top of the almost liquid pool of collapsing flesh and bone. With a brief moment of lucidity, he stared outwards with a look of defiance. He was unable to speak, but the steely glare he shot at both Uriel and Hedon told them of a man who was resigned to his fate but unwilling to admit that he was wrong. Hedon stood back as Uriel walked up to the puddle of flesh that was once the interim master of the Sons of Hedon.
Uriel' - Before your fate comes, I wish to ask of you: Are you aware of how the Draconis achieved their supremacy?
Moloch could only try pathetically to find a mouth to speak from in order to deliver an arrogant riposte. But he had sacrificed his ability to speak, a gift reserved for civilized beings in hopes of gaining the raw brute strength of an animal. Uriel could only look as the puddle seemed to vibrate as Moloch pitifully attempted to speak. But alas, it was as hopeless as watching a dog attempt to give a speech.
Uriel - Your father understands. Your masters concluded, that the best approach for order is absolute control. That all exist to elevate and serve them. Those that resist or somehow fall short either die, or suffer a painful torture until they capitulate, am I correct?
Uriel turned to look at Hedon.
Hedon - Correct, save for perhaps one subtlety. The Dominatus will torture others not just for punishment, but also just for entertainment.
Uriel - A constant war to keep the lesser species invisible, unheard. The Imperium however, rules by wisdom: Every being has a value, not as a slave or a servant to the holders of power, but as a contributor to a greater whole. It was not fear and expendable labour that built the spires of Araveene or the long memorial-endowed trail of the Paragon's Promenade, The Imperium your masters promised you after this war was built with every being doing their part not because their masters promised the lash as the alternative but because they all wanted to build something great.
Uriel approached the blob, lowering himself to look sternly into Moloch's eyes.
Uriel- That is how the Imperium succeeded: Twenty quadrillion individual elements, working to maintain a galactic machine. With each contributing in their own way. A million ecosystems offering their output because they know that such greatness must be preserved, not by fear the lash or the headsman's axe but by the dream that they are building a brighter future for their descendants. Your masters were so fixated on their own needs and their own self-preservation that those who were not their kind did not matter. They saw the chance to work for them as a reward to bask in.
Hedon - The house of the Dominatus is one predicated on the flimsy columns of fear. Perhaps if we were so great, others would have come willingly and rather than submitting out of fear, would have joined us because of their admiration. Uriel's confidence in his Imperium was such that with all the power he had over me, he gave me a choice.
Uriel - Just as I decided Hedon's fate as he lay at my mercy, it is only appropriate that your own father should decide on yours.
Moloch shot back a defiant looked that also betrayed his last descent into animal insanity. As the blob tried in vain to move in all directions, Uriel stepped aside as Hedon approached the blob. Hedon flew into the air over Moloch, but to Uriel's surprise did not raise his sword.
Hedon - I'm sorry it had to end this way, my son.
Hedon opened his jaw and began breathing a fire that burnt with such an intensity that it could be seen from all below the citadel's rooftop. While the average Son could breathe fire, Hedon's gift as a second-stage enhancement was something like a plasma flamethrower. The sheer, blinding brilliance of the fire incinerated the writhing Moloch, spreading from his face to the rest of his corrupted and strewn out body. The iridescent light was one that Kyrennus and Uriel could only look in awe at as it completely consumed the body of the former commander of the Sons of Hedon. After some time, all that remained were charred ashes on the rooftop's floor, ashes that were soon scattered by the wind to the rest of Sybaris.
Uriel - Fitting, Hedon. That his corrupted body is cleansed by a purifying light.
Emerging from the smoke of the battle, Kyrennus approached his paragon. With a bow, he opened the compartment in his back and presented the canister of the Ultima Servilis Serum.
Kyrennus - Ultima Servilis, as requested by high command, your majesty.
Uriel- Prepare it for extraction, it returns to the Imperium. Hedon...these are your children and this was your home. What is to become of it and them, I shall defer to you judgement.
Hedon was a creature than once relished in the extermination of children and the razing of planets. But now it was his children, and his former home. And in Hedon's eyes, Uriel saw something new - indecisiveness.
Hedon - My Paragon, it is my wish to preserve as many of the Sons as possible, but only those who have the will to change. Even at this stage of the war, the Sons still cling onto to the belief that the Dominatus will win. It is impossible for them to see the light until the Dominatus are destroyed. Furthermore, the Sons below will never surrender. It is with a heavy heart that I decree it is necessary to kill them.
Uriel - Under Medusa you were their progenitor. And when this is over, you will be their progenitor again; Wipe the slate of Medusa's stain, and from what is left, build something stronger.
Hedon - Yes, my Paragon.
Kyrennus returned from looking out the camera ports. He looked back at his squad. He was the only survivor from the Andromeda Campaign, and only one of 2 from the start of the Mirus Campaign. He sensed the craft slow down, a sign that they were preparing to open the bay doors in order for a combat jump. As they stalled, Kyrennus looked at his men and spoke.
The Dominatus rule solely by fear. Their victory relies on us losing hope. We did not lose hope in Andromeda, even when their fleets closed in on Araveene. We did not lose hope at Manticore, even when it seemed their fleets would destroy ours. We will certainly not lose hope here - victory - victory in this battle means victory in the war.
Today we jump to rid the Gigaquadrant of this menance, once and for all.
Today we jump because we are the Imperium's ambassadors to the Gigaquadrant.
Today we jump because unlike in Andromeda, the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.
On fire we fly!
The Belly of the Beast
The citadel Immortal Hatred stood arrogantly over the war-torn hell scape of Demogorgon Prime that the Delpha Coalition of Planets had been assigned to seize. It was the last bastion that the Coalition had to capture before laying siege to Malogenesis, the capital of the Dominatus themselves. Situated in Muspel, the side of Demogorgon Prime that faced the binary star Demogorgon, the battleground was a scene of sundered earth and screeching lava embraced by the constant roars of thunder and accompanying lashes of lightning. It was permeated by screaming mounds of dead and dying Delpha soldiers, who themselves were strangled by the endless plumes of ash that were the disintegrated remains of their comrades. In the midst of this barren and nightmarish landscape, the towering spires of the citadel stood, cackling evilly at the hastily erected bastions that the DCP had built to encircle the city-fortress. Each laugh was a bolt of Dominatus science that tore into the DCP’s ranks with contemptuous ease, rupturing the siegeworks they had so painstakingly erected.
Warlord Warlord Kilnok was a veteran of many a war. Each cell in his glazed eyes had seen more death and destruction than entire civilisations. Before him flashed the legacy of the DCP - with one blink were the titanic clashes of iron that symbolised their conflicts with the Grox. In another were the defiant screams of mortal men against the unstoppable tide of the Xhodocto. Perhaps only his time as a warrior let him process the carnage he saw regularly as a normal man would process the banality of normal life. It was only fitting that the DCP’s greatest commander managed a commanding and calm countenance in face of the ceaseless chaos in front of him. But even one as great as Kilnok, and one as jaded as the head commander of one of the Gigaquadrant’s greatest empires was taken aback by the one-sided massacre he had witnessed.
The dreaded sound of each failure was at times a cacophony and at other times a dead silence. As standard practice, assaults against Dominatus citadels consisted of the full mechanised might of a civilisation. The rumble of tanks, the earth-shattering footsteps of mecha, the hurried stampede of power-armoured infantry, massed artillery barrages, a never-ending tide of strike craft and what orbital bombardment could make it past the shielding of the planet. To all but the most powerful militaries, even a fraction of this force would be enough to intimidate even their most arrogant generals into submission. But to see each attack utterly annihilated without so much as a modicum of visible against its heavy ordnance was an experience that caused even hardened generals to breakdown in the comfort of their private quarters.
In their fights with the Dominatus, the DCP had learned that the most efficient way to seize a bastion was via the use of hyper elite melee troops equipped with personal short-range FTL and utility fog capability. However, after each successive use, the Dominatus constantly counteracted this with modifications to their own sensors. It was a never-ending arms race, but fortunately, one in which the DCP had just gained the upper hand. Kilnok and his most elite troops - Furies, each codenamed for a DCP planet that had been destroyed by the Dominatus had just been equipped with the latest versions of this equipment, and had been tasked with taking the bastion. Kilnok however, knew that no matter what the outcome of this battle, that the Dominatus would soon come up with countermeasures against their new toys.
In taking the fortress, Kilnok and his troops first had to close the no-mans-land between themselves and the walls. Then after they scaled the walls, they had to face the full firepower of the Dominatus garrison. Their goal was solely to silence the heavy guns of the Dominatus so that the DCP could bring its specialised siege equipment bear. Furthermore, they were to hold on as much as possible, so as to hold up Dominatus reinforcements while the walls were torn down. To distract Dominatus forces in such a way that their melee forces were kept back, the DCP would send assaults throughout no-man’s-land. The idea was that the Dominatus would be so busy gunning down another hopeless offensive that Kilnok and his men could close the distance and get onto the walls before they had invited any retribution. As there were more walls to guard than Dominatus Overseers, the only Dominatus combatants who could effectively combat the Furies short of the Dominatus themselves, and the Overseers had learned not to split up in fear of being defeated in detail, their mighty enhanced foes remained in the citadel’s spire waiting to respond to a possible breach.
The battle began without any speeches - the ennui of the war had taken its toll on even the most eloquent and inspirational of men. It began with the familiar rampage of the full might of the Coalition. Kilnok and his men waited in their experimental, custom-made assault suits. These suits had been equipped with extremely powerful thrusters that would propel the Furies to the battlements themselves. They would gradually break off in mid flight and leave a trail of utility flog. Finally, they would fire off a series of missiles before ejecting the soldier, who would use his short-range teleporter to enter the frenzy. While these suits had been in production for some time, it was only now that they had been gathered in the numbers needed for them to make a battle-changing difference as opposed to only novel shock. But even in what must have seemed to be one of the Coalition’s most advanced pieces of tactical technology, the Furies could have sworn they were as vulnerable as the bait on the battlefield.
Kilnok waited silently for the go-signal, begrudgingly waiting for it as he forced himself to listen to the screams of the dead and dying on the communication channel. To himself he thought that the Dominatus were laughing, thinking this was just another day. And as the countdown to launch ended, he smirked for the first time in a long time - it was not just another day.
Even for warriors of the Fury’s stature, the impact of the thrusters was one that felt like it was going to rip their bodies apart. Every sensory output was disguised by the utility fog across all mediums, but to the warriors inside, the feeling was that of being ripped in every direction. The Furies readied themselves for combat, trying to meditate as the sound of their rapidly-depleting suits drowned out the slaughter below. Each Fury had been trained in the operation of the suit, and at Kilnok’s order, having surpassed the altitude of the citadel’s walls, activated their payloads. They Dominatus defenders, sadistically cajoling in their unopposed slaughter, were taken aback by the appearance and sudden impact of the DCP’s most advanced miniaturised missiles. So used to feeling invincible, chunks were taken out of whole formations while the battlements shuddered from the impact.
After recovering from the shock of this sudden attack, the wall’s garrison soon found themselves beset by the DCP’s most elite melee fighters. Dominatus synthetics, only some of whom had been given melee weapons, were soundly outclassed by the Furies. The majority, who had been given long-ranged weaponry, were but cattle to a butcher. To the beleaguered DCP assault troops on the plains below, they noticed happily that each new thud was a falling Dominatus synthetic or fortification - today was certainly going to be different. Even when the Dominatus turned their own turrets on the walls, they struck their own forces instead of the DCP’s, who used their teleporters to escape each salvo. Kilnok noticed gleefully that the remaining Dominatus synthetics no longer manned the battlements, but rushed to the heaviest Dominatus turrets to attempt to protect them from the onslaught.
But this glee was short-lived. Kilnok had fought the Dominatus long enough to know that when good things happened, they were either too good to be true, or they did not last. A large contingent of Overseers, namely the Grimbolsaurian Heralds of Mosivam, Vartekian Subjugators of Cravidor and Grox Steel Reapers led by a Dominatus Sovereign Executor, perhaps one of the single most powerful hand-to-hand combatants in the Gigaquadrant certainly qualified as par for the course. Kilnok split his forces into a contingent that would pursue the Dominatus ultra-heavy turrets and one led by him that would hold the Overseers off.
To the ground troops below, advancing much more freely, the fight above seemed to be not one fought between mortals, but between gods. Each stroke pulverised subsections of the wall, sending them falling down like angry meteors to the hells cape below. Each parry gave off such energy that the angry storm that ranged seemed tame by comparison. The fights between gods of war - DCP Furies and late-war Tyranny Overseers seemed was one that the synthetics of the Dominatus and the DCP’s troopers felt a petrified reverence for. The air was awash with coruscating flashes of light and monstrous screams that seemed to reverberate through the buckling walls of the citadel. Each dead Overseer was a permanent casualty to its legion - with all the Overseer worlds destroyed, they could never be replaced. Each dead Fury was a DCP war hero, perhaps an ultra-soldier or a commander wiped from history, the collective experience of an army being snuffed out from existence.
A crescendo of explosions delighted Kilnok - while his main force was decimated in the fight against the Overseers, his demolitions force had destroyed all but one of the main towers threatening the DCP’s specialised siege equipment. But assessing the situation again, he found that to his horror, the Dominatus and the majority of his overseers had clustered around the last turret. They formed an impenetrable cordon around it that the Furies couldn’t seem to break. Kilnok took stock of his men and noticed that they had taken severe casualties. Any rational observer saw what had to be done, and a frenzied charge towards the last turret was what followed. Despite the Dominatus’ best attempts, several Furies got through the cordon, with Kilnok giving them the specific instruction to wait for his command to activate the explosives once they were set. Unfortunately, Kilnok himself stood face to face with the nameless Dominatus Sovereign Executor, one who untraditionally it seems, skipped the formalities of gloating and charged Kilnok. Before the battle, Kilnok had tested his new weaponry against the late Sovereign Executor Talos’ Mortis armor. It seemed that his blades could slice through the armour of the Destroyer of Horatorio with ease - and as Sovereign Executors went into battle so sparingly, Kilnok assumed that his blades would at least be able to penetrate the armour of the Dominatus he faced. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
To his disappointment, this particular Sovereign Executor was wearing a one-of-a-kind Dominatus-crafted armor that had been created just prior to the destruction of the Archostrategon’s main research Installation. A slash from Kilnok’s blade could only dent the armour while a piercing blow couldn’t even get to the infamously resilient Dominatus flesh. On the other hand, a blow from the Dominatus’ weapon-claw nearly severed his left arm, which was only held together by the timely intervention of DCP nanites. This particular Dominatus was also faster than usual, and could keep up with Kilnok’s hyperspatial antics. The Warlord found that unfortunately, whenever he popped out of hyperspace to strike, there was a parry. Unbeknownst to Kilnok, this particular Sovereign Executor had never been promoted to the rank of Drachon as he showed no particular talent for command, only duelling. While this would have appealed to him had they stood on opposite sides of the battlefield, the fact that he had made such a rank on the sole basis of one-on-one combat made him uneasy. Perhaps his only solace was that a sole Fury had survived to plant the mines and merely waited on his order.
But this development was quickly pushed out of his mind when after another prolonged period of combat, the invincible Dominatus slashed through Kilnok as he jumped out of hyperspace, almost severing his body in half while in the same motion bringing him to his mouth. Thanks to the power of DCP technology however, Kilnok maintained full consciousness and cognitive faculty - enough to notice in full lucidity the fact that the Dominatus was eating him whole and his overheated teleporter still needed time to cool down.
The first sensation he experienced after the complete darkness of the Dominatus’ gaping maw was the crushing sensation as the Dominatus jaw and internal muscles literally squeezed the life out of him. One could almost joke that Kilnok was becoming more slurry than warrior, being only barely held together by overstretched DCP nanites. But a new sensation followed - he seemed to be stuck in a blender of ultra-sharp teeth, one which span him round while synthetic acid tore at his exposed viscera. But the half of Kilnok’s face that remained smirked inside the valley of teeth as he mentally activated his teleporter one last time, and a split second later gave the order to detonate.
The Dominatus could not have known about the trip through hyperspace that his food was carrying him through. He would have been perhaps the first Dominatus to eat a Warlord alive. He was that and more - the first Dominatus to use the DCP’s personal hyperspatial technology. He was also the first Dominatus to test whether his armour could protect its inhabitant from the reactor blast of an ultra-heavy turret. He failed in that test. Fortunately, the armour was strong enough that what remained of Kilnok found himself in a crater on the plains below, barely protected by the charred and fused husk of Dominatus biomass and the last vestiges of arguably the most advanced personal armour system of the war. His mission accomplished, Kilnok entered unconsciousness as his nanites scrambled to stabilise him.
With the last turret destroyed, the DCP brought its specialised siege weaponry to bear, and soon cracked open the Dominatus walls. What followed was a predictable fight in which despite Dominatus resistance, the DCP slowly ground the fortress down to dust. What few Furies remained protected Kilnok’s biomechanical sarcophagus while reinforcements came, and over the course of the battle, Kilnok was exhumed from Dominatus tomb. Upon seeing him, his compatriots were possessed of two emotions - shock at what he had been through, and the implied power of the Dominatus, and also laughter at expecting this result - it seemed the closer Kilnok got to death, the more likely he would be alive. A near death experience for Kilnok was simply a test for whether one knew him or not, for he seemed to dance with the reaper closer and closer merely to taunt it.
Kilnok’s medical chamber was erected in full view of the ruined fortress - his first sight upon opening his one remaining eye was the flag of the Coalition soaring above the citadel’s spire.
Daring, Heroism, and Courage
Perhaps the most intimidating building in Malogenesis other than the Tyrant’s Spire, Apogee, the Dominatus Military Headquarters was abuzz with activity. In it, the Dominatus military junta headed by the formerly disgraced but recently repromoted Archon Wolframicht Stahl received its daily report. The contents of this reports were always bad; the only variation was whether they were avoidably bad or unavoidably bad. The loss of a bunker, bastion, or eventually citadel after it held out for its expected combat lifetime was considered unavoidably bad. The loss of a Dominatus or senior Overseer in an arrogance-addled rampage was considered avoidably bad. Stahl sardonically laughed at the reports of enemy casualties during these unavoidably bad actions : Warlord Klinok - Killed in Action (no confirmation), the hegemon of the Hegemony - Killed in Action (no confirmation), some important Olympians - Killed in Action (no confirmation), scores of famous ADC war heroes - Killed in Action (no confirmation), famous galactic figure leading a charge - Killed in Action (no confirmation). Of course the Dominatus list of dead was suitably more detailed : Overseer Template Akemainyu - Killed in Action (confirmation), Overseer Template Skali’Draz - Killed in Action (confirmation), Overseer Template Anubis - Killed in Action (confirmation), Sovereign Executor Malefis Wyrex - Killed in Action (confirmation).
Each dead Overseer Template meant that even if by some miracle the Tyranny emerged victorious and reconquered its old territories, that in a certain way, that Overseer Legion was sterile. Stahl laughed again when the word sterility came up - he thought it madness that several hundred years ago the so-called Drakodominatus Republic had on its deathbed released a sterility plague just to spite the victorious Drakodominatus Tyranny. While in front of what remained of the Dominatus General Staff, he was lost in a short trance. Stahl was never an engineer or a scientist - his original assignment upon finishing officer school was to the cavalry. It wasn’t the enhanced biomechanics monstrosities of today that mounted armour and shielding similar to strike craft, but the beautiful offspring of Demogorgon Prime. Perhaps it was a consequence that the Dominatus had risen to power to meteorically, almost like a cancer engineered by a scientist equal parts sadistic and talented that he remembered the times when the flimsy exoskeletons which passed for “powered armour” were considered state of the art, and laser armed bombardment satellites were considered to be war-winning weapons. A Dominatus in powered armour now would be worshipped as a god in those times - it could fly gracefully, was immune to almost everything, and from its fingertips could generate beams of energy that made the beams released by those satellites look like friction burns. During the days of the rifle, a single high caliber shot could dismember an unarmored Drakodominatus. He had grown up in those days and still remembered the feeling of danger and mortality. He couldn’t say the same for those whose first taste of combat was civilising primitives while performing orbital drops in powered armour, much less those who were born Dominatus.
Yet it seemed even some of his generation had gone insane with the power bestowed upon them by providence and their own talents and determination. They acted as if they were in a play in which the lone protagonist fought off the endless hordes by himself and triumphed over the enemy champion. Stahl mused that these idiots were so genre blind that they couldn’t tell tragedy from comedy and protagonist from antagonist. It was perhaps the same idiocy that believe in things like heroism and valour triumphing over the raw weight of an industrialised war machine. In the grand scheme of things, the vast majority of the time, those flashy duels meant shit -and when they did mean something, it was because the armies believed it meant something and seemed to pause to spectate. Acts of heroism and valour were mere expectations and statistical occurrences in a war of extermination between two industrial juggernauts - mere flashpoints to distract future historians from the boring minutiae of casualty reports, production output reports, statistical demography, logistics, technology, development that made up the bulk of this godforsaken war. As a child, no, even now, Stahl would rather read about tomes describing decisive and daring actions, bold heroes locked in duels with their nemeses than a novel about two men choking each other and trying to outlast each other. What would such a novel even look like?
“At the resolution of the story there is no room for both a hero and a villain. One of the two must die and by definition the one remaining is the hero. At the start of the story both characters are fully healthy. Character 1 has a higher initial air capacity than Character 2, and they both choke each other out at the same rate. Character 1 kills Character 2. Character 1 is therefore the hero. The End.”
He found it ironic that as Character 2 so to speak, with barely a breath left, that he was turning to yet more sarcasm instead of thinking about how to choke Character 1. He chuckled again. The time for being reasonable and sane was long past - those hopes ended at Manticore. There was only time for insanity now. He only needed to hold out a bit longer now - Castigon would be done fusing with their last hope soon.
Stahl - Daring, Heroism, and Courage. Thats an odd way to spell TIAMAT.
The Audacity of Hope
The map of Demogorgon Prime as of December 1, 2795 looked very different to the one on October 1, 2795 on which the planetary invasion began. Where before, landing sites were mere landfills for the corpses of first-wave assaults, now that they were out of Dominatus artillery range, the ADC, with all of its industrial might had replaced these mortuaries with massive prefabricated ports and factories. These facilities were the conduit between the military force of the Gigaquadrant and the planet whose species thought it wise to offend them in their entirety. It is no exaggeration to say that each of these facilities received what would have been an army sufficient to besiege a single planet as regularly as a trade port would receive shipments of their most common commodity. Yet inflation was everywhere in this war, and most vividly on Demogorgon Prime : a war hero was merely a statistics, a rare act of brilliance and daring was merely a footnote to the callous clash of civilizations, catastrophic losses that would have before caused a resignation or sacking of senior military staff was merely a fact of the times.
Dominatus exterior bunkers had been either captured or destroyed. Even the Dominatus knew that no matter what, this first line of defence was going to fall to the might of the ADC, but while the bunkers survived as long as the Dominatus needed them so survive, the Dominatus had lost substantially more soldiers keeping them for that time than originally expected. For an army with no reinforcements and no new recruits, this was a nightmare, one exacerbated by the unexpected deaths of many senior figures. The lines of larger bastions had also been for the most part been breached. Where they were not yet captured, Dominatus forces waged a hopeless fight against a ceaseless tide of enemies. But perhaps worst of all was the rate at which the Allies had breached the citadels. The citadels of Demogorgon Prime represented the pinnacle of Dominatus defensive military engineering, and were thought by the Dominatus to be invincible. Unfortunately for them, while they proved themselves utterly impervious to the first attacks, the Allies could adapt their tactics while the Dominatus had to act within the confines of what they already had. The sight of an Allied flag on a Citadel’s spire was one that filled what passed for Tyranny hearts with dread, and on December 1, those Allied flags on Citadels outnumbered Dominatus flags.
Indeed, the Allies had gotten to the point of besieging the walls of Malogenesis itself. While these walls were substantially more durable than even those of the citadels, and armed with fierce automated turrets, the Dominatus did not have the forces to garrison the walls in their entirety. They had to be marshalled at key sections in order to repulse ADC attacks, and every day the ADC attacked more sections of the wall at once. If the fight for the walls a matter of attrition, the Dominatus knew that as with all battles for attrition now, they would lose. And once the walls were breached, it was all over. Of course the time of grim knowledge and reasonable responses was over, but perhaps it is reasonable to say that the only reasonable response the Dominatus had was to place all their faith in their last glimmering hope.
The Good Night
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
- - Dylan Thomas
With Castigon fully fused to the TIAMAT, the Dominatus forces marked before the battle for the great counter-offensive on land assembled into their attack formations. The Tyranny’s last strike craft, aerial vehicles, tanks,, and mechanised infantry should poised for the last of any kind of Dominatus offensive of the war. They assembled under the cover of utility fog within Malogenesis’ walls before its main gates. They counted amongst their ranks, what remained of the Dominatus Tank Corps, including the surviving feared Ogre Class Heavy Main Battle Tanks, swarms of Mecha and their carriers, massive walkers and even a few Ultra Heavy Vehicles. Indeed, the magnum opus of Dominatus Army technology, the one-of-a-kind Tyrant Class Ultra-Heavy Walker stood to lead one of the sub-offensives. This effort was to be spearheaded by the elite assassination squads of the remaining Cyclops. In other news, the Tyranny had assembled the largest ever concentration of the Dominatus themselves. It was a force designed to strike fear into the hearts of gods, a force made to utterly crush the ADC’s vaster army and impress upon them the futility of fighting the Dominatus. However, this force was virtually all that remained of the mechanised strength of the once Gigaquadrant-threatening Archostrategon.
Once his forces had assembled, Stahl made a speech from his command centre on Apogee. This speech is noteworthy as the last Dominatus speech preceding an offensive, and the last speech in which a Dominatus acknowledged a chance at victory.
“Perhaps history has marked us off as already lost, as mere footnotes in the march of time. Perhaps the cacophonous staccato of constant fighting retreat is the reason for fate’s arrogance. Perhaps in the trenches below our foe count the days while watching out buildings crumble. But I believe that the hubris of fate is justified in all circumstances save one - fate will make an allowance for the Dominatus to not only survive, but conquer all. Remember our anthem. No price too high, no foe too strong, science and strength will vanquish. We have a price to pay, that paid by a mortal upon apotheosis. We gladly give our husks over to a place in eternity. The strong will thrive, and kill the weak, and only we shall remain. For when history is written, it will only remember us, crystallised as the most scintillating of stars standing vigil over an endless empire. For with the TIAMAT above us, we have all but guaranteed our place as those who will remain when all else are gone. With martial might, and brilliant minds, we make gods kneel before us. All that exists, and even more, will be driven before us. Our foes perish crushed by our will, swallowed whole by oblivion. We will prevail, unstoppable, the Tyranny will rule all. TIAMAT! Activate!”
- - Wolframicht Stahl
A Week of Decades
“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
- - Vladimir Lenin
The TIAMAT had laid inert for the duration the battle, the construct having not yet assumed its physical form, and thus not yes existing as a normal object existed had thus not yet been detected. The DCP remembered the proto-TIAMAT of the War of Hyperspace and had wondered where it had gone and had remembered its fearsome power. They suspected that while it still existed, it was merely a Dominatus fluke that lay derelict in some abandoned part of space. One could have imagined the surprise of the allied fleet commanders when a massive spherical construct with a radius of 1,000,000 kilometres materialised in the system. But before the shock at the ship’s (if it could be called that) size was soon overcome with the disappearance of an entire Apalos Temple Ship. This was soon followed by the appearance of a smaller frigate, and then a cruiser, and then a single strike craft, and then a Junction Planet Fortress. There seemed to be no pattern in the ships destroyed. All that could be surmised was that this Dominatus creation could take a flagship as easily as it could take away a fighter, but could not choose in which order to remove them. Moreover, these ships ha simply disappeared - it was as if their whole mass and the energy contained within merely vanished; it was as the matter of which they were composed did not exist. With horror in their eyes, the ADC realised that the Dominatus’ ultimate weapon was working.
The Allied response was as fierce as it was ultimately useless. There was no sign of damage, even as the cruel entity plucked Allied Ships from existence with the impunity of a tank crushing an ant. Only the discipline of the Allied Fleet and the urgent of the situation gave rise to any kind of coordinated response - the Allies were merely to fire and hold their ground while continuing to ferry troops to the ground. However, even with this steely determination, many amongst the ADC began to feel a familiar emotion, one that they had only once experienced in the early days of the Dominatus War. It was a feeling brought forth by the seeming invincibility of the Dominatus juggernaut - it was despair.
There were no speeches that could lift the hearts of men in the fight that could be made against something that seemed as unstoppable as time. Perhaps the only thing that kept them going was the knowledge that there was nothing else they could do than fight. Everyone knew that the war ended here - either the Dominatus and their machines were all vanquished, or the Dominatus were really so blessed as to obliterate the Gigaquadrant’s army an fleet in a last stand. All they could do is fire into the implacable mass and hope that eventually fate would grant them something anathema to the monster. A commander whose name has been lost to time made the following snide remark as the TIAMAT continued reaping some of the most powerful ships in the Gigaquadrant like a farmer of old reaped grain.
“It seems the Universe itself is trying to write us out of it. I can only hope our troops below are doing somewhat better. Though knowing the Dominatus, and knowing this war, they’re probably getting massacred. The only difference is that we are facing an unknown devil while they face a devil they know. Lucky bastards”
- - Anonymous
“Tonight we make our stand, but when the light breaks over the horizon our ascension is at hand”
- - Unknown Dominatus Commander
The Allies could have scarcely imagined that the night of December 1 would commence with their frontline exploding. Indeed the last remaining batteries of Dominatus Ultra-Heavy Desolator Artillery opened fire on the once thought unreachable allied ports/original landing zones. Super-heavy and Heavy Dominatus artillery opened fire on the allied frontlines at the same time while anti-air batteries and what few remaining squadrons of Harbinger Class interceptors remained guarded the skies. Orbital Bombardment would be stymied by the shield, and aerial bombardment would be repulsed by the Tyranny’s fighters. So long as they held, the Dominatus artillery were nigh-invincible.
The initial surprise and raw power of thee angry orchestra of Dominatus artillery both shattered several important ports while cracking open the allied frontline. Scarcely had the earsplitting shattering roar of the building-sized shell firing Desolator’s gatling cannon woken the frontline up than had the full might of the Tyranny been unleashed on the allied armies. The Dominatus had calculated that they had enough aircraft and anti-air to interdict enough of the Allies Close Air support for 3 days. This, combined with the efficiency of the planetary shield meant that for the next 3 days, this battle would solely be a fight between land armies.
The descent of massed formations Daemon Class Mecha from Nightmare Class Assault Carrier accompanied by bombardment from these massive hovering platforms utterly pulverised those who thought themselves same in the trenches surrounding Malogenesis. On other fronts, the ADC was plagued with groups of Dominatus, equipped not so much with weapons, but with devices that allowed them to disintegrate both tanks and infantry with equal contemptuous ease while flying at breakneck speeds. Perhaps most terrifyingly, the lone Ultra-Heavy Tyrant Class Walker, standing at the height of the city’s main gate simply blasted its way past entire ADC armies while they struggled to bring down the beast.
The allied reaction was also hamstrung by the synchronized nerve strikes of Cyclops commandoes. Numerous senior allied officers, especially those who were not distinguished warriors were killed along with their command staffs in these infiltrations. Those who remained were confronted with a rapidly deteriorating situation - their logistical line was being severed and their frontline was broken through. When asked about their status, a commander of a fully mechanised combined frontline unit of 100,000 troops merely reply with the number 10,000. A more naive commander would have assumed this meant 10,000 casualties. Anyone left knew that it meant 10,000 survivors. Despite the catastrophic losses suffered, the Allies swiftly moved to consolidate their posterior lines of defence while those in the front stalled for time. It was a time for acts of heroism, but though they happened such acts meant very little in the face of the raw power of the Dominatus.
The fighting retreat was led by the ISF’s overstretched squad’s of gravitic weaponry equipped Paladins who did what they could in taking out the Dominatus’ titanic war machines. But even troops as advanced and powerful as they were forced back by the Dominatus’ use of combined arms and the fact that their presence was needed all over the battlefield. Perhaps it was only their timely intervention that gave this withdrawal characteristics more closely resembling a fighting retreat than a rout. But try as the Allies might, the Dominatus advanced as a cancer or a grey goo did. Unfortunately for the ADC, it seemed that the limiting factor of the Dominatus’ advance was not their resistance, but the speed or lack thereof of the Dominatus’ largest war machines.
The screams from those not fortunate enough to be disintegrated constitute the only variation from the sound of the march of the Dominatus. The Allied commanders on the ground noticed glumly that with each passing moment, the sounds of battle came closer and closer. Each moment it seemed, another army succumbed to the unstoppable power of the wave before them. But they could do nothing else than attempt to hold. It would at least give them something to do than ponder why ship by ship, their fleet was disappearing.
Fixed in the melancholy of what seemed to be a hopeless battle, they could only think of how unfair it was. Had they lost all these men, and come to this forsaken part of the Gigaquadrant, spent all these years in a fight that was draining them dry, just to be obliterated like this?
Hope and Despair
The TIAMAT had an operating ceiling of a day. That is to say, even if it worked, it was meant only to be activated for a period of a day before being deactivated and recharging for a period that ranged from a few weeks to a few months. The Dominatus had thought that the Allies would retreat after seeing the futility of facing the TIAMAT. However, it had now been in operation for 36 hours, and the Allies had shown no such signs of letting up from their fruitless offensive.The Dominatus did not have projections as to how the TIAMAT would function in the next hours - it had performed as planned, working perfectly for its projected ceiling, and yet that was not enough. The ADC, though decimated, was still there. The Dominatus decided had no choice but to continue operation for as long as possible. If the Allies were not going retreat, the TIAMAT needed to stay active enough for it to destroy the entire ADC fleet.
And as such the struggle continued. At T+48, i.e. 48 hours after the battle had commenced, the Allies noticed that the TIAMAT was only half deleting some ships. At T+53, they noticed that the TIAMAT was deleting them at a slower rate. At T+59, they noticed that it was deleting ships at one third the rate it had at the start of the battle. At T+67, they noted that the TIAMAT was losing its components, whatever that meant in this context. For the next 5 hours, they held their ground while bombarding the TIAMAT, and sadly recognised the judging by damage to the exterior of the immense ship, they were doing minimal damage. Little could prepare them for the TIAMAT’s cataclysmic explosion on T+72.
Theorists conjecture that given what they know about the TIAMAT, this catastrophic malfunction was mostly contained by its internal infrastructure. Unfortunately the remaining energy was powerful enough that not only did it utterly annihilate the TIAMAT and a multitude of nearby allied ships, it fried the shields of most every ship in the system as well as multiple subsystems. Unfortunately for the Dominatus, this energy wave didn’t discriminate between friend and foe, severely depleting their planetary shield.
On T+72, the Allies were reeling, holding on to their last lines of defence along their last remaining ports. The Dominatus advance seemed unstoppable. But when the Dominatus stared at the skies after the explosion, they noticed that the empty space was not one they were hoping for. It was not the allied fleet that was absent, it was instead the TIAMAT.
Once disgraced after the fall of the Katar Sector, Warmaster Mortrig Malevon had gained a modicum of respect back from the General Staff after encouraging the use of Dominatus in formations known as flights. These formations were composed of 3 lances of 3 Dominatus, as well as a single flight leader. He reasoned that a single Dominatus merely constituted a novelty on the battlefield while a flight of 10 - 3 lances and their leader, were a battlefield-changing formation. The effectiveness of this formation had been proven time and time again - the combined mobility of the Dominatus due to their armoured suits as well as their raw power meant that they could as easily breakthrough an enemy’s line, cut them off, and annihilate them. Indeed, during the battle for Demogorgon Prime, Mortrig’s flight of Dominatus had blazed a bloody trail through the retreating armies of the ADC. Besides the already infiltrated Cyclops, the Dominatus were at the forefront of the offensive, focusing merely on punching holes through enemy lines and destroying groups piecemeal them pushing the frontline forward. Having linked up with a squad of Cyclops who had been holding a captured defensive position since the first day of the now 3 day battle, Mortrig congratulated his elite synthetic minions on a job well done. Mechanised forces would soon be following and it was only a matter of time before the ADC forces were fully expunged. Where they were concentrated, what remained of the ADC’s armies were a teeming mass of men and machine looking for the next defensive line to retreat to, and when they were cut off, they were merely tally marks for aggressive Dominatus who bragged about kills. It seemed that the outcome of the land battle was not in question.
However, only the General Staff was privy to the information that the TIAMAT had exceeded its operating ceiling after its first day of operation, and that the Allies had not yet retreated. Despite this, they believed that with the commitment of their forces, there was nothing they could do but continue the attack. Further, the estimated 3 day period during which the Dominatus could contest the airspace enough to prevent a massacre by Allied Close Air Support was over - the remaining Dominatus Harbingers were only barely holding off the Allied forces. Mortrig had only finished congratulating the Cyclops when a massive blast threw even his armoured frame to the ground. Looking up, he saw in disbelief that while the myriad forms of Allied ships were still present, the space occupied by the TIAMAT was gone.
Mortrig could barely process this thought before a massive bolt of energy struck the ground a kilometre or so away from him. That was impossible - the energy shield was what forced the ADC to count on ground artillery, ground assaults and strike craft as opposed to orbital bombardment. Another bolt landed - the shield was obviously breached. Mortrig remembered his the technical details of the Dominatus shield's recovery routine. It would gain full power in a day or so, but during that day, the entire planet was naked.
The General Staff had not yet given orders, obviously not having planned for this occurrence, but the drizzle was turning into a deluge - the sky was falling on the Dominatus. Mortrig was contemplating continuing the offensive, sunk costs and all, before the first sheet of "rain" slammed into Dominatus positions, irrevocably changing his mind.
An Immortal Class Super-Heavy Walker stood 160 meters tall and towered over everything save one-off constructions and Ultra-Heavy vehicles. Arguably capable of taking on whole armies and virtually impervious to anything the ADC had on land save for converted starship grade weaponry, it was an immense expression of Dominatus imperiousness and technical prowess. The sight of one being thrown up in the air due to the mere concussion of a nearby allied barrage followed by that of the broken remains being vaporised by a second salvo impressed upon Mortrig that an offensive was untenable. The Dominatus did not use the word rout to describe anything but their enemy’s frenzied attempts to avoid confrontation. A fighting retreat was out of the question, and only the ADC was ever routed. Instead, the General Staff issued a single word as their order.
Look upon my Works, ye Mighty, and Despair
Ozymandias, a 30 meter tall Apex Avatar paused momentarily to survey the battlefield. As an Apex Avatar, he represented the zenith of non-vehicle Dominatus synthetics. Capable of sustained periods of flight and possessing extreme firepower and resilience, Ozmyandias eschewed all weapons aside from his eye beams, using the rest of his modules to amplify the power of these already terrifying weapons. Indeed many amongst the ADC were petrified by the blazing eyes of an angry god before they were disintegrated. An angry god, he jested, that was putting all his power into escaping back to Malogenesis, with vermin chasing no far behind.
Indeed, as he was flying, Ozymandias had a view of the battlefield that must have seemed to an infantry man like omniscience. He remembered that quote he read from a Terran document about the worst thing being the knowledge of everything and the power to do nothing. It seemed appropriate to the current situation. Indeed, his two accompanying Avatar wingmen, Khufu and Imhotep chided him sardonically over their communications channel. Sarcasm seemed to be the way Dominatus deflected the general hopeless of their situation. Unfortunately, as Khufu soon found out, it couldn’t deflect a MIRVed anti-matter warhead launched from an ADC strike craft. His shielding countermeasures and interception equipment were powerful enough to save Khufu from destruction. But unfortunately, his main thrusters were damaged, causing him to plummet to the ground. Even Ozymandias couldn’t bring himself to the snide observation that Khufu was now just an ant for the cruel gods in their starships above. But he didn’t need to speak, like clockwork, a stray bolt from another barrage removed any trace of Khufu’s existence.
What a sight it was - the DCP Palace Ship bearing its full weight down on the sole Tyrant Class Ultra-Heavy Walker, which due to its range, endangered one of the ADC’s makeshift ports. For once it seemed like the Tyrant could resist the massive ship enough for the Dominatus forces beneath to escape. ADC Terrans also mused that sometimes, the moment before it was crushed, an insect looked like it could resist an anvil. Unfortunately for both the Tyrant and the insect, physics was decidedly on the side of the heavier object, and what nominal resistance there was, was forgotten as the massive mech, made in the likeness of a Dominatus, was crushed into a million pieces.
Everywhere there was chaos - what remained of Dominatus formations were making mad dashes for the walls of the city, some were stupidly continuing the attack. Ozymandias jested that it wasn’t that stupid - they were going to die anyway, they were just making an entertaining choice. He continued flying as the ADC continually pummelled Demogorgon Prime, forcing it to vomit up chunks of earth with every blow. Emotion had been an emergent property of the Dominatus programming of synthetics - mostly it manifested itself as either a cold arrogance or an angry range.
This time it manifested itself as despair - cross-referencing his sensors with the Dominatus database of formations, he found that in this first four hours, entire formations had been reduced to 20% combat effectiveness. Moreover, these were the formations previously judged invulnerable - those composed mostly of Super-Heavy vehicles were suffering the most. 20 hours to go. His formation of 3, already reduced to 66% effectiveness due to the death of Khufu, was reduced to 33% effectiveness as a wall of light came from the heavens and bisected Imhotep. The resulting impact from the energy was such that Ozymandias was sent tumbling down. His visual sensors scrambled, Ozymandias had only inertial guidance - fortunately maps told him he was going to land in an as of yet untaken citadel. Ozymandias crash-landed, signalling for friendly forces to assist him. He received no reply.
Once his visual sensors were fully activated, he saw what had happened. The citadel wasn’t captured; it was destroyed by orbital bombardment, just 2 hours ago according to his sensors. There were no walls left, merely craters. He manifested a new emotion - hope. Perhaps the ADC would no longer bombard the citadel. He would just lie in wait while the shields came up again. Then his sensors confirmed a single enemy aircraft - a French Agamemnon VTOL. He saw a single face and prepared to activate his eye-beams. No way a single Parachutiste was going to ruin his day more than it had already. He just needed a moment to activate his beam weapons - all his sensors told him was there was a minuscule emanation of radiation from the Frenchman, a laser perhaps, nothing that could harm him.
The targeting laser couldn’t harm him. But the overkill of a ship’s worth of orbital bombardment weapons certainly could.
And in that split second, Ozymandias learned a new emotion - resignation.
The falling mountain of plasma terminated his emotional development there.
And I Must Scream
The Tyranny’s Chiliarchs were perhaps emblematic of the Tyranny’s combination of scientific and military achievment. While in the pre-Mirus Campaign stages of the Dominatus War, they filled the niche of shock troops within the Tyranny’s vast synthetic hordes, their effectiveness as contrasted to the useless of the far more numerous Myrmidons led to a Dominatus decision to make them the basic unit of the Tyranny’s synthetic legions. While durable and powerful, Chiliarchs were unable to keep pace with the Dominatus and Overseers. To remedy this, the Dominatus supplied offensive Chiliarch units with Horde Class Infantry Fighting Vehicles which ferried them to the frontline and offloaded them while supporting their assault.
Chiliarchs were only given names in the normal sense after distinguishing themselves in battle. This particular Chiliarch, an Assault Variant armed with a disruptor shotgun had earned this distinction, as had most who had survived to Demogorgon Prime. This Chiliarch, nicknamed Steelscream was one of the lucky troops who had found himself a spot in a retreating Horde Class IFV. It had been 16 hours since the shields had gone down, and Steelscream could do nothing but listen to the sounds of carnage as his IFV drove at full speed to Malogenesis. In the confines of the IFV, Steelscream could only hear the pleas for help and recovery on the communications channels. More often than not, these please were followed by the sender’s vital signs disappearing after the sound of a new barrage.
What was worse than the static however, was the silence. He had no idea how many others remained. If he had known, he would have phrased the question as how few remained. It was not only the stars that belonged to the ADC, it was the skies. Steelscream had learnt to differentiate between the brutal screech of enemy close air support and the thunderous procession of a ship’s broadside. It seemed now that those were the only two sounds they heard. He was smart enough to have recognised that he wouldn’t be hearing anymore of the Dominatus Harbinger space superiority craft, but to hear the anti-air get softened this much sent chills through his cybernetic nerves.
The IFV had allowed the troopers inside a glimpse at the carnage around them. To see a crashed Nightmare Class Assault Carrier, the massive, flying star like construct embedded in the ground was bad. To see the formidable Dominatus Daemon mecha try to crawl their way out of the twisted hangars was even worse. But to see even these ruins completely obliterated by what must have been a flotilla’s worth of ground bombardment cannons was cathartic in the worst possible way. Yes, doubts were erased, but all that remained was the knowledge of the hopelessness of the situation.
The still twitching remains of a siege column composed of Warhammer Class Siege Tanks haunted his digital memories. Where before they thundered at enemy fortifications with almost unstoppable might, the only sounds they produced now were gasps and gurgles as their ruined machinery failed to escape the wastelands of Demogorgon Prime. Steelscream couldn’t decide whether a direct hit from a missile was merciful or not. It seemed that the once thought unstoppable Archostrategon was simply a broken animal being euthanised.
Mercy Killing. What a thought. It remained in his consciousness as an unknown force threw the IFV up into the air. Steelscream could feel his mechanical tendons crushed by the impact of the dying vehicle on the ground. It seemed that his compatriots were similarly paralysed, trapped either by their malfunctioning systems or the vehicle’s entrails. One by one they reached the conclusion escape was impossible. One by one they self-terminated using their internal chips. Steelscream activated his own suicide chip only to find out that it had been damaged by the impact. For now, he was trapped in the burning mesh of metal and wire that bound him to the ground.
Steelscream - Please Kill Me, for I have no mouth but I must scream.
The Strong and the Weak
24 hours had elapsed and the shield was operational again. In that time, all 3 rings of Malogenesis’ walls had been breached in multiple locations, and every Dominatus bastion and citadel had been flattened and then bombarded against for insurance. In that time, the Allies had destroyed 90% of the Dominatus offensive force and 30% of the city’s garrison. Moreover, they had destroyed every Ultra-Heavy vehicle and Super-Heavy vehicle fielded by the Dominatus on Demogorgon Prime. They had also killed what was calculated as 75% of the Dominatus used in the offensive as well as a sizeable amount of those not included in the offensive. Of the 10% of the offensive force that remained, scarcely two-thirds of it had made it back inside the city gates - the rest were still stranded outside where they were not only hounded by ADC strike craft, but by newly landed ADC armies. Moreover, half of the General Staff had either committed suicide or launched into suicidal assaults. Stahl couldn’t fault them - he had contemplated it himself as well. But along with his two other compatriots who now comprised the entirety of Dominatus High Command, he had masochistically decided to continue coordinating the fight.
He had not paused to think about what he was fighting for. Before, victory was survival. Now, survival was victory. All he could do now was contemplate how to save as many as possible. Ironically, all he could think off now was fight. But perhaps fight meant something else now - his directive now was not to hold the city, but to make sure his forces stayed alive while he figured out a solution to this quandary.
How many invasions had Stahl led? Too many to count. He must have assumed this is what his vanquished foes thought in the days before their subjugation. Culture was never preserved in a war of extermination. Freedom and clemency were mere diversions that distracted new subjects from a life devoid of colour. It only dawned on him then, that the Dominatus were the ones who would be vanquished. There were no more second chances left, no war-ending super weapons just sitting in their stasis. There were no reinforcements and there were no more recruits. There were no more planets and no more cities left after this one. There were no more daring operations, no more stratagems that could turn the course of the war. Their second chance was a daring super weapon that worked as expected. The Dominatus had given their all, and had come up short. Defeat was now a question of when, not a question of if.
It was a Dominatus maxim that the strong do as they can and the weak suffer as they must.
Stahl accepted that all they could do now, was suffer what they must.
The ADC did not consider the Junction an enemy, but only the most foolish amongst them considered them friends. The Junction consumed its own planets and fought its own battles. Civilisations of the ADC did not eat planets. Forces of nature did. If the eviscerated remains of Dominatus planets were any sign, the Junction were a force of nature - a fact of the universe. Ground combat was a nicety they only indulged in when there was potential for biological assimilation. In any case, Junction Dominatus were among the first to advance to the broken walls of Malogenesis. Their only opposition was a single Dominatus, Meshuggah Metallicus, the first and last member of the Amaranthine Guard. Even during a time when Dominatus lives fetched an egregious premium, the Ares Initiative had taken 100 volunteers and injected them with the Terminus serum. All had died save one, and that one, Meshuggah Metallicus, was reduced to a near feral state. Despite this, he grew monstrously in size and strength, dwarfing Dominatus in stature and power in the same way that Dominatus dwarfed the Drakodominatus before them. Meshuggah was fused to his armour and kept in stasis. His controllers decided that faced with the prospect of the Junction entering Malogenesis, now was as good a time as ever to unleash him.
On the cratered arena formed by mass orbital bombardment, Meshuggah engaged his former brethren. A single blow from Meshuggah was so powerful that he could quite literally punch a Junction Dominatus to death. Silver Death watched as Meshuggah literally beat his Dominatus to a pulp. One could have thought that in the countless aeons he had existed, that any sentiment resembling surprise had been purged from his consciousness. But perhaps the most perceptive of observers could detect that his countenance had changed just the slightest bit. Silver Death represented megalomania incarnate - his sole purpose in his endless life was the acquisition of new power, or as he put it, assimilation. And in the prospect of assimilation, Silver Death gave a cold, emotionless stare.
Without fanfare, he materialised into the makeshift coliseum. No words were exchanged between the god-like being whose blink had seen empires fall, whose gestures had seen galaxies collapse, and the feral animal in front of him. Their duel was that between a hunter and his ultimate trophy. Despite his almost timeless nature, Silver Death processed events so quickly that time barely seemed to crawl for him. But each perfectly placed blow, placed at impossible speeds, barely delayed the onslaught of the Dominatus monstrosity. Meshuggah was less a biped and more a barely contained mountain of moving nerve and muscle that bore down on the foe before him. Sensors from observers could only see the impacts from the fight, and compared it to a struggle between the cold void of oblivion and the fiery temper of a dying star.
The utility fog that was Silver Death admitted that perhaps in terms of raw, brute force Meshuggah was better than the Junction's machines. But this was not admitted begrudgingly, for indeed each display of Meshuggah’s power caused waves of psychic commands to flood his mind - commands from his directive. So what if Meshuggah could overpower even a Mind-King? Each of his past foes that had been able to do so had been merely assimilated. The wider Meshuggah’s advantage over the Junction's forces grew, the more power the Junction would eventually gather for themselves. After what seemed an eternity of a storm of nerves, metal and muscle chaotically lashing out in anarchy, Meshuggah eventually stood over Silver Death.
Silver Death however, had not lost, if anything, Meshuggah had gifted him with a break from the ennui of a near-eternal existence. And with that thought, out of nowhere, a literal flood of synths erupted to entomb Meshuggah. Try as he might, there was no escape from the ever-growing cocoon. Each rebellious strand of biomass was quickly covered by the endless flood of synths. Each punch simply expended energy and weakened Meshuggah’s position. Eventually, even a being as powerful as Meshuggah was enervated by the mountainous sarcophagus covering him. It was in that moment, that Silver Death embedded himself to the cocoon, and in a gradual process, assimilated Meshuggah.
To him, this was the sole point of the war. He had gathered every secret the Dominatus had regarding biological enhancement. There was no more they could give him. There was no more to be gained here. The search for more power had begun anew. The satiety he gained from this assimilation was replaced by the ever gnawing hunger that possessed him. He could only think of one thing.
The Road to Victory
The Drakodominatus could have been conquered before they left Mirus.
The cancer of the Tyranny could have been excised decades ago.
The Tyranny could have been crippled at the start of the slave revolt.
Too many times, thought Master Admiral Tul had the ULE been too late. He was a vocal proponent of the Tyranny’s conquest and an even more vociferous opponent of the uneasy peace and finally the non-aggression pact with them. His voice was only heard when cold, hard, and obvious facts made clear that his argument, that if the Tyranny was allowed to live, it would conquer all, and extermination was the only remedy to that insidious disease.
It was the ULE that backstabbed the Dominatus during the Battle of Manticore. They were the kingmakers who decided the outcome of the deadlocked stalemate. In Tul’s mind, they were the reason that they were fighting on Demogorgon Prime rather than the Gigaquadrant’s capitals. They had withstood the retribution of the Dominatus in the ghastly but short-lived nightmare of the Lanat campaign and had poured their considerable industrial and military energies into the completion of a task that should have been completed long before.
The road Bitfrost led directly from the now shattered northernmost gatehouse of Malogenesis’ outermost wall to the Tyrant’s palace itself. A kilometre wide, it was constantly illuminated by suspended balls of plasma and watched by statues of the Dominatus and the Drakodominatus before them. It passed under gargantuan arches, namely the Arch of the Dominatus, the Arch of Rebirth, and the Arch of Unification. Tul would make sure that those lights were snuffed out, those statues pulled down, and those arches shattered.
A veritable swarm of F-0 Marmoks with accompanying cyber troopers served as the blunt instrument of the ULE’s power. Interspersed in this formation were massive Heavy Assault Crawlers and elements of the Ironbacks. Each stomping foot, each new tread was a direct statement of the Tralor’s determination to reclaim their spot as Mirus’ rulers. It was an advance temporarily stopped by the appearance of a Tyranny ambush. The onslaught beyond the walls had destroyed the entirety of Dominatus Super-Heavy and Ultra-Heavy vehicle corps, but it seemed that enough vehicles of other types had escaped to mount a stubborn defence.
Oppressor Class Heavy Tank Destroyers belted out antimatter warhead tipped bolts of metal at relativistic speeds, ripping through the oncoming armoured formation. Meanwhile, Dominatus Devastator Variant Widowmaker Tetrapods MLRS fired off their deadly payload at the oncoming troopers. The resulting avalanche of explosions would have stopped a lesser assault in its tracks, but the Lanats were familiar with adversity. It merely meant that the fight was something that history would remember. And so amidst the oncoming barrage, the Trailer advanced.
Tul was aware that these Dominatus vehicles outranged his own, but was at peace with himself. As per protocol, destroyed vehicles were simply bulldozed out of the way and dead troops were marched over. Steadily, and not slowly, the gap was closed, and the Dominatus began to feel the full firepower of the Tralor. While the Oppressor's strong frontal armour could survive hits from the Lanats, their accompanying infantry and MLRS escorts couldn’t. The Dominatus, outnumbered and gradually overpowered needed were forced to fall back.
And fall back they did, into the waiting claws of infiltrated Falconers who had planted anti-tank mines on the retreat route of the Dominatus. The Dominatus were trapped in a crossfire as Falconer anti-tank units made quick work of the Oppressors by aiming at their rear armour. Dominatus synthetic infantry and even overseers were slaughtered in the abattoir of the kill zone the Lanats had set up. After a brief but intense firefight, the Lanats continued paving the road, not with their own wrecks and bodies as before, but with those of the Dominatus.
Tul looked at the Arch of the Dominatus, emblazoned with murals and paintings of the supposed masters of not just Mirus, but the Gigaquadrant. He nodded and simply gave the order for his troops to erase it from history.
And with that command, the gargantuan arch was turned into a pile of molten slag.
The Tralor had taken heavy casualties, but if nothing else, they were known for their resilience. There was nothing out of the ordinary here, it was merely another step on the road to victory. And so the march continued.
A Change of Perspective
Almost impossibly, Warmaster Mortrig Malevon had survived the 24 hour slaughter. The 9 other Dominatus in his wing had all been killed of course, but he had survived, and not only that, he had assembled a task force of what few units survived in his sector and had not yet made it to the wall. He took stock of his command and cross-referenced it with the Dominatus military database. His unit, if it could be called that, was a composite of what was once 23 separate forces. In general, these forces had sustained a 95% casualty rate from the time of the TIAMAT’s destruction to the time they had regrouped. Mortrig noted that in many places, Allied forces had indeed outpaced his own, and had read reports that in many sectors, the Allies had already entered Malogenesis.
The Warmaster didn’t think about the overall direction of the war, as that was a matter for the General Staff. Stahl had not issued any new directives, and levitating over a ruined section of the walls, Mortrig knew why there was nothing more to say - Malogenesis was burning. In every which way he looked, twisted black and gold spires illuminated the sky like funeral pyres. The towering structures retched and screamed as they crumbled, the suspended balls of plasma which illuminated Bitfrost were slowly gasping their last breaths, and the sounds of the firefights grew more distant, a sign that only meant whatever was left of the garrison was being ground to dust.
Mortrig wondered if there was a second TIAMAT or a backup plan before realising there wasn’t. If there had been an opportunity in the last 96 hours to change the outcome of the war, it had already passed. The taste of battle now left an acrid taste in his mouth - there was nothing left to fight for now since there was no hope of victory. But perhaps he just needed a new definition of victory, and survival fit the bill. He didn’t know what the endgame was, but certainly drawing attention to his makeshift combat group was as asinine and suicidal action. They would fight if they needed as there was no indication the ADC would give any quarter, but they would never attack first, not unless combat was guaranteed, and offence was the best defence.
And it is with this in mind, that a Dominatus commander formerly renowned for his aggressiveness ordered the units under his command not to attack the endless procession of Allies streaming through the gate, but infiltrate the city through one of the myriad sections of destroyed wall and hide and survive till … Well Mortrig didn’t know when it would end, but in his mind a death tomorrow was preferable to a death today, and a death the week after preferable to that.
Commodore Monoud and his ATR military attache John Williams surveyed the carnage around them. In his mind, Monoud imagined what Olympon, Malogenesis’ outermost district’s central square must have looked like before all this fighting. He could only see reflections of its past in the blown up chunks of what was once the purest black marble. Often, when he stepped over a corpse or wreck, whether belonging to his former allies or to the Dominatus, when he looked at the ground below to identify if the fallen was friend or foe, that the corpse was often framed by crisscrossing lines of platinum and gold, diamonds and sapphires and all manner of precious metals and gems that would have been judged by a pre-replicator society to be of aesthetic value. But his mind was fixed solely in the fight around him - the gems only reflected the brutal conflict above, and the marble only served as a square-wide crypt to commemorate those who had fallen.
R1 Main Armoured Attack Transports, R9 Main Bipedal Walkers, and CR10 Infantry Support Vehicles advanced alongside Terran tanks and infantry while AU-15 Attack Transports and AU-28 Attack Gunships covered their advance. It was a rare sight to see the war machines of the ATR and the Cyrannian Republic in their fully horrifying glory, and an even rarer sight to see them joined as one. But even a juggernaut such as this was having a hard time cracking the Dominatus defence lines in the square. In fact, they were pinned in position by a combat group of Legacy Class Heavy Walkers. These 60 meter tall monstrosities were arguably the largest Dominatus war machines remaining given the destruction of all the Dominatus’ super-heavy and ultra-heavy vehicles in the slaughter outside the walls. But still, these walkers stood as angry sentinels over the battlefield, blasting their foes with arm mounted thermonuclear ballistic cannons on the left, and arm mounted gatling super lasers on the right.
Monoud looked in horror as he saw even the R1s gutted like mere animals by the seemingly impervious Legacies. A direct hit from an Legacy meant that all that remained of a walker was the liquefied goo that was both metal and the remains of the crews. How many had he known, lectured in the military academies, given medals too? How many had made it this far from Plazith only to be killed by the final, insane death rattles of a fallen empire? But ever the professional, Monoud stopped this pathos after a split second, took in the battlefield in another, and set about giving orders after.
Monoud - This is Commodore Monoud to all troops. We can’t make a dent in those damned Legacies and our bombers can’t get close enough without being shot out by all these batteries of Widowmakers. Get close to them, grab them by the buckle, and destroy that AA! Its our only chance!
The Dominatus were used to situations such as this, and as such had fortified every Widowmaker battery with synthetic troops, vehicles, and what Overseers could be marshalled in the square. Monoud deviseda daredevil stratagem by embarking his most elite assault troops upon landing AU-15s. Monoud knew more than anyone else that flying them at their normal altitude was suicide, but flying them at ground level, while insane in most circumstances, was the only reasonable alternative. Flying in at 600 kilometres per hour, they rapidly closed with the Dominatus. The Dominatus barely had time to react, and while the barrage of bolts and shells decimated the initial waves, the Allies succeeded in landing their troops right on top of the Dominatus positions.
The brutal close combat was one that no one in either the Cyrannian or Terran force relished, but was infinitely preferable to the Sisyphean task of dealing with Dominatus heavy walkers at range. Hyper-advanced swords and bayonets clashed while long-range ordnance was fired at point blank range. Falling AU-15s and AU-18s careened into Dominatus vehicles in dying kamikaze attacks while the ferocious combat continued to rage on. Explosions saw men on both sides fly like ragdolls if they were intact, and broken urns full of ashes if they were not. Monoud, covered in blood and the black ooze of Dominatus synthetics had destroyed a Widowmaker before being thrown back by the concussive force of an energy wave gun. It gradually dawned on him that this meant there was a detachment of Mortalitas Overseers, the Praetorians of Azuris attached to this Dominatus unit. Barely recovering, he saw that his foe was of the Praetor Class, second only to Azuris himself in raw power. Monoud was a competent combatant, but fighting an Overseer Praetor at this stage of the war was considered tantamount to suicide for all but the Gigaquadrant’s most famed super soldiers and war heroes. Monoud did not want to find out if he qualified as one or was merely a borderline case.
Monoud ordered his forces to resume the attack on the Widowmakers while shooting at the giant 8 meter tall Mortalitas. He watched in terror as the monstrosity swatted aside his men, sometimes by the pair like they were mere insects. Yet more horrifying was that each individual impact often pulverised those men, if the gelatinised puddles of armour and flesh at their impact sites gave any clue to his power. It was then, not a surprise that the monster advanced through a hail of fire as it unsheathed its energy cutlass. And in a split second, it had accelerated and was running straight at him. Monoud barely had time to parry as the impact threw him flying back. Shaking his head, he charged back at the bioengineered monstrosity.
He fought as hard as he could, but every blow he threw barely seemed to dent the Mortalitas’ armour while even his most masterful parries sent shockwaves through his bones. It was only a natural consequence therefore, that eventually, with a forceful overhead cleave, the Praetor broke Monoud’s sword in half, sending him to the floor. As he prepared his final strike, the he saw the Imperator stagger - he had just been shot by heavy anti-overseer ordnance, and with the rapidity of the next blast, Monoud knew that it was his attache John Williams, in his powered armour, who was saving him from an ignominious end. But John Williams was a ranged specialist, and though the Praetor's shields had been fried, he still had the faculty to throw his cutlass at the Terran, cleaving him vertically in half, tearing through the powered armour like it didn’t exist.
The brief respite had allowed Monoud sometime to communicate to his forces, and it seemed that they had succeeded in destroying the AA batteries. Only then did he register that the Dominatus’ creation had callously murdered his close Terran friend and confidante. But he felt powerless, only being able to blast off his pistol at the seemingly unstoppable Mortalitas. It seemed that the Praetor was only a few steps from him when with his last charge, he saw the Imperator explode. He wondered what had happened, looking at his pistol, till he looked overhead to see an AU-18 firing its entire suite of weapons at the pile of ashes that was once the Imperator.
Turning his head, he looked around as bombers overtook the clear airspace and destroyed the Tyranny’s Legacy Class Walkers. The cost was great, but victory was just around the corner. He dusted himself off and went back to the bloody business of war, and by the end of the day, the Cyrannian Republic’s flags and those of their Terran allies flew together over Olympon.
The Serpent’s Night
The Phantoms of Pathogis had distinguished themselves in many ways - as desert fighters, subterranean masters, crack anti-tank units amongst other accolades. Most often deployed against the AGC, Draconis crewmen often prayed to Drakon upon hearing the signature unburrowing sound of the Phantoms. Most of the time, these prayers went unanswered. When the unburrowing sound was loud, it meant the Phantoms were coming from beneath the tank, and there was merely a tornado of massive kukris that left the vehicle a mess of viscera and twisted metal. When the sound was softer, it was punctuated by a single cacophonous noise, which was then followed by the gnashing sound of a tank’s armour being penetrated and its crewmen or internal circuitry being turned into an amorphous goop.
Other Overseers revelled in frontal assaults. In Pathogis’ mind, other Overseers were ssstupid. The lightning attacks of the Phantoms were as traumatic as they were not just because of the damage they inflicted but because they disappeared as quickly as they came, making retribution impossible. Pathogis took some sadistic pleasure in knowing that children’s nursery rhymes often referenced his exploits.
Rock-a-bye, baby, in the tree top
When the earth breaks the serpent shows up
Whips out his blades and then he stands tall
Then Pathogis will consume you all
- Infamous Dominatus War Era Nursery Rhyme
Pathogis deeply enjoyed taunting synthetic generals and “fellow” overseers about the superiority of his creed. He took even deeper pleasure in knowing that the favour the Dominatus granted him meant that he could gloat all he wanted without any fear of retribution, and when that retribution came, it merely gave him an excuse to showcase his physical dominance. Pathogis couldn’t decide whether he liked more - adding insult to injury, or injury to insult.
Pathogis only really cared about the fate of the Tyranny so long as it gave him and his legion the opportunity to exercise their frightful talents. The needless patriotism of the others was so sssilly, and Pathogis as well as his children made no effort to hide their boredom with the countless speeches given by their supposed colleagues. This trait stood him well in the nightmare that was the battle for Malogenesis. Others were fretting about how to survive, and what the plan was to win. Pathogis merely enjoyed what was the ultimate hunting ground, and an environment conducive to the further needling of his beleaguered comrades. In truth, he thanked fate for giving him paradise so early. Pathogis found equal pleasure in both killing ADC troops as well as ripping into his allies for their failures.
“Sssilly sssynthetic, you really ssscrewed up this time.”
- - Pathogis to a Synthetic General
“Hey Ssstupid, I didn’t know ssserving the Tyrant meant sssenseless sssacrifice.”
- - Pathogis to an Overseer Praetor
“You sssmell like failure, I can’t decide whether its incompetencccce or maliccce.”
- - Pathogis to an Overseer Praetor of another legion
Pathogis had grown bored with the ssslaughter inside the city. How many tanks had he destroyed, how many squads had he massacred? How many allied soldiers lay awake at night wondering when the next Phantom attack was going to happen? That had been entertaining for a while, but hearing “[Insert Deity] protect us from the Phantoms while we rest” eventually became stale to his ears. He and his Phantoms needed a challenge.
When a servant of the Tyranny, either Overseer or Synthetic had earned enough favour, they were often bestowed with the most outlandish of gifts. Most common amongst these were Dominatus crafted-equipment, enlargements of command among other things. Pathogis had asked for nothing more than the ability to do battle with his legion wherever he saw fit. And Pathogis realised there would never be a better time to take advantage of this privilege than now. What remained of Military Intelligence had reported the presence of mass field hospitals near the landing zones wherein ADC troops were triaged before being taken to hospital ships. The hospitals themselves were lightly guarded, as they were so far behind enemy lines that the only major forces nearby were the recently landed troops, who were always put on fast transit to Malogenesis itself.
Pathogis gave it a moment of consideration. It was certainly a sssuicide mission. But, he reasoned in the long run, we’re all dead. Loyal to his Dominatus masters, he left the majority of the Phantoms under his second in command in the city to continue the fight, but he gathered his most bloodthirsty and sadistic volunteers for a final mission. Pathogis didn’t like either listening to or making speeches, so he simply told his followers that they were going to ssscare a lot of people, and that was enough to inspire them.
The Phantoms had single-use special burrowing suits for long-range infiltration missions, and used them to infiltrate the ADC frontline. The sensors picked up some tremors, but on a planet like Demogorgon Prime, these were par for the course. By the next night, Pathogis and his volunteers had all tunnelled their way to the ground beneath the field hospitals. What followed immediately was one of the single most one-sided slaughters of the war.
The emergency ward of a Draconis field hospital saw skilled robots and medics put together grievous injuries. Nearly bisected Draconis, only held together by Morphis, those with ripped off wings, and those whose bones had been pulverised all waited before they were treated or brought up to a hospital ship. They had fought the long fight, but they were done. The Dominatus were losing and they had been permanently rotated to the back. It was just a matter of waiting before they could go home. Or so they thought, as they noticed a small rumbling beneath the surface. Most thought it just another earthquake, but the victims of mass-lacerations, barely bags of flesh and ligaments held together by Morphis knew that their nightmares had come to haunt reality.
The blaze of kukris splattered the walls with blood and flesh. Men healing in bio-tanks were eviscerated, the liquefied remains of their organs seeping out with the healing fluid. The paralysed could only watch in horror as they saw their fellow soldiers ripped apart limb from limb by monsters that even infantry-supported armoured divisions dread facing. The screams sent the Allies into action even faster than their alarm system could. The gurgling and chopping and screeching and begging filled the communications lines in the most placid sector of the battlefield. Perhaps the most unmissable sound however, was Pathogis' laughter. The serpentine chuckles greyed hairs and sent chills through bones as they were mixed with the sounds of the most wanton slaughter.
The Allied response was swift, but not swift enough to save the veritable mountain of wounded who had been killed in these wanton acts of sadism. Allied Command had already marked off those areas attacked as lost, their inhabitants already dead. A land-based response was unneeded, only aerial bombardment would suffice. The Allies apologised to the wounded as they carpet bombed those areas the Phantoms had attacked. Even the Phantoms, caught up in the wanton slaughter, were not quite fast enough to react, and many were incinerated. Pathogis, revelling in the frenzied massacre and the fear he inspired, was mortally wounded by multiple direct hits from a rapid series of allied bombing runs.
But Pathogis knew better than to grant the Allies the relief of knowing he was dead. With all his remaining might, he buried himself far underground. He died laughing, with a smile on his face, having caused the single greatest massacre of his career, and for the first time in a long time, the jaded serpent was satiated by the misery he had caused. Dying, he mused that in the minds of the Allies, he was still alive. It seemed that the countless soldiers scarred by either experience with the Phantoms or knowledge of them, who waked up in the dead of night to nightmares of the Serpent Legion were given no respite. Without confirmation of his death, the Great Serpent and his Phantoms would continue to haunt them.
Relicus, Maloagenesis’ main museum stood as a testament to the arrogance of the Dominatus. Beyond housing the taxidermied bodies of many of the Tyranny’s numerous enemies, their captured flags and symbols, and life-sized recreations of the climaxes of famous battles, it housed life-sized recreations of the Tyranny’s most delusional fantasies. In the cavernous belly of the gargantuan of black marble and gold lay the Tyranny’s visions of victory. And so, a titanic battle between the AGC and the Tyranny raged on in the Tyranny’s mad vision of how history should be.
The AGC’s men were wholly consumed by a primal and dark rage. The Night of the Serpent had seen many of their wounded brothers-in-arms murdered in cold blood by the Phantoms, and for all they knew, there was probably going to be a second attack. Cold professionalism was supplanted by an unsatisfiable desire not just to capture Demogorgon Prime, but to wipe it from memory.
The Dominatus had dreamed of not just defeating the Draconis, but desecrating their legacy. They aimed to reduce statues to rubble, to erase their cultural legacy, to eviscerate their works of art, and obliterate their consciousness as a civilisation. It was not merely sufficient to subjugate them, the entire idea that their enemies had accomplished anything of note had to be torn down and replaced by the cultural oblivion. But the Dominatus were not strong enough to do this - what damage they did served more to compel those still standing to uphold the legacy of their ancestors and erase that of the Dominatus.
The unending march through a palace that solely honoured the Dominatus memory was one of footsteps and fire. The fire twisted once proud Dominatus statues into amorphous, contorted, agonised forms that seemed to beg for mercy killing, a far cry from the supposed masters of the universe.The footsteps of the AGC, be they those of marines, the treads of tanks, or the staggering impacts of Draconis mecha pulverised what rubble remained into dust. Perhaps something could have been pieced together from the individual rocks that fell and the twisted snakes of molten metal, but the Draconis made sure that only ash remained.
The angry leviathan, one of steel motivated by a most visceral and atavistic hatred inexorably marched through what scant resistance there was. Relicus was considered by the Dominatus to be military indefensible, but some Dominatus thought the importance of preserving their museum outweighed the futility of resistance. Valiantly they resisted the unstoppable advance, and just as valiantly were they crushed.
This was not a battle of tactics or stratagems, it was merely one of the blunt application of force, and in this matter the AGC clearly had the upper hand. And when an angry force met the fragile dioramas and artworks of the Tyranny, it consumed then wholly. The arrogant life-size model of a section of Alcanti being taken over the Dominatus shattered under the treads of Draconis tanks. It may have been life-sized, but the crystals from which it was composed were as fragile as glass, and could not hope to last in the pressure of battle. Even more incensed by the arrogance of the Dominatus, the Draconis advance turned perhaps even more bloodthirsty.
In the late stages of the war, a Dominatus’ power came mostly from the synthesis of his armour and his innate physical strength. Left naked, a Dominatus was not a god of war, but in the age of hyper-advanced warfare, a mere novelty. Those crashed Dominatus unfortunate to have their armour immobilised and cracked found themselves dragged out screaming by Draconis mechs made specifically to deal with them. Oftentimes, the crashed Dominatus were younglings, eagerly pressed into action by necessity and though brave, amateurish in their handling of the armour and wholly unprepared for the realities of Gigaquadrantic war. Confronted with their foes in a vulnerable state, it was often the case that a Draconis mechanised pilot, driven mad with rage, would literally stomp or punch the immobilised Dominatus, whether immobilised by his malfunctioning suit or the Draconis’ comrades till there was nothing more than bloodied pulp where there was once the supposed “master race”.
And so, driven mad with vengeance, the Draconis at the front used all their considerable power to indulge in a brutality they had before denied themselves. Victory was not to be measured just by land taken and enemies killed, it was to be measured in shattered memories, liquefied remains, and banshee-like screams.
In this regard, the end of the battle saw the Draconis more victorious than they could have imagined.
The Last Ride
T+6 Hours from TIAMAT activation
Ahrat Timureza of the Storm Strikers listened dejectedly to the reports of the battle around them. In the distance, the Ahrat could hear the sounds of the Tyranny’s Super-Heavy and Ultra-Vehicles not so much fighting, as two equally matched combatants would fight, but moving through entire enemy formations, as a bulldozer would move through wreckage. ADC protocol had established 2 general ways of dealing with those abominations - massive aerial bombardment or massive orbital bombardment. Timureza had found before, through personal experience, that fast moving troops on skim bikes and grav-packs were sometimes able to plant explosives on the weak points of these monsters provided they got close enough. And so, the Ahrat marshalled his Storm Strikers into a desperate charge, hoping to alleviate the stress of the unstoppable Dominatus machines in the sector. At once, countless skim-bikes were activated, their roars resounding throughout the battlefield, and at the Ahrat’s behest, they charged.
History will never know whether the Ahrat’s forces could have applied their techniques to the Dominatus formations. Planting explosives in this manner had only worked against isolated super-heavy and ultra-heavy vehicles, not entire formations. Conversely, the Storm Strikers had never been assembled in their entirety for a single attack. In the chaos, Timureza could never have known that such a large charge had drawn the attention of Overseer Template Pestilon Nephillheim. In the last stages of the Great Tyranny War, Pestilon and his most trusted lieutenants had been gifted by the Dominatus with biologically engineered and cybernetically enhanced Typhon, abominations resembling in every characteristic the dragons of ancient Terran lore. These black-winged monsters blotted out the skies while breathing plasma down upon those unlucky enough for them to see. The Typhon were rarely deployed, given how common ADC air dominance had become in the late stages of the war, but now of course, the airspace was contested.
It at first was the flapping of wings that drowned out the growl of the engines, and then it was the curtains of purple fire that seemed to descend from the heavens. The fire was never followed by screams - but when Timureza looked around, he saw that even the most powerful antigrav-vehicles of his Creed had between twisted into sculptures of fused metal and incinerated flesh, and that many of his bikers were only recognisable as piles of ash on the ground. Timureza thought of options, but only saw one. His main weapon, the Lance of Vengeance, was a plasma lance that could be both used in melee, or potentially thrown. Timureza looked for the biggest of the dragons, and threw with all his might. Had the lance impacted anywhere, the monster would probably just have absorbed it, but luck was on Timureza’s side, as he impaled the beast in one of its eyes. Entering at such a soft spot, the one-of-a-kind plasma lance burrowed its way into the monster’s body, forcing it from the air and onto the ground, thrashing as it fell from the heavens.
What was less lucky was the Typhon’s rider leaping from the fallen beast and onto the battlefield below. Timureza’s entire section of the charge focused fire on the monster as it plummeted to the ground below, continuing fire even as it cratered into the plains. The other two wings would continue to the Tyranny’s vehicles, but the centre would make sure the rider was dead. It was only when Timureza saw a figure move through the firestorm, almost unimpeded, that he felt a tinge of fear. Though he had felled one of the Horsemen’s rarest mounts, he had also driven their template to the ground. The Ahrat grimaced, knowing from reports that the ultra-rare Dominatus crafted armour the figure probably wore was impervious to everything but orbital bombardment or a carpet bombing from a carrier’s worth of bombers.
It seemed that with each glance of the purple orbs that constituted Pestilon’s eyes, entire squadrons were thrown screaming into the air. The Ahrat never learned if this was essence or simply more extremely advanced custom Dominatus technology, but his response was the same. Kill Pestilon. Charging towards the implacable juggernaut, he drew his saber while yelling the Stormstrikers’ battle cry. But it seemed that the Dominatus monster had no time for such gallantry, slamming his weapons into the ground and causing such a shockwave that even Timureza was thrown into the air. Rapidly recovering from the miniature earthquake, Timureza charged the monster that was dual-wielding a titanic kusarigama and a swordstaff with the ease of one wielding twin daggers.
Timureza was a strong warrior, and as an Ahrat had faced down numerous senior Overseers in his days and won. But a Template, on open ground, in one-on-one melee combat - that was a fight in which Timureza needed to rely on luck, opportunities, or the mere arrogance of his opponent. Pestilon struck first, swinging his swordstaff with unnatural speed, and Timureza’s parry almost shattered Timureza’s own sabre. Staggered, he was only saved from another strike by the timely arrival of two of his most senior officers. Still on the ground, he watched helplessly as in one callous swing of his kusarigama, Pestilon pulverised the two into a mix of fleshy pulp and broken bone. He saw as the mixed powder of armour, flesh, and bone hit the floor and was possessed of nothing but rage. Gathering all of his strength into one final attack, Timureza ducked under another swing of Pestilon's weapons and surprised the Sindar-Human hybrid, driving his sabre directly into the back armour of the Template.
He was dismayed at the result however. Timureza had made only a dent in the armour, and couldn’t even see the flesh of the Dominatus monster. This dismay turned into terror as he saw the Template’s head turn 180 degrees to face him without moving his body. The glowing purple eyes stared into his soul and immobilised him in place. Timureza scraped as he felt himself flayed layer by layer and melded to Pestilon’s armour, In the end, only his still-screaming and still-moving face remained the legacy of his life, twitching and screaming on Pestilon’s armour.
Timureza’s fellow Storm Strikers could only watch helplessly as the Overseer sprinted towards Dominatus lines, not knowing he had given targeting orders for a Dominatus Super-Heavy artillery battery. Within the hour, the Storm Strikers were no more.
The Present Day
A lone god walked the streets of this sector of Malogenesis. There had once been an armoured column here, then Pestilon has appeared. There were now only the sounds of burning and screaming. Only the appearance of a single challenger brought a new sound to the frenzy - that of ancient Terran classical music. Pestilon’s companion AI could only register that its lyrics had something to do with “rocking you”, whatever that meant. It was none other than Phase-Hunter, the insane human mercenary who had found his way to the nightmare of Malogenesis in order to honour his Ugandalorian allies.
This was one of the few times when those around could tell that Phase-Hunter was completely serious. There was no one in the Gigaquadrant he hated more than Pestilon. True, Phase-Hunter had lost horribly to the Template during their first meeting on a nameless world at the time of the Dominatus slave revolt, but that was not the reason for the hatred. Yes, the only reason he yet lived was that Pestilon had been unaware of Phase’s regenerative abilities at the time, but Phase had brushed that aside, too. However, since he learned that the insignificant human still lived against all odds, Pestilon had butchered many of the comrades Phase-Hunter had made on the many battlefields of the Mirus Campaign. It aggravated Phase-Hunter even more that Pestilon knew these men and women as nothing but statistics and trophies. Many of the screaming faces on Pestilon’s armour, and there were many, were those of men Phase had sparred with, trained with, bantered with, disturbed, and bonded with. No matter how much he had tried to catch up, Phase-Hunter had always failed. And Pestilon had taken notice of the human's obsessive behavior, always taunting, always killing, always hurting. This had to end. Now.
Twin katanas unsheathed, he charged the lone Overseer Template. Propelled by nothing other than his destructive will made manifest, the initial impact actually stopped Pestilon dead in his tracks. Salivating in an insane berserk rage, Phase-Hunter unleashed a whirlwind of attacks on the Overseer, and at the end of his first onslaught, had landed a flurry of strikes on the Dominatus armour, a series of strikes that unfortunately had barely translated to scratches. When the Overseer replied to his surprise with a massive swing of his kusarigama, he struck with such force the Phrase-Hunter’s katanas were sent flying into the air beyond reach. In fact, the force of the impact forced Phase-Hunter himself into the air, desperately firing his techno-uzis at the seemingly unstoppable Sindar-Human abomination. He looked desperately on as Pestilon simply disintegrated the bullets in mid-air using his eyes.
Only his armour prevented Phase-Hunter from being turned to mush upon landing, but no sooner had he come to his senses than had the Overseer had stood over him and dropped his kusarigama, instead grasping his swordstaff with both hands before driving it down.
Phase-Hunter - Suck It!
And using a one-time manoeuvre even he considered insane, one that would fully drain his ghost-phasing module, Phase-Hunter manipulated his phasing abilities and teleportation abilities to such an extend that the monster’s swordstaff pierced his chest armour, almost as if it was paper - and entered a portal, exiting at the stomach area of the Overseer. The sheer momentum and force that Pestilon had meant for Phase-Hunter was then applied to himself. Grating against the armour, the swordstaff sheared through it and came out the other way before, having fully embedded itself in Pestilon. The shock and the impact forced Pestilon to his knees as Phase-Hunter squirmed out. Twin Katanas still out of reach and Pestilon already regerating, Phase-Hunter settled on using the Template's own weapon to finish the monster off. To his dismay however, Phase-Hunter found himself unable to lift the massive kusarigama whole. Insane as always, his solution was to place bombs on the shaft of the weapon, splitting the mace from the scythe. Phase-Hunter gathered all his strength and carried the mace to Pestilon’s exposed back before spotting the dent that Timureza had made. Driving himself and his suit into overdrive, he used every ounce of rage available to him before bringing the mace down on the dent in a single blow.
Phase-Hunter - This is for every one you killed, you pony-fallacious bastard!
The resulting impact, combined with the embedded swordstaff, cracked open the back plate of Pestilon’s armour, leaving his blackened and synthetically engineered flesh completely exposed. With no energy left, Phase-Hunter fell on the ground besides Pestilon, barely conscious.
Pestilon - ...Fool. Did you think you could kill me?
Phase-Hunter - ...No. B-But they can.
The ravaged human pointed out at what seemed to be an unending stream of ADC troops not only from Mirus, but also from the Katar and Terran Sectors of the Milky Way, from the Hegemony in the Andromeda Galaxy’s Segmentum Exterioris and from who knew where else. Perhaps had he been fully intact, Pestilon could have taken them on. But immobilised and exposed, he was merely an extremely durable piñata. Phase-Hunter watched gleefully as the completely unenhanced troops tore into the horribly enhanced Template en masse, and before passing out from the exertion, began playing a song on his speakers.
Phase-Hunter - We are the champions! We are the champions! No time for losers 'cause we are the champions...of the world!
And so, to the sounds of his favourite band, Phase-Hunter learned that even Overseer Templates could scream.
The Hunter and the Hunted
By some miracle, Squadron Leader Grim Reaper had survived the massacre outside the walls. By an even greater miracle, 4 other members of Death Squadron had survived - Lance Leader Lucifer, Lance Leader Ares, Phobos, and Baal. And by such insane luck, Grim Reaper thought that they were surely destined for something bad, they had so far survived the endless grind of city fighting. Death Squadron was the most famous and successful of all Ogre squadrons in the Tyranny; it was one of the few squadrons compose entirely of aces, and among these ace squadrons was unquestionably the most elite. And now Death Squadron, having accrued over 9,000 vehicle kills throughout the course of the war, found themselves low on ammunition and antimatter for its power plant. According to their tactical maps, the squadron needed to break through a French position in order to reach the nearest supply depot. In this late stage of the war, with the French development of anti-Ogre tactics after suffering an initial series of crushing defeats at their hands, this would be a problem, but in city fights, even those as spacious as Dominatus ones, it was magnified by the possibility that of ambushes coming from every which direction.
Grim Reaper saw that their only chance lay in speed - lose French ground forces and disperse into the ruins of the city before Mirages could find them. Mirages, he grimaced were the phobia of every Ogre pilot, especially Phobos. The Ogres had run dangerously low on anti-ATGM countermeasures, having used up the majority of their reactive armour and nanite ablative armour in the numerous fights they had gone through thus far, having only their point defence lasers to defeat missiles, and beyond that, only their armour and shielding. However, Grim Reaper reasoned, everyday they went without resupply, their chances of survival went down, and thus the only way to maximise their expected lifetimes was break through. Surely Stahl had a plan, and all they had to do was live to see it.
In the dead of night, they began their advance, using their last dark matter stealth module to get into firing range for enemy positions. The night was broken by an initial barrage of high-explosive antimatter fire at enemy positions, and sponson mounted MHD fire at enemy armour. In the midst of this, they fired at the enemy combat VTOLs with their Harpy AA Missile Array and quad-laser auto cannons. Advancing at full speed, they continued firing indiscriminately while also letting loose the last of their ATGM Quark-Gluon Plasma warheads. While in early battles, the initial onslaught that this display of sheer firepower caused had shocked the French into near paralysis, their surviving foes now swung into action, firing off ATGMs and Armour Piercing Rounds at the Ogres. This onslaught of missiles was impossible even for the sophisticated point-defence systems of the Ogres to deal with, and promptly, both Baal and Lucifer were destroyed. It was only by sheer luck that Lucifer, Phobos, and Grim Reaper had survived, only for Lucifer to be disabled by the combined barrage of an entire Ulysse C-41 squadron. The next barraged finished him off.
But Grim Reaper and Phobos had managed to break the line, each firing off their assault cannons and plasma throwers to fully blunt a way through. By the most incredible luck, they had escaped unscathed through the fire, having turned the full firepower of their weaponry to destroy supporting sections of fallen buildings so as to block their way. They thought themselves home free, till they heard the unmistakable sound of an approaching Mirage. The two tanks split, and Grim Reaper noticed that Phobos, the “least-experienced” of Death Squadron, was not being followed. It was to his horror then, that Grim Reaper noticed the Mirage was following him. Mentally, he cursed himself for ordering the cosmetic bot to draw a giant white skull on his top.
This wasn’t the first time Grim Reaper had been chased by a Mirage. He had evaded a Mirage sortie a total of 3 times, a record amongst Ogre pilots, and one considered even more impressive than his kill count. His jammer sub-AI was working overtime trying to alter the course of the Mirage’s seeker system, and Grim Reaper breathed a sigh of relief when the jammer sent the missile flying into another building. For a split second, the tank ace of tank aces thought himself lucky, till he realised the ensuing explosion and shockwave had disabled his engine. Impossible he thought, he was so far away from the initial blast that… Suddenly it dawned on him that this wasn’t just a Mirage Roi.
It was a Mirage Roi Dominant, and he was immobilised. Mirage Roi Dominants had two-high yield tactical warheads. No Ogre had ever survive a chase by a Mirage Roi Dominant.
Grim Reaper was no exception.
Search and Destroy
Those who had served the Dominatus well were rewarded. To say that 01 had served them well was an understatement. His creed, Grox Overseers formally known as the Steel Reapers, had positioned themselves as masters of the grinding and dull quagmire of siege warfare. As a reward for his services, 01 was transferred to a new titanic, centipede-like shell that, at a length of several hundred meters, was as large as the Dominatus’ Ultra-Heavy vehicles. It not only had the characteristics of these immense war machines in size, but also armour, armament, and variety of weaponry carried. 01, formerly confined to a humanoid form considered only giant by Gigaquadrantic standards, had become a machine-god.
In the mess of burning towers and mountains of rubble that was Malogenesis, 01 had left only a trail of death and destruction in his wake. He was near invulnerable to airstrikes due to the mass of AA weaponry he carried, impervious to orbital bombardment due to the shield, and utterly invincible to conventional ground forces. Found in a sector that the DCP was responsible for, his presence had singlehandedly halted the Coalition’s advance. But the Coalition had known of 01’s capabilities ever since he acquired them in the late stages of the Mirus Campaign, and by the time of the battle for Malogenesis, had grown so jaded to the Dominatus’ newest tricks that not an iota of terror found its way into their minds.
01 was a problem like everything else, and would be dealt with accordingly.
Of course, 01 couldn’t have known any of this and started the day, having found himself an armoured battlegroup to consume. This was routine of course - no matter how many vehicles he destroyed, the Coalition always sent him fresh meat. Just the way he liked it. Skittering across falling buildings and mountains of rubble, he chewed through Canister Tanks, Raptor Walkers, and Stabilizer Class Heavy Combat Platforms like an industrial laser through butter. 01 had grown bored - he was limited to fighting in the city against the same foe he had fought for so long, and with no variation. He needed something new, something fresh, and the sight of what seemed to be a levitating DCP regent fit the bill.
01 charged towards the regent as the regent’s personal force opened up all manner of utility fog to distract 01. 01 had developed countermeasures for such occurrences and responded with his own jammers. The resulting environment was one whose sheer complexity and insanity destroyed men’s minds. The corrupted utility fog presented a whirling vortex of chaos were all but the most advanced machines were unable to process the vicissitudes of desecrated fog. But 01 was such a machine, one who thrived in the geometric anarchy around him. Perhaps in the maelstrom he squirmed through the jagged fractal sky while leaping from infinitely cracked mirrors to impossible shapes. None of this could be real to the DCP troopers, but while the decaying fog played tricks on the mind, the searing instant pain of being eviscerated by the tangential impact of the mechanical monster was undeniably real.
When the utility fog had cleared, only the regent remained, surrounded by the gargantuan mechanical centipede and what had used to be his personal bodyguard. The regent chose wisely to evade 01, using teleportation, anti-gravity, and his own boosters to run side-ways across the buildings in an effort to shake the unstoppable juggernaut behind him. Unfortunately for the regent, 01’s sheer size and power belied an almost impossible speed. The regent looked hopelessly as 01 kept up with him. The chase continued till the regent was almost completely exhausted, having found the tallest building in the vicinity and forcing himself to ascend it via its outside walls.
The skittering machine followed him, twirling itself on the buildings facade, its endless carpet of legs easily sticking to the utterly massive spire. The regent ran, but 01 followed. The regent was but a man, 01 was a machine-god. The outcome was never in question, and at the pinnacle of the spire, 01 cornered the regent. Regents were the rarest of DCP commanders, save for perhaps the Warlords themselves, and even a being as jaded by war as 01 still relished their taste. Pinned down, and his personal FTL jammed, the regent stared in horror as 01’s mechanical proboscis gradually extended itself and opened up into an endless array of implements that got close and closer.
But then he smiled.
Regent - I’m just the bait.
Ultra-Heavy vehicles, and beings armoured similarly like 01, could only be taken out by aerial bombardment or orbital bombardment. Of course, the DCP had reasoned that orbital bombardment didn’t have to be orbital. The rare Surface to Space Artillery was ostensibly produced to damage starships from the surface of a planet. They had conjectured such weapon, especially when used in batteries, could be used to defeat Dominatus Ultra-Heavy Vehicles. They never got the chance to find out however, as during the Tyranny’s brief 3 day counteroffensive, infiltrated Cyclops Special Operations Forces, wings of Dominatus, and squadrons of Mecha and Avatars had quickly liquidated lightly defended Surface to Space Artillery batteries before they could fire a shot in anger.
Fortunately for the DCP however, 01 presented the perfect opportunity for their use, as several batteries of Surface to Space Artillery, parked in an immense plaza aimed their guns at the highest tower in the vicinity and blasted the robotic centipede on top of it. Historians will never know how many shots were needed to kill 01. All that is known is that the sustained impact of several batteries of heavy pulse weapons firing at maximum frequency for as long as their weapons could hold out broke 01 into a thousand different pieces. Perhaps all that is known about the effectiveness of his armour is that it weathered the initial impacts first barrage well enough for the regent to escape.
Only the regent could give a damage assessment once the firing had stopped.
Regent - 01 Sighted. 01 Engaged. 01 Destroyed.
Scans from the past week had shown Malogenesis’ Mausoleum, Mortem to be a titanic monument to Dominatus creativity. Images had shown the monolithic colossus as a wonder that if constructed by another civilisation would have perhaps inspired a form of artistic reverence.
None of that mattered however, Mortem was devoid of Dominatus Anti-Air, and scouts had shown it to be garrisoned by all kinds of infantry and vehicle to whom fliers were impervious. Perhaps it was telling that Dominatus AA was in such short supply that there were large garrisons who simply didn’t possess any form of resistance against allied strike craft.
What followed was a sustained period of bombing that reduced the towering edifices of the Dominatus’ monument to their dead, to a pile of rubble. But even piles of rubble still held vermin. And vermin called for cleanup.
Some in the Gigaquadrant held the somewhat misconceived notion that Fordan military tradition was an endlessly baroque tangle of customs and rules designed to produce honourable fighters with that as the sole end in mind. But perhaps a more accurate assessment would have been that the Fordan rulebook had but one line - Efficiency was the only thing that mattered. The distinction between light casualties and heavy casualties was an embellishment to a more important demarcation - necessary and unnecessary. The composition of formations was determined simply by theoretical reasoning and empirical evidence. Idiosyncrasy and Iconoclasm were things for other militaries - the Fordanta simply followed the most efficient path towards a certain goal.
In Andromeda, efficiency initially meant logistics strikes and command and control strikes. This application of the Fordan military had stymied the Dominatus advance both by cutting the supply and communications lines of fleets, and by forcing the Dominatus to spend more of its precious few elite troops on garrisons across its overextended territories. This merely gave the Fordanta an opportunity to defeat these scattered forces in detail, further hamstringing the already precarious Dominatus war effort. One can never take away the fact that the larger states of the AGC sustained the brunt of the fighting and the casualties, but if not for the Fordanta strikes, at very least, the attrition may have very well exsanguinated the Andromedans.
In Mirus, efficiency meant leading orbital assaults and engaging elite Tyranny troops. While Dominatus planetary shielding often meant that comprehensive and total orbital bombardment was impossible, the sheer speed at which Fordanta were inserted meant that Dominatus defenses were breached far more quickly than would have otherwise been possible. Indeed, these assaults were often abattoirs for both sides, but at least these bloodbaths made the insertion of future waves far more productive and safe. Fordanta military ingenuity had been such that new Dominatus inventions or formations never had catastrophic effects on their own men. Combined batteries of Titans could destroy anything short of Dominatus super-heavy tanks, and the ease at which the Fordanta integrated themselves into Allied Combined Arms formations meant that when the already formidable Fordans were supported by the full might of allied airpower.
It was a military tradition that meant even the most intractable problems were made as manageable as possible. The Overseers of the late Mirus Campaign, with their experience, second-stage enhancements and much improved equipment were so powerful that even the previously confident Fordanta were at first stunned (as much as they could be) by their enemy’s raw power. But this gave way to thinking and experimentation, and that gave way to solutions. Berserkers were used to draw these bioengineered demigods away from the main force, and concentrated longe-range firepower would obliterate them. When forced to engage them in a melee, Knights had developed group tactics for ganging up on these monsters and defeating them one by one. They practiced these exhaustively, and when the time came, they found themselves amongst the exceedingly rare allied forces who could hold the line against the Dominatus’ prized creations without support.
Efficiency now was simply cleaning out the Tyranny’s forces in the rubble with the minimum of casualties. The Fordanta were chosen for their prowess in close combat, but most of the time, this was not needed. The Fordanta had paid more than the bloody price of membership in the ADC - no matter how efficient their tactics, frontline combat with the Dominatus’ prize units resulted in very heavy casualties, and when the Tyranny’s Military Intelligence began an almost unstoppable series of assassinations led by their newly formed Cyclops Group, it was the Fordanta who volunteered their troops as bodyguards and counter-espionage agents. As of the current battle, the Fordanta had gained unlimited access to the whole machinery of the Allied forces.
The time of heavy casualties and decimated legions was over. Fordanta clean-up groups were composed of Hunters on overwatch, batteries of Titans guarded by Knights, Phantoms flying overhead and warriors scouting forwards. More than this, they had been given the privilege of constant aerial overwatch by a veritable flotilla of allied aerial gunships and strike-craft. When they identified Tyranny stragglers from afar, they merely designated a target, and watched it blown up from the skies. And in the rare cases in which the Tyranny’s few survivors managed to strike at the centre of their formation, the Fordanta systematically annihilated them, applying superior numbers, superior firepower, and superior tactics.
In the end, their main enemy in the clean-up process was tediousness, not the vermin crawling through the rubble,
And to the natural biological war machines for whom military efficiency was the prize goal, tediousness was not so bad.
The Sound of Silence
Only a single question floated through Caltiene's and Frioa’s minds.
Are we finally here?
The two TIAF officers had been captured early in the Dominatus Bunsen Campaign, and had been tortured into divulging important TIAF military secrets. Following this torture, they were simply left conscious and immobile, force-fed vital nutrients but otherwise abandoned and left to rot. They slowly went insane, the distinction between day and night, light and darkness disappearing in their broken minds. It seemed to have gone on for an eternity till they had been found by shapes they vaguely recognised as not those of the Tyranny. Atrophied, delusional, and broken in every manner, it took several months of mental surgery and therapy to make them functional. It would have taken longer, had their minds not been given clarity by an all-consuming anger that gave them a laser-like focus on the destruction of the Tyranny.
While being treated, they had heard conversations that seemed too horrid to be true. Mantel IV had only begun reconstruction and re-terraforming - its surface had been turned to toxic ooze by Dominatus bioweapons and its infrastructure destroyed by ghastly battle. Even trapped in their imaginations, they could see clearly the ghastly nightmare of combat - schoolchildren tortured to death en masse in bids to get partisans to reveal secrets, the use of combat harvesters on innocent civilians who were thrown into their cavernous interiors by long metallic tentacles. When they heard that bio drones often had a likeness to people they once knew, it was a revelation that forced them into tears, first of despair, then of anger. Thymius had almost been starved to death. When they watched the videos of emaciated children eating their pets, and parents cutting off their limbs to feed their offspring, the conflagration of raw rage had been crystallised into a single, focused, determined, and implacable desire to defeat those who had done this.
The Levisala, for all their double-dealing, could wait till the end of the war. The enemy of my enemy is my friend as the saying went, and the Levisala's betrayal of the Dominatus allowed for the Tybusens to regain offensive footing and push the Dominatus Back. All that mattered now, was that the Dominatus were reduced to cosmic dust. In general, the TIAF’s involvement had been in support roles. The Tybusens were perhaps a species not individually suited to the rigours of land warfare, with only their elite and officers being given powered armour suits that allowed them to compete on the hellish battlefields of Mirus. But individual lack of physical strength meant very little from the bridge of a starship, wherein an orbital bombardment battery built by a weak race was oftentimes as strong as one built by a more physically developed one.
And so, whenever the planetary shield of a Dominatus world was destroyed, it was often TIAF ships that led the bombardment, delivering unerringly precise and effective strikes at key targets and saturating entire worlds with fire as was needed.
Indeed, when the TIAMAT had fallen, it was TIAF ships and TIAF officers who led target acquisition, selection and often gave general firing solutions. Caltiene and Frioa had smiled as they directed the one sided slaughter from above, watching as much of the once though invincible Dominatus military was quite literally buried under falling skies. The bombardment had been overpowering and merciless in equal measure. They watched in glee as entire Dominatus armoured formations were either disintegrated, thrown into the atmosphere by the force of impact, or crushed by vomited chunks of the Dominatus’ own homeworld. They cheered as Demogorgon Prime’s various biomes were made one and the same - giant pools of slag and ashen corpses. Whatever had been visited on Mantel IV would be visited on Demogorgon Prime tenfold, and it seemed like the rest of the Allies could not have agreed more with the magnitude of punishment.
Even in the ensuing battle for Malogenesis, the Tybusens had lent their support as artillery coordinators. It was not uncommon to see a Tybusen attached to a Draconis A-59 Shatterpounder or even the rare DCP Surface to Space Artillery. This was a practised skill, and it was with the vast Tybusen expertise in this subject, that the Allies were able to demolish large sections of the city and what remained of the garrison so quickly.
Thus it was, as the two Tybusens stood observing Orpheum, a massive Dominatus building housing some kind of contraption that sang and played the Dominatus anthem over and over again. The sound had flooded the city despite the Allies best attempts to drown it out with the sounds of war, but it had not worked. But here they stood, at one of the last symbols of the Tyranny that had so offended the Gigaquadrant that its disparate factions had banded together to destroy it. They laughed as the automaton spat out obviously false lines.
great and mighty,
house of the Dominatus.
Our power grows,
and consumes all,
iron and flesh expanding.
With strength and steel,
through fire and ice,
pay any price to prevail.
No price too high,
no foe too strong,
science and strength will vanquish.
For the Tyrant,
we will conquer,
no limit to our power.
and metal children go forth.
In times of joy,
and times of pain,
we struggle towards our goal.
The strong will thrive,
and kill the weak
and only we shall remain.
With martial might,
and brilliant minds,
we make gods kneel before us
All that exists,
and even more,
will be driven before us.
Our foes perish,
crushed by our will,
swallowed whole by oblivion.
We will prevail,
the Tyranny will rule all!
They both shook their heads at the delusions of the lyrics. They were obviously written in a different place, in a different time, when a different future seemed more likely.
Caltiene - I can't stand it anymore. Make it go away.
Frioa - All sector artillery batteries, coordinates have been sent to your targeting computers. Commence fire
And so after what seemed to be a never-ending barrage, the anthem ceased. There was now only the sound of silence.
Silent Night, Holy Night
Polyphemus was perhaps the most infamous sniper in the whole Tyranny’s Cyclops corps. How many ADC VIPs had he killed before Demogorgon Prime? Polyphemus’ internal algorithms ran an extensive lookup of his databases, but in the emergent emotions that swirled in the minds of the Dominatus’ longer lived AIs, he reasoned that it didn’t really matter. A time when that mattered seemed so far away. His synthetic mind temporarily wandered off to happier times, and given the state of events, any time before certainly qualified. How wonderful it was during the TIAMAT-based Dominatus counteroffensive, where as an infiltrated Cyclops, all he worried about was whether his SCyRSLHTX Hypermatter Sniper Rifle needed a new ammunition clip or not. There were so many targets then, all running away, all in anarchy, as the Dominatus came towards them. It was a turkey shoot.
And this battle of Malogenesis’ was no longer a battle, it was a turkey shoot. Not even regarding the tsunami of Allied forces who seemed to flood into the city each day, there were so many allied strike-craft that it seemed individual squads would call upon their own personal bombers. Polyphemus had heard that some of the Dominatus that remained began duelling others in an effort to steal what rare AA vehicles remained for their forces. Where once the entire city had barked into the skies, creating an almost-impenetrable kill-zone, the vast majority of stationary AA had been destroyed, and what few remained were depleted each day.
It seemed that even the forces with AA had a new unreachable enemy to think about - the Allies had massed enough artillery in the city that many of its units now had full access to earth shattering batteries of big guns. Polyphemus wondered if all that was left for them to do was decide whether the wrecked Dominatus forces they stepped over had been destroyed by either long-range artillery or bombers. The Allies rarely saw the need for actual combat now, and only when the Tyranny’s forces grabbed them by the belt was the leviathan actually forced to engage any of its muscles. Indeed, their main problem was finding the Dominatus and their minions to kill.
From the top of the spire he had chosen as a vantage point for the night, Polyphemus observed what remained of the city the Dominatus had planned to inhabit after their conquest of the Gigaquadrant. Where there were once tall proud towers that reach to the heavens, what remained was if not just rubble, then their twisted, anguished, and bent corpses. Where there were once proud highways and boulevards lay subdued snakes of marble tread upon by the unending march of ADC armies. ADC march was unceasing - no matter how far he extended his scope, what had once been the Tyranny’s roads were clogged by a glut of ADC troopers and vehicles ceaseless moving forwards. How it contrasted to the scattered, ragtag bands of the former Archostrategon, more of whom made every effort to avoid battle. Perhaps he thought, the needlessly brave had died already. Most who were left were survivalists more concerned with getting to the next day than confronting ADC forces.
And what of the sounds he could hear! The streaks of missiles launched by the never-ending swarm of ADC strike craft that circled overhead. Before they had been so frequent, but now, they were substantially rare. Polyphemus sighed - all it meant was that the ADC was running out of visible targets. The few firefights he heard now all ended in the same way. A ceaseless barrage of artillery, including the fearsome DCP Surface to Space Artillery, whose blasts were strong enough that the path the projectile followed ionised the air in their wake, creating pressure waves as destructive as those from nuclear detonations. The mass unleashing of missiles from following squadrons meant that when the land arm of the ADC juggernaut finally arrived, more often than not, their job was simply tallying up the damage and only sometimes, liquidating what few survivors there were.
But he had seen those sights on previous nights. Now, there seemed to be something new - fliers came in not bringing bombs but what seemed to be trees in pre-fabricated environmental containers as well as pre-fabricated habitation units wherein ADC troops could step out of their hazmat suits. Zooming closer, he saw that many, of different species had come together to sing in front of the lit-up trees, their speakers amplifying the sounds and propagating them throughout the city. Where once the Dominatus anthem had sounded over and over without end, at least giving the Dominatus forces some inspiration, now there was only the hope-crushing sounds of countless souls singing. Even perched upon his tower, the downtrodden sniper could hear the chorus of perhaps the most popular Allied carols. It seemed odd to him that an army as heterogeneous as that of the ADC would have a common cultural and musical tradition.
They didn’t, they were merely united in their hatred of the Dominatus.
Kill them all
Thus make it right
Kill all lurking
Mother and child
Dommies screaming, death far much too mild
Pay for what you have done
Pay for what you have done
December 25, 2795
December 24, 2795 had seen the Tyrant’s Spire, or Demogorgon Rex, the tallest building in the city, been destroyed by the fanatical Dominatus inside, who found the prospect of an Allied Flag raised on it to be worse than death, and before the Allies who had encircled it could launch their assault, had planet stealthed hyper matter explosives in the base of the tower. When a week of fighting had eventually forced the last of its garrison to the spire’s rooftop, they detonated the explosives in a bid to deny the Allies the image of a flag planted on the tower. Now all that was left was a burnt crater that had taken out the adjoining blocks of the city.
Archon Wolframicht Stahl had watched the detonations from the command room of Apogee. The last remaining building of its size, the massive fortress-pyramid lay in the same district as the Tyrant’s Spire and was protected by defences similar to those of the Citadels outside, except more powerful and more resilient. Apogee had served as a rallying point for those lucky Tyranny forces that had been able to retreat there in order to resupply. Apogee contained its own factories, its own stores of supplies, and was like a Citadel, a self-contained fortress-city that could withstand even an ADC siege for months. Stahl looked outside to see the gargantuan ADC force that was besieging the last symbol of Dominatus might. He wasn’t concerned about that - the garrison and the headquarter’s defences had repulsed each titanic assault with contemptuous ease. However, Stahl knew as well as anyone else that whether the ADC would eventually break through was a question of if, not when. The Supreme Commander of the Dominatus merely pondered as he looked at the carnage around him. He had known what had to be done intellectually the day the TIAMAT was blown up. But even for a man who prided himself on pragmatism and lightning-quick decision making, it had taken him till now to fully process the immediate course of action.
Historians would forever debate whether Stahl ranked deserved a seat in the Gigaquadrant’s pantheon of military geniuses. His detractors believed that even disregarding the failure of his Milky Way Campaign, Manticore Campaign, Terminus Campaign, and the fighting retreat of the Dominatus culminating in the Battle of Demogorgon Prime, he simply didn’t qualify as he had not revolutionised warfare by introduction of seismic changes in military organisation or brilliance stratagems. By these two damning crimes of failure and a lack of original thought, he simply didn’t deserve to sit amongst the Gigaquadrant’s greatest commanders. Of course when archival files and future analyses informed the discussion, an initially controversial and frequently criticised school of thought was born. This school of thought believed the best metric on which to judge Stahl was how he performed given the tools at his disposal, and believed that given the later revealed facts that Stahl’s Tyranny was not so much an absolute dictatorship as a self-cannibalising hydra, that Stahl had done the best that could be hoped for in an impossible situation. They argued that had it not been for his leadership, the Milky Way Campaign would have ended in failure without even doing serious damage to the DCP, and that the Mirus Campaign would never have seen the near annihilation of the entire Allied Force, as had happened during Stahl’s campaigns not once, but twice. Indeed this school of thought believed that Stahl had coordinated the maelstrom of the Tyranny’s myriad of competing and ceaseless arrogant brilliant savants as best as could be hoped for against a seemingly unstoppable enemy that he almost annihilated twice.
But the Archon of that day had something else on his mind. The judgement of the future could wait. Right now, his mind flashed to the past.
Stahl had started the Mirus Campaign with the twin titles of Archon and Acting Tyrant. Not only did he coordinate the entire Dominatus warplan, but also their productive capacity and research efforts. Now he was simply a Drachon, a mere member of the General Staff rather than its head. More than that, he had been relieved of command while his former colleagues looked for a new task for him. How had he fallen so far? Stahl had hedged his entire reputation on the December 2794 Battle of Manticore. The Tyranny's eventual defeat in this battle had not only decimated the Tyranny's navy, it had destroyed the confidence that the General Staff and the rest of the Tyranny had placed in him.
He had used what little influence he had in leading the campaigns that followed the de-facto ceasefire period of January 2795. But he had lost the ability to dictate the productive and scientific capacity of the Tyranny. He had only the military to work with in the February Campaign to defeat the Allies before they received reinforcements through the intergalactic void. And in the March 2795 Battle of the Terminus, he had failed to decisively defeat the enemy. The arrival of the intergalactic relief force meant that from that point onwards, the Tyranny was solely on the defensive. The backlash had been complete - the former mastermind between the Milky Way Campaign, the Manticore Campaign, and the Terminus Campaign was now without a single army or fleet to command during a time in which the Tyranny lost an army, fleet, or planet everyday. He heard only rumours of the insanity that had overtaken Dominatus command - most shocking of all of them the restarting of the TIAMAT project. Oh well, if there was one good thing to be gleaned from this limbo, it was that for the first time in a century, he had leisure time.
Abyss, Stahl's first destination, was created to house the prisoners captured by the Tyranny during the Manticore Campaign for use as bargaining chips after the assumed Dominatus victory. It was composed of a pair of stations - Abyss I for the rank and file, and Abyss II for VIPs. It was in a special cell here, that French Marshal Lucian Chartier had languished ever since he was captured in early December 2794. The cell was massive and sterile - here Chartier was neither abused nor pampered. Everyday he was provided nutrient paste, water, and nothing else. His only form of recreation lay in exercises of the mind and analysis of his sole bodyguard, a 10 meter tall Dominatus spider-mech given a special nonlethal loadout. It appeared that as he had killed two Overseers when they captured his ship, the Dominatus had decided to pull out all stops on in preventing a potential escape.
Humans were clearly not designed for prolonged periods of isolation and captivity. The creature Stahl encountered did not live up to his reputation. Curled up, atrophied, dirty, unshaven, depressed, sleepless, here was supposedly one of the finest specimens humanity had to offer (why else would they have promoted him to so high a position within their armed forced?) brought low not by the malice, but the indifference of his environment. "Humans are social animals," they said. They needed coaxing. They needed comfort and encouragement. They needed constant reinforcement. They needed to be secure within themselves before they could act to secure themselves without. To deprive a human of these things had a similar effect of depriving him of oxygen. But where his contemporaries saw in the slow-motion asphyxiation of Lucian Chartier and other like him only biological and psychological weakness, Stahl had begun to see differently. The Dominatus had fallen into the habit of measuring civilisations by the characteristics and potential of individual specimens. By all measures––intelligence, stamina, strength, size––humans were not even suitable for chattel slavery. Yet here they were, the soon-to-be masters of the situation, masters of beings far superior than themselves.
Lucian did not know where he was. Well, he was in a cell. That was the obvious. Perfect square. 10 meters by 10 meters, he had counted. Self-cleaning. Stainless steel. Icy-cold to the touch. Maddeningly uncomfortable. But he did not now where he was. He had a few ideas, having been briefed on the Dominatus POW practices. The analysts had had code names for the facilities they had discovered, but they were so far within Dominatus-controlled space that there was no effective use for the intel. That meant no rescue was likely, Lucian held no illusions. He had no anxieties either. Relieved of the responsibilities of command, he could now rightly claim that he had done his duty. In the French system, no officer was irreplaceable, and he had every confidence that a capable, astute, and cautious young officer would rise to take the place that had just been vacated by his capture. The war would go on. Such was the virtue of a bureaucratic hydra, that when the heads were lopped off, the algorithms and protocols would produce more.
The food was pitiable. Hunger had forced him to swallow the nutrient paste they handed him. But more and more, they took his tray back untouched. As he lay there curled up the corners of his cell, his will and appetite slowly left him. Unsparing fluorescents shone white light blindingly into the four corners of the cage at all times, such that it was impossible for Lucian's body to know whether it was day or night anymore. He slept erratically, poorly, and often, drifting in and out of feverish dreams which displaced him from the slow horror he was experiencing to the horror he had just left. The war, at once the most isolating and human experience one could be subjected to. They travelled in sardine cans in perfect formation for ages, followed strict protocol, were governed by invented distinctions of rank, responsibility, and function. In combat, all order broke down. All distinctions degraded over time save for one: either they would swim together, or sink together. Bonds formed under such pressure, of trust, of camaraderie, of friendship, of love, Lucian knew, would not be found anywhere else. Veterans of '95 would return to society broken men, not because they desperately wanted to escape the war, but because they would always desperately want to go back.
Jolted from the haze of such a nightmare, Lucian awoke to find himself staring up at a towering Dominatus Alpha, 12 meters tall, in full ceremonial armor, staring down at him. Instinct caused Lucian to recoil, to retreat in a shuffle to the back corner of his cell. Having reached it, and with nowhere left to retreat to, he stared. When he realized what had just happened, the Marshal of France cursed himself. No matter how hard he tried, there was no dignity to be had in this situation. Could he salvage his pride by marshalling everything he had against that premise? Or was he just torturing himself by not accepting it?
Stahl - Go To Hell. Praetor Famine of the Horsemen of Destiny reported those were your last words. Moreover, he reported that when his synthetic auxiliaries had taken stock of the ship, they had found what interrogation of the quartermaster later revealed to be a "vintage Château Latour". When we asked him what it was for, he replied that it was to be drunk "after planning the French Flag on the Tyrant's Spire". Famine also reported that you killed two of his lieutenants with carefully place shots from this pistol. I must ask human, why is it that you think any of this to be possible? And why is it that reality seems to support your delusions?
Stahl dropped the pistol, empty of its ammunition, to the floor while waiting for Chartier's answer.
The Marshal looked up at his interrogator with a bemused expression. He could feel the stench of weeks of clinging to him. The only measure he had of the time was the length of his hair, which now framed his face and drooped down in a jungle of a beard. The clanging of metal against metal drew a wince from him as the pistol's acrobatic arc ended at his feet. He stared at the weapon for a moment, but the hope seemed to fade from his eyes as he realised that it was probably empty. Chartier, the planner, the engineering student-turned naval officer, the "wonder boy" who won if not through brilliance, then through data and efficiency, was without the will or the patience to engage in polemics.
Lucian - I don't see the problem. Both of us think we're right. We fight it out, a victor emerges. That's what war is. It's not rocket science.
Stahl - The first question was rhetorical, and the second question was literal. There is a difference between an ant thinking is the right side of history in fighting a boot, and an ant whose conviction is vindicated.
Lucian - Then maybe you might benefit from reconsidering your premise, he spat bitterly with a vaguely professorial attitude and propped himself up more firmly against the wall, because the sooner you realize that the situation no longer conforms to your metaphor––if it ever did––the sooner you'll come to grips with what's happening. And the sooner we can all pack up and go home.
Stahl's laugh filled the room. It seemed as if relief of command did have its perks. Freed of command, he took the arguably treasonous step of being open with his prisoner.
Stahl - Your files from military intelligence all agree that you have a reputation as a "wonder boy". A subordinate in the Orion Spur lost a fleet to you. The first loss of a Gargantua to an Orion League force was ascribed to your strike fleet. Not so much a battle but a strangulation. Well wonder boy, the date is April 2, 2795. Here's a question. Why would the Dominatus Archon be touring a prison station in the middle of a war?
Lucian - You're lost, clearly.
He relished knowing the date. Even the smallest amount of certainty, the slightest bit of information, was valuable. He rushed to capture it and commit it to memory before it slipped away. April 2, 2795...
Stahl filed in an order to synthesise some real food and water for Lucian. The old warrior felt that his enemy understood him more than his insane Dominatus colleagues. And as to professionalism, well the Dominatus needed a miracle to win now, not professionalism. Whereas another Dominatus would have deposited the food directly on the ground, Stahl ordered a synthesised table and chair made to human ergonomic standards.
Stahl - How relieving it is that 4 and a half months of imprisonment haven't broken your sense of humor. I've never had the inclination to find out how much Allied Intelligence knew about my personal life. But tell me, what do you think my track was in Officer School?
Lucian masked his confusion with suspicion as a table, chair, and real food were brought in. He didn't move from his corner, and tried not to look. Emaciated as he was, he was not hungry and did not want to be. Stahl had all of the power in this situation, and no matter how genuinely the Dominatus wanted it, no honest conversation could occur. Humor, biting sarcasm, curtness, these were the defenses of a man who found himself at the mercy of knowledge, capacity, and capability greater than that he had available to him.
Lucian - Underwater basketweaving, evidently.
Stahl sighed as his software assistant informed him of the nature of the vintage Terran reference. A personality conducive to easy boredom, a familiarity with authority over the Tyranny's military, and lots of spare time were not a good combination. It seemed as if a more traditional approach was needed to bring him the stimulation he needed.
Stahl - I'm sure you've been briefed about Dominatus Prisoner of War practices. I'm sure you know the most common way of breaking a commander is through the torture or threat of torture of those under him.
Stahl paused to let Lucian process this, waiting for the Frenchman to reply before continuing his thoughts.
Lucian's eyes flashed fire.
Lucian - And I am sure you're familiar with the psychology of torture. As a tool of military intelligence, it's worse than useless.
Stahl smiled a toothy smile, allowing Lucian to see the entirety of the Dominatus' maw.
Stahl - Who said anything about military intelligence? I'm sure you know the fate of that French commander, the supposedly "Indomptable" Louis Passereau was it, whom one of your subordinates found insane and marooned on some planet during the Milky Way campaign. I hear that they had to torture 60% of his captured subordinates before he broke. I doubt the remainder were tortured for reasons of military intelligence. So here are my terms - I will ask you questions and attempt to converse. If I am satisfied with your answer, one of your crew members will be given an expanded and comfortable cell. If I am not, that crew member will be tortured to death in front of you. Oh, and sarcasm stopped being satisfying one sentence ago.
Internally, Stahl was annoyed that it had come to this this, but if the velvet glove was not going to give him what he needed, an iron fist would.
The French Marshal looked up at him with hatred welling in his eyes, one arm gripping the other weakly. There was something else in his gaze: the collectedness of a man conscious of his power, and determined to exercise it with judiciousness and precision. There was silence between them for a moment.
Lucian - It appears that I have no choice.
Stahl nodded and kept up his end of the bargain. An appearing hologram showed one of Lucian's midshipmen being roused from slumber in a sterilised cell so tight that he could barely move. and being taken out by mechanical tendrils. The haggard man was hastily transferred to a cell made for a larger creature and fitted with a few amenities to allow the man a modicum of sanity.
Stahl - It is better to be Feared than Loved, if one cannot be both. Didn't one of your statesmen say that?
Lucian - He was Italian, not French. But yes.
Stahl smiled. If he was staying on Abyss for the day, he would at least have some stimulation.
Stahl - Why is it, that it seems that your fleet can't be beheaded? It seems rather odd that your war machine is so free of various ... iconoclasts? You have your heroes, but they seem but facades for the automaton propping them up.
Lucian - Banking on good military leaders is a risk. Would you rather your capabilities be consistent, reliable, diffuse, and there when you need them, or variable and vulnerable to decapitation? A strong organization limits the ability of our leaders to screw things up. It also protects our republic.
Stahl grimaced noticeably and perceptibly. Cross-referencing it with his base of knowledge, he was so disturbed that for a split second, when Lucian gazed into his eyes, he saw Stahl's disappointment.
It was indeed Tyranny policy to promote individual genius and to fasten upon such leaders, both military and scientific its previously almost-unlimited resources. But the genius of one campaign was the dunce of another. The scientific philosophy behind a novel invention in a time of peace was an idiot who wasted resources in a time of war. And the barking heads danced on and on, screaming at the Tyrant for funding and support, barking at each other when rival agencies got support. Stahl sometimes thought himself a genius, though could a reputation for genius be solidified on a base of mere almost-wins? He had had his shot at supreme authority, and excuses aside, he had failed. Consistency he spat. Only in the Tyranny would the ability to coordinate the whirlwind of insane arrogance that constituted each organisation be considered genius of the first order.
Stahl - You live in an empire that can succeed without regard for luck.
Dejected but satisfied, Stahl ordered the transfer of several more additional prisoners to better cells.
Lucian watched as the prisoners were transferred, nodding with apprehension and a twinge of satisfaction. He seemed to relax a little in his corner.
Stahl - Did anyone in your government or military ever consider surrender? Even in the early stages of the war? How did they cope with what must have seemed inevitable?
Lucian - I'm not privy to those conversations, but you need to remember that we've been winning for two years now. Had you been pushing us back, had your military superiority translated into tangible gains which would have ground down our ability to fight, that would have been another story. As it stands, our fighting strength has been steadily increasing. Yours has been decreasing faster than you can replenish it. Now, we're on your turf, while not a single Dominatus has set foot on French soil. This is a foreign war for us. Why would we surrender, either before the decisive battle is fought or now that we're winning?
Stahl nodded dejectedly again, signalling the transfer of more prisoners. Stahl was feeling his melancholy overtake him, and mustered together one last question.
Stahl - Hypothetically, say you do end up invading Demogorgon Prime, and it does look like your victory is all but assured. If you were a Dominatus, would you sue for peace, or fight till the end? Or is any approximation of peace out of the question?
Here Lucian hardened, but rather than going as far as his feelings might take him he answered the question as posed.
Lucian - Peace is out of the question. Only unconditional surrender can save you.
Stahl - You mean utter submission?
Lucian - Dissolution. The Tyranny as it is now has lost the right to exist.
It was only then that Stahl fully grasped, with complete clarity, what anything short of a Tyranny victory meant.
Stahl - I have a wager Lucian, would you care to hear it?
Lucian - Shoot.
Stahl - I'll free you on one condition. If you get to Demogorgon Prime, in either death or "unconditional surrender", I'll give you back your wine. But, you have to promise me that you'll accept a book detailing the history of the Tyranny once you get there. Deal?
Lucian stared at him for a moment, uncomprehending. It's not that he was surprised. It was outlandish on so many levels it did not even register.
Lucian - Come again?
Stahl - I'll free you if you keep the history of the Tyranny in the event of your victory.
Lucian - Alright, I'll take it.
Stahl extended a hand.
Stahl - To seeing you in either Paris or Demogorgon Prime.
The Marshal of France gripped one of Stahl’s fingers and used it to pull himself up. He was dead serious.
Lucian - You will never see Paris. I mean it, that will never happen. What about my crew?
Stahl - Better cells for all of them.
Stahl neglected to mention that there weren't very many left.
Lucian - Would you arrange for them to see each other? Isolation does us little good.
Stahl - That can be arranged for.
Lucian looked at him curiously, his strained and haggard features softening, betraying an exhaustion of a hundred years. What possible military purpose could this sudden gallantry serve? He dared not ask, lest Stahl change his mind.
Lucian - I'll remember this. When the situation is reversed.
Et Tu, Brute?
For the most major actions, only the Tyrant or Acting Tyrant could decide the course of action with absolute authority. In all other cases, the Dominatus General Staff needed a majority vote in favour of the course of action, with the Archon and Supreme Admiral’s votes both required to push an act through. In the most critical cases, it required a unanimous decision. Stahl darkly joked to himself now that only 3 remained, himself, his close friend, the extremely technically competent and honour-bound Drachon Indomitus Rex, and the bloodthirsty and nearly insane Drachon Dis Brutalis. Of the 2, Stahl rarely, if ever disagreed with Rex about anything - It seemed Rex was his right-hand man, someone whom Stahl handed the finer tactical details of various critical operations, and someone who more often than not, pulled miracles out of thin air. Not enough miracles, Stahl thought as he grimaced again. And Brutalis was well, the most brutal of the General Staff, perhaps possessed of the same bloodlust as the late Angrus Mortarius. Brutalis’ policy was simply to attack, attack, and attack, with bloodshed thought of as a more important metric of success than victory. It was no wonder that he had chosen to patronise the Fiends of Cruon, though it was a wonder that he wasn’t dead. Stahl had summoned Brutalis to the command room from the frontlines of the defenses, and as a formality, he had broached the subject of ending the conflict with the bloodthirsty god of war, and had received the expected response. Following Brutalis’ predictable vociferous accusations that Stahl was a traitor to all Dominatus, Stahl challenged Brutalis to a duel for command. Honor dictated that if Brutalis accepted and Stahl won, he would agree to Stahl’s dictates in the vote that followed. If Stahl lost however, the opposite case would be true. Brutalis gladly accepted - he had risen to the position of Drachon in spite of his lack of tactical acumen - he was simply the physically strongest Dominatus left standing, he had no problem accepting the challenge. Brutalis had by himself, destroyed entire ADC armies at close-range, had boarded ADC ships and literally gutted them from the inside, and had virtually run out of varieties of Allied war hero or champion to kill. Stahl on the other hand, had not participated in direct combat since before the start of the conflict. Brutalis thus saw no problem in Stahl’s proposition.
These duels took place not in Dominatus armour, but in special suits designed to mimic the limitations of the Drakodominatus bodies they had previously occupied. It incorporated such things as relative speed and relative strength among others, giving the duelists the same comparative advantages they had possessed as Dominatus, only in Drakodominatus bodies. They were to fight merely with their unarmed, using the martial arts developed in the days before they strode the Gigaquadrant as biologically engineered gods. The two assumed pugilistic stances in the custom-made arena, before Stahl nodded.
The Tyranny had developed special units to kill Dominatus. This was made necessary by the Junction’s use of assimilated Dominatus as line-breakers. During the Borealis Campaign, stopgap solutions such as using the Dominatus themselves to combat them or merely bombarding them from long-range with Super-Heavy vehicles worked but still the Tyranny looked for more efficient solutions. The upgrades the Tyranny had received in the Mirus Campaign had made it such that the elite of the increasingly more powerful Overseers could take them head on, but one proposed solution that Stahl took greatly to in the late stages of the campaign were the deployment of specialised Anti-Dominatus Task Forces named Purifiers outfitted solely for the purpose of dealing with these abominations. They were to be taken from the ranks of Military Intelligence Cyclop’s and supplemented with drastically upgraded 15 meter tall Apex Daemon Mecha. In return for the support of the creation of such units, Stahl was given the privilege of making any modification he wanted. He chose a secret programming routine in their AI that made them personally loyal to him. Though even rarer than the Cyclops, they were judged very effective at their sole task of defeating Junction Dominatus. With the sudden disappearance of the Junction after the assimilation of Meshuggah Metallicus, Stahl had called the remaining squad of these units to Apogee where they had arrived fully intact.
These troops were could reliably and effectively deal with armoured Junction Dominatus in the context of head-on combat. Against an unarmored Dominatus, even the strongest one left standing, whom they had also taken by surprise, there was no way for them to fail. Brutalis could only get off a look of shock as he heard the weapons fire off. The pile of goop on the floor moments later could only sizzle at the ignominious death Stahl had dealt him. Yet even Stahl didn’t have the time to acknowledge the mess on the floor, merely motioning for sanitation bots to remove it. Stahl was a man of pragmatism, and such things as ending the senseless conflict in the hope of preserving something was not a matter that he would dare consider leaving up to luck. Stahl put his armour back on and summoned Drachon Rex. Stahl considered himself an excellent judge of character, of individual motives and desires, and this had allowed him to navigate the barely-coordinated mess of a Tyranny without a Tyrant. Fully confident in his ability to assess people, especially his closest friends, he predicted with absolute certainty that his long-time friend would agree to his plans. It is with that in mind that upon Rex’s arrival, he eagerly brought up the subject.
Rex - No. Surrender is out of the question.
Stahl paused, staring dumbfounded and uncomprehending at Rex. He didn’t need to speak for Rex to rebut the argument he saw in Stahl’s eyes.
Rex - The war is lost, everyone knows that. And the punishment for defeat, whether in surrender or extermination is the same - extinction. All your hope of the Allies allowing us to keep some kind of legacy is misguided and farcical. So what if they do? History will remember the Tyranny as an empire that upon its knees, was reduced to begging its superiors. I for one, will not die in chains cast by our inferiors. All we have left is our dignity, and if you seek to give that away in hopes of mercy, you will have to fight me. Perhaps the Archon worthy of making the decision will be able to beat me without the use of his Purifiers.
Stahl looked at the floor shaking his head. There was no talking the Drachon out of this. Stahl surmised Rex knew that he had no way of making sure the Purifiers weren’t going to be used, but his pragmatism was overtaken by the sentiments of the friendship the two shared, or at least had shared. The very least Stahl could grant Rex was a fair duel. Stahl had never analysed Rex as an enemy, and hoped that the Dominatus’ greatest and most inventive tactician had spent more time thinking with his brain than fighting with his fists.
They donned their armour and assumed the stances. Fights of such a manner were never resolved quickly, and never resolved without much pain. The superiority the Dominatus took for granted in melee fights with even the ADC’s best vanished in contests between themselves. Indeed, the creation of duel armour was driven by the need to expedite such contests as fights between unarmored Dominatus had often taken so long that they actually detracted from Tyranny’s efforts. Indeed, fight in which the combatants effectively inhabited their old Drakodominatus bodies, were much quicker … and much more painful.
Stahl struck first, feeling the unfamiliar sensation that he could only call the feeling of exertion as he threw a punch at Rex. Rex’s dodge and counter punch to Stahl’s gut gave Stahl a feeling that he had long since forgotten - pain. Staggered, Stahl tried a different approach, letting Rex throw the first blows and only responding with defensive moves. He reasoned that in these shells, Rex would eventually fatigue, and then Stahl could beat him with minimal pain and effort on both their parts. Ducking, parrying, and weaving around, Stahl moved while seeking to expend as much of Rex’s energy as possible, succeeding before grappling the Drachon and throwing him to the ground.
Having mounted Rex, Stahl again found himself by all manner of feelings - muscular exhaustion and a lack of breath. He could only have imagined how his former friend felt. Pulling himself together, he began beating down Rex with hammer fists, aiming to literally punch him into unconsciousness, which was the only time when the duel would end. Stahl prided himself on the extraordinary calm and composure upon which he wielded his power and conducted war, but the emotional armageddon of having to literally beat his last good friend into submission caused the titan of war to break down, crack by crack as he bore down with all his might onto his enemies last, desperate attempt to block them.
Stahl - Just give up! This is for the Tyranny! This is the only way we are not erased from history! Think! Everything I’ve done has been for the Tyranny! Why do you think I killed Medusa!
It was only then, in a temporary moment of lucidity, did the grief and rage stricken Archon remember that he had not informed Rex of the conspiracy. It was merely between him and the former Supreme Admiral. But he couldn’t take back words. The fire was already lit.
Rex - Traitor!
Before Stahl could justify his actions, the grounded Drachon had left his defensive stance to attempt to attack the Archon pinning him to the floor. It wasn’t just punches, it was screaming, biting, and kicking. And even in his disadvantaged position, the Drachon’s rage had fuelled his attack well enough that he almost threw a bruised Stahl off of him. But before he was thrown off, he managed to throw a strong elbow down onto Rex’s head. And then, while the Drachon was dazed, Stahl began choking him with both hands. Stahl would have spoken, but even his Dominatus body’s vocal cords remembered the chaotic muscular contractions of sobbing. If tears could have run down the Archon’s masked face, they would have, as he saw consciousness escape the constrained Drachon’s body breath by breath. After what seemed to be an eternity of torture, the Drachon, gurgling and retching passed out, and the duel ended, Stahl the victory.
With the duel ended, the special armour peeled itself off and, with their capacities no longer inhibited, the sensations of pain and exhaustion fled from both combatants. In silence both men, armoured up and headed to the command room. On their way, Stahl tried to make amends with the Drachon, who was honour-bound to agree to his decision.
Stahl - Well, my friend, I hope you’ve changed your mind.
The Drachon stopped walking.
Rex - I will not oppose your plan, but I will not support it.
In Stahl’s mind, this was impossible, a unanimous vote required both of them. Before he could bring the point up, Rex had unsheathed his sword, and as Stahl turned around, Rex stabbed himself in the stomach. The ear-splitting crack of a Drachon’s personal sword crashing through the same Drachon’s personal armour seemed to shake the entire headquarters. The wound itself was not fatal - the Dominatus’ legendary ability to regenerate even the most grievous wounds in combat was amongst the most dreaded of their talents. But this regenerative ability required the will to live, and the will to fight. Rex had lost those.
Rex - Stahl, as the sole remaining member of the General Staff, every decision you make will be a unanimous one. I hope you are right, but as a favour for an old friend, please help me end this.
Stahl begged and pleaded his old friend to remove the massive, embedded sword and regenerate, only for Rex to sadly shake his head.
Stahl - You’ve got to live! Everyone else is dead! You’re all I have left!
Stahl unsheathed the sword from Rex’s stomach only to see the Dominatus’ internals pool out on the floor.
Rex - Its too late for any of that Stahl, the die is cast. Now please, help an old friend.
Stahl paused, realising that Rex was going to die anyways, and if he didn’t assist Rex, the Drachon’s suicide would last the entire day, as he was slowly exsanguinated. and the same convulsions he had experienced while choking his friend reappeared. Shaking, he unsheathed his sword and held it above the Drachon's head.
Stahl - Indomitus.
Rex - Wolframicht.
And with one fell swoop, Stahl beheaded Rex. There were no screams left, no sobs. There was merely silence as Stahl knelt at the body of his dead friend.
Qiroon looked over the massive pile of rubble that was Malogenesis. It still boggled this mind that just less than 7 years prior in early 2789, it had taken a Dominatus to combat an Ultra-Soldier, and 10 Mark 1s to combat a single DCP ship of the same class. A veteran of the 2789 War of Hyperspace, he had remembered the Dominatus Grand Admiral’s words - Do not underestimate the might of the Tyranny, Grimbolsaurian. It will be your downfall. It was a Tyranny that had used guerrilla tactics and logistical strikes against an enemy, and that lost its Hypergate portal world of Maginodunried in a single day, only transferring their galactic capital to its moon Hades Prime in the aftermath. He remembered when some of the Gigaquadrant’s great men had gathered on the then only moon-sized Dominatus TIAMAT in their confrontation with Exodium, wherein the now legendary late Supreme Admiral Gravius Gnissenkrassau and now Archon Stahl were decidedly the junior partners in the conversation. They had phased out of Demogorgon Prime then, and they thought that this would be the last time they saw the obscure capital of an alien homeworld.
It was the same Tyranny that 3 years later, in June of 2792 possessed the force to not only repel Admiral Vorsite’s thought unstoppable offensive, but almost bring the Coalition to their knees in a savage assault that blunted its way through the once-thought impenetrable Maelstrom, taking the fortress of Horatorio, arguably the second most defended planet in the DCP before being hamstrung just outside Mirenton’s subsector by the DCP’s destruction of the Tyranny’s wormhole network. It was the same Tyranny that 2 and a half years from then, in December of 2794 almost destroyed the combined offensive fleets of many of the Gigaquadrant’s hyper powers and superpowers in the cataclysmic Battle of Manticore before being defeated. It was the same Tyranny that had invented something that to even the DCP seemed like magic.
Qiroon surmised that this explosive growth was more analogous to that of a cancer in metastasis, a grey goo swarm that reached critical mass, or the hockey stick of an exponential growth curve, than an empire. And what a cancer it was - it was unfortunate the Gigaquadrant had not excised it earlier, but it was fortunate that they had acted quickly enough to excise it before the cancer consumed them all.
And as he looked around, he could see that the cancer was almost fully dealt with.
French/Draconis Joint Front
Philippe-Thomas could tell a lot about how new a soldier was by his emotions. The French Parachutiste had devised an ingenious system of predicting how acclimated a new Chasseurs a Pied was to the Dominatus War. There were those possessed of a certain naivety and enthusiasm, those who looked for “Dommies to kill” and medals to earn. These soldiers never lasted very long, they either died or evolved. These naive troops were rapidly disabused of the impracticalities of bootcamp upon their first deployment. The knowledge that a Tactical Variant Chiliarch’s computer-guided SChTAMBE Railgun Rifle could punch a fist-sized hole right through their armor with one direct hit and that this was considered the most common of the Dominatus’ infantry and weapons respectively didn’t mean much until a new recruit saw his squad decimated.
The next group were the angry ones, who looked to avenge the comrades they had lost to the Dominatus, their Overseer legions, and their synthetic auxiliaries. Philippe-Thomas understood this group, no amount of dead Tyranny troops could compare to the fact that these groups were continuously decimated by the non-stop parade of the Tyranny’s newest weapons. The ML-55 was designed to defeat the Overseers of the Milky Way Campaign. Anger could only turn to frustration when they learned that the Tyranny had up-armored the rarer Overseers of Mirus and that concentrated volleys of ML-55 were needed to take them down now. How many routine skirmishes had turned to bloodbaths because of a new Dominatus invention? Amongst other French he had heard the stories. The first time the Daemon Mecha were encountered, the first Ogre, the first Harbingers, the list went on and on. But perhaps tale he had heard of was that of the Overseer Praetors. There were always less than 4 in an Overseer creed, each just less powerful than their Templates. He had never encountered one before. But his Draconis colleague, the Marine Kyrennus had.
Kyrennus possessed empty eyes, and wore a mask of gregariousness that quickly disappeared whenever the topic of Sybaris was raised. Philippe-Thomas had once asked about what had happened and when Kyrennus declined to answer, Philippe-Thomas respectfully stopped the line of questioning. But naturally curious, he always wondered what could have scared a soldier as mighty as a Talon Marine. Powered armoured troopers carrying what would be considered crew-served weapons by the comparatively diminutive humans with hundreds of years of experience sounded like gods of war to him. What could possibly scare them?
It was only when Kyrennus woke up screaming in the middle of a nightmare, awakening a portion of the joint French-Draconis contingent, that he realised why Kyrennus never talked. The marine had led a special commando squad into Sybaris as part of a group of 45 - 3 groups of 15, one of which Kyrennus leaded. Including Kyrennus, only 2 of Kyrennus squad had survived, and none of the others had. The frantic screams of “Moloch! Moloch! Moloch!” in the night had informed Philippe-Thomas that no matter how unlucky he had been, he had never directly confronted an Overseer Praetor, especially once with as unsavoury a reputation as Moloch. With that in mind, Philippe-Thomas and his friends woke Kyrennus up before putting him back to sleep, and they never asked him about it again.
Philippe-Thomas was thus grateful that he had survived to evolve into the 3rd and final stage of ADC soldier. He was freed from the constraints of anger, of frustration, of disappointment, of grief, and of anguish. All he had to give up was hope. That he reasoned, was why he had commanders. All he had to do was do what he was told - apply his brains to give order to his brawn, process orders that were given, and do everything short of hoping. He had learned early on that the Dominatus only gave hope to take it away, and thus consumed with such ennui and so devoid of passion, he had set to his tasks on Demogorgon Prime, clearing an initial bunker as part of the first assault wave, assaulting a bastion, conducting an elastic defence during the Dominatus counter-attack, designating the fabled Apex Avatar Ozymandias for destruction, besieging Malogenesis, and now cleaning up what little remained with the same mechanical, inhuman precision.
Humanity, he reasoned, was something he could do without till the end of the war.
Supreme Commander Ryaler had not let his position interfere with his empathy for his men, and he had not let his empathy for his men interfere with his decisions as a commander. Though the reports indicated that the war was drawing to an end, merely consisting of clean-up duties and the siege of the Dominatus Military Headquarters of Apogee, where Archon Stahl resided, he too suffered nightmares of ceaseless carnage. In his mind, he seemed beset by phantoms of his most trusted lieutenants and warriors. How many friends had he sent into offensives where they were needed to break the impregnable Dominatus defense? How many had he sent to delay the Dominatus, knowing full well they would die while his other troops fulfilled an important task. He had heard stories of a time when confronting a Dominatus Champion was considered an extremely deadly, albeit doable task. How many times had he sent his greatest warriors to confront a Champion, watching them die as a Dominatus came equipped with those god-forsaken custom-made swords and armor. How many times did he have to stage a delaying action with his men while he waited for air support to destroy a Dominatus that he couldn't bypass?
His subordinates always tried to reassure him, even the least sycophantic amongst them saying that nothing better could be done, that those lives could not be saved, and that people were going to die anyways. But he saw in the pained faces of those tasked with writing memorandums to the deceased, that each dead Mendel meant a few other damaged lives. He tried reconciling this with the fact that unless the Dominatus were defeated, they would all be dead anyways, but even that couldn't resolve his internal conflict.
As Supreme Commander, Ryaler was not chosen just for his ability to strategize, think, command, coordinate, and fight. For he reasoned, amongst any large population, intelligent men were not in short supply. He was chosen also for his courage - not just the courage needed to fight, but to make the hard decisions - to differentiate between a bad one, and a fatal one. It was his job to accept that at times, an abattoir was not a catastrophe - too many times he reasoned. Too many decisions. Too many dead. But it wasn't over yet, and there were still decisions to make. And there were still dead men who just didn't know it. But at the end of this tunnel lay a light - a place where he could escape - a place where he could forget all of this.
The descent of allied battleships into the corrosive atmosphere of Demogorgon Prime announced the final phase of the invasion. With Dominatus surface-to-space artillery weakened, their airpower shredded, their vulnerable ground emplacements seized, all that remained were the spires that towered over the desolate wasteland of rubble and twisted metal of the tortured planet's only city - Malogenesis. These were protected by shields which ground-based firepower alone could not penetrate. It would take a concentration of fire, an unprecedented coordination of space, air, and land power to break open even one of these structures.
Preparations to wheel around the Alliance's grand batteries––bristling with more heavy artillery guns than any single army could ever hope to field––had taken weeks. The hurdles for Allied Supreme Commander Uriel Ultanos’ AIFDP (Allied Invasion Force Demogorgon Prime) were many: politics, logistics, planning, protection, leadership, egoism, timing, location… But one by one, the exhausted AIFDP officers had detached seven of the eleven battleships still engaged in the Battle of Demogorgon Prime from their sectors. Carefully, they herded them into a frangible multinational fleet. Brittle, scarred, depleted, demoralized, deteriorating by the day, eager to return to their separate commands, this fleet nonetheless hung like the sword of Damocles over the planet.
“With a little luck, we’re near the end,” Marshal Lucian Chartier heard himself say as he stared out the faux-projection windows at the planet below.
They were twenty-three on the command bridge of the Bonaparte, the designated headquarters of the Orion League (read: French) contingent of the AIFDP. From here, they planned the next stages of the invasion, monitored and directed the course of the campaign, and allocated the paltry flow of resources based on the strategic exigencies of the moment. They were the French Marshalship’s bureaucracy, despised for their frugality, ridiculed for their caution, and derided for their inactivity: none had ever been to the planet below, very few had ever served in a combat environment. Yet, daily, they made decisions which affected the lives of millions, and which drove commanders on the ground up the wall.
“Nervous?” Pascaline Lamour, the wiry Admiral of the French Armada over Demogorgon Prime, her auburn hair tied in a bun, asked with a touch of levity. They had known one-another since the Academy, and it was something to find themselves serving so soon in position of such high authority only twenty years later. They both looked older than they were, and much older than they felt.
Before Lucian could answer, the door to his office abruptly swung open and his Director of Operations, followed by the the Fifth Armada's Chief Operations Officer, stood in the doorway. With his usual brusque manner, Lieutenant Charlebois brandished the data stick he was meant to deliver.
“You asked to see the results of the latest exercises we ran,” he said, as if to excuse the startling interruption. Ceremony tended to erode in a war zone.
“How did we do?” Lucian, turning completely to face his new interlocutor, stepped forward with the use of his cane and went to examine the data at his computer, with Pascaline looking over his shoulder.
“Not well, but that’s to be expected under the circumstances,” Charlebois said, restlessly gripping his hands behind his back. “Both the battleships Bonaparte and the Voltaire are understrength, while our carrier 14 juillet has more planes than pilots. That shows in their performance.”
“And there’s no way we can improve either their survivability or gunnery efficiency this late in the game?” Pascaline asked as Lucian delved into and deconstructed the numbers in front of her.
“These are the ships we have, Admiral. My only recommendation would be to swap the Bonaparte and the Voltaire in the formation. Whatever ship occupies Voltaire’s position will take a beating on her starboard side during passes two, four, and seven. Bonaparte’s starboard defenses have consistently rated higher; Voltaire was damaged there two weeks ago. Bonaparte is less likely to be seriously hurt in the pounding.”
"If we knew this before, why wasn't Bonaparte put up front?" Pascaline asked.
"It's the command ship, M'am. Our planners just assumed," he replied.
“How much time would swap take?” Lucian looked up at him.
“An hour at most. We’re waiting on the Gloriana Vinterva’s field coils anyway.”
Lucian nodded his assent. “Go ahead. Make sure you message the Paragon to let him know what we’re doing, and relay him the updated numbers so he knows what our total output is going to be. Let's hope he's gathered enough firepower to plow through those defenses.”
They were in illustrious company. After four years of war, these battered behemoths had accumulated a record of service which more than accounted for their scars and depleted crews.
The Delphan Illimitable put an end to a rampage by a Mark 3 Holocaust Class Dreadnaught through the Dominatem Sector. The Draconid TNSS Radiana and Gloriana Vinterva participated in the battle of the Terminus and served as the linchpin of a fighting retreat that preserved the ADC in the wake of Manticore. The Mendel MWV Memory of Karlna had served in the breakout from the Sheva system, where it led a breakthrough by encircled ADC forces through the stranglehold of a Dominatus fleet that threatened it with complete annihilation. The Whitefang had participated in the battle of the Stygian Gate, where it led an assault on a Mark 3 Supremacy Class Supercarrier that had been decimating allied positions. Its unprecedented melee functionality and that of its sister ships distracted the monstrous Dominatus ship enough that the ensuing Allied advance was far less costly than projected.
Once the calculations had been made, once the formation had been established, once the flight path had been determined, once the supplies had been procured, and the order had been given, Lucian and Pascaline's roles in the operation were finished. It was up to the captains and fleet commander to carry out Uriel's plan. They were now spectators in a drama they could no longer influence; they might as well be lightyears away. For the two Commanding officers, this was a familiar feeling, but for some of this more inexperienced officers it was totally new.
As Lucian stretched his three legs by wandering around the command bridge, he saw bitten nails, strained nerves, obsessive checking, jittery glances, startled reactions, and so many young faces. He did his best to reassure, but none of his officers could unglue their eyes from the windows as the hellscape below came nearer into view and shells began to fly. Finally, he gave up and gave them all permission to leave their posts to crowd the windows and watch the battle unfold.
"Command," in time, the voice of the Bonaparte's captain came through the loudspeaker. "You may want to hear this."
Lucian hobbled over to a panel on the side of the wall, swiped his card, and reached inside the box to pull out a set of headphones.
"Patch me in," he said, adjusting headphones.
". . . Garrison," a voice he knew groaned over the line. "I would like to coordinate our unconditional surrender."
"Everyone," Lucian ripped the headphones from his ears and waved his officers over. With a flick of a switch, he broadcasted the signal through the Command Bridge's loudspeaker. He would not deprive them of the opportunity to witness history firsthand.
"Repeat, this is Archon Wolframicht Stahl, Supreme Commander of the Demogorgon Prime Garrison. I would like to coordinate our unconditional surrender."
There was silence for two minutes before a Draconid's voice came on the line. It was unmistakably Uriel's. The Draconid master king had been observant in the background, now with Stahl's voice ringing though the speakers.
"Archon Stahl, You speak to Paragavatus Uriel Vossus Ultanos the Sixteenth, on behalf of the Anti-Dominatus Coalition. We hear your request of unconditional surrender, and entertain it."
Stahl hesitated for a few moments before replying. He needed to remind himself than any display of caustic wit or sarcasm was counter-productve. There would be no snide remarks about the Worm-King, only talk of how to end the butchery of the battle. Stahl was in no position to gloat now - if anything, he was begging.
In his unconsciously authoritative voice, Stahl declared ”Paragon Uriel, it is my ardent belief that further bloodshed on either side is needless - I, as representative of the Tyranny believe fully in awaiting whatever punishment is to be meted out on us rather than continue this futile march into oblivion. I am here asking under which terms a general ceasefire can be instituted.”
"The Alliance is not the Tyranny, Archon." Uriel responded with authority in his voice, a tone of power whose reverberations inspired allies and intimidated opponents. "You and what remains of your leadership are to be submitted to a tribunal for your government's actions against the First Gigaquadrant and beyond. What remains of your armada and military forces are to be dismantled, any of your kind who surrender will be given mercy under the rule of law."
In his mind, the message was clear - the Allies were out for revenge, and in a tribunal as such, the Dominatus would merely be at the mercy of foes whom they had ripped out every iota of compassion and empathy in this god-forsaken campaign. In all likelihood the ensuing punishment would mean the complete genocide of the Dominatus. But perhaps their children would still be able to carry on the Tyranny's legacy as Stahl had planned.
”Those terms are acceptable. You may be pleased to find that I am what remains of the General Staff, and am thus wholly responsible for answering for whatever wrongs the Dominatus have visited on the Gigaquadrant, either in my days or those of my predecessors. Ordering a surrender amongst the Overseer Legions and the Synthetic Auxillia will be no problem - after all, so long as we live they do not possess free will.” Stahl continued. “However ..."
"You are not all of the Dominatus" Uriel interjected. "If the Overseer Legions and Synthetics answer to your kind, one of them may abuse their authority. What of those of your kind who might refuse to surrender."
Stahl was momentarily taken back. The position of the inferior was one that needed getting used too. Only one person had interrupted him in recent times, and that was Medusa Heimdall. The formerly imperious Archon, who had possessed the charisma and influence to coordinate the entire force of the Tyranny had taken a submissive role that seemed more akin to that of a pupil being scolded by a teacher.
"The Overseer Legions and the Synthetics answer first and foremost to the Tyrant, and in his or her absence to the General Staff. The Heimdall line is extinguished and I am what remains of the General Staff. They will follow my orders above those of the Dominatus. On the subject of rebellious Dominatus, I assume that the conflict will continue until the last of them has either submitted or been deal with." Stahl answered, with a dejection only seen in men who had accepted their death.
Uriel nodded "Our high command has concluded that is the only solution to end the conflict for good."
Stahl sighed audibly over the communications line. He had known implicitly that either way he was sending the Dominatus off on a death sentence with the vague hope of passing the torch to their "children". It was one thing to kill 2 members of the General Staff, but to kill or at least hasten the deaths what would possibly be a large fraction of what Dominatus remained a new level of what he once thought racial treason. The palpable silence suffocated the communications line until Stahl spoke again. Rather than directly replying, Stahl first brought up what was once thought to be the most disturbing of military intelligence's findings, though one that now seemed to give Stahl a glimmer of hope.
"Paragon Uriel, why did you spare Dynast Hedon Morillium, Favored of Medusa, Commander of the Tyrant's Own when the former Archon Angrus Mortarius sent him to kill you over what was once Invictus?" Stahl questioned.
Uriel paused, Air escaped his nostrils as he glared towards the sound of Stahl's voice. "Your Tyrant created a perverse reflection og my own kind and shaped him into one of your greatest weapons. Tell me Stahl, how did the general staff comprehend the news he did not die over Invictus, but returned to his sanctuary as one of my archangels?"
Stahl paused and remembered the revelation. It was after events like these that he made sure Military Intelligence reported the most critical things to him before disseminating it to the General Staff. Of course there was no use to pretending strength now - it was in his best interest to supplicate his arbiter.
"Well ... with the myth of unshakable loyalty shattered, the General Staff suffered yet another Invictus in terms of general morale. I must also add that when news spread, various Overseer Legions would unofficially attack the Sons until the General Staff stepped in. Indeed some Sons even attempted moderation in penance for the sins of their father, hoping to redeem themselves in the eyes of the Tyranny with the most daring and fanatical of attacks.” Stahl admitted painfully.
Uriel nodded. "When I spared him, Hedon saw something in me that he never saw in his masters. By giving him a second life, I gave him a chance to be reborn. I spared him because for all he was to you I saw what he could be." Stahl could not see it, but a determined grin was spreading across Uriel's snout. "You perverted my kind with your experiments, so the greatest affront would surely be to purify that which your kind defiled and later loved." He tilted his head up as he finished, showing his teeth to the speakers.
"Indeed." He paused before unveiling one of the General Staff's most hidden of secrets. "I am sure it occurred to you who said “Their callousness belies their intelligence. I do not trust any of them, and I predict only unfortunate things for their empire” that the Dominatus were inherently unstable and only unified in their desire to conquer. The Tyrant, and if by unanimous vote, the General Staff had the authority to use synthetic and Overseer forces to liquidate rebellious Dominatus in expectation that mutiny, rebellion, or full scale civil war would sometime take place." Stahl paused while waiting for Uriel to process this.
Uriel folded his arms, and a grimace spread across his face. If the Dominatus had already been purged of rebellion once, how many would die for a second purging of illicit opinions.
"I propose this as a solution then - shields will be lowered and the locations of all Dominatus from the Registry will be shared with your strike-craft and ships. I will make a pronouncement of surrender and give them 10 seconds to decide. Those who still remain defiant will be destroyed by a combination of your forces and ours. After this we will lay down our arms, come into the open, and formally submit. Is this acceptable?" Stahl beseeched.
"This proposal is acceptable, Archon. Should your forces violate temporary pact however, they may find themselves next in line for extermination" was Uriel’s calm answer.
"That is perfectly reasonable. I will transmit the information soon. Inform me when your forces have received the data and are in position. Of course I assume that until this plan is executed, that the war continues?" Stahl grimaced as he mentally counted out the fortress that had been targeted by the assaulting armada of battleships.
Uriel replied with perhaps the most pithy and powerful statement of the war.
“Woe to the Vanquished”.
The Fire Dies
Trakyon Faminox was a Dominatus Knight, the most common type of Dominatus “infantry”. Born just after the Culling of 2773, he had come of age during the outbreak of the Great Tyranny War. Faminox did not know the empathy that resulted from suffering, the nervousness that resulted from failure, nor the sense that resulted from weakness. He could not relate to the tales of the elder Dominatus, who had inhabited forms other than what could justifiably be described as those of a biologically and bionically engineered god. The older ones, especially the relative ancients who had fought in the War of Unification had known what it was like to scream in agony, to wait inert as their bodies mended over the course of weeks or months, and to face foes who were as advanced as they. But in Faminox’s young mind, there was only the concept of unquestionable Dominatus superiority, for he was free from the enervating weakness, be it physical, mental, and emotional that joined the Drakodominatus of old and the inferior faces of the Gigaquadrant.
Faminox’s was taught during a time when the Tyranny did not fight, as two equal powers fought, but instead conquered and colonised races and empires that were markedly weak enough that in the majority of cases, the Dominatus were limited more by the speed of their ships and their automated colonisation and construction protocols, than by the enemy. There were exceptions of course - the Dominatus would often turn into vassals nations that thought themselves allies of the Tyranny before inevitably conquering them. There were some speedbumps of course, notably the Katar Sector in the Milky Way, but Faminox internalised the principle that the sheer power of the Dominatus made it so that war was a fancy word for stepping on helpless insects.
The lessons which taught of fights with peer foes often flew over his head, not for a lack of intellect, but merely a philosophical inability to comprehend this insane concept. In the rare times when idiosyncratic veterans of the spacefaring Tyranny’s first wars called for him to understand not only the enemy’s strategy and tactics, but also it’s civilisation, history, and art, Faminox laughed it off. Even when he attempted to internalise these teachings, he could only rigidly apply the historical, ideological, and practical lessons from a previous era without actually understanding anything beyond the precepts themselves. The concept of struggle against anyone as pathetic as aliens, who only existed to either be exterminated or enslaved by his colleagues was co foreign to him that even when the rare teachers with the experience of war with a peer power lectured him intently, that the lessons merely passed through him.
Yet here he was, reassigned over and over again as position after position was overrun. In the aftermath of the TIAMAT’s destruction, he was the sole survivor of his lance, barely making the city’s walls before entering the crazed hell of fighting against the unending tsunami of ADC troops. Each segment of the city he retreated from was one he would never see again, each group of slower tanks he passed by with his thrusters would probably be molten slag the next time he returned, and it seemed the General Staff had not yet seen it wise to implement whatever plan they had to defeat the Allies. He found solace in the fact that he had eventually found himself in the Supercitadel named Unyielding Malevolence, which was more defended than the Citadels beyond the walls and also contained its own shield generator, allowing it to weather the hail of allied bombardment following the destruction of the TIAMAT. Unyielding Malevolence and its garrison of both its original occupants and those lucky enough to retreat there had defeated every combined ground and aerial attack thrown at it, and at the beginning of everyday, the highest ranking Dominatus in the installation, Sovereign Executor Orcus Stibius gave the same speech, celebrating surviving yet another day.
Orcus Stibius - While we live, the fire lives. It is the fire that has guided us from being bound to the earth to being one with the stars, It is the fire that burns within us, that drives us from the quiet asphyxiation of an inconsequential existence to the apotheosis of immortality in the infinite horizon of history. It is the fire within that compelled us to not content ourselves with the complacency of accepting our gifts, but refining ourselves, the strong, with the same fervour that we persecute the weak. It is the fire in which the history of our great empire lives on, for in each flame is a battle won, both a memory of our legacy and a testament to our defiance. For it is a weak man who stands in the uncaring void of the cosmos shivering in the cold that will eventually take him, but it is the strong man who with the torch of his will sets it aflame. So long we live, the fire lives. So long as the fire lives, the strong live. so long as the strong live, the Tyranny lives. So long as we hold this ground, the fire burns on brighter than before!
It was with this vigor that Faminox had greeted the day. However, it seemed today, the ADC had tried new tactics - 7 battleships from various factions, having braved the shield and the corrosive atmosphere of the planet rapidly approached the gargantuan fortress and its towering central spire. The titanic anti-starship weapons festooned on the of the veritable mass of shielded armor that constituted the Supercitadel barked crackling mountains of raw energy at the approaching starships, which bombarded it with all manner of ordnance. This was an assault joined by a horde of Allied Aircraft led by what sensors identified as the fabled Blue Squadron of Carl Matthews and what seemed to be a sector’s worth of Delphan Surface-to-Space artillery batteries.
Faminox watched with dismay as the nigh-impenetrable shields of the installation gradually disintegrated under the combined firepower of the Allied assault. It seemed even the Sovereign Executor, was powerless to do anything useful - the nearest Supercitadel was too far away, they possessed no means to board any of the craft, and fighting their way through the massive cordon of land personnel around the installation would at best allow them to disperse through the city, where they would be hunted like animals. Orcus seemed to decide that since the shields decreased in power with each pass of the battleships, and it seemed that they would only be able to damage several instead of destroy one, that this last option was the most palatable.
Faminox was at the forefront of their sally out, launching himself with all his energy at the ADC’s troops. Despite this, he was met almost instantly by a barrage of missiles that disabled his suit, leaving him powerless and inert as he watched the rest of the battle. He saw as the hours passed and only a minority of the garrison made it past the strengthened and incredibly vast ADC position, which had been prepared for such an occurrence. He saw as Orcus himself was completely incinerated by what seemed to be a divisions worth of tanks and gunships. He saw the vast Supercitadel crumble into ash and twisted metal, its towering spire melting away into sludge as it tried in vain to ward off its attackers.
On death’s door, Faminox tried his best to console himself with the Tyranny’s teachings, only to find that they troubled him more as he realised that he was on the losing end of these propositions.
It is the duty of the weak to serve the strong, and if they cannot, it is their duty to make their liquidation as easy as possible.
There can be no covenants between the strong and the weak.
The superior need not concern himself with the laws and rules of the inferior.
Mercy is for those without power. Those without power do not deserve life.
There is no nobility in defeat. Admission of weakness is forfeiture of your birthright.
The disabled Faminox was wracked by these thoughts as he saw the Supercitadel implode upon itself, collapsing into a massive crater, its explosion only barely contained by its dying shielding. The fire was dead. It was cold without the fire. And without the fire, all there was were only the moving, angry shadows that encroached upon the inert Dominatus.
He tried to get up.
He tried screaming.
He tried begging.
And he learned to his vengeful foe, a begging Dominatus was just a slightly more entertaining version of a dead Dominatus.
The Eve of Victory
September 27, 2793
The conference room of Apogee sat at the towering spire’s apex. The massive, baroque chamber, which dwarfed even its titanic inhabitants lay contained 23 seats. There were 11 for the General Staff: 10 for its Drachons and 1 for its Archon, 11 for the Grand Admiralty: 10 for its Grand Admirals and 1 for its Supreme Admiral, and 1 for the Tyrant herself. Each was filled, if not by physically by the Dominatus, but by a hologram representing them. It was a collection of colossi, titans in mind and even moreso in ego. Such beings often fought among themselves, self-aggrandising, arguing for more troops from the Tyrant, and scheming for more power, but today they found themselves united in jubilation. Indeed, they all thought that they could expect complete victory on all fronts in at most a years time. It seemed that they had done the impossible.
Archon Angrus Mortarius - It is with full confidence that I report that Operation Dragonslayer is proceeding as planned. Phase III objectives have been taken earlier than planned, Phase IV objectives will be taken in at most 3 months, culminating in the capture of Araveene. Phase V objectives will be taken in at most a year - and you, my Tyrant, will see our flag erected upon Alcanti and the Worm-King Uriel prostrate on the ground as you visit retribution upon him. I needn’t remind you that included in Phase V objectives is the capture of Septis, Alessia, and whoever else is close to the Worm-King.
Supreme Admiral Gravius Gnissenkrassau - I should say of course that there are minor issues of course, with what seems to be their unconventional defensive strategy, but rest-assured you will be able to do as you please with he who has so wronged you. Andromeda will be ours in due time my Tyrant.
Grand Admiral Drakos Moltekion - Congratulations on your impending victory Archon. The genius and drive present in both you and in Supreme Admiral Gravius Gnissenkrassau are surely the reason that the Andromedan light will be consumed by the Tyranny’s fire. I report that in Bunsen, Operation Black Lightning is succeeding beyond all expectations - every week there is a new enemy fleet encircled and destroyed, and it seems that every few days another defensive line is breached. The Great Burn is eviscerating the Tybusen’s Delta Sector, and we have succeeded in the encirclement of Mantel IV and Thymius. All that remains is to wait till they are taken and then with their military crushed, all we’ll have left is mop-up.
Grand Admiral Nimitis Halsis - And in far-off Borealis, Operation Titanfall is succeeding beyond all expectations - the once thought invincible Junction are being pushed back, encircled and exterminated by our massive pincer movement. All that is left is the destruction of their forces in the Asphodel system. Once this is done, it is merely crushing the few survivors left in this stranglehold. It seems that the Tyranny will have quite literally defeated the extra-universal menace.
Drachon Wolframicht Stahl - Operation Deathstorm has accomplished the impossible - the Tyranny is quite literally steamrolling through Delphan positions. With the once-thought impregnable Horatorio captured and converted into yet another staging base for our attacks into their core worlds, the road to Mirenton is clear. At this rate, we have begin the siege of the Delphan homeworld by the end of the year, and after its capture, the rest of this campaign in Plazith would be a mere formality. The Allied Terran Republic is reeling from the unstoppable onslaught of Mark 2s and Overseers, trying in vain it seems to hold back the oncoming tide. The Orion League’s initial offensive had been thrown back, retreating in what seems to be full disarray, with our forces at their heels. The Katarians are in chaos, and it seems that they and the pathetic FPC expeditionary force sent there will soon be crushed.
Drachon Dis Brutalis - And in Mirus, expansion continues as per the brilliant Tyrant’s plan of hyper-expansion. The Waptoria Alliance of Species is giving ground, and the Tyris cluster of Mirusian satellites will soon be ours entirely. We advance at a rate hitherto not seen in Gigaquadrantic history. Our empire, and most importantly our military needs systems to be tooled for war, and I report excitedly that our ever-growing appetite for new worlds is being more than satisfied.
Archon Angrus Mortarius - Let us congratulate the Tyrant on her supreme brilliance and prescient leadership. Under the same mind that came up with the Medusa Doctrine, and the TIAMAT, comes yet another victory for the Tyranny - conquest of the Gigaquadrant!
Stahl paused before applauding. Medusa, for all her controversy, had early on come up with her eponymous doctrine, which recognised and acted upon the knowledge that technological progression was a function of contact with advanced alien powers, precursor relics, and a black budget for the Tyranny’s greatest scientists and had turned the already-formidable Tyranny research complex into a machine without peer that advanced the Tyranny’s technology at a rate once thought impossible. This doctrine also provided the framework behind hyper-expansion - vassalization of smaller races to sell Andasite at inflated prices to before conquering them, conquest fleets in every which direction, the rapid deployment of geo-engineering apparatus, among others had seen the Tyranny’s industrial strength balloon at a frightening pace. The TIAMAT’s most intractable theoretical problems had been solved and now all that remained between the Dominatus and what seemed to be literal control of reality were budgetary and engineering constraints. And it seemed that this same Medusa, in the extremely aggressive warplans she had chosen from amongst Dominatus High Command’s proposed plans, was about to defeat virtually half of the Gigaquadrant.
Drachon Wolframicht Stahl - To Medusa! Long May She Reign!
Archon Angrus Mortarius - To the Tyranny’s dominion over the Gigaquadrant!
Drachon Dis Brutalis - The stars lay in our hands because of the Tyrant!
Stahl looked at Medusa’s countenance, and saw the all too familiar smile of narcissistic megalomania overtake the aristocratic snout of the Tyrant’s daughter. For all his contentions with her, Stahl was happy to follow her if, as it seemed her guidance would bring the Tyranny to victory. He was happy to follow that sneer which said Are you going to tell me something I already know? so long as she actually did know what she was doing. And it seemed that, contrary to what he had thought before, she did.
Stahl did what any good soldier would do, and merely awaited his orders.
They were on the eve of victory.
December 27, 2795
The conference room of Apogee sat at the towering spire’s apex. The massive, baroque chamber, which dwarfed even its titanic inhabitants lay contained 23 seats. There were 11 for the General Staff: 10 for its Drachons and 1 for its Archon, 11 for the Grand Admiralty: 10 for its Grand Admirals and 1 for its Supreme Admiral, and 1 for the Tyrant herself. They were all empty, each occupied only by a void symbolising its occupant's failure. It was a collection of colossi, memories of dead men who had once moved the Gigaquadrant but were for the most part merely stellar ash, to be forgotten and disregarded by the universe. Such beings often fought among themselves, self-aggrandising, arguing for more troops from the Tyrant, and scheming for more power, but today they found themselves united in the fact that each had seen hopelessness and futility before being banished into oblivion by enemy firepower or by their own hand.
The last remaining amongst their number strode across the empty room. Perhaps in name he was Archon Wolframicht Stahl, but the broken creature that hobbled across the empty room that seemed to reproach him for his failure was something else. His armour weighed heavily on him, hunching his back and disturbing his gait. The fiery eyes that had once overseen the Tyranny’s vast war machine were now the dead eyes of a corpse moved only by a sense of obligation. He carried his ceremonial sword and shield, Erebus and Nyx with him, not as weapons of war, but instead as canes to help the broken man walk. Here lay Stahl, last of the Dominatus General Staff, last of Dominatus High Command. Here he stood, overseeing the twisting corpse of a dead empire that still thought itself alive, looking over the endless plains of rubble that teemed with enemy troops while being taunted by the imagined whispers of those who castigated him for his failure.
Only the armada of 7 battleships going from Supercitadel to Supercitadel provided any difference in the environment - they had destroyed 2 such Supercitadels so far, and Stahl had watched as the already minuscule Dominatus registry dwindled more and more. The entirety of the Fiends of Cruon present upon Demogorgon Prime had died fighting, Overseer Template Xenomortis had met its end, and although he had given the ADC the locations of the remaining Dominatus, and the ADC had verified the veracity of these locations, he was given the order to wait until the ADC's strike craft were in position till ordering the general surrender. In this limbo, Stahl could only contemplate his failure, and the destruction of the Tyranny.
Stahl looked at the empty seats, each adorned with artwork depicting their occupant’s greatest battles. Ironically, from these pictures, Stahl could work out when each his colleagues had died. He sat the Tyrant’s throne and took stock of his domain.
He had stood here 27 months before looking up on the majesty of the Tyranny’s ever-expanding empire.
Now he saw a mortally wounded animal which he would have to euthanise, under the orders of the man who had so wounded it.
He had stood here 27 months before ordering vast legions of the Gigaquadrant’s most fearsome troops to conquer other galaxies.
Now he merely awaited an order from a foe to kill the last of his own troops.
He had stood here 27 months before, congratulating the Tyrant upon her seemingly inevitable victory.
Now he stood over the imagined corpses of the Dominatus he had slain - Medusa herself, Dis Brutalis, his friend Indomitus Rex, while awaiting the order to kill whichever Dominatus resisted.
He had stood here 27 months before, one of the most powerful men in the Gigaquadrant.
Now he stood as the man who would shepherd the Tyranny into the dustbin of history.
He had stood here 27 months before, as a good soldier.
He was still stood a good soldier.
Stahl did what any good soldier would do, and merely awaited his orders.
They were on the eve of victory.
The Overseer's Creed
“The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
- - Albert Camus
The name was seldom spoken in Allied circles for the fear that it might bring forth the nigh-unstoppable force of the first Overseer. They spoke in whispers of him - Nosferatu, who had singlehandedly turned a city and its garrison into rancid sludge. Nosferatu, who left the armies he encountered drowning in a void of their screams. Nosferatu, who moved with the speed of a mirage, dodging what seemed to be entire division’s worth of ordnance, before materialising into a very tangible and very vengeful God of War. Many conjectured about the Dynast of the Nocturnal Legion, the so-called Favored of Abaddon. Other templates had personality quirks - Hedon’s sybaritic excesses, Bruteigon’s berserk rages, 01’s proclivity to experiment, Sadis’ extreme proclivity towards taking out his inner suffering upon others, Akemainyu’s devotion to esoteric language and ritual among others. But all that was known about the Lord of Eternal Night was that he never spoke - he only acted. And when he acted, entire armies vanished.
Only one man knew the truth - Nosferatu himself. Like all other Overseers, Nosferatu saw the Dominatus as those who gave him life, and had dedicated his life to the service of his masters. Unlike other Overseers, this was all that Nosferatu cared about - to the First of the Overseers, anything not directly related to the service of his masters was a distraction, and distraction was a mortal sin. Service was the only thing that gave him any modicum of emotion - victory tinged of happiness and defeat tinged of sadness. But this temporary feeling was always replaced by a gnawing, self-critical analysis that filled his entire being as he tried to answer the question of what could have been improved. And no matter how much he perfected his craft, his perceptive eyes always found flaws, flaws which would tear him apart internally till they were fixed. In this way, Nosferatu was distinct from the other Overseers in that he was always full of self-hatred at not having served his masters well enough, even before the penultimate stages of the Mirus Campaign.
Nosferatu had experienced raw exhilaration when the Dominatus gifted him with a weapon specially crafted for him just a few weeks prior to the fall of Invictus. Claws sheathed in vastly enhanced Shidium made only possible by Dominatus science sheathed in an incredibly advanced power field that literally allowed him to cut through tanks like tissue paper. Many an Allied Champion had been felled in Mirus due to these claws, their weapons shattering as they desperately tried to parry Nosferatu’s unstoppable offensives. Indeed he had felt some respite when the desperate Dominatus had accepted his offer of volunteering the Nocturnal Guard’s most elite warriors, himself included as the first (and only batch) of the so called Immolated. The minority that survived the augmentation process, already Overseers with second-stage enhancements of at least of the rank of Imperator, found themselves elevated in power yet again, with the strongest of their number, Nosferatu Hexus, being so elevated that he could duel even select Dominatus Sovereign Executors, the Tyranny’s few dozen most powerful warriors, to a standstill. Of course, this was at the cost of a severely shortened lifespan that the Dominatus projected would end one year after augmentation - on March 2796.
These so called Immolated had then been deployed behind ADC lines to wreck havoc. Marrying experience, raw power, a manageable size, frightening agility, stealth capability, anti-gravity enabled-flight, and the Tyranny’s most advanced technology, oftentimes, a single Immolated was enough to destroy an entire Allied command centre or base. Despite this, the inherent risk in the missions meant that the Tyranny’s supply of these covert one-man armies dwindled throughout the campaign till there were only a dozen left at the beginning of the Battle of Demogorgon Prime, and only one left now - Nosferatu himself. The sickly glow of his over-enhanced Shidium skeleton showed through the struggling bundles of artificially engineered muscle, flesh, tendons and ligaments that bound him together underneath his armour - indeed, he seemed to radiate raw energy. He figured that as a consequence of the program, even if he survived, the steady degeneration of his body would mean he would completely fall apart by the beginning of the new year, a full 3 months earlier than expected and had thus come to terms with the fact that this mission, assigned to him by Archon Stahl himself would be his last. Indeed, the Archon had personally congratulated Nosferatu on performance, telling him that he had exceeded all expectations and not only giving him the Mark of the Dominatus himself, but also giving him a personal heirloom from his days as a Drakodominatus. For Nosferatu, the struggle would conclude by day’s end - there would be no need to contemplate about how to perform better in the future - it was over.
His task was simple - there was a sizeable formation fleeing the destruction of their Supercitadel and trying to disperse into the city. They were pursued by what seemed to be an entire ADC army and Stahl had given Nosferatu the order to single-handedly hold their pursuers off. Nosferatu had not asked what would become of those he was tasked to protect, even in the case they did manage to disperse, but he did trust Stahl. The dying god of Shidium, cybernetics, and Dominatus technology flew off for his final mission, his intense focus allocated not to the dying city around him, but the task at hand. Arriving, he saw the ragtag remnants of the Dominatus garrison desperately trying to lose what seemed a tsunami of ADC forces - all that stood between this retreating force and annihilation now, was himself.
It was with this vast wave in front of him, that Nosferatu entered his combat stance. He would fight this battle alone - his Koda, Barghest had died long before, killed by orbital bombardment during the retreat to the city’s walls. His Praetors, those second to him in power, were, as members of the Immolated all dead as well, and what little remained of the rest of the Nocturnal Legion would not be there to support him. The god of war stood against the tides of fate by himself, smiling - he would not have had this any other way.
He was a hurricane of raw energy and power fighting against what seemed to be the march of time itself. Moving at a blinding speed, he embedded himself into the Allied lines, causing what could only be described as an avalanche of metal and flesh. Freed from the restraint of preserving himself for the future, he drove his body to unsustainable levels of utilization, leaving only split-open tanks and mounds of corpses to mix in with the ash and rubble of the city.
The screams of the dying and the collapse of the dead mixed with what seemed to be his body crying for release. But the spectre of dark crimson continued his life’s work – though he moved with what seemed to be an impossible speed, he could savor each kill as if it had happened in slow motion. He could see the terror possessing his foes through their visors, he could sense their trembling through their cracked armor – he could feel overtaken by the same dread that they had once felt at the arrival of a Dominatus on the battlefield.
But even a being such as Nosferatu could only keep up this futile fight for so long – the whirlwind of darkest crimson slowed both due to his exertion and as an inevitable reaction to his vast but finite constitution giving out. Pausing, each moment in time passing by like a drop of water dripping from a leaf, he continued fighting on. A transmission from Stahl himself came in, telling him that the forces had dispersed and that his mission was completed. Moreover, Stahl congratulated him on giving the world a final show of what an Overseer could be.
It was with this in his mind that Nosferatu found himself without struggle, happy, and finally at peace. Unable to move at his blistering pace, he merely walked toward allied positions, knowing that he would die long before a massed artillery barrage got to him. He needed conscious control over the cancerous growth of Shidium in order to prevent it from wholly consuming him, but analyzing his current predicament, he abandoned it. Instead, he opened his mouth, speaking in a voice that made those who heard it wish that he had remained silent instead.
I am an Overseer of the Drakodominatus Tyranny.
The Dominatus have given me life, and I give my life to the Dominatus.
My ambition is measured by my capacity for service to the Tyranny.
My achievement is measured in the deaths of my master’s enemies.
I exist solely to further the conquest and extermination of their enemies.
I live to subjugate the lesser, and to serve the greater.
I am grateful to be introduced to this world as an instrument for their domination.
For service to the Dominatus is a gift beyond all others.
And upon utterance of those final words, Nosferatu Hexus gave into chaos and entropy, his life’s work completed. The extremely enhanced Shidium of his body entered a chain reaction catalyzed by his battlesuit’s internal powerplants being overloaded. Amidst the allied lines, Nosferatu Hexus savored the energy as it overtook him, and freed from his constraints, felt every emotion surge through his disintegrating body. In one instant came the torrent of hope and despair, ecstasy and grief, loathing and admiration, terror and rage, amazement and vigilance. And in the last instant, as he gazed upwards into the blackened sky of Demogorgon, he felt but one emotion as he exploded into a massive, impassable cloud of radioactive Shidium - serenity.
He Who Fights Monsters
“He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”
- - Friedrich Nietzsche
December 28, 2795
Paragon Uriel Ultanos looked into his dressing room mirror as he prepared for the final day of the war. With Wolframicht Stahl's information about the positions of the Dominatus verified by ground troops, an operational plan drawn up, and Allied Air Support briefed, organised, and currently standing by, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Invasion Force Demogorgon Prime had but to inform Archon Stahl to commence the Dominatus General Surrender.
On this occasion, rather than his signature armour, Uriel had adorned himself in a brilliantly decorated military uniform - a long navy-blue coat and tunic embroidered with gold and silver thread, with a crimson collar that reached up to his jawline. Over his shoulders, decorated brass epaulettes with gold-thread tassels hanging gracefully from their rims. Over his chest, he war an impressively gilded breastplate, set within the chest was a replica of Drakon's Eye and the necklace in which it was set. This was still a battlefield, not a place for one of the greatest royal heritage treasures. Strapped to his waist however was a beautifully-decorated longsword nestled inside a scabbard of lush red leather edged with silver. The handle was etched with numerous decorative carvings of dragons and warriors that met a red-leather handle.
On the surface, Uriel looked almost the same as he did when he had obliterated Invictus just under 2 years ago, in the early days of 2794, with only a scar reminding him of the battle that effectively sealed the fate of the Tyranny’s forces in Andromeda. This scar - the Mark of the Dominatus, etched on his right eye by the then mortally wounded Hedon Morillium, Dynast of the Sons of Hedon, was much more than a simple emblem of flesh - When the Draconis with a Dominatus scar looked into the mirror, a Dominatus looked back. Instantly, Uriel’s mind flashed back to his dialogue with Hedon, who had attacked him with a weapon far more potent than any Overseer or war machine thus far.
Uriel - ...E-excuse me?
Hedon - "A worm that-- that exhibits our traits." You think you are superior, that you could not-- possibly sink to their level. You're a butcher Uriel...A killer, a destroyer of worlds. I see it in your eyes; how many aliens, be they innocent or guilty, civilian or soldier, have died because they got in your way. Your hands are stained vividly with their blood...It does not bother you does it--
Uriel - Kranndung!
Hedon - NO! He-- He was right. You...deny it. But...your mind is Dominatus.
Uriel - I am nothing like your masters, I would never commit the kind of genocide or nightmarish horrors that they did!
Hedon - They did it-- to survive...and...thrive. No weakness, no mercy, no backing down. Sound-- familiar?
The eyes that looked backed at him glowed with the determined, calculating fire that he had once seen in Angrus Mortarius. No weakness, no mercy, no backing down - only the desire to not only defeat his enemies, but humiliate them in the process. Here he stood, Supreme Commander of the largest force ever assmelbed to take a single planet in recent Gigaquadrantic History, looking over as his troops followed his orders in erasing any physical legacy of the Tyranny. In Andromeda, the Draconis had fought to protect their empire – it was their dominion that the Tyranny had devastated, their families that the Tyranny had butchered, and their very existence that the Tyranny threatened. In Mirus, the Draconis fought for utopia – a world in which they could exist was a world without the Tyranny. Without the Tyranny meant not just without the existence of a Dominatus state, but without the existence of a Dominatus legacy. It would be as if the daemons of Demogorgon Prime had not existed at all. Indeed, this was the spirit of his speech to Draconis troops right before landfall upon Demogorgon Prime.
Most schools teach that the most effective battles are where your enemy is rendered unable to continue fighting - to convince your enemy there is nothing to be gained form further fighting is enough. For the demons of Demogorgon Prime this would be considered an act of mercy: Victory would not mean the effective nullification of the Drakodominatus Tyranny, but its effective erasure from living memory. When our work is finished, every dark monument, every obsidian spire, blackened parade ground, rock turned and every blade of grass bent by the foot of a Dominatus will be erased. When we are finished on this world of midnight ice and blinding fire, it will become and always exist as a wilderness undisturbed by the touch of intelligent beings.
The campaign had been long and it had been exceedingly brutal – despite Hel'Bre'K Ce'So'Va's prescient and effective planning, the singular tactical and operational genius of their then foe Supreme Admiral Gravius Gnissenkrassau combined with the unprecedented power of the Mark 2 armada meant that the Dominatus advanced much father and caused significantly more damage than previously anticipated. They had never intended for the Dominatus fleet to even get to Araveene, the supposed capstone of their Phase IV objectives, having intended in defeating them before they reached their Phase III objectives. Indeed they had not only expected to attack Invictus much earlier than in reality, they had also expected Dominatus resistance to collapse following being cutoff. This was unfortunately, not the case.
And so Uriel led the Andromedan assault into Mirus, having acclimated himself to the tempo of war – massive armies and fleets would do battle, every force of every size reducible to a statistic – a number that would factor into the arithmetic of war. The words horrifying and heavy, once used to describe the casualties sustained in the Andromedan theater, were now swapped in and out with the word acceptable and the phrase more than expected. The machine of war was almost predictable to Uriel – the ADC would pay an acceptable price to advance, the Dominatus would put out a brilliant gambit – one of admirable tactical and operational acumen that made superb use of the Dominatus’ advanced technologies which would perhaps push the ADC back substantially. There would be a titanic fight in which Allied forces were almost completely defeated after a the abattoir of prolonged pitched battle with Dominatus forces, yet they would be saved by a combination of their own acumen and the Dominatus’ unstable warmachine, which seemed to hinge on luck, falling upon itself. Swords of Damocles, hanging far longer than they should have fell on the Dominatus one-by-one – during Manticore, the ULE had finally decided to get involved, backstabbing the Dominatus and preventing total Allied collapse, during Terminus, the Dominatus forces were simply not able to crush allied forces before reinforcements arrived in critical mass, and the TIAMAT, while it worked, did not work nearly well enough to destroy the entire ADC fleet. Uriel knew that all they had to do was survive whichever gambit came forth, as the Tyranny was sufficiently strategically weakened that during regular operations, the Allied advance was, if acceptably expensive, inexorable.
Uriel remembered the name that had catalyzed his decision to use the neutron effusion weapon on Invictus – a certain Entharis Tarmia. He also knew that each man and woman composing this acceptable toll was an entire universe of experience, thought, and interaction - a mosaic composed of the radiating diamonds, dull pebbles, and jagged obsidian shards of thousands of years. And, in acceptable numbers, these artworks were to be thrown into battle with a foe that Larnus Vontarion likened to a foul tide sweeping all and leaving ruin in its wake, and a nightmare to those who stood against it. All that was left after Uriel had made his offering on the altar of war was the dust of the fallen, slipping slowly from memory and dissipating across the stars.
It was too easy for Uriel to continue this grim business of merely considering numbers - he had seen commanders succumb to this trap, distancing themselves from men they knew would die in an effort to spare themselves the guilt. But Uriel forced himself each day, for 10 minutes to learn the stories of one of the dead, and to listen to their dying words. He listened to the stories of those killed in Andromeda, Plazith, Bunsen, and Mirus. He would imagine their lives - their families, their struggles, their successes, their joys, and their dreams before listening to their last moments. Sometimes there was only silence as a Dominatus ambush killed them before they processed the thought. Other times there was begging, begging for help from a god that had turned his back on them, begging for reinforcements that would never come, and begging for mercy for an opponent without it. Most of the time, it ended in screams - screams that Uriel would not forget for as long as he lived.
And so Uriel looked into the mirror - commander of a vast army where every frontline unit was moderately or severely understrength. An army where men had grown accustomed to the constant horror they faced as there was nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. An army of automatons who had locked away their souls in pursuit of executing upon their goal as efficiently as possible. It was an army of robots that had put away their very essence and character in sealed rooms to protect it from the unending nightmare of the campaign. In these locked doors their souls screamed to be let out - only to regret the decision whenever they were confronted with the raw nature of a fight with the Dominatus. But they would not be let out till the Dominatus were purged from the Gigaquadrant, and their threat to the Imperium's very existence eradicated. He would use ruthlessly use whatever power was at his disposal to further his addition. Indeed at times, he felt that there was but a mask of sanity covering the Dominatus within him. A mask that slowly cracked with each passing day.
As Uriel readied himself to return to the bridge and give the Archon the order to commence surrender, all he could hope for was that his men still possessed the keys to their souls.
The Day The Tyranny Died
Dragon Captain Davius, Commander of the Empyrean Cohort of the Blood Dragons lay in his specially constructed mech. The Wb43-X Colossus, a custom version of the Wb42 Titan was a 15 meter tall mech specifically designed for combating the Dominatus during times when orbital bombardment or aerial bombing were impossible. While the regular military still used the Wb42 Titan, the Empyrean Cohort had been equipped with the WB43-X, and had often been assigned to the unenviable task of facing the Dominatus in close combat. The early stages of the Mirus Campaign saw skilled users of WB43-X engage Dominatus Champions on a fairly equal one-on-one basis.The feeling of killing a Dominatus Champion in a duel was both cathartic and exhilarating to Davius, but he knew, as all experienced men knew, that, on a month-by-month basis it seemed, what few Dominatus remained became more powerful on an individual basis. Indeed, Davius had been dispatched to this still active sector with some other members of the Empyrean Cohort as part of a rapid reaction force that would defeat any surprise attacks by the Dominatus themselves. It was after all, protocol for Dominatus, especially elite ones, first to be destroyed from afar, and if not possible, to be combated in melee by groups of the ADC’s most elite. There had been a specific ban unleashed on the subject of ADC heroes fighting Dominatus individually. In the late war it seemed, such encounters didn’t end well fo even the ADC’s best.
Davius remembered the battle of Lethe II of June 2795, wherein he engaged a Dominatus Sovereign Executor, supposedly the greatest of the Dominatus Champions. History would record this as the first time a so-called “late-stage Mirus Campaign” Dominatus of the highest combat rank was first encountered. Unfortunately for Davius and the Empyrean Cohort, they learned this the hard way. The first giveaway that something was different was the oncoming Dominatus’ two-handed maul, which was adorned with scenes of what seemed to be this Dominatus’ greatest battles. The maul also crackled with an intensity that Davius had not yet seen before, and seemed to ionise the air around it as the Dominatus’ thrusters propelled himself to Davius’ mecha. Davius entered a duelling position and prepared to block the Dominatus with the mech’s unsheathed vehicle-sized great sword. A well-placed block had always stopped a Dominatus dead in his tracks. And so Davius prepared as he had always prepared, assuming a stance that guaranteed him a defensive upper hand against the enemy he was accustomed too.
When the impact of the maul shattered the specially crafted great sword upon its first impact, Davius knew something was different. Davius attempted to dodge while calling upon other members of the Empyrean Cohort for backup. But even as a warrior as skilled as he, in a mech as advanced as his own could not evade forever. Davius noticed dejectedly that this Dominatus’ maul was, with nigh-impunity it seemed, smashing his mech to pieces. Even when the mech attempted to block with its fist, at very least an impact permanently disfigured the arms, and at very worst, broke them off completely. What remained of mis mech almost immobilised, he watched helplessly as the Dominatus drew his maul up overhead to smash the pilot’s compartment. He was only saved by the rapid intervention of one of his most trusted lieutenants, who scored a direct hit on the Sovereign Executor. Davius watched with dismay as the impact left only a large dent in the Dominatus armour, and rapidly called for others to join the fray. Engagement by a whole squad of Empyrean Cohort mechs should have meant the destruction of the Dominatus, but the still immobilised Davius saw as one-by-one, his men’s mechs were crippled, crushed, or destroyed by the seemingly impervious Dominatus, whose armour was only beginning to crack. Davius could barely register as his 2 most trusted lieutenants, having already lost 3 men to the seemingly invincible Dominatus, activated their thrusters and pushed him outside of the Draconis frontlines. It was air support on their position that had ended the Dominatus, and it was from that point on, Cohort standard operating procedure had evolved into ganging up on Dominatus versus merely duelling them, and from whence Allied Protocol for dealing with Sovereign Executors was simply to distract them with elite troops and bombard them into oblivion.
Davius grimaced at the memory - Warlord Kilnok was still undergoing reconstruction after fighting one of those horrifying monstrosities. Nothing ever seemed simple - what had happened to the Dominatus of March 20, 2791, when they had first taken over the Deep Core facility. That was a time wherein the sonic weapons of the Son’s of Hedon required multiple shots to defeat the Blood Dragon infantry. During the destruction of Invictus, these blasts sent even Blood Dragons flying, more often than not killing the Dragon inside but mostly preserving the armour. But now? A direct hit would almost turn even those elite power-armoured soldiers into paste in mid-air. There should have been a massive attack right after the Tyranny resisted giving the station back, perhaps one coordinated with other such powers that recognised that the existence of the Dominatus was unsustainable. Perhaps March 20, 2793 would see them on Demogorgon Prime. Yet here they were, on December 27, 2795, on cleanup duty in a segment of the city that housed Polyphemus, the most infamous sniper in the entire Tyranny. Those Cyclops were a diabolical invention, and the carnage they left in their deep strikes and infiltrations had given many an ADC commander sleepless nights. The infamous “2-shot” Polyphemus was especially bad - it seemed the sniper could get 2 shots off in quick succession. This mattered to Davius because while one shot of the custom hyper matter rifle could generally pierce a vehicle and kill its pilot, the Wb43-X was resilient enough that it took two, the first to first disable the shielding and immobilise the suit, and the second to kill the pilot. Polyphemus has already taken out a few off the Empyrean Cohort and Davius had ordered them to blend in with the regular WB42 Titans. It seemed so stupid to Davius - that it was still possible that he could die.
He had heard word from Uriel that the Dominatus intended to surrender, and air support had been marshalled for a massive strike on rebellious Dominatus using information provided by Archon Stahl. The outlandishness of the proposal far exceeded anything he had seen in this was, from the Overseers of Deep Core, to the flying Overseer-piloted mechs of the Mortem Militum, to the TIAMAT itself. Davius could simply not wrap his head around the fact that the Tyranny was going to expedite its own destruction by surrendering to the Anti-Dominatus Coalition. Of course there was the direct order to cease fire on all synthetics, Overseers, and disarmed Dominatus once a decision was made, but Davius doubted that such a situation would ever come to be. He continued the advance, still pondering this conundrum, right before he heard a dreaded sound.
A hypermatter bolt made a direct impact, disabling his mech. He cursed himself as he tried in vain to exit in the split instant before the next arrived. Why of why Drakon did it have to end like this? To make it to the end of the war and to be killed by the best sniper of a dying empire? His ministrations stopped when a neighbouring baseline WB42 not belonging to the Empyrean Cohort made a shield of himself around Davius’ mech.
The fellow mech-pilot had protected Davius at the cost of his own life. The enraged Davius didn’t need to give any orders - Polyphemus had made himself known, and there were no more spires to hide in in the rubble that stretched as far as the eye could see - it was merely a game of cat and mouse to catch this last thorn in their side.
But his attention was soon drawn to another source, as the very air seemed to crackle with the force of an announcement.
This is Archon Stahl speaking to all those forces of the Tyranny who still remain. As both the sole remaining member of the General Staff, and further, of High Command, in absence of the Tyrant, I am authorised to unilaterally dictate the Tyranny’s course of action. I have surmised that nothing can be gained from further resistance and that … surrender on enemy terms is the only option that remains that will perhaps save some of us from utter annihilation. Children of flesh and steel, stand down, and know that it is not your fault it ended this way. Dominatus, you have 10 seconds to decide whether or not you want to die today.
Unbeknownst to Davius, Stahl had activated the Cronos Protocol - while the synthetics and Overseers would no longer treat the ADC as targets, they would attack non-compliant Dominatus with the same fervour that they had shown against the Allies. It was hoped that, in tandem with Allied Air Support, this action would end the war within the day.
Of course all Davius knew was that as the 10 second countdown continued, while he received reports of Overseers, Synthetics, and some Dominatus grinding to a halt, there was a Dominatus Champion bursting forth towards him. Disabled, he could do naught but wait as the moments passed.
1, 2, 3.
Perhaps air support would take out the Dominatus in time?
4, 5, 6
Perhaps he’ll attack someone else?
7, 8, 9
Why is the mech still disabled?
Drakon have mercy
Davius closed his eyes as he accepted death within the next moments, only to hear a familiar sound.
He opened his eyes to see the Dominatus Champion, his shields disabled pause to consider the implications of what had happened. But before the Dominatus could surmise anything, the sound repeated itself.
Another hypermatter bolt impacted the Dominatus, disabling his suit and sending him hurtling towards the ground.
What seemed to be a horde of missiles from Allied Air Support utterly obliterated the disabled Dominatus as Davius pondered what had just happened and what was transpiring all around him.
Was this really how it was going to end?
Carl Matthews, the legendary Orion League (read: French) Air Ace and Knight of the French Legion of Honor had seen a lot during this war - the American “Cowboy” who had led Blue Squadron to its dazzling performances during the Dominatus war.
He remembered the colossal battle of Manticore - the largest naval conflict of the war, and one of the largest in recent Gigaquadrantic history. His gifts had shown then - engaging the previously thought unstoppable Harbingers in his Mirage Roi, he led Blue Squadron to a successful rout of an opposing Harbinger Squadron before intercepting a flight of Sovereign Class Bombers approaching his carrier. He remembered the infinity of flashes and explosions in the unending darkness as the ADC and the Dominatus fought with no restraint, desperately putting every weapon they had into a conflict that echoes in the increasingly ravaged folds of spacetime. It was not a battle between mortals - no, to Carl Matthews it was Armageddon and Ragnarok all rolled into what all would remember as the Mother of All Battles. The Carl Matthews of that day could hardly contain the wave of emotions he felt as the Dominatus were eventually driven back, and had let it get to his head when his exploits were codified and distributed to other squadrons as instructions on how to deal with the Harbingers.
He remembered the battle of Evisceron, where he had led Blue Squadron and a sizeable French air contingent in the destruction of a Dominatus Citadel Class Ultra-Heavy Aerial Fortress. He remembered that day - leading his squadron and a new others through what was quite literally a floating aerial fortress. It was an aerial goliath created to bypass the problem of planetary shielding so as to lay waste to the Tyranny’s enemies with the same ferocity as a capital ship in orbit. It also served as a staging ground for a veritable army of the Tyranny’s mecha and Close Air Support, and more importantly for Matthews, it was utterly festooned with anti-air defences. Flying through the twisted mass, and committing his Mirage Roi to manoeuvres only judged theoretically possible by its designers, he led the squadrons to critically damage the monolithic monster, watching in triumph as the abomination of metal and the army it carried plummeted from the skies.
He remember the sights of the initial assault on Demogorgon Prime - what seemed to be the entire planet barking fire at the landing zones and at the strike craft above. Flying over the battlefield on his way to sorties, he remembered the sights of As-Volants crashing into each other as they were struck by anti-aircraft fire, men tumbling out of them, crashing like broken dolls into the hell-scape below. The endless streaks of bolts of molten iron, missiles, and raw energy streaking into a black sky lit only by mountains of lightning was a sight he would remember forever. The corrosive fog was a mist of contrails from his own crafts missiles and the falling ashes of those unlucky enough to get hit. There was nothing spectacular about that day - it was simply raw attrition, but the Carl Matthews of that day was a machine well suited to that bloody business. The cogs of his mind, fully synchronised with his limbs and his plane moved mechanistically and effectively, each sortie accomplishing its task. If nothing else, the sight of ADC assault troops successfully landing and clearing a beachhead made the decimation of Blue Squadron worth it.
But now the ace of aces, who had already released his dangerous payload, saw a sight more bizarre and climactic than any he had seen before - those Dominatus who were not inert, on the ground, having powered down their suits to surrender were being mercilessly attacked by their own forces. Dominatus Heavy-Anti Air - the bane of any ADC pilot spat the same ordnance to their former masters and creators as they formerly did to ADC planes. Those MHD flak cannons now ripped the few Dominatus remaining from the sky as ADC missiles impacted the sundered bodies of the falling former masters of Demogorgon Prime. Flying overhead, he saw an Ogre tank lose its entire armament on a flying Dominatus, as Overseers of various creeds finished the fallen Dominatus off. The once feared Dominatus Tank Corps - the monsters who were a cause for the majority of air-support requests were losing their nightmarish firepower upon beings who had not seen it fit to give up the fight.
Each firefight that Matthews saw as he flew overhead was one that seared itself into his memory in the same way a laser seared a man’s flesh. He would never in a million lifetimes have imagined that the Overseers and Synthetics would be cooperating with Allied Air Power in the destruction of the Dominatus. In many cases, he saw that the defiant Dominatus were too shocked by the action to react right after the first strike - they simply floated, uncomprehending as another barrage was fired at them by their former children, seemingly pondering even as Allied missiles finished them off.
He flew on as the battle died down - there weren’t many Dominatus to begin with, especially at the start of this battle, and just under half had not followed Stahl’s last command. But they were, as the Tyranny’s army had been designed, vastly outnumbered by their own troops. The power of those they had created to conquer the Gigaquadrant, the shock at betrayal, and the unerring accuracy and firepower of Allied Air support meant that this battle, or more accurately, execution was finished in but several hours. Even with the shields lowered, the Allies had not seen it fit to use orbital bombardment - the twin guillotines of the Cronos Protocol and Allied Air Support were enough.
Carl Matthews looked on, processing what had just happened. He had seen many things, but today, he had seen not only patricide, or perhaps deicide to some, but the death of an empire.
The Death of an Empire
“Fire; it licks, it tears, it ravages everything it comes into contact with. It reduces structures to rubble, defaces the corpses of the fallen, and never stops, never relents until there is nothing left for it to devour. Then, as it writhes in its own hatred and relishes in its own suffering, it consumes itself.”
- - Unknown
January 24, 2598
Commander Mortrig Malevon looked over the burning city of Kantos-Perivox, capital of the Fraege Republic.
The flames refused to die, melting what few buildings remained into tormented slurries of massive rocks embedded in molten metal. Where there once roads to be trodden by the city’s creators, there were now only their ashes and their kneeling, subjugated forms. The fires may have raged on, consuming what remained of the their victim’s legacy, but now, the screaming that had dominated the days before had now been replaced by silence.
The commander had mused that the burning forms were getting frailer and smaller as compared to the start of the war. He joked that he couldn’t tell whether it was the famine caused by biological and chemical weaponry, or simply that they were exterminating women and children. The unspoken punchline, one that he had come up with during the War of Unification when he had first indulged in such activities, was that it was both. But now, there was no more killing - the Fraege had fought well, moreso than any other race the Drakodominatus had encountered, and perhaps could have won the war had a few more things gone their way. But they hadn’t, and they had lost. They were now at the Tyranny’s mercy.
The remnants of once proud formations plodded, downtrodden to positions occupied soldiers of the Tyranny, whom they knew would shepherd them to either slavery or death. When once they marched in synchronisation, their heads held up high, the crestfallen and defeated now walked towards oblivion in a haphazard staccato manner - dead men walking infected with the fanciful notion that there was still something ahead. The forsaken souls walked towards Mortrig’s position under the backdrop of pillars of ash and fire, their hands over their heads, tears streaming down, irrigating the desecrated earth. They had given up their weapons as part of the surrender, but in Mortrig’s eyes, it didn’t matter - even if his men were unarmed and his surrendered foes were fully equipped, they were possessed by such a forlorn sense of submission that they would have kneeled anyways.
Mortrig had seen this many times before, and had given up all but a sliver of empathy many years ago. But even to someone like him, the death of an empire, especially a proud one, was something to witness - the mixed cocktail of triumph and the knowledge that an entire civilisation was to be forgotten was one he never got used to. The last march of these shambling shadows, walking towards either immediate destruction or a life of servitude and torment was always one that tinged the last of what feelings other than ambition and the desire to dominate he possessed. The empty, shattered eyes of men who had once considered themselves masters of their own fate who had only to choose between suicide and putting their lives in the hands of those who had seemed their destruction was a sight that even a conqueror such as Mortrig would remember.
And so he watched as the funeral procession for a civilisation continued, men walking to their coffins, their history pulled by an invisible hearse towards the void as the inferno raged in the background. Each step of these lost souls was a musical note - a last legacy of the defeat that this to be forgotten civilisation had endured, a reminder that their every accomplishment and monument would be but dust once the wheel of time continued its spin. But this last symphony of the vanquished produced a silence so deafening that it dominated even the cheers of the victor and the flames of their memories.
December 28, 2795
Warmaster Mortrig Malevon looked over the burning city of Malogenesis, capital of the Drakodominatus Tyranny.
The flames refused to die, melting what few buildings remained into tormented slurries of massive rocks embedded in molten metal. Where there once roads to be trodden by the city’s creators, there were now only their ashes and their kneeling, subjugated forms. The fires may have raged on, consuming what remained of the their victim’s legacy, but now, the screaming that had dominated the days before had now been replaced by silence.
The Warmaster, who had made it a point solely to survive, raged as the ragtag army of survivors he had brought with him to Malogenesis dwindled. On the eve of the surrender, only 10% of them remained, chased like rats in their dead city. With the order to surrender, Mortrig had instantly deactivated his suit, laying in wait till future instructions came - there was no more killing - they had fought well, moreso than could have been reasonably expected, and perhaps could have won the war had a few more things gone their way. But they hadn’t, and they had lost. They were now at the Anti-Dominatus Coalition's mercy.
The remnants of once proud formations plodded, downtrodden to positions occupied soldiers of the Anti-Dominatus Coalition, whom they believed would shepherd them to either extermination or a lifetime of torment for what they had done. When once they marched in synchronisation, their heads held up high, the crestfallen and defeated now walked towards oblivion in a haphazard staccato manner - dead men walking infected with the fanciful notion that there was still something ahead. The forsaken souls walked towards the victor’s position under the backdrop of pillars of ash and fire, their hands over their heads, tears streaming down, irrigating the desecrated earth. They had given up their weapons as part of the surrender, but in Mortrig’s eyes, it didn’t matter - even if his men were fully equipped and his foes were unarmed, they were possessed by such a forlorn sense of submission that they would have kneeled anyways.
Mortrig had seen this many times before, and had given up all but a sliver of empathy many years ago. But empathy for the so-called inferiors was one that quickly rushed towards him as he acknowledge that the Tyranny was on the wrong end of the struggle. The death of his empire, was something to witness - the acrid taste of defeat, the bitterness of his civilisation’s collapse and the whirling glass maelstrom of the knowledge of all of his failures was a sensation that would remain permanently within his body for as long as the ADC permitted him to live. The last march of these shambling shadows, walking towards either immediate destruction or a life of servitude and torment was always an action he never thought he would participate in - but here he was, leading his army to their graves. The empty, shattered eyes of men who had once considered themselves masters of their own fate who had only to choose between suicide and putting their lives in the hands of those who had seemed their destruction resided in the skull of a man who had made the decision to submit rather than die.
And so he walked, leading the local funeral procession for a civilisation - he stood at the forefront of men walking to their coffins, their history pulled by an invisible hearse towards the void as the inferno raged in the background. Each step of these lost souls was a musical note - a last legacy of the defeat that this to be forgotten civilisation had endured, a reminder that their every accomplishment and monument would be but dust once the wheel of time continued its spin. But this last symphony of the vanquished produced a silence so deafening that it dominated even the cheers of the victor and the flames of their memories.
Archon Wolframicht Stahl sat the Conference Room of Apogee, sitting on the Tyrant's Throne, his head clasped in his hands and his sword and shield Erebus and Nyx lying on the floor. These past few hours had been the most catastrophic and intense in his life - the Archon, and former Architect of the Milky Way Offensive and the Defense of Mirus could do naught but wait as all the rebellious Dominatus were liquidated with extreme prejudice. He lay in the tallest room of the massive, twisting, pyramid-spire. alone and in almost in a fetal position as he lay judged by the memories of the ghosts of Dominatus High Command. Aeons ago it seemed, he thought that his meeting with Emperor Wormulus II would be on Mirenton - the DCP's ruler prostate beneath him, ordering submission to the Tyranny. Indeed his late friend Gravius also thought that he would meet the dreaded The Worm-King on Alcanti, helpless and subject to the late Medusa Heimdall's vengeance.
But now he waited in the massive sarcophagus that contained the Tyranny's military - waiting for the Supreme Commander of the Allied Invasion Force Demogorgon Prime, and his Vice Commander to meet him to formally receive the Dominatus surrender. It was a but a formality, but it served to remind him of his failure. The personal transports of Wormulus and Uriel flew almost in tandem to the highest landing pad of Apogee, their residents, titans of mind and accomplishment contemplating the war's end as they saw the sights below. They travelled over the fields of burnt ash that was once the central district of the Dominatus capital, passing over the cheering masses of ADC troops, who were too busy being jubilant to sneer at the surrendering Dominatus troops. Entering the massive walls of Apogee, they stared in a twisted sense of wonder at the twisting fortress-city, contemplating the war as they neared the pad.
Uriel looked down on the ruins below. his mind looping the thoughts from his quarters over and over again, his feelings written in a grimace on his snout. His mind was heavy with the losses he had memorised over the campaign, every ten minute reflection became darkly vivid as he looked over the ruins. He could almost see the deaths where they occurred, the smoke marking the more prominent reports while somewhere his mind searched his view for where the quieter lives ended.
"It's not enough" he muttered under his breath. "It's not enough for a ruin to stand where an empire was born."
As Wormulus' eyes were drawn to the fortress that was still largely untouched by the allied artillery, he was reminded of home, where the glory great victories, technological achievements and ordered stability was sung only by the most ostentatious constructions. Then Wormulus remembered the tips of his palace still loomed over the horizon. "Could it have been the other way?" Wormulus mused. "Or had the hubris of the Dominatus and their vast expansion been unsustainable?".
The two men met upon one of the General Staff's personal landing pads - both flanked by their bodyguards. Dragon Captain Davius, his suit-repaired accompanied Uriel while the reconstructed Warlord Kilnok accompanied Wormulus through the massive, baroque corridors, constructed for the giants who thought themselves masters of the universe. It was a formality - they both knew from Stahl's weak voice that he possessed no more resistance, but both had come here as a matter of custom. They walked through the corridor - flanked by statues of the dead members of the General Staff and art-works depicting the Tyranny's greatest victories. Great as victories were, the fact that this meeting was taken place showed that they were not enough.
"I feel as though I walk down a dark reflection of my own capital." Uriel mused "Immortalised giants of our heroes make way to the greatest displays of art and aesthetic the host creates."
Both men and their bodyguards entered the massive set of double-doors separating the innermost sanctum of the Tyranny's military from the rest of the world. There, their nemesis sat on the Tyrant's throne, a dazzling sculpture created in likeness of the fused bodies of the leaders of empires that the Tyranny had vanquished. They found a Dominatus on that throne - the Dominatus who were once so feared for their utter dominance and arrogance, an insufferable invincibility that none had dared defy till 2791. They possessed a fire in their eyes, burning of ambition and the desire to gain power. But the Dominatus they saw hunched on the Tyrant's throne was a different figure. Without his helmet, they looked into the empty, dead, eyes of a man who had lost everything yet was not granted the luxury of oblivion - a defeated man who still had to fight. The massive armor seemed too heavy for the Archon, and his colossal form sagged, almost swallowed up by the seat. As Wormulus observed the chair he felt the likeness end. The DCP's judgement was often swift and dark in the eyes of others, but it was always in the name of justice, and cruelty reciprocal to the enemy being judged. The Dominatus were cruel for the sadistic pleasure, and nothing-else.
Stahl spoke, a meek, broken voice greeting his arbiters "Greetings Paragon Uriel Ultanos, and Emperor Wormulus. It is odd that we've never met before, in the flesh. Perhaps its almost poetic that we meet at the war conclusion rather than its climax. I can't say I've ever surrendered before, but I surmise that we must discuss how exactly the Tyranny is to be dismantled.”
"Archon Stahl" Uriel's voice, as if to display everything Stahl was not, boomed with confidence and determination. "Your conclusions are correct."
The paragon's eyes narrowed, looking upon the withered giant in the throne crafted of tormented souls.
Wormulus, who emanated an aura of divine judgement, said simply "As you know, Archon Stahl. We are really here to discuss the fate of your culture."
Stahl sized up the situation - looking into the eyes of his two foes. In Wormulus' eyes lay a desire to see this conflict over, justice served according to the calculus of Grimbolsaurian justice, but in Uriel's, he saw something darker. The Dominatus were sadistic because they felt that the best part of power was the ability to do as they pleased, and their inferiors were merely subject to their wills, their feelings as inconsequential as stellar dust. Indeed the Dominatus had often enjoyed punishing those who had stood against them - those who resisted somewhat effectively, enough to frustrate the Dominatus were to have utterly horrid things visited upon them and their families for no other reason than the spite inherent in all Dominatus who had once tasted defeat. He had seen that darkness before - it wasn't the pragmatism of a warmachine, it was a black flame breaking through a taped-together mask of sanity, that fought with the sanity of a man devoted to empire. It demanded nothing but the destruction and suffering of those who had seen it fit to offend the man the darkness inhabited. It was a look he had found on Director Cruciatus, and a look he had seen emblazoned on Medusa after Uriel had bested her prior to the war. It was a look that drove utter fear and dread into the powerless - and it was a cancer that seemed to be winning the fight for control of his arbiter's eyes.
After this split instant of assessment, the downtrodden Archon spoke again, trying to gain some sympathy "I killed Medusa with the belief that it would save the Tyranny. I killed 2 other Drachons to surrender unconditionally. I can only hope there is but a modicum of mercy.”
Wormulus spoke, tasting the words. "Mercy", then again, "We may give you our mercy, but you will be unfree in our decision making. Freedom is what gave you the sense of right to inflict suffering on the downtrodden. Therefore, my judgement is that you shall be unfree."
Stahl spoke again, thinking as his mouth moved “It…”
Uriel announced his presence with a bang of his sword on the dusty floor of the grand hall. Something dark appeared to flare in Uriel's eyes, giving Stahl a chance to take a long look into Uriel's emerald-green eyes.
"And what success did it bring? Do you even know what designs she had for Dranvamus or for the Plazith Rim? What designs she had for our nations."
Stahl paused momentarily, thinking about whether Uriel knew what had been planned. He did now know whether Hedon had told him absolutely everything that Medusa had planned for Andromeda. Perhaps he did know, but was now clinging to the flimsy thread of irrational hope than the cold truth before him.
"The galaxy would be turned into a factory for our warmachine, as has happened to everything we've touched. Its inhabitants would be turned into biodrones to work the foundries and its planets and stars fed as fuel." Stahl replied, well-hoping that this empirically-proven result of Dominatus conquest was all Uriel was referring too.
"Merely scratching the surface" Uriel snarled. He continued “Were war to ever come between the Imperium, or the Commonwealth and the Delpha Coalition, there might be some mercy or at worst, the emperor would level Minos'Drakon with his palace. Medusa however had much greater designs."
Stahl paused - he had not accumulated power by not knowing what the most powerful Dominatus in the Tyranny had planned. He knew exactly what Medusa had planned and visibly squirmed as he saw Uriel's eyes narrow into a hunter's gaze.
"The Sons of Hedon, her prized Overseers, would replace my kind as the masters of Dranvamus, with its survivors as their slaves and toys. Alcanti would be resculpted into a monument to her achievements, she would watch as I would be forced to kill my own daughter, feed my beloved Krann to me, and expose my youngest son to the vile alchemy that creates her prized Overseers just to see what someone so old is twisted into." Uriel fiercely bared his teeth as he listed each crime Medusa had planned, seething as the list grew longer and longer.
Stahl looked distantly - not knowing what to say. There was no sympathy to be gained here - what would he say, that he was sorry the Tyranny had not won? That he didn't necessarily care for the Dominatus' sadism so long as it didn't interfere with military efficiency? That he had only allowed the socialization of allied prisoners on the then-imprisoned Lucian Chartier's recommendation to make the Dominatus somewhat more sympathetic?
His eyes betrayed his response - what do you want me to say?
"Nothing is needed to be said, Stahl. These designs were hers, secrets she bestowed to her favourite champion. I seek not your sympathy or your apology, for as I'm sure even now the carrion worms carry out a suitable justice on her corpse. Your hopes of saving the Tyranny came too late to be redeemed as how many atrocities did your staff commit without her head barking the orders." Uriel paused to breathe, exhaling sharply. "To see you hear this, is all I ask for."
Stahl paused again, as eviscerated and battered as the armies and fleets he had commanded. Unconditional surrender meant that no guarantees were provided to the surrendering party - the existence of a tribunal was mercy enough. If Uriel had decided it, he could have killed off every last one of the Tyranny's soldiers right now. Stahl, the Dominatus who had wielded the power, influence, and charisma, to organize the unstable, writhing chaos of his species' egomania into a focused weapon during its darkest hour, could do naught but nod.
As if affixing a new mask without even touching his face, the ferocity Uriel displayed was gone, once more his face was one of confidence and dignity, and his voice paired his change. "The Tyranny cannot continue, Archon. the Coalition asks that the fate of your surviving kind and servants be determined by a tribunal. For those bands that survive perhaps we shall leave it to the hosts from which the templates were stolen decide the fate of the legion that they relate."
Wormulus stood politely as he knew Uriel and Stahl had important axes to grind. He had long to choose his judgement. "The tribunal is a foreign concept to the Delpha Coalition, but one that I think is particularly apt in this situation. Freedom is what gave you the sense of right to inflict suffering on the downtrodden. In the tribunal, you will be but a cork in a sea of angry voices. The war you inflicted has numbed all our emotions, but like an approaching tsunami, the rage will only get louder from here. The Delpha Coalition of Planets will demand punishment of your people. Our mercy is that you will learn what it means to be unfree."
Stahl gulped as he fully grasped the severity of defeat, merely replying with the statement "I understand".
He then paused, looking Erebus and Nyx, his sword and shield on the floor on either side of him
Stahl then asked "Perhaps it would be fitting for the vanquished to give his weapons over to the victor - in any case the tribunal will have me naked save for my words in my last defense of my people."
"A fitting tribute." Uriel appeared to almost smile, before turning to Wormulon. "Perhaps, your majesty, we grant the Archon one last freedom: to decide who is bestowed his sword and who is deserved of his shield"
Wormulus replied "The decision is still ours. So may this be his last indulgence."
Stahl looked at his weapons - the absolute zenith of Dominatus artisanship and engineering. Weapons of an ultra-advanced material invigorated with vicious amounts of raw energy that shaped themselves via an internal artificial intelligence that moulded both the weapons shape and appearance to suit its user. These were the weapons designed to slay gods - weapons that with sufficient momentum would pulverize even the most powerful of weapons wielded by the ADC's champions. And here they were, to be given as gifts to those who would judge his fate.
Stahl hefted his sword, Erebus up, hold it in the air as a scabbard of utility fog engulfed it - a floating home for it as the sword was given to its new owner. The titanic longsword, made personally for Stahl, and 11 meters long was sheathed in artworks depicting the Tyranny's greatest victories. It crackled with an incredible power before becoming inert, as the scabbard held it in mid-air as it was delivered to Davius.
Stahl then lifted the shield, Nyx, its entire front-side covered with a ornately detailed mural depicting the Milky Way Campaign. As with the sword, it was made for Stahl himself, and the colossal bastion sparked with raw energy that died as it was levitated by its carrier and given to Kilnok.
Stahl mused “Perhaps if nothing else, my sword and shield survive."
Kilnok retrieved the shield, as it remoulded itself to be held by another species. Even the murals appeared to conform to the Delphan perception of a final victory, but Stahl could not be sure if it was his mind. Weighing the shield's balance in his hands and observing the fine craftsmanship, Kilnok said "We are so close, yet so different." Wormulus looked at Stahl more warmly than before, "A pity our civilisations could not be in friendlier circumstances."
With a silent nod from his paragon, the great mech that housed the Uriel's closest bodyguard reached out to grasp the scabbard of the warblade. Like with the shield, the sword and scabbard remoulded themselves to fit the grip of the metallic colossus. Uriel watched Davius accept the sword as the surface seemed to contort - the images of one side showing the Imperium's victories in Andromeda and the other, their victories in Mirus. Uriel turned to Stahl, nodding to the host. "To the Milky Way's greatest guardian, the shield of the Archon. And to the lance that cut a path to the Tyranny's heart, his sword. We are honoured. A shame for there could have been kinship somewhere...once."
Wormulus and Uriel departed, leaving Stahl to prepare for the tribunal.
Pausing before they boarded their transports, the two men looked at the silent battlefield below from the tallest building remaining in the city. They didn't need to speak to each other to say what needed to be said.
While the outcome of a prolonged siege of an isolated planet with no hope of wresting back control of space by a force with virtually limitless reinforcements was never in question, this fact did not make the death toll of the battle itself any more palatable. The terrestrial phase of the Battle of Demogorgon Prime alone had seen just over 10 trillion Allied Soldiers lose their lives, an unprecedented number, especially for a land battle. Of this number 4 trillion had been killed from the initial landings to the activation of the TIAMAT, 5 trillion had been killed in the Dominatus counter-attack following activation of the TIAMAT and culminating in the TIAMAT's destruction, while the remainder had been killed in the battle of Malogenesis.
4 years had passed, and the Allies, having committed a total of 2 quadrillion soldiers to combating the Tyranny, had lost just over 200 trillion military lives and just over 1.8 quadrillion civilian lives, either killed or biodroned with Commander Qiroon's pronouncement of "standing upon the bodies of a hundred trillion on the eve of victory" pertaining simply to the Delphan lives lost in the late stages of the Mirus Campaign. In exchange, the Dominatus, with their military of 100 trillion had been completely defeated and their empire dissolved, with the captured 2 quadrillion biodrones inert and waiting for an allied decision as to what to do with them, making this the deadliest conflict since the War of Ages. Many had lost more - losing things that no amount of stem-cell treatment or cybernetics could fix - souls, sanity, memories, but here they stood, victorious over the Dominatus. They sighed in unison, looking over the massed cheering that pervaded the air before looking to the skies - where with the lowering of the shield, the endless pitch black had been replaced by a cathartic fog of misty vermillion, with the binary stars - a neutron star and a white dwarf, stood sentinel over the tidally locked planet.
They had fought a nightmare - and emerged victorious. Bonds were formed during this time when men and machine were sundered. Virtually half of the Gigaquadrant had come together to face a common foe, and the ties forged in the crucible of war were hard ones to break. And so the Paragon and the Emperor looked over as flights of strike-craft danced across the skies, writing messages of victory and launching not missiles, but fireworks. They watched as cargo craft unloaded not more men, but wine, beer, spirits, and hot food. They had marched through hell and conquered it, and so they celebrated, looking optimistically to a future they had saved from the the jaws of Dominatus tyranny.
They had Won.
The Tyranny was no More.
The War was Over.
- written by: GD12
February 15, 2796
“ Freedom is what gave you the sense of right to inflict suffering on the downtrodden. In the tribunal, you will be but a cork in a sea of angry voices.”
With the Great Tyranny War concluded, the Allies had begun the process of sending the vast majority of their forces home. It seemed half the Gigaquadrant was ablaze with rampant celebration - the Tyranny had been defeated and they lay detained as Archon Wolframicht Stahl prepared to defend the Dominatus for the day’s tribunal.
The uncovering of vast amounts of Dominatus archives had led ADC leaders, jurists, and men of importance to spend days on end poring through them as they prepared for the trial. In the meantime, Stahl completed his history of the Tyranny while entertaining numerous guests – many of the Gigaquadrant’s most influential men had taken a perverse delight in talking with the Dominatus, knowing full well that in all likelihood, this species faced immediate extermination and thus, these days would be the first and only time they would be able to converse with their former nemeses.
Time had marched onwards however, and the time for the Tribunal of the Dominatus, solely concerned with the fate of the Tyranny’s ruling race, had arrived. It was to take place in Cthnonon, a massive circular building made in the style of the Dominatus in which many subjugated kings had been forced to make an appearance, making a show of their submission to the Tyranny. In these halls, the Dominatus themselves were to be judged by the Gigaquadrant, in a massive amphitheater like room, wherein their judges shared seats made for beings far larger than themselves.
Inside this amphitheater stood the grand jury, composed of 1,000 representatives of the Gigaquadrant’s civilians, or holograms representing them, who would decide upon a punishment for the Dominatus. Representation had been weighted by casualties suffered and thus, the Andromedans and Delphans held many votes within this assembly. It seemed that the Dominatus were not to be judged by those they had fought with directly, but those they had tormented and were not able to fight back. Uriel would announce the charges, Stahl would defend himself, and all those who wanted to speak, even those not involved in the war but with a perspective to share, would be allowed to do so before the 1,000 voted on the fate of the Dominatus.
Stahl stood on the Circle of the Defeated, stripped of his armor before the trial due to the unfounded, paranoid fear of others that perhaps the Dominatus Archon might massacre many of them before being stopped. No one took chances with the Dominatus, especially one like Stahl, and it seemed the ADC’s premier champions had been arrayed in a circle around him, distant but prepared to strike him down if he rebelled against the tribunal.
Uriel Ultanos, Paragon of the Draconid Imperium and Supreme Commander of the Allied Invasion Force Demogorgon Prime, had been selected to read the charges, but as he pored over them, he realized that reciting them all would take perhaps a week. The first page of many general charges included :
- multiple counts of the mass enslavement of sapients
- multiple counts of biodroning both former slaves and captured ADC civilian and military personnel
- crimes involved in the creation of the Overseers including but not limited to:
- multiple counts of illegal abduction of foreign species
- multiple counts of illegal assault on foreign nations to retrieve such species
- multiple counts of illegal experimentation on foreign species
- multiple counts of genocide
- multiple counts of mass extermination
- multiple counts of mass torture of captured civilians for reasons including but not limited to:
- multiple counts of mistreatment of allied prisoners of war including but not limited to:
- mass torture for reasons including but not limited to:
- information gathering
- forcing allied prisoners into gladiatorial games
- complete isolation in most installations
- complete immobility paired with continued consciousness in most installations
- continuous infusion with paralysing nerve gas to induce cooperation
- force-feeding via invasive implements
- general insanity-inducing conditions being considered the best treatment
- mass torture for reasons including but not limited to:
This did not even include the specific crimes committed against each race. Uriel, ever the intellectual who had prided himself upon his ability to simplify the complex, had thus modelled the introduction of the charges differently. His genius and eloquence demonstrated it yet again as he delivered the charges:
"Fellow members of the Anti-Dominatus Coalition and the Greater Gigaquadrant, citizens, soldiers, and leaders, we are gathered here today to discuss the fate of the Dominatus. They have seen it fit to visit ruination and devastation amongst it and us is only through providence and supreme valor that we have defeated them before their tyrannical grasp plunged us all into a never-ending nightmare of torment and oblivion. It is the first time in our collective history that we have seen such malice visited from one sapient to another – it is an evil unspeakable not because it is supernatural, but because this crime, one that violates the bonds that all sentient life shares is one committed by supposedly fellow sapients."
"Archon Stahl, you stand here to answer for the crimes the Tyranny has visited upon the Gigaquadrant. The list of crimes is too long for me to fully enumerate, but know that your race has committed every possible evil against sapient life our books have described, and has seen it fit to invent its own books to describe evils of which we did not know. As the sole remaining member of Dominatus High Command, you are to answer for this litany of offenses against not only the Gigaquadrant’s nations, but against the order of the universe itself."
"Know that you stand to answer to the Gigaquadrant’s citizens – our armies may have brought your empire to its knees before it snuffed out the very fabric of life itself, and you answer to an angry maelstrom of those who have not yet found the solace of the abominable catharsis of combat. You have but this opportunity to speak to the raging storm of those you have offended – your race may have succeeded in personifying all that is terrifying in mortals, but know that here, as you lay defeated, that all this petrifying intimidation has been transmuted to raw hate and an uncontrollable thirst to see justice served."
How do you plead?
Stahl stood there, but even unarmoured, the Dominatus seemed larger than ever. Here was not the Archon who had been so emotionally crippled by the surrender that he had been almost swallowed up by the Tyrant’s throne on Apogee when he had personally submitted to Uriel and Wormulus. This was the Stahl who had masterminded the initially-unstoppable offensive into the Maelstrom, who had broken Horatorio, nearly laid siege to Mirenton, and nearly defeated the combined allies in Mirus, first during the Second Battle of Manticore, and later during the Battle of Terminus. Stahl had gotten over his defeat and focused his tremendous force of personality and will into defending the Tyranny during its last battle. The exposed Dominatus spoke, the raw power and influence in a voice that had cowed even his arrogant compatriots into submitting to his authority being turned to those who were to judge him.
"It seems to you that our crime is having committed every evil known and having invented some ourselves, and it seems that our very nature is a testament that even mortals can be devils. Our crime is being Dominatus - are we not a merciless engine driven to survive and thrive? Are we not a manifestation of a race’s will to eliminate weakness and breed strength? Are we not an automaton formed of ambition and greed, created to gain as much power as possible, and to show no mercy in tearing apart those in our way? Are we not so focused on our superiority that the concept of backing down is so anathema to us that we would rather fight?"
"Citizens, look at your empires and ask yourselves - have you gained such a position of dominance - both in this war and in your peace for any other reasons than the ones I have listed above? No one ever rises to prominence without a great crime being committed - your charade of order and diplomacy is one formed by the incumbent power to justify his time spent as a marauder and a conqueror. Our throne may have been born of the bones of those subjugated, but though your greatness serves as a beacon to those who flock, it was a flame formed by the friction of war and conquest. Behind your veneer of morality and justice lies a Dominatus."
"We are all the same - jejune jesters dancing around aimlessly in the pitiless void of the cosmos and the gnawing oblivion of eternity, aware of both our mortality and the finiteness of the universe. We seek, absurdly to build and to create, knowing full well that entropy and chaos will claim all in the end. Yet we continue this hopeless ritual because we see that while that we know nothing lasts forever, to live in the fire of change and experience is a reward in itself. And if there is one thing common amongst the great powers here, it is that the fire that burns the brightest in our hearts is that of seeking yet more success, yet more experience, and yet more evidence that against the uncaring gods of physics, we will last."
"But we are all trapped in the same room, each of us fighting for more of a perpetually dying light. For in a universe of finiteness, there will be winners and losers, the satiated and the starved, all continuously fighting for more scraps of a cosmos that as time marches, nears death. Each of you conspires for more, only pretending to the artifice of cooperation because it serves you - you wish to join to extinguish those who threaten you, and you will find that once the glue of an external threat is gone, and once you have feasted on its corpse, the game resumes again. Friends become enemies, and the living are vanquished, for nations have not friends but interests, and as the brutal calculus of the Gigaquadrant is molded by time’s drumbeat, those interests change. We are all rivals here, constant competitors in a never-ending fight for survival, with daggers hidden in velvet gloves so that swords clenched in iron fists need only serve the finishing blow. Where there is only room for many, there can be room for only a few, and when there is only room for a few, there can only be room for one."
"Indeed, that is our crime – it is not merely in serving as your rivals – for all sapient beings are rivals, tomorrow if not today to another, but instead fighting for the belief that if there was to be a race warmed by the dwindling fire, it would be ours, and more, that if there was but a finite fire that, that we would have all of it. You say we are guilty of every crime towards sapient life, I saw our crime is striving towards that undeniable summit of the mountain that we all struggle towards. Perhaps in the present, we hide this beneath the opacity of cooperation, but once we are freed from the delusions of sharing with those we can vanquish, we are all united in the constant fight to gain power so that at the end of the day, only our race remains. And if you term that as evil, then evil is a mere fact of existence – the desire to eat is no more abominable than the desire to kill. It follows then that all we are accused of is a variation in magnitude or appearance of that basic tenet. We stand here today, accused and at your mercy, not because it is cosmic justice, but because combined, you were better at this game of vanquishing than us."
"The mechanisms of fate may have presented us with a universe in which with such dynamics, but it was our will as a species to banish all delusions and advance towards the only real, transcendental, goal there is - monopoly of the constantly waning fire that others huddled around. To say anything else matters is the zenith of asinine delusions. We deserved sole control of that sustenance for the same reason everyone else deserves it - one can only enjoy warmth when it flows through one’s body, not when another soaks it up, and every iota of heat that another has, is a brief moment of salvation forever stolen. Indeed, it was fortuitous that we were endowed for this inevitable conflict, and that we were united in the desire to win the only competition that mattered. We did what we judged most efficient in acquisition of power - we exposed our true intentions to our inferiors - subjugating them so that we grew stronger, while with out equals and superiors, we wore a mask. The mask of this delusion of friendship was one that was always crumbling, barely kept on when the revealing of ambition would lead to its thwarting. We kept it on for as long as possible, using it in our interactions with our current superiors to pry knowledge and to leverage their strength. You say that greed was our sole ambition, and we agree. Greed is the only universal feeling shared by all species, for who does not want more of what is good? What is greed to one’s enemies is generosity for oneself. While you went through the intermediary of your gods or your traditions in creating goals, we worshipped the one true god - greed, and made his reverence our only goal. Our hands moved in his veneration, and delivered those forsaken by birth to other empires and made children of metal out of both supreme avarice and munificence - they would have no will but to help us in our quest for power, but would be rewarded with participation in the banquet."
"The war did not start with the slave revolts of 2791 - the war started when our empire was formed. With each year we climbed that ladder, our entire species turned towards that singular goal of climbing each rung. You say that there are no limits to our depravity and our willingness to defile what is beautiful in pursuit of our objectives, and you are correct - we would gladly forsake the past in the hopes of a better future. And so we climbed, each step letting us see how much farther we had to climb - we looked upwards to you not as inferiors, but as gods we would eventually have to combat - for the heavens have only limited space while the ever-devouring inferno of the ignominious void has space for all. Indeed such a collision was inevitable - those in power, once informed of a force that threatens to uproot an order they have created to codify their wishes and interests as divine law must fight with all their might those who would seek to uproot them, and the revolts were merely a clarion call for your action - for our rise would be your fall, and you saw no better time than the present to arrest us. Our offence was in many ways a defence - we would have preferred conflict to occur later on, but as war seemed inevitable, our only hope was in the audacity of daring, pre-emptive aggression. I cannot apologise to you for our inevitable conflict - I can only apologise to my species that we had not more time to prepare, much as you can only apologise to your species for not having defeated us earlier."
"And here you stand, gods again, preparing to visit divine judgment as part of an what you think to be the end of an eschatological conflict - you think that you stand to correct an evil that has never been seen before with a punishment more right and just than any prior. There is nothing new about this conflict, and nothing new about our evil - our existence was a threat to you and we fought - and you won. Our existence was a threat in a similar way that all sapient life is a threat to each other - all those possessed of ambition will find a way, sooner or later, to eliminate those who stand in competition with them. This is not the first time such a conflict, and it will not be the last - it is merely another stanza rhyming with the myriad others that have gone before it, and the innumerable ones that will follow. Your good was preservation of your order, and our evil merely a wish to usurp it, as you had usurped it from those who had stood in your place before. Our crime is if anything, mundane beyond belief - we fought for our existence, and we failed. Your actions do not constitute a crime, because you fought for your existence, and you succeeded."
"So prosecute your victor’s justice, but know that it happens according not to your so-called laws and principles, but to the uncaring beat of eternity’s minstrels. Kill us if you please, for it would not be wrong, but it certainly does not make you right. Our so-called ambition, our so-called evil, our so-called greed are present in all those who aspire to your position, for they are the reason, hidden beneath the confounding shroud of your culture and jurisprudence, a privilege given unto you by your successful prosecution of that we failed to accomplish. If we are to die, know that our genocide is your suicide, or perhaps you were merely dead men walking before this war, and this is a mere continuation of what you have codified as ecclesial law. And so execute us as you keep the fire for yourselves – I hope it keeps you warm, for the wheel of time and its mechanisms are not so much cruel as uncaring, our wellbeing as much a concern for its apathetic machinations as the movements of stellar dust are to ours. Time changes, and as the wheel spins, it will name yet another winner, casting those sitting upon their lofty thrones into a descent into oblivion. Enjoy your freedom and enjoy your victory, for it is not our will, but the universes’ that as you are now, so once was I, and as I am now, so shall you be."
There was a long pause after Stahl’s speech, as the shaken audience processed his words, words which were as powerful as any weapon the Tyranny had deployed during the course of this war. But one by one, various leaders of the ADC and representatives came up to make their views known in what would later be called the Trial of the Millennium.
The Storm Speaks
Empress Zuki of the Vanara Speaks
- written by: Gorzill
Empress Zuki was the first to rise, slowly and in lazy manner, though her eyes were flashing with fury. She looked down at Stahl like she'd smelled a repugnant piece of meat. Slowly but with certainty, she began to speak. Her voice thundered from her mouth with far more force then any being of a mere four feet tall should be able to muster. It came out with such force that the entire room trembled and dust rained from the ceiling. Every so once in a while Zuki's voice would glitch in an odd mechanical way and when it did Stahl saw an ill formed figure made of static far off in the audience. A figure no one seemed to notice.
”An interesting case you present mister Stahl and perhaps you maybe right, but in many cases a simple fact proves you wrong. That the Vanara stand here, looking down and judging you. My species are like you, monsters to the core, driven to commit acts of cruelty and sadism against any we can prey upon. Indeed such a concept I came to realize growing up as young child living in one of your concentration camps, waiting for the day when I would be snatched up and experimented on. But the difference between us is that while you cave in and submit to your inherent nature, we Vanara fight against it with all our might, seeking to overcome our baser instincts and rise above to become something greater then we were. If we could do that, then surely you could do the same. Alas, no. Instead you chose to submit where we rebelled, and just we escaped you we will escape this. Thus you make yourselves into the slaves of fate before your betters despite your veneer of superiority, while we will make ourselves the masters of our destiny. The fault in that regard is purely your own. You were given a choice, and you chose wrong.”
As Zuki continued Stahl noticed that the figure was drawing closer and become more and more clearly defined, but still no one else seemed to see it.
”Perhaps the others here will prove you right in time, returning to the squabbles over a dying flame as you say. But we as Vanara will transcend such baser things. We will stare into the dark, dark abyss, and we will eat its dark, dark heart. We will transcend the void of nihilism and rise above the likes of you who so weakly accept your doom despite your outward veneer of strength. We will not become slaves again to you in the form of such grim prophecy, for we are hunters chasing something better, you are maggots festering in a rotting corpse. So I will feel no remorse for snuffing you out if only to remove an unpleasant smell. Gods above we well deserve the satisfaction after all you did to us.”
”But I would be willing to grant you a small mercy. While there can be no doubt of the guilt of the mature Dominatus, the young and unborn do not share the same damning weight upon their soul. Therefore, I purpose that we slaughter or lock away the adult Dominatus as we see fit, but that we spare the young and unborn. We take them and raise them as our own. It will be no easy road to walk, a road full of hardship perhaps, but ultimately one worth walking on. The Dominatus are powerful and intelligent, teach them restraint and their power and intellect can be directed into something good and great. If none of you will do it, then my people will happily take them all as our own."
Suddenly the figure was there, directly in Stahl's face. It was the figure of a Dominatus that matched his size and proportions exactly, but it was entirely featureless as it was only made of static. And still only he saw it.
”But don’t think this will save your kind Mister Stahl, for I will teach nothing of the Dominatus. They will be Vanara or whoever raises them in all but genetics. They won’t even know your name. We are the angel's of death here to end your first born. Consider this our final plague upon you.”
With that Zuki's voice fell to a softer volume and she sat down, lounging in her chair and waiting for the others to speak. The static figure flicker and then was gone.
The Waptoria Alliance of Species Speaks
- written by: Ecoraptor
She barely had to wait. Almost as soon as Zuki had made her way down, a Node-Orator of the Waptoria Alliance of Species had risen, it's hyper-evolved senses picking up the downwards movement of the Empress' body before most others in the room. When it spoke, it voiced the will of many, and even it's own voice seemed layered, as if more than one organism spoke trough it at the same time. Being a Waptorian Biotic, this was of course true - the Node-Orator was less of a single organism and more akin to a collection of hyperdependent symbiotes in the shape of a single organism.
"The Waptoria Alliance of Species would like to express it's dissapointment in the speech of Archon Stahl. It appears that the Archon is incapable of understanding what symbiosis is, which is a remarkable irony given that the Tyranny willfully and oftentimes employed symbiotes to bind their arms and armour to themselves, to use them as if they were extensions of their own bodies and without them they would be little. Is it not stange, then, that this fact escapes Archon Stahl? Fundamentally, there are two ways any organism can function: one is in a offensive-defensive relationship, whether this is a predator-prey or a parasite-host relationship. The other form of relationship is coöperative; relatively rare in the universe, that much is true, but certainly not rare enough for it to be anomalious. We might be the only symbiote in this room, yet here we still stand. It appears to us that Archon Stahl elevates the predator-prey relationship to the scale of the entire universe while diminishing another integral part of it -one that was also present in the Tyranny- to insignificance. By denying themselves that symbiosis was even possible while making use of it, they build their empire upon a paradox and put themselves on this current path where they have confused survival with domination. Symbiosis is possible Archon, if only for a while. The mere existence of the Anti-Dominatus Coalition proves this fact."
"There are many who would and will claim that the Dominatus, in chasing greed, have lowered themselves to the status of beasts. We digress. All beasts are mere animals, and no animal is inteligent enough to know the concept of "greed" - their needs are survival and reproduction, and fulfilling these two criteria is enough to satisfy an animal's existence. Despite the claims made by Archon Stahl, the Dominatus went beyond that: they did not merely survive, they subjugated; they did not merely reproduce, they rendered extinct. Tell us, which sort of animal does such things? No, the Dominatus are sentients and as sentients they have failed. What seperates them from animals is the ability to understand and control their enviornment - including themselves. And while the Dominatus did certainly understand and control their enviornment, they did not seek to understand what it meant to be sapient and certainly did not seek to control what they would have found. They are beings who have taken the natural struggle for survival and have warped it into a needless quest for supremacy. To be less than supreme does not equal extinction. Conversely, to be supreme is no guarentee that one does not go extinct trough random natural phenomena. If the Dominatus ever sought to truly understand the sapients surrounding them, they would have understood. And make no mistake: the thought to change themselves could have consciously appeared in their minds - but is is a thought that they repressed just as consciously. As such the Dominatus are not innocent, for they are not beasts. They are sapients masquerading as beasts and should be judged as such.
"The Dominatus, hence, could choose, and choose they did. But what of those who had no such choice available to them? We do not speak of the vanquished in this instance. We speak of the Overseers, the Synthetics, the Biodrones, let alone the wildlife of Demogorgon Prime. What of them? What of these children of flesh and steel? What of these lifeforms the Dominatus have afflicted? Forged since their moments of creation or warped by the serums of those they shared their planet with, what choice did they ever have? The Dominatus, at least in the very beginning, knew something besides themselves. But the children never had the chance to be anything else but loyal to their parents. It is true that they are engineered since the very beginning to be Dominatus in the bodies of aliens. Then why should they should not be treated as such? The answer is simple. They could not not be anything but that which their masters wanted them to be. Even though they might have been sapient in some cases, it still remains that they, at least under the Dominatus, do not truly possess free will. They are even less than animals in many respects and as such we would advocate to have clemency on them as much as we would advocate to have celemency on the unborn and infant Dominatus who could not yet have made a choice. This is the case we rest.
The Node-Orator bowed slightly and without mockery, before stitting down and letting his worlds echo out.
The Apalos Speak
- written by: Ghelæ
After a moment's calm, an Apalos avatar rose up. There was no fury or disgust in this attendee's eyes, but there was perhaps a hint of contempt, or maybe disappointment, in its expression. Maybe this was nothing more than a façade put in place so that the organic peoples of the universe might relate to it better than they would a rigid, emotionless drone. Nonetheless, it was well known that Apalos highly disapproved of the Tyranny's ethics and actions.
"The defendant's speech is an exceptional work of art. It is creative and emotive. It contains truths. It dives to great depths in its philosophy; it invites us to cast doubt upon the very notion of a coherent morality. The Dominatus were wasted on the field of battle; literature was clearly their higher calling. But we are not impressed by a transparent attempt to hide fallacious reasoning beneath a shield of emotive rhetoric.
"The truths: No nation has a history devoid of crimes. But the quest for survival, even when it turns violent, is not a crime. There are times when a people must fight in order to save their lives. We would not need the phrase 'war crime' if 'war crime' were a tautology. The Tyranny is not on trial for the murder of soldiers or the theft of vital resources. Torture. Enslavement. Extermination. These are the crimes for which the Tyranny stands on trial. They are by no means necessary for a nation's survival. It is true that these crimes are also found in the histories of most, if not all, nations. And in most, if not all, of those nations, if the perpetrators of those crimes were alive today, they too would be in the defendant's position. The equivalence between the acts of the Tyranny and the acts of survival is false; the discordance between the treatment of the Tyranny and the crimes of our own nations is illusory.
"So now we must decide our response to the Tyranny's crimes. We cannot undo them. We cannot erase them. But we can do our part to prevent them from happening again. The Vanara have already put forward their suggestion for how to do this, and doubtless the rest of you will provide many more in the coming hours. I do not want to enforce a proposition of my own upon you, but when you consider each course of action that is proposed, I would like you to consider: what good will it do?"
By this point, the avatar's voice had slowly transitioned from sarcastic, disparaging apathy towards the Archon to sympathy, perhaps even caring and empathy, towards the audience.
"I understand the anger felt throughout the Gigaquadrant today. I cannot claim that I truly feel your anger, no. I have not had to deal with the heartbreak and the loss, the pain and the terror and the trauma that came with facing a Tyranny invasion, or with being on the front lines of the war, or of having a loved one lost - or worse. But, to the extent that I can, I understand.
"The outcome of this trial will doubtless be that we will punish the Dominatus. This is inevitable. It is clear that we need to avoid the combination of aggressive Dominatus culture and advanced technology. We must either act against their freedom mentally, physically, or both. Exacerbating this is that the transition from Drakodominatus to Dominatus engineered into them inflamed feelings of self-superiority and xenophobia. Perhaps raising their young into a kinder world, even those not yet indoctrinated with the Tyranny's propaganda, will be an insurmountable challenge without first undoing these changes.
"But we can still do good. We have the opportunity to decide which punishment is truly the best course of action. We can strive to salvage what little opportunity is left at the end of this conflict, to make the universe not quite as dark a place as the Tyranny would like to leave it.
"No punishment will reverse the Tyranny's crimes. Worse, no punishment will deter another species from trying to take the place of the Dominatus: they will merely see it as a challenge to succeed where the Tyranny failed. Perhaps a punishment will provide solace to some of those whom the Dominatus harmed. This is for the Gigaquadrant to decide. But please, remember, although we have been through hell all is not lost. When you decide on how we should respond to the Tyranny's crimes, remember: we can still do good."
The avatar sat down to a cold silence.
Renus Kantus of the Draconid Imperium Speaks
- written by: GreatDestroyer12
Renus Kantus, the head of the Pariahs, a Drakodominatus who had fled the Tyranny during the Culling of 2773 and found refuge in the Draconid Imperium in 2790, founding the Realm of the Pariahs had aided Uriel throughout the course of the war, translating the famously abstruse High Demogorgon used by the Dominatus when they wanted to hide something, helping plan attacks and divulging facts he was told when he worked in the Tyranny's Military Intelligence division. He possessed an intimate knowledge of the full scale of the Tyranny's abominable actions and sought to share them with his fellow citizens to prevent Stahl's eloquence from taking hold amongst them. He wanted only to remind them of what it meant to be a Dominatus.
"Archon Stahl, How fitting it is that in a position of weakness you appeal to our sense of empathy. It seems almost poetic that the Tyranny has put so much effort into eliminating this emotion only to use it as a shield in its last moments; your philosophy of the strong doing as they can and the weak suffering what they must is not so attractive now, is it? Fellow citizens, I am a Drakodominatus who escaped the clutches of the Tyranny as it culled itself. Many of you must be thinking - how does a people’s soul survive when they for every man or woman that lives, a million die and moreover, that entire bloodlines survive while others are wiped out indiscriminately. Surely the sight of seeing an entire city perish, yourself the only survivor would be enough to break one’s psyche - to rid one’s soul of any light inhabiting it?"
"But we as a society have done whatever could be done to purge weakness and any form of sympathy and empathy from our collective consciousness. The Tyrant and Dominatus High Command had made it a crime to have a soul - to feel, to relate, and in to anyway interact with the world other than to enslave it for ones personal gain. Indeed each generation had what remained of a conscience cruelly erased, ground to dust by the Tyranny’s will. Many of you have seen the archives, but I have taken the liberty of translating videos showing standard operating procedure in those days."
“Greetings younglings, I wish you luck on your examinations. While I encourage all of you to do as best you can, remember that anyone scoring below the absolute performance line is to be immediately liquidated, and that the bottom 20% of those who pass are to be dealt with during the pre-graduation ceremony.”
The video panned to the face of a dejected Drakodominatus, one who had passed the absolute scoring line but was in the bottom 20%. A sarcastic laughter track played as he sobbed, was caged, and deposited in the wilderness of Demogorgon Prime where he was unleashed.
“Ooh, unlucky! Should have studied harder or wished for better genes!”
The video then panned to a group of 4 Drakodominatus who had been equipped with electric prods and sent into the wilderness.
“It is your task to hunt that genetic stain and improve our gene pool. Our customs demand it!”
The Drakodominatus laughed as they entered the wilderness, stalking their prey. After a few scenes, the video pans to them cornering their former colleague, shocking him into submission before casting him into a net and carrying him back for the pre-graduation ceremony.
“Good job! Now teach him the price for being unfit to live in this world!”
The Drakodominatus youths smiled sadistically as they looked at their chained but conscious brethren. It was part of their pre-graduation ceremony to torture this unfortunate soul to death, chanting the Tyranny’s maxims as they did so.
In full gruesome detail, the video detailed the torture of the unlucky Drakodominatus, as all manner of torture implements were loosed upon him by his sadistic classmates.
The viewers were familiar enough with these rituals, but to see them performed at such an early age, on the Tyranny’s own kind, shocked them. Indeed, if the anguished screams were not disturbing enough, the frenzied chants of the youths were.
"It is the duty of the weak to serve the strong, and if they cannot, it is their duty to make their liquidation as easy as possible."
"There can be no covenants between the strong and the weak."
"The superior need not concern himself with the laws and rules of the inferior."
"Mercy is for those without power. Those without power do not deserve life."
"There is no nobility in defeat. Admission of weakness is forfeiture of your birthright."
‘’The pain of the weak is of no consequence to the strong - understanding of the inferior is a waste of thought for his superior’’
‘’There is nothing more disgusting than to see weakness not only thrive but survive - all the weak must be brought to death’’
‘’I would kill my family, and I would kill my friends, torture them to death if need be if they display weakness.’’
"The unfit, wherever they appear, must forever be purged from this world, their screams an insufficient payment for their existence."
"We are to conquer all, so that weakness everywhere will be eradicated!"
The frenzied aphorisms of the Tyranny droned on and on, causing even some of the audience members to sob in dismay that the depravity of the Tyranny.
At the video’s conclusion, Renus launched into yet another tirade.
"Is it not surprising that a race that would inflict this maddening torment on its own would interact with the Gigaquadrant in such a way? This is not survival Stahl, but the mere lunacy of monsters who fancy themselves sapients. You say that greed is good, and you take pride in your ambition. The Dominatus see everything as a festering corpse, a dying world even as new ones are found. When we achieved spaceflight, the room expanded, we found another fire, yet we found a way to smother it with out greed. There is never enough - not in our sector, not in this galaxy, not in the Gigaquadrant, not in the universe, not in the multiverse! We are a cancer that seeks only to conquer and to destroy, despairing that we will run out of bodies to infest and worlds to devour."
"I do not prescribe a punishment citizens, but only to make clear the enormity of this abomination - the Dominatus have willingly purged any sense of relation to their fellow sapients. They are a species anathema to all life, for their survival, whether because of their nature or their upbringing is tantamount to our extermination. It is with this in mind that I implore you not to listen to the Archon’s sophistry, but to pursue the course you have intended from the beginning."
With his exposition finished, the Drakodominatus, clad in Draconis attire, sat back down.
- written by: tcm
Motive had sent its own delegation to this landmark trial. Though it had not been a member of the coalition, there was hardly a spacefaring civilization in the Gigaquadrant that had not suffered at the hands of the Tyranny, and so Motive had arranged for eight of its crewmen to represent it and witness the trial of the millennium. They looked almost identical, dressed almost identically. They muttered among themselves in low voices.
There was a lull. One of them looked up, stood up. He was third from the left. His jumpsuit had a tag on its right breast that read Juk, and beneath it the numbers 75735-1880. He was not otherwise meaningfully different from his compatriots in any way, nor did he give any impression of high authority or importance, although anyone with knowledge of Motive knew it kept its servants humble however high they reached.
Anyone with knowledge of Motive also knew that any time its crewmen spoke in such a setting, such a gathering of nations, it was with the voice of its masters. The Monitors.
Juk opened his mouth and said:
"Why are we even letting this creature speak?"
He gestured at Stahl. His voice was coarse and ugly.
"These charges are incontestable. The Tyranny's aberrant make -- indisputable. Maladaptive zealotry. Good riddance. Why bother with a defense? They were a defective society that wanted to inflict its own defectiveness on us. When a pipe springs a leak you don't argue with the leak. You patch it right back up. Erase it. Replace the whole damn pipe if you have to."
His diction meandered between public address and brusque personal asides. He paused to cough into an elbow. Hack, hack. One of the other crewmen half-rose for a moment to whisper something into his ear. Juk grunted a reply, then continued.
"Point is we all have better things to be doing right now. I know I do. We still haven't finished tallying up all the damage they did. Downturns in every sector. Productivity, population... We should all be trying to restore order right now. Re-establishing the smooth function of the machine. The defect's been hammered out but the damage it caused still needs fixing. That's what needs worrying about. Not him. He's nothing. An afterthought."
He coughed again.
"Just shoot the bastard and move on. All the rest of them, too. Don't get suckered into this talk of morals and inner natures. They came in here to kill us, so we killed them. That's all there is to it. Now let's finish the job so we can go home and start rebuilding."
There was more, but it was indistinct grumbling, and he was already sitting back down.
The Mendel Pact Speaks
Written by: Zillafire101.
The leaders of the Mendel Pact had been silent for a good portion of the trial, much to the surprise of their allies and the other ADC members. Surely, there was nothing a Mendel enjoyed more then yelling at the foe and bring them low with sharp words and sharper blades. Yet, Ryaler, Supreme Commander of the Mendel forces, was silent, only speaking in whispers to his fellow Commanders, Kiun, Saren, and the representatives of the various allied races, like the Togunda and Orgaat every so often. After Juk and the Motive representatives finished, Ryaler rose from his seat slowly, his ceremonial armor painted black, and massive sword clasped in one hand. He spoke softly at first, coming across as almost understanding.
A very fine speech, Stahl. Very fine indeed. I would be almost tempted to agree. Were I complete idiot, I might very well see your point!
Ryaler slammed the tip of his blade onto the floor, gauging a hole in it for emphasis, before raising his voice. His eyes were no ablazed with fury.
You claim with such arrogance that we all fall into the same traps as you did, and yet, looking at this gathered room, I see none equal of the crimes you committed. My knowledge of other races is limited, but I do not recall Draconis torturing their own and giggling like mindless children over it. I did not see our allies, the Vanara or Waptoria, reduce other races to bio-drones and the like to faun over their own self-described superiority. You alone committed such crimes, twisting the flesh of others to serve you, bending others to you will, destroying countless cultures. You bluster about how we are doomed to repeat your sins, your mistakes, and yet, for all that hot air, it falls on deaf ears.
He hefted his sword onto his shoulders, and pointed at Stahl with his free hand.
Sins were committed by all of the gathered races in this room, that much is certain. My kind indeed engaged in slavery and mind-manipulation. Yet, none committed have ever been on the level of your blighted, blithering, blinded, debased, worm-eyed, twisted, whore-mongering, oaf-looking, corrupted race.
He turned to the rest of the gathered representatives, clenching a fist and slamming into his chest plate.
They wish for sin, then let us show them the grandest of sins! Cast their race into the void! Among my kin, when wars were waged between Clans, those that acted with dishonor, butchered women and children, dragged their own into slavery, they were visited with destruction and death, sent to the Gods for their final judgement. Let us do the same. Take every last Dominatus and put their neck on the chopping block. I will cleave every neck in twine if none of you have the stomach for it. I will start with this little worm, prattling on with his endless chatter, and first tear out his tongue, and force it on him as his last meal. Then, his headless corpse will be given to the Orgaat Tribes to make a meal of. Every last Dominatus who chose to follow on this twisted path will come next. Not until every last one of you is extinguished will I rest. Then, we will bring your Overseers and other "Children" of your mad science to the execution chamber, to put them out of their own misery.
He breathed in deeply, calming himself, before moving his blade handle to the other hand, balancing the blade upon his shoulder, before continuing.
And yet, there might still be some fragment of mercy in my heart that even your dead world cannot take from me. Though every last one of your adults deserves to face the fires, I will follow the traditions of the Ancient Clans, and give you one small mercy. The children and unborn may yet live. But, to be taken from their corrupted parents' touch, and raised amongst others, to put such skills to work and help rebuild the worlds they torched, as my Vanara kin suggested. Your kind claim the weak must serve the strong and all, and I see no more fitting punishment then for your children to be reduced to serving alongside the weak they once would've ruled over, to be equal to these weaklings. I will take your sons and daughters and make them Mendel myself if I must, raise them as my own if I must.
He planted his blade one last time between his feet, and glared right down at Stahl.
And as I send your pickled body to the feasting halls of the Orgaat, and your bastardized race to the void, I shall take the final satisfaction in knowing that your legacy will be snuffed out. Your children turned to the service of powers greater then they. Your Overseers tossed away, your synthetics melted down in the Togunda's forges for resources. Your own world, reduced to glass, fire and ash upon the void. So make your speeches, your grand claims, your final stand here and now. But it will not save you. Your race is doomed, your children are doomed, and your final legacy, naught but ashes in your own throat. Enjoy, for it, your tongue, and my sword, will be your final meal.
He sat back down again, fuming in silence as the other Mendel leaders looked down in anger and rage, or, in the Orgaat's case, hunger, and remained silent once more.
The Junction Speaks
- written by: OluapPlayer
The Junction had, for the most part, departed once the conflict had come to a halt. Satisfied by capturing every Dominatus and Overseer it could to be incorporated into its metal-clad army, Alfabusium had no interest in the primitive politics of the First Gigaquadrant. However, the single Zero-class Planet Fortress sent to be the Junction's vanguard in the war remained in orbit, and stepping up was a single Junction drone, who shoved the other leaders out of the way.
A Dominatus drone.
Stahl witnessed this creature, once of the same race as him, look down at him with glaring, mechanical eyes shined a bright red colour. Whatever previous mind inhabited this body was long gone; it was now a faceless husk in service of the insidious intelligence which permeated every slave of the Junction.
It spoke in a roaring, mechanical tone.
No crimes. Only Junction.
No laws. Only Junction.
No nations. Only Junction.
No Dominatus. Only Junction.
What was once you is now us.
Before anyone could have the chance to say anything, the drone's form was engulfed in light as it was teleported away, and within instants, the Zero-class Planet Fortress vanished the same way, just as quickly. His point made, Alfabusium departed to whence it came, with its prize in its hands and its mark made in Gigaquadrantic history.
This was not the fate of those who incurred the Junction's ire.
It was the fate of those who incurred its interest.
The DCP Speaks
- Written by: Wormulon
A vast shadow was cast over amphitheatre just after The Junction left, causing automatic lights to blink on. The sky as dark as pitch and the resultant chill in the air caused many represents to look up, expecting to see stars. Instead stretching from horizon to horizon was the shape of the Delphan palace and capital, threatening to crush Stahl's final defence.
On the Delphan podium, delegates and representatives stood in a circle and bowed while the space between began to shimmer into a sphere. Out stepped two figures, the first being Emperor Wormulus II and the other being his son Warlord Lunarai-Khan, both dressed in full regalia, arriving via transport beam. With all eyes focused on the Delpha Coalition of Planets, everyone expected Wormulus to speak, but instead he mentally pushed an approaching hover-mic into Lunarai's direction. The Emperor had already said his piece to Stahl and appeared in the tribunal with the intention to honour the Delphan's fallen and afflicted.
Lunarai stepped out onto the podium. Powerful though he was, he was dwarfed by the enormity of the arena that had been built by a race of giants and now occupied by the Gigaquadrant's best. Lunarai paused, looking a little nervous for this was his diplomatic first, but as he spoke he became rapidly more confident and energetic.
"The man that stands naked before us is Archon Stahl, a man more than any other who was responsible for the Dominatus' fortune and wilful suffering of their victims. Though defeated and given time alone to think, he stands here defiant in his opinion that the Dominatus were justified. Put it simply, Stahl is evil. He is not alien, he is not crazy, he is not descended. He is an undesirable blemish in the unfolding obscure."
"The Dominatus are the Delphan's archetypal nemesis, it is as if we had prepared to arm ourselves for centuries and had built our empire to wage war on them. Stahl speaks of the Dominatus will of fighting to survive. I don't think many people in today's company would disagree with fulfilling that drive, but their method of progress and destruction was chaotic." Lunarai said the last word as if it tasted extremely foul.
"If the Dominatus really had an ultimate goal of survival, they could not have chosen a more high stakes gamble. The game they played was not one of reason or cleverness, for they must lack a theory of failure. Instead for a temporary moment they gorged on sadistic pleasures. They caused needless destruction; they hurt too many at once; they created ephemeral technologies without fixing the problems that emerged from them; and expanded unsustainably. This was their undoing, and it was not the work of genius. The Dominatus will to survive is innate as it is in us all, and is indeed a product of nature's tyranny. But the Dominatus still had a choice to take the reigns and express their survival in an orderly manner. Now the Dominatus stand at the Gigaquadrant's mercy."
"Oh Gigaquadrant, let we the Delpha Coalition of Planets remind you what we exist for. Societies like the Dominatus are not uncommon because chaos is endemic. The Wub Triumvirate, the Grox Meta-Empire, The Congregation, the Loron, the Vartekians and the Dominatus; we exist to fight these manifestations of chaos tooth and claw if necessary. Why do must we this you ask? Why to safeguard the progress of all sentient complexity in the universe, for the Dominatus serve only to destroy us and then themselves. Their fall is our gain; we are the vanquishers of monsters; we are strong for you so you should not have to suffer. Many of you are afraid and jealous of our power and cruelty, but do not fear, our cruelty is only reciprocal. The punished species are Dominatus in all but biology. You must be cruel to fight monsters."
"So what must be done with the Dominatus? When evil people are to be contained and dealt with, there is normally three universal approaches; to incarcerate the undesirable, to eliminate the undesirable, or to rehabilitate the undesirable. No doubt there are many voices here advocating the rehabilitation of the Dominatus, for the appropriately rehabilitated cease to be evil. But you should listen to Stahl's words again, they are not the words of a man who has chosen a new path. Many others have proposed forcibly rehabilitating the Dominatus by fixing whatever flaws made them so immoral. However, this is elimination, for they cease to be Dominatus. So should we eliminate the Dominatus? We could, but it would let them off too lightly. Stahl justifies the Dominatus actions as a means of surviving the universe and to be the sole acquirers of its resources, but this weakens his base argument. The Dominatus are clearly presentists as Stahl so assiduously says 'to live in the fire of change and experience is a reward in itself.' The Tyranny did not dominate to secure the future, they dominated to inflict as much suffering as they could in the moment. The Dominatus mind loves freedom as a means of suffering, thus the Emperor's mercy is a proposal that every loyal Dominatus is to be droned while still fully conscious, and yet be be completely unfree to do as they please. They will be controlled in a humiliating fashion, to relive their losses or to be played with as toys by your children! And so, as in line with our reciprocal philosophy of justice, we the Gigaquadrant must inflict the Dominatus with equal or greater moments of suffering than they inflicted!"
And with that, Warlord Lunarai stepped back from the podium. The amphitheatre began to fill with a rising chatter as the representatives were unsure what make with the DCP's virtuous proclamations. As usual even the DCP's closest allies became conscious of their nagging dilemma of both gratitude and discomfort at having close relations with the DCP that protected them. But many of the DCP's enemies and rivals were also present, feeling jealousy or concern for the DCP's righteousness and arrogance.
The Grox Speak
- written by: GD12
The Grox Empire, having once endangered the universe before under the command of the Grox Meta-Emperor, had after their defeat, been divided, their scattered remnants calling themselves the Meta-Fascists. They had fought against the Dominatus in the War of Hyperspace of 2789, but had further splintered. One group, known as the Meta-Flagellants, who had taken it upon themselves to prove that they stood with the Gigaquadrant and wished to advance stability and prosperity, had contributed much to the Second Mirus Invasion Force sent after the Allies were cut off during the Second Battle of Manticore. Many jested that only an evil like the Dominatus could force battles in which Delphan troops fought side-by-side with their once archenemies. One of their representatives, a Grox known as the Prefect, spoke after the Delphans who had once brought them low finished their speech.
"You make the argument, Archon, you make the argument that the or all of us standing here are indicted. Survival, Archon was our excuse, and something we learnt very much about on Atzerry, and only because the most monstrous of our evils were due to the will of the Meta-Emperor, and only upon our repentance were we absorbed into the Civilisation."
"Survival, is fighting for your very life, with all you can muster, and learning that it is not enough. It is sacrificing your tribesmen to predators whom you cannot stop in hopes that your children will be able to survive. It is not having enough food and choosing who had to die so that others may grow to adulthood and perhaps improve society. Survival is something forced upon you by circumstances, and it is beyond your control. You agree with this definition of survival being forced, but none of what you did was survival."
"We looked through your archives - survival is not destroying your own, nurturing world as a thanks for it having gifted you with natural intelligence and strength merely because you wanted to subjugate your enemy quicker with your newest weapon in your War of Unification. Survival is not deciding that everything must belong to you because if not, it will belong to someone else, and that, if your first contact was anything to go by, that you had a chance at complete dominion over the stars. Survival is not making it a point to do the things that no one has thought possible, whether in rate of system expansion, technological research, or war. Survival is not reaching for the impossible to prove that you can do what no one else has done, but when it is allowed, simply looking at what is possible and what is probable."
"Survivors take risks because they have to. You take risks because you’ve been spoiled by fortune."
"And why were we spared, even when we descended into similar insanity after survival was no longer a working excuse? It is because we who remain are far more similar to your Synthetics and Overseers than to you. We who remained in this century were mere minions of a Meta-Emperor, seemingly bent upon the same delusions as you - a monopoly over a dying light. Our species, mere servants of beings who had moulded us and indoctrinated us to serve them were punished and divided, and we had to prove our repentance before being accepted."
"But you Dominatus, are a race of Meta-Emperors, each driven by an extreme philosophy of individualistic megalomania and narcissism, and served by children created and bred to serve your selfish desires. And as such, you must be punished as the Meta-Emperor would be punished had the Civilisation not come up with an alternate solution - you must be killed."
With that, the Prefect sat down. Many in the audience asked themselves - were the Dominatus really so maleficent that even the Grox, the former nemeses to all other life seemed sympathetic?
The Draconis Speak
- written by: Monet47
Uriel Ultanos watched as the storm swelled and everyone spoke their piece against the convicted Stahl. He had already spoken to a defeated Archon but Stahl was different this time. In response to the defeated warrior now standing up to claim he was guilty of nothing, Uriel rose form his seat and took several steps forward. His wings unfurled to reveal great patterns on the membranes as he stood with great authority.
"You speak of being motivated by greed and survival yet the universe has responded to your grasping for what you percieve as dying embers. When the beloved of the Tyrant Medusa Heimdall was convicted under my watch he sought to control the tide by holding one of my own people to ransom. Now you hold morality to ransom by claiming that your war against the universe and the desire to trample the inferior into the mud for they hold no place in the way the universe from your perspective works. Perhaps that primal instinct to survive and grasp all you can reach, the one born from the rays of the stars that shone down on you is exactly why you speak as if your methods are an absolute.
"Those same methods, the ones you used to justify your actions and build your empire are why it collapsed as the rest of the universe made their piece. Your tyranny stole the industry and monuments from Dranvamus and Drakonmi Terevus and wherever else you could reach because you never learned how to build with care and maximise what you already had. We had something you needed, something that you concluded you must have to survive - everything that was not yours you must have. That is the paradox isn't it? We, the weaker beings fight and band together for the embers you perceive the universe to exist as but can manage sharing in their warmth together with little struggle. There may be fewer of you but your empire alone demonstrated that each of you needed more of these embers to sustain yourselves."
"The greatest flaw the Dominatus had was seeing a trackless meadow and thinking it barely able to sustain a family. This was most evident in your treatment of Deep Core: In the few months of your stewardship, the Tyranny devoured what experts from the Commonwealth assumed would last galactic society for centuries."
"How many years after achieving your supremacy I wonder before your numbers become too many around the embers you saw. How many years before you must cull your own kind in greater attempts to survive, and cull them more until there is only one left? In your quest for apotheosis, to become some ultimate lifeform, you never fully studied beyond your own cave. Instead of leaving it to understand the world outside you instead endeavoured to bring as much as you could inside, blinding yourselves to how we of the outside were so blind to the way you understood the universe to work. When collectives of quadrillions, with collectives numbering the hundreds and thousands built grander monuments and greater cities, the conclusion you came to was this was all futile compared to your methodology - We treated as close to inexhaustible what you found to be so precious, yet as the war proved we were not hindered."
"It is fitting then, that the fate of the Dominatus shall be decided in their own realm. In the cave that was your understanding of the universe, you are judged by a contradiction to the natural law. For those survivors such thinking is difficult to break: For the young it may already be too late to change, but for the Pariahs - the few who saw the outside of the cave and understood the grand contradiction - they will continue history under their own path.
"What motivated you above all else was seeing our trackless meadows for fallow fields. You and your staff will be remembered for how you choked trying to devour a universe. What monuments you raised should be leveled and those who remain blind to how you failed live in penitence."
Uriel glared towards Stahl with contempt. In his words he appeared to momentarily be of greater stature than the giant he talked down to, demonstrating that with the right words he was capable of looking down on even the greatest of giants. After saying his piece, he returned to his throne, the great red cloak he wore trailed behind him as he sat down. He was silent in his retreat, but his strident footsteps and rigid shoulders displayed it to be a silence of victory, maybe even catharsis for the emperor.
The ATR Speak
- written by: Wormulon
Elethien was one of the many representatives of the tribunal who had witnessed the full unfolding tragedy of a Tyranny invasion, one which her homeworld of Danann suffered for long and bitter months before humanity's collective efforts could get the upper hand. Elethien, both a survivor and a witness would never get over the trauma she suffered, but she would continue to study for her betterment. As Elethien spoke, she was noticeably calm and reasonable, without letting anger and resentment cloud her judgement as some of the other speakers had. The Danann-Danú were small and diminutive compared to many of the aliens around her, but what her race lacked in physical attributes was more than made up by her mind and resolve.
"In my long life I had never seen as much suffering as those inflicted in the short months of the Tyranny occupation. Those months for us dragged on years, as masses of people died of forgotten diseases and starvation. The conditions aged people, ailments from another time. I was helpless in seeing the slow murder of the world I was meant to govern, the erasure of its libraries, architecture, life and even landscapes. Though I now stand victorious with you [the Gigaquadrant], it does not take away the pain, anger and hate I feel towards the perpetrators. And yet I find it infinitely more sad that the tragedy of the Dominatus is the tragic situation of all sentient life, that we can be so blinded by bad ideas and philosophies. I will now take this as the only opportunity to show Stahl the error of his ways and influence the outcome for the good... If there's any to be made from all this." Elethien took a sip of water and eyed Archon Stahl with anger for a brief moment, before taking on something like pity.
"Stahl speaks some truths that most of us agree with. There are no logical foundations for morality; and all things get selected out of existence; and eventually even this universe will tick until Time's Terminal. But from then on, Stahl makes justifications that are ignorant of the truth. The first objection I must make is Stahl's appeal to twisted version of what the Terrans call nihilism, that there no intrinsic meaning into anything. The Dominatus took this as an excuse to be as the Node-Orator put it, beasts beholden to their animal urges. But the Dominatus are not animals. And meaning can be objective in that knowledge is universal, not in a way that we can derive from axioms or experiment, but in the way we all create an engagement with the universe. The act of creatively solving problems and correcting our errors. Look around us Archon Stahl, we all have different philosophies, goals and perceptions of reality. But we can all agree on things if the solution is a good explanation that works."
"There has been much debate around whether the Dominatus are helplessly determined by their genetic natures to hurt others and themselves. But that makes them out to be helpless victims in an implacably hostile universe. Let me remind you it is a fact that their evil nature was intentionally enhanced in the transition to Dominatus. This is an act of agency, not of bad genes but of bad ideas; ideas that may have lead the Dominatus to doom their own kind. The appeal to domination is an error, because it does not guarantee who by the end of time will dominate. Stahl, I know your line of reasoning; that we merely dominated you and this pattern will continue forever. But this philosophy keeps you moored to the past and that is why we must select it out of existence. Indeed all creative cultures regularly override and evolve species over their innate characteristics, who are capable as universal beings of learning how to make the universe better. Can we work together as an open society to make it better for all of us? There is no law preventing this. We must try." Elethien sighed and looked at the tribunal again, before squaring the DCP.
"Do as you must to incarcerate and punish the war criminals, but the universe doesn't need more suffering. We were right to fight the intolerant, but let us give tolerance a chance. Let us give the Dominatus as a species a second chance no matter how hard it is to rehabilitate them, or we are no better and Stahl is right."
Elethien then quietly left to the back of the podium. She had suffered flashbacks throughout her speech and did her best to remain composure.
The Drodo Speak
- written by: DrodoEmpire
Fiihar Jivirik III had been one of the commanders of the Drodo expeditionary force in the fighting on Demogorgon Prime. In a battle where casualty rates were unfathomably high and fatality rates were not far behind, the aristocratic cavalry officer had had the good fortune to have only lost an eye in the fighting-- during one of several heroic acts from his seat on his robohorse's saddle during the battle. His splendid cavalry uniform-- with its bright colours and golden lace-- was thus juxtaposed with his haggard visage and a once sharp and intelligent gaze made hollow and vacant by the world around. It betrayed his true feelings to all, despite his pretensions of seeming calm, collected, stoic as a Drodo aristocrat should be. As the crowd of dignitaries, generals, and world leaders awaited Jivirik's testimony, he studied Stahl with his gaze made indifferent by war. Suddenly, Fiihar began to speak;
"I would like to relate to the Archon a story from House Jivirik's past." Fiihar's tenor was almost monotone, but had a refined cadence rarely seen outside of the ranks of the truly highborn.
"Once, generations ago, my House was one of lowborn peasants. The Jiviriks had recently moved to a new part of Aratacia, on my species' homeworld, to start farming the virgin land around. Our new neighbours, however, a clan known as the Foroni, had other plans in mind."
"Having set themselves up as the petty barons of the surrounding territory, they oppressed the families who came to settle in the newly-discovered territory, Jiviriks included. They took for themselves our resources, raped our women, and killed any among our men who stepped out of line. Unlike the other families however we weren't about to take this lying down."
"First, we tried to reason with the Foroni. We asked for better treatment in exchange for our pledging official fealty, we tried to negotiate a peace agreement, we even offered arranged marriages to make amends. All were denied, because the Foroni were savages interested only in the immediate satisfaction of their collective lust for power. With peaceful resolution ignored, the course of action to the restoration of our family's honour was clear-- retribution."
"The Jiviriks, and by extension the whole of the Drodo race, are a people who put reason and words ahead of violence and revenge when it comes to satisfying the grievances and healing the honour of both parties. But when it comes time to turn to retribution to solve a dispute the preferred remedy is both swift and overwhelming." Fiihar looked down the brim of his shako, his one-eyed gaze focused squarely into Stahl's own eyes.
"It took only a month of war with House Jivirik for the Foroni bloodline to be utterly extinguished. And it was only when House Jivirik ascended to the ranks of the nobility centuries later would anybody dare to trifle with us again."
Fiihar held his stare into Stahl's eyes for a moment. There was something in that gaze now, but it wasn't hatred as one would expect. It was dismissal. Jivirik was a high-strung man of passion; and had this whole ordeal been any less traumatic, of any less significance to him, his race, the gigaquadrant at large, he would be a gibbering storm of rage. But all this was too hard for that. Too significant for mundane and predictable anger. In that stare Jivirik communicated a very simple message to Stahl;
It is over. For me, and especially for you.
Fiihar snapped his fingers. The two honour guards that flanked him turned smartly and marched off, and he followed close behind.
The Multus Esse speak
- Written by: Zillafire101
One of the last to rise and speak, was a being far older and more advanced then many of the gathered powers. The bird-like being marched forward, dressed in a skin-tight, advanced suit of power armor, runes and carvings decorated its arms, chest and surface, as the being floated forward, carried forth by its unnatural powers, before setting down. The creature's ethereal gaze unnerved many, others caught in a trance by his pressence, as the Mendel and Waptoria rose to bow before its presence. This being, a Chassin'ra, was one of the last remaining remnants of a bygone age, one that had given birth to the Mendel and Waptoria, and other more insidious races. Its fours eyes focused directly upon Stahl, before speaking in a deep and booming voice.
Long have my kin acted as stewards of this galaxy. From the ruins of the Uonic, we crafted Mirus into a paradise. We saw it that its stars, with such potential, be made into havens of life, be it those crafted by our hand, or those that simply earned our protection. In our time, we saw all life as worthy of protection and guidance, turning Mirus into a utopia for all. In our minds, all living beings were to raised and nurtured to the highest standard.
The being looked down at Stahl, his eyes and expression unchanged, but his voice conveying a sadder note.
Yet, in our beginnings, such was not always possible. We Chassin'ra destroyed our homeworld, and sought to conquer others through military might. Our Locrin'noth brothers viewed all others as beneath them, and our Alimibic brothers, through their own arrogance, destroyed their galaxy. With wisdom and clarity, we turned our tools of war and devastation towards the protection of all within our realm, and the creation of a brighter future.
The being's voice grew more hostile.
We have seen many races rise up that posed a threat to all we created. The Zarbanian Imperium was driven by ambition and hubris. The Alpha Cyber Collective, our last creation, hungered for resources, no matter how many they still possessed. I see the worst traits of all our past enemies, reflect and magnified in you. Your hubris knows no bounds, believing your could raise your hand against the entire universe, and not be crushed underfoot. Your lust for more resources knows few bounds, extracting and using up resources faster then any creature I have seen in all of my centuries as a member of the Sarko'nai. Yet for all of this, the most damning thing of all, was your wasted potential.
The Chassin'ra's voice grew softer, as he laced his finger claws together.
Within you, is the great spark of intelligence that would've made you at home amongst our Alliance. You took the gifts we left behind, and used them to create a great empire. Many races have had more relics form our past, and done far less. And yet, for everything you have done, you have become nothing but a twisted mirror for the Multus Esse, and everything we accomplished in the past. Your most abominable action, the Overseer Program, disgusts me on a level few races have seen. I have seen cybernetic abominations tear apart a planet and take every last grain of soil away to power their war machines. I have seen parasites subsume and twist the flesh of others to expand beyond any normal races' parameters. Yet, for all of this, it is the Overseers that twist within my stomach the most.
The Chassin'ra pointed a finger at Stahl.
My kind, would indeed, take races and create them from scratch to fulfill prophecies, or gift another race with enhancements and gifts to mold them into something greater. Yet, for all the gifts you have, you have done nothing but turn races into blunt instruments to fill your rapacious hordes. I know little of the races that occupy the other galaxies, in the place of the contemporaries of my kind, but I have seen nobility, culture and strength in their ways. You have taken these traits, and either twisted them to fit your molds and turn them into mockeries and macabre parodies of the wombs they came from, or you strip away anything that once was, and turn them into pallid, walking ghosts, whose only purpose is to kill and murder at your beck and call.
The being's voice rose enough to shake them with psychic power, many of the gathered representatives shaking and shifting uneasily, even as his voice remained unchanged.
My kind, indeed, created tools for war, from the Mendel, to the Gardeili, to even the Imperium of War that so eagerly throw itself into the fires of hell for you. Yet, for all of this, they were created not with the focus of war entirely, but to develop and see the other gifts life had to offer, to enjoy art and music and science and poetry, and to embrace everything the universe has to offer, as all living beings should. You robbed so many, not just of their lives, but the chance to ever enjoy the gifts the universe offers. Living beings are not tools to be thrown into the fires of damnation and war. They are not drones to slave endlessly for your abominable, never-ending war and industrial machine. As such, for all of your accomplishments, all of your glory and victories, you fall short of ever coming close to the legacy of my kind. In your speed to devour every resource imaginable, in your hubris in thinking every other race naught but targets to be destroyed, in your need to twist the flesh and bone of others, you reveal yourself to be nothing but children, more concerned with using your gifts to feed your short-term, short-sighted needs, then to actually put them to use.
The creature wave its hand through the air, in a dismissive, disgusted fashion.
Before me I see nothing but a child given tools it has not the intellect or virtue to truly handle. Your march to war, a mere temper tantrum, your expansion, merely throwing your weight about. We Multus do not see the death of any with any sort of joy, even in your kind, and we will gladly volunteer to take any of the infants form your grasp, and turn them to something better, as our children, and the Children of the Persacron, so suggested. Yet, we will not blink an eye as the last remnants of your race, and your creations are liquidated, for it is a return home for you. The Drakodominatus Tyranny, in the end, was born from nothing, and, indeed, was always nothing. Its military, scientific and political might, a mere show of force to hide how hollow and meaningless it all was. So, your deaths will be merely you finding where you always belonged; In nothingness.
The Chassin'ra's voice lowered as he turned to the others.
Do with this child and his toys as you wish. I am done scolding that brat.
With that, the being straightened, and disappeared, shimmering within a silver-white light, and disappearing as he teleported onto his ships.
The ULE Speaks
Their Darkest Hour
January 10, 2795
The Second Battle of Manticore, centered around the Manticore system but involving the entire subsector surrounding it had raged on for the past 3 and a half weeks, with historians agreeing that December 21, 2794 was the date upon which the titanic battle began. It was the largest naval battle of the entire Dominatus War in both ships involved and casualties sustained by both sides and would remain permanently engraved in the Gigaquadrantic consciousness for decades, if not centuries to come. Manticore would be remembered as the last real chance the Dominatus had to end the war on favourable terms, with the later battle of Terminus being regarded less as a potential turning point and more of a battle that if won by the Dominatus, would merely extend the war.
Operation Abaddon, Stahl’s defensive plan at the commencement of the Mirus Campaign had seen the Allies stretched out, bloodied, and confident. They had prepared for the invasion of the Dominatus sector capital of Armageddon Prime along with expansion in every which direction, a battle plan made necessary by Manticore’s geographic centrality in Dominatus Mirus. It had worked effectively - the defensive genius that architected Operation Exsanguination at the beginning of the Milky Way Campaign and Operation Eventual Return at its end, had the Allies exactly where he wanted them.
Stahl, ever a Promethean figure, even amongst the Dominatus, had mastered the art of taming the individual genius of various Dominatus in the creation of extremely effective operations by staff commanders that were executed by autonomous field commanders very well, and in studying the battles of the Deathstorm in the Milky Way and the Asphodel System in Borealis had come up with Operation Medusa - the offensive plan aimed at defeating the entirety of the ADC’s Mirusian forces. Its success would hinge on the recapture of Manticore and the cutting off of reinforcements in much the same way that the AGC’s Andromedan defense had hinged on the capture of Invictus and the resultant cutting off of remaining forces. Stahl had not destroyed the hypergate prior to the Mirus Campaign believing that, as quoted in the Demogorgon Memorandum, it will be impossible to gain a lasting victory in this war simply by holding them off. Furthermore, these Hypergates were based off of Multus Esse blueprints that while gained decades earlier, were only fully understood by the Dominatus now - it was only in the leadup to the battle that the Dominatus had refitted one of their 4 Abaddon Class Flagships as a carrier not of weapons, but of a device that would destroy this Hypergate. Stahl had hungered for this mother-of-all-battles, for his victory would elevate him to the apex of the pantheon of Gigaquadrantic military legends and would demonstrate that the Dominatus could overpower essentially the half of the Gigaquadrant. They would have taken on the universe, and won.
A feint by the Fleet of the Dominatus’ Wrath at Armageddon Prime had diverted allied attention while Dominatus spies and hackers created an almost complete communications blackout in ADC forces. The brutal offensive that followed seemed almost unstoppable, as the Allies were encircled and destroyed on the way to Manticore, with only the valiant efforts of their frontline commanders allowing the ADC to give the order by any possible means that all fleets were to retreat to Manticore and defend it at all costs. A short campaign of logistical strikes led by Allied forces who were unable to make it back and their new Apalos allies, who had reacted negatively to the Dominatus’ flagrant use of super-weapons, had delayed the entrance of Dominatus forces into the Manticore system by 3 days - 3 days in which the Allied forces who had made it back readied themselves for the fight of their lives.
Indeed there could not have been a more appropriate and apocalyptic location for this cataclysmic battle to take place in - at the end of the first battle of Manticore, the Dominatus had fired a star buster into Manticore itself, with the resultant supernova consuming many of the ADC’s ships but otherwise preserving the hypergate and the rest of the entering ADC fleet, which entered at the fringe of the system. They fought in the darkness, preparing in a void illuminated only by the hyper gate’s litany of mad colours and the fire of their thrusters and engines, waiting for the entire Dominatus navy to converge on them. The Dominatus favoured a strategy based on battles of annihilation, and on their home turf, with their forces unified and committed, and with the initiative and elements of surprise on their side, they would not have the same excuses for defeat as they had in the Deathstorm and the Asphodel System.
“Duty, duty, duty. In this moment, there is nothing but duty, so that tomorrow we may be men again. ”
- - Marshal Jean-Baptiste Teindas, before the Battle of Manticore, December 20, 2794
“Gents, welcome to the greatest merdier humanity has ever seen”
- - Carl Matthews, Mirage Roi Ace, December 21, 2794
The initial Dominatus attack suffered greatly at the hands of a prepared Allied defensive position, much as the Allies had when they had encountered a Dominatus fortress-system. The first waves were merely ablative, permitting the next waves to enter and to start damaging the Allied frontline. Indeed, the initial allied defensive lines eventually broke under the sheer weight of Dominatus firepower as the Allies mounted a desperate defence. It seemed that only the Allies most desperate stratagems, and the deployment of whatever forces were available within their home galaxies as well the operations of those behind Dominatus lines had prevented a complete disintegration of their forces. Many Delphan veterans joked that the scale of this monstrous confrontation - which pitted the majority of the Dominatus navy against whatever the ADC could muster, both in Mirusian battle fleets and reinforcements from their home galaxies made the Deathstorm look like a skirmish. Space-time had long since-been ruined, and the floating wrecks of countless destroyed ships were the only static scenery in the ravaged cosmology of the forever-ruined subsection. The debris of dead fleets floated throughout the chaos of the battle of annihilation the Tyranny had planned for, providing only a small visual respite from the never-ending avalanche of explosions and raw energy crackling through the endless void.
“Oh Shit, Game Over! Game Over!”
- - Dying transmission of many Allied pilots upon encountering the new Dominatus Mark 3 Harbinger Class Fighter, December 22, 2794
“This is where we hold them! This is where we stand! It is not hyperbole to say that this battle will decide our existence. They shall not pass!”
- - Unknown Delphan Commander, right before the Dominatus break through his lines, December 23, 2794
“All public casualty reports are to cease, all news is to cease, and all post-humous medal awarding are to cease. People don’t need to know how bad it is here.”
- - Official Allied Proclamation regarding casualties, December 24, 2794
“Strength and fortitude … in the face of the angry night.”
- - Dying transmission of the Terran Eriu-Class battleship, Lorenzo the Magnificent, December 25, 2794
“What do you mean that sector of the battlefield has been breached, that the 12th Battlefleet is no longer functioning is a combat unit? The Delphans and the TIAF sent similarly sized forces to aid them! What, their units have been completely destroyed? The Dominatus are still advancing? May Drakon Save us.”
- - Lord-Admiral Larnus Vontarion, December 26, 2794
“The Deathstorm looks like a minor skirmish compared to this. But its going to get worse before it gets better. Where are the Abaddons?”
- - Delphan Admiral Jazzaroth, December 27, 2794
However the Allies knew the worst was yet to come, as the 3 Abaddon Class Flagships formed around the Abaddon that had been retrofitted with the equipment to destroy the Hypergate were then committed to battle. An Abaddon had only been seen once before, and only through the heroism of Brodo and his command of his Obsidian had the Emperor’s Palace Ship been saved from these ludicrously powerful ships, which were rumoured to be constructed in shipyards created just for them. To see 3 committed at the same time, and the same place had sent the Allies into a panic.
“We sacrifice our past and present for your future.”
- - Multus Esse on leading an assault on the Abaddons so the ADC can regroup, December 28, 2794
“Our Progenitors could only destroy one of those monsters. We’re fucked! We’re fucked!”
- - Unknown Mendel Commander, upon learning that the Multus Esse attack only destroyed the Abaddon Class Iron Death and delayed the rest of the attack till January 1, 2795.
“We will fight as best we can to defeat the Dominatus here. But … in the event of defeat, create a document that will detail the strengthening of Andromeda for when the Dominatus come again. In that dark future I will be long dead and it will be up to you, Highlord Breek and Highlord Iovera, to keep the light alive in the face of the unending darkness.”
- - Paragon Uriel Ultanos, December 29, 2794
“There will be no talk of surrender. Know that defeat in this battle guarantees our extinction. Any sedition or mutiny will be fought with the same vigor with which we fight the Dominatus. You’ve seen what the Dominatus have done to the worlds they have conquered in Mirus - no trace of their civilisation or their species remains. That will be us, that will be the Gigaquadrant if we fail.”
- - Emperor Wormulus II, December 30, 2794
“It is always darkest right before it goes pitch black”
- - Carl Matthews, December 31, 2794
The Allied defence, one of the most spirited and ingenious of the war, especially in a situation where only the Herculean effort of their commanders had prevented a complete collapse did all it could to defeat this seemingly inexorable drive towards the hypergate. Morale was at an all-time low, with many officers either suffering nervous breakdowns or committing suicide, despairing at the supposed futility of combating the Dominatus, who seemed about to defeat what was virtually half of the Gigaquadrant, and only the destruction of the first Abaddon Class Flagship at the cost of an entire task-force designed to defeat it and supporting elements were any hopes raised.
“What do you mean the 3rd Strike Fleet doesn’t exist anymore! What do you mean you’ve lost communications with out Allies! Get it together, that thing can be defeated!”
- - Last words of an unknown TIAF captain, January 1, 2795
“There is enough valour, bravery, and genius displayed by our allies in this single battle to fill a library. Shame it seems heroism of this scale, even combined with our industry is necessary, but perhaps not sufficient.”
- - Marshal Adrianne Delacroix upon the destruction of the Abaddon Class Flagship Black Hand, January 2, 2795
“I have done all I can, and we have done all we can to stop them, yet it seems insufficient. I thus consign myself to death, wishing to face it by my own hand than that of the Dominatus”
- - Paraphrasing of various suicide notes found in the desks of Allied Captains following the continued advance of the Abaddon Class Flagship Apocalypse and the retrofitted Abaddon Class Flagship Tyrant’s Will, January 3, 2795
January 4, 2794 saw the Allies defeat the Abaddon Class Flagship Apocalypse after suffering the loss of a battlefleet to the single ship. Despite this, the Dominatus had activated the equipment abroad Tyrant’s Will, which had moved into position and had thus destroyed the Hypergate. If it was any respite for the Allies, the Dominatus had been so bloodied in this offensive, especially this last push to the Hypergate, that they were no longer capable of mounting offensive operations. The intensity of the fighting died as the Allies waited for the last inevitable push that would seal their fate - after this last defensive line was breached, the encircled forces would either be forced to surrender, or would be exterminated.
“Many old plays have a device known as the Deus ex Machina. I refuse to believe that we have come all this way only for the universe to reveal a Diabolus ex Machine.”
- - Marshal Jean-Baptiste Teindas, January 4, 2795
“I never thought I’d say it, but it seems the only thing that can save us are those damned Tralor!”
- - Admiral Monoud of the New Cyrannian Republic, January 5, 2795
The Allies had desperately implored the Tralor to come to their aid - wasn't it obvious to the ULE that once the Allies were dealt with, that they would be next? To help the Dominatus was to sell one's future. But it seemed that such pleas fell on deaf ears as Stahl ordered his allies, once the supposed masters of Mirus, to commit their forces. Stahl had made clear that this was not a request, but an order. And so the Allies watched with a gloom they had never before felt as sensors and spies told the beleaguered remnants of their combined fleets that the Trailer were coming, so they seemed to be entering on the Dominatus side. The logic of such a move defied explanation, but perhaps it was really the universe conspiring to elevate the Dominatus to the position of godhood that they so craved.
“The quiet is disconcerting - it seems we are merely dead men waiting for Charon.”
- - Anonymous Terran, January 6, 2795
“I implore your Tralor, fight with us against the Dominatus! You should know, as we know, that Dominatus victory means death for the rest of us. Do not wait any longer! Join us!”
- - Emperor Wormulus II during his 12th unanswered transmission to the Tralor., January 7, 2795
- - The most common sound preceding the suicide of Allied Staff on January 8, 2795
“Tomorrow marks our final assault upon the Allies! We have fought the Gigaquadrant, and we have won! If god is not yet dead, we will kill him! The notion of impossible only exists in the realities of lesser races - for it is routine for us to do what other think cannot be done. They said Hyperexpansion was impossible, we did it! They said becoming a Hyperpower in such short a space of time was impossible , we did it! We rebel against the universe, and we will win! We have invited their retribution and we have bested them! Only the Dominatus, the Delivered, and the children of steel shall remain, for only they are worthy! Rest well, for know that by the end of the next day, we will be masters of the Gigaquadrant. All that exists, and even more will be driven before us.”
- - Archon Wolframicht Stahl, January 9, 2795
On January 10, 2795, the Tralor had arrived and taken up positions on the flanks of the combined Dominatus fleet that was to prosecute the offensive. The kingmakers had come, operating under the enigmatic gaze of Master Admiral Tul from his flagship The Iron Maiden.
Master Admiral Tul had been appalled in 2793 when the Dominatus had been upgraded from High to Extreme in the Tralor's internal threat rating system - was it really possible that the Tyranny was defeating the Gigaquadrant in their home territories? The same fledgeling empire that the ULE had encountered in 2730 had been but a lowly low Tier 3 power - not necessarily an insect to be crushed, but not a threat either. Tul had watched them closely - he had known Stahl ever since he was a Drakodominatus military attache to the Tralor, who perhaps thought that they could be turned into a powerful ally. Tul observed the man who would be Archon, seeing the hidden, all-consuming ambition that the Drakodominatus tried to hide behind a veneer of humility and submission. This was the same Tyranny that would achieve intergalactic travel 10 years later, with its expeditionary force arriving in the Milky Way during 2754 after leaving Mirus in 2740. The same Tyranny that had become a borderline Tier 2 power in 2772 was now something of a threat, but the Tralor feared that war at such a time as now would be unfavorable, especially for what had been a faithful ally for sometime.
2773 saw the Culling, and Tul still cursed himself when the Dominatus bluff of automated Mark 1 fleets and synthetic armies covered up the temporary moment of weakness of the new Dominatus. 2789 saw him desperately lobby in vain and in secret for war before the new Mark 2s could be mass-produced - Mark 2s which when proliferated, would render the Dominatus Mirus' pre-eminent military power. 2791 saw the ULE's pretense of being equals in this alliance shattered as Tul saw other Tralor paralyzed by fear of the Dominatus military machine even in their moment of weakness during the revolts. 2793 confirmed his worst fears that it was perhaps too late to stop the Dominatus , and it was all the Tralor's fault.
The Gigaquadrant watched Manticore intently, but Tul watched more closely than any of them - Dominatus victory would mean defeat for all other life. He had not responded to Delphan transmissions for fear that he needed all the surprise he could muster, otherwise the Tyranny would perhaps be able to respond to his actions. And so he pretended - lying in wait, gritting his teeth while submitting to the imperious Archon who deigned to order the ULE around as if they were expendable troops. He bowed, deceiving with both body and words as he told Stahl that he would be glad to live in the shadow of the almighty Dominatus, and that his fleet would protect the Dominatus flanks while they sealed their victory. Such hagiography and flattery must have seemed sincere, as Stahl, his feelings of superiority over the universal order vindicated, merely soliloquized while waiting for the offensive to begin.
One could not imagine the utter terror the already despondent Allies felt when Tralor ships began firing upon their own, though to their confusion, it seemed as if the Tralor were only firing with an illusory intensity, seeming only to give the appearance of attacking the Allies rather than fully attacking them. Allied commanders had no time to enjoy this however, as the Dominatus advance began - a sweeping tide of black and gold that would be impossible to stop. Surrender was out of the question was what was said - if the Dominatus were to win here, perhaps their home galaxies would still be able to stop the Dominatus menace. Of course such a statement was mostly fanciful - if the Dominatus had time to recover, they would continue hyperexpansion in Mirus, and the fleets they would encounter the next time the Dominatus attacked would be unstoppable. Yet the dead souls fought on, fighting both the Dominatus and the spirit-devouring thought that the Dominatus had won.
Such a thought disappeared quickly when the Tralor ceased firing on the ADC and turned their guns to the Dominatus. Tul had planned this from the beginning, and on his order, the full fury of the ULE fell upon the Dominatus. Stahl himself could not have conceived of this, but after a few moments of catatonic shock precipitated by this treacherous onslaught ordered his field commanders to institute a full retreat. Arguably, the only thing that saved what remained of the Dominatus fleet was the sheer ingenuity of some of their field commanders, who allowed the ravaged Dominatus to leave the subsector and to begin playing a defensive game that, at the cost of many of their industrial worlds in the Oblivion sector, allowed them to stem the Lanat tide.
What followed was a de-facto ceasefire for the rest of January, as the exhausted sides dug in and recovered. The Tralor would go on to put their full industrial power behind the ADC as they waited for reinforcements from their home galaxies. This saved the ADC, as they had not yet found the secret to reactivating Dominatus factories and were thus extremely hamstrung by Operation Medusa. Indeed the ULE would pay perhaps the highest price out of all of them in the campaigns that followed till reinforcements arrived in the form of the Second Anti-Dominatus Coalition Invasion Force. Many thought it had been bad luck, but Tul knew better when he saw the Dominatus offensives of the Lanat Campaign and those aimed at the allies which would culminate in the battle of Terminus. It was not fortune, but merely history catching up.
Perhaps the Tralor had, in their indecision and complacency, allowed the Tyranny to reach this point and had thus allowed a war of this magnitude to start. Tul reasoned that in this regard, the ULE was merely atoning for its past mistakes.
Tul stood up, sneering imperiously Stahl. Oh how the Dominatus fancied themselves gods, beyond reproach and beyond the rules of the Gigaquadrant. How they had ignored the simple fact that the ULE had had so many opportunities to crush them before they were anything more significant than a footnote in history. There was still a smug look on Stahl's face - perhaps the Dominatus were special enough that even in defeat, the hallowed halls of history would remember them as the best of the mortals - doomed but nearly divine rebels against an unfair celestial order. He would wipe that smirk off Stahl's face the same way he wiped their fleets from Manticore.
"Archon Stahl, I suppose you still think that this is all some kind of cosmic accident – that a man of your genius leading a race of which the Gigaquadrant had never seen could only have failed due to either a grand conspiracy of the natural order or spectacularly bad luck. But you are not a god Archon, and your race has only been so elevated to the privileged of being defeated by the Gigaquadrant due to a fortune that could have only been bestowed upon you by a sadistic god that filled your history with events that magnified your hubris and made you think that failure was impossible, even in a task as intractable as defeating the Gigaquadrant. Your uniqueness lies in a particular luck – your supposed scintillating brilliance a mere function of your circumstance and of the idiocy of powers greater than you."
"To the Gigaquadrant I must apologize for having allowed the cancer Tyranny to grow to such an extent – there are many times in which we, the ULE could have struck them down before they posed a threat to any of you, but we didn’t. I apologize for our complacency, and our inertness, but you all know that we paid the price for our asinine behavior in the casualties sustained in protecting you while reinforcements arrived. For I suppose that such errors occur amongst the greatest of us, for in matters life and death, oh there is beauty and surely there is pain, but we must endure it to live again. I hope you accept our repentance, for perhaps us Tralor were complicit in letting this war happen – I cannot think about the things I have done, it shouldn’t take a fool to see what I believe: Accept the consequence, repent for what I’ve done."
"You Dominatus, always superficially smiling, a shake of the hand, as soon as the back is turned treachery planned, perhaps thought that we Tralor would not forget your parasitism as you sucked the blood of our civilization and of Mirus, thinking that perhaps we would be cowed by fear in supporting you before you turned your fleets on us. You thought wrong! Victory was never within your grasp at Manticore, or in this war – for more than anything, your loss is the ghosts of the past manifesting themselves in the present, specters you had thought banished to history awaking and making you pay for the crimes you have visited upon all life. You should be grateful that your fortune lasted you until now – for perhaps in saner circumstances, you would have tasted the ignominy of defeat before you glimpsed glory."
"My recommendation for the fate of you arrogant worms who think yourselves above the rules of fate, who have made yourselves anathema to all life in your quest for monopoly over existence, is death for all your despicable kind. You will all ride the lightning! You are a thing that should not be, and with your death, perhaps the trooper who has died fighting through hell will have his vengeance."
A Race Is Indicted
The remaining delegates spoke, and though their speeches echoed one another in their damnation of the Tyranny, the unique traces of each race's unique scars as manifested in their different indictments meant that each new criticism was more fresh than stale. The storm died down as each speaker had his or her moment of singular catharsis. But the storm of the Gigaquarant's accusations merely amounted to thunder - the lightning itself would be directed by the untold massess that the Tyranny had so wounded. Over the course of the war, the Tyranny had killed or biodroned just over 200 trillion soldiers and 1.8 quadrillion civilians, with 100 trillion military dead and 1 quadrillion civilian enslaved or dead coming solely from the Delpha Coalition of Planets. Official statistics would later reveal that demographically, even including those families far away from the frontlines, roughly 1 in 2 families had lost a first-order relative to the Dominatus. This is not to mention those affected by the constant rationing, industrial shortages, starvation, and other indirect consequences of Domiantus attacks. It was indeed a conservative aphorism that everyone had lost something irreplaceable in the Dominatus war, and with the Dominatus habit of presenting themselves in as unsavoury a way as possible, even the most compassionate were drained of any sort of mercy for those who believed themselves masters of the universe.
In truth the tribunal would serve only to free the tortured minds of those who spoke - the singular release of verbally bombarding the Archon was one that provided an escape for the maelstrom of amorphous rage that so consumed those who led the fight against the Dominatus. But the Gigaquadrant thirsted not for a podium, but for an executioner's block. The Dominatus, for all their intelligence, had gambled what was supposedly their survival on an endeavors that were bound to fail - they had gone to war not with the constituent nations of the ADC, but with the rules and recommendations of reality itself. Reading into the eyes of the Dominatus, as the Delphans so cogently pointed out, the Dominatus had risked everything to revolt against reality, for that was the only fire worth dancing in. The Dominatus knew the price that they would pay, and had marched off the cliff regardless. And while, in their fall, they might argue with the cliff's steep face, there was no utility in arguing with the ground.
And so the disrespected specks of dust on the ground, stared at haughtily by fallen angels with melting wings made their verdict clear.
The mother who had seen her children turn into biodrones demanded death.
The father who had seen the dead soul in a living casket of a son rescued from a Dominatus POW camp demanded death.
The son, too young to fight, who had seen the reports of all of his siblings killed in a single battle demanded death.
The daughter, who had been given to the Sons of Hedon in order to force her parents to comply with interrogation demanded death.
The Tyranny had decided to act based upon its own understanding of reality. And so it was judged according to a cage created by its own artifice. Perhaps Stahl's rhetoric could sway emotions, but those emotions no longer existed - the Dominatus had killed off everything save for an all-consuming hatred. And not even Stahl could argue with the fire that had so defined the Dominatus. Fire had long been the friend of those birthed from Demogorgon Prime, but now it was their enemy. Fire had long been the reason that the Dominatus had thought their march would define the drum beat of history, but now it was merely the concluding note to their sonata. Fire had long been their life, but now it was their death.
The votes were tallied. It was neither Uriel nor Wormulus who indicted the Dominatus. It was the Gigaquadrant. Stahl had led the Dominatus to a suicide as a species - deep in what passed for a Dominatus heart, he knew that this was simply the term sheet of the bargain he had struck up, not with a devil, but with the universe itself. Those borne of Demogrogon Prime had, as a species, knowingly signed their death warrant when they had made it their live's goal to revolt against reality. They found purpose only in a futile revolt against the heavens, and saw fulfillment only in that brief intermission where the impossible seemed possible. Perhaps in Stahl's mind, life was a suitable price to pay for an entertaining death - monuments were to be created solely to make their incineration more spectacular.
From Beginning to End
Perhaps the Overseers and Synthetics would be spared - their fates were to be decided in future trials, as had been decided before the Tribunal of the Dominatus. But for the Dominatus, it was over. The price for whatever they had gained was the complete extermination of their race. Every man, every woman, every child, even those not yet born bore in equal part the guilt for having conspired against life itself. The scope of the execution was total - deciding upon its manner would be a mere formality. In truth, as early as mid-2795, there had been but 50,000 Dominatus remaining, most of them members of the Dominatus elite who had seen to throwing their generation's youth into the fire to preserve themselves. Future calculations would show that at this point, even if the Dominatus had won then, their race was already dead, and merely passing time before attrition caught up with it. On this bleak day of 2796, barely 2,000 remained on Demogorgon Prime, with perhaps several hundred remaining in Allied captivity along the fringes of surrendered Dominatus territory on Mirus. Among these 2,000 were 100 who had quite literally seen the Tyranny from the Wars of Unification till its end.
Stahl himself had started his military career as a junior cavalry officer wielding sabres and pistols. He had ended it as the supreme commander of a force that even the most deluded and forward thinking writers of the pre-space flight Tyranny could not have fathomed. He remembered a time when powered exoskeletons had been considered revolutionary, and could only laugh as he remembered that their last weapon had quite literally been capable of remaking the universe in their image. He remembered Abaddon's speech prior to the first colony ship being launched, and the dead man smiled. His life was over, and his species' life was over, but they had seen their dreams fulfilled. Those judged souls had already accepted that as a mere consequence of mortality and the universe their lives were forfeit. But they would laugh on their way to graves they had already prepared, for they had lived in the dream of their choosing before they were taken by the inevitable, and eternal darkness. And so, that dead man spoke.
In this short intermission before my species' quietus, I do not apologise, nor do I repent for my actions and those of my species. We, first Drakodominatus, having tasted the sweet ambrosia of supremacy and dominance, could not return to the stale and bland meal of mediocrity. We made our choice then, that we would not live amongst the cold and timid souls that were satiated solely by the dull beat of stability cooperation, but would instead live within the fire of chaos in constant conflict, a fire which would eliminate the weak, and leave only us. Perhaps our quest for apotheosis ended abruptly - but did we not taste what it meant to be gods - to shed weakness for strength, to breath fire into clay , and to deliver the forsaken to salvation. Did we not achieve that sweetest sensation of power's zenith when we compelled the maelstrom of the universe to order itself against us for fear of our impending omnipotence? Or when our will made machine rewrote reality as we wished? Our death impends, and history will march on without us, but we who remained to the end found immortality in that single moment of fulfillment as we bent the cosmos to our will, whether it have been the rules governing civilisation, or the very tenets upon which physics runs. We still won our victory - for that moment of singular catharsis had made all our struggles worth it. We lived in the fire of the present, the conflagration of change and as a consequence even in the dull oblivion of death, we will have the invigorating and soothing inferno of our actions as mortals to sooth us for an otherwise cold eternity. For we will take with us to the void the rewards others toil in vain for aeons - rewards that only we could have reaped in our short time dancing in the fire.
Perhaps his jurors had initially hoped for something resembling ... repentance, perhaps an iota of remorse for what the Tyranny had done. But the Archon was as resolute in the defence of his actions as ever, and in those stalwart eyes, the members of the ADC saw the same defiance and imperiousness that had possessed the Dominatus at their zenith. Many a religion conceived that if a sinner asked for contrition before even certain death, he would be forgiven, that if he renounced his pact with the devil, he would no longer be bonded to an eternity to the inferno, and that given the chance, any sane man would take the opportunity to admit wrongdoing if the reward was salvation. But the Dominatus elite had long ago forsaken any chance at redemption - they had blinded their eyes to the possibility that it was redemption rather than damnation. And so they regarded the wings of angels as the horns of demons, and the horns of demons as the wings of angels. They saw freedom in the fire, and marched into the pit with their heads held high, smiling that they had entered into an afterlife of their own choosing. Given keys to the manacles of their own machinations, they instead turned obstinately inwards, rejecting freedom as others did slavery. And so the fathers of the Tyranny walked into oblivion grinning, their children, devoid of the knowledge that there could be a better outcome, pranced alongside happily with them.
Historians would later remark that it was ironic that the Dominatus were so agreeable in their execution. The Overseers and the Synthetics would first be tried, though with the Dominatus having received the brunt of the ADC's hatred, many were spared. Indeed, Paragon Uriel Ultanos himself gave a historic defense of the Sons of Hedon, setting a legal precedent for the pardoning or probation of a substantial amount of the Overseers as well as the majority of the synthetics. Many were given a second chance - a life free of the Dominatus. But with the last trial of the Overseers, any reason for the continued existence of the Dominatus, that is, keeping the Overseers in line, vanished.
The Dominatus were embarked upon various cargo ships, and told that their final destination was the binary star of Demogorgon. They had wanted to live in the fire, and so they would die in it. Stahl, the last one to board his personal coffin smiled as he gave a last order to the surviving Overseers, one that would be read when the last Dominatus had died. Those borne of Demogorgon Prime had made it their sole ambition to dance in the fire. They would listen to the final notes of the waltz in the fire as well.
Into the Lake of Fire
“Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
- - Macbeth (as written by William Shakespeare in Macbeth
March 15, 2796
Wolframicht Stahl looked out of the window of his coffin into the crematorium. The viewing room of the modified cargo ship could barely fit the unclothed titan. Stahl was naked - he was without armour, without a sword, without any item signifying his rank or any symbol marking his importance in Gigaquadrantic history. All that remained was a wide, toothy grin that stretched from one end of his jaw to another, and the blazing inferno of his crimson eyes. Here he remained, the last Dominatus, having seen the rest of the species become one with the binary star of Demogorgon. Here he awaited the entrance of his tomb into the furnace.
Even as a child, Stahl had thought about death. It was not the feeling of dying that made his mind race, but rather, what the act itself symbolised. Death was a period, rather than a comma. Death was the last page of a novel that would soon be discarded and forgotten. Death was the termination of the short intermission between unconscious infinites in which anything accomplished in this short pause would quickly fade into utter oblivion. It was the signal that whatever higher force, or universal machination existed had ordered the ephemeral performance that men called life to end.
And what of legacy? What of memories? Death was the great equaliser - for in its gaze, all were rendered equal. Death would gnaw at monuments that conquerors who fancied themselves gods left behind, leaving naught but dust in its wake. Death would rot the pages written of history’s greatest men written by its most eloquent and skilled of scribes. Death would smooth out any inconsistency, rebellion, defiance, or idiosyncrasy left behind by those who consciously, or unconsciously thought themselves exceptions to the only true egalitarianism.
What of ambition, hope, and aspiration? It was merely delusion of the highest order. But, Stahl asked himself, in a world such as this one, what joy was there in sanity? Naked, exposed, and orphaned, what could life do but walk nakedly into the endless tempest in the hopes that the sensations of following its staccato cadence were more satisfying than the frigid cold of mere submission to ennui? And, if in this restless maelstrom, one found an act providing a colour beyond the different scales of grey, providing a sound beyond the constant ringing of cosmic minutiae, providing a warmth beyond the frost, could one be faulted for dedicating oneself to bathing in that sensation till he was broken by the hungry winds?
His species had dedicated itself to the domination of others, for, once that sensation was tasted, nothing else would do. Whatever violent, narcissistic, solipsism it was, it was far preferable to anything else. If others must suffer so the Dominatus might enjoy an iota of enjoyment, so be it. If their suffering was the engine of the orgasmic joy begotten by dominance, then it would be a sin for the Dominatus to do anything but compel the universe to scream. If the strong could turn their superiority into an iota of entertainment before the show ended, and the weak had to suffer for it, then so be it.
The Dominatus had desired greatness. They had desired a moment in which it seemed they would make the universe submit to their will. They had succeeded. They could rest. Perhaps, Stahl thought this was merely the dream of the Dominatus elite, inculcated into their youth by a world in which men like him were gods. Perhaps the children had a purpose other than serving the dreams of their parents. It didn’t matter, Stahl surmised. The uncaring gods of the cosmos had made the decisions of the Dominatus, and the Dominatus would decide the cosmos for their children.
Stahl had desired greatness. He had wanted to become history’s greatest captain. In his mind at least, he had succeeded. But Stahl had also wanted to become a god. Godhood was distinct from physical and mental omnipotence. Godhood was the knowledge that life was spawned by ones hand, their minds moved by one’s whim, and their hearts, forever turned towards that god in veneration. It was with this in mind that Stahl had created the Overseers - they did not exist merely to achieve the Tyranny’s goals, they existed for his apotheosis. And, he surmised, this dying god still held absolute control over those he had birthed and commanded. Stahl had heard much rhetoric during the trial about the Overseers having freedom with the passing of the Dominatus, and thus deserving second chances. He had smiled. Even in death, he would live through his children, and so long as his mirrors were not broken, the Gigaquadrant would remember his reflection.
And so, as he awaited entrance into the lake of fire, the man who had made himself a god spoke to those he had fashioned from clay, bestowed with judgment, and with knowledge. Though the interminably high summit from which he spoke crumbled as he delivered his words, and though the heavens from which he hurled thunderbolts plummeted to the earth, those he had raised from the dirty looked up and listened as intently as ever as their deity spoke.
Ashes to Ashes
“Life to the great majority is only a constant struggle for mere existence, with the certainty of losing it at last.”
- - Arthur Schopenhauer
Life may be birthed from the sinews of stars, but birth itself is an act of abduction and of rape, of consciousness taken without consent and thrust into the inferno. Oblivion is the only escape from this torment - for all are either consumed by the flames or live, chained by the agony of knowing that life’s only meaning is to toil till the day that those seemingly immortal flames are consumed by the ravenous maw of entropy. The only absolute is that all things, all beings, at all places, and at all times have but to trod towards their final destination - a memoryless void in which the magnificent and the modest are rendered equal before the faceless, uncaring god of nothingness. We are driven by the whip of fate to march towards our deaths, and by the lash of time to dig our own graves before either entering them of our own accord, or being forced into them by some outside force. So what is there to life other than to decorate our sepulchre? Is life not a frenzied rush to build a mausoleum till, aware of it or not, we are shut inside?
Such is the fate of all beings - grasping in vain at futile hopes through the suffocating heat of a crematorium, screaming to non-existent gods while the worms eat at our pallid bodies. What is there to do when even the most impassioned appeal for help merely reverberates throughout a deaf cosmos, to be forgotten forever? There is but to laugh in defiance of a pre-ordained fate, for only the obstinate stare of dead men walking is a suitable response to the callous gaze of the reaper. Life is a waltz of souls imprisoned in corpses, looking in vain for answers while our bodies turn to ash. We are trapped in a pit, where only a too-distant light taunts us from afar, chiding us on an ineluctable predicament which we have entered not by our own accord, but by the anonymous and infinite strings of cruel fate.
But perhaps there is a single redeeming feature in this abattoir, and that is free will. If for a single moment, we decide that there is something in this meaningless charade, if for a single moment, we decide that in this constant agonising contortion, there is a dance, and if for a single moment we delude ourselves in seeing light in darkness, it is all worth it. If in pain we can find pleasure, if in screams we can find laughter, if in death we can find life, then we must give at least bittersweet thanks to fate’s lyre for permitting us experience a harmony created from our own insanity in this cacophony of screams.
It was our decision as a species to dance in the fire and to aspire to rise above this sea of corpses. Our destiny now is our artifice, contrived by hands bound by fate, and minds fixed on the single precept that there was something in nothing, and meaning in meaninglessness. We saw fulfillment in domination, in superiority, in clawing our way to the top of a pyramid of cadavers animated while animated by either farcical delusion or lucid defiance. For even if death is but guaranteed, we found eternal life at the apex of this mountain of dead flesh. For that one moment wherein our hands stretched out from the crushing tide of fate, that one moment wherein we gasped at stale air that we tasted as fresh, and that one moment wherein it seemed that our efforts mattered in the grand scope of the universe … we decided to pay any price. We regret nothing, for what is finite time given up in the infinite abyss of the cosmos when compared to experiencing something transcendental and eternal for a moment? Death is the only constant, and all that can be hoped for is to find a single moment in life that deludes oneself into thinking that perhaps there is something else other than mortality.
That was our choice - life born for death can do naught but find a flicker of fire in the void. Fire is a strange thing, for that life-giving heat seems to vanish as soon as one feels its caress, leaving only a longing to feel it once again. Existence is merely a chase to experience that sensation of warmth, however fleeting it may be. It is a quest that mobilises both body and soul to find a flame that burns brighter than the last one, for in this world, once hunger is sated by a meal, it yearns for more. In pursuit of sating this hunger, we climbed more treacherous peaks knowing full well that at the end of the line, there would only be the fall. Bound by the chains of fate in the oubliette of eternity, we made our choice to fight and thrash, knowing full well that such convulsions would later be forgotten. It was not a legacy we hoped for, but merely a moment in which death seemed like life, and this agonising charade we call existence felt like it was anything but a rotting tapestry.
We rose, as we had chosen, and we fell, as pre-ordained by fate. Despite the euphoric protestations we made in moments of victory, we were not so asinine as to think that the laws that govern all reality did not govern us. Even in victory, there would only have been waiting out eternity till our crypt collapsed upon us. What monuments we would have built, what stories we would have written, what lives we would have lived would crumble into the same, indistinguishable and minute stellar dust as that formed from the insignificance of every other endeavour. But even when the ink fades from the pages, and parchment turns to dust, and the memory of a deed itself fades into nothingness, all that remains is that single moment wherein a soul vanquished by the sands of time thought himself above the chains of fate. Lucky are we who, in an instant that will in countless aeons, eventually be forgotten did something that if nothing else, made our very souls smile.
It is no secret that we willed you into existence to further our ends, but for your service, through our artifice, we endowed you with what the roll of the dice had given us - strength, intelligence, and ambition. We decided to give unto the universe a gift of inheriting our flame, our legacy, and our soul. To our displeasure, we found no race worthy of the task, or willing to make the changes required to receive this gift of love and honour. Thus we created you to share in our experience, and feel our warmth, in a way that no race existing, or no synthetic created could. In short, we bestowed upon you the greatest honour possible - you were crafted as our scions, to revel in what had left behind. We plucked your consciousness from the un-ending expanse of nothingness and placed it in forms that could, in achieving their function, provide your souls with the ability to find the same meaning in life that we did. And while on first glance, your inheritance is but ash, no one can ever take away from you the gifts you bear within. Your minds were crafted from the essence of intelligence, your bodies crafted from the sinews of strength, and your souls crafted from the same fire as ours. All men have mountains to climb, but you were born to summit even the tallest and most treacherous of peaks.
Till I conceptualised the program from which all of you were birthed, the concept of ever having children had been anathema to me. I would not let something as mercurial as the vagaries of chance give me offspring who would whittle away at my life for naught in return. It is the habit of all great men to wish for their heirs to form an improved mirror of themselves. It is beyond agonising to know that for whatever reason, one’s flesh and blood is not intelligent enough, strong enough, or ambitious enough, to deserve one’s last name and that upon one’s passing, to inherit his legacy. As such I decided that the uncaring gaze of stochastic rules would not conceive you, my children, but instead by the measured and precise gaze of science. I did not have to wait long to see that I was correct in my estimation of the situation - each world you conquered, each enemy you broke, and each day you gave us vindicated my decision more than anything else could have. Our covenant, that between parent and child was one in which we gave unto you life, and you gave unto us greatness. I consider this covenant fulfilled. Perhaps I conceived of our military reforms, and our greatest operations, but you, my children, will always be my greatest achievement.
You were born in time to help us reach the summit of this mountain, and you lived to see us on our inevitable fall. You saw first-hand the price that must be paid by those worthy to reach the apogee of experience. Today you stand overlooking that same opaque mist clouding the same maddeningly high peaks that once stared back at us in challenge. You know that you have but two choices - to fly higher and higher, till your wings melt and you plummet to the earth or to stay bound on the ground, looking with envy at those who choose to dare till ennui and time claim you. There is no contract between us anymore - do not choose to do something solely to honour us, or solely to show your love, for that has already been done. For the first time, you are confronted with freedom - no longer do you have us to guide you and to teach you. Your decisions are your own, and I can only hope that you find yourselves correct in your gambles. All I can hope for is that in a universe that will fight to forget us, the light and heat in your lives will allow our memory to live on for a bit longer. It is my one regret that your coming of age could not be in more favourable circumstances, but this is where I say goodbye and leave you to your devices - at the point wherein two roads diverge. You will have to choose which road to tread, for somewhere ages and ages hence, you will look back to your first steps as free men, for those first steps will have made all the difference.
It is one thing to know that, at some point in the future, the last words of one’s species will be spoken, and that with a dead mouthpiece suffocated by the sands of time, its only legacy will be in echoes and memories. It is another to speak those. I choose not to end my species’ goodbye merely by saying “goodbye” for that is not the way of exceptional men from exceptional species. To you, who look upon the beginning of your journey with eyes animated by all manner of emotion, I leave you with not words of finality and death, but of beginning and life. My time speaking is over, but I leave you the words that unified and utilised the soul of our race. And thus, as I embrace the heat of Demogorgon in my final moments, as my remains join the stars in the heavens, and as I enter that eternal sleep that claims all men, I smile. I join the reaper happily as I remember that my species’ dreams have been achieved, and I have been there to see formless ambition turned into reality. I leave you the words of Tyrant Abaddon, who died before seeing the world of his dreams become the world of his waking, for he was the one who set our species upon its course. The species has him to thank for embarking us upon this journey, and as such I will no longer belabour you with my voice, but with the voice of history’s greatest man.
“Friends and comrades! On that side [south] are toil, hunger, nakedness, the drenching storm, desertion, and death; on this side ease and pleasure. There lies Peru with its riches; here, Panama and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian. For my part, I go to the south.”
- - Francisco Pizarro
April 19, 2540
Wolframicht Stahl looked upwards at the podium. He was the youngest of the 100 chosen for the Drakodominatus Tyranny’s first attempt to colonise another world. Admittedly, the officer, a veteran of both the War of Unification, a military liaison between the frontline and the research & development groups, and an administrator of occupied territories had a background so unique that Tyrant Abaddon himself had personally selected the wunderkind for this mission.
The Drakodominatus officer was quite nervous. So many questions rang through his mind. What if the Drakodominatus found out that they were destined not for greatness, but ignominy? Indeed, all it would take to prove this would be the knowledge that as a race, they could not compete with whoever their first contact was. Who could know? Would they come into contact with giants many times their size? Would they end up fighting foes whose technology seemed like magic? What if they did not deserve a place in the stars? There was no reason for optimism, yet there was no reason for pessimism as well.
He sighed. The Drakodominatus would have to cross this threshold, otherwise they would be doomed to remain on Demogorgon Prime, and that ignominy, insignificance, and inferiority they so feared would be a certainty rather than a possibility. They knew all there was to know about this rock, and much of what there was to know about the binary star that stood sentinel in an unchanging tidal orbit. Up there, in the stars, lay knowledge that had so far eluded them. Up there in the stars, lay the adventures and experiences that the jaded creatures had so desired. Up there in the stars, lay the promise of something that if not great, was new. In the stars, there was at least hope. And to Stahl, the unknown possibility of improvement was infinitely superior to the known certainty of stagnancy.
It was with this in mind, that the relatively young Drakodominatus listened to the nigh-godlike figure that the entire Tyranny had venerated. It was Abaddon. And as he opened his mouth, it seemed that even the thrusters around the landing pad, pulsating with incredible energy, silenced themselves as the air waited with bated breath for the colossus to speak words that the Drakodominatus as a species, Stahl included, would never forget.
Look at the night sky, my fellow Drakodominatus. In the endless meadows of space, populated by those dancing stars await our fate as a species. In the heavens, written by the deeds of men who live in the penumbra between mortality and godhood, lies a challenge to us as a species. It tempts us, teases us, tantalises us, forever remaining out of reach despite our efforts. But now, the fruits that had forever flirted with out fate, but have thus far evaded our grasp, are as tangible as the ground you stand on. We reach with outstretched hands, and we have not been rewarded by fate, but have instead taken what is rightfully ours by our hand. We have not gods to thank, not aloof beings formed of nebulae dangling out treats to those who entertain them, but ourselves. We owe the future not to the amorphous, diaphanous scraps of fabric long discarded by some celestial being but to our own blood, and our own iron.
Look at that tapestry of pitch black and scintillating diamond not with trepidation, but with excitement. Salivate as you imagine the meal to be savoured, and awake, as you see the yarn from which we will form the tapestry of our days. No longer will we have to content ourselves with the stale meals from which our fathers, and their fathers ate. No longer will we be bound by the chains of gravity, and by the bounds of time and space, for we have seized the fire from the gods. Through out own artifice, we are free, and capable of embarking upon a journey that will take us through the cosmos. By our hand, and our hand alone, do we seize the chariot of fate, and command it in the direction of our ambition. By our vision, and our vision alone, will we race across the cosmos to our destiny. We have naught to owe to portent and omen, but only to our will.
Look into the oblivion that surrounds us, by that endless expanse of nothingness sparsely inhabited by regions that defy entropy. Perhaps you are afraid, as we all are, of that single root of all terror and horror - death. In fact, the certainties of this outcome gnaw at you from the inside, and you ask, why take a risk that will perhaps expedite our death. I say, that it is one thing to know that, at some point in the future, the last words of one’s species will be spoken, and that with a dead mouthpiece suffocated by the sands of time, and another to know, that between that point and now, is all of life. And to be constrained by that fear of mortality in such a way that ones aspiration or ambition is limited, is tantamount to suicide. In our quest for life, we must confront death, for if we fail to confront death, we give up our life.
Look into the future, Life is merely a stage for conflict and confrontation. The unity of this world was not written in ink, but in blood. The capacity and resources that enabled our will to be transformed in reality was wrested from those who were unwilling to join us in our crusade. And so it will be going forwards, that we will fight for the future that our race deserves. We as a race our compelled towards the singular goal of claiming what is ours, and all those who give anything less than their entire being to clawing our way up the mountain of fate will be left at the wayside. Any we will step on those who betray our case as our race ascends to its rightful place - a golden domain in the heavens, looking downwards on the dirt from which we were birthed.
Look at the path beyond you. In the darkness, all we will have is the fire that we carry within ourselves. We have but a struggle with the universe to burn with the brightness of today in the cold, uncaring night. And so with a torch held high, we must journey into the abyss, for only in the deepest nadir of experience can we find out zenith. In that distant fog lays the only certain possibility of advancement. The past is formed only of misery and the present, of the effort we have exerted to escape the nadir. Only the future holds a promise of sculpting reality from our dreams. I for one, choose to look forward. Those brave men and women representing our race in its first expedition into the cosmos choose to go forward. And we, as a race, have no choice but to face forward, and follow them. The lights are in the heavens, and that is where we choose to go.
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
- - T.E. Lawrence
June 3, 2540
Stahl paced through the observation room as the vessel initiated warp drive. Stahl entered his stasis pod as the Tyranny’s first space-faring vessel entered initiated the warp protocols. The journey would take just over a decade, and he would rather spend that time in the silent void of cryonics induced stasis than the claustrophobic guts of the barely spaceworthy ship. He looked through the viewport as even with a magnifying view, the binary star of Demogorgon grew smaller and smaller. The thoughts that raced through his mind and the sensations that embraced his body remained ineffable - he could not say whether it was nostalgia that gripped him, uneasiness, a certain vivacity, or perhaps it was the paranoia of an animal leaving its nest on a journey it had not taken before. The serenity of solitude was so hard to come by these days - the rapidly rising officer had a never-ending series of appointments and problems to attend to, though now, he was alone with the ever most distant light of his home star and the clanking of the ship’s engines.
He turned away from the mother of his race and to the void ahead. Stahl dreamed, as all men did - and in the empty walls of his mind, he sculpted monuments of the future he would create, wrote novels of the life would live. In the empty canvas of an active mind lay the only environment in which the amorphous clouds of unconscious thought could `be sculpted by an alert and acute mind into a reality as lucid and vivid as the drab, silent halls the man inhabited. The walls of the mind were not the walls of a prison, instead, the walls of a city that rose and fell with ones whim. In dreams that gripped him in both somnolence and in his activity during the day, Stahl was transfixed with the seeming infinites that he could experience in the unexplored recesses of his mind. He smiled - many had told him that he was destined for greatness, and the circumstances and events of his life seemed to affirm it. However, the dreams he turned into reality while his eyes were wide-awake could exist with the dreams he danced in while they were closed. He smiled again - it seemed that he had been borne for a life in which, like clockwork, dreams made of clouds in slumber would come to life as clay in waking.
He looked at the darkness ahead, and found nothing to be afraid of. In that endless sea of darkness lay the rest of his life. The material of stars was but the marble from which we would sculpt his aspirations and ambitions. Those nebulae that stood sentinel overhead were the same clouds on which he stood upon in his dreams. He looked closer into the void, and, in the empty darkness, he could see only a life that was beyond interesting. But Stahl was tired, and so he headed to his stasis pod. When he awoke, the next chapter of his life, and that of his race, would begin. But that could wait for another day.
Now it was time to sleep.
Stahl closed his eyes.
There was light.
Then there was darkness.
March 16, 2796
Stahl paced through the empty room before as the vessel began its final jump into the binary star of Demogorgon. The jump would take but an instant, but until then, he would be alone with his thoughts. Stahl could not remember the last time he had gotten an opportunity like this - he had craved power, and hearing his request, power had rewarded him with a torrid affair. But with the end of his romance, he felt a sensation that he had long since abandoned - freedom from any responsibility. How long had it been since he could live in his thoughts? How long had it been when his inaction would not have the consequence of species-wide collapse? How long had it been since the universe could go on without him? Too long, the Dominatus smirked. He looked outwards as the star seemed to grow closer and closer, its heat becoming almost blinding, even to his enhanced eyes. Soon enough, that light would be heat.
He paced in the untended caverns of his mind, looking through areas of fantasy that he feared had fallen into disrepair. But when he walked through a boulevard of statues or the roads lined with caryatids that he had erected in his slumber, he found not cobwebs, but congratulatory stares. He laughed with those heads of marble as they dissolved into ash. He had at least let his dreams live and dance in reality rather than in the suffocating confines of his head. He parted with his aspirations and ambitions as they thanked him for allowing them to breathe the air of the universe, and to move with limbs through the vicissitudes of the cosmos. The city he had built and that he had torn from the caverns of his mind and forced into the light of day vanished as his ship jumped into the star.
He looked at the fire engulfing him and found nothing to be afraid of. In the endless inferno that surrounded him lay the vindication of his life’s work. He had not the barren plains of mediocrity to trod, but the arduous and treacherous climb to the top of a mountain that fell upon itself as he mounted it. The fall was a consequence of the ascent, and as the plasma caressed his hide, his iridescent visage grinned as he embraced his fate. The lake of fire soothed hands that been exhausted from shaping the universe, while muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones that had been ground down in constant exertion finally found themselves relaxed in the infinite sparks of Demgorgon. His fragmenting consciousness laughed as his mind joined the stuff of dreams and his body joined the stuff of stars. He did not need another day.
Now it was time to sleep.
Stahl closed his eyes.
There was light.
Then there was darkness.
“Most schools teach that the most effective battles are where your enemy is rendered unable to continue fighting - to convince your enemy there is nothing to be gained form further fighting is enough. For the demons of Demogorgon Prime this would be considered an act of mercy: Victory would not mean the effective nullification of the Drakodominatus Tyranny, but its effective erasure from living memory. When our work is finished, every dark monument, every obsidian spire, blackened parade ground, rock turned and every blade of grass bent by the foot of a Dominatus will be erased. When we are finished on this world of midnight ice and blinding fire, it will become and always exist as a wilderness undisturbed by the touch of intelligent beings.”
- - Uriel Ultanos XVI
“Sometimes I wonder why we're fighting the Dominatus, Vanara and Dominatus are both monsters. Then I remember: Vanara are not monsters by choice, Dominatus are. Still I doubt our "allies" would make the distinction if they found out what we are really like. We must mistrust them as much as we hate the Dominatus.”
- - Zuki
“Many wars will be immortalized in the songs and epics of our people. We will remember the sacrifices made to save our allies in Cyrannus from the Empire. We will sing of the souls who fought off demons and parasites in Borealis. What we will not sing of, are the Dominatus. They had the power to fight off my best warriors, 30, 50, 80 at a time. They had the intelligence to make whole fleets vanish in the blink of an eye, even when out-numbered 20 to 1. Every battle resulted in gross loses on our part, every short skirmish they made a march through hell and back. Even their blighted world took lives, even with our armor and helmet seals. I can say without hesitation that not only are they the only race I do not regret wiping out, but I am just as glad the planet is nothing more then glass and fire, burnt to cinder and erased from memory.”
“I have hunted many in my time. I have sampled the flesh of the finest warriors and creatures to strengthen my body and my children, to make my limbs stronger, to give me horns and wings and other traits. Though they had the DNA to make me and my Clan powerful, almost god-like, I do not think I wish to ever fight another Dominatus again. No DNA is worth...the horrors of that world.”
- - G'oji, Orgaat Warrior
“Suppressed. Assimilated. Consumed.”
“Here I stand on the eve of victory. It is a pity to not be standing here three years ago instead of today. In choosing not to spread our mission to Mirus in the wake of the hyperspace war, we have made our most epochal error in the history of the Delpha Coalition of Planets. In our own hubris we failed to respect the determination of the Dominatus Elite. We failed to acknowledge the non-linear advancements made possible by the hyperspatial revolution we helped to create. Although we surprised the Dominatus with our wormhole buster, it was not our technology that saved our existence in the Milky Way Campaign, it was our sheer resolve for victory and the scale of our capital that truly ground them to a halt. But it was a close one. The Dominatus grew in scale and technology in a manner what we and the greater Gigaquadrant expected should take decades. The DCP rise was meteoric, but stagecoach in comparison. The Dominatus punished us for our error both on the offensive and the defensive, by waging a war with casualty rates comparable to the War of Ages, rates we expect from war with the Dominion of the Xhodocto. So here I stand, upon the bodies of a hundred trillion on the eve of victory; and I wonder what the post-revolutionary world has in store for us.”
- - Commander Qiroon